Truth Hurts

I was going to write about the appalling remarks by Wendy Watson Nelson, wife of the last post’s subject, Russell Nelson, but really, what can you way about someone who thinks it’s a good thing for gay church members to become desperate enough to pray for God to change their sexual orientation? There’s so much wrong with that, I don’t know where to start. Suffice it to say that it’s been unnerving and a little depressing to see the LDS church take so many steps backwards in the last few months. For an excellent discussion of where things stand (at least for me), see Greg Prince’s blog: The Exclusion Policy and Biology vs. Behavior.

I once knew a woman who would say the nastiest, most personally demeaning things to other people, and when the target of her attacks took offense, she would shrug and say, “I’m sorry the truth offends you. I’m not being mean. I’m just telling it like it is.” Invariably, these personal attacks were part of an effort to play people off each other. In her mind, those who really cared about her and respected her would accept “the truth,” and she could in some weird, twisted way feel she had helped them and bonded with them. The reality was that she caused a lot of hurt and pain, and most of her family and neighbors resented her deeply. A few particularly insecure family members took every criticism to heart and tried in vain to gain her approval. Of course, she never gave it, and the cycle of hurt continued until she died. Come to think of it, I don’t think it ended with her death; family members are still hurting from her nastiness over the years.

Some religious groups follow this same pattern. I knew a man who had been a Jehovah’s Witness, and he told me that, when they went door to door proselytizing, they would sometimes try to get people angry with them, as they felt they would be blessed for being hated and persecuted, as the scriptures say. It seems to be part of the motivation of the Westborough Baptist Church’s “God hates fags” program. Often used as a justification for intentional division is Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

This theme is expanded in the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 16:

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for itcutteth them to the very center.

As I said, the problem is when the division is intentional and unnecessary, and it usually happens because someone is trying to assert dominance and exclude those who won’t accept their dominance. When called on it, people always say they’re just telling the truth, and it’s not their problem if you find truth offensive.

It’s this weird “I’m only saying this for your own good” attitude that explains, at least for me, the church’s retrograde statements and policy changes in the last few months. Like the woman I knew, there’s an unsubtle message behind the “truth-speaking” going on: you are with us, or you are against us, and you must choose which side you’re on.

I’m sure a lot of people will take issue with what I just said, but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me at this point. Witness where the church has gone in the last few months:

Almost exactly one year ago, the LDS church was using the relationship between Tom Christofferson (Apostle Todd Christofferson’s gay brother) and his LDS ward as an example of how gays and the LDS church could find harmony. According to KUTV, Elder Christofferson noted that his brother had “returned to the faith” and he and his partner were “active participants in their neighborhood ward.” In November, we learned that the church now considers Tom Christofferson and his partner to be “apostates,” which would preclude them from any kind of participation in the ward beyond attendance. This month, Apostle Russell Nelson doubled-down by affirming that the policy excluding gays and their children from church blessings was given by revelation from God.

In 2012, the official church web site, mormonsandgays.org, acknowledged that same-sex attraction is not something that people can change but that it was something to be “borne” or “endured” in the hope that it might change in the next life:

We believe that with an eternal perspective, a person’s attraction to the same sex can be addressed and borne as a mortal test. It should not be viewed as a permanent condition. An eternal perspective beyond the immediacy of this life’s challenges offers hope. Though some people, including those resisting same-sex attraction, may not have the opportunity to marry a person of the opposite sex in this life, a just God will provide them with ample opportunity to do so in the next. We can all live life in the full context of who we are, which is much broader than sexual attraction.

Just over a week ago, the church published on the LDS.org web site a talk that suggested that, if gay members would only get “desperate” enough, they could through prayer have their sexual orientation changed:

Gratefully, the Savior has paid the price for every gift of the Spirit we will ever need to help us. It’s up to us to prayerfully discover which gifts we need. We may need the gift of self-discipline or of cheerfulness. Perhaps we need the gift of patience, or the gift to be healed, or the gift to forgive. Perhaps we need the gift to have our sexual feelings be in harmony with eternal laws. Perhaps we realize that we cannot live one more minute without the gift of unshakable faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we’re desperate for any gift of the Spirit, that is when we will finally pray with all the energy of heart for that gift. And the great news is that each spiritual gift we receive takes us one more step forward into our true selves. …

I pray that this year you will have some moments of anguishing desperation that will propel you further along the path to becoming the man or woman you were born to be. Your true self is spectacular! Never settle for less.

The problem, of course, is that desperation only drives change where change is possible. Say I decided that I am not the man I was born to be because the physical condition I was born with makes it difficult for me to swallow some kinds of food without extreme care. I’ve had many medical procedures to make it easier for me to swallow, but my doctors tell me I’ve progressed as far as I’m going to go. I suppose I could become desperate to change this aspect of my body, enough so that I would pray that God would “heal” me and make me the person I was born to be. After all, I shouldn’t settle for less.

What would be the end result? All the prayer in the world isn’t going to change the fact that I have a narrow part of my esophagus ringed with scar tissue. If I followed Sister Nelson’s counsel, in the near-certain absence of change, my desperation would turn to despair. At some point I would be forced to accept that I can’t change that aspect of my body, or I would give in to despair, which derives from the Latin de esperare–literally “without hope.” Given my history with depression, I have a pretty good idea where things would end.

If the church itself acknowledges that sexual orientation–whatever its roots–isn’t something you can will or pray away, what is the point of Sister Nelson’s wholly inappropriate remarks? Does she–a trained and licensed therapist–really believe gay Mormons can and should follow her counsel to change their “sexual feelings”? I doubt it very much.

What this is about is drawing clear lines between the church and “the world.” If we take her at her word, the problem is not only behavior, but also desire, because, she wants us to believe, both can be changed. Obviously, someone who doesn’t change his or her sexual orientation through prayer and the gifts of the Spirit isn’t desperate enough. And those members who give into despair (and let’s not kid ourselves, there will be more than one) clearly didn’t channel their desperation into righteous avenues. It’s not her fault if lives are destroyed; she’s only telling it like it is.

In the end, however, I don’t believe any of this was meant for the benefit of gay or lesbian members or nonmembers. It was directed at straight members as another distinction that makes for a peculiar people. “You are not like them,” the members need to be told, “and you must not tolerate people like that in the ranks of our people.”

Like the woman I knew, the point is to divide, to pit friends and family against each other, forcing them to put the church first. It’s a destructive and wholly unrighteous game, but that is what is happening.

 

 

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45 Responses to Truth Hurts

  1. Andrew S says:

    Almost exactly one year ago, the LDS church was using the relationship between Tom Christofferson (Apostle Todd Christofferson’s gay brother) and his LDS ward as an example of how gays and the LDS church could find harmony. According to KUTV, Elder Christofferson noted that his brother had “returned to the faith” and he and his partner were “active participants in their neighborhood ward.” In November, we learned that the church now considers Tom Christofferson and his partner to be “apostates,” which would preclude them from any kind of participation in the ward beyond attendance.

    Not that this will make the conclusion any better, but I think you’re missing a detail. Subsequent to that KUTV article, Tom Christofferson broke up with his partner (undisclosed reasons), and then underwent whatever the prerequisite repentance time is (1 year, right). I think he has even been rebaptized. I vaguely recall hearing that he has gone through the temple again, but I may have misheard that one. I think he has been rebaptized though, for sure.

    So, really, his story is an example of how even someone who was deep in the sin of a gay relationship could repent. The church does not consider Tom Christofferson to be an apostate.

    • runtu says:

      Thanks for the clarification. I wonder if he feels like he’s been used. I would.

      • Andrew S says:

        as far as I know, he presents as definitely having a sincere, abiding testimony, so I don’t really think he would feel that way.

        he did have some comments expressing some bafflement about the new policy though — although as things have progressed, he hasn’t been too vocal on that.

      • runtu says:

        I don’t really know where he stands. Either way, the welcome he felt a year ago is clearly not being extended to gay couples anymore.

      • Andrew S says:

        Well, I don’t know if there is any effective difference on that point. When they had been attending together, they were excommunicated (with the limitations that has). Other believing gay folks in relationships have a similar deal – they attend and participate to the best of their ability as excommunicated members.

        The new policy doesn’t say they must be turned away at the door. It doesn’t say they must be treated unkindly. So I think all that will depend on ward roulette. But that was true even without a policy.

  2. IrishLDS says:

    Runtu, your agenda is clear.
    In your last post you railed against revelation and now you are railing against prayer.
    Not only that – but you act as if you have a knack for reading the true motives and intentions of others — but your representation of them does not ring true.
    In Lehi’s vision of the tree of life … the tree is only reached by those who hold to the iron rod. The tree represents the love of God, or Christ with his loving arms outstretched, while the rod represents the word of God. Clearly, the word of God, which is firm and stable, leads to the love of God. You don’t feel that love (taste of the fruit) without accepting that word. And the word of God is revelation. Revelation through those appointed (e.g. the prophets and apostles) and personal revelation to those on the path.
    There are those who mock these things because they no longer experience them. They think they are wise but actually they have no foundation – from their lofty position they think they see things better than the prophets and apostles, better than the ordinary, faithful & humble followers of Christ but actually they are blind and on very shaky ground.
    I don’t get the concern. If the church is false, why would you want any child to be a member of it?
    Social cohesion? Familial ties? Awesome activities?
    What reason would you rather they belong to a (what you believe is a) false church? It seems lopsided reasoning. Which pain is greater – the pain of being excluded from a false church or the pain of being included in it?
    There are those of us who are opposed to same-sex marriage and who appreciated the clarity of the word of God in these times. We understand that we must treat all with kindness, especially children. We understand that sometimes to be denied something temporarily is not the same thing as being punished. This policy, doctrine, revelation, position … establishes the fact that going forward parents can choose whether they want their children to be able to be baptised etc or not. It is the choice of parents that will prevent their baptism, not the choice of the church.
    It is fashionable today to suggest that there are no “forbidden paths” and no “strange roads” but there still are. In fact, there are probably more of them. But there is also a path that leads home: a clearly marked path, to which apostles and prophets lovingly invite us. How loving is it to pretend that such a path does not exist … or that it is not strait and narrow… when it actually is?

    • runtu says:

      In short, you’re totally fine with what Sister Nelson said.

      • IrishLDS says:

        Yep… but she did not say what you claimed she said. You read your own ideas into it. The “harmony” she speaks of can be achieved without a change in orientation – see Elder Holland’s talk from conference. Plus, it seems to me, that gaining any gift of the spirit does require desiring it and praying for it. Your analogy with your own bodily limitation is misleading – because you have no element of choice to change that. Of course a miracle could change it and it will be removed in the resurrection but we don’t actually advocate praying to add cubits to your height or hair to your head. So some bodily limitations are not overcome simply by praying harder or longer. On the other hand, “sexual feelings” are not deterministic (she did not say orientation). We choose to act on them or to nourish them. And we may need grace to change that choice … or even to recognise that there is an element of choice.
        There is some irony when people talk about being born a certain way. They argue that only when it suits them (contrast homosexuality and transsexuality, for example). The gospel raises a further question beyond our being born though. It asks whether we have been born again. That is where the gifts of the spirit come in, and the corresponding mighty change of HEART (rather than body), that brings us into ever increasing harmony with God’s eternal laws.
        That is a journey that we are all invited to make. That some refuse to make it does not mean that the invitation should not be extended. In that sense, I would be worried if statements like Sister Nelson’s (or President Nelson’s) were not being made!

  3. Lane says:

    Great insights! Thank you

  4. IrishLDS says:

    I watched the entire broadcast last night and was incensed!
    How dare Sister and President Nelson actually claim to believe the things they claim to believe! Imagine asking anyone to improve, to change or to do anything other than what they want to do! Imagine claiming that God wants to help those who are desperate, or that we need his direction, or that he has eternal laws! Imagine claiming that God has helped you when you were desperate, or when you needed direction, or when you needed to improve!
    Imagine claiming to love people, to want what is best for them, and believing that through the grace and help of God, they could actually achieve it! It makes my blood boil! How dare they! How dare they!

    • David Macfarlane says:

      Why protesteth thou so?

      • runtu says:

        I understand it. For some people, it’s inconceivable that the church or any of its leaders could ever be wrong about something, so no matter what, it behooves the member to defend the church and its leaders. For such folks, any criticism (say, like the last 2 posts I’ve written) is “railing against prophets and prayer, etc.” It really is hard to have a reasonable discussion with someone who sees things in such black-and-white terms. Oh, well. It doesn’t bother me. I think I used to be a little like that myself and forced myself to rationalize everything the church said and did. Then I grew up a little.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        Wrong … about race and the priesthood, for example?

    • IrishLDS says:

      Runtu,
      Actually it is very conceivable to me that prophets and the church could be wrong about things. I can list numerous examples of them being wrong. I can show scriptural examples of such. The claim I believe in infallibility is very misplaced … a total straw man.
      But I don’t use examples of the “mistakes of men” to condemn the “things of God”. That because the issue – is this thing of God? President Nelson spoke about the sacred process of receiving revelation and used the recent addition to the handbook as an example of that process. I don’t think he was lying. Nor do I think he was mistaken. That means that 15 prophets, seers and revelators (all ordained apostles) had a confirmation that this was the way to proceed.
      I had already received revelation confirming the rightness of the policy (I had an increasingly settled feeling about it) … so it wasn’t surprising to me that the brethren received it by revelation. But I didn’t assume it had to be received by revelation … so I didn’t just accept it (without consulting my conscience!) That it was confirmed by revelation doesn’t make it doctrine though (any more than 18 year old elders serving missions is doctrine). Revelations aren’t only about doctrinal issues. The doctrine is what underpins the stance of the church on same-sex relationships. This policy (or practice) is based on the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in many places and so the church has to have a policy on it. This issue, unlike the previous priesthood restriction, actually goes to the heart of central LDS theology – to surrender our stance on the centrality of celestial (heterosexual) marriage would be a significant rewrite of our revealed theology. Revelations can revise things (there are scriptural examples of this) but the more central a doctrine is the less likely that revision is.
      My chief disagreement with you was that you treated the claim to revelation in a disrespectful manner (by suggesting that many believing Mormons would just accept the policy even though they know it is wrong!) There are many of us who believe it is right – and, in the long run, actually less hurtful than the alternative.
      Then you went after Sister Nelson because she expressed a belief in the power of prayer and the atonement to help us harmonise our feelings with God’s external laws – A principle that could be true even without a change in sexual orientation … and also applies to many heterosexuals (who need God’s help to live his laws). You seemed mean-spirited in a way that (after listening to the broadcast in full) Sister Nelson clearly wasn’t. You actually treated her very disrespectfully in your post.
      That was why I responded to this 2nd post. You were railing. I respect your personal right to have an opinion and to express it. And for it be, ironically, so black and white about it! But you should respect the right of others to have theirs and to express them. If you were genuinely concerned for “desperate” people that might make bad choices you could have expressed that without the personal attacks, without the false attributions and without the dismissal of the reality of revelation and the power of prayer.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        The revelation I received runs contradictory to your revelation. God spoke to me and said the policy is mean-spirited and not in keeping with his expectations for how his children treat each other. He also said Sister Nelson is mistaken in this instance, that people born with “same sex attraction” (honestly, God chuckled a bit when he uttered that phrase) cannot be expected to live a life of celibate self-loathing. He also mumbled something about “a bunch of Pharisees” and “just loving each other,” but I didn’t catch everything he said.

        So how to we resolve this thorny issue of competing revelations?

      • IrishLDS says:

        I’ll be honest … I don’t believe you got revelation … I don’t even believe that you believe you got revelation. 
        But I’ll accept that you do not believe this position was the result of revelation. Or even stronger, that you believe that God would never give such a revelation … ever.
        So that does raise the question of how to resolve the claim to competing revelations. It is the claim that we need to test, because current revelations from God shouldn’t be contradictory. So we start with the premise that only one revelation is the correct one. We start with the law of non-contradiction or else we can’t make any headway.
        Then it becomes relatively easy to discern. We have lots of markers. For example:
        Who is claiming to have received the revelation? Does it come from the appropriate channel?
        What does the revelation say? What is the message and does it resolve the problem in harmony with all other gospel principles?
        How does this relate to the back catalogue of revelation – the scriptures? Does it contradict or harmonise with them? Is it an exception or an expansion?
        Does it harmonise with the plan (and ordinances) of salvation? Does it demand that these be altered – or worse, be ignored – in a significant way?
        Using these markers I find it easy to discern between your claims to revelation versus the claim of President Nelson that revelation came to the entire council of the ordained apostles. Finally have I sought and received a confirming witness or am I listening only to my own voice, my own will, my own desires on this (or any other) issue? Thorny issue of correct revelation resolved. Other thorny issues that flow therefrom (which are also important) still need to be resolved.

    • IrishLDS says:

      Sorry I provided my own visual aids of fallibility. Here are the corrections:

      But I don’t use examples of the “mistakes of men” to condemn the “things of God”. That is the issue – is this thing of God? …

      I respect your personal right to have an opinion and to express it. And for you to be, ironically, so black and white about it!

  5. Agellius says:

    You write, “As I said, the problem is when the division is intentional and unnecessary, and it usually happens because someone is trying to assert dominance and excluded those who won’t accept their dominance. When called on it, people always say they’re just telling the truth, and it’s not their problem if you find truth offensive.”

    But who is actually “asserting dominance” in our culture at large today? Surely not devout Evangelicals, Catholics or Mormons. The pro-gay cause surely is culturally dominant today. And does it not also try to “exclude those who won’t accept their dominance”? When called on it, do they not say that they’re just telling the truth (that devout Evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons are ignorant bigots and so forth)?

    • runtu says:

      Ah, so the LDS church has to sow division in its own membership in order to combat the dominant culture.

      • Agellius says:

        I’m not saying anything about why the LDS Church does what it does, just pointing out that the pot often calls the kettle black.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        Context and actual harm actually matter. Cultural dominance is as much, perhaps more, a matter of perception than it is real impact. Within the church, assertions from the pulpit have tremendous impact. Church leaders know they have this power, which is why they use it. Outside the church, “cultural dominance” is produced by the ebbs and flows of a diverse society. When gays and lesbians are allowed to wed, it may offend sensibilities, but in no legal, measurable, testable way does it diminish other types of matrimony. There is no constitutional guarantee against being offended.

      • Agellius says:

        David:

        I didn’t say that it diminished other types of matrimony. I said that the dominant pro-gay culture is doing the same thing to Christians who oppose gay marriage that Runtu accused the LDS Church of doing to gay Mormons, namely trying to exclude them from participation in various things.

      • runtu says:

        I don’t think Agellius has a point of reference for what it’s like to live within a rigidly authoritarian system. That’s my impression, anyway.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        What things?

  6. Agellius says:

    Runtu:

    I am sure that you don’t perceive the dominant pro-gay paradigm as authoritarian, but a lot of us do. : )

    • runtu says:

      I didn’t say anything about the “pro-gay paradigm.” Are you suggesting that the gay-rights movement exerts the same degree and kind of control and power over you that the leadership of the LDS church exerts over its members?

      • Agellius says:

        Runtu:

        I know you didn’t say anything about the pro-gay paradigm. That was my term to describe the modern cultural and economic pressure to conform to gay marriage.

        I would say that the pro-gay paradigm exerts *more* control and power over American citizens than the LDS Church exerts over its members, mainly on the ground that no one has to join or stay in the LDS Church if he doesn’t want to, but the vast majority of us do have to go to school and have a job.

      • runtu says:

        Like I said, you don’t have a point of reference for living in a closed, authoritarian system. You just confirmed it.

        For the record, I am absolutely against forcing people to violate their religious beliefs in the ways you describe.

      • Agellius says:

        “Like I said, you don’t have a point of reference for living in a closed, authoritarian system. You just confirmed it.”

        I wish I knew what you meant by this. : )

      • runtu says:

        Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to explain it to someone who hasn’t lived it. I will just accept that we disagree about the righteousness of the LDS church’s recent exclusionary policies.

      • Agellius says:

        What I mean is, I don’t know how I confirmed that I have never lived in a closed, authoritarian system.

        As far as disagreeing with the LDS Church’s tactics, I have no position on them. I was just pointing out that if excluding people is an indication of the motive of domination, then the “pro-gay paradigm” must have the same motive. And it’s working, because I do in fact feel dominated as well as threatened with exclusion.

        I understand that you don’t agree with those kinds of tactics, which, I suspect, indicates your agreement that they tend a little too much towards authoritarianism.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        Consider this: “When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done.” That’s a phrase both familiar and dear to most Mormons. Does that sound like an authoritarian system you are familiar with? I honestly don’t know, but for me it sums up the church and how many members approach it.

  7. Agellius says:

    David:

    I’m thinking of Brendan Eich not being allowed to keep his job, of the threats of boycotts that erupted when Indiana passed its RFRA, of lawsuits trying to force small businesses to participate in gay weddings or go out of business, of Gordon College being threatened with having its accreditation taken away due to its policy against homosexual activity on campus. How many people do you think are forced to keep their anti-gay-marriage views to themselves for fear of being fired or sued? (Why do you think I blog anonymously?)

    • David Macfarlane says:

      Corporate executives are regularly forced out of their jobs by boards of directors for a variety of reasons. Boycotts are a right of individuals in directing where their money goes. Gordon College kept its accreditation. You cannot be sued for thinking and expressing a belief contrary to legal gay marriage–the 1st Amendment applies. As for being fired for it? People are fired for vague and unspecified and petty reasons every day–sometimes people are fired for being gay, without that being stated on HR forms. (Discrimination works both ways.) Being subject to hostile public opinion is simply the product of operating in the public sphere. It’s magnified in the age of the internet, but it’s always been thus.

      You know, there are alcoholic bartenders, observant Muslims and Jews that serve people bacon. In those cases, we think people shouldn’t be in those businesses if they object to the substance of the business. But bakers should be free to not bake cakes for gay people because it would be an expression of support for gay marriage. A cake is a cake, and a verbal expression of support for gay marriage is just that.

      Again, in life, you are not free to never come into contact with things that offend your sensibilities, and I would argue that is what’s happening in many cases.

      • Agellius says:

        David:

        Note that I didn’t say that companies shouldn’t have the right to hire or fire someone at will, nor that people don’t have the right to boycott for whatever reason they want. Prohibiting such things would be authoritarian. I also never suggested that anyone could be sued for expressing anti-gay-marriage beliefs — only that they might get fired for it, pursuant to the right enumerated above.

        Gordon College kept its accreditation after being made to jump through hoops for a year, “to ensure that the College’s policies and procedures are non-discriminatory,” i.e. prove itself innocent rather than being presumed innocent. I cited this not as proof of legal oppression but as an illustration of the cultural coercion that devout Christians feel themselves to be subjected to. That it should even be a question that a Christian college has the right to regulate sexual activity on campus based on its stated moral principles is very, very disturbing. Yes, it survived the ordeal, but it should not have occurred in the first place.

        But we seem to be straying from the point. I never argued that people have a right not to be offended. What I argued was that if the LDS Church’s exclusion of practicing homosexuals indicates a desire to dominate, then so do the actions of those who try to quash all dissent from the pro-gay paradigm through lawsuits and various forms of harassment.

        If your rebuttal is that people have the right in a democracy to find Christians opinions offensive, and to speak out and even take action against them, even to the point where Christians begin to feel excluded and threatened, then I reply that the LDS Church also has the right in a democracy to believe whatever it wants, and to insist on conformity among its members as a condition of membership. Mormons have no more right to not be offended by their own Church’s teachings, than Christians have to not be offended by the efforts of the pro-gay paradigm to shout down dissent. We’re all within our rights, right?

      • David Macfarlane says:

        Actually, you did say something about people being sued for expressing non-gay-marriage beliefs.

        “How many people do you think are forced to keep their anti-gay-marriage views to themselves for fear of being fired or sued?”

        After reading your last post, I doubt you meant to include that.

        Is this conversation about rights? In part, I guess. You gave several examples with which you take issue. If the point is to decry shifts in public morals and values, and to notice that some fall predominantly into the “don’t like” group as a result, there is nothing on which to disagree. That is demonstrable fact, and there is nothing to be done about it in a civil, diverse society.

        Of course, in a democracy the Mormons can believe and espouse whatever they want. No one is arguing against that. But if society shifts and no longer likes my group, for the most part, I still have my group, my tribe, in which to commune and bond and find acceptance. Mormonism fairly demands that members define themselves first and foremost as Mormons (there has been no reformation and there are few places to go), and then it takes members born with a certain characteristics (the church generally and quietly acknowledges this now) and makes them unworthy of the church’s, and hence God’s, love. Some see suicide as their only option.

        Is the church acting within it’s rights? Sure. Is it acting in a Christ-like, generous, empathetic manner, taking into consideration the tremendous power to influence it has? What do you think?

        Ultimately, isn’t your point that society is breaking down and fracturing when we find it acceptable to treat people in very ungenerous ways because of the beliefs they hold? Maybe. But people on both sides feel threatened and marginalized. Who will be first to step toward the middle?

        Thanks for enduring the ramble. Enjoyed your previous post. Thanks.

      • Agellius says:

        David:

        ‘Actually, you did say something about people being sued for expressing non-gay-marriage beliefs…. After reading your last post, I doubt you meant to include that.’

        No, I meant that. But I didn’t mean that they would be sued for the expression per se, only that the honest expression of opinion on this issue could lead to being sued for something that otherwise they would not have been sued for.

        ‘Is this conversation about rights?’

        You made it about rights, in my view, by arguing against my examples of Christians being excluded, by saying that people in a free society have a right to not like you and your opinions, and you do not have the right to have them not offend you, not fire you, not boycott you, etc. If I can’t complain of domination by the pro-gay paradigm on the ground that it has the right to treat me as it does, then I will argue the same in the other direction.

        But if we’re talking about whether it’s a nice thing to do, then I will argue that if it’s mean in the case of the Church, then it’s also mean, uncivil and divisive in the case of the pro-gay paradigm. If the PGP wants Christians to be nice to gays, then it should also be nice to Christians. What I resent is their insistence on dignity and respect in the one direction, while arrogating the right to judge and condemn in the other.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        Well, okay, but you’re making a few assumptions here. Being sued for not baking a cake is not being sued for expressing your feelings on gay marriage, at least according to the courts. So, legally owning a business and deciding who you are going to serve based on your personal beliefs is not a First Amendment issue.

        I did make it about rights because it seems like that’s the only relevant grounds for a conversation. Otherwise, we’re just having a debate over hurt feelings, which is pointless.

        On the whole, I don’t disagree with you. Mean spirited-ness begets the same. Hypocrisy emerges in all of us. But I see a difference here because homosexuals have been asking for their rights under the Constitution–the law of the land, which Christians also point to as the protector of their rights. Christians, especially Mormons, in this case, had worked actively to deny gays and lesbians their Constitutional rights, for which they are angry. I get that.

        If Mormons had said, the Constitution protects this right for gays and lesbians, but we don’t recognize it in our church, and we don’t have to because First Amendment, that’s a position I respect and support. But they didn’t do that. And this says nothing about the treatment of gays and lesbians in the church BY the church. They are well within their rights, but I think it’s a wholly un-Christian approach.

        If you’re worried about your rights, you best not be actively trying to deny someone else’s. That’s just good politics.

      • Agellius says:

        “If you’re worried about your rights, you best not be actively trying to deny someone else’s.”

        Precisely my point.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        Uh, okay. Although, you do realize that in the context of Mormons versus gays, it was the Mormons who fired the first salvo and kept on firing, regardless of broader cultural issues about the “pro-gay paradigm”, etc.

      • Agellius says:

        David:

        You couldn’t just let it end on a point of agreement, could you? : )

        In any case, no, I don’t realize that. However as I keep saying, I am not here to argue the Mormon side.

      • David Macfarlane says:

        Hah! Okay, I will. Glad we could reach some sort of consensus on this most vexing of problems. Now if only someone would consult us ..

  8. Agellius says:

    “Consider this: “When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done.” That’s a phrase both familiar and dear to most Mormons. Does that sound like an authoritarian system you are familiar with?”

    Are you kidding? I’m Catholic. You’ve heard of papal infallibility, surely? : )

    • David Macfarlane says:

      Hah, yes. You know this joke? Catholics say the pope is infallible but no one believes it. Mormons say the prophet is fallible but no one believes it.

      • Agellius says:

        And Protestants say that everyone is an infallible interpreter of the scriptures, *except* the Pope. : )

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