Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Of Bakers, Florists, Photographers, Of Organists and King

by Janice Graham

Don't know if you caught the nod to Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter . . of shoes and ships and sealing wax, etc." there in our title. The whole world seems to have followed a white rabbit into a dark Wonderland.

Here's the deal. We presume everyone has heard about the baker, the florist, and the photographer who declined to service gay wedding celebrations. Well, how about a church organist? That would be me.

The baker, the florist, and the photographer are being punished. Businesses have closed down. I heard on the news that the florist may even lose her house. But she says she's willing to endure persecution and financial ruin for her religious and moral convictions for the sake of her children and grandchildren.

Now, incredibly, my church at the top, has gone pro-gay. Don't think so? It has officially given money to a gay activist organization run by proud and practicing sodomites. (As far as I know it hasn't given money to organizations like the Family Research Council.) It orchestrated and pushed through a Utah bill with special protections for individuals who are extremely public about pushing all things LGBTQI+ on everybody, when it could have supported a bill like Indiana's which protects individual religious freedom. It agreed to allow openly "gay" boys into its Boy Scout troops. It changed its university honor code to allow open homosexuality and the advocacy of.

I could go on but those are just some of the things we know about. And if we know plenty, there are probably many more.
These changes in the church have caused quite a bit of reflection. Here I am a lifelong member, a conservative grandma who plays the organ in her church meetings. I have strong, informed, Biblical beliefs about sexual morality. I've been paying attention. I know that sexual sins too disgusting to be described in polite society have now been given new names and become celebrated. I know that whatever you call it, however you falsely characterize it, all things LGBTQI+ both in principle and in practice are wrong and hurtful. I don't care how popular or strong this modern movement is or how many people are doing it or how many of my own relatives, friends, or leaders are giving in to it, celebrating it, or involved in it. Nothing can change its physical and spiritual harmfulness. Christ, the author of all truth and goodness and morality, is my King, just as he is the baker's, the florist's, and the photographer's. I am also a member of a formerly extremely conservative church that has lately been "evolving" into something quite different: "understanding, inclusive, nondiscriminatory" when it comes to these sexual sins. In other words, the opposite of conservative, on this and other important issues. Down the rabbit hole.

My church is also very demanding. We're constantly being reminded of our many family and church responsibilities. One is that in order to enter our most sacred houses of worship, we have to do certain things which are monitored at periodic interviews where we must answer certain questions. One of those concerns our full loyalty to the current leaders. This is obviously now a problem for people like me who value everlasting truth. Another is asking whether we pay a certain amount of money (tithes) to the Church. Others ask whether we wear the special underwear, regularly attend church meetings, and refrain from alcohol, smoking, tea and coffee. No, no Starbucks for us. If we do not pass this interview we cannot enter our temples where, among other things, family members' marriage ceremonies are performed.

But there's more. To be considered an active member I also feel required to serve in the church in several ways. Currently, one of those services I perform is that of organist, a position I put a good amount of time, money, and effort into. I took lessons, go to workshops, purchased the special shoes and lots of music, and go to the chapel and practice often, even everyday if the hymns I have to play are extra difficult. Then with ice-cold hands and a prayer in my heart I perform, playing prelude and postlude and accompanying the hymn singing for worship services, hoping I won't make any bad mistakes that would detract from the spirit of the meeting. This is actually quite stressful and takes a lot out of me, but I'm hoping it will get easier with time and experience. 

And there are more things. Baby blessings, baptisms, missions, conferences, education, family history, temple work, family traditions, service projects, all of which are suddenly compromised. They all have to do with a church which now inexplicably supports things I know to be wrong.    

Strange, as an active fifth-generation member of this church I never thought about any of this very much until recently. I don't think any of us do. All in all, completely apart from working on my own inward religiousity/relationship with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, belonging to this church is quite complicated and all-encompassing, and now quite troubling. If in my personal life and church activity I do not do all of the exteriors mentioned above, and much more, I will most likely be discussed in private meetings, singled out as "less active" or "inactive," made a project of, and perhaps be called in to a leader's office and pressured, questioned, lectured, or chastised. Worst of all, I could be refused entrance into the aforementioned temples, which translates into being estranged on something very important from my own family. As the red queen said, "Off with her head!"

 I don't know if any non-churchgoer can understand how such an institution is not just a huge part of our lives, but everyday life itself. We personally do lots of stuff our church says to do and not do---every single day. Good things, yes, but our actual religion seems to be quite another thing. In other words, one can go through all the many external performances, feel a lot of emotions, interact with a lot of other people, participate in all the trappings, but have no truly religious beliefs or convictions at all. I know because I used to be that way. It was in mid-life that I finally did my spiritual homework. But that's another story, like Through the Looking Glass. 

Here comes the question: Is not this organist suddenly put into the same boat as the florist, the baker, the wedding photo maker, albeit not quite as directly? Against my deep moral and religious convictions I am being intimidated or compelled to participate in and give precious resources to an entity that now quite suddenly and publicly supports and celebrates things I believe and know to be wrong and harmful. And if I don't get into step I'll be persecuted and punished in ways that are extremely hurtful to me.

My church has lots of truth, but apparently has adopted some of the current world's lies as well which are now being imposed on people like me. These lies and the pressure to accept them are rapidly gathering strength and power. They will no doubt expand within the church. As someone said, that which is encouraged will increase. Looks like my unalienable right to follow my King and live and worship according to the dictates of my conscience (see the U.S. Constitution) is being infringed upon as I participate within my own church. When will I wake up from this bad dream?

And yet it's a chance to turn to Christ. We're supposed to rejoice in the chance to be persecuted for his sake. It's a hard doctrine not for the faint of heart. God help us.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Do As I'm Doing, Follow, Follow Me

Scott W. emailed us: "You are totally incorrect. Homosexuality is not taught from the pulpit. I have not heard one church leader say that committing a homosexual act is not a sin. On the contrary, homosexual acts by members will result in Disciplinary Councils. The church still stands by the Proclamation on the Family. Divine truth does not and has not changed."

It would be nice to believe the LDS Church is holding out against homosexual behavior, that it will not abandon such a basic biblical tenet. A lot of people are hanging their hats on that. But is this true anymore? Here are the facts. You decide.

In early 2015 the Church orchestrated and wholeheartedly supported a Utah law which of course passed which specially protects unlimited perverse sexual and gender identities and behaviors. Some of the most staunch and outspoken family values legislators flipped overnight and voted for this bill. On what planet is the proactive protection of those who engage in homosexual behavior not a recognition and encouragement of homosexual behavior? On what planet will this sentiment, spoken or unspoken, not extend to church members? Obviously it did in the case of these legislators.

True, acceptance of homosexual behaviors has not been proclaimed or announced from the general pulpit in so many words (yet), although Elder Oaks came close in his Oct. 2014 conference talk when we were instructed to be gracious and good listeners and noncontentious to those we disagree with (this obviously included the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage which is homosexual behavior). Funny how this sort of thing has translated into homosexual behavior being accepted and even celebrated in wards and stakes in Washington, California, and Connecticut. Talking about celebrations, on March 19, 2015 Pres. Uchtdorf attended a banquet, spoke, received an award, and handed over a $10,000 check from the Church to a gay rights organization thinly veiled as a humanitarian group (affiliated with the Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah and all other gay rights groups; search Inclusion Center Utah Gay). There's no question the people in this group are all for LGBTQI+ behavior.And the Church just gave them moral and financial support.

As for disciplinary action for gay behavior within the Church, this is up to thousands of different bishops and stake presidents. Church headquarters does not define homosexual behavior or give clear comprehensive guidelines. Therefore there is a great deal of leeway and rationalization and, where gays are concerned, lying. Yes, deceit is part of it, perhaps the worst part. We and experts believe that identifying oneself publicly as gay is homosexual behavior. Then there's lusting, pornography, chat rooms, phone sex, cruising, flirting, holding hands, hugging, kissing, dating, marching in gay pride parades, and on and on, aside from actual sodomy and the like. All are pro-homosexual acts.

If we believe the scriptures, we must admit that lust is a sinful mental activity, a behavior. All lust, including homosexual lust, is pleasurable. A person makes a conscious decision to indulge in lust. Lust is sin, one of the seven deadly sins. Lust leads to more and more sinful activities. Some Church leaders have flipped on this principle without explanation or correction. One of many examples of contradictory statements is: in a 1995 Ensign article Elder Oaks wrote, "Immoral thoughts [homosexual lust] also need to be resisted and repented of because we know our thoughts will also condemn us."  Then in 2006 in the Oaks/Wickman interview, he said, "It is no sin to have inclinations [homosexual lust] that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression." What? He used to say immoral thoughts are sinful ("need to be resisted and repented of") and then changed to say immoral thoughts are not sinful, even if they lead to transgression. Make of that  stunning reversal what you will.

This new idea that crept out from the Church that homosexuality is not sinful unless "acted on" (no definition) is probably the most quoted and encouraging factor used by self-identifying individuals to validate and cement the false gay identity, to pave the way for sexual experimentation (if it's okay in principle, it must be okay in practice---the Church is evolving after all), and to promote the acceptance of homosexuality within the general church. On mormonsandgays.org (2012), there is nothing, repeat, nothing, about resisting or repenting of or rejecting or overcoming homosexual lust. No help is offered. ZERO. No spiritual help, no psychological help, no nothing. This means these outspoken leaders aren't concerned with how miserable these lusts make a person, or how likely it is that these lusts will lead to destructive and dangerous behaviors both temporally and spiritually, nor is there any concern shown for their would-be posterity. (Gays themselves admit that no self-identifying gay will remain celibate for long, whatever they mean by celibate.)

There are lots more examples of the Church softening on homosexuality in principle, such as the change in BYU's honor code, the video "It Gets Better at BYU" being allowed, and BYU inviting acting-out ex-communicated homosexual Lee Beckstead to train counselors in its Counseling Center. The Church also edited Pres. Packer's 2010 conference talk, and the list goes on.

Sorry, Scott W., what is accepted in principle is accepted in practice, sooner rather than later, secretly if not publicly.  Whatever Church leaders say---and what they say is certainly contradictory and confusing to anyone paying any sort of attention--- it's what they actually do that does the most to create public sentiment and inform public opinion, which in turn encourages and escalates certain acts.

Who Are These Ex-Mormons Reading Our Blog?

Our blog posts have had lots of visits from ex-Mormons lately. This seems strange to us. Why are they interested in any Mormons anymore? Are they trying to find vindication for leaving the church? Do they hope we join in their misery? Because many people writing to and about us do sound miserable. Bitter and angry. They seem to hate not just the Church, but God and goodness. They avoid the timeless principles we talk about and attack us personally. They call us hateful, unChristlike, racists, bigots, and something like sex addicts which lets us know these are proud homosexual ex-Mormons. They publicly fantasize about our private marital sexual relations, presuming to describe them in detail. Not knowing any of them personally, they mock and demonize our grown-up children. They obviously do not value procreation, family, or God. All of this can only be because we, the very few outspoken hold-outs, are still speaking out against  homosexuality in all its forms. In reality, these days the LDS Church is becoming much more friendly toward all things LGBTQI+ than toward us old-fashioned, stodgy-sounding, traditional-values people. The Church has changed its worldview on sexual purity, at least when it comes to unlimited perverse sexuality/sexual orientation. Maybe these ex-Mormon homosexualists should have held out.

We've also had invitations from fundamentalists. Sorry, we doubt polygamy was ever right. (We can say that now that it's okay to disagree with the Church.)

 We think the most important question is why. Why did these people leave the Church?Why does anyone?

 Here's something for them to think about.

Smaller minds dwell on things, people, and events. Larger minds dwell on ideas, principles, truths. When things, people, or events in your church offend you, you can get mad and throw up your hands. Or, you can look at it as a chance to get humble, look for the beam in your own eye, turn to the Lord continually, pray for people and wish the eternal best for them. This reaction can only bring you closer to God. Flannery O'Connor, a devout Catholic, approached her church with what Richard Giannone called "a clear, cold eye and a warm heart." She wrote, "To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness. Charity is hard and endures." 

We sure haven't heard any ex-Mormon/homosexualist reading our posts say anything like, "And since I left the church, I have grown much more charitable and humble and pure and reliant on my Savior." Or "Whatever is happening around me, I have peace because I love God, trust the Lord, and listen to the Spirit." No, these are people who are full of frustration and confusion,  not to mention preoccupation with their sexual feelings. Instead of increasing their prayers and asking the Lord for correction or knowledge, they blame others for their unhappiness. They are losing a great chance to grow spiritually. Not that it's easy.  Flannery said, "What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket when of course it is the cross." Yes, for serious believers religion is costly even within their own churches. It's always been that way, but it's even harder now. And yet the worse things are, the more enticements to turn to the Lord. Just think how much these defectors might be growing if they stayed, or even if they had left for the right reasons. They'd be using their spiritual muscles and learning all sorts of discernment. They might even experience the mighty, mighty, mighty change of heart.

Our question is, what about The Book of Mormon? Are these people stuck on human failings and knit-picky things that don't matter? They don't believe in any of it anymore? We believe it's true. The Book of Mormon compliments the Bible. It's all about Christ being our Redeemer if we let him. We treasure above all things the truths the scriptures contain. If it's just human beings they're upset with, past and present, why let them have such power over you? Samuel Coleridge said that the hardest thing to learn is the ignorance of people.It is a harsh lesson. But it's best to strive to learn it. It's our relationship with the Godhead that matters. It's knowing what is truth and what is error by the Spirit, the important stuff, not the stuff that doesn't matter. Our guess is that all of this sounds like Greek to these bitter ex-Mormon homosexualists reading and spouting off about our blog and us personally. They have never even thought about these things but have made themselves and their pleasures their god.

Again, people and events are something entirely different than timeless true principles. People can disappoint and deceive, deity does not. People connive and calculate and use subtleties and sophistries. God does none of those things. It's only the Spirit of the Lord that can tell us the truth of all things. That is where we at SoL strive to put our hearts. But none of the angry presumptuous ex-Mormon gays we hear from ever talk about the Spirit or truth or anything like that.

What a waste.

Our message to all? Come to Christ. The real Christ.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Church House Divided

Apparently, according to Elder Christofferson, we Mormons are now allowed to publicly disagree with our leaders (yes, even on social media) and still qualify for a temple recommend. Funny, because the question in the temple rec. interview reads, "Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?"  Which if we answer yes we assume we won't get our recommend. And now, suddenly, we as individuals, families, friends, can quite publicly disagree with things the Church is doing and shout it to the whole world and apparently still get our rec.Confusing!

This is what Elder C. said:  "We have individual members in the church with a variety of different opinions, beliefs and positions on these issues and other issues . . . In our view, it doesn't really become a problem unless someone is out attacking the Church and its leaders---if that's a deliberate and persistent effort and trying to get others to follow them, trying to draw others away, trying to pull people, if you will, out of the church or away from its teachings and doctrines."

 I guess we are supposed to think this is aimed at radical Mormon feminists and homosexualists, to people  all for ordaining women to the priesthood or those all in favor of gay marriage (public legitimization of sodomy, etc.). But we figure it has to apply to people like us at SoL too, now, because we certainly can't agree with the embrace-of-sexual-sin trajectory the Church is obviously now on. Elder C. denies that the Church is "evolving" on the  issue of homosexuality (which evolution has been reported all over the news); he says it's just their "approach" that's changed. Wait. Hmm. We can't agree with that. It would seem that  evolving and changing your approach are exactly the same thing. He also says they have gained increased "understanding." But wait. Understanding something wrong doesn't make it any less wrong.

But back to being allowed to disagree. From the outset there are some real concerns. We need to know how they define "attacking" or as Elder Oaks said, "ridiculing." Some people take disagreements very personally. No matter how you word it, no matter what your tone is, they call it contention, and yes, attacking. And what kind of language would qualify as "trying to get others to follow . . . etc.?" When people express their opinions it is to share them. I don't know how a person could share a valued belief without trying to get others to think about it and maybe find some truth in it. Isn't that what missionary work is?

What if a member in good standing publicly clearly disagrees with the Church and is very handy on the internet and articulate and persuasive (with love unfeigned, as Elder C. reminds us)? What if he is sharing not because he wants to draw people away from the Church but because he wants us all to be as one with the Lord? What if he gets popular and some number of followers? And what if, just by voicing his opinions (remember, all of which are now allowed), which happen to oppose the Church's current view, he causes some people to leave the Church? Is he in trouble? It's like these hate crimes laws. How can anybody read a person's mind? How can you know a person's motives? What are the limits? How far does it have to go before the government/Church doesn't like it? It all sounds dangerously arbitrary and uncertain.

Also, it's supposedly the local leaders who do the disciplining and excommunicating of members. These are not usually gospel scholars or scientists or experts on human sexuality; they are lay people who, from what we've seen and heard, often seem to enjoy climbing the church's sociological ladder of position and privilege, which kind of thing can easily go to a person's head.What if they simply don't like your point of view, even if you keep relatively quiet about it? These are people who don't like their authority questioned. And they don't want their flock upset and going off in directions they don't like. In short, they're afraid of the workings of the human mind, so said Winston Churchhill. Apparently, conditions now exist where if you disagree even with local leaders you may be treated quite badly, churchwise.

Some members are scrambling, making a distinction between policy and doctrine, as if the Church can with impunity recognize and encourage these sexual sins. To quote Pres. Packer, "Not so."

If we're not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that will legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God's laws and nature.
Boyd K. Packer, 2010

Well, this just happened in Utah under the auspices and to the apparent delight of some other of our highest Church leaders (the rest are strangely silent). We repeat: Under such conditions these sins will only escalate. Encouraging homosexuality in any way--- encourages homosexuality.

And what exactly are the Church's teachings on this topic anymore? It's not hard to find stark contradictions. Who do we listen to and when? Which teachings and doctrines still apply? Do we toss out our copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness? (By the way, there are people trying to edit Pres. Kimball's famous book to soften on homosexuality.) Do we toss out our scriptures for that matter? Are there any absolutes left at all? Which ones can be counted on? If we're allowed to disagree with our leaders, how do we "follow" them in our personal lives? What the heck do we teach our children? Do we try to unteach them what they learned in church? How confusing would that be? Who will they believe? What do we ourselves teach and speak of in church? Whom do we quote?

One thing is certain: our Church leaders certainly can't expect us to say and do things against what we believe to be important and right. So for any serious, thinking, formerly orthodox believer who is paying any sort of attention, the church house and everything that comes with it is now admittedly divided, split, in a state of moral and spiritual chaos, with all other types of chaos on the horizon.

Here at SoL we are praying that all will be brought to repentance and that God's rules for sexual morality and all the old certainties that once bound us together will be restored ASAP.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What Do You Do When Your Church Flips On You?

In the history of the world it's nothing new. The hearts of men are easily corrupted. People convince themselves that they must do the wrong things for all the wrong reasons instead of making the required sacrifices. Trusted leaders betray. Humble followers get thrown under the bus. Evil triumphs.

The question is, what does one do when this happens? We followers of Christ know we must exercise all those selfless qualities of true charity: patience, longsuffering, endurance. But is that something different than standing for truth and righteousness? We think so. We think when it comes to wickedness, we must reject it. Always.

So do we fight for our churches? Realistically, we peons can't make any difference. It's going the way it's going and we can't change that.Apparently we have to submit to what's happening, but we mustn't like it or get used to it or we'll end up like Lot's wife. True followers of Christ are obligated to pay attention to what's happening and seek the Spirit to discern errors. It takes great diligence not to get lulled into carnal security, yes, especially within the church.

Correct us if we're wrong, but stuff some leaders are saying on the news sounds like a page out of Korihor's notebook. No worries. Just be nice. We can all get along. All opinions are equal and respectable. It's all about rights and privileges. Old-fashioned morality is a thing of the past, just silly traditions of our fathers. Public opinion has changed so we have to change with it. Say again??? This is not what we signed up for. We didn't conscientiously raise our children in a religious institution only to have current leaders at this time switch up God's rules for sexual purity on us.

It appears that most all churches are on this same trajectory. We've talked to people from as far away as Africa who have the exact same concerns about their churches. Weakened by intense and unrelenting pressure and attacks coming from the radical individualist/secular progressive/sexual revolutionist/humanist/Godless culture of the world today, infiltrated by it in their own ranks, and apparently unwilling to sacrifice any of their power or programs or positions or properties, they are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. As a result they make concession after concession, watering down a shining gospel of absolutes until it is unrecognizable, all in order to, what? Save the institution. Not souls, mind you. The institution. Yes, all moves are made to keep the institution from temporal harm. But what does such an institution stand for? nothing much. It's a case of sinking the ship to save the ship. When an institution begins to abandon its core beliefs, its foundation begins to crumble. It changes its emphasis. Its principles fade. It contradicts itself. Its doctrines become unclear. As such it can be reshaped into anything, on an ongoing basis. At best, sooner or later it turns into a mere social/humanitarian club instead of a religious organization, all the while pretending to still be a church.

 So do we stay in our church outwardly pretending nothing has changed? Do we become whited sepulchers too? That reeks of hypocrisy. It would show that we never really believed in everlasting truth, in sin or repentance or Christ or goodness or morality at all. It would show that we are fine with accommodating wickedness. It would show that we care more about the culture, the social ladder, the human relations our church activity offers than about the Godhead and truth and righteousness. We just can't go there.

We suppose we could become out loud proud what they call homophobes. In church. We could seize every opportunity to denounce the sins of pride and sexual immorality and testify of repentance and Christ crucified nonstop. But this would sound very weird in church today and we would be considered freaks. People have gotten very used to being fed pablum, insipid emotional stories about human relations and serving one another and loving everybody and puffing each other up. Christ, if mentioned at all, is more often than not portrayed as nothing but a massage therapist. Even then he is an aside, an afterthought. Horrors.

Apparently, even though many church leaders have come out pro-gay, we could get loud because we're hearing more and more that all manner of differing opinions are welcome in Christian churches.But wait. On all levels and in all societal entities of church culture we've seen for ourselves that our conservative, scriptural view is most certainly not welcome. In the past decade we've been interviewed and cancelled on the news, instructed by top leaders not to quietly oppose a gay rally, been released from positions, been uninvited to speak on conservative family values, been lectured by representatives of our congregation in our living room on the joys and benefits of lesbian parenting, and been told our eternal salvation was at stake if we didn't attend our meetings even if  homosexuality was being preached from the pulpit.

Remember, churches at the top have flipped on us, and this most definitely has trickled down. It's liberal views of various kinds, not conservative ones, that are going to be allowed now, you see. Contrary to what we hear leaders say on the news, the two views cannot freely co-exist. People like us are being shut up, but if you're all for gay marriage, that is, sodomy and the like, go ahead and share.

Us be loud and proud? Alas, we're just not that sort of people. Unlike gay activists whom top ecclesiastical leaders have been secretly meeting with, glad-handing, flattering, and handing out big checks to, we don't generally make a spectacle of ourselves. Maybe we'll have to work at being more fearless and outspoken in church and social situations.

Apparently our leaders don't care what we do. They've admitted they've changed things radically, they've admitted the church is divided. They've even said we can disagree with them all we want, as long as we don't try to get people to leave the church in droves. Seriously, what does any of this mean and how is it defined and by whom?

What happened to the body of Christ? "If ye are not one ye are not mine?" Hearts knit together as one? The 13th Article of Faith? Standing for truth and righteousness in all places, all things, all times? Being on the Lord's side? Holiness to the Lord? Being steadfast and immovable? Being in the world but not of it? If your eye offends you pluck it out? Unevenly yoked with unbelievers?  Names blotted out? Repentance? Truth? The strait and narrow way? Christ alone being the way, the truth, and the life? God not looking upon sin with the least degree of allowance? Lehi's dream? Zion: the pure in heart? The Standard Works? Our entire religion, for heaven's sake? We thought a church was a gathering of people who share the same beliefs on essential things, who have the same desires, the same goals, the same values. It's supposed to center around a God we can rely on and the welfare of our immortal souls. All this is what we have always loved about church. And now these certainties are gone.

We are active members of our church. We have current temple passes and wear special Church-made underwear night and day. We pay our tithing and strictly keep all the Church rules. We raised our 7 children in the Church; all married in the temple. We now have 23 grandchildren all growing up active in the Church, our eldest grandson far from home serving a mission. We have baby blessings, baptisms, temple work, more missions, more temple marriages, all sorts of church stuff to look forward to and participate in. Janice took lessons and bought music and practices all during the week to play the organ in sacrament meeting on Sunday and in the temple. Steve is in charge of cleaning the church building Saturday mornings. We have deeply-held scriptural beliefs about God's unchanging rules for human purity and behavior and about Jesus Christ dying for our sins and redeeming us if we believe in him and keep on humbly repenting and turning back to God. We want to take the sacrament each week. We want to do our part. But we're not blind followers. We're sincere believers. We do our own spiritual work. We don't live on borrowed light, not anymore. Christ, not the church institution or our performances, is our Light. Still, we're imperfect and would prefer to be part of a church, that is, among like-minded people who believe like us whom we meet with regularly to talk about the welfare of our souls. And now on essential issues our Church from the top down has flipped on us on essential issues, only one of which is homosexuality, which will only temporarily appease gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites, transgenders, transsexuals. Really?  Sex addicts? The wicked world? It's incredible. We striving, penitent, traditional family values types are now the extreme right-wing fringe according to a Church spokesman. Is this the way to treat people like us?

We know. All of this is very hard to believe. 

We love to go to church and serve and participate, but now Sunday meetings are not a spiritually safe or secure place for us or our family anymore. And how about physical safety? What about the church building restrooms where some recognized and encouraged and welcomed openly bold gay or transgender might be lurking? Think this is alarmist? Reminder: gays are sexually attracted to people of their same sex. Public restrooms and dressing rooms where people fully or partially undress are designated for people only of the same sex--- for propriety, modesty, and safety reasons. This designation is rendered meaningless with the acceptance/normalization of homosexuality. And yes, homosexuals notoriously use restrooms and locker rooms as places for sexual opportunities, lusts and acts. It's downright foolish to imagine that Mormon perverts are any different. It all comes down to sex, and what we encourage will increase. If we encourage homosexuality it will increase. Maybe there are no safe places anymore, not spiritually and not physically. Certainly not the scout program. Ward socials? Church schools? Seminary? The temple? The thing is, we are hesitant, sometimes afraid, to speak our religious and moral beliefs---in church---to fellow Latter-Day Saints. There's no way of knowing what people's opinions are anymore. And who knows what will be taught? Who knows what we'll be exposed to? Who knows what will happen next?

There is always talk about people leaving their Church. But what do people do when their Church leaves them?

There's an old saying: What we cannot cure we must endure. We suppose that is true for us ordinary folks when it comes to people and events we have no control over such as the above. But we must take Alexander Pope's warning and never, never embrace these vices. Enduring something is completely different than going along with it. Perhaps we must look at the situation this way: Think of all the patience and long-suffering and humility and faith in the Lord we can learn by these turns of events, by the persecution, by the disappointment, by the falseness, by the evil being called good and the good being called evil, by the complacency and deception and worldliness going on around us---in our church. It isn't pleasant, but the facts remain: it isn't up to us ordinary members, it's not our fault, there's nothing we can do about it, and we'll miss out on all those learning opportunities, among other things, if we up and leave. Many people who leave the church--even for pretty good and sincere reasons--reasons that are apparently piling up--often end up bashing it. That never seems to do any good. It just makes the ex-Mormons themselves bitter and even more holier-than-thou than they were before. This has happened to a bishop we once had who now has a TV show called the Ex-Mormon Files. We think he may be right on some essentials, but hung up on and motivated by some nonessentials.  Guess what?  Human beings make up every church. There are always going to be problems and inconsistencies and doctrinal quibbles in every church. Why not stay where you are as best you can and teach your family what you are learning about truth and God and Jesus?

We think it's possible to stay in your church in its present contradictory and uncertain condition and still maintain your personal integrity, keep the covenants you have made with God, and learn a great deal about yourself, human nature, and the nature of God. So far, anyway. If things get worse or more blatant, you'll have to rethink and see what the Lord has to say about it. In the meantime, you might have to do a lot of silent praying in church, walk out of a meeting here and there, or even shop for another ward or congregation that upholds your beliefs. This is what happens when big changes are made, whether gradually or quickly, and thinking believers see that there is no clear or unified leadership. But here is an opportunity, if you can endure it, to learn humility and patience, to keep your God-given power of discernment sharp, to try to help, and to experience continual enticements to rely on the Lord, seek his Spirit, and feel God's love.  Isn't all of that good?

Opposition in all things, right? That's the plan.

Yes, ouch. As Flannery O'Connor wrote, holiness costs. Faith hurts like nothing else. 

So, We Just Go Along?!?

Here are links to two articles on Utah's recent SB296 Anti discrimination law.

One is by Russell Moore, an evangelical blogger whom we have seen before at the Values Voter Summit. He takes issue with the new law, and the Mormon Church's involvement in its passage.

The other is a response by Utah Senator Stuart Adams to Russell Moore's article. Up until this bill was pushed by the Church, through news conferences and its four lobbyists at the legislature, Adams was a staunch opponent of the very wording he then allowed to be used in the bill that he sponsored and helped write along with an openly gay senator. I find no compelling argument in his justifying article. What I find is a statement of what he hopes is the case, while ignoring all of the downsides of the thing. Read it for yourself and see if you see what I see.

One interesting passage in Sen. Adams's article is indicative of the equivocating that has been used to justify getting behind the bill. Let me say that I completely disagree with the "Well, it's a huge cultural movement, most people accept it, more than half of the population supports gay marriage, no one should be discriminated against, (and most offensive to me) I just can't see Jesus discriminating against anyone, so we have to recognize, acknowledge, legitimize and protect homosexuals" line of reasoning. So, what's missing in this whole argument? The fact that homosexuality is sin and perversion, and presents a pervasive danger to participants and impressionable people, including not-fully-mature youth; that Jesus was about repentance and becoming a new creature. And, if you say we have to do it because many or most people accept homosexuality, then according to your reasoning we also have to go along with gay marriage. I am completely opposed to gay marriage, but if you're going to use societal acceptance as your justification for homosexual protections, then you're going to have to let gay marriage in, too.

As I say, I am opposed to any support for homosexuality and gay marriage. Here is the passage from Sen. Adams:

[I]t is important that we acknowledge a series of facts. Traditional sexual morality no longer commands majority support in our nation. High rates of divorce and cohabitation, and broad acceptance of both heterosexual and homosexual relationships outside traditional marriage bear this out. Supported by the media and academia, significant majorities view sexuality as a private matter that should be beyond the reach of government regulation and cultural influence. At least half the country supports same-sex marriage. And large majorities, recognizing a real human need and a long history of harsh treatment, believe discrimination against LGBT persons is wrong.

Consequently, the issue in the present environment is not whether supporters of traditional morality can use the law to roll back the sexual revolution, but whether they can find ways to respectfully coexist with LGBT citizens despite profound differences regarding marriage, sexuality, and gender. If churches fail to find a balance that the majority of ordinary people feel is fundamentally fair, they must face losing religious freedoms and being overwhelmed by laws enforcing cultural norms and political correctness that they fundamentally oppose.

What?! See what I mean? "Everybody's for it, so we better get on board too! And, churches better equivocate too, or else."  The everybody-does-it notion has always been preached against in our Church. And now it is being touted by Church leaders and LDS legislators and other people who have been outspokenly dead-set against homosexual-specific recognition and protection for years. It appears they flipped in a matter of days.

We at SoL always say that people formed societies, and gave away some of their freedoms for the sake of an orderly existence. They decided that certain ideas and behaviors were reprehensible and detrimental to not only those involved, but to their society. So, they agreed to shun and forbid those things through laws they passed. So, do we in our communities and state have to abandon our standard because others do? Do we just go along, get on the bandwagon, march in the parade? I say no, and I will never agree with doing so.

--Stephen Graham

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What Gays' Advocates Aren't Telling Them

Gay activists are pretty happy right now. They think they have it all sown up. Politically, they're confident they will have all they have been fighting for quite soon---in every entity of society, including churches. Especially churches. Lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders, transexuals, same-sex attracted, whatever, they are patting themselves heartily on the back for their success in making the church over to fit their various maladaptive sexual proclivities.

They need to know one thing. Just about everybody they think they've won over, just about everybody they think they've bullied into submission, just about everybody they think they've convinced, is only pretending.

Here's what normal, decent, healthy, even half-thinking adults who pretend to be all for gay rights and all for nondiscrimination and all for equality for gays are really thinking. If gays could read their minds, here is what they would hear:

1. Oh man, are you kids a mess.
2. What in the world happened to you?
3. Who hurt you?
4. How did you get this way?
5. We're not thinking about what you actually lust after. It's unspeakably gross.
6. We can't think about what you actually do. It's unspeakably gross.
7. Sure hope you don't get HIV/AIDS and all those other ailments. Then we'd have to take care of you.
8. That disease is the worst! And it could be prevented so easily!
9. We wouldn't wish SSA on anybody but we have to act like we like it.
10. It's really sad you won't have a normal life. And no posterity!
1. We can't say what we really feel because you'll hate us.
12. We care more about being liked than telling you the truth.
13. We know you have even worse problems than your perverse sexual tendencies but we're too afraid to mention them or offer you help.
14. We're afraid of all sorts of destructive things you might do to yourself, but we don't care enough to do anything substantive about it. We'd rather just ignore the real causes. 
15. We hope there won't be very many of you. In fact we count on it.
16. We hope that by us making all sorts of concessions and compromises you'll finally be satisfied and quit pressuring us.
17. We don't give a darn for your immortal souls, the inner person. We care more about ourselves and the here and now.
18. We act like it but deep down we can never ever accept any of this. It's unspeakably gross.
19. We don't care enough about you to do anything about it.
20. We sure hope you grow up someday.

Yes, a lot of this is despicable, but we're pretty sure these things go through the minds of  the fresh new homosexualists, all those basically outwardly decent people gays think they have painstakingly won over to their side.

In light of this reality, do you gays really think you've made such great progress? Do you really think you are getting your way?


Sorry, push through all the laws you want, bring all the lawsuits you want, punish and ruin all the business owners and landlords you want, call all the names you want, flatter or bully all the friends and family members you want, but it's never going to happen. 

What Your Favorite Gays Aren't Telling You

They are our favorite comedians. They hold high government offices. They teach our children. They are some of the most talented people we know. They are now being welcomed into our chapels. Presently they are crowing about the progress they are making in oppressing others' religious liberty. Most important, they are the especial darlings of our families. We keep up our relationships with them because we certainly can't bear to "lose" them.

The truth is, when people pretend there's nothing wrong or abnormal about homosexuality, they are being self-indulgent and cowardly and ignorant, and putting others in harm's way. Confronted with a never-ending flood of emotion and psychobabble, they are purposely denying that there is a huge elephant in the room. As Dean Byrd wrote, "Normal is that which functions according to its design." SSA, gayness, homosexuality, LGBTQI, alternative sexual orientation, gender fluidity, whatever you want to call it (by the way, Facebook now has 56 so-called genders listed for people to identity themselves as in their personal profile), is not normal.

Hypothetically and generally speaking, at the bottom of it all, here's what your favorite gays aren't telling you:

1. We know we aren't normal. The things we think and do are sick and wrong, but highly escapist and pleasurable.
2. Our sexual whims fluctuate and change.
3. We  have to use porn to keep up our preoccupation with sex and sexuality.
4. We play porn in our heads.
5. We're a mess. We don't even care if what we do makes us sick and dead.
6. We secretly wish someone would have the courage to help us clean up our lives.
7. Drugs are a big part of this lifestyle. They make us feel invincible.
8. Promiscuity is a big part of this lifestyle. Initiating younger people is especially thrilling.
9. We're bitter and angry at God because people we trusted have let us down.
10. We want more attention.
11. We want more power.
12. We hate truth. It enrages us.
13. We want everyone to be as miserable as we are.
14. Everything you see us saying and doing is a big show. We're performing all the time.
15. Our most egregious acts are done in secret. We make ourselves appear wholesome to cover our sins. 
16. We're totally obsessed with genitalia.Sex is our addiction, our escape.
17. We're about pushing traditional limits. We make up our own arbitrary limits, if any.
18. We're rebels and we know it.
19. We think we know more than God.
20. Just wait and see what we come up with next.

Yes, these are some of the things your favorite, "moderate," "wholesome," "born-that-way," "discriminiated-against" gays aren't telling you. NOW do you think it's all so harmless and wonderful?

Something to Sing About

Why am I so happy today? I feel like Evelyn Daw in the darling 1937 movie we just watched  Something to Sing About. At the end of the song she's singing in this picture she throws up her arms and sings on a high happy note, smiling, "I'm in lo--------ve!"

Things have happened today that are actually very sad. How can I be so happy when I see reality and rightness and goodness being flushed down the toilet? When good is being called evil and evil called good? When every bad thing the scriptures say will happen is actually happening?

In spite of the sadness we feel over much human suffering and many lost souls and wickedness being modeled and taught to innocent children, there is a lot to be happy about. I am happy today because . . .

This is it! Everything is coming true! People are choosing between evil and good as if between black and white. Things have to get bad before the Lord comes. It's happening really fast.
All that is happening is evidence of God's plan of agency and fallen man and our need for Christ. That is great and glorious. Everything else is unimportant in relation to these truths. The Spirit confirms to me that these things are true. I'm so grateful.

Some people are finally seeing the light. It's a harsh light and it's painful but it's truth and righteousness and because of the blatant betrayals and worldly wickedness occurring, the light shines so brightly against the darkness that a few people who have been complacent, with their eyes half-closed, are waking up. This is wonderful. I'm so glad.

I believe in Christ. I strive to trust in Him alone. All human beings on the earth come and go. They make mistakes. They do wrong. But God's goodness is everlasting. He loves me. Christ died for me. I repent continually. I seek the Spirit to teach me and correct me continually. This makes me happy. It is my relationship to the Godhead that matters most. I wish the eternal best for everyone. Everyone can choose to repent. Hallelujah!

I am not afraid of meeting my Maker. In fact, I'm excited about it.When the time comes I will fall down at the Lord's feet and bathe his feet with grateful and joyful tears. I'm looking forward to being in a place where everyone loves what I love: God and truth and goodness and intelligence and knowledge and humility and true charity and eternal progress. Wow!

I have a husband and children and a few friends who believe like I do. This is more than I deserve. Everything I have is more than I deserve. I deserve nothing and yet am given everything!

Praise the Lord! I'm in lo------ve!

-Janice Graham