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.

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