Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Revised Handbook, Homosexualism, and the Triumph of Sin

"The triumph of sin comes with our failure to perceive it," said Roger Scruton. If you insist on characterizing the sin of homosexuality as merely a benign "identity" or even a too-complex purely psychological disorder, you are failing to perceive it as a sin. If you treat homosexuality, what God calls abomination in heart, mind, and body, only as a sin when it's acted on or called gay marriage, you are stuck on a convenient technicality and have failed to perceive a soul-killing sin that people are both sympathetic to or deeply involved in, bad sexual behavior/"marriage," or not. This tactic---ignoring the destructive nature of homosexuality itself and instead focusing on traditional marriage and children deserving a mother and father---many politicians, family values activists, groups, and churches have utilized, and stubbornly persist in utilizing, to no avail. Gay marriage is now institutionalized nationwide, in some large part because its majority of opponents went along with the normalizing of homosexuality as an identity and avoided the fact that homosexuality is a sin, and a dangerous one. Ask around. Homosexuality quit being considered sinful more than a decade ago, even in mainstream LDS Church circles. In fact, we learned that some men, members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, were heard to say, "Why doesn't the Church get with the program and let people love whomever they want [accept gay marriage]?" (We'd say the MoTab is pretty LDS mainstream.)

Failure to perceive sin as sin is making for a lot of confusion by way of conflicting statements and policies. For example, the Mormon Church surprised everybody by recently issuing some very strong new instructions in a revised handbook to local clergy on how to discipline same-sex married couples and their children, the leakage of which has caused strong emotions on all sides of the issue. It's disappointing to the LDS progressives/homosexualists who have made such progress in reinventing religion, Christ, and human sexuality. It's confusing to the orthodox who have been slowly but surely brought along to believe homosexuality is not sinful, at least, not that sinful. And many, on whatever side, seem to think the rules are much too harsh, especially for the children of gay parents. Still others are saying it's about time the Church said anything firm on this issue, but also see the Church contradicting itself. How can something be acceptable in principle (see mormonsand but apostate in practice as the handbook states? As per the handbook, how can the Church continue to be affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America now that the BSA has accepted homosexual  behavior among its ranks? Isn't the BSA an apostate group? All temple-going Mormons promise they do not affiliate with, support, or agree with apostate individuals or groups. And now the Church itself has made us all affiliated with an apostate group! In fact, there are many pro-gay Mormon groups and individuals that should be refused their temple recommends for championing what the Church has now stated is apostate.

All this confusion is occurring within the church membership because the Church has softened on homosexuality, bit by bit, over the last 20 years. LDS leaders have most currently been saying same-sex attraction is not sinful. In essence they have been saying homosexualism itself is not a sin, with the strange caveat that it suddenly becomes sinful when you act on it, which actions are not in any way defined. (Experts agree that merely coming out publicly as same-sex attracted is itself a form of homosexual activity and expression.) They have most recently stated in essence that members, including highly public and influential members, can be pro-gay marriage, which means all for same-sex sexual behaviors including sodomy, and remain in good standing. How does that policy not contradict the revised handbook stating that gay marriage, which obviously indicates the practice of sodomy, etc., constitutes apostasy and must be disciplined?

The wording in the new handbook may be the first firm thing the Church has said against homosexuality in years, perhaps since 1995 when it presented The Proclamation on the Family (which actually doesn't mention homosexuality directly). But while everybody argues about the fairness or wisdom or compassion of this new dictate we at SoL have additional concerns.

We're concerned about the inclusiveness of homosexuality in principle. What is fine in principle must be fine in practice. When people accept an idea, the practice of that idea will follow. No matter what any  laws or written policies state, it's the public sentiment that will play out. All the bold pro-gay activism and contradiction occurring within the Church membership is one result of the failure to perceive and pronounce homosexuality as a sin in all its forms. The truth is that the very idea of homosexuality is rotten to the core. It is immoral as a principle and as a practice; it hurts people.

Second, how is this new rule respectful and welcoming? We've been told by top Church leaders to accept the gay identity as not sinful or harmful or dangerous or sick (, and to respect all opinions and be gracious  to people who claim this identity or sympathize with it. Apparently there are no boundaries to this instruction, which could extend even to respecting those who flaunt and push this and any other Godless ideology and behavior on everyone else in any forum they can get. Making a rule for local leaders to follow stating that members living together as a legally married same-sex couple are to be considered apostates and require mandatory disciplinary counsel doesn't sound respectful or gracious at all. And another rule that says their children are not to receive baby blessings/christenings, or be baptized until adulthood, (so they won't be entered on Church records) sounds extremely harsh in light of what has been said recently about how we all have to accept as perfectly fine someone's self-determined gay (or transgender?) identity. Most people don't want to think about the physical practice of homosexuality.  They don't even want to think about what that means. They just know they're supposed to accept gay people and what they see them doing. And now they're apostates? No wonder people are confused.

If homosexuality is wrong, it has to be wrong across the board, just as President Spencer W. Kimball described it in his day, just as the scriptures describe it for all time, just as God does not look on sin with the least degree of allowance.

Our third concern is the practicality of this contradictory dictate. How does it look in real life? Will it make any difference? Will it discourage homosexuality in our congregations? We think not. The truth is, if you give wickedness an inch, it will take a mile, and more. This particular iniquity has been given many an inch. It has been given audience. It has been coddled and excused and accommodated, and is even paraded by Mormons on the Salt Lake City streets. The homosexual juggernaut is patient. Activists have accomplished their goals step by step. Indefatigable Mormon gay activists won't be deterred by this new setback. Think about it. Church discipline and excommunication is conducted locally on a case-by-case basis. Many local leaders would rather look the other way, others are outspokenly pro-gay, and everything in between. Church headquarters is known to leave such things to local leaders. So, it seems likely that many gays and both their public and private behaviors are and will be allowed, even given special attention and accommodation. Also, just because a gay couple is excommunicated doesn't mean they can't attend church meetings and flaunt their romantic and familial relationships and make comments (filibuster) in classes and talk to people and be popular and influence others. Just because a young person (child of gay parents) is denied baptism or paper church membership or ordination in the priesthood doesn't mean they can't or won't go to church meetings and youth activities and be outspoken in favor of the homosexuality of their parents.

In addition, we not only have individual homosexuals in our congregations but a larger group we call homosexualists;  as Romans 1:32 says, not just those who do it, but those who have pleasure in those that do it.  As one homosexualist said to fellow homosexualists on the pro-gay Mormons Building Bridges facebook page in response to the handbook declaration, "Don't leave. We need accepting people in the Church to provide a loving place for everyone! I am glad I'm Relief Society president now and can tell my sisters that I love them ALL." Mormon homosexualist activists are not about being quiet; they are about changing the Church to include homosexuality in all its forms, in principle and practice. As such, the Church's refreshing sentiment to"protect its members" from gay marriage doesn't seem to hold much water when it comes to activist homosexualists and their pawns who also are actively serving in leadership and teaching callings (such as the RS president mentioned above), or open homosexuals and gay couples and their children participating in church meetings and activities, in other words, mingling with the general membership in the context of any church gathering. A handbook meant only to be seen by local leaders, some of whom are homosexualists themselves, and many of whom would rather not face this unpleasant and contentious issue at all, is not nearly as influential as what top leaders and the people around us are actually saying and doing or not saying and not doing.  We have been instructed to be accepting and gracious regarding all things homosexual, which translates to include gay marriage and gay parenting, whatever may go on in people's homes or behind the ecclesiastical disciplinary curtain. What good is a handbook for leaders when people's neighbors and fellow church-goers and their children's neighbors and church friends are homosexualists, openly gay, or belong to a gay-parented family, church discipline or not? It's the public sentiment that holds sway. And that has gone overwhelmingly sympathetic towards homosexuality.

This all translates, in our experience, to thinking-conservatives shutting up and the complacent members, and/or the emboldened homosexualists, taking over. In church. In fact, a local bishop told us that he would do nothing about a lesbian married couple talking up homosexuality from the pulpit. (Anyone may be invited to preach and teach in Mormon meetings.) We wonder if he will do an about-face and abide by the new handbook? Who knows. But as we've said, any discipline would take place behind the scenes and wouldn't matter to the general congregation if the gays continued to make themselves part of the church community.  Disciplinary actions against members are not announced to the congregation anymore. And if found out, the way things are going, the excommunicated gay couple would most likely be treated to an emotional outpouring of sympathy and attention from members rather than any sort of encouragement to repent and be forgiven through Christ. This is actually already happening; you can see it online. Most people don't think homosexuality is a sin anymore, remember?

And there's a lot  more. There are endless kinds of of situations and questions that arise when you include children of gays in the policy. One young man whose gay father, divorced from the mother, has decided he would rather give up his lifelong plan to serve a mission than denounce his father's homosexuality as wrong.  There will be no end to these situations. Plus, all it takes is one lawsuit. True, the Church has documented its policy about how to treat gay marrieds, but the way things are going in the courts, sexual liberty is trumping religious freedom these days, as the late Richard Wilkins told us it would years ago. Churches everywhere may soon be forced to treat their gay couples the exact same way they treat their heterosexual couples, or face all sorts of punitive damages, treatment church leaders may not be willing to endure. We can always pray they will at least draw that line, come what may.

Strong as these new dictates are, whether they have come too late, whether they are just, whether they are too harsh, whether they are consistent, whether they are legal insurance, we submit that when it comes to real life nothing's changed. The devil's vengeful agenda marches on, using the prideful, the vulnerable, the damaged, and the ignorant as his unfortunate pawns. 

Yes, it's true: The triumph of sin comes with our failure to perceive it.  And, predictably, the failure to call out homosexuality as an abominable sexual sin both in principle and practice is affecting the popular perception regarding all types of sexual sins as increasingly less sinful or not sinful at all. One of our daughters told us of a married couple she knows who were aghast at being invited by another couple in their LDS neighborhood to swingers' parties held on a certain weeknight each week. (Swinging is spouse trading for sex.) At our recent conference we learned that sodomy is becoming very popular among heterosexuals as well as homosexuals, having been modeled and promoted by gays. This triumph of sin should not be surprising to anyone, given churches' and mainstream society's failure to perceive it as such.


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