A Personal Interpretation of Elder Hafen’s Remarks

jmb275 apologetics, apostasy, Charity, christ, Culture, gay, General Authorities, homosexuality, LDS, love, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, orthodox, questioning, religion, resignation, sexuality, spirituality 225 Comments

At the Evergreen conference held September 18-19, 2009, Elder Bruce Hafen gave a talk regarding homosexuality. The talk was reprinted on the official LDS Church Newsroom website. I will not synopsize the talk here but I suggest reading it yourself. Within a very short time, for obvious reasons, the bloggernacle was dissecting and analyzing the speech. These actions generated some interesting discussions here, and one permablogger at FMH did a good job of challenging the less-than-spectacular research here.

Posing the Questions on a Personal Level

Since these two bloggers did such a nice job, I will not attempt to address his remarks directly. Rather, I am interested in discussing the address from a personal standpoint. Particularly, I’m interested in how I, jmb275, can understand and deal with his remarks since I clearly do not agree with him.

Let me be very clear here, I do not agree with Elder Hafen’s remarks, and I recognize the poor research, logical fallacies, and dogmatic approach to this issue. I understand that it seems to be a step backwards for the church, and I recognize it is not in harmony with some other messages being sent from the church on this issue (see here, here, or here). I also recognize that Elder Hafen was very bold, possibly to the point of establishing new doctrine (resurrection is, definitively, a mechanism which removes homosexual feelings?). However, none of this is what I want to deal with. What is done, is done, and his remarks have been analyzed. I’m interested in answering the following questions:

  1. Is this the last straw? Should I simply leave the church?
  2. If not, do I have to agree with Elder Hafen to be a member in good standing?
  3. How can I categorize, or otherwise deal with Elder Hafen’s remarks?
  4. What is my relationship with the church, and does my membership imply my consent for, or agreement with what has been said?

Answering the Questions For ME

  • Answering #1. I am not in the business of trying to convince people to stay in the church, or to leave the church. I see great arguments on both sides. However, I have made my choice to stay, and find spiritual nourishment in my choice. There’s simply enough good, to me, in the church, and I am sufficiently attached to it psychologically, and physically (through family) to convince me to remain. If your choice is to leave, then we’re done here and you can move along. Since I choose to remain we will move on to answering the other questions (and since it wouldn’t be a very interesting blog post if I didn’t).
  • Answering #2. I think there will be many who would answer “yes” to this question. I believe this is a product of our Mormon culture. Indeed, from my reading of Joseph Smith’s life, I think the very idea would strike against what Joseph said and did! The good news is that despite what many might think, there is nothing in any doctrine of which I am aware that says disagreement with one of the Brethren puts my membership in jeopardy. Certainly I can “sustain” the Brethren, and recognize their authority in the church without agreeing with everything they say!
  • Answering #3. It would seem like there are some relatively straightforward answers to this question.
    • Elder Hafen is a man, so we could conclude that his remarks are “the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.” After all, I have chalked up lots of things said by prophets to this idea. There certainly is truth in this analysis since each of us “see[s] through a glass, darkly”(1 Cor 13:12).
    • Elder Hafen is not the prophet, nor does he speak for the prophet (at least he didn’t indicate that we was). Hence, we can conclude that this does not represent the position of the church collectively, and may not be God’s will.
    • Elder Hafen is using apologetics, coupled with suspect research, all as a dogmatist to draw invalid conclusions. Indeed, rather than examining the evidence and drawing conclusions (the scientific method), the dogmatist already knows the “truth” (has drawn the conclusions) and must interpret the evidence accordingly.

    These are all valid points, and possible answers. But notice that they focus on characterizing Elder Hafen himself, or his remarks. I am interested in something more. How can I understand his remarks, disagree with them, but still respect him and his position?

    For this, I feel I must turn to an attempt to understand Elder Hafen in a Christlike way. Are his intentions good? Does he believe that what he’s doing is right? Does he really seek to hurt people, or does he seek to help them overcome what he believes is a temptation to be conquered? In other words, rather than dismissing his words and analyzing their negative effect on people, I am seeking understanding as to what leads him to make such remarks in the first place. After all, most of us do what we think is best, not intentionally trying to hurt each other, although that effort may be misguided!

    What does this approach buy me? Empathy, and understanding! Not agreement, and not consent, but understanding. It seeks nuance when the tendency is to be dismissive (black), or accepting (white). It gives me the tools I need to avoid letting anger dictate my actions. And, ultimately, at the end of the day, I personally believe that this kind of understanding helps me to transcend my natural inclinations, and use a higher model of human interaction.

  • Answering #4. Answering #4 is an important key, for me, in understanding my relationship with any of the organizations to which I belong – church, work, country, school, etc. For me, it is a balancing act. I must sufficiently care for the organization (since I receive benefit from it) to desire to stay a part of it, and desire that it remain intact. But in contrast, I must be sufficiently divorced from the organization in order to avoid the personal pitfalls that come with being a part of it (groupthink, mind control, defending the indefensible, etc.).How do I directly apply this balancing act to the church? I have separated my spiritual growth from the organization! Currently, I find the church a useful mechanism for me to serve, pray, introspect, and otherwise grow spiritually. Arguably, some of this may be attached to being raised LDS. That’s irrelevant to me, as the important point is that I grow spiritually in this particular environment. It also means I can look at Elder Hafen’s remarks and not feel inclined to defend that with which I do not agree. In contrast to the response to #3, this balancing act does allow me the ability to dismiss his remarks (should I feel so inclined).

    Certainly this can be taken to the extreme, and if the church started sanctioning secret assassinations I would be the first one out the door. But I don’t see this type of evil in the LDS church (contrary to what some critics may infer). I love this church, and want it to succeed. But I maintain sufficient distance that I need not accept every piece of doctrine or opinion.

I appreciate what has been said regarding Elder Hafen’s speech by others in the bloggernacle. I make no excuse for the backward step his words seem to imply. However, I do wish to transcend his remarks and take them in stride. These words from Denise Turner in the Ensign a few years back seem particularly appropriate:

Regrettably, there are times when others’ motives are not entirely innocent. This may particularly cause pain and confusion when the offender’s actions seem to contradict the religion he or she espouses; yet even in these difficult situations we are not justified in nursing our anger or turning away from the Church. President Stephen L Richards, First Counselor to President David O. McKay, said, “Does one offense wipe out another? Does weakness in one, even one who has been given a testimony of the truth, justify transgression of the law or failure to listen to its precepts?” (“Encouragement for Repenters,” Improvement Era, June 1956, 398). Our testimonies must be based on Jesus Christ, not on imperfect and fallible individuals. (Denise Turner, “If Any Man Offend Not”, Ensign, August 1998)

Whether your testimony is literal, metaphorical, or you are TBM, non-Mormon, or a middle-way advocate, I think we can learn to understand our fellows better, and while not agreeing with them, can still respect and honor them.

So how do you plan to deal with Elder Hafen’s remarks?

Comments

comments

Comments 225

  1. Question #5 – Do the General Authorities of the LDS Church support Elder Hafen’s remarks? – and if so – How would that impact on the the other 4 questions?

  2. jmb275:

    Are you not in the same boat as the Apostle Paul [11 Cor. 12:7]. Is not one ‘thorn’ the same as another? The Apostle Paul asked 3 times to have this ‘thorn’ removed, to no avail. At the resurection, everyone will be made whole. So hang in there.

    I didn’t know that Dr. Spitzer from the American Psyciatric Association was still around. That was an interesting ‘political’ battle in the early 1970’s when Dr. Spitzer and others [some say caved in to pressure] changed the DSM 11 [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders], elliminating homosexuality as a mental disorder – in the newer DSM 111.

    But so what. If you have this ‘thorn’ – the critical question remains. Do you believe it is a ‘thorn’? If you elect to stay with the LDS Church, then your course is clear. – You will have to look upon this as a ‘thorn’ and what is the best way to deal with it and still progress in life and in the Church?

  3. The problem ultimately comes down to the “purpose of life.” Our world is patterned after God’s world only it has become corrupted. With “the fall” has come all kinds of ills to afflict mankind. The scriptures plainly state that “man cannot be without the woman in the Lord” Our doctrine is that those who are not sealed will not have claims upon one another in the next life.So where does EH get it wrong? Others want to use man’s logic (science & theory) and “kick against the pricks.” Joseph Smith taught that the first principle of the gospel is faith. That is where the whole controversy around homosexuality begins and ends.

  4. Gay marriage/relationships are doomed to fail. They cannot and will not work.
    Evergreen pushes somes very good points such as mastery of the flesh which the Church does teach.

  5. Brother Hafen had a specific audience trying to deal with a specific problem, and I’m not sure that he intended his remarks to become the pseudo-official rhetoric which is fueling this (smallish) firestorm. He was encouraging those who have made the decision to fight off homosexual tendencies, which is a decision we should respect as self-determining agents, and in the process interspersed some of his own ideas, which is to be expected in any keynote. Would it have been more offensive if Brother Hafen had made the same remarks to Affirmation rather than Evergreen, given the context of their personal decisions?

    Here’s a hypothetical for you: if the Church (and society at large) were to embrace homosexuality, what would we think of those (heterosexual and homosexual) who systematically tried to change their orientation for some reason? Is that the same as Weight Watchers, or is it like learning a foreign language, or is it like an Indian man trying to be Irish, or something more dangerous to mental health than any of these? In that case, would someone who encourages those who have decided to change be excoriated or ignored?

    As with so many things that are said, one just has to get over it. It’s not a personal assault on anyone; it’s meant to be hortatory to those who made a certain decision to fight rather than embrace a lifestyle that, as we now understand things, is inconsistent with the gospel. His usage of facts is somewhat suspect, but hey, welcome to the Bloggernacle!

  6. So how do you plan to deal with Elder Hafen’s remarks?

    They angered me, so I systematically responded to each and every one of his points on my blog. I’m over it.

    If, however, he speaks at General Conference on this issue, or is others speak with similar rhetoric, then I will have to reconsider my stance, leaning towards option 1.

  7. If one has a testimony that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet and had a mandate from Heaven to bring forth the restored Gospel for the benefit of mankind and is now a member of this true Church of Jesus Christ, – then why leave it because of a personal weakness?

    If this ‘thorn’ is so obvious that others in the Church ridicule and snicker at you but your testimony of the truthfullness of the Church is just as strong or stronger than theirs, then – although it’s understandable that your feelings are hurt – it still does not make sense to leave a Church that you know by a testimony to be true.

    One who has this particular ‘thorn’ indeed has a problem – for they are constantly bombarded by a ‘worldly’ view that this is not a thorn at all. So, one’s testimony that the LDS Church is headed by Jesus Christ and guided by a living Prophet becomes a key factor to remain with the Church. – No matter what the hardship – For all must be tested as a metal in fire.

  8. You could, if you wanted, view it as simply a political speech aimed at softening the evangelical crowd in preparation for another Romney run at the White House. That would also explain why it was put on the official LDS Newsroom Website.

  9. One thing to keep in mind is General Authorities do not have the authority to establish new doctrine. Their main purpose is to testify of Jesus Christ and to call people to repentance and to help people to try to live the gospel. While some of his logic may have been faulty, he goal seems clear that he wants to help people who don’t want to give into their homosexual tendencies. There is little ambiguity that the gospel does not condone engaging in homosexual activity, but how homosexuality tendencies will play at in the eternal scheme of things is not as clear. I think the intent of Elder Hafen’s talk was to give hope to those who are not of the attitude that you are rejecting your true self if you don’t give into your homosexual tendencies.

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    Re: 4 South Bend Cougar
    Homosexuality is not the issue we’re addressing here. Assume that some people are offended by Elder Hafen’s comments, and other people agree with him. I’m discussing with how to deal with that, not homosexuality itself.

    Re: 6 & 10
    Yeah, you both bring up good points that he was probably trying to encourage people. That would fall under my answer to #3, that is, trying to understand Elder Hafen’s intent in a Christlike way.

  11. Neal (#6) – I agree with you that Elder Hafen’s talk needs to be viewed in the light it was intended. Evergreen’s mission is clear – they are a resource for those who wish to change their homosexual desires.

    In terms of your comparisons with someone choosing to be Irish, WW, or learning a foreign language – I think we are dealing with something intensely different. First, Evergreen is intended to be a resource specifically for LDS homosexuals. Although the Evergreen website clearly indicates that they are not officially affiliated with the LDS Church, they do have emeritus GAs on their board, and the choice of a Seventy as a Keynote speaker – and the Church’s subsequent highlighting of that speech on their website – indicate an implicit condoning of Evergreen’s practices. When we are talking about weight loss or learning a new language, its not like Weight Watchers or Rosetta Stone have GAs on their board, Seventies speaking at their conferences, and their programs featured on the LDS.org newsroom.

    Second, if you look into the mechanisms for treatment that Hafen (and presumably Evergreen) gives implicit nod to (namely, by citing quotes from books by Dr. Byrd and Dr. Robinson), you will find that those treatments fall under the domain of “conversion treatments” – trying to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals. These treatments are pretty varied, but one that is popularly known is electroshock treatment, which was actually used on homosexuals at BYU for some time. Conversion therapies have no scientific basis. They have been shown in several meta-analyses to be ineffective. Not necessarily harmful (although they have the potential to be), but ineffective. Hafen gives the impression in his talk that the APA is in favor of those programs, when nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than being like the church supporting Weight Watchers (which has been proven clinically and is recommended by American physicians), it would be more like Elder Bednar getting up and giving a keynote address to a Mormon dieter’s association on using laxatives to control weight. Laxatives have been clinically proven to be ineffective at weight loss, and there is the potential for harm. Having the church give its implied consent to such treatment would be medical malpractice.

    Finally, there is the issue of the tone used in the talk. It was condescending and homophobic. Comparing homosexuals to “angry dogs” and mistaking gender identity with homosexuality are big deals. Is this really the “public image” the church wants to give in terms of its views on homosexuality?

  12. One other thought that I had was that it is really irresponsible for Elder Hafen or the church to give “hope” to individuals for change, when its part of who they are.

    Imagine that the talk were re-written and it was given to a group of black Mormons who desired to become white. Elder Hafen gave the talk, commending them for their desires to become white. He tells them that if they pray hard enough, they may become white in this lifetime! If not this lifetime, the certainly with the resurrection. He them tells them to follow unscientifically sound protocols to become white, and never to call themselves black but to say to themselves that they were “melanin challenged” or something… These sorts of comments imply that you don’t accept them for who they are. It makes God a God of conditional love, conditional on your being made something you weren’t. Being homosexual can be just as much of someone’s nature as being black. They can’t change it, and trying to give them hope that they can may only hinder their progress. Having a church give implicit endorsement of practices to turn a black person white would be considered wrong, just as many consider the church’s implicit endorsement of conversion therapies for homosexuality.

  13. I was going to respond to the entry but #5 stopped me. Tell me, Jon Miranda, what you think of the fact that the divorce rate has declined in MA every year since they initiated same sex marriages? Did you know that MA has the lowest divorce rate in the country and that it is now comparable to pre-WWII rates? By contrast the 10 states with the highest divorce rates are overwhelmingly states with the highest proportion of LDS populations.

    These are inconvenient facts but ones that should enter into our pronouncements if what we want is to understand Heavenly Father’s will. The kind of “knowing” that allowed Elder Hafen to make statements as fact that strategically ignore science are sending the church down a path that is pulling it apart.

  14. Well, this topic’s comments got off to a rough start (it’s funny how it’s always the same culprits).

    On topic:

    1) Is this the last straw? Probably not. Quite simply, the church has many of these issues all across the spectrum, but for the most part, we don’t notice them. They are immaterial to us. Where they may become the “last straw” is when they become material to us. So, a gay Mormon in Evergreen (who this topic would be directed to) probably wouldn’t view this as the last straw, because they are looking for hope for change. A gay Mormon at Affirmation (or elsewhere) might see this as the last straw, as a materially significant weight born down. I think the church gives enough reason that if you are gay and secure in your identity, you have ample cause to leave or in some other way become heterodox because the church really isn’t going to be giving you much other than grief.

    2) As I think we’ve found out several times, this answer is solidly “no.” Rather, I think the issues are not of ortho*doxy* but of ortho*praxy*. If you BELIEVE differently than Hafen, you can still be a member in good standing. But if you act against these words (whether to speak out publicly and denounce Elder Hafen or to engage in activities counter to the church’s doctrines), then you enter sketchy terrain.

    3) I guess philosophies of man works…

    4) I have separated my spiritual growth from the church as well. Mormonism is my culture though.

  15. Alice:

    “…if we want to understand Heavenly Father’s will” – we will listen and follow the General Authorities of the LDS Church in this matter – which would mean that #5 is more right than wrong.

    If the Church goes “down a path that pulls it apart” – by listening to Elder Hafen and those like him, – then it is merely a cleansing process – and many will fall to the wayside. But the Church will go on – stronger than ever.

    Madam Curie:

    It sounds like you are saying – what many say about pedophilia – that homosexuality is incurable.

  16. Jon Miranda,
    My cousin is a gay woman who has been with her partner for over 35 years. My cousin was artificially inseminated and gave birth to their daughter. They raised that beautiful child together. That child is now a married mother of 2, and yes, she is heterosexual. My cousin’s mother, brother, and 2 sisters were all heterosexual and they all went through at least one divorce. So, I have to disagree with you that homosexual relationships are doomed to fail.

  17. jmb, in my opinion, the answer to #4 is categorically yes. I think that anyone who tells themselves otherwise is simply whistling past the graveyard. I know you have said before that you don’t care what others think of you, but I think it really goes beyond that. You are voluntarily maintaining your association with a group that espouses policies that are hateful and hurtful, and unless you are able to convey to every person who knows you’re a mormon that you don’t agree with that one particular issue, then you are, at least tacitly, supporting and propagating it. This also begs the question: is this the only church teaching or policy with which you strongly disagree? I think the questions you posed above can be asked about a number of other issues as well.

    As a corrollary, my answer to #1(b) would be yes.

  18. #6 – If Elder Hafen didn’t intend, or at least didn’t know that his remarks would “become the pseudo-official rhetoric which is fueling this (smallish) firestorm,” then he is an absolute moron. He is an official representative of the church and was speaking in his official capacity as such.

  19. “Is this really the “public image” the church wants to give in terms of its views on homosexuality?” This is the sticky wicket. E. Hafen’s a little too close to center for this type of apologetics. The church does much better when they distance themselves from apologists (because they are not sanctioned by the brethren and are volunteering members, they can say & do a lot of speculative stuff without the church having to own it–the minor downside for the church is worth the upside, and they can easily distance themselves from anything wacky). E. Hafen’s remarks are simply too close to the brethren to not be implicitly sanctioned, and because they were published by the newsroom, they are now part of the official party line.

    IMO, the real issue is that we had someone this high-ranking at an Evergreen conference in the first place. There is no spiritual growth in telling people what they already believe. All he did was tell Evergreen that they are right about everything. What would have been more valuable is pushing Evergreen toward compassion and empathy or addressing other shortfalls of their approach. But no one wants to be booed off the stage. It doesn’t take courage to tell people they are right.

  20. Post
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    Re: 12 & 13 Madam Curie
    I think we are on the same page when it comes to our disagreement with Elder Hafen. However, there is one important point here that I think you may have overlooked. Sex is, by definition, a willful act. Their homosexuality may be unavoidable, but, and I think this is Elder Hafen’s main point, they CAN (and SHOULD according to him) refrain from acting on those feelings.

    I think this is very different from the race issue you brought up. We are trying to understand Elder Hafen’s remarks in spite of our disagreement. From his vantage point it may be that homosexuality (regardless of its source) is a temptation, an inclination, possibly like many men have an inclination to sleep with many women, or view pornography, and hence should be controlled and kept at bay. I don’t agree with this sentiment, but I can appreciate the fact that he might be thinking this way, and hence his position makes sense to me.

    I think it is tempting to assume that because someone seeks to understand an individual whose view we don’t agree with, that we are in some way condoning that position, approving it, or excusing it. I don’t know Neal Davis’ position on the issue, but I believe I should avoid conflating his attempt to understand with his endorsement. Understanding is not endorsement, and silence is not consent. If I choose NOT to respond at all to Elder Hafen, it doesn’t mean I approve of his message. Likewise, my understanding of his motives does not constitute an excuse for him.

  21. “One other thought that I had was that it is really irresponsible for Elder Hafen or the church to give “hope” to individuals for change, when its part of who they are.

    Imagine that the talk were re-written and it was given to a group of black Mormons who desired to become white. Elder Hafen gave the talk, commending them for their desires to become white.”

    Not the same thing at all. Choosing to act on your homosexual feeling is a choice. The color of your skin is not. Choosing to nuture and allow your homosexual tendencies to grow is a choice. Who your parents are is not. While making someone have heterosexual feelings cannot be forced, managing your homosexual feelings can be controlled, just like everyone else has to control certain tendencies that some would say are “part of who I am”. I have a natural tendency towards a short temper and yet few people know it because I have choosen to work hard to overcome those feelings. I have naturally very strong hetersexual feelings and yet I manage not to have lustful thoughts about beautiful women I see and am faithful to my wife because I have chosen to learn how to control those feelings. You could say that I am denying my true self but I know I much happier for having denied these parts of myself.

  22. #23 – I don’t agree with your distinction. Elder Hafen didn’t tell these people that they would be given the ability to withstand their temptations, he told them that their temptations would be removed from them. If homosexual feelings are innate in even one person, then EH’s remarks are completely analogous to that of skin color, in that they were born that way and they didn’t choose it. There are other valid distinctions between sexual orientation and race, but you are simply misdirecting the conversation. EH’s remarks had nothing to do with controlling one’s urges. They had to do with god changing the very nature of one’s being; from bad to good, as it were. That is a completely separate issue.

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    RE 18 & 19 brjones
    Yes, I had a feeling you might call me on this. That’s fair, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and you have a valid point. We will have to agree to disagree. Or rather, I agree with you that people will assume that I support those sentiments due to my membership. The difference is that I don’t really view that as my problem. I don’t feel a responsibility to to disabuse everyone of their judgements regarding me. I don’t live my life through the lenses of others.

    “This also begs the question: is this the only church teaching or policy with which you strongly disagree? I think the questions you posed above can be asked about a number of other issues as well.”

    Surely I don’t need to answer this at this point right? You must know by now this is not the only thing I disagree with. You’re absolutely right, these questions can be posed to a number of issues as well, and I have posed them to myself. But I guess I’m not seeing what you’re driving at here? Do the same responses not work for other topics?

  24. Post
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    Re brjones
    “Elder Hafen didn’t tell these people that they would be given the ability to withstand their temptations, he told them that their temptations would be removed from them.”

    Yes, you’re right, except that in the beginning he mentioned that it wasn’t in their DNA. You’re pointing out that he undermined his own point. On the one hand he said it wasn’t in their DNA, and on the other he said they would be whole at the resurrection (implying it is in their DNA, or at least not in their spirit). He was really speaking out of both sides of his mouth on that one.

    But I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt here. It’s clear he believes, or at least was affirming, the goals of Evergreen, as hawkgrrrl pointed out. Nevertheless, I have myself devolved into analyzing his speech rather than focusing on how I can understand.

    Back on topic everyone!!

  25. #20 – Hawk I think you comment is both challenging and insightful. That E. Hafen comments were made at that conference and that some feel that they reflect a step-back for the Church perhaps says more about what others have read into the recently published materials. It may be that E. hafen speaking in this context was seen as an opportunity to state very clearly what the Chuch’s position is. The evidence for this is that it was very quickly published online at the Church’s newsroom as you state. That he did not counsel Evergreen I see as a positive sign because that would implicitly endorse their stance even further because that would be taken as Priesthood counsel. I am not saying that I agree with E. Hafen but I think Hawk is right that may this does reflect the position of the ‘Brethren’.

  26. #25 – I definitely wasn’t suggesting that you, or anyone else, need to get into any other issues you may have with the church. I apologize if it seemed like I was fishing. I was just pointing out, as relates to the whole “tacit endorsement” issue, that I personally believe that, as you said, the same logic applies. And to the extent that you asked if this is the last straw, and should you leave, I think there may be many potential “last straws.” Of course I’m speaking of the editorial “you” as I would never tell anyone what they should do with respect to the church, even when they’ve asked my opinion. For me, though, I think that generally speaking if you have serious problems with the way an organization operates or the beliefs it espouses, I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile that with remaining a voluntary member. (again, just speaking for myself) I mean, we’re not talking about a family, where you didn’t choose to become or remain a member. This is an organization in which each person (at least those over the age of 8, guffaw) voluntarily choose to become and remain members. I think it’s a tough sell to just slough off the beliefs and policies that you disagree with and say those don’t really apply to you. I would have an easier time accepting your position about not living your life through the lens of others if we were just talking about points of doctrine. In this case, though, we’re talking about the church going on the affirmative in helping enact policies that are actually destroying families and damaging many, many people’s lives. If you think that’s what god wants, that’s one thing and as you said, we can all agree to disagree. But if you feel strongly that this is wrong, I personally have a hard time seeing how that is reconciled.

    That said, I am from an extremely strong LDS family going back to the pioneers in every direction, so I understand the issues of culture, etc., and I know there are many factors involved in deciding how to handle one’s relatioship with the church. As I said, I only have to decide how I’m going to handle these issues, and don’t want to judge anyone else. I do have a hard time understanding, though.

  27. To your questions about how to reconcile the comments with your church standing, I feel it is no different than Word of Wisdom, Tithing, and Priesthood given only to worthy men.

    Are those things really DOCTRINE…or are those things that the church is teaching to carry on, build up the kingdom and bless the lives of individuals?

    I think we all have to decide personally the things we will accept about what church leaders say. Your quote from Denis Turner was spot-on…we must have a testimony with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Everything else is rooted out of that position.

    Elder McConkie said lots of things too based on what he believed and what many others shared as views. David O McKay knew there were errors in the book…not a few…hundreds, errors on almost every page. Yet it was published and used by many for their studies.

    The church doesn’t have to spoon feed all of us exactly stances of how God feels about this issue or that issue. Life is about something grander than winning debates.

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    Re brjones:
    “I was just pointing out, as relates to the whole “tacit endorsement” issue, that I personally believe that, as you said, the same logic applies. And to the extent that you asked if this is the last straw, and should you leave, I think there may be many potential “last straws.””

    Ah, I see what you’re saying. My mistake. I misunderstood. No need to apologize, no harm done.

  29. #21 – Yeah, I see what you mean. I understand where Hafen is coming from, and I agree that, from a church perspective, keeping the law of chastity is the thing to do. I just wish he (and others) understood that homosexuality is so much more than sexual preference. Yes, one can resist their sexual urges, but what abouot falling deeply in love with someone else? Wanting to share your whole life with them? Truly and completely feeling one with them? Most heterosexual couples would agree that there is much more to attraction than just sex. Homosexuals feel the same way, and we at least need to recognize that there is more to being homosexual than just sexual urges.

    #22 – I wasn’t actually referring to attempts to change thought patterns so one can keep the law of chastity. I do understand that a distinction was made by Hafen (and the brethren) in terms of the act and the tendencies. But if you read up on “conversion therapy,” which is what Hafen was referring to, you will find that it is much, much, MUCH more than just resisting urges. Of course anyone should learn self-control! However, some conversion therapy, including the ones that Hafen was alluding to, involve trying to reteach homosexual men into traditional male roles – such as enjoying sports, and avoiding opera or theater. A good article that I found that discussed this process can be found in Buckstead and Morrow, “Mormon Clients’ Experiences of Conversion Therapy: The Need for a New Treatment Approach,” The Counseling Psychologist (2004). 32:651-690.

    Basically, I disagree that we should ask someone to change their likes and dislikes, and to force themselves into traditional masculine/feminine characteristics in order to change their “sexual” orientation. I have no issue with teaching self-control, but its so much more than that.

  30. Question 2 has another connected question implicit in it: Can Elder Hafen disagree with me on this issue and still be a good person? I would posit that agreement on unessential doctrine is not required, and this is not an essential doctrine. However, I think it’s worthwhile to respond to disagreement with reflection, rather than defensiveness (defensiveness really being an attack). If someone disagrees with me, might they be right about something, and might I be wrong about it?

    Nobody likes to do this, and very few will even try it, but I think it has merits to consider, at least as an intellectual exercise.

    Beyond that, question 1 is about where you think your loyalty is owed — to your Church or to your opinions. We all have opinions which contrast, to some degree, with something we have heard from the institutional Church at some level or another. But do those opinions offer you adequate compensation for what you give up by leaving the Church? For me, they do not, and, at this point, they don’t for you either, apparently.

  31. #29 – I realize that EH’s comments weren’t specifically calling for any action, but don’t you recognize the difference between WoW, Tithing or the Priesthood to all worthy males? Those are all internal doctrines whereby the church says, we’re not going to make anyone else live this standard, but if you want to be a member of our church in good standing, you must do them. Then people have the choice as to whether or not they want to live that way. The homosexual/gay marriage issue is so much more. The church has stepped outside the bounds of their organization and now wants to assist in implementing and maintaining policies that affect EVERYONE, whether they adhere to the mormon religion/lifestyle or not. Taht makes jmb’s question of whether this is the final straw that much more applicable. It might not just be a question of whether or not he (or any member) can stomach that teaching. It’s a question of whether they can maintain membership as the church continues on the warpath against all things gay, both within and without the church. I think the consideration is much different.

  32. I realize we keep getting off topic, and I think perhaps it is because no one really feels comfortable telling you what YOU should feel/do, jmb. We can just tell you how we deal with the same questions.

    1. Is this the last straw? Should I simply leave the church?
    I think what constitutes someone’s last straw is going to differ from person to person, and it will in large part depend on whether or not he or she already been “through the wringer”. Taken alone, this talk is nothing. In the context of one’s personal experiences with church leadership and homosexuality, or with the church’s activity in Prop 8, the wording of things like Hafen’s talk may be enough to push you over the edge. It reminds me of the “going apostate over spilled milk” story. No one goes apostate over spilled milk; there is always something deeper and more intrinsic that is being threatened. The spillage is just the straw.

    2. If not, do I have to agree with Elder Hafen to be a member in good standing?
    Absolutely, categorically, 100% not.

    3. How can I categorize, or otherwise deal with Elder Hafen’s remarks?
    This is where it gets trickier for me to answer for you. You are not me. I can tell you how I deal with his remarks (which lead me to rant and scream and cry, for what its worth) – I picked them apart as false, and then recognized him as a flawed man (as we all are). I recognized where his comments were speaking from a place of discomfort and a lack of knowledge, as he is not a homosexual. This naturally leads to stereotyping and assumptions. I am guilty of making assumptions about others I do not understand as well. I also recognized that he was talking to a group at Evergreen – not to me, and not to Affirm. That makes a big difference. Talking with him one-on-one may differ from his giving prepared notes on a prepared topic.

    I also recognize his biases. He is clearly a right-wing attorney. Those biases came out in his talk. We don’t just have right-wing attorneys in the church; they are all over America. He is not a scientist, or even a social scientist. He clearly believes strongly in the nature of our spirits, and the idea that there are divine, prescribed roles for men and women. I may disagree with him strongly, but I recognize that I can disagree without being disagreeable, and I can reject the talk without rejecting him.

    4. What is my relationship with the church, and does my membership imply my consent for, or agreement with what has been said?
    I think its totally ok to respond to friends, others, whoever, that you disagree with what was said. Heck, people managed to stay active Mormons in CA while voting “No” on Prop 8. It was hard, but some managed. I think the answer to this question all depends on how you view your membership with the church, as well as how you view Prophets and their counsel on such things as homosexuality.

  33. #32 – I think this is a valid point, although I think you marginalize the internal conflict by the use of the term “opinions.” I think “morals” or “values” are more appropriate, and also better convey the seriousness of the turmoil created in these situations. If one has strongly held values that happen to conflict with church teachings, it’s not just a matter or subsuming or changing your “opinion” on a certain issue. It now becomes a question of whether or not you can bury or voluntarily contradict a deeply held value in order to maintain loyalty to the church. The answer may be that you should – I’m not suggesting that is not the case. But I do think there needs to be a recognition that this is not just an exercise in logic for people struggling with this. Many people (including members of the church) see the church’s position on this issue as immoral. In that context, the question of how to respond to the issue is much more difficult to answer.

  34. Blain: “Question 2 has another connected question implicit in it: Can Elder Hafen disagree with me on this issue and still be a good person?” I think that’s the thing I like about jmb’s post – that he’s willing to cede that.

  35. “Is this the last straw? Should I simply leave the church?”

    I have been trying to live my life according to God’s will and I feel that I can come to know His will through personal prayer and communing with the Him. If I feel uncomfortable about something, I pray about it and ask the Lord to either give me peace about what I am feeling or to change my understanding about it so I see things differently. I truly believe if we are uncomfortable with something to the degree that we can’t find peace about it, and we are truly seeking the Lord and His will everyday, that we need to follow our heart and do what we feel is right. We have to live with ourselves and only we know if we are truly sincere and truly seeking God and His will. If we can’t find peace in the life we are living, then we need to choose a different way to live. So, if the issues with Elder Hafen feel like the last straw to you and you can’t reconcile them with the Lord’s help, then you may need to consider moving on.

  36. Mr. (I refuse to use the honorific “Elder”) Hafen’s comments were disgusting to me, and make me ashamed of the association I have with Mormonism. They were very much a last straw, breaking my hope that there ever could be progress in the church toward formally renouncing its racist, sexist, homophobic doctrines. There’s no room for people who believe in equality in Mormonism.

  37. #33. “It might not just be a question of whether or not he (or any member) can stomach that teaching. It’s a question of whether they can maintain membership as the church continues on the warpath against all things gay, both within and without the church. I think the consideration is much different.”

    I see your point in 2 parts that need to be replied to:
    1. Different than other laws: No, I don’t see it different at a certain level, meaning obedience to the law of chastity or obedience to the law of Word of Wisdom. Some people have more of a problem with some laws, and some have different tests in life. But we’re asked to live the laws the church teaches, or choose not to be a part of the church. It is our choice.

    2. Doctrine: I don’t see the issue should be embelished to become a church “warpath against all things gay”. I don’t believe that is the church doctrine.

    Because of that, one can choose to be gay, and still stay in the church. One cannot choose to actively break the commandment of Word of Wisdom and be worthy to hold any church office or have a temple recommend. It is no different.

    The issue (homosexuality vs word of wisdom) are completely different, have completely different implications in life and to individuals, they are not similar in nature…however, they are similar in regards to there is a church standard that members need to live by. All of us need to find a way to reconcile that with our testimony in our Savior and our Heavenly Father’s teachings.

  38. #40 – I think it is also important to note that this is not *solely* a law of chastity issue for homosexuals. If it were just law of chastity, then gay couples would be permitted to exercise the same degree of closeness with one another that unmarried heterosexual couples can – snuggling, kissing, holding hands, etc. This is not allowed by the church (see for example the church’s detaining of the gay couple caught kissing on temple square – that would NEVER have happened to a heterosexual couple. Ever.)

    The other reason that it isn’t a *just* law of chastity issue is that the church ex-es gay Mormons who are married civilly. We don’t do that to heterosexual couples.

  39. #39-

    sxark-

    I believe the Lord will always give peace to us, even in the most frustrating, difficult circumstances, if we seek after Him and let Him know that we want to do His will. So, we can feel an overall peace, yet struggle and suffer at the same time. If, however, we can’t find that peace residing with us while dealing with the struggling and suffering, I know I would feel that something in my life needed to change. I don’t see anything rough about that.

  40. alice
    Sep 25th, 2009 at 9:32 am
    I was going to respond to the entry but #5 stopped me. Tell me, Jon Miranda, what you think of the fact that the divorce rate has declined in MA every year since they initiated same sex marriages? Did you know that MA has the lowest divorce rate in the country and that it is now comparable to pre-WWII rates? By contrast the 10 states with the highest divorce rates are overwhelmingly states with the highest proportion of LDS populations.

    These are inconvenient facts but ones that should enter into our pronouncements if what we want is to understand Heavenly Father’s will. The kind of “knowing” that allowed Elder Hafen to make statements as fact that strategically ignore science are sending the church down a path that is pulling it apart.

    Alice:
    These is no justification for gay sex/marriage. Humans do not have the power to determine what is sin and what isn’t. All the statistics quoted in the world will not change that.

  41. How many here have read Elder Hafen’s remarks in their entirety. It is quite long. I look at it as ‘scripture’ and it takes time to ponder instead of making a snap judgement.

    We here act like the talking heads on cable news and we make instant remarks on a complicated matter. I’m allways impressed with the detail General Authorities put forth in their talks and its obvious that many of them do research instead of just talking.

    It would do those well, who are most affected by Elder Hafen’s remarks, to read them again in a week or two.

  42. #41. yes, I see your point, it is different and hard to compare.

    However, I think the point on this thread is not on the talk itself, or on homosexuality itself, but I’m reading it as what does it mean to JMB275 and his faith in the church.

    To me, it is no different. JMB275 can be gay or not be gay. If he is not gay (which I know he has some beautiful daughters, which is besides the point), can he still be a member of the church and disagree with their stance on Prop 8 and these talks at Evergreen?

    I say, why not? I don’t agree with the church on many things. My bishop said something last week I don’t agree with…do I have to leave the church over that? No. It doesn’t mean the church has to be perfect for me to believe in it. The teachings just have to be good enough to be making me a better person, and bring me closer to God. I do not have to be spoonfed what is right and what is wrong about every issue facing society for me to test if God has His hand in this church or not.

    I don’t have to understand all the mysteries of God before I can have faith in Him. So I choose to have my faith built on what I do understand the church makes me feel good about. And I choose to disagree with Elder Hafen. That’s all, and now I can go to church next week and think about it more.

  43. #40 – “The issue (homosexuality vs word of wisdom) are completely different, have completely different implications in life and to individuals, they are not similar in nature…however, they are similar in regards to there is a church standard that members need to live by.”

    This is exactly the point. When it comes to homosexuality, the church is not content to require its members to live its proclaimed standard. It has seen fit to go outside the boundaries of its membership and push for laws that dictate to everyone how they must and must not live. This is an enormous difference between other commandments that only affect LDS members.

  44. I think#4 is an interesting question: What is my relationship with the church, and does my membership imply my consent for, or agreement with what has been said?

    I still think the church is grand enough to allow people to think for themselves. Membership does not imply consent for everything my bishop says. So when he makes a call to have someone be Primary President, must I have a dissenting vote because of what the Bishop told me about For Strength of Youth standards? No. Must I never follow any guidance the bishop gives me on any topic because I disagreed with him on one? No. I can sustain the call, having faith that the leaders are doing the best they can, I disagree sometimes, and I leave it in God’s hands to deal with.

    Elder Hafen is just another church leader. I don’t HAVE to agree with him to stay in the church.

    History shows this is true. President McKay did not agree with JFSMITH, nor with BRMCCONKIE, but he handled his personal disagreements appropriately.

  45. 35 — Okay, so make it “values” instead of “opinions,” and the answer remains the same. Do you gain more by sacrificing the Church for your values as you understand them than you lose by that act? If the answer is “yes,” then, by all means, leave. The Church doesn’t claim to be a place that will conform itself to the values of anyone who might belong to it — it claims to be an organization created and run by God to teach his children how to become like him. If it was our nature to be like him out of the box, then we wouldn’t need the Church, nor would we need this life. This isn’t a social club — it’s the Kingdom of God on Earth or it’s a crock of crap. It’s made up of fallible humans, and so it has a fallible nature, but it’s not something that you can long be lukewarm about.

    41 — Only if you accept that a same-sex marriage is equivalent to a heterosexual marriage for the purposes of the Law of Chastity. The Church has never, to my knowledge, done so — it’s vocal and consistent opposition to same-sex marriage strongly stands in the way of that idea. Whether you agree with these applications of the Law of Chastity as reasonable or not, there is no question in my mind that they are clearly based in the Law of Chastity, and not bigotry or hatred. I have no disagreement with homosexual individuals who accept and strive to live the Law of Chastity in terms of their lifestyle (I’ll disagree with them from time to time, just like I do everybody else).

    36 — Yes. That’s why I bothered to respond to this thread. But I think we need to make the implicit question explicit so we realize what we’re talking about.

  46. #50 – You make a good point, in that the Church’s definition of the Law of Chastity must be far more explicit than what is given in the temple – “legally and lawfully wedded”. I had always assumed that “lawfully” meant according to God’s law. However, if that is that case, since Mormons believe that God only recognizes temple marriages why do we not consider those who are heterosexuals and married outside the temple to be living in adultery?

    Ugh, sorry, I do so mean to stay on track of the original discussion. Its just difficult when sub-conversations get going.

  47. #52-

    However, if that is that case, since Mormons believe that God only recognizes temple marriages why do we not consider those who are heterosexuals and married outside the temple to be living in adultery?”

    What? Since when have Mormons believed that God only recognized temple marriages? Apparently, I missed something.

  48. 47 Hawgirl
    A person cannot say that murder is not a sin and then, poof, it’s not a sin. We do not have the power to do this.
    Same with gay sex.
    Do you understand now?

  49. #54 – Well, its the logical conclusion based on the authority claim. Since God only recognizes baptisms performed by those having authority, we do not consider baptisms by other churches to be valid and we rebaptize those who wish to join the church. Since we also say God only recognizes marriages when performed by one having authority, and that can only be in the temple, does that not mean that God doesn’t really recognize non-temple marriages? I mean, we tell those individuals that their marriage has no real effect after this life. How is that any different from allow a homosexual couple to be married civilly?

  50. 59- Well, I guess as about as inspired as:

    polygamy
    polyandry
    blood atonement
    Adam-God
    Blacks being denied the priesthood

    Shall I go on?

    His OPINION isn’t even back up with decent argument. He wants it both ways. “It’s not genetic, its a choice.” While at the same time saying, “It will be cured when you are resurrected.”

    I would rather be generous and just consider his comments to be his opinion.

  51. Madam Curie-

    “Since we also say God only recognizes marriages when performed by one having authority, and that can only be in the temple, does that not mean that God doesn’t really recognize non-temple marriages?”

    I understand your point, but there are a lot of people who aren’t LDS who believe in God and make Him a part of their lives and their marriages, and I don’t believe that God just doesn’t recognize their marital relationship. In fact, I believe that He expects them to be faithful to their spouse and to work on the relationship to the best of their ability like everyone else.

  52. Madam Curie: re #60

    As Elder Hafen alluded to in his remarks [and I’ll paraprase], supporting civil homosexual unions would just reinforce the mistake made in the early 1970’s by the American Psyciatric Association caving in to pressure to change it’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM 11] by eliminating homosexuality as a mental disorder.

  53. #62 – I understand your point, but there are a lot of people who aren’t LDS who believe in God and make Him a part of their lives and their marriages, and I don’t believe that God just doesn’t recognize their marital relationship. In fact, I believe that He expects them to be faithful to their spouse and to work on the relationship to the best of their ability like everyone else.

    The same could be said of those who are baptized outside the church – they “believe in God and make Him a pare of their lives and their [church membership] and I don’t believe that God doesn’t recognize their [baptism]”.

    Furthermore, I also believe that many HOMOSEXUAL COUPLES believe in God and make Him a part of their marriages. So why doesn’t He recognizes theirs, if He recognizes those not performed in the temple?

  54. pinkpatent: re #61

    Don’t mean to insult, but your analysis may qualify under: “They have eyes, but do not see – They have ears, but do not hear”.

  55. Taking an alternate tack here, I was a little disturbed by this article in NYT about middle schoolers “coming out”: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27out-t.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&em

    Early puberty seems pretty young to be determining that you are gay in some cases. Doubtless, some do know their orientation that early, but there are enough bisexuals (those that may have a choice about it), that this seems like a bad idea. I can think of several classmates from that age who would have sought refuge among this crowd without ultimately belonging to it. (Anyone remember Lyle, the effeminate heterosexual, from SNL?). Open experimentation with one’s sexual orientation to gain social acceptance in this alternate peer group is probably going to present difficult social consequences later if kids mistake awkwardness (or being an outsider) for sexual orientation.

    Completely mainstreaming homosexuality, as was done in previous societies, comes with its own set of costs.

  56. #66 – Hawk, that’s exactly where I think the role of good parenting plays a role. If one is open with their child and explains to him/her the natural curiosities and sexual confusion that come with adolescence, then I think extreme sexual experimentation can be largely averted. Sexual confusion is very common among adolescents. I’d much rather than confusion be more commonly accepted and understood than less.

  57. Good article, Hawk, thanks for the link. I agree with MC, as parents we need to be SO involved with our kids as their sexuality develops.

  58. pink #67

    They may, but they don’t. I still can’t see why suffering to the end, like the Apostle Paul is apparently not an option for some.

  59. Madam Curie-

    I believe that God does recognize the commitments that are made through marriage and baptism by those who are outside of the church and blesses them for their righteous desires and for seeking to espouse the values and follow the patterns that He has prescribed. As a matter of fact, I’m sure there are many such individuals now in the spirit world and on the earth who will accept the fulness of the gospel when it is preached to them. Then those heartfelt commitments will be connected to authoritative ordinances that will be binding in the eternal realms and not just in this life.

    As far as homosexual couples and God’s established pattern for relationships, well, you have to take that up with Him, not me.

  60. “They may, but they don’t. I still can’t see why suffering to the end, like the Apostle Paul is apparently not an option for some.”

    sxark, I have never implied that it wasn’t option. But it come across as being so callous, that I could never encourage someone I care about to walk that path.

    Can you imagine how painful it is every Sunday for our brothers and sisters who are single, not by choice, but because they either have not found someone or because their sexual orientation must be kept a secret?

    Have you looked around during Sacrament Meeting? Husbands rest their arms along the pew behind their wives. Wives lay their heads on their husbands shoulders, sometimes stealing a gentle kiss. Children lay across their parents’ laps and have their backs gently rubbed. Its a heterosexual friendly family affection fest!

    Now imagine the lonliness felt by the single person who has no shoulder to rest their head upon, no hand to hold, and for the gay single person, no hopes of EVER enjoying these simple pleasures that make life worth living.

  61. Elder Hafen’s remarks have several ethical problems. First, like all Church leaders who speak on the topic he reduces homosexuality to physical acts / attractions. Second he is willing to speak for, and in place of the other. These two are closely related.

    Its amazing to me that it needs to be said over and over again that homosexual folks are seeking to forge the same trusting, interdependent, spiritually and emotionally intimate relationships that heterosexuals are. Homosexuality and heterosexuality will always both be about far more than sexual acts, they are both about being relationship. Hafen won’t allow gay people to describe their own lives and the meaning of their sexuality because he believes he already knows it. For him the institutional discourse of the church has far more meaning and descriptive power than the lives and experiences of gay folks. This is what makes gay rights exactly the same as other civil rights struggles. Its a clash between an empowered group believing it has the right and authority to define the meaning and nature of another group’s being. During women’s suffrage men continually defined women as irrational and intellectually inferior. Throughout the ugly history of slavery and jim crow whites continually asserted that the nature of blackness was to be violent, dumb and lazy. In both cases religious arguments were brought in to justify prejudice. The same exact structure is found in the remarks of many of our church leaders.

    I just don’t see where Christian / Mormon ethics and theology allow us to use difference for the sake of degradation, or allow us to assert that we have the power and authority to definitively speak about the meaning and nature of someone else’s existence.

    Compassion, empathy, and love are born out being in genuine relationship with others. They are not a veneer applied to our remarks as we assert our power and redefine the experiences of others to meet our own needs.

  62. pinkpatent-

    I think it would be hard for a gay person as you state. In all fairness though, there are a lot of married people who are lonely, and a lot of heterosexual people who will never marry. We all have our crosses to bear and no one is immune. I don’t think there is one person on this earth that won’t have their opportunity to feel alone or lonely. Some will experience it for longer periods than others, but others will have to deal with a drug addictied spouse or child, or a parent with dementia, etc. No one has the perfect life, we all have things to deal with at one time or another.

    I don’t know what ward your in, but I don’t think I have ever seen a married couple “steal a kiss” in Sacrament, maybe a couple who is dating, but most marrieds are on opposite ends of the bench wrestling with the kids in between them. 🙂

  63. #74 – Its amazing to me that it needs to be said over and over again that homosexual folks are seeking to forge the same trusting, interdependent, spiritually and emotionally intimate relationships that heterosexuals are.

    Thank you, Ethics. I tried to say this in #31, but it got lost in the melee.

  64. pinkpatent re#73

    Sorry, if it came across so callous. But if #8 is true for some, then there is no choice but to endure to the end. Pain and suffering is a relative concept. But when one makes a concerted effort to deal with their issues the focus changes from attacking the Church or it’s General Authorities. Please don’t take my response as trivial. Of course there’s alot more to say. Is this condition the toughest one to endure? For some – it is. But what other choice does one have if they have a testimony as to the truthfullness of this restored gospel?

  65. Now imagine the lonliness felt by the single person who has no shoulder to rest their head upon, no hand to hold, and for the gay single person, no hopes of EVER enjoying these simple pleasures that make life worth living.

    Pink Patient:
    There are organizations out there who believe that intimacy with children is ok. Should society indulge their simple pleasures?
    Same sex copulation is just as much a sin as pedophilia is and should not be encouraged or legitimized by society.

  66. sxark, I don’t expect the church to promote gay marriage or allow gay sealings. But, I would like to see the church stop its campaign of segregation and discrimination against homosexuals. I would like to see the church at least recognize the marriages of gay persons and accept those relationships as chaste. Are these relationships less than the mormon “ideal”? Yes. But, so are a great number of heterosexual marriages in the church.

    I would also like to see the church treat gay people the same way its treats straight people in regards to sexual transgressions. My heterosexual niece lives with her boyfriend and is about to give birth to their 2nd child. No disciplinary action from the church. But, if she were openly involved in a gay relationship, it is almost certain she would be excommunicated. That is just not fair.

  67. #76- I saw and enjoyed your remarks in #31. I was hoping to reinforce it. Its a point we are going to need to keep making for years to come.

  68. Madam Curie: re #80

    But both are considered by many, to be incurable disorders that must be controlled and maintained by those who suffer from them.

  69. I was hoping for a post dedicated to this one point of Elder Hafen’s talk:

    “If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then—you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex.”

    If I awake on resurrection morning with normal attractions for the opposite sex, I’m not sure that I would be qualified for the CK based upon the definition of normal. After all, aren’t we supposed to be ressurrected in our prime, an age where men would find sexual attraction to any number of attractive women?

    If I was to see Marilyn Monroe in the CK with feeling “normal attractions for the opposite sex”, then a hatch in the clouds would likely open and drop me out of there. The teenage nerd in me wants to giggle that I will RISE with normal attractions…especially in the MORNING.

    Seriously though, is there a doctrinal place for earthly physical attraction in the CK? Isn’t one of the whole points of eternal marriage for men to help place sexual attraction in perspective of seeing the total beauty of their partner, emphasizing inner beauty? Do we expect all resurrectee’s to become Celestial hotties? Extreme Makeovers in the Celestial sense? If we are all resurrected with different levels of “attractiveness” by earthly standards, then how fair is that? If attractiveness standards are of a different nature in the CK, then how can anyone say that anyone will rise with “NORMAL” attractions—same or oppostite gender.

  70. pinkpatent-

    “My heterosexual niece lives with her boyfriend and is about to give birth to their 2nd child. No disciplinary action from the church. But, if she were openly involved in a gay relationship, it is almost certain she would be excommunicated. That is just not fair.”

    I don’t think the church necessarily seeks out people who are inactive and living contrary to church teachings, at least that hasn’t been what I have seen happen. It is usually people who try to continue to have affliation with the church and live contrary to church standards that are called in.

  71. “Same sex copulation is just as much a sin as pedophilia is and should not be encouraged or legitimized by society.” Oh brother! People, please don’t feed the trolls.

  72. #85 “I don’t think the church necessarily seeks out people who are inactive and living contrary to church teachings, at least that hasn’t been what I have seen happen. It is usually people who try to continue to have affliation with the church and live contrary to church standards that are called in.”

    I think Prop 8 and the church’s activity in other states as well pretty much disprove that. The church is in the bedrooms and violating the civil rights of Americans all over the country to the very best extent it is able to.

  73. Alice-

    I’m not sure how what I was talking about relates to what you are saying. Also, if those are your perceptions about the church, I hope you have disassociated yourself from it. If those were my perceptions, I wouldn’t stay a member.

  74. #84- good points. I think the materialism of church’s teachings about human experience are both a great strength and a great weakness. We expect the resurrection to be a remarkable moment of transformation and yet we can’t talk about it without using this language and even desire of / for normalcy. Very interesting! As you point out there are reasons to wonder if being normal is such a good thing for us.

    Then of course there is the issue of how sexual attractions are a mixture of different elements, including what the culture we live in, since culture plays a large role in defining our desires and people as normal and sexually attractive and how we should respond to attraction. What is “normal” in one society is not “normal” in another. What is normal is one time period is not normal in another and so on. I think we can hold onto the spiritual materialism of Mormon doctrine as long as we don’t fall into the trap of essentialism that Hafen and others are in.

    “After all, aren’t we supposed to be ressurrected in our prime?”

    Right, but how do we define what prime is? Being a life long athlete, I’ve had more than one prime and each was different, what is more important to God anaerobic or aerobic fitness? and what about our spiritual prime? Will we be transformed into beings with the minds of octogenarians and the bodies of 25 year olds?

  75. Must agree with Hawk, for Jon Miranda, sxark at times, others, back under the bridge. Where are the billy goats when we need them? A word to the wise, if they’re not fed, they’ll just go away.

  76. “who is Pink Patient?” She’s embarassed because her hospital gown is open at the back. I have it on reliable authority that she’s a good friend of Hawgirl.

  77. who is Pink Patient?

    Wasn’t she a character in a movie I watched on in-room pay-per-view during my stay at Marriott hotels?

  78. Let me put this as simply as I can.

    Loving someone in a romantic relationship with everying else that comes with it (friendship, sex, companionship, a partner through life) is one of THE most important things one can have in this life whether you are mormon, jew, hindu, muslim, agnostic, atheist, antitheist, gay, straight, bi, black, white, red, yellow, brown, orange, purple, small, fat, tall, etc., etc. This is something that almost everyone desires and seeks in this life. It may be the one thing we all have in common besides our biological functions and desires to be fed and sheltered. Those who have this relationship generally try to make it work, or find someone new to make it work with, and those who don’t have it are generally trying to find someone with which to partake in it. This entire process I will call “having someone.” I think we can all agree that almost all humans want to “have someone.”

    Thus:

    1) Almost all humans want to have someone in this life.

    2) A certain group of people (gays) want to have someone in this life of the same sex.

    3) Elder Hafen is telling gays that they should only want to have someone who is of the opposite sex (despite their inclinations to want to have someone of the same sex and their opportunities to have someone of the same sex).

    4) Elder Hafen is telling gays that they will be happiest if they deny themselves having someone for this life.

    5) Elder Hafen promises that gays will be fixed in the next life and will desire someone of the opposite sex and that they can have someone of the opposite sex.

    6) Since Elder Hafen is telling gays to deny themselves what is arguably the greatest thing about this life (having someone, and if it is not the greatest thing about this life I believe we can all agree it is very near the top) because of his belief that there will be a next life and that gays will become straight.

    Therefore: Elder Hafen better be 100% sure that there is a next life AND that gays will become straight or he is being extremely arrogant and cruel in providing false consolation and false promises to people while at the same time inviting them to deny themselves from having someone, while Elder Hafen has enjoyed having someone in this life.

    So, is Elder Hafen 100% sure that there is a next life AND that gays will become straight?

    A non-believer would probably say no, he cannot know for absolute certainty that there is a next life and he can’t know the details of such a next life.

    A believer would probably agree, arguing, if this is absolutely certain why was it not revealed to the prophet, or to the 12, and why was it not told to us years ago through the proper channels? Even believers must be able to admit that GA’s have been wrong on plenty of issues.

    My view: Mr. Hafen is one of two things: he is deluded if he thinks he knows so much about the next life or he is an arrogant and cruel man who is telling people to abstain from having someone (one of, if not the greatest thing about this life) on the chance that god will back up his absurd promises in the next life.

    And for the life of me, I cannot see how the church thinks it is being loving to homosexuals at all. Which do you think is a more loving attitude? The churh’s, which states: abstain from your natural feelings and god will fix you later, or tolerant and enlightened humans who say: you are fine the way you are, seek to find someone to love in this life and may you find joy in that relationship.

  79. Jon Miranda, you are a pathetic and miserable person. It is dispicable of you to continue to equate consenting, adult relationships with child rape, as you predictably and ignorantly do every time the issue of homosexuality comes up. I realize that it is a mistake to engage you in this, as it only encourages you, but I am sick to death of your hateful prattling. If you are unhappy with your natural proclivities, then by all means, do whatever you feel you need to do to make yourself a better person than you think you are naturally. But please, save your disgusting vitriol for your fellow evergreeners.

  80. And can we please stop with the comparisons to single heterosexuals in the church? It is not even close to the same thing. Although some heterosexuals may not ever marry in this life, it is highly unlikely that such people will never have the opportunity to enjoy a romantic relationship in this life, at least once. Gay mormons are denied even the simplest romantic and emotional pleasures, as has been pointed out already in this thread. They are not allowed to hold hands, cuddle, kiss or otherwise be emotionally intimate with members of the same sex. Furthermore, even though some heterosexuals may not ever marry, they are still able to live their entire lives with the hope that they MAY one day find the right person and be married in this life. Homosexuals in the church are foreclosed that possibility from day one, and must live their entire lives without even a shred of hope. To make matters worse, they are told to continue to surround themselves with people who are in loving, fulfilling relationships and who condescendingly act like they understand what they’re going through and have the perfect answer to solve their plight: “just endure to the end in lonely, miserable solitude.” Thanks for the Elder Hafen. It is beyond insulting to compare what gays in the mormon church go through to single heterosexuals or any other demographic. At least give them the respect of admitting that they’re in a singularly unique position.

  81. “We expect the resurrection to be a remarkable moment of transformation”

    I am thinking of this transformation in the way that Elder Hafen concluded his remarks with Brigham Young’s quote:

    “He is the Father of our spirits; and if we could know, understand, and do His will, every soul would be prepared to return back into His presence. And when they get there, they would see that they had formerly lived there for ages, that they had previously been acquainted with every nook and corner, with the palaces, walks, and gardens; and they would embrace their Father, and He would embrace them and say, ‘My son, my daughter, I have you again;’ and the child would say, ‘O my Father, my Father, I am here again.”

    I think one of the amazing parts of the transformation would be to acquaint our earthly persona with our pre-existent persona, when we lived under a different name outside of the physical tests/constraints that were part of our mortality. How do the physical talents we were given correspond with the spiritual gifts we knew? How were those spiritual gifts shaped by the culture/time/relationships of mortality?

    Rather than saying we will rise in the resurrection with normal attractions to the opposite sex, I would hope that we will rise in the resurrection with reconciliation of how the challenges, temptations, trials were saw during mortality fit into the eternal development of our soul and with a clear picture of how we can enthusiastically serve our Father. It should, furthermore, be a liberation from unwanted physical distractions to service. If lust is defined as the desire for something God has not given you, then there will be no lust after God gives you the greatest gift He can give you.

  82. brjones-

    “It is beyond insulting to compare what gays in the mormon church go through to single heterosexuals or any other demographic. At least give them the respect of admitting that they’re in a singularly unique position.”

    You are definitely entitled to our opinion, and I see your point, but if you are going to talk about gays and their miserable life of solitude, you need to include the handicapped do you not? What hope does someone who is trapped in their less than perfect body have of a romantic relationship in their life? My point brjones is that LOTS of people are lonely and sad and want someone to share their life with and it doesn’t happen for MANY people, not just gay people. Look at all the men in China who will never have a romantic relationship because there just aren’t enough women.

    We are all connected and one of the ways we stay connected is by experiencing different situations in life, but feeling similar feelings in those situations, such as loneliness, pain and suffering. I think it is important not to separate people from one another, as if they cannot relate to one another at all, but to try and help each other understand one another in the best ways possible. The reality is there are all types of people suffering and wanting to feel they belong, and many will never feel that way until they leave this life. I don’t know why and I have very little answers, but I do trust that God will make up the difference in the end. Until then, I think it is important not to try and isolate gays and straights from one another, saying it is impossible to understand how they each feel. Part of that isolation is saying that no one can possibly understand how they feel, and there is some truth to that, but there is much more we can relate to with one another than not.

  83. Jen, I agree that everyone has pain in some way and that it’s an important part of our shared experience to try and understand one another’s pain. Can’t you see, thougn, that it is the church that is separating these people? Do you honestly not see the difference between someone who, in all practicality will not be able to find someone to be with in this life and those who are told they are not allowed to be with someone? That is an enormous distinction. Now, if you believe that is god’s will, then I understand you accepting that position, although I disagree with it. But I think it’s disingenuous to pretend that it’s just one of many such situations in the church. If this is so, I would ask someone to provide an example of another class of persons in the church who have been asked to go their entire lives in denial of a basic, fundamental human desire. (Please save your comparisons to murderers and rapists, as those are not basic fundamental needs). I think everyone would agree, as Dexter has pointed out, that love and companionship is at or near the top of the list of basic human needs. There isn’t anything else that’s even close. If there was, members of the church wouldn’t continue to invoke those who are asked to repress criminal desires, which is the typical,and utterly offensive, I might add, response.

  84. brjones-

    I do see the difference, but really they are not being asked to not be with someone, they do have the option of marrying a woman (or man) and some do. I understand that a woman (or man) may not be what they ultimately desire, but to say they don’t have an option to marry or to be with someone in this life is just not true.

    The reality is I don’t understand why people feel the way they do (SSA), and I don’t think any of us do really. I think only God knows and until we get more information from Him, we do the best we can to understand one another and to be compassionate and understanding. When it comes to this subject it is a very difficult one for me. I believe in God and I feel that there are many truths in the LDS church, and I feel it is where I belong. I have also experienced many things that have helped me to see how the Mormon culture is doing a lot of harm and I want that to change. I don’t know what the solutions are and I hope they do come sooner than later.

  85. Jen, I honestly do appreciate and understand this to be the case. And I am not implicating you or anyone else simply by virtue of your membership or activity in the church. It is clearly the church’s policies that are driving behaviors in the church and I think the majority of the accountability lies there. I have certainly never seen anything from you that indicates you are anything but a genuinely compassionate and sympathetic person. And I do understand that it’s a very difficult issue on many levels.

  86. Sxark, actually I think that your comment in #8 is a cogent and accurate encapsulation of the church’s position on this issue. I think that’s the very reason you see homosexuals remaining in the church despite the many difficulties that come with such a decision. I daresay that most gays would flee the church without hesitation if they didn’t feel it was true, or at least where they are supposed to be. Obviously not all gays believe that their feelings are a “thorn” to be suffered through life, although some undoubtedly do believe this.

  87. brjones re #112

    Thank you. Since many have one ‘thorn’ or another, then the key for all is a testimony of the restored Gospel and Church – therefore, there is no need to critisize the Church or it’s Leaders. And it is wise to study the words of Elder Hafen and other Church Leaders who speak on this subject.

  88. This whole thing is Elder Hafen’s opinion. Officially, doctrine only comes from the First Presidency. I would count this along the lines of McConkie’s opinion on blacks, or BY’s opinion on people living on the moon. Just because those things were said by prophets and apostles, it didn’t make them true. General authorities are entitled to their opinions just like the rest of us, and unless something is specifically declared as doctrine, it should be taken as opinion/suggestion/feelings/etc.

  89. I’m very much opposed to “cafeteria Mormonism,” and I also think people in the blogernaccle have been excessively harsh on Elder Hafen. That having been said, some of the things Elder Hafen taught do seem to contradict what the bretheren having been saying over the course of the past few years. Given how the institutional church has recently defined “doctrine” (see http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine), I don’t think Elder Hafen’s talk is necessarily doctrinal. From that link, for example, we read, “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications.”

  90. JDD re #116

    I feel that it is fair if you say: “I don’t think Elder Hafen’s talk is necessarily doctrinal”. But would you agree that Elder Hafen is more right than wrong with his concepts?

  91. Those here defending (and quite viogorously I might addz) homosexuality act as though it is somehow a “new thing” and thst science is somehow on the verge of giving us a reason to “accept it.” Why don’t we look at homosexuality from an athropological standpoint. With nearly 7000 years of recorded human history, how many societies welcomed and permitted himosexual behavior and what was the ultimate result of said group, cultue , or nation?

  92. SOuth Bend Cougar
    Well said. No society that has embraced homosexuality has survived for very long. We do not learn from experience or history.

  93. #119 – Replace “homosexuality” with “monogamy” and you’d be quoting Brigham Young.

    #118 – In 7000 years of human history, how many societies have been consistently successful indefinitely? All societies wax and wane. What evidence do you have that homosexuality has anything to do with it?

  94. South Bend Cougar, I’m not sure what you’re question proves. Slavery was perfectly acceptable from the beginning of mankind until less than 200 years ago, and societies that indulged in it thrived. Are you suggesting that because slavery was historically accepted and was a successful venture that we should bring it back? Child abuse, lynching, stonings, and myriad other abhorrent practices were not only socially acceptable historically, but apparently helped civilizations thrive. So what? We don’t live in the past.

  95. History lessons for South Bend and Jon Miranda, and

    #120 Mytha is correct. Rome and Greece were notorious for open homosexuality–and Rome’s bath houses existed concurrent with perhaps the longest standing and most advanced civilization for 1000 years, and Greece was by far the most progressive civilization during it’s golden years. HOWEVER, let’s combine citing authorities with a lesson in history and you have the following:

    After reading this, I would invite South Bend and Jon Miranda to tell me which of these prophet and apostle quotes he/she endorses as the REAL CAUSE for Rome “shortest lived nation”:

    “It is a fact worthy of note that the shortest lived nations of which we have record have been monogamic. Rome…was a monogamic nation and the numerous evils attending that system early laid the foundation for that ruin which eventually overtook her.”
    – Apostle George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 202

    “Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout Christendom, and which had been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious.”
    – The Prophet Brigham Young Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 128

    “…the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.”
    – Prophet John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227

    “Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire….Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers…. Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord’s servants have always practiced it. ‘And is that religion popular in heaven?’ it is the only popular religion there,…”
    – The Prophet Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

    “This law of monogamy, or the monogamic system, laid the foundation for prostitution and the evils and diseases of the most revolting nature and character under which modern Christendom groans,…”
    – Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, page 195

    “We breathe the free air, we have the best looking men and handsomest women, and if they (Non-Mormons) envy us our position, well they may, for they are a poor, narrow-minded, pinch-backed race of men, who chain themselves down to the law of monogamy, and live all their days under the dominion of one wife. They ought to be ashamed of such conduct, and the still fouler channel which flows from their practices; and it is not to be wondered at that they should envy those who so much better understand the social relations.”
    – Apostle George A Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, page 291

    “I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality [of wives] looks fresh, young, and sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he honors his word. Some of you may not believe this, but I not only believe it but I also know it. For a man of God to be confined to one woman is small business. I do not know what we would do if we had only one wife apiece.”
    – Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses Vol 5, page 22

    “Just ask yourselves, historians, when was monogamy introduced on to the face of the earth? When those buccaneers, who settled on the peninsula where Rome now stands, could not steal women enough to have two or three apiece, they passed a law that a man should have but one woman. And this started monogamy and the downfall of the plurality system. In the days of Jesus, Rome, having dominion over Jerusalem, they carried out the doctrine more or less. This was the rise, start and foundation of the doctrine of monogamy; and never till then was there a law passed, that we have any knowledge of, that a man should have but one wife. ”
    – The Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Vol. 12, page 262

  96. Jon Miranda, I realize that we all have differing opinions, and I would never suggest that everyone has to agree with me. But your comments are consistently filed with ugly, hateful sentiments that are not even intended to be helpful, but only to shock and offend. Despite being repeatedly asked to tone down your rhetoric, and even having had some of your comments redacted by admin in some instances, you refuse to soften your tone in the slightest. I find it difficult to even believe you’re just obtuse; I think your goal is to stir the pot, and I for one am not going to act like your offensive comments have a place in an otherwise civil dialogue.

    I also think it’s noteworthy that you (and others) are so quick to pounce on others when they question or take away from the words of the brethren, but you don’t hesitate to add to what has been said when it suits your purpose. I have never seen a statement by any of the brethren likening or comparing homosexuality to the vilest act in civilized society, child rape. A comparison which you repeatedly make. And there is no question the modern church does recognize such a comparison. Yet you continue to bandy it about as if it is the accepted position of the church. If you recognize the brethren’s words as definitive, then you should work from the words that have been given.

  97. Brjones, he’s a troll. Don’t feed him. You’ll never get the last word and he’ll only just aggravate you more which is his goal in life.

  98. GBsmith, I know, and I have no intention of engaging him in an ongoing debate. But sometimes when no one responds to his comments it starts to feel like maybe it doesn’t bother anyone and I just wanted to make my feelings clear. Enough said.

  99. Sorry, its my fault, I engaged him by accident the first time. I didn’t realize he was a troll. I’m used to sxark and was ignoring him, I didn’t realize Jon Miranda was a troll too.

  100. I am late to this discussion and many comments have already very capably expressed views that I share. I’ll mention a couple matters that have not yet come up:

    From the post, “Are his intentions good? Does he believe that what he’s doing is right?” OK, one can ask this question, in an effort to understand, as the post says. However I think there is a general principle at work here, but it is one that can have pernicious results if it is not applied with good judgment. To take an extreme example, not comparable to the LDS position on homosexuality, I have heard it said that Torquemada and other inquisitors believed that by torturing and burning heretics, they were destroying bodies in order to save souls. They had good intentions! Or on the other hand, suppose that it were revealed that Gandhi (or any other hero) had been motivated by a base motive, like an insatiable thirst for fame, rather than altruism. Perhaps Torquemada will be able to cite his intentions as a mitigating factor on the day of judgment, but for the rest of us it’s the results that really matter. I don’t say intentions are always as inconsequential as in my examples, particularly for a living person, but some thought is needed to keep them in the proper perspective.

    Second, most of this discussion has (understandably) been about church members. How should gay Mormons live their lives? How should straight Mormons feel about all this? The same questions can be asked about non-Mormons, of course. The Prop 8 campaign was pretty negative, as many political campaigns are. The talk has a theme of a beleaguered church resisting unrighteous political forces, a point of view that is fully reciprocated on the opposing side. What does this mean about church’s interest in the conversion and salvation of gay non-Mormons, or liberal, gay-friendly straight non-Mormons? Clearly it is a lower priority than some other concerns. I can understand this as a (not necessarily correct) utilitarian calculus along the lines of “sacrifice some gay and liberal souls to save a greater number by promoting family values,” but that doesn’t seem like a very Christian approach.

  101. “Rather than saying we will rise in the resurrection with normal attractions to the opposite sex, I would hope that we will rise in the resurrection with reconciliation of how the challenges, temptations, trials were saw during mortality fit into the eternal development of our soul and with a clear picture of how we can enthusiastically serve our Father. It should, furthermore, be a liberation from unwanted physical distractions to service.”

    Very sound LDS theology, thanks for this and your other comments.

  102. I have an idea. If I were God I would design the Heber C. Kimball, Eliza Snow and Lorenzo Snow model which involves Multiple Mortal Probation. How is works is this. If the spirit can enter a body once it can do it again. For example, Pres. Monson unwittingly taught it last general conference (did anyone notice it?). In other words, we have perpetual resets (Ground Hog Day) until we get it right.

    SO, all those with Same Sex Attraction have the next of their D 132 “liveS” as having normal sex attraction as Elder Hafen promised and they can then fulfill the measure of their joy. THose that think it is NOT in DNA and just a matter of self will and self control will be given on one of their mortal pass throughs a “same sex attraction” chemistry/DNA and see how they do—-

    Oh the justice of a world designed to provide MMPs–instead of the make up “saturday warriors once pass through model” I would design a world with multiple liveS and multiple deathS until we have a fulness of experiences and knowledge. So then whatever anyone really judges others one harshly then they can have an opportunity to return to mortal experience and see how they do it.

    That is why one close friend who is staunchly conservative and Glenn Beck type I said: “Now if I were God I would invite you to return as a black, muslim, gay women—and see how you do.

    This whole once through stuff is really silly….and illogical as Spock would say..

  103. Jon Miranda re #128:

    Perhaps the “True Trolls” of this post are the critics of Elder Hafen. In reference to your comparison of homosexual acts with pedophilia acts and the vile response you have received from some, I would add that Homosexuality and Pedophilia are both ‘mental disorders’.

    It was only in the early 1970’s that the American Psyciatric Association succumed to political pressure and without any scientific analysis, made a change in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM 11], to change the inclusion of Homosexuality as a ‘mental disorder’.

    When that was done they might as well have included Pedophilia. Because those that engage in acts of Homosexuality and Pedophilia, as well as, excessive Heterosexual activity can and are very successfull in their normal pursuits in life. Many are successfull businessmen, doctors, and lawyers etc. So, acts of Pedophilia, Homosexuality, and acts of Heterosexual activity [outside of marriage] apparently have no effect on one’s ability to succeed in life, according to ‘worldly’ standards.

    However, LDS Church Law forbids one from engaging in acts that fall under any of the three ‘mental disorders’ here mentioned. The Church recoginizes that members may have these weaknesses but these weaknesses must be maintained and controlled if one is to enter the Celestial Kingdom.

    All Elder Hafen was trying to do was to provide verbal assistance to those who want to control and maintain the disorders they have.

    Elder Hafen’s reward, from many on this post, is to label him as the Anti-Christ. His critics prefer to split hairs when giving a critical analysis. They prefer to yell out – “Crucify Him!”
    Is there no positive reinforcement for Elder Hafen and his efforts?

  104. #133,

    Just because something is repeated innumerable times does not make it true (ex. Thomas Marsh left the church because of “milk strippings). In 1952 the APA classified homosexuality a mental disorder based on no studies/ science. Then after 21 years of studies, applied science it was reclassified as not being a mental disorder using scientific methodology. THe fact that many voted for it is similar to any scientific advance-when enough realize the world is round then the votes naturally follow. In fact the talking points of saying it was changed in 1973 due to political pressure without science is totally backwards. It was first classified without science and changed on science.

    I am on board with Elder Hafen and others of our faith preaching a universal standard of chastity and morality which I believe in. And whether I have a proclivity or not in any area (such as alcohol) does not mean that we abandon the WOW. What it does mean to me is that we quit the confabulation of evidence, half truths, and taking talking points and exalting them to doctrine. We have done far too much of that in our zeal in the past (blacks priesthood being a continuing problem clinging to false,confabulated doctrine to justify what was simply man made policy based on racism) and we should have learned by now to above all be honest, objective and let the truth vindicate itself without us out of insecurity justifying every wind of doctrine/ commentary used to justify our policies.

    I am in favor of keeping the standard but withholding the judgment. Pres. Hinckley said it best, “we don’t know.” Fine. But to morph from “i don’t know” to “We know” is typical organization creep seeking to justify spending millions to deny others certain civil liberties.

  105. Great comment, Ron M. Although I don’t share your beliefs, I think anyone would be satisfied by that position, with respect to religious beliefs.

  106. RonM re #138

    I would be carefull of making statements like: “[blacks priesthood being a continuing problem clinging to false, confabulated doctrine to justify what was simply man made policy based on racism]” – as if this statement is supportive of your arguement, no matter how politically correct you may think it is. For there is no official LDS Church statements supporting this viewpoint. But another post could be created where this issue could be dealt with.

    My point in bringing up the AMA’s decision in the early 1970’s was to show that the legitamcy of Homosexuality is not written in stone as some might think. I am not in agreement with your version as to what took place in 1973, but – no matter. There is no need to quibble or split hairs over this scientific principle or that scientific principle as to causes or effects or ramifications etc. of Homosexuality. It is already acknowledged that Homosexuality, Pedophilia, and Heterosexual acts [outside of marriage] have little or no effect on one’s ‘worldly’ success in life.

    The two main points to be made is: [1] These 3 ‘disorders’ must be controlled and maintained if one wants a successfull relationship with the LDS Church. [2] Remarks by Elder Hafen and others who hold the same or higher positions in the LDS Church, should be treated with deference and respect according to the offices that they hold.

    However, if one is a non-member of the LDS Church, they are free to scream and holler as loud and as long as they want. If they are members of the LDS Church, then, it would be wise for them not to use a ‘wordly’ standard of analysis when looking at Elder Hafen’s remarks – lest they offend those in Heaven who are supportive of his remarks.

  107. Thank you everyone for many comments. In this post I was really going for an attempt to understand and respect Elder Hafen while disagreeing with his comments. That was my intent. It would seem some thought I was asking for help myself in knowing how I should handle the situation. I have made my decision and this was my attempt to answer my own questions.

    Ultimately, I had hoped that those who choose to be LDS but have heterodox views that don’t always line up with LDS theology or culture would be shown one way of handling the situation rather than simply leaving the church. I hope that it came across to some people and someone was benefitted by it.

  108. Sorry, but it’s just not possible to hold heterodoxical viewpoints concerning LDS theology and progress within the Church at the same time. But the worst mistake to make, is to leave the Church when you have a testimony as to the truthfullness of the restored Gospel.

  109. # 143. Joseph Smith was a walking, talking, teaching, prophesying heterodoxy—not just to the world but also to those trying to stay up with his constant shattering of their orthodoxy even within the church.
    I suspect I am older than most here, but for the first 160 years in our faith it was clear that the world “orthodoxy” had a very negative connotation. In other words, we were uncomfortable with anyone attempting to teach the orthodox religion” or insisted on creating orthodoxy —for the “church” was to be by definition a continuing heterodoxy to the world and even itself. Not only is it possible but necessary for the progression/organic evolution of a faith to have heterodoxy within it’s rank and most especially among those who are hold the keys to leadership. It was heterodox for Hugh B. Brown and Pres. McKay to believe that the blacks were wrongfully denied the Priesthood and express those sentiments and wait to build a consensus knowing it would shatter the orthodox minded within the faith unless there was unanimity. It was heterodox for Talmadge to understand that evolution was a reality, but the church is like the Queen ship Mary. It turns but turns very slowly. But heterodoxy is not only possible, but essential element for a faith to grow in further light in knowledge. The false heterodox concepts fade but in time the true heterodox opinions/teachings are vindicated and thank God for that element in our faith, and pray that heterodoxy is eliminated and cast out entirely—for it will put ironically at jeopardy those that demand uniformity and orthodoxy.

    #141. Thank you for the post. Frankly I am leaning more and more towards universalism and I think in time it is all good. I believe God is a universalist but us his children are as judgmental and restrictive as hell itself. I would personally make the tent a lot larger and a lot more liberal but that is me and I have no more authority then my own personal opinion.

    One last thought. One can exile a person but not his ideas; one can excommunicate a person but not his truth.

  110. Thanks jmb. Your post was topical and insightful, and I think some of the responses answered your questions.

    I don’t think people should be too frustrated at the direction these threads take. One of the things I like best about MM is the organic nature of the threads. They develop in the direction of people’s interests, without someone clamping down on responses that don’t directly address the original post. This is definitely a sensitive topic, but I, for one, appreciate the diversity of ideas and the general open-mindedness that prevails on this site.

  111. Perhaps, now would be a good time to re-examine the term ‘heterodox’. I’ll confess, I never use the term and feel that those who do, lock themselves in a position where they appear to use term in the absolute sense.

    Bruce R. McConkie writes on p.550 in “Mormon Doctrine” – “Orthodoxy is the opposite of ‘heterodoxy’ or of beleiving heretical doctrines”. And what member of the LDS Chuch wants that label? Clearly, the concept of ‘heterodoxy’ should be re-examined by those choosing to use this term.

    And please don’t waste time tarnishing Elder McConkie. Do your own research on the LDS definition of ‘heterodoxy’.

  112. I think we should change from orthodox/heterodox to homodox/heterodox. Heterodox = the idea that various doctrines are interpreted multiple ways by different people. Homodox = the idea that there is only one allowable interpretation of doctrines.

  113. From Wiki:

    The word orthodox, from Greek orthodoxos “having the right opinion”, from orthos (“right”, “true”, “straight”) + doxa (“opinion” or “praise”, related to dokein, “to think”), is typically used to mean adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith, especially in religion.

    Heterodoxy includes “any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position”. As an adjective, heterodox is used to describe a subject as “characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards” (status quo). The noun heterodoxy is synonymous with unorthodoxy, while the adjective heterodox is synonymous with dissident.

    I think if we are using the term “heterodox,” as Hawk says, we should really define the “dox” to indicate “interpretation of doctrine” rather than “doctrine” itself, just because the concept of doctrine in an open-canon church is somewhat fluid and difficult to get a handle one. It really is grounded in the interpretation of the current prophet, IMHO. In that case, heterodox/homodox makes more sense than heterodox/orthodox.

  114. Re: #6

    “Brother Hafen had a specific audience trying to deal with a specific problem, and I’m not sure that he intended his remarks to become the pseudo-official rhetoric which is fueling this (smallish) firestorm. He was encouraging those who have made the decision to fight off homosexual tendencies”

    This is a somewhat reasonable way of reconciling Elder Hafen’s remarks with regard to question #3. The remarks were meant to resonate with those in the audience for this program and to inspire them to continue a quest that they have challenged themselves to follow. Some of the participants may indeed be bisexual men who will find a straight relationship to be ego-syntonic despite having strong homo-erotic sexual feelings.

    LDS men with bisexuality can find a particularly challenging era of sexual awakening. Bishops/Youth leaders may induce a great degree of guilt in having looked at a Playboy magazine at scout camp etc., but not be aware that gawking at peers/coaches in the locker-room becomes an acceptable alternative as locker-room nudity is considered a male rite of passage.

    Then while their peers are “going steady” with girls at age 12-13, guilt is induced if they spend too much time alone with girls before 16 and even after 16 before missions. Meanwhile, male bonding with scout camp and superactivities is another rite of passage.

    So bisexual LDS males, for reasons of faithfulness to the law of chastity, may shut down their heterosexual inclinations, which in the face of poor self-esteem may already be challenged. If they are not acting with heterosexual enthusiasm in middle and high school, even if it is for law of chastity reasons, they are likely to be labeled gay by their peers. Older YSA males are often ridiculed by non-member LDS peers for being “30 year old virgins” and have their sexualities questioned by members.

    Add to this the secular education that teaches if you have homoerotic attraction, the only thing to do is embrace it and live within a dichotomized culture where “coming out” is the first step of being at peace with your homoerotic attraction. Homoerotic sexuality, however, doesn’t mean necessarily that one is, as MoHoHawaii once put it, homosexual to the core–i.e. ones sense of humor, relating to groups of friends, finding ultimate satisfaction in a relationship.

    If someone in Evergreen DOES discover that they are homosexual to the core, then Evergreen becomes the “bridge to Affirmation.” If they are not, it can save a man from major depression by trying to live as an out gay man with repressed heterosexuality.

    So one can look at Elder Hafen’s remarks as audience specific. I remember Gordon B. Hinckley giving a talk to my state university institute group and encouraged us to remain at the state university rather than going to BYU because we had more opportunities to befriend and fellowship non-members. Obviously this was NOT official doctrine. He did not, for example, go to BYU and suggest to all the students that they should transfer to state universities so they could follow his counsel.

    The difference here is that Elder Hafen’s talk was posted in the Newsroom at the LDS website, which gives it MORE of an official status, even if it is NOT doctrinal. I can see that it was published in the newspaper because of the unique doctrinal assertion, but it really should have less reason to be in the newsroom then any address given by Elder Holland to African congregations during his recent visit.

    JMB, I appreciate the way you set up this post and have tried to keep my responses in line with the idea of question #3 and not fall into the typical debates. Even though it is not my “business” to “convince people to stay in the church” as you mentioned, I am strongly interesting in encouraging people to do so. Our church is our local ward family as much as it is our connections to the Quorums of 70s. Those local connections are more likely to teach us life skills that can become critical to our pursuit of eternal life, and the absence of a member of the ward family takes away the interaction between the member and one person who would be better reached by that member than anyone else. I just finished reading Bound for Canaan by Margaret Young and Darius Gray and found it very difficult to read of the way Elijah Abel and Jane Manning had to endure their last years of life in the church. They had more reason than almost anyone I can think of to leave. Now the story of their endurance is an example that touches many members in a way that nothing else could.

  115. I have to partly agree with Elder Hafen, but only partly. None of us can choose the problems we will encounter in our physical makeup – what WE can choose is how we react to and adjust to those personal characteristics.

    I am a very firm believer that some persons with SSA CAN change, whilst other cannot not. Males born without testosterone receptors are considered to have “Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome”. Their testicles will NEVER descend into the scrotum and often are removed to prevent them from turning cancerous. Testosterone treatment is totally and completely valueless in these males – they have NO testosterone receptors and will NOT respond. Psychotherapy will NOT change there gender orientation – these men will look, at and have the exact same attractions as women do. They should be loved and accepted for who they are. They choose to live their lives as women. They want to marry and have families. They are biologically sterile, but can adopt children. These “women” can produce breast milk if given a hormone injection and many have breast fed their adopted children. The deserve every right that comes with being a woman. They should be given the opportunity to adopt children, (not right, but opportunity). I strongly object to Ballet Propositions that amend a State’s Constitution to legalize discrimination
    against persons born with biological disorders of sexual development and differentiation. These Constitutional Amendments are in and of themselves unconstitutional.

    On the other hand, I strongly encourage those individuals, (male or female) who have been victims of abuse, especially sexual abuse and who suffer from any sort of emotional, physical, spiritual condition as a result of that abuse to seek appropriate therapies. They can get well. They can achieve a fullness of happiness. They can have peace – oh course they can. If Evergreen, or any other clinic helps them, we should all be supportive.

  116. I don’t think the Lord has made truth difficult to discern. Things that have never changed that the brethren throughout the ages have warned us against
    1. Denying the Holy Ghost
    2. Stealing
    3. Sexual Sin
    4. Murder
    5. And others. King Benjamin saaid in his address that we have to watch ourselves because there are so many diverse ways to commit sin.

    Certain truths never change. I take the stance that I do because if someone is reading these things maybe they will skip their first foray into the gay bathhouse or into that gay bar. Others are encouraging people to try the gay lifestyle they say it’s not such a bad thing. You choose the voice that you listen to. I want to clarify that I do not want to appear holier than thou. These are interesting discussions and Thank God for free will and thought.

  117. #137 – “Settle down, Mytha. If you think this is uncivil you haven’t been paying attention.”

    You mean it could be much worse, right? I’m sure it could. It was just the continuing comparison between homosexuality and pedophilia that had me offended beyond words. But you did a pretty good job in 102 and 123 of expressing the disgust I feel at some of those comments, so thanks for that. 🙂

  118. Mytha:
    I am just puzzled why you and others think it’s okay that church members engage in sin that the Brethren have clearly warned us about.

  119. Yeah, Mytha, most people do a good job of ignoring the most incindiary comments (on either side of an issue) but occasionally I have a tough time. It definitely could (and sometimes does) get worse. I think most of the comments in this thread have been substantive and relatively respectful.

  120. This conversation is much simpler than most of you are making it.

    No one asnwered my question so let me state it again:

    Which do you think is a more loving attitude towards gays?

    The churh’s, which states: abstain from your natural feelings and god will fix you later.

    or those who say: you are fine the way you are, seek to find someone to love in this life and may you find joy in that relationship.

    Anyone who would tell gays to avoid finding someone to love, which is one of the most important human needs, if not the most important, is ignorant and/or cruel.

  121. Why do we always ignore the plight of the faithful husband or wife who finds themselves married to a gay person who *tried* to live in the way that the church demands only to find a decade or two later that they just can’t continue? You can say the gay person has sinned or must, in honor, leave the church whose covenants they can’t live up to.

    But what do you say to the faithful husband or wife or the minor children whose lives are thrown into chaos? What is their recourse? Why didn’t a temple marriage provide for their eternal progression?

    And what do you say to the faithful mother and father whose son or daughter has committed suicide in their despair? Or whose son or daughter has left the church and their eternal family in order to have a life that includes love and companionship like the rest of us?

  122. Morality is not that complicated, people. We don’t need god to know right from wrong. Causing another to suffer is wrong. How is it wrong for two adults to consent to be together? Why do you care if John and Jack want to be married and commit to each other through marriage? Who does that hurt? NO ONE.

    Who is hurt by teaching that homosexuality is wrong? Tons of people. Alice just made a nice note explaining some of those who are hurt. This is all much ado about nothing.

  123. Mytha re #153:

    Why are you offended “beyond words” to the comparison between Homosexuality and Pedophilia? Surely you can find ‘words’, that fall under the umbrella of academic humility, to comment on #140.

  124. When Jesus was asked how a follower should behave He came up with two commandments: love God with all your heart and love your fellow man the way you love Him. Nothing about judging anyone or persecuting anyone or anyone being a second- or third-class individual or letting anyone do your thinking for you.

    If we’re trying to live a restored gospel we should think about what and Whose gospel it is that was restored.

  125. K, i’m wondering what the difference between the causes of someone being homosexual and someone being a child molester are. Serious question.

  126. #165

    This is a very simple nutshell answer.

    The question can be very complicated and ranges from a genetic disposition to a matter of choice. Ultimately, there’s not much difference, just a matter of taste. Actually, when many children are engaged with ‘loving and tender’ sexual acts with an adult perpetrator, they wonder what all the excitement is about – but they soon realize, that for the adult, there is a great deal of excitement. And this observation makes an imprint of sorts.

    It can be said that we all ‘goof around’ with this type of behavior while growing up and during this phase we start to learn what is fun and pleasurable. Again, the initial acts itself, may not be that pleasurable to the individual or maybe it is.
    Since we are human, repetitive participation does produce pleasure. However, there are several sexual variables and stimuli that produce different types of reinforcement.

    At different points in time, individuals start making conscience decisions to keep playing around with this stuff, or to tone it down to the point, where one is not really interested and they start becoming involved with the opposite sex.

    Unfortunatly, child victims are manipulated so much that their freedom of choice is not quite the same as others.

    Pedophiles generally think of themselves as more refined and sophisticated and their taste in sex is likened to a connoiseur of fine wine. Their victims have quite a bit of information and examples to deal with as they are growing up.

    Homosexuals may also look upon themselves as learned and sophisticated because they have experienced such a broad range of human interaction. And today, reinforcement, in society, is growing.

    Heterosexuals, who engage in sex outside of marriage, [especially males] are doing what they think one is supposed to do in our ‘free wheeling’ society. And they certainly are having fun doing it.

    Of course, there may be several exceptions to what has been stated. Many Pedophiles, Homosexuals, feel absolutly terrible about their condition. Nontheless, they have what they have, and have to deal with it. Religion and sometimes the law just stands in the way. And they would prefer to change the law and have their lifestyles accepted by religion.

    The LDS Church does recognize that individuals have these types, as well as other types of sexual dispositions – but they must be maintained and controlled and not acted upon if individuals are to progress in the Church with a final inclusion into the Celestial kingdom.

    There are those here, who have simply shut out my words and those of Jon Miranda and encourage others to just ignore statements like #140 “Don’t respond and they will go away”. Thus leaving the post to those who only want to reinforce each other.

  127. brjones:

    In a moment of weakness, I responded to the question of #165. When all that is needed is a testimony as to the truthfullness of the Restored Gospel and the present Day LDS Church as well as an understanding that one may suffer [unto death] as the Apostle Paul did [11 Cor. 12:7].

    So why get into more trouble by critisizing LDS Church Leaders?

  128. #169 – Well, I don’t necessarily agree that a testimony of the present day church leads naturally to the conclusion that either a) homosexuality is a mental disorder; or b) homosexuality and pedophilia are related in nature. That said, I do agree with you somewhat that if you accept the LDS church as true and having authority, then it makes little sense to me to continue to complain about its policies or practices. The mormon church is not, and has never been, a democracy. You take what you get or you’re free to leave. I continue to wonder why people insist on remaining in a church that teaches and does things they find highly offensive, but that’s just me. I also understand that there are many factors that make up someone’s decision to stay or go, so it’s not always black and white.

  129. sxark – what catagory would you place joseph smith who by account slept with a 14 year old and a 15 year old girl ?

    Because he is a Prophet we would believe this was Gods will, why is it so incomprehensible that homosexuality could be a part of Gods plan, SSM can generate greater lover and fidelity than Polygamy ever did.

    personally I’m undecided on the whole issue, I will follow the party line but have my own personal opinions of it, just as I did with many of the remarks that were directed to the race issue (Mark E Peterson).

    I see my love for my wife as eternal, in my heart nothing will stop us being together forever. if only two individuals with SGA can have a portion of the love I have for my wife then they deserve to be together forever too.

    I can see it as a “thorn in the Flesh” and something to be resolved after life, but Paul gave the reason that, it was to stop him being overcome because he was so spiritual; to keep him grounded. thus those with SGA are greater spirits than any heterosexual and will automatically inherit the kingdom of God if we use that logic.

  130. brjones – I’m also interested in what makes people stay despite finding out awful truths about church history, Kübler-Ross (1969) established the 5 stages of grief which might have some application.

  131. Dexter: “Which do you think is a more loving attitude towards gays? The churh’s, which states: abstain from your natural feelings and god will fix you later.or those who say: you are fine the way you are, seek to find someone to love in this life and may you find joy in that relationship.Anyone who would tell gays to avoid finding someone to love, which is one of the most important human needs, if not the most important, is ignorant and/or cruel.” Not exclusively regarding homosexuality, the church never tells anyone they are fine just the way they are. The church’s role is to help people improve their lives, not to be content the way they are. So, I guess I would say that no matter what your sexual orientation, the church will tell you to push yourself to be better, less sinful, more holy, etc. That’s being the “critical parent,” not the “nurturing parent.” Hopefully Jesus is the nurturing parent through the atonement. But if all we do is sit around congratulating ourselves on being good enough, what’s the point of life?

    Anyway, the other thing I want to remind here is that these statements were made to a group of people who have already decided that they want to overcome their same-sex attraction. Is that futile? Perhaps. There may be some who are bisexual for whom it is not futile. There may be some who were just victims of abuse. For them it may not be futile. I certainly believe that many homosexuals are born gay and do not have a choice in the matter, as the evidence suggests. I simply want to remind everyone that the statements were made to a specific audience, even if the church news room published them in such a way that the context of the remarks may be forgotten. And FWIW, I’m very skeptical of Evergreen’s approach and think it may not be a worthwhile endeavor. At best, they are strange bedfellows for us.

  132. Hawkgrrrl:
    Who says they are natural feelings? If someone has SSA and decides to be celibate and live as good a life as possible and keep the commandments, God has promised that all will be made right. Assuming this is correct, SSA is not a natural state and there are no NATURAL FEELINGS.
    People twist this around but there are certain things that you should not act on even if you feel them.
    1. The urge to murder someone.
    2. The urge to rape someone.
    3. The urge to steal
    4. The urge to molest children.
    5. The urge to have sex with someone of the same gender.

    Addiction to gay sex is like any other addiction. The addiction must be avoided at all costs.

  133. # 174 – this comment makes no sense. You say “if someone has SSA” but you don’t identify where those attractions come from, and in the next sentence you declare definitively that there are not only no natural SSA feelings, but apparently no natural feelings of any kind. Exactly what definition of the word “natural” are you using? Are you saying that no one has any natural feelings, but instead we all decide what we are going to feel?

    As for your list, it reminds me of a book I once read where a person of some authority continually gave orders to his subordinates to engage in similar behaviors. Wait, I remember, it was the bible. Let me see if I can remember how your list relates to that book:

    1. Check
    2. Check
    3. Check
    4. Check

    Four out of the five things on your list turn out to be favorite hobbies of the person you worship as a benevolent creator. Maybe you should get a new list.

  134. Jon M – I quoted Dexter’s comment; I didn’t say “natural” feelings. However, while we’re listing natural feelings, let me add:

    6. The urge to rant intolerantly on blogs
    7. The urge to judge others uncharitably

    I’m not interested in a debate on SSA or gay sex. My comments in #173 were to clarify the context of E. Hafen’s remarks.

  135. “Anyway, the other thing I want to remind here is that these statements were made to a group of people who have already decided that they want to overcome their same-sex attraction.” – I am not seeing how this makes his statements any less ignorant, misleading and offensive…what am i missing?

    Uh-oh…here it comes…the Godwin:

    Hitler made his anti-Semitic statements to a very specific audience, some of the people may have also been subject to abuse at the hands of Jews…In other words, I cant see how the audience justifies the message…

    The saddest part of this whole thing is that there are people who have been led to believe they are broken (many by the LDS church) and feel like they need to enroll at a place like this to overcome SSA. If it werent for people and organizations (like the LDS church) telling them that they are wrong/broken/sinful/etc. for being attracted to members of the same sex, these organizations wouldnt need to exist. I wonder what the actual “success” rate really is and i wonder if the same results could be achieved with people who “want” to go gay. My GUESS is yes – or at least pretty close…If someone could overcome OSA, would that mean heterosexuality is a “choice” as well. Too bad we dont have any real data to support that or actually measure the happiness levels of the evergreen “success” stories…

    BTW – I am actually astounded that there are still people ignorant (desperate?) enough to try to equate pedophilia (a fetish in which the the perpetrator gets off on control through taking advantage of and abusing children by engaging in non-consensual sexual acts) and homosexuality. Even if you erroneously believe that people “choose” to be homosexual, homosexuality is not even close to pedophilia and the twisted need for personal pleasure at the expense of small children. If having a “testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel” means I have to take such obviously ignorant positions, then count me out…

  136. huh? – if you read my whole comment you’ll see that I am skeptical of Evergreen and consider them a questionable organization. However, E. Hafen was addressing them specifically, not the population of the world at large.

  137. MrQandA re#171

    You brought up some valid points. Who knows how valient Spirits were in the Pre-existance? There is some indication that some were chosen as Leaders before coming to the Earth. And they have their own crosses and weaknesses to bear. What great reward awaits those who suffered overt persecution [unto torture and death] because of the color of their skin or sexual orientation?

    And for those who gained a testimony as to the truthfullness of this restored Goepel and became members of the LDS Church and were able to control and maintain their weaknesses, we can only imagine what their rewards will be. And the same is said of those who, despite the color of their skin, joined the LDS Church and endured to the end, who lived by faith only, that one day they would recieve the Priesthood.

    Care should be taken [see #140] as to how we look at Church history, which could be another topic for another post. There is no need to ‘crucify’ LDS Church Leaders [past and present] – based on a “worldly” standard of analysis.

    Homosexuality is generally an overt behavior and those who control it to the end may indeed receive a higher reward as opposed to those who’s transgressions are secret. But, in the end, all unrepented secrets will be shouted from the rooftops.

  138. “There is no need to ‘crucify’ LDS Church Leaders [past and present] – based on a “worldly” standard of analysis.”

    Then may we ‘crucify’ them based on an LDS standard of analysis? I think it’s equally effective.

  139. I understood that…I just didnt see how that justified anything that he said or his inability to actually fact check his speech making his motives seem very questionable…In fact, the thought that he might have believed he could get away with ignorant, hurtful and incorrect comments BECAUSE of the specific audience he was addressing makes it even worse…Sort of like the BKP foibles at the CES conference…

  140. re: huh?
    I don’t think Hawkgrrrl is justifying E. Hafen’s remarks. Rather, she is putting them in context with an attempt to understand which is the point of this post. This post is not about homosexuality, or the church’s position on it. It is an attempt to understand, put in context, and show compassion to those with whom we disagree.

    You seem to be conflating understanding and perspective with some sort of justification. Once again (as I said in my comments previously in this thread) silence is not consent, understanding and compassion is not an endorsement.

  141. Re: brjones
    Dang it brjones, if you feed the trolls one more time in this thread I’m gonna hunt you down and smack ya! I know you know by now who the trolls are. Quit feeding them!

    Troll = one who posts (usually many times) to elicit a designed response. Their arguments are generally ridiculous, and their sincerity is highly questionable. We have fed the trolls for much of these 182 comments. Our strategy here at MM is to ignore the trolls. We don’t like deleting comments because we like the openness and honesty here. But we can’t do that if people keep feeding them.

    Do not respond to the trolls anymore please!

  142. Jen:
    Just kidding. I’m sorry. But everyone seems to drive their own points again and again according to their way of doing things. Nick L, BRJones, and yes. Sxark and you. Wyy does that make someone a troll?

  143. Jon-

    There have been very few people who have written things on MM that I feel need to be removed or ignored. Those comments include foul language and a blantant attempt to offend. Sorry, you are asking the wrong person.

  144. Labeling one as a “troll”, in my opinion, is an intellectual cowardly act. Were I to set up a post, I would never label someone as a “troll” – unless I couldn’t win the arguement. – But that’s a coward’s way out.

  145. 183 – “You seem to be conflating understanding and perspective with some sort of justification. Once again (as I said in my comments previously in this thread) silence is not consent, understanding and compassion is not an endorsement.” – I guess I am confused…who are we trying to understand and have compassion for? Hafen? Why? I dont see any reason to have compassion for someone who makes blatantly false, ignorant and divisive statements…I dont think people that behave that way should be handled with kid gloves – he knew he was taking a controversial position and even fudged the data to agree with what he wanted his position to be…What is there to understand, he is a corporate figurehead who said something ignorant and controversial as a representative of the LDS church…why should he get a pass because he is LDS when corporate figureheads get roasted all the time for sharing their beliefs (see whole foods).

    Sorry if i came across as terse in my previous posts, i just dont see how the setting or audience makes any difference or helps us “understand” what he was trying to say unless you are saying its despicable that he only said those things because he didnt think it would be widely publicized. If that is the case, then i agree.

  146. Huh?

    I see Elder Hafen as one who spoke the truth as he saw it. I see him as trying to assist those he was addressing to progress through a Church, while controling and maintaining their weaknesses, to a point where they are worthy of all Blessings offered by that Church.

    And all you can say is that Elder Hafen is a Liar. Big deal. I’ll believe Elder Hafen and all General Authorities who support him.

  147. (Laughing) Sorry, jmb. I know I’ve gotten a little sloppy lately with my feeding habbits. I have a haed time resisting an argument. I’ll do better.

  148. My last comment should read either “habits” or “hobbits” depending on which you see as lending itself to a more understandable tpyo.

  149. Bottom line, Mormon Matters is fun. People feel free to say almost anything unlike other websites that send you to moderation hell which feels like censorship Here you get a real idea of what people are saying and thinking. And of course sensible intelligent Ray keeps it all together!!!

  150. huh?, I think most of us respect your point of view. But, please understand that jmb275 was trying to learn compassion for a person with whom he disagrees. IMO, this shows true confidence in his own position, to be able to see past the argument to the person. This is a quality that is sadly lacking in human discourse these days.

    I think Hawkgrrrl’s point is also very important in that Elder Hafen’s remarks were directed to an audience already seeking the very message he delivered. If they wish to change, it is certainly their right to try.

    So, although I personally believe that his comments were his opinions, that’s ok. I would venture a guess that when it comes to gender, attraction, and sexuality, there is alot more opinion out there than actual data. This is exactly why I choose to err on the side of compassion, because there is just so much that we don’t know. But, I definitely want each person who desires to belong to our church to feel welcomed and loved. Because that’s what I think Jesus would want.

  151. I think I asked a fairly legitimate question, definitely the not cool thing to ask around here. Anyways i’m not a mormon or religious really, Whether this evergreen thing really works doesn’t matter to me so much, I don’t believe that homosexuality is genetic or some sort of condition that is fixed such as Race, gender etc etc and it annoys me that it’s trying to be rammed through that it is… It’s politcs pre-empting science and it’s B.S.

  152. This is an interesting position. I’m wondering if you’ve read any of the science. If so, maybe you could provide some data that suggests that homosexuality is not genetic.

  153. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation

    http://www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.html

    http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/1742/64/ (in regards to APA change of position that Homosexuality is genetic)

    I’m wondering if you’ve read any of the science brjones or did you just let the politics of the whole thing plow over the science of it or maybe you have a vested interest in the result of this question being one way or the other, I don’t really care either way but don’t call me ignorant for being skeptical with good reason I might add.

  154. Re: 191 huh?
    “I guess I am confused…who are we trying to understand and have compassion for? Hafen? Why? I dont see any reason to have compassion for someone who makes blatantly false, ignorant and divisive statements…I dont think people that behave that way should be handled with kid gloves – he knew he was taking a controversial position and even fudged the data to agree with what he wanted his position to be…What is there to understand, he is a corporate figurehead who said something ignorant and controversial as a representative of the LDS church…why should he get a pass because he is LDS when corporate figureheads get roasted all the time for sharing their beliefs (see whole foods).”

    I respect your point of view, and you as a person. If you want to despise, belittle, and label those with whom you disagree that is your prerogative. If you cannot see the need for compassion in a world whose trend is spewing vitriol at those with another point of view then I have nothing to offer you. I seek what I consider to be a higher, nobler method of human discourse and discussion. I know there are those who do not agree with my method. That is fine. In my experience, compassion, love, and understanding go further to solve problems, influence people, and elevate my fellows than anything else I have seen.

    Please notice again that you’re conflating these elements with “a pass.” Not me, nor Hawkgrrrl is giving E Hafen “a pass.” I have separated, in my mind, E Hafen the person from his comments. I liken this to Christ’s message with the adultress. Surely Christ was not giving that woman “a pass” by telling her He did not condemn her and to go “sin no more.” Of course not. Rather, He had separated her from the sin, and loved her for her, not for her actions.

  155. Pinkpatent – I understand the point i just disagree that someone who uses his position as an ecclesiastical leader to push an ignorant and dishonest agenda deserves any understanding or compassion. I get that these people have chosen to be there (probably because the church has guilted them into it by telling they are sinners or broken or on the same level as a pedophiles) but why would that lead me to want to understand why Hafen made blatantly false statements and why would i need to have compassion for someone who chose to speak as a representative of the LDS church on a controversial topic AND THEN choose to support the most ignorant and divisive position he could. The fact that he blatantly misrepresented information on the topic leads me to believe he was trying to push an agenda rather than trying to make amends for the damage the LDS church has caused in the lives of people with SSA (which, it seemed to me, he was pretending to do).

    I am very confident in my own position and feel that my beliefs are much more in line with what Christ taught. I also dont feel like i need to resort to dishonesty to support my position unlike Hafen and LDS church.

    How much longer would the priesthood ban have lasted if people tried to “understand” or have compassion for the LDS leaders who supported that racist “doctrine”. If it werent for people taking them to task and calling them on their narrow minded teachings and racist views, they would not have been forced into allowing blacks to hold the priesthood…

  156. Re 205: huh?
    This is easy.
    “but why would that lead me to want to understand why Hafen made blatantly false statements”

    It doesn’t.

    “and why would i need to have compassion for someone who chose to speak as a representative of the LDS church on a controversial topic AND THEN choose to support the most ignorant and divisive position he could.”

    You don’t.

    There, piece of cake. But you could understand and have compassion in spite of that. That might be nice. Do you really only give compassion and understanding to those who “deserve” it? I personally don’t find that to be in harmony with what Christ taught. But to each his/her own.

  157. #205

    “an ignorant and dishonest agenda”

    “Hafen made blatantly false statements”

    “he blatantly misrepresented information on the topic”

    “resort to dishonesty to support my position unlike Hafen and LDS church.”

    Not agreeing with him is one thing. Calling him a liar is another. I’d suggest that you provide some evidence if you feel he’s a liar. People in their responses to you have tried to be reasonable in their comments but you only seem to be interested in turning up the bile to the point that a discussion isn’t really possible. We get your point so my humble request is to either dial it down and if that’s not possible, turn it off and move on. I cede you the last word if you wish because you’re acting like a troll and as you know a well fed troll is never satisfied.

  158. jmb275 – If you dont see that there are issues in the world that dont deserve compassion and understanding then i have nothing to offer you…

    “If you want to despise, belittle, and label those with whom you disagree that is your prerogative. If you cannot see the need for compassion in a world whose trend is spewing vitriol at those with another point of view then I have nothing to offer you. I seek what I consider to be a higher, nobler method of human discourse and discussion. I know there are those who do not agree with my method. That is fine. In my experience, compassion, love, and understanding go further to solve problems, influence people, and elevate my fellows than anything else I have seen.” – Again, what exactly are you trying to understand??? why he would falsify information? why he would continue to push the hurtful and ignorant position that homosexuality is a psychological disorder? what is there to understand??? Its sad that you equate pointing out dishonesty and bigotry with “spewing vitriol”…

    “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

  159. GBSmith re #207

    Labeling one as a “troll” is intellectual cowardness.

    [huh?] re #208

    Your comments on #192 – please [it’s an answer to your #191]

  160. GBSmith – wow, you tell me to be reasonable and then call me a troll…i can feel the compassion and understanding…

    “You may find this a small citing error. Yet Hafen’s citation to the WSJ article instead of to an actual APA resolution misleads the reader into believing that the APA stated in a resolution that it is ethical and beneficial to help clients reject same sex attractions. Even worse, Hafen’s selective quoting seems to indicate that the APA endorses reparative therapy, or at least doesn’t oppose it.In the second major error, Elder Hafen claims* that homosexuality is a psychological disorder. He then says that the A.P.A removed homosexuality from the official list of psychological disorders under pressure from political activists and not due to any scientific research:”

    “Elder Hafen misrepresents the APA’s position on reparative therapy, and he claims* that homosexuality is a psychological disorder despite the absence of any scientific evidence. LDS Church leaders must be careful and provide accurate information instead of relying upon their own opinions regarding homosexuality. If Elder Hafen had read the A.P.A report – not just the WSJ article – he would hopefully have corrected his misconceptions regarding homosexuality. The A.P.A. directly addresses some of Elder Hafen’s misconceptions here:”- http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=2657

    Feel free to read up on how he tried to dishonestly support other opinions through selective quoting and misrepresentation of the information. It looks like i was right on by saying he dishonestly supported his ignorant opinion…I have yet to see a retraction. Again, why would i need to show “compassion” or understanding for someone who dishonestly told a room full of people that God gave them with a psychological disorder and that there is data to support that position? It funny to me that you guys think i am spewing “bile” because i cant stand to see someone dishonestly misrepresent information to suit their own agenda…

  161. Without commenting on the substance of the last several comments, I do think there is an overly liberal use of the label “troll” on this site generally. Even if someone is personally offended by something someone else has said, I think the term should be reserved for those who refuse to engage in a civil discourse and who are blatantly seeking only to stir the pot and piss people off. As strongly as you disagree with Huh?’s comments, GBSmith, I don’t think that’s what he’s doing.

  162. #211

    If you feel that way, engage in what you feel is civil discourse with him and see how far it goes. But from what I’ve seen that’s exactly what he’s doing. It may be from his passion about the issue or for some other reason but he’s not contributing anything to the discussion other that vitriol and bile.

  163. Listen, I’m not saying he’s is not using inflammatory rhetoric, or even that he’s not intentionally trying to stir the pot. I’m just saying that to me that’s not clearly the ONLY point of his comments. I’m not saying I agree with him, but he’s obviously attempting to engage in a substantive debate, whether or not it’s civil is another matter. To me a troll is someone who calls someone a liar and when you ask them to substantiate such an accusation they simply make additional accusations. If someone lies, they are a liar. He has claimed that Elder Hafen intentionally misrepresented the facts. You called on him to produce evidence to substantiate his claims and he has provided evidence that he feels does just that. Whether you are convinced by his evidence or approve of his tone, he’s clearly not just spewing out hateful sentiments with no desire to debate the merits. If you don’t approve of his language, you shouldn’t engage him, but I don’t think that’s the same as being a troll.

  164. Re: brjones
    I have purposely avoided calling anyone a troll, and I generally agree with your sentiment. Here are my guidelines for engaging in discussion.

    To all:
    Most people who have been on a mission, been a manager, taken a cognitive behavior class, been to college, or otherwise matured, know how to carry on a civilized discussion. Part of that is using “I” statements, and seeking for understanding people rather than right vs. wrong. Part of that is not being defensive. Part of it is a willingness to concede reasonable points. Part of it is admitting when we’re wrong. The biggest key is disagreeing without being disagreeable.

    In any CBT class, people spend hours discussing these techniques with regard to conflict resolution. Why? Because research shows that this is what helps people communicate and solve problems. It respects people while seeking for improvement in the conclusion.

    My personal rules for engagement follow these lines (although I may not always perfectly do them). In return I expect this same sort of treatment. If I feel someone is unwilling to engage in this sort of compassionate understanding discussion then I will simply cease to discuss. This doesn’t mean the person is a troll, but I will simply not engage in a dead end discussion. I don’t feel any need to be right or to have people agree with me or see my point.

  165. Look – my point is this…you guys continue to tell me to be “civil” and “understanding” and “compassionate” without actually considering that i have been on the other side of this issue. What if i were to tell you i dealt with these types of ignorant “leaders” for much of my life as a member of the LDS church and was constantly told i was broken/evil/sinful/etc. and was led to believe that God gave me a psychological disorder that needed to be “overcome”…You guys are making huge efforts to be understanding and compassionate of Hafen’s dishonest and offensive comments without even trying to UNDERSTAND how those comments might affect someone who was the focus of those remarks…

    So what if the people who he was talking “wanted” to be there – that doesnt make his comments any less offensive to those of us that were able to get beyond the ignorant (and untrained) rhetoric of the LDS leadership regarding SSA…ON TOP OF THAT, he misrepresented the actual information he was quoting to suit his own ill-informed opinion – that, in my mind, is unforgivable – at least be honest and make it clear that you are expressing your own opinions instead of trying to pretend like the scientific community supports your beliefs…So, again, i see NO reason why his position deserves “compassion” (BTW – I “understand” his position and i am violently opposed to his methods and rhetoric). I feel like some of you are going to great lengths to be compassionate toward hafen (even though i saw no “compassion” in what he said or did) while not considering what someone like myself has been through because of people like him….

  166. For what it’s worth, huh?, I generally agree with your point of view. The church is not obliged to take the position it has on SSA and GM, nor is any GA that represents the church. Furthermore, I agree with you that this is not simply an academic discussion; rather the church’s positions on these issues have had and continue to have very real effects and have caused massive pain and heartache. No one twisted Elder Hafen’s arm to speak to Evergreen or to say what he said. That said, I think it can be a worth while exercise to attempt to understand WHY the church and EH have taken the positions they have on these issues, especially for those who may be troubled by these issues but have decided to maintain their association with the church, and may be regularly monitoring and/or reassessing that decision. For me personally, I’m not terribly interested in investing a great deal of time attempting to understand the perspectives of the church or its representatives on this issue, especially since I don’t think they’re that difficult to divine. But again, for many people it seems to be more of an issue of understanding rather than sympathy, and I get that.

  167. Additionally, what is the line between “vitriol and bile” and “civil discussion”? The man was caught being dishonest and i stated as much. The man made ignorant and ill-informed statements about SSA tendencies and i stated as much. How in the world should i have more compassionately said “he is showing his ignorance and stooping to dishonestly to prove his point”? Just because i chose not to pussyfoot around his statements and “compassionately” disagree doesnt mean i am spewing “vitriol” or “bile”…the fact that i was dismissed as a troll for calling a spade a spade is somewhat staggering – what language do you not approve of? I feel like i have stepped into some kind of PC twilight zone where words like “dishonest” and “ignorant” are all of a sudden offensive…

  168. huh?, have you read all of our comments? I have to guess not, because if you had, you would find that the people you are arguing with happen to be on your side. Many of us disagree with Elder Hafen’s position.

    I agree that his comments were not based on scientific evidence. I support the rights of SSA to marry and have all the same benefits as heterosexual couples. I have contributed money to organizations who work toward that goal. I do not support the stance that my church has taken on this issue or the way it has treated(and continuesto treat) SSA individuals.

    That said, I do think its possible to engage in CIVIL debate. I do believe its possible to disagree with someone in a KIND way. Your views are not foreign here, BUT your perceived hostility is raising some eyebrows.

  169. Huh?

    What’s the difference between what you have suffered and the Apostle Paul, with his “thorn” in his side [11 Cor. 12:7] that he prayed 3 times [to no avail] to have removed? We don’t know what that “thorn” was and it’s possible that it was worse than yours. If others can suffer in agony to the end, why can’t you, or anyone for that matter. The essence of Elder Hafen’s remarks are to show that the suffering and agony of those with this affliction does not have to be as bad as many think. What fouls things up more is all this “wordly” reinforcement that this state of being is not an affliction at all.

  170. “rather the church’s positions on these issues have had and continue to have very real effects and have caused massive pain and heartache” – This…Its completely irresponsible for any LDS leader, who may be looked up to by many people (my family included), to state, as a fact, that people with SSA have a psychological disorder all while pretending there is evidence to support that statement. I dont really understand all the reasons why the LDS church feels the need to openly oppose SSA/SSM and i dont need to – they are very wrong and, in doing so, they are causing a lot of damage.

  171. pink – please read my comment above yours. I “perceived” hafens comments as hostile but it appears i am the only one….How about this, when you read my comments, do with homer simpsons voice – it might help dull the parts you “perceive” as “hostile” :).

  172. huh?, I hope you know that you and I agree on much. As I stated early in this thread, I believe that Elder Hafen’s remarks were his opinion, not doctrine. Someone asked me if his comments might be inspired, and I would have to say that alot of “inspiration” comes through the indiviual’s “opinion filter”. I simply cannot believe that my Saviour would inspire anyone to treat another person unkindly.

    The sad thing is that, as Christians, it is not enough that we simply stop harming our brothers and sisters. That is the lower law. It is our calling to uplift, love, support, and nurture all of God’s children.

  173. It’s simply amazing to read all the condescending comments of the critics of Elder Hafen. It doesn’t bother me not to receive a response or acknowledgement for #192 or #220, for I assume that I have been given the dreaded label as a “troll.”

    Big deal! For I know that all those who support Elder Hafen and his efforts will prevail. For, if comments expressed in #223 like [“I simply cannot believe that my Saviour would inspire anyone [Elder Hafen] to treat another person unkindly”], are considered the normal perception of Elder Hafen’s remarks – then there is no way that the critics of Elder hafen will prevail.

  174. pink – Although I am not sure about my status as a christian, I feel like i am uplifting, loving and supporting those that struggle with SSA in mormonism by taking mormon leaders to task for their misleading, ignorant remarks – sometimes it feels good to hear that you dont have a psychological disorder and it does make me angry that there are unthinking and judgmental individuals who feel the need to tell people with SSA they have an “affliction” or that they are no different than pedophiles. Talk about hostile…

    “I simply cannot believe that my Saviour would inspire anyone to treat another person unkindly.” – AMEN!

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