Episode 18: Same-Sex Marriage and Mormonism

John Dehlingay, homosexuality, LDS, marriage, mormon, Mormons 35 Comments

In this episode J. Nelson-Seawright, John Hamer, David King Landrith and Rosalynde Welch discuss same-sex marriage within Mormonism.

Comments 35

  1. Pingback: Northern Lights » Blog Archive » From the Bloggernacle: "Same-Sex Marriage and Mormonism" Podcast

  2. Look I’m all for the proper, correct and respectful treatment of gays and lesbians, who may have only the attraction or who are actively in a gay relationship and I know gay persons at work. I don’t agree with or approve gay bashing.

    But you guys here, seems to me, still want to prove that a sin isn’t a sin if this or that….. or that one day God will say, OK you’re gay so marry another gay.

    But there are clear lines and boundaries to apply in this issue.

    I get the message that you want to, almost hope that we will all one day say homosexuality is nature and therefore not a sin. But, for example, look at the adultery case: born heterosexual genetic condition etc, in a marriage where sex is common, but then at 30 the guy has an affair with a college junior. Is this case just nature?, just genetic?, beyond his control? Is it, like many scientists argue ‘nature’ for a man to want to copulate with younger women? just a result of our evolution, our DNA makeup? No off course not; even if he ends up running off with her we would be referring to repentance for the sin of adultery, not that’s its genetic for man to do this.

    You know what you are missing here in this discussion? It’s that God has given man some inalienable rights, not awarded by human power and which can’t be surrendered, and God has also given man some clearly defined sins and boundaries which human power just can’t change. (Unless you join the Sodomites…..) God has never eliminated discrimination based on sexual orientation for marriage, if anything he has gone the other way with the proclamation on the family and such.

    (And you just don’t know if all gays who marry women will one day destroy their family because you don’t know how many have actually succeeded in this, that is a gay man marrying a hetero women, they just won’t admit this.)

  3. This should have been titled “Mormons Talk about Same-Sex Marriage.” There was not enough in this conversation about Mormonism/Mormon theology and same-sex marriage, which is what I am really interested in. (Maybe the panelists figured there just wasn’t enough to say about that for a full hour!)

    It was still an interesting conversation though!

  4. I think the church’s position is pritty simple so talking about mormon theology and same-sex marriage is simple. it is not happening now or in the near future. I was a good podcast though

  5. I have to agree with Dwarik on this one. it aint happenin. the theology can be summed up by brief and often outdated counsel given from men that are 50-plus years older than the young couples, gay or otherwise, that are considering marriage for themselves.

    i was especially impressed by Rosalynde’s comments but enjoyed you other dudes too.

    carlos, the issue is not whether some gay men have been able to survive without ruining a family. rather, the issue is whether some families are devastated when homosexuality was a non-addressed issue. and more, as it relates to mormonism, the issues are more complicated when homosexuality is acknowledged but faith in god and heterosexual marriage were the cure-all. examples of this include carol lynn pearsons story, her daughters story, and wendy watson nelsons anecdote of her first fiance who told her of “the sorrow that has come to his wife and family since their recent divorce and his declaration.” (wendy is now married to russell nelson)

  6. Carlos said: “God has never eliminated discrimination based on sexual orientation for marriage, if anything he has gone the other way with the proclamation on the family and such.”

    Can you point me to the proclamation on the family issued by God? I have not seen it. I would think that such a proclamation would be big news. I have seen a proclamation by the leaders of the LDS Church. You are not suggesting that when the apostles issue a proclamation it is equivalent to a proclamation by God, are you?

  7. i found that many members are not able to see any difference between the word of God and the word of church leaders (on a GA or better level)

  8. I’m only 30 minutes in but I have to agree with John Gustav-Wrathall on this. There is very little Mormon specific content in this podcast. Honestly I don’t find the gay marriage question for society very interesting as I see it as inevitable. I think its impact on Mormonism is what is interesting and not as clear.

  9. Equality #9

    ” You are not suggesting that when the apostles issue a proclamation it is equivalent to a proclamation by God, are you?”

    Yeap. Well said. Exactly what mormons believe in and this being a ‘mormonmatters’ site…..

  10. I cant wait to hear this one.
    I havent yet but I”m sure that I will be yelling at my ipod during it.

    the title alone tells me I”m in for a treat.

  11. #12:

    Ok, Carlos, that’s what I always thought Mormons believed, too. That the word of the apostles and prophets was the same as the word of God (D&C 1:37-38 and all that). But, see, the apologists always tell me when I bring up some of the things the prophets and apostles have said (in official proclamations, General Conference addresses, and even in canonized scriptures) that such things are just the opinions of men and not equivalent to the “word of God.” It’s all very confusing. For example, on the Lamanite question, you have the official proclamation to the world issued by the united Quorum of the Twelve in 1845 (the highest governing body in the church at the time) in which the American Indians are equated with the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon. Now I am told by the apologists that the 12 apostles, claiming to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, were simply mistaken, and that their words were the words of men, not the words of God. So if the 1845 proclamation contains the opinions of men, is it not reasonable to wonder of the latest Proclamation on the Family will not also be dismissed by future apologists as merely the uninspired musings of men?

  12. Try as you may you’re not getting anywhere with me or most believing mormons I suspect.

    There isn’t a problem at all in the lamanite issue for us. That they have gone from only ancesters to principal ancesters is only semantics and doesn’t change anything the 1845 people said. But when a single apostle gives an opinion such as McConkies views on the possible timing of the second comming, well that’s just an opinion.

    Anyway all of these matters are dependant on what one’s understanding of the Spirit is and I’m starting to think that you never seek the guide that only comes from the spirit of God to differentiate these matters. If that’s the case, well good luck to you, stick to science only. But keep in mind that things in mormondom change regularly as per Gods request, such as the Temple ceremony and polygamy.

  13. Carlos,

    You said that when the apostles speak unitedly, as with the Proclamation on the Family, they are speaking the words of God, that their words are the equivalent of God’s word (see supra #s 4, 9, 12, 14, 15). I questioned that, but you assure me that you are proclaiming Mormon doctrine with that position. And I don’t doubt that many Mormons would agree with you that it is a fair statement of Mormon teachings on the subject. (I even added the citation from D&C 1:38 for good measure). But here is the problem: the Lamanite issue is not simply a one-word change in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. It’s much larger than that.

    The problem is that for over a century and a half, Mormon prophets and apostles have consistently, repeatedly taught that the American Indians (indeed, all the indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America, as well as the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands, according to President Spencer W. Kimball and others, including President Gordon B. Hinckley) were of the House of Israel, being direct descendants of Father Lehi of Book of Mormon fame. Indeed, this teaching is found in Mormon scripture, including the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine & Covenants. And it is found in the united words of the Twelve Apostles in the 1845 Proclamation to the World, which you say is the equivalent of the word of God Himself. It is not so easy to dismiss canonized scripture, official proclamations, General Conference addresses, and temple dedicatory prayers as merely the words and opinions of “prophets speaking as men and not prophets” on this issue. That’s the problem. And it doesn’t go away simply by wishing it away. Here is what the united 12 apostles bore testimony of, claiming to have the spirit of prophecy and the keys to speak for God to the whole world, in 1845:

    “We also bear testimony that the ‘Indians’ (so called) of North and South America are a remnant of the tribes of Israel, as is now made manifest by the discovery and revelation of their ancient oracles and records.

    And that they are about to be fathered, civilized, and made one nation in this glorious land.

    They will also come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and of the fulness of the gospel; and they will embrace it, and become a righteous branch of the house of Israel.”


    “Let the government of the United States also continue to gather together, and to colonize the tribes and remnants of Israel (the Indians), and also to feed, clothe, succour, and protect them, and endeavour to civilize and unite; and also to bring them to the knowledge of their Israelitish origin, and of the fulness of the gospel which was revealed to, and written by their forefathers on this land, the record of which has now come to light.”


    “He has revealed the origin and the records of the aboriginal tribes of America, and their future destiny.—And we know it.”

    Now the apologists tell us that while Lehi may have been one of the ancestors of some American Indians, the DNA evidence is lost because Lehi’s family intermixed with a much larger indigenous population from eastern Asia, but the Indians are still Lamanites because, I guess, just having one ancestor 2600 years ago is enough to make one a Lamanite and a member of the House of Israel. Of course, if that is true of the Indians, it is true of all of us. The way genetics works, if a person living 2600 years ago had grandchildren, then virtually ever person living on the earth today can claim that person as their ancestor. If that’s all that is required to be a “Lamanite” then we are all Lamanites. And if that’s the case, then the scriptures and the teachings of the latter-day prophets really don’t make any sense at all, do they? The reason this is a problem, theologically–and it is a problem–is that the rationalizations the apologists need to employ to explain away the scientific data, if applied across the board, eviscerate key Mormon doctrines on the scattering and gathering of Israel, a central theme of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and latter-day teachings of the prophets. It’s a lot more than just a single word in the introduction to the Book of Mormon.

    Re: #16–what are you talking about? What Hofmann issues?

  14. For the millionth time, the Lamanites ARE still a remnant of Israel.

    “) were of the House of Israel, being direct descendants of Father Lehi of Book of Mormon fame. Indeed, this teaching is found in Mormon scripture, ” ….

    …..Is STILL true.

    “Of course, if that is true of the Indians, it is true of all of us.” Not always. If there is now connection,….

    But anyway, you’re problem is in this DNA issue. I suggest you read what FARMS has to say about it since I’m no biologist. There’s plenty over there although they aren’t prophets as so don’t determine or state doctrine. They just answer with ‘a’ possible explanation.

    Re: #16. Hofmann issues over on you blog; don’t you read what people comment there on you’re own blog??

  15. Carlos,

    Your comment re: Hofmann on my blog was made in response to a post by a guest blogger (fh451), so I did not receive an email alerting me to the comment (which I receive for my own posts). fh451ably addressed your question. Thanks for visiting and commenting at my blog.

    I have read what FARMS has to say on the subject of DNA. The problem with the FARMS apologetics is that the points they raise in trying to reconcile the DNA science with the Book of Mormon text have the unintended consequence of contradicting the plain language of the Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures, as well as the clear unambiguous teachings of Mormon prophets from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley on the subject. If the Lehites intermarried 2500 years ago with a much larger indigenous population such that no trace of the Lehite DNA remains detectable in Native American populations today, then that scenario has serious implications for a number of commonly held and taught Mormon beliefs. To say that Native Americans are still “Lamanites” because they had one ancestor 2500 years ago who was a son or grandson of Lehi is ridiculous since virtually every person living on the earth can say the same thing. Let’s put it this way: I am a blue-eyed white guy of principally Scandinavian ancestry. It is also certain that somewhere back in my family tree, I have a sub-Saharan black African ancestor (we all do). Saying the Navajo are Lamanites makes about as much sense as saying that I am an African-American.

  16. You’re starting to see the pointlessness of using DNA to dismiss a religious text.

    It was interesting to read that you have black African ancestors!!!

    Here, where I live, we have the very black Australian aboriginals -who I repeat are very black- yet a guy I work with is blue-eyed ginger haired white guy who runs for council positions as a native Australian aboriginal, Koori to be exact, because he could show a native council that he’s grandmother was half aboriginal. Everyone one else in his family tree is white, but he still insists, looking at you through those blue eyes, that he’s Koori and his people have being discriminated by the “European Invasion” and so on……

    Still reading? Well, I sarcastically ask him from time to time how native land rights are going because that’s what they always on about, but he doesn’t see the sarcasm and starts up on the ‘brothers’ causes.

    Anyway maybe skin colour has nothing to do with DNA, I mean isn’t Cher native american? Cherokee? Will her genes show asian or Irish ancestry since she is such a mixture.

    About the FARMS reports surely the Iceland experiment means something to you in terms of Book of Mormon v DNA issue? Does it say something to you at all? That after 150 years its almost impossible to see what family group one belongs to, this in a nation without immigration and good well kept family records.

  17. Simon Southerton has addressed FARMS’ characterization of the Iceland study:

    “John Butler argues that the Lamanites may well have been important ancestors of American Indians but their DNA may have been lost through lineage extinction.12 To illustrate this, Butler draws on the results of a study carried out on the population of Iceland.13 He claims the study revealed that “the majority of people living today in Iceland had ancestors living only 150 years ago that could not be detected based on the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA tests.” This observation is incorrect. The scientists had little trouble detecting people’s ancestors. What the Iceland study in fact revealed, by linking DNA genealogies with written genealogies, was that most of the people living in Iceland in the eighteenth century have few or no living descendants. For example, Helgason and his co-workers used Iceland’s extensive genealogical records to determine that 64,150 living female Icelanders were born after 1972 and that there were about 20,443 females born in Iceland between 1698 and 1742. Mitochondrial DNA tests on the living women revealed that 61.8 percent of them are descended from just 6.6 percent of the women living in the early eighteenth century. Similar results were obtained for males.

    How could it be that most of the people living in Iceland 300 years ago have few or no living descendants? This remarkably high rate of lineage extinction, or genetic drift, was surprising to the authors of the paper, who considered that Iceland’s population had undergone a rapid population expansion during the last 300 years. This was the only information the authors gave about Iceland’s population history in this paper. There is, however, much in Iceland’s history the authors did not mention.

    • For the first century of those 300 years, from 1701 to 1803, Iceland’s population declined from 50,358 to 47,240 due to severe economic hardships.14

    • Most of Iceland’s population were farm labourers, and frequently the poor never married or raised families because it was considered improper for labourers to “fill the earth with ‘weaklings’”.15

    • In 1783 one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 12,000 years rocked Iceland. Mount Laki erupted, killing tens of thousands of cattle and horses and hundreds of thousands of sheep. Between a quarter and a third of the population perished due to fluorine poisoning and smallpox.

    • Between 1870 and 1914, 20 percent of Iceland’s population emigrated to North America. Since 1914, emigrants have typically outnumbered immigrants. Emigrant groups are likely to have been dominated by younger individuals of reproductive age.

    The combination of drastic population declines in the eighteenth century due to harsh environmental and economic conditions, followed by large-scale emigration during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, will have had a dramatic impact on the genetic landscape of Iceland. Many of the descendants of the 50,358 people living in Iceland in 1701 are likely to have died without leaving offspring. Of those who did leave descendants, many may have migrated to North America, their descendants now invisible in the Icelandic studies.

    Iceland has always been a marginal place for human occupation with its arctic climate and volcanic activity, in contrast to the Promised Land of the Book of Mormon where crops thrived and wildlife and precious metals were found in abundance (1 Ne. 18:24-25). There are also few similarities between the population history of Iceland and the history of the Lehites and Mulekites described in the Book of Mormon. Nephi saw a vision of the New World in about 600 BC in which he saw that his “seed” and “the seed of [his] brethren” had multiplied until they did “number as many as the sand of the sea” (1 Ne. 12:1). Numerous passages throughout the Book of Mormon detail the fulfilment of this prophecy. In 588 BC the Lehite populations were prospering “exceedingly” and “multiplying” in the land (2 Ne. 5:13), and by 399 BC they had “multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land” (Jarom 1:8). When the descendants of Mulek join the Nephites, we are informed, they are “exceedingly numerous” (Omni 1:17). By about 124 BC, there were so many people in the Book of Mormon civilizations, they could not number them because they had “multiplied exceedingly and waxed great in the land” (Mosiah 2:2). By about 46 BC, they had spread until they “covered the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east (Hel. 3:8).

    Another question the Icelandic research poses is, given such dramatic extinctions in a population over 300 years, does this necessarily lead to extinctions of DNA lineage families? The table below shows the frequency of the major maternal lineage classes in contemporary Icelanders and the frequency at which they appear in the population they descend from 300 years earlier, as determined from Table 9 in the Helgason study.

    Frequency in population (%)

    ~ 1700 AD

    ~ 2000 AD

    33 45
    T 9 11
    J 10 15
    K 10 9
    I 2 5
    U5 5 7
    U4 2 5
    V 2 2
    X 1 2

    While there are changes in the frequencies of the lineages, it is clear that these have not resulted in extinctions. Even the rare lineages were detectable in the living population. While individual DNA lineages can and do go extinct, the DNA lineage families they belong to generally don’t go extinct in a population unless the particular lineage has reduced fitness (for more on this, click here). The authors of the Iceland research observed that the changes in frequency appeared to be random fluctuations and not connected to the fitness of particular lineages.”

  18. But, see, the apologists always tell me when I bring up some of the things the prophets and apostles have said (in official proclamations, General Conference addresses, and even in canonized scriptures) that such things are just the opinions of men and not equivalent to the “word of God.”

    Easy answer. We treat things as the word of God but are fallible about our knowledge of what is God’s intents in the particulars. For instance not only can we question whether every particular word or phrase in the proclamation is inspired but we have the problem of interpretation. To give an example of this Brigham Young said that were he to have been inspired to translate the Book of Mormon it would probably have read differently. That’s not to say the book isn’t correct or inspired. Just that one has to be careful not to confuse the Mormon position with say the Islamic one where the Koran was supposedly dictated by an angel to Mohammad (and why reading in non-Arabic is considered so inferior)

    I think Mormonism acknowledges a kind of pragmatism regarding text (no text is “perfect” in an absolute sense but they are “good enough” to convey the important message.

    The problem with such theological fallibilism is that it puts the responsibility on the individual.

  19. Clark, it sounds like you are saying that the Book of Mormon may have been written and conveyed to the world through Joseph Smith’s own experiences and understanding. That is not an unreasonable understanding of a normal translation process. But I am confused, because an Apostle has instructed us otherwise. Russell M. Nelson, in a July 1993 article in the Ensign, wrote this:

    “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)

    That doesn’t sound like Brigham Young would have given us a different version of the Book of Mormon. It sounds like anyone who had this same gift would transmit the exact same book, including the same words and phrases. To claim otherwise is to call David Whitmer and Russell M. Nelson liars. Is that what you are doing?

    Incidentally, this is exactly what Equality is talking about. Apologists like Clark deny the teachings of Apostles in order to defend their position. You can play duelling quotes between Brigham Young and Russell M. Nelson if you want, but my understanding is that Brigham Young was a convert to the church long after the Book of Mormon was produced, and as such, I’ll believe the claims of David Whitmer over Brigham Young in this matter.

  20. Equality #21,

    Dude that’s way too much writing.

    Just use Wiki:

    “Some have indicated that genetic comparison does not appear to support the story in the Book of Mormon, while others have said that genetic markers show consistency with the story of the Book of Mormon. Geneticists point out several difficulties in ascertaining Native American Origins using genetics. DNA taken from modern day Israelis has been intermixed with DNA from many other nations, and is therefore different from what it was in 600 B.C. Also, Native Americans have intermixed, which has affected their DNA as well.”


    (Case closed -or rather still an open question this DNA stuff. )

  21. “too much writing.” Reminds me of the king’s criticism of Mozart’s symphony in the movie Amadeus: “too many notes.”

    You point to a wiki article written (or edited) by Mormon apologists as your “case-closing” evidence to support your position? Stick with the warm fuzzies–it’s more persuasive.

  22. Equality wrote:

    “too much writing.” Reminds me of the king’s criticism of Mozart’s symphony in the movie Amadeus: “too many notes.”

    Actually it was the EMPEROR who said that -Kings are a different breed

    And it was an OPERA -not a symphony.

    If your knowledge of the details of DNA testing is a bad as your knowledge of the details from classic films…..well then it is a ‘case closed’

  23. Nathan, I don’t see any contradiction between the two. The fact the translation made use of Joseph Smith, his mind, and his environment says little about the “aids” in how this was revealed to him.

    BTW – can I say how much it bugs me when folks make an interpretation of events, assume it is the only possible interpretation, and then say “apologists like Clark” are denying the teachings of apostles. Give me a break.

    Why is it that so many critics can’t wrap their minds around the fact not everyone interprets things the way they do? I swear, it’s sometimes like a kid unable to accept that people can see the same evidence and get differing views of its meaning.

  24. Clark, I agree with you about how frustrating it is for people not to recognize various interpretations of scripture, revelation, theology, and history. Do you ever see this attitude of “one correct interpretation” in leaders and members of the LDS Church toward those who might espouse a non-correlated view of history or doctrine? Is it only the critics in whom you notice this tendency? What do you think is the root of the “one correct interpretation” viewpoint?

  25. Equality, certainly there have been some dogmatic GAs. (McConkie comes to mind) However even there they aren’t saying there’s only one valid interpretation. They are saying there’s only one authorized or official one. (And, I think them wrong – and certainly their contemporaries disagreed with their views)

    Note that this isn’t what I’m disagreeing with. For instance I can say the interpretation that there were real Nephites is the only official one in the Church. But I’d never say this is the only rational one and then base arguments on it. That’s an important distinction.

  26. All religion ‘others’ people.

    It is used as a justification for the discrimination, oppression and abuse against women, children, gay people and people of other race and religion.

  27. I will not even argue with these devil’s positions. Equality’s obvious talking-points line of questioning is pathetic. Your debate tactics follow this pattern: My skewed interpretation of whatever is blah, blah is wrong, therfore whatever is wrong.
    There is a whole episode in the Book of Mormon that deals with a debate between Zeezrom, a fast-talking lawyer, and the prophet Alma and Amulek. Your pattern of argumentation is the same as Zeezrom’s. You seek to trap and make a person an offender for words.
    Your DNA argument is just stupid. It has never been made by any serious generists, because no serious generisist would make the argument that a single genetic line would be evident in a multi-origin population over 2600 years. No generisist would make the claim that genetic heritage equals geneological heritage as they are dogs and cats. One is the prevelance of dominant and recessive genes as well as higher numbers of one versus another. Geneology, though starting with the same root word, is totally different, having only to do with a single origin that may or may not be diluted by combination with later origins. Geneology and genetics are not the same, and pretending that they are is an attempt in argumentational entrapment.
    “Oh thou child of hell…” was Amulek’s rebuke to Zeezrom as he caught him in his deceptive tactics. I don’t know you, but you are the same as Zeezrom with your persistence in using the devil’s means to accomplish your ends. You are like the hypocrites that forge documents and lie to enter our temples to “expose” what goes on there. You try show me the evil origins of my religion with your evil means.
    The same goes for the ridiculous reasoning about Brigham Young’s hypothetical translation of the Book of Mormon being different than that of Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith, who is the origin of any relation of how the BOM was translated said repeatedly that the seer stones used in the process were only to aid his mind in forming the translations that came through him. The BOM is a work of ransoation and has never been called a dictatio from the various seer stones. JS even said that he didn’t need them anymore in the end of the translaion work. You have to ignore all of this in order to make the point you made. Now, for pointing out your deceptive argumtation, I am an apologist. If that is an apologist than so I am. It is better than a child of hell.

  28. A bit of confusion here. Mormons claim to be Christian yet on the topic of same-sex marriage, the participants of this podcast do not view Christ’s teachings as authoritative. Secondly, why would a parent rather have their child follow something that provides “peace and happiness” rather than something that is true?

  29. This is the second podcast I’ve listened to with Rosalynde.  While I appreciate that she is more educated on homosexuality than perhaps most Church members, I find it quite frustrating to listen to her because she talks around the subject so much and never really offers a firm opinion on homosexuality.  To me this seems to mirror the Church’s behavior much of the time with difficult issues: issuing vague statements that don’t really say much at all.  Again, I’m grateful for the discussion, but I would like the issues to be addressed more and am tired of hearing Church officials and apologists staying neutral on many of the facets regarding homosexuality, except to say simply that it’s a grievous sin.  For many of us Mormons, with or without homosexual feelings, this doesn’t make sense, and we want real answers to make sense of it.

  30. Pingback: John Hamer in Mormon Podcasts « Saints Herald

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