On August 27, 1954 Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered an address to a gathering of church religion teachers entitled “Race Problems – As They Affect The Church.”
He began by cautioning listeners that many in the Church have been deceived by the philosophies of men on the issue of civil rights:
“The discussion of civil rights, especially over the last 20 years, has drawn some very sharp lines. It has blinded the thinking of some of our own people, I believe. They have allowed their political affiliations to color their thinking to some extent, and then, of course, they have been persuaded by some of the arguments that have been put forth. …We who teach in the Church certainly must have our feet on the ground and not be led astray by the philosophies of men on this subject any more than on any other subject.”
He then summarized the problem as he perceived it:
“I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same street-car or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn’t that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it.”
Elder Peterson continued by contextualizing the problem within the wider plan of salvation:
“With that in mind, can we account in any other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, while some of the rest of us are born here in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. These are rewards and punishments, fully in harmony with His established policy in dealing with sinners and saints, rewarding all according to their deeds.”
How do blacks fit into the plan of salvation, then?
“Think of the Negro, cursed as to the Priesthood. Are we prejudiced against him? Unjustly, sometimes we are accused of having such a prejudice. But what does the mercy of God have for him? This negro, who, in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa—if that negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a celestial resurrection. He will get a place in the celestial glory.”
Elder Peterson then recounted a personal story:
“Some years ago, back in 1936 to be exact, I became acquainted with a Negro family in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was back there for three months in connection with a newspaper assignment. I went to Church there and became acquainted with the family of a Negro man named Len Hope. Accidentally he had found some of our tracts when he lived down in Mississippi. He read them and became interested. He wrote to the mission headquarters for a Book of Mormon, and by his own study, converted himself. Later he met the Elders and joined the Church. … Up in Cincinnati, some of the members of the Church became extremely prejudiced against this Negro family. They met in a group, decided what to do and went to the Branch President, and said that either the Hope family must leave or they would all leave. The Branch President ruled that Brother Hope and his family could not come to Church meetings. It broke their hearts. But, the missionaries went out to the Hope home and there conducted Sunday School every Sunday, and served them the Sacrament. I had the privilege of visiting with the Hope family. I was in their home. I saw how their song book had been literally worn out and likewise their Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon. As soon as I got to my hotel that Sunday afternoon, I wrote home to my wife and had her send them a supply of books.”
But what of those who argue for intermarriage?
“Now what is our policy in regard to inter-marriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not intermarry with the Negro. Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there? There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do. With 50 million Negroes inter-married with us, where would the priesthood be? Who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church!”
Elder Peterson concludes:
“Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest kind of education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, ‘what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ Only here we have the reverse of the thing—what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.”
Obviously the vast majority of Mormons no longer teach or believe any of this. The priesthood was extended to all worthy males in 1978 and the Church’s Gospel Topics essay on Race and the Priesthood now teaches that “the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.”
Several questions then arise, including these:
1. Was Elder Peterson’s perspective on racial integration and intermarriage unique to himself at the time, or was he typical of the general consensus of either LDS Church leaders or broader Mormon culture in the 1950s? (Or both?)
2. How should we understand the contrast between Elder Peterson’s remarks of 1954 and the Race and the Priesthood essay of 2013?
3. Some have argued that the LDS Church’s current rhetoric and policies toward homosexuals and same-sex marriage are similar to the Church’s past rhetoric and policies toward blacks and the priesthood (see here and here, e.g.). Is this is fair comparison? How are they similar? How are they different?
4. How did blacks fit into Elder Peterson’s religious worldview? To him, how did they fit into the plan of salvation and what was their ultimate potential for salvation or exaltation?
- How do homosexuals currently fit into the contemporary LDS religious worldview? How do they fit into the plan of salvation and what is their ultimate potential for salvation or exaltation? How much is even known on this question?
5. Elder Peterson began his remarks by arguing that those who supported racial integration or intermarriage were deceived by the “philosophies of men.” Given that the Church now fully supports both racial integration as well as intermarriage, what does that imply for how we should interpret current cautions by our leaders about being deceived by the “philosophies of men”?
- Is it possible for Church leaders themselves to be deceived by the “philosophies of men”? How can we know if this has occurred? What should our response be as members? What can our response be as members given our organizational and cultural constraints?
6. What is your reaction to the personal story about Elder Peterson’s visit to the Hope family? Was he right to implicitly endorse the decision of the branch to exclude them from their community while congratulating the Hope family for their faithfulness despite their ostracism? Should he have instead ordered their Branch President to “integrate” them back into the branch community? What would the consequences have been in each case?
- Are there any parallels between the story of the Hope family and stories of LGBT families and their children who desire to worship in an LDS congregation? What are the similarities? What are the differences? How might these be affected by the recent policy changes in the Church Handbook?
7. It is clear that Elder Peterson perceived racial integration and intermarriage to pose an existential threat to the LDS Church along with its practices and teachings. (“With 50 million Negroes inter-married with us, where would the priesthood be? Who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church!”) This obviously did not ultimately prove to be the case. It could be reasonably inferred based on the available evidence that contemporary LDS leaders now perceive the normalization of same-sex marriage to pose an existential threat to the LDS Church along with its practices and teachings. What implications can reasonably be drawn from this comparison?
8. Most faithful Mormons would likely not object to the conclusion that time has shown that Elder Peterson was simply wrong on this issue, despite his status as a “prophet, seer, and revelator.” What implications (if any) does this have for any other pressing contemporary issues, questions, or policies on which current “prophets, seers, and revelators” have taken strong positions, especially those that concern other minority groups in society or in the Church?
9. Some have argued that some or all of the current LDS Church policies regarding homosexuals and same-sex marriage, including the new handbook policy regarding children in such family arrangements, are to one degree or another the moral equivalent to the priesthood ban on those of African descent. Is this a reasonable argument? Why or why not?
I am SO tempted to read this entire talk by Elder Peterson in priesthood. I wish some could hear the entire thing and think deeply about it and how it MIGHT apply with the current issues (i.e. Policy).
I have studied the issue of race in the church and in society – more than I think your average American Mormon has. I have often wondered where I would have stood if I were put back in time 40 or 50 years ago. To me now it seems evident that God would have wanted someone in that time to have pushed for civil rights – even within the church.
Well – in my mind it is crystal clear. We have version 2.0 of this going on right now. Given that I will stand before my Savior and be judged, I feel that I must do what I feel is right after getting up off my knees. And what I feel now is to clearly state that this is wrong, hateful, an error, will lead to less baptisms and more people leaving the church, and has significant ramifications that will pain many families – even cause deaths from suicides. I feel it is wrong to be complacent and ignore the issue. The sooner it is retracted the better. I only fear that the church leaders tend to resist EVER appearing to fold to any pressure. So I do fear that my vocal objections could cause the policy to stay in place longer. But if that is the case, so be it. I can stand before my God with a clear conscience on the issue.
I feel I am open if God wants to tell me I am wrong, but until HE tells me so in my heart this is where I proudly stand.
I read this letter late last night and was equally awestruck at the similarities and how indeed history is repeating itself. I do think that in this discussion it would be well for us who are more progressive and desiring change to talk about how LGBT issues differ from the blacks and the priesthood. I have been asked a sincere question lately as to what I would like the church to do and what can it do. I personally think the leaders simply don’t KNOW what to do with our fellow LGBT brothers and sisters. Unlike the race issue, removing a ban did not complicate the plan of salvation to the extent that same sex marriage does. Can the church get to the point of offering inclusion ( everything else EXCEPT temple marriage/sealings) and have that be enough for progressives such as myself and LGBT families? Is there ever a space for sealings/marriages of same sex couples? What would be the repercussions/ benefits to such a drastic change. Now, certainly the church CAN and SHOULD be do more righ now to offer more inclusion and less division but has the line been drawn because of the possibility that we can never offer full inclusion without a total new revelation of aspects of the plan of salvation. I realize that many people in the church don thane the opportunities for temple marriage etc so LGBT couple and families would not be alone per say in having restrictions but I still wonder if this would feel like a second class membership. Thoughts?
What’s pertinent here is that the LDS Church authorities have NO moral authority on social issues. They were clearly wrong then and they’re wrong now.
“When The Mormon Church Was Dead Wrong And Too Stubborn to See It”
“With that in mind, can we account in any other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, while some of the rest of us are born here in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. These are rewards and punishments….”
“This negro, who, in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa—if that negro … accepts the gospel … he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant….”.
“Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse….”
Speechless. Just speechless.
Btw, as to the notion that there was a “curse” of Cain and that it was a black skin— did this elder ever actually read the Bible??
Look it up—
“Behold, thou hast driven me out this day … every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” (Gn 4.14-15).
In answer to Benjamin’s first question “1. Was Elder Peterson’s perspective on racial integration and intermarriage unique to himself at the time, or was he typical of the general consensus of either LDS Church leaders or broader Mormon culture in the 1950s? (Or both?)”
From the Lowry Nelson correspondence: “The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God’s children stand in equal positions before him in all things. [Par] Your knowledge of the Gospel will indicate to you that this is contrary to the very fundamentals of God’s dealings with Israel dating from the time of His promise to Abraham regarding Abraham’s seed and their position vis-a-vis God Himself. Indeed, some of God’s children were assigned superior positions before the world was formed. We are aware that some Higher Critics do not accept this, but the Church does. [Par] Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the preexistence of our spirits, the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that our birth into this life and the advantage under which we may be born, have a relationship in the life heretofore. [Par] From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel. [Par] Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now. God’s rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous. Modern Israel has been similarly directed.” – Correspondence from Geo. Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay (The First Presidency at the time, 1947)
Let me start by saying I’m totally, TOTALLY opposed to the current policy screw up. That said changing Mormon doctrine/policy regarding race and the priesthood was a walk in the proverbial park compared to the hot mess that would be changing Mormon doctrine/policy regarding homosexuality.
In 1978 the Church basically said “Oops! We were wrong” (without actually saying those words). Suddenly every human being could qualify for all blessings the gospel had to offer. No one–well no one except the bigots–was offended or negatively affected. The change was pretty much just upside.
Now imagine that next month, regarding homosexuality being a sin, the Church said, “Oops! We were wrong.” Yes this would allow many LGBT members additional blessings, but this could cause serious issues for the many Mormon mixed orientation marriages.
Sitting here playing this hypothetical, I can speculate I would not leave my wife, but if the day came that the Church actually reversed it’s stance on homosexuality I don’t know what would happen. Knowing my wife, I wonder if she wouldn’t encourage a divorce for my happiness. Unfortunately not every marriage is as great as mine. I think many mixed orientation marriages would end bitterly were there this huge doctrinal shift.
I don’t see this changing anytime soon. And I’m partly to blame.
Think this is disturbing? Google Lowry Nelson Letters
Last year I bought Lowry Nelson’s memoir and I included a key chapter on my blog regarding his correspondence with the First Presidency and the racist teachings:
“An Inconvenient Truth: Lowry Nelson was right; The First Presidency was wrong”
We claim to have a living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and the restored church of Christ. How can we justify these claims when we can’t even get the simplest moral questions correct. The historicity of the Book of Mormon is a tough pill to swallow. If we were lead by truly inspired leaders serving as a beacon of love, truth and morality I could put those issues on a shelf. Unfortunately we only seem to be serving as an example of intolerance.
OOPS! Your comment that “every human being could qualify for all the blessings the gospel had to offer” is a not quite right. After all, women are human beings — or at least we were last time I checked.
I believe there is a way forward, but it has it’s own challenges. Right now, the church teaches that spirits are procreated by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. We assume the manner of procreation is sexual. But it doesn’t have to be. According to Abraham 3:22-24 and D&C 93:24, our spirits were assembled from pre-existing intelligences. I believe it’s possible that either Heavenly Father or some person(s) He delegated assembled our spirits from existing intelligences by dictating which part goes where. In that case, Heavenly Father could be the father of our spirits in the same way the bishop is the “father” of the ward, by organizing it and assigning callings.
The problem with this approach is that it cuts Heavenly Mother out of the creative process completely and essentially gives Her nothing to do. Were the church to adopt this as doctrine, it would likely alienate all of the feminists and others who wish to see more equality for women.
A lot of Mormon women are distressed at the thought of having to be a silent, absentee Heavenly Mother, and birth spirit children for eternity while having next to no impact on their lives (or on anything else).
Perhaps heaven cannot be heaven unless it’s tailored to the individual.
Being married is different than being a member of any mortal race or ethnic group. One is a contract and the other a state of being. Everyone will be resurrected and eternally remain “themselves.” Everyone will not be married. In the resurrection, any distinctions based on mortal flesh and blood will disappear; resurrected beings are neither Caucasian nor black nor any other racial or ethnic type, but are generally described as being “glorious” and with countenances “like lightning” or “brighter than the sun”. What will remain is a division between married persons and unmarried persons.
Marriage is a particular kind of relationship between, per the Church, a man and a woman – and particular enough that the relationship isn’t even found in every degree of the Celestial Kingdom, let alone in the Terrestrial and Telestial worlds. Except when entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, any and all associations, including marriage, have an end when men and women are dead; out of the world they are neither married nor given in marriage. The purpose/blessing of marriage is an intimate companionship that can bring forth children, the “continuation of the seeds” as D&C 132 puts it. Though the bearing of children may have been frustrated in mortality, it will not be so in eternity for those unions so sealed.
The Church is plain on this: Sexual relations are restricted to marriage, and marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. The Church says that this is what God says and that it has remained unchanged throughout time. As expressed by Elder Oaks:
“Outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman, all uses of our procreative powers are to one degree or another sinful and contrary to God’s plan for the exaltation of His children. . . And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable. . . Similarly, laws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it. We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.” (Oaks, Oct Conf. 2013)
There is nothing ambiguous about this. It isn’t a “policy” cooked up by the Church; it is doctrine, and a bedrock doctrine at that, seeing that it separates exaltation and eternal life from every other resurrected condition.
I believe that those hoping that the Church is going to cave in to social pressure and recognize same-sex marriage will be frustrated. It’s not going to happen. There is no scriptural or historical support for same-sex marriage among God’s people in any age. It’s been a no-go for 6,000 years. Those hoping for a new revelation/policy that allows same-sex marriage as a mortal expedient at least in the 21st Century or one, more expansively, stating a previously hidden truth that same-sex marriages may/can/will be as eternal as traditional marriages in their rights, privileges and destinies, are in for a long wait.
If same-sex marriage is yet another divide between the Church and the modern world, even an unbridgeable one, so be it. It’s what these last days are all about, that ever-widening divide. I don’t think this specific divide is going away. The world (at least the 21st Century western liberal slice of it) is not going to respect our values, doctrines or policies any more than the antediluvian world harkened to the ministry of Noah. Members are going to find it increasingly difficult, if they haven’t already, to please both Zion and the world. Even more so than previously, being a member of the Church will come with an increasing social cost. What to do? For those members hoping for a change, hope on. But they may need a back-up plan.
If this issue is so different, then why is the language used to condemn it exactly the same?
About as bedrock of a doctrine as the past doctrines of interracial marriage… oh wait.
True, the church may or may not ever change on the topic of homosexuality. Whether through revelation, reinterpretation, or as you put it “social pressure” it may change sometime in the future. You can believe what you will (as you state this as your belief), but one cannot know the future. So what is your backup plan if things change regarding gay people?
A good start would perhaps be showing a bit more compassion. You already have the conviction part down.
Marriages don’t “end bitterly” unless they were already bitter to begin with.
Tim Bone said:
“The Church says that this [marriage] is what God says [one man and one woman] and that it has remained unchanged throughout time.”
First, it has not always been one man and one woman.
Second, are you saying God is not powerful enough to change it to include same-sex couples?
Third, re-read the story of the flood. Jehovah was so upset at the people that he lamented He EVER created them. Really think about that! In fact, He was determined to wipe every creature off the face of the Earth. Noah persuaded him to do otherwise. If a prophet can persuade God to not abandon the plan of happiness altogether, can a prophet today not persuade God to allow same-sex couples to be part of the plan? Or is God bound by laws more powerful than He (and, therefore, is not all powerful)?
Fortunately God understands his creations much better than we do. It is very possible and likely that same sex attracted individuals are entitled to every blessing of the Gospel on this earth and in the here after. After all God created same sex attracted people for a reason, you and Bro. Oaks refuse to be educated on this point Many of your assertions about the resurrection are not scriptural but assumptions made by members trying to fill in the blanks. How do you know there will be no race in the resurrection? It would seem to be an integral part of a families lineage and genealogy. Also, ask Bro. Oaks what is going to happen to all the males that won’t have wives in the celestial kingdom because the faithful brethren will have thousands if not millions of “celestial” wives. That key point of doctrine has never been adequately explained. I think we all make a mistake when we try to define the limits of God’s plan or love for us all.
Monogamy is the standard practice. At times, God has sanctioned/commanded plural marriage, as substantiated in Jacob 2:30 and D&C 132:29-37. All were heterosexual unions.
Of course, revelation may arrive tomorrow giving same-sex marriage the same rights and privileges as traditional heterosexual marriage. I point out that God has not done so in 6,000 years. It may be that there is an eternal principle involved regarding the complementarity of men and women that does not operate with same-sex unions – and then again maybe there isn’t such a principle and many will be astounded/gratified when God’s marriage laws are updated. This is what many are hoping for/banking on.
It may be that the change isn’t coming because, per critics (at their most charitable), an old-fashioned Church leadership is out-of-touch with what God really wants or is willing to impart. My point is that the reverse is also a possibility that should be taken seriously – what the Church says God says about chastity and marriage really is what God says about them.
I don’t read the Flood story the way you do. In the first place, Moses 8 tells it differently, where it is Noah, not God, who repented of the mortal drama. But even with the Genesis story, God was no more going to stop his mortal designs than he was going to allow the sacrifice of Isaac – the exchange is more about Noah and Abraham learning about themselves and God.
For the time being (and – my opinion – this will not change) the Church is in conflict with a significant portion of the 21st Century on the issue of same-sex marriage. Being a member will therefore involve an increasing social cost. I say, stay on the Old Ship Zion.
There’s the rub though. The church has been wrong when it comes to opposing the way society is going (such as what this article is bringing up.) Honestly, I can’t fault the idea of “Stay on the Old Ship Zion” idea you are bringing up, but should those on the boat not try and fill the holes, or get their buckets and toss out the water that is sinking the ship?
Also, there is no reliable record of monogamous and continuous marriage from 6000 years ago. Even the oldest texts in the bible (as unreliable as it is) date to ~750ish BC (and they don’t exactly show monogamy as the norm, especially not for those in power.) Saying that marriage has been this for 6000 years is a bold assertion. An assertion without any evidence, and studying history throughout the world you can see various views that have evolved and changed over time.
Dusty, I will address your well-considered comments in separate replies. The argument that change in the Church should follow contemporaneous social conditions has strengths – but weaknesses also, and chiefly this one: It is not the case that because change in one area happened in the past it must do so again for other situations.
Changes in the Priesthood ban and plural marriage may not be the clear-cut as precedents supporters of same-sex marriage think. Again, there are similarities and differences. Much can be said about the history of both the ban and polygamy (obviously) but rather than reproduce that here I will boil it down to this: The Priesthood has been available since Adam – for the most part – but often with restrictions as to lineage (Pharaoh’s lineage, whatever that was, was out, while later the Levites were the only ones in). To jump to another example entirely, the mortal and resurrected ministry of the Savior, we find it limited to the House of Israel; the Gentiles received the Gospel through secondary missionary efforts confirmed by the Holy Ghost. And again in the Spirit World there were those to whom the Savior “went not in person.” Is this discrimination? Was God wrong in this? The Kingdom’s growth proceeds in stages.
As for plural marriage, it was a case of God revoking a previous commandment when the Church had gone as far as it could go (it expected to win the Supreme Court case based on the First Amendment freedom to practice religion). Even then Pres. Woodruff’s testimony was this:
“The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. . . I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. . . But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. … (W. Woodruff, 1891)
The fuller transcription of these remarks is printed with Official Declaration 1 and is worth a re-read. It’s pretty explicit and concrete in its arguments (“The Lord has told me to ask the Latter-day Saints a question. . . “)
So: The Priesthood has been available from the get-go, often with limitations, and marriage has been available as well, with polygamy commanded in specific instances. (It is germane to point out here that, for many, God would never, ever command polygamy, let alone allow it. It’s “obviously” wrong.) On the other hand, same-sex marriage has never been available. It doesn’t come and go. There are no precedents or promises for it in the scriptures or in the history of the Church of God. In this, it differs from the Priesthood franchise and from polygamy.
The Church says this is because a timeless principle of what constitutes a divinely sanctioned marriage excludes same-sex marriage. Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that society and human rights awareness have finally evolved to an era of tolerance wherein same-sex marriage can now, and should now, face no recrimination. It can and will and should work now. Therefore, the Church can now safely (that is, with less or no social push-back) incorporate same-sex marriage within Gospel doctrine and practice, and should do so because it is the right thing to do.
I see nothing disrespectful in this argument. And it’s not a weak argument; it makes a case. But it cannot end there; it has one last hurdle. Acceptance may be the right thing to do in the eye of its mortal proponents, but is it the right thing to do in the eyes of God? To many supporters the answer seems obvious. But they may nevertheless be wrong. This might not be, as you put it, a leaky hole in the Old Ship Zion that needs fixing.
The conflict will continue. I believe year after year is going to go by without a change. The question then becomes upon what terms supporters of same-sex marriage, and those with same-sex attraction, will remain in the Church. For the remaining members of the Church, I fear a social cost as well, and decisions will need to be made. Our kids are likely to get trashed at school. This issue seems to me a sea change for Church/Society relations. It won’t be easy.
On your other point, you are exactly correct – where is my compassion? I will try to articulate what I feel in my next response. But I do believe that the perspective I try to articulate here also needs to be said.
This response was much more compassionate, and thought out. Though we are clearly on opposite sides of this issue, I can at least see where you are coming from.
Issues such as plural marriage, and the priesthood ban serve to show many that even prophets are fallible. Not a surprise, or something we should be afraid of. Understanding our own mortal weaknesses even at the height of our spiritual progression can serve as a solid reminder to continue progressing.
The priesthood ban is, however, a clear cut example of the church being wrong, and admitting it was wrong (though for many, many years it defended the wrongdoing.) The current stance of the church is that it was continued by the error of people, and prophets. Disavowing all teachings about it being doctrine, and any racist stances about interracial marriage.
As far as this not being a leaky hole, for some it always will be. They have felt the spirit no less than any other that are following the current words of the prophets. Their faith and conviction no less righteous, or misplaced. Is it a difficult issue? Hard to argue that it’s not. Some are content with the current stance toward homosexuality, and gay people. Some are not. Having a child growing up in a predominantly Mormon community, I don’t worry so much about her getting trashed at school. In fact among the youth the issue of homosexuality is largely more of a “Who cares? People love who they love.” and it doesn’t go much further than that for the next generation.
One thing I do hope changes in a timely fashion is the double speak though. Whether the church changes it’s stance on this is up to the leaders (or God depending on how one views it.) But leaders and members do need to stop saying that being gay is not a choice (as currently the church has stated), but then turning around and marginalizing things by always referring to it as “same sex attraction” like it’s a struggle, fault, or disease to be overcome or cured rather than just a part of some people. This is one of the many things that ostracizes and alienates gay people and serves only to cause harm and widen a divide that doesn’t need to exist between people that are commanded to “love one another.”
oh Tim. Bless your heart…..but….my oh my
just one question-6000 year old earth?
The 6,000 years refers to the stretch of history since Adam and Eve, and I am willing to be liberal about that calculation. 6,000 years is acceptable to me as a ballpark figure. I don’t know anyone who believes the earth itself is 6,000 years old.