Friday, October 15, 2010

Afflicting the Comfortable

Well, I’ve been a busy little bee lately but haven’t we all! That is life Maureen, suck it up! Actually I did get to go and see that chick flick Eat, Pray, Love and I’ll tell ya’ my respect for Italians went through the roof. You get a really good picture of their attitude to life, particularly regarding work, rest and play. They really, truly feel that they deserve their ‘down-time’, in fact they know that they deserve it, they have grown up knowing this. Love it.

So I know I have neglected my blogger duties but I have been rather outspoken on fb. I’d like to share part of a thread w/you here. I’d also be very interested in any feedback you might have about how I handled the subject. Am I being too rude? I know Daniel won’t think so… he dislikes tone trolls somewhat. The TBM that I am in discussion w/is (as most Mormons are) a very lovely person. I’m not sure if they still think that I am though. I think another friend may have just bitten the dust, sigh.

I’m thinking it’s time to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

A friend posted about the recent General Conference and a commenter soon enquired about their opinion on the now infamous BKP talk. This is what ensued. I’ll skip the first several comments as I’m sure you’re really only interested in it from where I pipe up (dang, my head won’t fit through the doorway). Good luck, see you on the other side.

Maureen (10 Oct 23:06)

Packers talk disturbs me horribly because of the effect it will have on LGBT youth. Why must the church harp on about homosexuality? If religion must exist, why not stick to 'love one another'?!

Maureen (10 Oct 23:22)

I'd love to hear y'all thoughts on Packers talk though. Check out for great discussion on how to cope with any cognitive dissonance you may be feeling about the church's stance on homosexuality. There are many active members there finding a way to be faithful and informed. xox

TBM1 (11 Oct 18:41)

when i first heard of 'feministmormonhousewives' i thought to myself they must be the most miserable people on earth! haha

TBM2 (11 Oct 22:00)

the notion that feminism clashes with mormonism excludes the streams of feminism that are in harmony with the gender roles in the lds church, such as those of sylviane agacinski-jospin, alma don sorenson and valerie hudson. i like that fmh creates an open forum and i see it's valuable to its readers, but it's certainly not the only or by any stretch the best option for finding answers and reconciling your own belief systems. i prefer academia and prayer - an earnest search for truth and a bit of faith can go a long way.

Maureen (11 Oct 23:36)

I find it interesting that there are still no comments on the LGBT issue. My heart bleeds for LGBT Mormon youth. Are you guys aware of the rise in suicides from this group recently? I'm not trying to disturb your harmonious feminist and Mormon identities, that is awesome if you can reconcile the two, many women at fMh do too, and it is certainly not the only place to go for help w/that, just a good one, if you're interested. Any takers on the LGBT issue? I see hope for these youth (and adults), heck polygamy didn't last forever, the blacks got the priesthood. Is there room in heaven for the LGBT community? I think so.

TBM2 (12 Oct 06:45) well, the church's stance on homosexuality is no secret (president packer's talk, which wasn't even about homosexuality like the newspapers portray it to be by only quoting the small parts where homosexuality was mentioned) and it's pretty simple. God said don't practise homosexuality, the church says don't practise homosexuality. that's about it, but members and opposition alike add all sorts of assumptions of their own.

Calvalcanti (12 Oct 11:28)

Actually, there's an additional proposition in Pres. Packer's speech that, to some people, seems like a bit of a step backwards from previous Church pronouncements (at least at that level). Specifically, the bit about homosexual tendencies not being inborn, with the rhetorical "Why would God do that to anyone?". While I think the reaction has been disproportionate (Pres. Packer has said things far more controversial), I don't believe that it is entirely groundless. Even with all the sensational editorialising stripped away, there's still a legitimate (and complex) issue left for discussion.

TBM1 (12 Oct 13:02)

I noticed that too [Calvalcanti]. I liked Elder Packer's talk because it was clear and straight down the line, despite public pressure.

Maureen, it is sad that those youth have felt that there is no hope for them and ended their lives. However, what would you suggest, that the church change its doctrines to be less offensive to those who find them challenging? If you consider who the doctrine comes from, it seems to be an absurd ask, that
God should change eternal laws and truths and requirements for his children because some of his children find the criteria too hard?

If you are LDS, then it is an accepted belief that revelation (such as talks by President Packer) is from God. Based on that, I can't quite get my head around the idea that you can be LDS, but not believe everything God tells us. For example- it doesn't make logical sense to say "I am LDS but I believe abortion is okay". Either God reveals things to us through his prophets, or he doesn't. Picking and choosing does not make sense.

Maureen (12 Oct 16:00)

Thanks guys, I appreciate the willingness to talk about the issue. Teen health is something that I am very passionate about.

As [Cavalcanti] has pointed out the church's policy used to be that people are not born gay and should just stop being gay. The church now accepts that people are born gay but say that they should not practice homosexuality. Packer seemed to have forgotten this nuance which from where I stand is easy for me to understand as being his personal opinion and NOT from God.

i think you would be hard pressed to find any latter-day apostles/prophets declaring that they actually speak to god. They work on 'feelings' and impressions. I think you would also be hard pressed to show where god says homosexuality is bad, as far as I know there is no mention of it in the New Testament.

I personally believe that if there is a god that he/she accepts homosexuality on the same level as heterosexuality.

The church decided to get really public and political about homosexuality so the LGBT community and supporters feel quite justified in speaking out against the Mormon church. Believe whatever you want about the afterlife and god but religions have no right to interfere in the lives of non-Mormons and ought to take youth suicide seriously.

Think for a moment how you would feel if you were a gay teenager listening to Packers talk. Then the drone of "follow the prophet" over and over again. Do you really think that subjecting LGBT people to a life of celibacy is humane? or sexual relations w/a person they are not attracted to. I could not marry a woman, nor could a gay man happily marry a woman!

Again, I appreciate your willingness to discuss. The Mormon church can happily go about their religion as long as they remove hurtful statements and stay out of issues where they do not belong.

TBM1 (12 Oct 16:37)

I do not know of any background regarding the church's stance on homosexuality, and I don't need to know. I also don't need to find specific confirmation of homosexuality (rather than immorality) in the bible. All that matters is if God communicates with his prophets (and I don't know how he communicates with them, and I don't need to). As an active LDS, I believe that God does communicate with his prophets, and he has commanded us not to practice homosexuality. Even if God's attitudes were different in the past, it wouldn't matter. He has said to us as recently as a week and a half ago, do not practice homosexuality.

I feel for people who are struggle with feelings of homosexuality. I am fortunate I have not had that struggle. We have also been instructed through prophets (God) that we should treat everyone with kindness and respect and love one another. There have been talks dedicated to these very people, reassuring them there is hope, and that God loves them.

In regards to hurtful statements, some people may be hurt or offended by gospel doctrine. But as I mentioned previously, demanding that prophets (God) change eternal laws and requirements that are challenging does not make much sense. I wonder if you feel the same way about 'immorality' in general, or just homosexuality?

TBM2 (12 Oct 17:34)

when i was at byu, president packer gave a really long boring talk at our regional conference. a month later, he gave the exact same dead boring talk at general conference. he's an apostle, but the dude is getting old :) i'm inclined to go easy on him. at least he changed the word 'tendencies' to 'temptations' in the conference report - which is what really matters, because the conference report is official church doctrine, and the actual conference session is not.

i can understand a gay lds teen would be frustrated, i can't actually think of a harder spiritual burden for someone who shares our beliefs, but the lds message isn't one of hate. for people who believe that God commanded us to not practise homosexuality, then the message of repentance and the atonement that the lds church teaches is one of hope, and that's certainly the intent behind the message - it was definitely president packer's talk, which was about repenting for immorality. for others who believe that practising homosexuality is not a sin, then the lds belief that it is sinful (and God did tell us this, in 'the family: a proclamation to the world'. this is one of the few church publications that is official doctrine) could understandably be interpreted as hateful. it's a difference of opinion though. i think it comes down to a person-to-person basis though. some lds people are very understanding, fair and eloquent. others have brittle black-and-white, and even erroneous interpretations of our beliefs. it's like any community.

Rockstar (12 Oct 19:02)

when, "[...]by common consent" was the Proc. brought in as doctrine? The last actual doctrine was an altercation to who could and couldn't Hold the priesthood. And even then it's really a stretch considering that since Joseph all the leaders have been less than a "Yankee guesser".

and the bigotry rolls on!

Rockstar (12 Oct 21:09)

[TBM2], seems like it's too easy for the church's official stance to change with the whim, fancy and inclination of whomever may be standing at the pulpit. But then, as long as it all FEELS right, y'know, overall...

Good to see everyone so civil.

Rockstar (13 Oct 17:31)

I notice that [TBM1] took your remark about Paker's statement being a backward step as a good thing... I'm not sure if you feel the same way, do you? I don't, and wouldn't if I was still attending/believing; as a TBM I found this standpoint disgusting, now it's also mystifying. And the backward step borders on evil.

[TBM1], so the church shouldn't change it's stance on gays, but it's fine for them to change it re: polygamy and blacks in the priesthood? Just because they haven't doesn't mean they shouldn't, neither does it mean they can't. The "absurd ask", as you suggest Maureen's statement is, has happened before and, frankly, if the church wants to stay financially stable (which is what's really important these days :] ), it's guaranteed to happen again. Guaranteed. So unless you want to end up just like that old sister at Duncraig ward who left the church because the blacks got the priesthood (it seems she reluctantly came back besides her aversion to skin pigmentation), or those who left because of the change to polygamy, I'd get used to the idea that it's actually a possibility. The church may actually change it's teaching.

Maureen (13 Oct 22:39)

[TBM1] and [TBM2]: Mormons have a reputation for being really 'nice' people but I'm afraid that saying that you feel bad for the suffering of others but then refusing to even question ([TBM1]) 'the whys' of your chosen religions actions, actions that adversely affect others, is not being looked upon favourably in the current climate.

[TBM1]: Check out a paper by Hugh Nibley called 'Beyond Politics' that deals w/why god wants us to question even him! (and even more-so his spokesmen/women).

Personal revelation can trump even a prophet. (I'm sounding like a believer now!)

So it's celibacy or marry someone you're not attracted to, are those the choices?

I asked myself this question before I left. If polygamy were brought back in today would I 'follow the prophet', I could not. I left. If polygamy came back in... today... would you 'follow the prophet'? Does this bring you a little closer to understanding the situation for LGBT Mormons?

I find many points of Mormon doctrine highly offensive but the great thing about leaving is that there is no need for me to 'demand' anything of god. I don't care for the Mormon god. I like my god much better.

How do I feel about immorality you ask?
Not sure how this question applies to our discussion but I'll bite.
Firstly, I have to say that I do not consider homosexuality to be immoral so we differ there. I am not a fan of adultery. I think sex w/in a committed relationship is beautiful, I see no need for marriage. Rah rah rah. There are other differences. I love being able to think about these things and weigh them up in my own mind and heart. It's interesting too how words like immoral, sinful, wrong just don't pop up in the world I gravitate in now.

[TBM2]: He may be old but I think he's next in line to be prophet, will he still get free passes then? Maybe their talks should be scrutinised a little more before they are broadcast/spoken since for anyone listening to it the damage has already been done. I acknowledge that you only accept the print version as doctrine.

I was talking about whether or not god spoke against homosexuality outside of Mormonism. I know Mormons think he has. I still think you should ask a prophet/apostle/anyone to confirm when the last time is that someone actually spoke to god rather than having predetermined ideas that they have then prayed about and had confirmed.

I have the same questions for you about the lot in life for LGBT Mormons and whether you would practice polygamy.

[TBM1&2], you have been great sports. I hope the tone in the written word is coming across ok to you. Any grrrr tone is not directed at you but at 'the church'.

if you're interested, just someone's thoughts on it.


TBM1 (14 Oct 20:27)

I don't have all the answers to all the questions
posed to me. But I am okay with only knowing what is necessary for me to know right now, I can be patient in the meantime. I don't pretend to know better than the prophets and I don't pretend I am more intelligent than god. [Rockstar] and Maureen, I feel you won't be satisfied with any of my responses until I come to the same conclusions you have- that the lds gospel is false, religion is bad, god does not exist etc. I am not going down that path. I do not doubt, and the personal circumstances surrounding my faith are just that, personal, and not fodder for mocking or anyone else's entertainment.

You have asked for us all to respect each other and discuss these things openly. As far as I can see, your friends have been understanding and respectful to both of you. For you to try to tear down the very personal beliefs of your friends while mocking things they hold dear, their sense of compassion and even their intelligence is unfair and does not match the levels of understanding shown to you.

I am happy in my faith, I am not bitter. I don't want to continue a pointless argument about our different beliefs anymore.

Maureen (14 Oct 21:01)

I was just being straightforward with you [TBM1]. I thought you and [TBM2] (etc) were open to that. I just re-read my comments to try and see if I had been rude. I don't think I was. I don't want you to denounce god but I would love to see active LDS question the leadership on this issue. I feel that it is a human rights concern.

I don't believe I mocked you. I called you out though on choosing not to look into the subject. That is a tough thing for you to hear but I thought you would understand why I would say it.

Let me reiterate. You think that practicing homosexuality is evil and that god thinks it is bad and that gays should change. For some reason you don't see that this is considered by many people to be a very hateful stance... and if you are going to hold such a tough stance then I personally think that you need to know the ins and outs of it.

I don't want to tear down your beliefs, I want you to make sure that you understand them and that they truly are your beliefs and not someone elses. Believe in god all you like but when your beliefs impinge on the freedom and happiness of others then you will probably need to be able to explain yourself.

You ARE compassionate AND intelligent, I did not mean to suggest otherwise. I don't think you are bitter.

I gave my views on god etc throughout our debate but I worded them as 'my views' not "here's the truth, you must agree with me!"

The Mormons here have stated many times their strong belief in god, why is it then not ok for me to say that I don't believe???

This is a tough subject. You don't agree with me and I don't agree with you. I thought we were making headway but something went wrong?


So, there’s the long and short of it. If anyone is still reading at this point then you need to go and check in for blog addiction rehab.