The New Gender Paradigm

Infallible General Authorities

Over the past few decades, Church leadership has repeatedly emphasized that their words are the "Mind and Will of the Lord"  (explaining why "intellectuals" pose such a threat.)   Consider the following statements:

 “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program.  It is not in the mind of God.”
                      The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.

 On 26 February 1980, President Ezra Taft Benson gave the BYU student body Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, including:

 “1.   The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.”

                 ...
 “14. The prophet and the presidency — the living prophet and the First Presidency — follow them and be blessed — reject them and suffer.”


 
The Apostle Marion G Romney recounted a time when he asked a man, 
“Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?”

 The man answered,
“Yes, but I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old-age assistance.”

Elder Romney observed,
“Now I tell you that a man in his position is on the way to apostasy.  He is forfeiting his chances for eternal life.  So is everyone who cannot follow the living prophet of God.”
                         Conference Report, April 1953, p. 125.

          Is a different political opinion regarding Social Security really a sign of apostasy? 


Church history offers many other examples of overstating divine authority:


Theocracy
For example, the campaign for Utah’s statehood (1895) included urging Church members to join the national political parties.  The Apostle Moses Thatcher ran as the democratic candidate for the US Senate.  His republican opponent was Franklin J Cannon, the son of a member of the First Presidency.  Church President Wilford Woodruff (a Republican) intervened in the election by issuing The Political Rule of the Church (1895), a new policy that prohibited General Authorities from holding political office. Apostle Thatcher protested – only to be dismissed from the Quorum of the Twelve.  Disgraced Thatcher lost the election.  Cannon served in the Senate from 1895 through 1899, but later left the Church – He disapproved of the Church’s meddling in political affairs.

That same year, B. H. Roberts, a President of the Quorum of 70, was the Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives.  At first he joined Thatcher’s protest, He felt that the Church was infringing on his civil rights.  But in the end, when he was forced to choose between political office or continued Church service, he withdrew his candidacy and wrote a letter of apology.

Two years later, Lorenzo Snow had succeeded Wilford Woodruff as president.  Roberts was given special permission to run for the 1899 US House of Representatives.  However, when he arrived in Washington, he was barred from serving because he practiced polygamy.

 

Another example occurred in 1919:  US President Woodrow Wilson was campaigning for United States’ membership into the League of Nations.  Church President Heber J Grant, Apostles George F. Richards & Anthony W. Ivins, and President of the 70 B. H. Roberts supported the idea, while Apostles David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Reed Smoot and Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley passionately opposed American entry.  (Reed Smoot was also a US Senator for Utah.)

A heated debate played out at Church conferences and from Church podiums, with both sides quoting from the Book of Mormon & other scriptures to support their opposing views.  (In the end, the US Senate rejected the League of Nations treaty.)

Church Doctrine
Later in the 20th century, Apostle & future Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith Jr was an avid creationist who predicted that humans would never set foot on the moon (1961 Hawaii Stake Conference; Answers to Gospel Questions, 1957).  He also promoted the “Curse of Cain” myth (The Way to Perfection p 107, 1953; Doctrines of Salvation 1:61, 1955). 

President of the 70, Bruce R McConkie was also a believer in the “Curse of Cain”.  His book, Mormon Doctrine (published 1958 & 1969) was universally used by the Church membership as a basic reference.  And it included the Cain myth.     ...Until it was superseded by the Revelation on the Priesthood (1978).  McConkie’s book was quietly removed from publication in 2010.      

 
Subsequent events have shown that Joseph Fielding Smith’s predictions about the moon, McConkie’s “Curse of Cain” theory, and other official statements from the podium weren’t in fact divinely inspired.    This is how the Apostle Bruce R McConkie explained the situation:

“It is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet.  Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation.  We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”
          -- Bruce R McConkie, Church Leadership Conference 1978

          (The address also describes the efforts the General Authorities go through to receive a major revelation.)

Elder McConkie didn't seem to comprehend the confusion & faith-crises caused when Church leaders make official and doctrinal pronouncements with limited understanding and without full light & knowledge while demanding unquestioning obedience.  General Authorities casually dismiss their own "heresies", while general members are excommunicated as "apostates" if they ask questions.


...It's known as religious pride.


But I repeat:  human frailty does NOT change the reality of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, or the value of the Book of Mormon.

The Mormon Portal

This website offers a series of articles of interest to faithful LGBT members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons):

1.  The Bible:  The scriptures do NOT condemn gays or "crossdressers".  The current anti-LGBT mythology results from intentional mistranslation.

2.  Rejection of the Faithful:   I believe in a God of Love, not hate.  It's ridiculous to think that God would reject or exclude someone because of the way He created them.

3.  Church Policy Regarding Trans People:   The Handbook of Instructions sets the policies for Church leaders dealing with trans people.  Since the authors had no inkling of what it actually means to be transgender (causes, treatments, needs, issues, etc), the policies have only caused chaos at the local level.

The Three Great Sins

Religious Pride

PRIDE, as described in the Book of Mormon, is quite different from sectarian pride:  there are no luxurious palaces, shiny Rolls-Royces, sparkling diamond gowns, or exclusive yacht parties in Monaco.

(1)  Religious pride begins with wealth.  Having wealth is a sure sign of God's favor, just as illness & poverty result from sin and immorality.

(2)  Divine favor means that the privileged person's every word, thought and action must come directly from God.  Sinners and beggars are certainly not in any position to question those inspired declarations.

(3)  In fact, the needy and the naked are an embarrassment -- they pollute the holy sanctuaries.  (After all, they brought their misery on themselves.)   The only solution is to brand the disadvantaged as unworthy "apostates" and clean them out of the temple.

    

            The sure signs of Pride:  Wealth -- Sharp class distinctions -- Expulsion of the poor


"We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. “And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation." 

          President of the 12, Russell M Nelson on the origin of the Gay Policy (10 January 2016, Address to Millenials, BYU-Hawaii)


True Revelation

Think of recent major revelations, such as the Proclamation on the Family (Gordon B Hinkley, 23 September 1995)  and the Revelation on the Priesthood (Spencer W Kimball, 1 March 1978).    Compare how those revelations were presented with the new Gay Policy:

     (1)  Was the new policy formally announced by the Prophet during General Conference, beginning with the phrase “Thus saith the Lord…”?

(The gay policy first emerged in an eyes-only Handbook published by the Church-owned subsidiary, Deseret Books.  The subsequent popular outcry seems to have taken Church HQ by surprise.  The policy was initially defended by the Apostle D Todd Christofferson [6 November 2015] without reference to divine revelation.)

      (2)  Does the anti-gay policy bring anyone closer to God?  Does it foster love for your neighbor?  Does it increase faith, fulfillment and joy?  Does it bring families closer together? 

       (3)  Is the policy consistent with the Fundamental Principles of the Church?  For example, the age of accountability is 8 years old.  The gift of the Holy Ghost used to be essential after that age.  The Aaronic Priesthood used to provide important experience in leadership.  People used to be punished for their own sins, not for the sins of others.  ...And so on.  But apparently anyone related to gays are exeptions?


Mormon Policy

Regarding LGBTs

The Book of Mormon

and the

The cycle of pride

Gay "Apostasy"
In early November 2015, the LGBT community was stunned by a change in the Mormon Church Handbook of Instructions that now categorizes gay marriage as a form of
apostasy – ie, contagious excommunication.   Even worse, the children of a gay couple are to be excluded from full Church activity until reaching the legal age of majority.  Even then, the youth won't be accepted unless they "disavow" gay marriage and live independently from their parents. 

The Church is quite serious about the policy:  baptisms have been cancelled, missionaries en route have been sent home; those already serving in the field have been released without comment.  Individual testimony, commitment and behavior are irrelevant. 

For the Mormon Church, the Handbook offers general policies and guidelines.  It’s up to local leaders (bishops & stake presidents) to determine precisely how those policies will be implemented and enforced.  …Which means that some locales will ignore the new anti-gay policies, while other areas will embark on witch-hunts that scour congregations for any sign of “abnormal” thoughts or urges. 

Most affected have been thousands of children born during the Church-supported campaign to cure homosexuality through heterosexual marriage.  Most of those unions ended in divorce with shared custody of the children. Even though the child may be living with an active faithful heterosexual parent, any contact with the gay parent will lead to the child’s virtual excommunication:

          -- The child can’t be baptized or hold the priesthood, like their peers do

         -- They can’t perform the duties usually assigned to Mormon youth:  blessing & passing the sacrament, appointment to leadership positions, home teaching, or doing baptisms for the dead.

          --  Can they take the sacrament?

          --  Can they pray in church meetings?

          --  Can they bear testimony in church meetings?

 These punishments are administered regardless of the child’s personal faith, behavior or devotion.

          --  How much contact with a gay parent will lead to the youth’s exclusion?

          --  Is the gay parent allowed to exchange Christmas & birthday presents?

          --  Is the Church forcing gay parents to relinquish all visitation rights?

         --  How does the policy impact Utah's Divorce Court, child protective services, and adoption laws?
 
For that matter, what does “disavowal” of a gay parent entail?

Within 3 months after the policy announcement (January 2016) 32 suicides had been reported among gay Mormon youth in Utah.

They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.
          (2 Nephi 28:13  ...Who is "they" in this passage?)

And thus, in this eighth year of the reign of the judges, there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride, even to exceed the pride of those who did not belong to the church of God.

Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.

          (Alma 4:9 & 12)

Now when Alma saw this, his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods.  Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride.
          (Alma 31:24-25)

 
The Zoramites

Alma 31 begins the story of the Zoramites, who started as faithful members of the Nephite Church.  Faith led to prosperity, and soon they were proclaiming loudly:

 “Thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell.”
 

          (Alma 31:17)

Meanwhile, the disadvantaged were
“despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues.”

          (Alma 32:5)

 
The exiles approached the Prophet Alma for advice.  And this is what he told them:


Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?   He imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also.  Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.
           (Alma 32:10, 23)

This is an amazing passage; Alma could have been speaking to the current generation, feminists and all.  He doesn't command the marginalized members to obey their church leaders without question.  He doesn’t even warn that only male prophets can speak to God.  Instead, the sermon goes on to explain how people can recognize Gospel Truth for themselves:   “Good seeds” enlarge the soul, enlighten the understanding, and their fruits are delicious.

 “If a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.”  (Alma 32:32)


Does expulsion of the children of gays seem like a "good seed" that enlarges the soul and enlightens the understanding?

The Cycle of Pride is a central theme in The Book of Mormon:  Hardship forces the Lord’s chosen people to humble themselves and turn to God.  In response, The Lord blesses them – they become wealthy and are soon enjoying comfortable lives.  Prosperity leads righteous people to forget God.  They become “Proud”.  …Until God is forced to send famine, war, and natural disasters as punishment – thereby resetting another cycle.

The Cycle rolls on, generation after generation.  It's a uniquely Nephite problem, not a Lamanite problem.  It impacts the faithful, not infidels, heathens and unbelievers.  Great and inspired prophets are presiding in the Church as the cycles unfold. 


Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.
          (Alma 4:9 & 12)

Now when Alma saw this, his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods.  Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride.
          (Alma 31:24-25)

Samuel the Lamanite

The story of Samuel the Lamanite offers another interesting example of religious pride.  Around the year 6 BCE, Nephi is the annointed Prophet and leader of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Americas.  He holds the keys.

Unfortunately, government corruption has brought social chaos to the nation (Helaman 10:3; 11:1-2; 11:26; 12:2).  Nephi has his hands full countering the self-interest (“hardness of the heart”) brought about by “exceeding great prosperity”.  It's a all-too-familiar situation.

Enter Samuel the Lamanite.  Of course, the Lamanites are the villains in most Book of Mormon stories.  The Nephites must be evil indeed, if the Lord is resorting to sending Lamanites to call the chosen people to repentance.  The Nephites lock the city gates to keep God's messenger out, but Samuel simply climbs to the top of the city wall and gives his sermon from there.

The topic is familiar:  it's a condemnation of self-interest (Helaman 13:8) and greed (13:20-23).  Part of the audience repents and renews their commitment to the church led by the Prophet Nephi.  The rest chase the irritating visitor away.

 
But there's something strange about the whole story:  Why didn't the Prophet Nephi give the sermon?  After all, Church Headquarters was just down the street from where Samuel gave his sermon.  What about established priesthood authority?   What about
"The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything?”  The account doesn't mention the ordained Prophet Nephi at all -- there's no indication that the two met, even though they were both working for the same God in the same locale.


Jesus Intervenes
But the story doesn't end there.  About 40 years later, recently resurrected Jesus arrives in the Americas.   In spite of a busy schedule, Jesus stops to inspect Nephi’s chronology of events. 

Oops!  Somehow Nephi had “forgotten” to mention Samuel’s visit (3 Nephi 23:12).  Jesus orders him to correct the oversight.

Is this another example of religious pride on Nephi's part?   Was there resentment that Samuel had infringed on Nephi's domain?   Perhaps a bit of racial prejudice?

The great Prophet Nephi may not have been completely infallible.  Maybe there are exceptions to the rule that the General Authorities are always right.  But Jesus' reaction is also important:  He doesn’t blast Nephi with lightning or throw him into a lake of fire & brimstone.  Somehow Jesus can understand human frailties.  If He can, perhaps we can too.


As Alma suggested, it's essential for every person to have a direct relationship with God.  When Church leaders get carried away with secular frenzy -- like today's "Gay Peril" -- it's a time to build inner strength and bond with other exiles. 


The Lord is still God, and the Gospel is still True.

Dashed Hopes
LGBT  members have long been dreaming of a time when the Church might become more accepting of human diversity.  They were encouraged by a 2010 policy change that granted membership to gays who remain celibate.  Then in 2012 the Church supported the passage of “non-discrimination legislation.”   The LGBT community celebrated the dawn of a new era.

…Except advocates didn’t bother to read the provisions of that 2012 law.  Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity had indeed been prohibited.  Except the law protects open declaration of religious belief in the workplace and other public areas.  Religious organizations, non-profit organizations, schools, private individuals, private rental property and private businesses have been granted automatic exemption from the anti-discrimination provisions.  Utah's so-called "Anti-Discrimination Act" actually confers the right to discriminate -- to harass, reject, refuse, exclude, and evict LGBT individuals.  The law also specifically allows Utah employers to restrict trans access to restrooms & dressing rooms.  Gender identity can be ignored if it might “threaten anyone’s modesty or privacy.”  (§57-21-5)

In reality, Utah was the first state to enact a "Religious Freedom Act".  It has one of strictest anti-LGBT discrimination laws in the United States.

Background
On 18 May 1993, the LDS Apostle Boyd K Packer identified the three primary threats faced by the Church in the Latter Days:  the existence of
(1) gays, (2) feminists and (3) intellectuals.  Apparently, insight & self-discovery are considered to be more dangerous than, say, the Bible's 7 deadly sins (greed, lust, wrath, etc.)    Sorry, Joseph Smith:  Intelligence is no longer the Glory of God (D&C 93:36).

Since Elder Packer’s declaration of war, the Church leadership has hastened down the primrose path to purge these three groups – leaving a trail of excommunications and ruined careers involving BYU professors, historians, writers and bloggers.  The new anti-gay policy is merely a extension of these prior trends.


The Response
The Church’s anti-gay policy has provoked widespread calls for mass resignation from the Church – both gays and non-gays.  The Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenents,  Apparently a stampede would “punish” the general authorities, and make them regret their unpopular decisions.   It's a characteristic Protestant response:  If you don't like what your pastor is teaching, find one that agrees with you.   There's no right or wrong, religious truth or false doctrine. 

Christ's Church of the Latter-Days was built on a firmer foundation:  Joseph Smith either communed with God or he didn't.  The Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, etc. are either revelations from God or they're not.  A person’s beliefs & behaviors have eternal significance.  Certain attitudes & actions inevitably lead to personal growth and a close relationship with God, while others are destructive and alienating.

 The Gospel is True.  It's truth even encompasses lesbians, gays, bisexuals, intersexuals and trans people. 

The essential question is whether it's God's will to deny the fruits of the Gospel to children who happen to be born into a gay family?   In other words, is the new gay policy divine revelation or personal bigotry?    Are the General Authorities infallible?


...With the important proviso that fallibility at Church Headquarters has absolutely no impact on the Truth of the fundamental principles of the Gospel.