#15 Church leaders cannot speak about gay issues the way you and I can and should

conference I believe that the church leaders cannot talk about gay issues the way you and I can and should. If anyone thinks otherwise, he or she does not have realistic expectations.

That doesn’t mean leaders are insincere in their dealings with us or that they are hiding something that amounts to evil. If anyone thinks otherwise, he should engage ever more boldly in uncovering their awful wickedness. Anything less than that would, I’m afraid, amount to the level of insincerity of which they themselves accuse Church leaders.

I personally believe in integrity, judgment, and the calling of those who lead. That doesn’t mean they are perfect. Sure, they would deal with the pressing issues of the day much faster if they were indeed faultless or at least less faulty.  But I also believe that there are no better people who would in their stead be able to deal with those same issues faster and more efficiently than our leaders do, for if theses better people did exist, God who is at the helm of the Church would replace the current leaders. This may sound prudish to someone who has suffered greatly in the Church because of their same-sex attraction, but the underlying question is exactly that. Is the church that you as a gay person yearn to see accepting monogamous homosexual marriage God’s church or not? If not, then why bother? Only for social or familial reasons? Only because this church has brought into existence a body of zombies in the form of your family and friends that hurt you every step of the way?

General vs. Specific

From here on, I would assume that we agree that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s true church, or at least that we have reasons to believe that, and we will temporarily set aside the fact that, because of your homosexuality, you might be or might have been horribly hurt by some aspect of the Church. Or, I would argue, by some aspects of what is perceived as the Church. But don’t worry. That suspension of judgment will not be for long.

Now, the question is why Church General Authorities cannot speak publicly about gay issues the way you and I can and should? Dallin H. Oaks in his renown sermon “Dating Versus Hanging Out” clearly explained how the Church’s General Authorities have always communicated, are now communicating and will always communicate publicly about issues of the day and in the capacity they serve.

After giving certain tough doctrinal instructions to the youth of the church, which are for the purpose of this explanation here pretty much irrelevant, he continued with the following words:

“Now, brothers and sisters, if you are troubled about something [I] have just said, please listen very carefully to what I will say now. If you are a special case, so that the strong counsel I have given doesn’t apply to you, please don’t write me a letter. Why would I make this request?

I have learned that the kind of direct counsel I have given results in a large number of letters from members who feel they are an exception, and they want me to confirm that the things I have said just don’t apply to them in their special circumstance.

I will explain why I can’t offer much comfort in response to that kind of letter by telling you an experience I had with another person who was troubled by a general rule. I gave a talk in which I mentioned the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13). Afterward a man came up to me in tears saying that what I had said showed there was no hope for him. “What do you mean?” I asked him.

He explained that he had been a machine gunner during the Korean War. During a frontal assault, his machine gun mowed down scores of enemy infantry. Their bodies were piled so high in front of his gun that he and his men had to push them away in order to maintain their field of fire. He had killed a hundred, he said, and now he must be going to hell because I had spoken of the Lord’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”

The explanation I gave that man is the same explanation I give to you if you feel you are an exception to what I have said. As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. For example, we believe the commandment is not violated by killing pursuant to a lawful order in an armed conflict. But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.

Stiff-necked people

What Elder Oaks is trying to explain here is that one should never expect General Authorities to publicly communicate anything but general principles. And one of those well-established principles is the principle of marriage defined as a solemn relationship between one man and one woman. If one expects for a conscious Church leader to engage in public debate in order to gain the general support of Church members and change the minds of his fellow brethren, he simply does not understand how God deals with His children through His Church.

One may argue, however, that unspeakable suffering and an epidemic of suicides among young Mormons because of the issue of homosexuality demand immediate and vigorous action. Yes, every young life lost is one too much. However, my argument is that for those sufferings and deaths, the cardinal guilt lies upon the people, or better said, upon the neighbors. Yes, leaders should have taught them better, but a stiff-necked person typically needs to have a catastrophic event unfolded before his eyes in order to learn anything. No Church leader of this world and beyond can do anything about it.

Now the question is of course how the principles preached by Church leaders are established? And what can a little person do to initiate their establishment, so that Church leaders can then teach them openly? If you want to know what I think about this question, please, continue to follow my work here.

This post had been originally published on June 5, 2012.
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