boxing gloveI had problems with a couple of this fall’s General Conference talks, most notably Elder Christofferson’s pedestal-pumping ode to sweet nineteenth-century femininity and Elder Oaks’s painfully black-and-white assessment of the alleged evils of same-sex marriage.

Given those talks’ existence alongside compassionate, informed, loving reflections by Dieter Uchtdorf and Jeffrey Holland (as some of us discussed here earlier this month), it was a very up-and-down Conference for many.

One friend told me that Conference was like a whiplash-inducing tennis match. Another, who has been a good Mormon for decades, said that Elder Oaks’s talk made her wonder whether “there really was room for me to use my brain and make my own prayerful decisions on certain topics . . . I felt like he was saying that no ‘real’ Mormon can condone the legalization of same sex marriage.”

Elder Oaks’s talk resulted in significant sadness and wondering aloud. The best of these ruminations that I saw online was from Steve Evans over at By Common Consent; he raised thoughtful questions, and gently challenged Elder Oaks’s apparent certainty that the Church will never change its position on same-sex marriage as it has changed its policies on other issues.

Contrast that approach to a letter that has surfaced on the Internet this week. Written shortly after Conference, this dispatch to Elder Oaks does everything short of calling the man a Nazi. Some choice snippets:

  • “You are a bigoted, homophobic, hate filled bully”
  • You “spew backward, vile rhetoric in the name of God”
  • “I have a feeling that you love” critiquing those you see as wicked
  • ” . . . it is very likely that one of your talks has inspired an LDS youth to commit suicide”
  • “I know you will never” understand “the damage you’re doing to many within the LDS Church”
One wonders, after reading this letter, just who is the "hate-filled bully" spewing vile rhetoric.

Kyle Pedersen letter

I don’t know the author of this letter personally, but since he has posted his missive (missile?) — as well as Elder Oaks’s terse response — publicly with his name attached, I’m assuming that he wants the world to know about this correspondence and to comment on it.

So here is my comment: This letter was unfair, even cruel.

I’m getting the sense from the online commentary that many readers are focused on Elder Oaks’s official response, which took all of four sentences. Some are outraged that this brusque reply seemed to pull rank; Elder Oaks told the dissenter to get his life in order, counsel with his stake president, and stop violating his temple covenants. (I am guessing by this last that he meant no one is to speak ill of the Lord’s anointed.) It’s also controversial that the Church pulled this guy’s file and gathered bits of his history before replying, which some see as an abuse of ecclesiastical authority.

Still others are wondering why, when the Church regularly receives far more reasonable and well-considered complaints from faithful Mormons about all manner of issues, this is the protest that gets a response at all. It’s an excellent question. Are extreme positions the only ones that will be taken seriously by Mormon leaders?

But I think that focusing on the official response is less important than taking a hard look at the inciting incident. Was Elder Oaks’s reply patronizing? Probably. But how could it not be, given the tone that the original letter-writer set in accusing him of all manner of hatred and bigotry? Who wouldn’t respond to such a nastygram with profound irritation?

It’s one thing to disagree with LDS leaders, and to speak plainly and pointedly about the reasons why. Such discussions can elevate our people’s reflections about important issues. I have no problem with any Mormon writing an open letter expressing dissent on any topic; the more transparent our discourse, the better. Bring it on.

But we do not call each other horrible names, or blame total strangers for the deaths of children. We focus on issues, not personal attacks. We behave like grown-ups.

And we remember, always, that there is a human being on the receiving end of every letter — in this case, someone who has done much good in the world and deserves basic respect whether we agree with his political and social positions or not.

222 Comments

    • Jana you said “It’s one thing to disagree with LDS leaders, and to speak plainly and pointedly about the reasons why” Its funny you say this while talking about Elder Oaks, if you remember his famous statement “Its wrong to criticize leaders of the Church even if the criticism is true”. I think he demonstrated the type of thinking in his response to Kyle Pederson. How can something ever change and improve if they are not open to criticism and critical thinking. This is why the Blacks received the priesthood 24 years after the Supreme Courts decision on Brown VS the Board of Education. The Court didn’t need claim to be seers, and revelators to know what was correct and do the right thing. I agree with Kyle, Elder Oaks statements will be proven wrong by History, just as Bruce R McConkie comments on Blacks have been proven wrong. If you read Bruce R. McConkie statement when asked about his opinions after the 1978 revelation on Preisthood. He said “Further Light and Knowledge was given to us” well at some point this same “Further Light and Knowledge” will come to the church again. It is just sad that so much hurt and pain has to happen in the meanwhile.

      • Raymond Takashi Swenson

        Dallin Oaks was a law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1957. I daresay Oaks knows a lot more about Brown v. Topeka Board of Education than you do. He was a law professor at University of Chicago, which is embedded in the black neighborhoods of the city. As president of Brigham Young University he was directly involved in advancing the education of students of diverse ethnic origins. He also served as a leader of PBS. His wife served as a missionary in the area of Japan that was hit by the tsunami in 2011. My guess is that he has more friends and colleagues of all races and religions than most people.

        Within the last several years, Oaks has been the point man for the Church on making clear that having homosexual tendencies is not a sin in the eyes of God, and emphasized that we do not know the reasons why some people have such inclinations, and that Church members should exercise charity towards all people, including those who have such proclivities.

        Trying to blame someone for another person’s suicide is pretty harsh. Unless he was texting an individual every day encouraging the person to despair, I don’t think blaming him for the independent act of someone harming themselves is justified. As Jeffrey Holland pointed out, mental illness is the primary force in such events, and just as we should avoid blaming the mentally ill, we should refrain from blaming other people for what the mentally ill do to themselves. The entire rationale for suicide–that it will end one’s emotional turmoil–is inconsistent with the essential teachings of Mormonism, that our spirits survive death and we will be resurrected and stand before God to be judged for our decisions and actions. Committing suicide cannot be a reasoned decision in light of Mormon theology, but only an unreasoned emotional action that has no real basis in Mormon doctrines, except as a rejection of them. We have no basis to condemn the person, or the LDS Church.

        • Logical fail. Appeal to authority. We aren’t asking about the legalities of a law case, we are questioning the morality of homophobia. Lawyers aren’t experts by any stretch in that field. We all are moral experts individually, and many of us view his homophobia as a moral failure.

        • “As Jeffrey Holland pointed out, mental illness is the primary force in such events,”

          Appeal to authority and a blatant dishonest dodge as well. Mental illness does not explain or excuse the Mormon culture of exclusion and isolation of people who reveal themselves to be gay to their families and friends. It appears that encouraging gay Mormons to commit suicide is the default position on the subject. Of course they will not state such things in public. When you add the political efforts of the LDS to treat gays as non-people and encourage legalized discrimination against them and you have clear signs of bigotry within the church coming from on high.

          When have you stopped lying for the Lord?

  1. Jana: Elder Oaks response does not mention temple covenants, just covenants. The letter might be a violation of the covenant to avoid evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed. It probably is. It seems to me that if we are going to take the idea of covenant seriously, it has to mean something and at a minimum it means that certain kinds of speech about Church leaders is illegitimate. That said, we also make covenants to treat one another with charity and take upon us the name of Christ. Hence, the letter might be a violation of those covenants.

    • Jana Riess

      You’re right — the reply does not specify that he means temple covenants. I probably jumped to that assumption based on the fact that the Church ID’d the author of the letter as a returned missionary who had obviously been through the temple.

      But in basic baptismal covenants we take upon ourselves the name of Christ, with all that entails.

    • D. Michael Martindale

      I have my skepticism about a convenant that’s self-serving for those who impose it on others through intimidation.

      No, don’t tell me intimidation isn’t involved. When you blackmail people to get a temple recommend just so they can see their children’s marriage, that’s a form of intimidation.

      • Several years ago my friend’s marriage was held at a country club. Coat and tie required. One of the redneck cousins wouldn’t wear a jacket or tie….he was not let in….until he did. Civilized society has standards or rules of decorum. Shouldn’t the Lord’s church have some of the highest standard’s? Your choice…it’s the price of participation.

        • D. Michael Martindale

          Seriously? You’re going to compare a trivial thing like some bozo refusing to wear a tie to completely banning people from their own children’s wedding, one of the most important milestones in a family’s lives together?

          The price of participation? What the hell are you talking about? The ones banned have made the chocie not to partiipate for whatever reason, often as a choice of conscience and integrity. What are they supposed to lie to the bishop, fake conversion and receive a fraudulent baptism to be able to go to the wedding?

          You are one insensitive dude.

          • “What are they supposed to lie to the bishop, fake conversion and receive a fraudulent baptism to be able to go to the wedding?”

            Obviously that is the case. Lying on behalf of the church is a widely encouraged activity.

      • Also…..Mr Martindale in a comment above you asked for some sort of logical argument as why the Church attempts to teach “correct” morals, pass laws in regards to morals…as you say…impose morals. The explanation is found in the Proclamation on the Family, signed by 15 Apostles in 1995….a message to the World….the calamities foretold…….

        “we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
        We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

        • D. Michael Martindale

          You don’t even get what the debate is about, do you? I’m talking about an argument that demonstrates how gay marriage harms society–that would be a pluralistic society of religious freedom where people do not use the law to force their religions on others–really harms society, not just some religious mumbo-jumbo that boils down to “God said so (says me)”.

          The Proclamation on the Family is utterly useless as an argument for a secular society. Why should Catholics and Jews and Muslims and agnostics and atheists be subject–by the law of the land–to a Mormon Proclamation?

          Have you even read the 11th Article fo Faith?

          • Kelly Knight

            And yet you would promote the use of law to force those of us who oppose homosexual marriage into accepting, even condoning that which we abhor. You cannot have your cake, and eat it, too.

          • Thomas Eastmond

            Have you ever read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”?

            Was Martin Luther King wicked to try and impose his religious convictions on others?

        • @Kelly Knight

          Of course! That is what civil liberties are. Not using the law to enforce your bigoted notions. The ability to discriminate others on the basis of your religious beliefs is not something worthy of protection under our laws.

          You don’t like gay marriage? Don’t have one. Your church doesn’t have to have them either. It doesn’t mean you have any right to tell other people what to do about it or have the force of law behind you.

      • Angry MOM Spouse

        I agree with the letter. This garbage is encouraging suicide in the LGBTQ community. Our leaders are not immune from criticism. Joseph Smith, Jr., understood this.

  2. A couple of comments. Of the five quotes you pulled out, I think the first three are just personal and argumentative. The second two are accurate and not personal, IMO. I completely agree that the personal attack portion of the letter is unproductive and unnecessary. And yet, if the writer really believes that what DHO said deeply hurt gays and that contributes to the epidemic of gay teens committing suicide, then perhaps we can excuse his anger? Nothing makes me more angry than when others harm people I love or care about.

    Next, the question is raised, how can we expect DHO to turn the other cheek when attacked in this way? Perhaps we can excuse his anger as well since, well, what is his excuse? That his feelings were hurt? I’m not sure that is a good excuse, particularly given the title and authority he wields. To millions of people, he is a man who is a personal representative of Jesus on earth and they listen to his words and follow his advice with that in mind. Does it seem fair, then, to say “oh but he’s just a regular guy” when he fails to follow one of the most basic teachings of Jesus?

    • > how can we expect DHO to turn the other cheek when attacked in this way?

      Uh, maybe it’s because Christ taught that you should turn the other cheek?

      • Mungagungadin

        that’s not exactly what “turn the other cheek” means

        http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?17076-quot-Turning-the-Other-Cheek-quot

    • Kelly Knight

      Does not Elder Oaks follow the example of Jesus when, in His righteous indignation He cleared the temple of the money changers, or referred to the Sadducees and Pharisees as hypocrites and vipers? Elder Oaks was within his apostolic responsibility to call to repentance one who made covenants, and yet so boldly and repugnant lay violated those covenants.

  3. daniel parkinson

    It may not be helpful to openly accuse church leaders of contributing to suicides, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Church leaders have been blatantly calloused about the suicides of its young LGBT members. There is research showing how to prevent this and the church has chosen to ignore it. They are guilty. I don’t think the letter written was an effective way of making change, but it is also justifiable to be angry about the role the church has played in the marginalization and persecution of LGBT Mormons and the thousands of suicides that have resulted from this.

  4. Elder Oaks has a way about him that is always black and white and clear cut, if you can understand the legalese he is trained to speak in. That’s ok with me. He is doing his job as an apostle, to send forth a word of warning to the world. If a person doesn’t want to look into that issue any further, that is up to them. When we do look into it more extensively, and are praying about it, we may still either agree or disagree or some combination of each.

    It took me many years to realize this, but it has finally occurred to me that I know very little compared to how much God knows. No mere mortal, however intelligent she (or he) may be, can possibly have superior knowledge or wisdom compared to that of our Heavenly Father or Jesus–and no greater love.

    Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” To me, that means that each commandment was given to us by a loving, all-knowing and all-wise Creator, as a gift that we would do well to accept.

    I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because I don’t accept that Prophets and Apostles and their written word (in the Bible) ended for good, shortly after the time of Christ. I mean, I believe that having living Prophets and Apostles is more important for us today than anciently, and having those through whom the Lord may reveal His truths, is essential and consistent with belief in the Bible and in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Without this church, my skeptical mind cannot envision how I would not be an atheist.

    • Galatians 1:6-9 states: 6 I marvel that YOU are being so quickly removed from the One who called YOU with Christ’s undeserved kindness over to another sort of good news. 7 But it is not another; only there are certain ones who are causing YOU trouble and wanting to pervert the good news about the Christ. 8 However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to YOU as good news something beyond what we declared to YOU as good news, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said above, I also now say again, Whoever it is that is declaring to YOU as good news something beyond what YOU accepted, let him be accursed.
      Also Revelation 22:18-19 states: “I am bearing witness to everyone that hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone makes an addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll; 19 and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life and out of the holy city, things which are written about in this scroll. The BIBLE states at the very last book (Revelation which was written about 98CE) that after that book NO MORE WOULD BE ADDED… GOD’S word trumps “man’s words/thinking” no matter what “your religion” has taught as doctrine…

      • Sorry CM, but Bible scholars admit that John was referring only to his Revelation in the verse you quote. Some even believe that the Gospel of John was written after Revelation. Since the Bible’s books weren’t officially canonized and collected until centuries after John, he obviously wasn’t referring to the Bible as a whole. Are we cursed for having the Apocrypha or cursed for casting it aside?

        So many anti-LDS desire to be teachers of the law understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.

  5. Jana
    I personally know many people who wouldn’t have responded the way Elder Oaks did who are not “special witnesses of Christ”. Frankly Elder Oaks letter made me sad. Elder Oakes focusing on how he as a mighty apostle is sad and hurt and not combing through the hyperbole to see the obvious hurt and despair of this member is discouraging.

  6. I disagree with you significantly. As Daniel pointed out, this is an issue that there are LIVES on the line. Members of the LGBT community commit suicide because of statements that religious people like Oaks make. It fills them with shame, guilt, and doubt, even if they don’t act on any of their sexual impulses.

    Personally, I thought that Oaks message was vile, filled with hatred and intolerance, and he was using the pulpit of the church to carry on his personal feelings about homosexuality much as Brigham Young used to pulpit to spread his racism and bigotry. We know now looking back on it that blacks not getting the priesthood was entirely about BY being racist and pushing those racist views on the church. If BY had his racist views opposed, maybe the church wouldn’t have kept blacks from getting the priesthood for so long.

    In much the same way, I think that Oaks needs to be called out on his homphobia. He is basically using the pulpit to cause pain and hurt on homosexual people. He and others in the church use the law to try to prevent same sex couples that aren’t even members to marry. That’s about like the Jews passing laws saying that no one should eat pork because it’s against their religion. I think that the words spoken to Oaks were a bit callous and harsh, but they were appropriate to the hate filled and venomous remarks of Oaks and I believe that they were appropriate for the horrific speech that Oaks gave.

    Personally, Oaks talk was my final step. I came to realize that the church wasn’t true about 2-3 years ago, but my name is still on the church records. Oaks speech was so truly heartless and devoid of any compassion that a disciple of Christ should have that I am contacting the church this weekend to have my name removed. I won’t be a part of any religion that is so cruel and callous to live human beings. Jesus would never approve of people being hurt like this.

    • I don’t suppose it will matter to you personally, but some of what you say is very likely wrong. There’s no evidence what Oaks said was based in personal animus to gays. The Church’s position, which he accurately restated, is based on scripture and doctrine that appears to most to leave no ground for other views. In that respect, it isn’t like the Church’s stance on blacks and the priesthood. In your assessment of Oaks you don’t take that into account, and you don’t show much of the quality you call on him to show. It isn’t clear how the Church can address this issue in a way that won’t hurt people. Those who think it can just change the policy or act as though it doesn’t exist aren’t being realistic.

      As for the Church seeking to impose its views on others, that’s what people typically do when they believe a sufficiently important moral principle is at stake. It’s not peculiar to churches or this issue.

      • D. Michael Martindale

        That doesn’t make it right. Unless it involves a violation of someone’s personal liberty, nobody has any business imposing their morals on anyone, no matter how much they believe in them.

        And there is a way the church address the gay issue in a more compassionate way, which I spelled out elsewhere in these comments. (I don’t want to repeat it again.)

        • Personal liberty isn’t the only important value in personal or political life. The Church believes same-sex marriage will harm its members and others, that it will harm the moral climate and the institution of marriage. I don’t agree, but they have as much right to seek to prevent that harm by law as I do to oppose it. Happily, their efforts aren’t going to prevail.

          I have no idea what views you’ve expressed in other comments, so I can’t respond to them here.

          • D. Michael Martindale

            It is the important value to a libertarian. No one has any right to impose their personal values on anyone else if a compelling argument can’t be made that harm will come to others if it doesn’t happen.

            The church is welcome to make that argument, but it has failed to do so. Everyone who is against gay marriage has failed to do so. It’s not good enough for someone to simply believe it’s bad. Many people don’t believe it’s bad, and they have as much right to conduct their lives accordingly as Mormons do according to their beliefs.

            Their efforts will not prevail precisely because this argument cannot be made, and the courts have recognized that.

          • Hard to tell if you’re disagreeing with anything I said.

            There’s no reason anyone else should feel obligated to act on libertarian values, of course.

          • Again, and I think this was clear the first time, liberty isn’t the only important value in personal or political life. That libertarians tend to treat it as though it is doesn’t provide any reason others should do so.

          • D. Michael Martindale

            I’m quite clear on what you’re saying. You’re just wrong. I realize a lot of people think they do have they right to impose their values on others by force of law. They’re also wrong.

            You keep saying “important values in personal or political life.” You’re right about personal life, but throwing in “political life” is spurious and wrong and an ad hoc effort to make your case. Personal values are not part of political life, if by political life you mean the laws our country creates that we have to live by.

            This is no different than Muslims trying to implement Sharia law in America. They can want to impose that on us all they want, but it can only be done by utterly violating our basic political philosophy of freedoom, not to mention several aspects of the Constitution.

            Before the 60s, it was the religiously-oriented belief and value of many Americans that Blacks were created by God to serve Whites. Laws were passed to enforce that morality. Those laws were wrong. When they were challenged, the courts finally overturned them.

            This is no different than either one of these examples. Just because Oaks or any other Christian believes gay marriage is anathema to God or will harm society does not give them the right to force the rest of us to comply with their beleifs using the law. If they can demonstrate some real (not contrived) and significant harm that would result to society, that wouold be different. But I’ve been hearing anti-gay-marriage arguments for years now, and not one of them
            accomplishes this, for all their bluster.

            Oaks is no better than someone in the 60s wanting to preserve the racist laws of the land.

          • Again, that you think liberty is the only political value simply fails to make it so. Nothing in the Constitution implies it is. Again, people have a perfect right to argue that same-sex marriage will harm society and to try to make it illegal on that basis. The Church’s political arguments include appeals to completely secular principles. If their arguments fall short, fine, but there’s nothing unconstitutional or otherwise illegitimate about their making the effort.

          • D. Michael Martindale

            Dude, you’re just repeating yourself, forcing me to repeat myself. Yes, everyoine ahas the right to argue for any damn thing they want and try to enforce it with law. And when they overstep their bounds the courts come in and overturn it.

            This is not a democracy, where the majority will rules (i.e.: mob rule). This is a republic, a form of government intended to protect the rights of citizens against the will of the majority. The majority has no right to force their personal beliefs onto the unwilling minority.

            That IS in the Constitution. That’s what the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights is all about. The majority has no right to ban wedding from a certain demigrapbic of citizens when all the rest of the citizens have that right.

            There have been times when the oppressive will of the majority has dominated the land by law (slavery, racism, denying the vote to women for some examples) and the courts have even allowed it. But that doesn’t make it right. That just makes the society that allows it bigoted and unjust and hypocritical when it claims it stands for equal rights for all.

            Mormons suffered from that very sort of bigotry in the 19th century. That makes Mormons hypocrites who inflict it on others now.

          • “The majority has no right to force their personal beliefs onto the unwilling minority.”

            That’s at best a highly misleading statement. How objective are the reasons for our tax laws, including the reasons for what the taxes are spent on? Yet the minority who disagree, and who may have even better reasons on their side, have to pay. That’s how our constitutional system works. Personal beliefs may quite properly be the primary moving force behind a law, but as I keep pointing out, some of the Church’s arguments in this case are secular and of a testable nature. They aren’t purely personal. (That’s more important in this case than in most others because of the suspect nature of laws like Prop 8.) The only problem with those more objective arguments is that they happen to be wrong factually, as far as we know. If such arguments were well supported, the courts would uphold laws like Prop 8, and rightly so, even if personal beliefs were a primary driving force for them.

      • Oaks may not have a personal animus towards LGBT, but he has a bias towards harming them because he will not accept them as they are. He will not support them and love them as they are. They must live to HIS standards before they will be acceptable, and that standard is the illogical and incomprehensible standard of social isolation and a death of all attempts at intimacy in personal relationships. Even single brothers and sisters are given the opportunity to marry outside the church and maintain good standing, but LGBT are told to remain isolated and alone. When Oaks gets up in conference and once again demands LGBT be looked at as broken people (hence the reason they shouldn’t be allowed to be married), then LGBT people get upset because its bigotry and treating the “other” as sub-human.

        When I was growing up, he and the other apostles taught us all we could be cured of our “sickness” if we were righteous enough, prayed hard enough, and had enough faith. He may have softened his language over the years, but his actions and the actions of those in the 1970′s DID result in death. You can’t tell someone that their basic biological makeup is fatally flawed and that God doesn’t accept them as they are without causing some serious psychological damage, especially when that judgement comes from someone you are raised to respect and to follow as if He is Jesus Christ himself.

        Over the years, the research has proven beyond a doubt that you can’t CURE homosexuality, so his current reaction is to simply state that we don’t know why people are born with those inclinations, BUT DON’T ALLOW THEM TO ATTEND FAMILY FUNCTIONS WITH THEIR PARTNER OR YOU WILL BE SEEN AS SUPPORTING THEM AS THEY ARE. DON’T ALLOW THEM TO MARRY OR TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS BECAUSE THEY ARE BROKEN.

        Elder Oaks involvement in the torture and attempted cure of LGBT youth as president of BYU is documented. Elder Oaks continues to attempt to draw the line about homosexuality, but he’s much more careful about it now thanks to the church PR department, and yet we should not forget what he has done to further the church’s position on the LGBT.

        I quote from a letter he sent to Elder Monson dated Sept. 13, 1979. “The first detailed information I had of this project was what I learned when I was invited to hear the presentation to the General Authorities. Since it did not come through educational channels, responsible BYU administrators were not part of the original definition of the project, though we were asked to carry it out according to the terms and conditions defined by the Bergin-Brown Presentation. My letter of March 7, 1979 to Bishop J Richard Clarke submitted a request for funding…

        …The objective of the project was to prepare a manuscript along the lines outlined by Victor Brown, Jr. in his oral presentation, which would set forth significant empirical evidence in support of the Church’s position on homosexuality. The Church would fund the project…….

        …While we are persuaded that we cannot achieve the original objectives to the extent hoped, we also believe these objectives are so important that we need to achieve them to the maximum extent possible…Robert Thomas and I propose the following….Encourage Allen Bergin to continue research and writing in this subject area, using conventional University procedures and resources to conventional scholarly outlets….

        ….The foregoing proposal will put this whole project back into the channels in which, in my judgement, it should have originated–the normal Church Educational System and Brigham Young University creative channels as to funding and supervision…”

        YES, he was aware of the study and all it entailed, he knew of the suicides, he knew of the church funding, he knew it wasn’t being conducted under normal educational channels and supervision, and he encourage the continuation of the studies…even knowing that they were FAILING MISERABLY and that men and women were suffering immeasurable loss, grief, and pain. Physical torture because of their sexual impulses….just…indescribable pain….

        Sources:
        http://www.connellodonovan.com/images/oaksmonson1979p1.jpg
        http://www.connellodonovan.com/images/oaksmonson1979p2.jpg
        http://www.connellodonovan.com/images/oaksmonson1979p3.jpg

        More information can be found here:
        http://www.connellodonovan.com/abom.html#shocking

    • Dear Matt S.
      Religion to me, among other things, speaks about the evil in society and about the appropriate ways the Lord Himself has prescribed for His children to live.
      One of the duties of His Agents is to re-echo these things in an effort to bring them to live sound and appropriate lives as instituted and acceptable in the sight of God. If you read the scriptures thoroughly, did the Lord approve of gays? Whether DHO spoke well or not, the issue is: as an agent of God, was he propounding his own ideas or he was re-echoing what his Master and Lord stands for? For Christ’s and truth’s sake, let us accept our shortcomings sincerely and strive to do what our maker wants us to do. That is the only way to improve and become better people created in the image and likeness of God. Definitely, totally removing your name or retaining it in church records will not change the mandate that has been given to true church leaders.

      • Mungagungadin

        kobina,

        I can’t tell if you are being ironic. You say, “Did the Lord approve of gays?” as though there is some record of Him disapproving of gays. Instead, he taught universal acceptance and love. Do you feel that Oaks reflected that?

    • Jesus would also never approve of the LGBT lifestyle, though he would love the LGBT person. It is not the person, but the deeds that keep one from returning to God that motivates Elder Oaks and the rest of the Church leadership when they speak against those matters that have been so clearly defined in scripture as evil.

      • What a pile of bullcrap!

        If you are treating a person like crap, throwing them out of their families, their homes, jobs and attacking their relationships with others you are hating the person. I sincerely doubt there is anyone Jesus would have declared unfit to love, to care for children, to serve their nation, or to be full members of their society.

        You are just pretending that your bigotry is approved by Jesus so you can seek social sanction for what is objectively vile hateful actions.

  7. D. Michael Martindale

    I have mixed reactions to this.

    Let’s get the obligatory thing out of the way first: the letter in question was way too acerbic to be mature or useful.

    But having acknowledged that, I give Oaks no quarter for his behavior. There are people out there who express themselves acerbically (gosh, even I do it sometimes) and this can hardly be a new experience for Oaks to receive such vitriol. There’s nothing stopping him from setting the letter aside until he can cool down from reading it before responding, as any responsible leader would. So excusing his reply based on an irritated reaction to the letter doesn’t fly.

    Furthermore, the last two of the letter’s points are valid:

    ” . . . it is very likely that one of your talks has inspired an LDS youth to commit suicide”

    We know church policy and attitude has resulted in many suicides among gay LDS youth. Oaks’ speech only fanned the flames of that attitude.

    “I know you will never” understand “the damage you’re doing to many within the LDS Church”

    This seems self-evident too, by the simple fact that Oaks is repeating the things once again that are causing the damage. Would he do that if he understood the damage?

    Boyd Packer is my least favorite and most criticized general authority. I consider him to have caused much harm to the church and have little comprehension of the compassion of Christ.

    I have called Dallin Oaks his intellectual lackey, and I stand by that. It appears that the baton has been passed to Oaks to continue the diatribes against those things that Packer loathes.

    • Thomas Eastmond

      “Intellectual lackey” might be more effective an insult if Elder Oaks’ intellect weren’t so thoroughly superior to his alleged master’s. Say what you like about the man — his is a formidable intellect.

      • D. Michael Martindale

        I call him an intellectual lackey precisely because of the things you pointed out. Oaks’ intellect is massive, and he uses it in the service of rhetorically supporting the mindest of Packer–thus, his intellectual lackey.

        Interesting how you painted my comment as an insult. Therre was no intent to insult. It was intended as my honest assessment of the role Oaks seems to have chosen for himself within the quorum.

      • > Say what you like about the man — his is a formidable intellect.

        It’s so formidable in fact that he believes a man translated a holy book by placing a seer stone into a hat and then burying his face into said hat and seeing images of words on parchment.

        That is some keen intellect right there folks.

        • Chris Redfield

          Correction – He believes a man who was married to multiple underage girls and other mens wive’s translated a book by staring into a hat with magic rocks.

  8. The letter sent to Dallin Oaks was unproductively accusatory, but it was not any more “unfair” or “cruel” than Dallin Oaks marginalization of gay people and shoeboxing of genders. At least the letter was direct, if also too personal toward a single individual. Dallin Oak’s talk was also personal toward thousands of people, but manipulatively indirect. One can only assume his message to people who don’t fit with traditional Mormon ideas is indirect and sugar-coated in order to avoid accountability for it’s cruelty. Such manipulations tend to inspire the rage exhibited in the letter. Dallin Oaks owns this.

  9. Thomas Eastmond

    My two favorite talks were President Uchtdorf’s — and Elder Oaks’. The one to remind us that the honest search for truth is always honorable; the other to remind us that truth is something we search for, discover and follow — not manufacture.

    Maybe Elder Oaks is wrong about what the truth is on this point. (I don’t think he is.) But the important point is that there really is something to be right or wrong about it. Either expanding the scope of marriage is consistent with moral law, or not. It’s up to us, with the Lord’s help, to figure out which is which.

    • Chris Redfield

      Thomas, with all due respect you follow a leader who married 14 year old girls and slept with other men’s wive’s all in the name of religion. If Joseph Smith were alive today he would be in a cell next to Warren Jeff’s

  10. Thomas Eastmond

    Regarding the suicide issue, consider this:

    It is true that LGBTTQQ2S youth appear (by the best available evidence) to suffer from an elevated suicide rate.

    It is also true that active religious believers have a significantly lower suicide rate than non-believers, as well as less-active adherents.

    Therefore (following the letter’s logic), anything a person does that tends to turn a person away from religious activity, exposes him to a significantly greater risk of suicide. Atheists, agnostics, and cultural Mormons: YOU ARE LITERALLY KILLING PEOPLE! Blood on your hands! Have you no shame?

    See how that works?

    It’s ridiculous, of course. Let truth be done and spoken, though the heavens fall. If you are honestly convinced that God is dead, or unknowable, or that traditional religious activity is inconsistent with a reality-based conception of the world — by all means, speak your mind, as honestly as you can and must. But “allow all men the same privilege, let them [think] how, where or what they may.”

  11. eric fka observer

    For me, the question isn’t, “Who wouldn’t respond to such a nastygram with profound irritation?” The question that raises authenticity issues for me re the letter is: “What apostle would even respond to a letter like Kyle’s?” My assumptions: i) apostles get letters like this all the time; ii) those letters are filtered by admins; iii) apostles don’t have time to respond to many positive, worthwhile letters, so they probably don’t have time to respond to angry ones; and iv) apostles can pick and chose which letters they respond to, or none at all; v) if you are elderly like an apostle, reading and responding to these types of letters is low priority. So I question even whether E.Oaks was even the one who responded and I question the authenticity of E.Oaks letter. I just don’t think apostles respond to this stuff. BUT if they do, the fact that they do speaks volumns as to their discretion in responding, their choice of words, use of time (time is money, and money is tithing), etc.

  12. Let alone what Jesus said about turning the other cheek, every experienced blogger knows this: “Don’t feed the trolls.” Maybe E. Oaks should be more active in social media to learn the rules associated since this is the rising generation’s medium of choice. His reply did seem petty and entirely unnecessary. To be honest, as a person with 20+ years experience in leadership in the business world, I can’t think of any executive who would have swung at that pitch. It only demeans you to do so.

    This notion of not speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed is problematic, too. Who that entails is not specified, but all who are endowed have been anointed. Either we are all in or only Jesus, the anointed, should be given that extra consideration. Otherwise, we are setting up a system in which humans are given free reign to behave in wrong ways. That can’t be how the Lord’s church would work. Jesus himself openly criticized church leaders when they were in the wrong or had misinterpreted scripture or when their actions were hypocritical.

    Kyle’s letter was unfortunate. Obviously he was hurting. Obviously he felt he had nothing left to lose by sending it.

  13. Thomas Eastmond

    Hawkgrrl, hi — long time, no see. I think I knew you (as either Thomas or TheProudDuck) on Mormon Matters and Wheat & Tares and maybe elsewhere, back in the day.

    I think “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed” gets applied far beyond its reasonable bounds. Calling speaking truth (if it’s actually truth that’s spoken) “evil speaking” comes uncomfortably close to “calling evil good and good evil,” doesn’t it?

    I wonder, though, if truth can be delivered at such cannonball-speed velocity, packed along with enough vituperative grapeshot, that the overall effect of a true statement can turn evil. There is a difference, for instance, between a doctor telling someone “you’re fat, and if you don’t lose some weight, it’ll kill you,” and someone calling someone fat to hurt her.

    • This letter is not calling Oaks fat to hurt him. This letter is in response to pain that Oaks caused the writer by apparently calling him fat, metaphorically speaking.

  14. Gilbert Gripe

    Wow! Your list is not a list of his main points, only a list of his over wrought statements. In making that list you created a strawman to argue against. You completely side stepped the main points of the letter.

    The church never renounces it’s old teachings, no matter how obnoxious and repugnant they might be, it merely pretends they never happened. The lives and teachings of all the dead prophets, seers and revelators have been heavily redacted. Most of what they were and believed in will never appear in new editions of the magazines, books, lesson manuals and conference talks. The reason is simple, they’re an embarrassment.

    Dallin Oaks is destined to go the way of all his predecessors.

  15. This whole situation has been fascinating to follow as it’s made its way through the internet spheres, from the initial letter being published to it being passed around various Facebook and other groups, to the author of the letter taking an active part of the conversation, it’s been very interesting to see the reactions of everyone.

    I’ll echo what many have said – if the letter is as purported (and I am one to take a healthy amount of skepticism to anything passed around the internet), it certainly is disappointing. For someone of Oak’s office within the LDS church, it is unbecoming of him to react in such a manner. Someone made the analogy to me last night of a Vice President of a Fortune 500 company responding to negative mail in a very unproductive fashion.

    Pederson’s letter was full of hyperbole, of viciousness and of a place of anger and hurt. I don’t say that to demean him, but to put it in context that, as Hawkgrrl said, was something that Oaks should have just let blow by. Perhaps it was a reference to his departed wife. Perhaps the accusations of him being a “bigoted, homophobic, hate-filled bully” was what put him over the edge. Whatever the case, it is disappointing.

    I think I’m fascinated watching this happen because the world has changed so that a response from a member of the Q12 (or the rest of the General Authorities) can be passed around on the internet immediately, with zero ability for it to be removed. Along with that, the reaction that we can all have is immediate. I wonder if Oaks is aware that it has reached this “fever pitch.” I wonder if the general membership would even be aware of the letter. And I also wonder if Oaks is regretting the response.

    • Mungagungadin

      Actually, it doesn’t appear that Kyle engaged in much hyperbole. The church’s trail of alienation abuse, coercion, torture and church-orchestrated reach to remove comfort or acceptance of any kind for the LGBT even in the civil realm is pretty indisputable. Kyle’s accusations don’t just ring true, they are true.

  16. Thomas Eastmond

    Tammy — Take a look at this one. It’s by a BYU statistician, but it has a good overview of the other research over the past half-century that has found an inverse relationship between religious activity and suicide risk.

    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/155/5/413.full#ref-5

    • @Thomas: Thank you. Interesting studies and I found more to substantiate the claim as well. It would be more convincing of a comparison in your argument if those who are religious also had no choice in the matter, represented a minority in the general population, were ostracized by loved ones, and still maintained a lower suicide rate. Apples to oranges? I don’t recall which logical fallacy it is right at the moment, but your argument is indeed fallacious.

      • Thomas Eastmond

        “Fallacious” and “disagreeable to me” are not synonyms.

        The bottom line is that turning people away from traditional religion, statistically, kills some of them — just as you are arguing that reinforcing traditional religion kills people disposed to alternative sex habits. Granny Smiths to Jonagolds.

        The argument is that some beliefs, even if sincerely held, should not be stated, because they may cause harm. I think that’s ugly fascist nonsense, if I may be pardoned some intemperance of my own. I’m with John Milton on this one. Freedom of speech and conscience, no matter what.

        Another thought: How much lower is the suicide rate of gay people in “enlightened” areas, versus benighted ones like the Mormon Corridor? What portion of the elevated gay suicide rate results from religiously-based ostracism (which is to be condemned, and which the Church makes at least some effort to condemn, at least in its uglier forms), and what portion may result simply from the basic fact of gay identity? Being different is always hard, even when the people around you tolerate your differences. You are never quite one of them. Who hasn’t seen or felt this?

        No matter how hard the “-studies” majors crusade against “heteronormativity,” when you identify with a group no larger than 3-4% of the population, your identity is never going to be the norm. You are going to feel different. Even in San Francisco — about the most gay-friendly city I can think of — the rate of suicidal ideation among gay youth appears to come close to the rate among their counterparts in puritan Utah. Doesn’t that seem to suggest that suppressing puritanism may not bear the fruit you expect it will?

        I know it’s dogma that nobody with same-sex attraction has any control over how his sexuality is expressed — that if you are attracted to people of the same sex, you are gay, world without end, and must identify exclusively as that. I’m sure that’s true for many people. What if it’s not true for everyone? What if some significant number of those people who are now pressured, societally, to identify exclusively as gay, could be just or nearly as fulfilled sexually with an opposite-sex partner?

        If there is some underlying baseline level of potentially unhappiness that comes from identifying with a very small sexual minority — cutting yourself off, in at least some way, from the experience of the overwhelming majority of your fellow human beings — then is it possible that whatever reductions in unhappiness you may get by suppressing religious or other calls away from exclusive gay identity, may be outweighed by the marginal increase in the number of people who consequently adopt an exclusively gay identity.

        I don’t know whether that’s true. I don’t think anyone else knows, either.

        • @Thomas: Verbal and intellectual gymnastics are unnecessary in this debate. The simple equation of Occam’s Razor + The Golden Rule + validation through testing works for me. The simplest answer is that people are attracted to the same gender… just are, in the same way heterosexuals are attracted to the opposite gender. The Golden Rule fits perfectly here. I’m heterosexual. Did I choose to be? Well I frankly don’t ever recall considering a different option and I certainly knew it existed. I empathetically imagine it is precisely the same experience for gay people, and then I met a few gay people and found out I was correct. Simple.

          • Thomas Eastmond

            It’s not “gymnastics,” it’s the minimum intellectual rigor that a thinking and conscientious person ought to bring to the question.

            Your sample size consisting of you and a few gay people you met is not sufficient to yield a conclusive answer. You may not have considered any other flavors of sex habits than heterosexual monogamy — but there are plenty of other fish in the sea, and lots of those fish report having had any number of sexual permutations occur to them at one time or another. I would doubt, for instance, that heterosexual monogamy is the default setting for a majority of males.

            Based on the best evidence I’ve reviewed, I believe sexuality is more plastic than what the Right-Thinking People assert it to be. Sexuality is like any other aspect of human character, subject to biological heredity, environmental influence, and — yes — the choices we make, and the way those choices select and magnify the environmental influences we are subject to.

            It’s interesting: Assert that intelligence, or sociopathy, or criminality, or personal habits, are substantially influenced by heredity (which no serious student of these things disputes), and you will be crucified as some kind of fascist or worse. On the other hand, assert that anything but heredity influences a person’s sex preferences, at any point in his or her life, and you will be branded a homophobe. (Which isn’t actually a psychological term, but is useful to certain people.)

            Again, I think sexuality is most likely about as plastic as every other aspect of personality. It probably runs on a spectrum, with some people truly hard-wired from such that they can only enjoy certain varieties of sexuality, some people hard-wired the opposite way, and people at every shade of grey between. For those people — the people in the middle — environment, and the environments we choose to create for ourselves, can and do have significant effects.

            All things being equal, I would say that a person will probably be happier if, having any significant capacity to be fulfilled in a monogamous marriage with a person of the opposite sex, that is the sexual arrangement he elects to cultivate.

            I’m not suggesting that people who can *only* be satisfied sexually in a same-sex relationship should try to act straight; I think those people should seek their happiness the best way they can. But I do think “tie goes to the conventional runner” ought to be the general presumption. I think that *even in the most tolerant of possible worlds,* there are going to be downsides to most unconventional sex arrangements that are not equally present when the object you aspire to is a faithful, gender-complementary marriage.

            God, to the extent we may or may not have his input on the subject, seems to agree. If you believe that’s actually Him talking, and not just people putting words into his mouth, which of course you have every right to believe, if that’s your honest conclusion.

            Sorry for the gymnastics. I just think these things aren’t as simple as many people — on both sides of the question — would have it.

          • Thomas, having been sealed to a temple worthy man, and done all I was asked to do regarding church and faithful activity, being sealed in the covenant for time and all eternity, and then having it not work out in my temple marriage because of my pansexuality that leans homosexual, I have a unique perspective on this subject, and I hope you will take my thoughts into serious consideration.

            My current relationship with a woman is everything good, praise worthy, and of good report. It is far more enjoyable, personally fulfilling, good for my child, and much more equality driven than my marriage to my loving temple worthy husband.

            Those are facts. Any LDS member can see that those things are healthy, peace promoting, and uplifting. The fact that I choose to have sexual relations with this woman is a side note to the fact that my best self is only expressed and felt in a lesbian relationship. It’s not about the sex as much as it is about the type of person I need in my life to feel like I am complete; living and using all that has been given to me via my biology, as a whole individual.

            Sexual attraction is part of that complete package of feeling like a whole person, but I never felt whole with a man on an emotional, mental, or physical level, and I know I never will. I dated temple worthy men for 28 years trying to find that man that could make me feel whole like a woman can, and it never happened. I did my best to live the gospel under the circumstances, and all it resulted in was a very large amount of heartache for my husband, myself, and my young son.

            I married a man in the temple that was the best fit for me, but the relationship still lacked the chemistry and essence of companionship and understanding that I wanted to have within my marriage. The marriage failed because of it. You can’t just look past that lack of romance and chemistry and expect that it can maintain itself when emotional turmoils hit. Marriage then becomes a simple contract of obligation and duty, but does kills the emotional and mental part of those involved.

            I will not sacrifice part of my essence and essential characteristics because of a religious dogma. I did it for 35 years, and it resulted in sadness, depression, and heartache for everyone involved.

            I am not a unique case. I am one voice among many, telling you from my own experience that marrying into a heterosexual marriage when you know you are gay is not good for people. The spectrum of sexual orientation is wide and broad, but what really matters is that people are allowed to do what is best for them to live a happy and healthy life.

            The church has no right to interfere and to tell people what they can and cannot do to be their best selves. When people like me tell you that we did it exactly as the church asks, and that it didn’t work for us, you will tell me I did something wrong. At what point does the church take responsibility instead of the responsibility being on the heads of the people struggling close to death to fit into the box the church has drawn for them?

  17. This is a very passionate important topic and it’s important for everyone to recognize that. We may disagree on the tone of the letter written to Oaks but the underlining hurt/anger/frustration about the church’s treatment of gays is legitimately felt by many. The church and Oaks have said some very hurtful things to LGBT members over the years….they have used words like: sinner, abhorrent, vile, evil, adultery, immoral, etc. Oaks himself has said many hurtful things like:

    “I think it’s important for you to understand that homosexuality, which you’ve spoken of, is not a noun that describes a condition. It’s an adjective that describes feelings or behavior.”

    “Everyone has some challenges they have to struggle with. You’ve described a particular kind of challenge that is very vexing.” (VEXING??)

    “Yes, homosexual feelings are controllable. Perhaps there is an inclination or susceptibility to such feelings that is a reality for some and not a reality for others. But out of such susceptibilities come feelings, and feelings are controllable.”

    “No, we do not accept the fact that conditions that prevent people from attaining their eternal destiny were born into them without any ability to control.”

    “There is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband, a wife, and posterity…. In the eternal perspective, same-gender activity will only bring sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities.”

    “‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.”

    “We feel great compassion for parents whose love and protective instincts for their challenged children have moved them to some positions that are adversary to the Church. I hope the Lord will be merciful to parents whose love for their children has caused them to get into such traps.”

    “One way to think of marriage is as a bundle of rights associated with what it means for two people to be married. What the First Presidency has done is express its support of marriage and for that bundle of rights belonging to a man and a woman. The First Presidency hasn’t expressed itself concerning any specific right. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. If you have some legally sanctioned relationship with the bundle of legal rights traditionally belonging to marriage and governing authority has slapped a label on it, whether it is civil union or domestic partnership or whatever label it’s given, it is nonetheless tantamount to marriage. That is something to which our doctrine simply requires us to speak out and say, “That is not right. That’s not appropriate.”

    These are just some of the many things that he has said that are devastating to so many of our LGBT members and their families/loved ones. In his last talk he sounded like a lawyer giving argument in court…not a loving spokesman for God. Of course this is going to cause hurt and raised emotions! How could it not?

    We all say things and do things that at times we wish we could later change and the author of this letter may look back on this and perhaps wish he could have changed the way he said some things….or he may not. He’s entitled to his opinions and at least he spoke up about them and was not afraid to let Oaks himself know how upset he was. The reaction to his letter was not done with love or any glimpse of understanding. It didn’t address any of the hurt. It came across as someone who was offended that a member thought it appropriate to express his disagreement/anger/frustration to someone in his position. He took the time to look up his records and refer to them in his reply and to insinuate that he should know better and his life needed correcting….he was after all talking to an apostle. Then he copied his Stake President to make the point clear.

    I agree that typically engaging in a dialogue in a more respectful tone is going to result a better outcome and allow communication to actually happen. The reality is we have no way to communicate to an apostle as a member. There is no open forum to engage with them. There is no dialogue at all. They are supposed to be honored and treated with respect. Period.

    This situation just highlighted many of the issues that are a problem within the church system.problem……it just did it in a very blatant way that has offended people. Let’s step back and actually look at the big picture.

    • Thomas Eastmond

      “‘That is something to which our doctrine simply requires us to speak out and say, ‘That is not right. That’s not appropriate.’ These are just some of the many things that he has said that are devastating to so many of our LGBT members and their families/loved ones.”

      That’s the problem, isn’t it? Both “sides” have compromised as far as they can. Either the Church gets with the program, and every knee bows and every tongue confesses “Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That,” or it’s being devastating and hurtful.

      I see the Church’s leadership in the position of the old father in “Fiddler on the Roof.” He keeps saying “But on the other hand….” as his children abandon more and more of his traditions. But finally, he stops and tells himself “No! There is no other hand!”

      No matter how civil or compassionate or delicate the Church may try to be engaging this issue, as long as the Church holds to its notion that eternal life is family life, and that gender complementarity is an essential part of that, it can never be forgiven. It will be called bigoted, hateful, backwards, unthinking, callous, virtually murderous — really no better, in the end, than that awful “God hates f*gs” outfit. You’re either with us on the right side of history, or you’re against us.

      • D. Michael Martindale

        Actually, not true.

        The rationale that gay marriage frustrates the plan of salvation is faulty. There is a simple way gay marriage could be accommodated within the plan of salvation. A simple way that’s already being used within the context of heterosexual marriage: civil marriages.

        Civil marriage frustrates the plan of salvation just as much as gay marriage would. According to LDS theology, no civil marriage will exist beyond death. Therefore the same problems you list for gay marriage also exist for heterosexual civil marriage.

        Yet civil marriages are accommodated by the church, even performed by the church. Why couldn’t gay marriage be treated the same way?

        I submit there is no valid reason.

        Gay behavior is labeled sinful because it constitutes sexual behavior outside of marriage. Yet gays are forbidden to marry. Talk about a Catch-22!

        I defy anyone to come up with a legitimate reason why gay civil marriages would be harmful to anyone while heterosexual civil marriages are just fine.

        So there is room for the church to reconsider its position and be more compassionate toward gays.

        • Thomas Eastmond

          “Civil marriage frustrates the plan of salvation just as much as gay marriage would. According to LDS theology, no civil marriage will exist beyond death. Therefore the same problems you list for gay marriage also exist for heterosexual civil marriage.”

          A civil marriage can be converted into a covenant marriage, via a sealing ordinance performed either in this life or vicariously. As long as the LDS concept of eternity remains tied to the idea of procreative families (with “increase,” again, either occuring in mortality or in eternity), there’s no room for a same-sex union in that model.

          Of course, there’s always the option of rejecting that model altogether. But I don’t see the Church going that far. You can throw the Book of Abraham under the bus, and maybe even a historical interpretation of the Book of Mormon. But discard enough of the basic model, and you might as well close up shop.

    • Thomas Eastmond

      “In his last talk he sounded like a lawyer giving argument in court…not a loving spokesman for God.”

      Some of us don’t think those two job descriptions are inherently incompatible.

      Whenever anybody speaks truth, she’s a spokesman for God — whether it’s at a pulpit, in a home, or in a courtroom.

      • D. Michael Martindale

        Not to mention that, did you ever see Jesus speaking like a lawyer to those struggling with their human weaknesses? He only spoke with compassion and nonjudgment to them–even to adulteresses.

        He reserved his lawyeristic rhetoric to leaders who were out to “get” him or abuse their followers. (You know, Dallin Oaks types.) “Wo unto you, lawyers and Pharisees,hypocrites!”

        • Thomas Eastmond

          He told the adulteress to go and sin no more, if I remember correctly.

          See, here’s the thing: You are trying to categorize people with alternative sex habits “people struggling with their human weaknesses,” while at the same time evidently rejecting the idea that those sex habits are “human weaknesses” at all.

          • The trouble is Jesus was a human being like everyone else, and he didn’t always practice what he is purported to have preached either; cursing an olive tree and having a temper tantrum in the temple weren’t the best ways to handle either situation. This doesn’t devalue the lesson of Jesus, but rather increases the value of that lesson *because* it shows us that we really can be like him, for better or for worse. Standing up for what we believe to be true can often produce disastrous, if not fatal consequences. How we stand up, where we stand up, and why determines the likelihood and severity of push-back.

            Realizing this, I decided after learning of the death threats received by the LDS women who started, ‘Wear Pants to Church Day’, that I needed to start cross-dressing to religious services (https://www.facebook.com/CrossDresstoChurch) and act like Jesus, but more reverently as I did so. I saw my idol become my equal as I’ve studied him over the years, and for this reason decided to take upon myself his example of standing of for ALL marginalized and underrepresented, regardless of our opinions concerning their behaviors or characteristics.

            To get bent out of shape over the sexuality of someone else is strange. What harm does having a different sexual orientation or gender identity cause to another? Assuming to know what deity (if existing at all) cares about is rather presumptuous, especially when dealing w/ innocuous activities like what someone else does in the privacy of their own bedroom.

            Besides, if anything there is evidence that, if there *is* deity, that deity is fine w/ differentiation w/in the sexual spectra. Why else would she/he/it have created people w/ ambiguous genitalia? Hmm?

            It’s also odd that there is such a double standard concerning the greeting-turned-commandment Word of Wisdom in the church. There are people in this world who consume alcohol and THC in ways that are not harmful to themselves or others, and yet they’re often demonized by their über-carnivorous family and fellow members…

  18. We have to remember that although Elder Oaks is an Apostle, he is not perfect. Should he have turned the other cheek? Yes, he should have. But remember the story in the Gospels when the Apostles sought to preach the gospel in a certain town and were told no. The Apostles asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to burn down that city. Jesus said no because he had come not to destroy lives but save them.

    • D. Michael Martindale

      The problem is not that Oaks is fallible–of course he and all leaders are.

      The problem is that these fallible leaders claim the right to never be criticized.

      Suppressing criticism is a perfect recipe for nurturing an environment of abuse. There’s no reason to think the church is immune to this effect any more than any other institution run by fallible humans.

  19. Kyle Pederson

    onfrontation and can be passive aggressive at times, there are plenty of members who agreed with my letter and thanked me. Often I was told that I said what they were thinking – what they couldn’t bring themselves to say.

    3) The purpose of my letter was NOT to engage in discourse. You’re 100% right that my letter was not the way to go if I wanted to persuade him of my point of view.

    My purpose was to stand up to the bully, to tell him who I think he is and let him know that people in and out of the Church are pissed off and won’t put up with his behaviour. It was meant to sting, it was meant to offend, it was meant to be backlash. If someone who was an Elder, etc. could turn on him like this, then it’s possible more could also follow. You may not see it as Christlike, but frankly not all members believe I’m Christ. I don’t, I am a member on paper only (that may change because of this letter). My opinion still counts because I am affected and people I care about are too. Myself and many other members don’t always think “charity never faileth”

    I was SHOCKED that he replied – I never expected him to – I would have not done so.

    I recently received a message from a woman whose daughter, a lesbian who was active in the Church and took her own life at 19 back in 2003. She said that she was glad I stuck up to Oaks and that she was glad I could give her daughter a voice. THAT reminded me why I wrote what I did.

    4) It may be assumed I was offended by his reply. I wasn’t, he could of said much worse. Again, I am surprised he replied at all.

    5) If you or anyone feels I am stifling their movement by lowering the level of discourse, please consider that I am one person who wrote one letter. If you want to do it differently then DO IT DIFFERENTLY, write your own letter(s). Even if you don’t expect a reply.

  20. Kyle Pederson

    Looks like a botched copy and paste, let me try again

    Jana Riess, I understand (I think) where you are coming from, but I would like to point out a couple things you may or may not have considered.

    1) As has been said, I do not have the capacity to bully Dallin Oaks. I WAS mean to him; however, I have no power over him and he is more than capable of defending himself.

    2) The use of “we”, as in “we don’t use name calling…”. Who are you referring to? Members of the Church? While it is true that Mormons often avoid confrontation and can be passive aggressive at times, there are plenty of members who agreed with my letter and thanked me. Often I was told that I said what they were thinking – what they couldn’t bring themselves to say.

    3) The purpose of my letter was NOT to engage in discourse. You’re 100% right that my letter was not the way to go if I wanted to persuade him of my point of view.

    My purpose was to stand up to the bully, to tell him who I think he is and let him know that people in and out of the Church are pissed off and won’t put up with his behaviour. It was meant to sting, it was meant to offend, it was meant to be backlash. If someone who was an Elder, etc. could turn on him like this, then it’s possible more could also follow. You may not see it as Christlike, but frankly not all members believe I’m Christ. I don’t, I am a member on paper only (that may change because of this letter). My opinion still counts because I am affected and people I care about are too. Myself and many other members don’t always think “charity never faileth”

    I was SHOCKED that he replied – I never expected him to – I would have not done so.

    I recently received a message from a woman whose daughter, a lesbian who was active in the Church and took her own life at 19 back in 2003. She said that she was glad I stuck up to Oaks and that she was glad I could give her daughter a voice. THAT reminded me why I wrote what I did.

    4) It may be assumed I was offended by his reply. I wasn’t, he could of said much worse. Again, I am surprised he replied at all.

    5) If you or anyone feels I am stifling their movement by lowering the level of discourse, please consider that I am one person who wrote one letter. If you want to do it differently then DO IT DIFFERENTLY, write your own letter(s). Even if you don’t expect a reply.

    • Kyle, I agree with everything you stated in your letter. These comments supporting Oaks, express as if they have no clue the damage done through the last 50 years to gays around the world by the church. If more stood up to this bullying, the pontification would change, I believe. For an enlightened organization that is the one and only, it sure seems to slip behind a lot on what is true Christ like behavior. Gays have been systematically tortured, abused, use of electroshock therapy and drugs, cast out of their homes leaving them with no choice but drugs and prostitution some as young as 12 years old, suicides, use of blackmail to inform on others. Are these the actions of true follower of Christ? I don’t believe so. Worse, is the breaking of the Article of Faith 11 and 12. It is one thing to abuse, hate, and torture one’s own members it is another clear abomination to seek to push the church’s dogma and beliefs on others outside of the church. To date, the church has spent millions and millions of dollars and 1000′s of hours working at making secular change for the church’s beliefs against gays and their families…non-members…and a key leader of this has been Oaks. Kyle, you speak the truth in a strong way, but still the truth. For 150 years the church lived with severe persecution for different beliefs, in particular plural marriage. Now as the church becomes more popular and mainstream, the tables have turned and the persecuted has become the persecutors. For me that is beyond hypocrisy, immoral and the worst of abominations. These are true feelings for those who have a heart felt love for the church and yet see these kinds of actions being done by leadership and members. It is not right. We need to speak up. Thank you good man for saying the truth.

      • And I know what I speak of. Been around for 50+ years. Currently have a young man living in my home that is gay, was kicked out by all of his family. I found him living under a tree in the AZ deserts. He is now in a safe and loving place, going to college. His worthy righteous Mormon family members are missing out on his beautiful life and accomplishments. There is a group of us in AZ picking up the damaged pieces discarded by the good Mormons. Another young man escaped, in a sense, he turned 18 and could no longer be held in a mental institution in Utah receiving mega doses of drugs to overcome his being gay anymore. With love like that who needs enemies at all. Kyle and others, your words can help stop this evil, literal true evil against God’s children. Thanks and all the blessings to you.

    • Gilbert Gripe

      It is shocking that you received any reply. But now EVERYONE who wishes a reply should follow your lead.

      I guess if you want his attention you have to aim for the ego. Too bad. Wounded egos only shoot back with appeals to authority.

      That’s what missing from Mormonism; meaningful discussion of reality. It’s all so disappointingly vacuous.

    • Bravo Kyle,

      We can’t all be Ghandi. Sometimes an individual that rides at the top of the Mormon Elite needs a good verbal slap in the face to realize the damage he’s causing with his bigotry.

      “And we remember, always, that there is a human being on the receiving end of every letter — in this case, someone who has done much good in the world and deserves basic respect whether we agree with his political and social positions or not. ”

      I know you’re trying to tell everyone to be more Christ-like but even Christ called out the Pharasees of his day. Were his words respectful of the Pharasess?

      Did he convey respect for their political and social positions?

      Not all religious/ political messagers deserve a polite and respectful discourse. Especially when they err so egregiously on the side of bigotry.

    • Kyle, it’s hard for me to understand just what constructive purpose you had. I don’t agree with your assessment of Oaks as a bully–more on that below–but even if he were, what purpose would be served by your “standing up” to him in that manner? Not to persuade, you say. Then what?

      Your response to the charge of not following Christian principles in your response doesn’t make sense to me either. Are you arguing those principles don’t apply? Maybe you think you can only be forceful by violating them? I think that’s a lazy view.

      As for Oaks being a bully, I don’t see any evidence for that. He accurately restated the Church’s policy, which is based on scripture and doctrine that appear to most to leave no room for other views. That policy does hurt people. But it’s not in place for that purpose. It’s the result of earnest effort to follow God’s will. Attacking Oaks won’t fix it.

  21. “Who wouldn’t respond to such a nastygram with profound irritation?”

    Jesus Christ. A prophet, seer, revelator and apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ would NEVER EVER NOT IN A BILLION YEARS respond in such a manner. This proves beyond doubt that Dallin is no prophet. He is no apostle. He is a bully with a serious God complex.

    • Sure he would and did…God’s wrath was often kindled in the scriptures…Wasn’t the temple cleansed…Try this one Hosea 6:5

      You don’t understand the nature and disposition of God

      • And you do? First there is no god. 2nd if there were she would not be bothered in this manner. The god you worship is filled with flawed human emotions. You worship an angry, bitter, hate filled, jeaoulous, insecure god. Such a flawed being your god is. Your god is a baby killer. And you worship her still?

  22. I think Pederson might have taken a different tone in his letter but I can’t dispute a single thing he said.

    I think Oaks might have taken a different tone in his reply (if replying was constructive at all as others have pointed out). As it is, I think he proved himself the small mean bully that Pederson accused him of being. For my part, I might have chosen to say that differently but Oaks’ cold and threatening message makes it more accurate to say it in this way.

    Furthermore, it’s high time people stood up and said that its time for the church to stop using the authority that comes from the body of the church which sustains it to destroy lives and limit people’s full civil rights as they continue to do in Hawaii even after the debacle of Prop 8 in California.

  23. Personally, I found Elder Oaks comments very refreshing. So often there seems to be a “standard” that we have to be very soft in responding to critics. His letter was honest and direct.

  24. Steve Evans’ letter reminded me of how Jan Shipps related a church employee’s description of Michael Quinn’s post manifesto paper: “two pages of saying, ‘These men are prophets and I honor and respect them,’ followed by 76 pages of ‘They lied and lied and lied,’ and then the last two pages of ‘These are honorable men and prophets of my church.’ ”

    I’m not sure kissing Elder Oaks’ ass is the best way to go either, especially since he was trained in – and appears to revel in – the adversarial system.

  25. Oaks’ reply communicated several things to me:

    1) I am laying guilt on you for calling me out (“Makes me sad…”)

    2) I am powerful, and I know who you are and where you live.

    3) How DARE you question the man behind the curtain!

  26. Being upset at Kyle Pedersen is like getting mad at Jesus for upsetting the moneychangers and hypocrites at the temple.

    Remember, when we talk about covenants, the foundation starts with the church being true.

    Our anger is justified in the face of its colossal lie and the indefensibility of its position vis-a-vis LGBT persons. Pardon us if in our struggle we kick up a little dirt.

    • D. Michael Martindale

      With this in mind, I would say the letter to Oaks was written by someone standing up to the bully, not the bully, since Oaks is the one with all the power.

  27. I have re-read the original post. In it you call the Pederson letter unfair and cruel. How is it unfair to call someone on a public life based on demonizing people who have biology different than his? If it’s cruel to speak plainly about the consequence of his many, many public speeches that could fairly be called cruel toward his chosen victims, then how much more cruel is it for Oaks to use his position to marginalize and demoralize young people to the point of suicide? Young people who are truly anonymous strangers to him in a way that Oaks could never be to Pederson from his lofty position as an apostle.

    You may be scandalized that someone would dare to speak so plainly but if you take him at his word that he taken to heart Oaks’ own words about being a moral coward to maintain silence where genuine cruelty is concerned, then you should probably be scandalized that more Saints don’t speak out to prevent power from being so badly abused.

    Maybe it took a lot of anger for Pederson to speak out at last. That may be what you read in his immoderate letter. But I’m glad he finally overcame the feeling that he needed to be silent in the face of someone of more stature than his own. I hope more Mormons will find their righteous anger and speak it to power where necessary.

    If the evidence of the civil and spiritual rights of Black Mormons, women Mormons and gay Mormons is indicative of anything it would be that it takes external pressures to get the church to attend the counsel of Heavenly Father.

    • Speaking truth to power works best if it speaks truth. Lashing out at Oaks as though he were trying to hurt others fails, and is unfair, in that respect.

          • D. Michael Martindale

            Not to the person being hurt.

            There’s no way he isn’t aware of the harm he’s causing gay members. He goes ahead and does it anyway. Whether he “means” to or not is pretty irrelevant.

          • His intentions are plainly and directly relevant when they are being attacked, as they were in the letter and in the comment I replied to. I doubt very much he shares your view of what causes harm to gays. Disagreeing with you isn’t the same as having bad will.

  28. Resigned Mormon

    Oaks deserves the verbal rebuke for attempting to proclaim his homophobic garbage as from a perfect God. He should tell everyone the truth that all of it his own opinion and not God.

  29. I read Elder Oak’s response. I think it’s important to note that his response was not a public notice. It was meant for one person and one person only, and his advice and admonishment was sound advice from an ecclesiastical point of view. I read nothing but concern for this “wayward” elder who did make covenants, who has been in the past a faithful saint, and is on the brink of abandoning his spiritual well being. I would expect nothing less of a response from an Apostle.

  30. Even when I accepted the church’s position as coming from God, it moved me to tears to see my gay friends and family members struggle to follow it. I have to believe that Christ and his representatives would have even more ability to mourn with those who mourn, even in the anger stage of mourning, and have compassion for the struggling. I never see that in Oaks or Packer. It’s a cold condemnation, not a compassionate call to fight what they see as the good fight. What I also noticed is that Kyle expressed himself in his own way but did not tell you that you are wrong to take a different approach. What compelled you to jump in and lecture him about his approach? Surely it could not be the need to defend Oaks from words. He is powerful and has shown he will use his power, apparently to excommunicate, if he feels the urge. Why dogpile on the oppressed when you as a feminist know how little dissenters really have any power over apostles and how silly it is to think apostles need or want the approval of women any more than lgbt individuals?

  31. If it was titled “How Not to Disagree with another Human Being” I could maybe have read it without hesitation. You had a couple valid points but then it fell apart for me again at the end when you wrote “But we do not call each other horrible names, or blame total strangers for the deaths of children. We focus on issues, not personal attacks. We behave like grown-ups.” Frankly I completely disagree on this point. My friends buddy committed suicide over the church anti-gay rhetoric. He tried to “not” be gay. He got married and had a few kids. In the end he felt it would be better to end his life than his children grow up to know what he was like and potentially be gay like he was. If from time to time someone needs a verbal shaking to help them realize what their words are doing to others then so be it. Being in his 80s doesn’t give him a free pass. These men are extremely influential in the lives of millions. I am glad that there are people out there willing to take a stand when something is wrong. Oaks has specifically said that parents should not allow the partner of their gay child into their home in case the other children may turn gay or be accepting of their sibling if they are allowed in the house. This is where we should be talking about behaving like grown-ups, or even fellow human beings. It is turning a blind eye to not acknowledge that the suicides of so many and the homelessness of far too many young youth is not directly impacted by the comments of an LDS APOSTLE, of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. This is how the bulk of the active LDS see Oaks and the other general authorities. If an apostle says it, it may as well be God saying it. At least that’s how I felt for the first 33 years of my life.

    • “Oaks has specifically said that parents should not allow the partner of their gay child into their home in case the other children may turn gay or be accepting of their sibling if they are allowed in the house.”

      I don’t recall anything like that in the talk he was criticized for in the letter. The Church certainly doesn’t teach that now.

      • It was from a 2006 interview found here http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/interview-oaks-wickman-same-gender-attraction. The interview is linked to on the mormons and gays website. I have it a little wrong but here it is:

        PUBLIC AFFAIRS: At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior? If the son says, ‘Well, if you love me, can I bring my partner to our home to visit? Can we come for holidays?’ How do you balance that against, for example, concern for other children in the home?’

        ELDER OAKS: That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration. I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.’ Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that. There would also be other factors that would make that the likely answer.

        I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.”

        There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all.

          • They shouldn’t link to it on their new site if they aren’t thinking it. But I agree, I am happy they aren’t this callous in the conference talks.

          • Mungagungadin

            Just think, they link to that horrible, alienating Oaks interview from LDS.ORG, but they won’t link to MormonsAndGays.org, the only Mormon-made website that isn’t overtly cruel to LGBT. I wonder why that is….?

            I wonder if being told that you and your loved one shouldn’t be allowed in the family or in the family home, feels like bullying? Maybe the kind of treatment that Oaks TEACHES feels even WORSE than bullying, because mostly bullies are not in your own family.

            I wonder why Kent wants to “commend” anyone for just simply restraining himself from being utterly, breath-takingly heartless, in conference? Doesn’t that seem like the place to be, well…. more than “not-heartless”?

          • Mungagungadin, I don’t understand what you mean about not linking to their own Mormons and Gays website. They do have links to it at lds.org.

            I think it’s better for Oaks not to include views like those in the interview in a conference talk. That’s why I commend it. You seem determined to see everything in a bad light, even improvement.

          • Mungagungadin

            Kent,

            It is wonderful news that the LDS.ORG webpage now links to MormonsAndGays.org. Could you please provide that link on lds.org that shows the link to MormonsAndGays.org? People have been asking for this for almost a year, so if it has been done it should be celebrated.

            thanks

          • Mungagungadin, the main page on homosexuality at lds.org now links to mormonsandgays.org right at the start, using the title “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction.”

            http://www.lds.org/topics/same-gender-attraction

            You can see some of the other links to it sprinkled through the lds.org website using these Google searches:

            site:lds.org “Love One Another: A Discussion on. Same-Sex Attraction”
            site:lds.org “mormonsandgays”

        • @ Daniel
          As you note, there is a difference between what Elder Oaks said and what you say he said. I believe that it is a big difference. My wife and I have several children, My oldest daughter went through a string of live-in boyfriends. My daughter knows we love her but knows we did not approve of her lifestyle. On many occasions, she brought the current into our home or on a family outing. Every one was welcome in our home and in family activities. None were allowed to sleep in the same room.

          She is currently married to a good man. There lifestyle remains different but our relationship is stronger than it has been since she was a preteen.

          • HarryStamper

            very nice comments….great way to explain things through personal experience.

  32. Members of the LDS belong to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is governed by a King. His name is Jesus Christ. As one very famous person once said…”When the King speaks we obey.” The King has 15 authorized representatives on earth as specials witnesses, and general conference is when they….
    D&C 68:4… “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

    also….D&C 1:38……”whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

    • D. Michael Martindale

      This King thing is all religious belief. Nobody but Mormons believe those fifteen men represent “the King.” A lot of people don’t even believe in this King you’re talking about.

      So why do you think you have the right to force by law your beliefs in this King and his fifteen spokemen on the rest of the country, the vast majority of whom don’t believe a word of it?

      • @ D. Michael Martindale
        Jana attempts to maintain a civil discussion in her blog, a decidedly important attribute in this age of polarization. I will attempt to provide a civil answer from my perspective.

        My academic training is in economics and my outlook is decidedly libertarian. I believe in a minimalist government. On the issue of marriage, my academic training leads me to ask why the government is involved at all? If someone believes that marriage is important, let them contract with their partner.

        As a Mormon, I believe that people were granted agency by God to choose to do anything from good to bad. Joseph Smith believed in teaching men good principles and letting them govern themselves.

        Economic theory suggests that government is needed to enforce private contracts, protect people from economic or physical violence such as theft and murder (part of the Ten Commandments), encourage positive externalities and discourage negative externalities. An externality is the impact of one person’s actions on the well-being of a bystander. Second hand smoke is a classic example of an externality.

        Historically, the purpose of marriage in Christian Western society was to protect women and children within marriage. As imperfect as the institution was, marriage, as enforced by the Catholic Church was a decided improvement over pagan marriage. Many restrictions were place on marriage, to accomplish its purpose. Only men and women could marry, brothers and sisters could not. Marriage was until death. Spouses should not engage in sex outside of marriage to assure the father that he was a parent of the child he was raising and to assure the mother that the father’s income would be focused on her and their children.

        Modernization has weakened many of reasons for traditional marriage. Government will often fulfill the role of the husband. Machines have ended the need for strength in most jobs. Contraceptives have allowed women to postpone, limit or eliminate child birth.

        I believe that government should support traditional marriage because it still offers significant positive externalities. In Western society with plummeting birth rates, we should encourage traditional families. The last time I checked, about 15 years ago, children functioned best in traditional households with both their biological parents.

        To the extent that gay marriage weakens traditional marriage, it creates a negative externality. Well, we’re back to Jesus. The Mormon’s Jesus, the Catholic’s Jesus and the Baptist Jesus among others all think that gay marriage causes significant damage to traditional marriage.

        I must also note that extending marriage to allow gay and lesbian unions would not end with restrictions in marriage. Bisexuals could not marry a male and female partner. Polygamy and polyandry would still be illegal. First cousins can’t marry in 44 states and brothers and sisters can’t marry in any. People who want time limited marriages are also out of luck.

        Obviously, you can disagree.

    • Mungagungadin

      #ProofFail

      When you use #ScriptureString to prove that Group A is infallible, but everyone can remember that Group A has a history of being wildly fallible, so you’ve just firmly established that #ScriptureString can not mean what you assert it does.

  33. No one forces a person to be a Mormon. One can join based upon agreeing to follow the requirements. One can leave at any time, either by requesting one’s name be removed, or simply by stop attending. Yes, there are issues of family pressure, etc. But that is not caused directly from the Church. Elder Oaks is not causing anyone to commit suicide. His statements do cause people to make a choice: 1. accept what he states as true, 2. disagree amicably as Jana and many others do, 3. be obnoxiously rude and militant as in the letter addressed by Jana.

    The lack of logic used in such radical statements tend to end discussion, rather than allow it to move forward. We could suggest that from the same logic that those heavily promoting gay marriage are causing some heterosexual teenager somewhere to commit suicide. The connection just does not follow.

    One of the questions asked prior to baptism is if the person accepts the Prophet and Apostles as “Prophets, Seers and Revelators” and will follow their guidance and teaching. Since we all know what the current teaching is, and that if it ever changes, it will not be any time soon, then those who have covenanted have to determine whether what Elder Oaks said is a deal breaker for them, or if it is something they can deal with as the gospel in its entirety is worth staying.

    I hope most will choose to stay and focus on the things they agree with, rather than spend all their energy on attacking 4 sentences of a 20 minute speech by Elder Oaks.

    • Rameumptom, you present a false choice, here. Many people who were raised to believe but find themselves disagreeing with the likes of Mr. Oaks find themselves in a much more emotionally fraught position than you allow for with the options 1) agree, 2) disagree amicably, or 3) be rude. For the majority of members who were born in the church (who, by the way, made their baptismal covenants at age 8, when they were likely far to young to have developed the critical thinking skills necessary to properly evaluate those covenants) and find themselves at odds with men like Oaks there are also the choices to 4) suffer intense emotional pain silently 5) self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, 6) attempt or commit suicide, 7) pretend like everything is fine and feel like a hypocrite, 8) lie for the sake of maintaining personal relationships 9) risk family, friends and social status by coming out of the closet 10) experience the devastation of simultaneously watching your worldview crumble and the social network upon which you relied so heavily disappear. 11) And I could go on and on and on.

      There are, genuinely, as many different relationships with Oaks’s talk as there are people who heard it and/or heard about it. Each one of us is unique, and we have a unique, individual right to react to his words as we see fit. That fact that you happen to agree with him does not in any way diminish the pain they caused others. And the fact that you may not be aware of the pain others feel from his words, likewise, does not in any way diminish the reality of that pain.

      • gilbert gripe

        Daniel -

        Remeumpton is a black and white thinker, but he’s right. Mormonism is no place for a discussion on right and wrong. That is not our place in the hierarchy. An apostle has spoken and told us what God’s law is. Why do you not believe in God? If you actually had a testimony you would never contemplate the idea that Elder Oaks may not be right or that his actions are harmful and immoral. To think it is heresy, to say it is apostasy.

        You should follow the lead of your brothers and sisters and frame the problem correctly; Was Brother Pederson being loyal or disloyal to the Brethren? Just like Abraham, we must never question God’s commands, even if they from all appearances seem to be evil. We are not capable of knowing what is right in the eye’s of the Lord. If so commanded we should be willing to slice the throats of our own children without questioning his desires. Everything happens for a reason.

        ___________________

        Oh God, I’m so glad I got my children out of this crap!! I want them to question and think for themselves, and develop a sense of morality that doesn’t involve waiting to be told by the Brethren what they should believe and do.

    • When the vagaries of modern sophistry and the Sherem and Korihor “logic” is removed, the issue at hand isn’t nearly as complex as the thousands of words of comments on this story might suggest. Though some may not like Elder Oakes’ style, I wouldn’t challenge him on his substance.

  34. I am seriously disappointed by Jana’s lack of perspective, so let me add some.

    For decades, Church leaders, including Oaks himself, have waged a political and social war against gay and trans people. They have destroyed lives, destroyed families, and destroyed psyches. In addition, they taught us that above all, we were to follow their lead. As gay youth, we put our whole faith in them, telling ourselves they knew better than anyone because they were prophets of God. We have been threatened, shamed, insulted, and cast out of our communities and families. I have NOT forgotten the impact of these men’s words on my fragile and shame-filled psyche. They did that. Oaks *himself* has been a catalyst for religious-freedom fear mongering. He *himself* said that families shouldn’t invite gay family members or their partners in their homes for fear of looking like you supported their loving relationship. Oaks *himself* has perpetuated distorted myths about gay people and gay families. He actively supports the political suppression of my family, and uses his religious authority to bully members into voting against the rights of their gay and trans loved ones.

    So, my God! Jana, are you seriously so out of touch that you would include the statement about causing LGBT suicides? Heaven forbid someone point that out to Oaks, even though his words really do cause people to be in so much pain and feel so helpless about their lives that they would END them, because then we aren’t being charitable with him? What, Jana, you never lost someone to suicide at the hands of church leaders before, and, what should those of us who have feel about that? Just have more charity? That we are all talking about Kyle’s tone is DISTURBING to me. The leaders, yes, Oaks *himself!, have already been waging a war on LGBT people. They have demolished hundreds of lives and families.

    Elder Oaks has perpetuated and been an actor of violence to the LGBT community within and out of the Church. Shame on him! He is a bully who does cause the suicides and deep depression for many youth and adults. He fights against the rights of non-members while squelching the esteem of members. He deserves far worse than this acerbic letter.

    • Not to mention Elder Oaks was a part of the Values Institute while president of BYU that allowed and encouraged literal torture of LGBT youth to cure them of their gayness. Pornography was shown to them and their private parts were shocked with electricty or an IV was placed in their arm and they induced vomitting. Men committted suicide while living on campus, in the HFAC building, hanging from the rafters while Oaks was a president, and he knew damn well they were gay men that had been tortured in the basement of the Smith Family Center. He doesn’t hold himself accountable for the thousands of lives he’s destroyed through psychological genocide because of his creation of double binds within those that love the same sex and those that love those who love the same sex. Shunning has been a part of his mantra. Lives have been destroyed because of his words, and yet we are supposed to be kind?

      I suppose if I harness the words of Chris in the New Testament, I can agree to forgive and forget, but Elder Oaks is being held to a higher standard because HE IS A LITERAL APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST THAT CLAIMS TO HAVE SEEN HIM IN THE FLESH AND TEACHES HIS DOCTRINE AS IF IT WERE HIM.

      I hold him to a standard of perfection that only 15 men on the earth can attain simply because they have seen Jesus and they are to witness of Him. How can I possibly sustain a prophet that tells the leper to get his act together, or the woman accused of adultery that she should be turned out from society? That is not Christ like. That is not what Jesus would teach. Even those who criticized Jesus openly received questions in return, not accusations and anger and defensiveness. Yes, even the man that talked to him on an accompanying cross was told they would both be in paradise together.

      Elder Oaks is not behaving and speaking as a man that represents Jesus Christ. Try to justify it all you want, but when you’ve lost a loved one because of the shame and mental bullying, come back and tell me you won’t be angry. I sure am.

  35. Dallin Oaks is a consistent man. In 1986, he gave a talk that clearly condemned criticising church leaders, whether or not the criticism is justified. My whole life, I had seen this as a good and true principle, but I don’t believe it anymore. Refusing to criticise legitimate error has caused untold pain and suffering in the general church and in my family personally. It causes members to stumble. It chases away genuine seekers of truth who ask for bread and are given a stone. Church leaders can declare all they want. If I disagree, if my heart tells me someone is wrong, I will say it. We are ALL the Lord’s anointed.

  36. I don’t suppose there is much difference in what Oaks said and what Brigham said when he told the folks that he would excommunicate anybody that didn’t shop at ZCMI… At the same time, when speaking of disagreement, I’ve often heard that the Holy Hegemony of Salt Lake are often quite disagreeable fellows…especially when they think they’re being crossed. Disagreeable is as disagreeable does.

  37. “What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.”

    -Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9: 149

    “How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves.”

    -Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9: 149

    “I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied . . . Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,’ this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.”

    -Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3: 45

    • “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told do by their presidents they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.”
      (Joseph Smith – Millennial Star, Vol 14, Number 38, pages 593-595)

    • Now that you’ve responded, read the article. For example, the part that says:

      “It’s one thing to disagree with LDS leaders, and to speak plainly and pointedly about the reasons why. Such discussions can elevate our people’s reflections about important issues. I have no problem with any Mormon writing an open letter expressing dissent on any topic; the more transparent our discourse, the better. Bring it on.”

        • The most hateful and bigoted remarks on this page aren’t from Oaks, not even close, and he isn’t brought down by comments that simply miss the target of his actual views. The quotes you posted are fully consistent with his reply to Kyle.

    • Is all morality up for change or just the morality that we disagree with or that is no longer popular? I like “the mind and will of the Spirit”, as Brigham Young stated it, best when He tells me only what I want to hear. That is rare. Usually He tells me what I don’t want to hear, but need to hear. I don’t find it helpful to evaluate truth based upon my own preferences.

      Elder Oaks seems to believe that some morals and moral laws simply don’t change regardless of what you or I think. The idea that some moral laws may not be subject to change was hardly invented by Oaks. The idea that morality is not determined by popularity or feelings or desires is also not an Oaks idea.

      The 15 men sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators jointly issued a proclamation to the world about the family, gender, and so forth as the mind and will of the Spirit. Elder Oaks is clearly teaching what he believes is true and there are other apostles and prophets who have taught similarly. I, for one, give to him the benefit of the doubt when he is teaching what he believes he is inspired to teach.

      I hardly believe that every policy the Church comes up with is perfect or that honest disagreement, if respectful, is always wrong. However, when apostles speak in a general conference on the subject of basic morality and marriage, rather than just policy, I see a clearer line form. That is their core function, to teach morality–the laws of God–and invite us to abide by those laws through repentance if we are not doing so. They may not always say things in the way I wish they would but then again the Spirit rarely says what I want to hear when and how I want to hear it. There are plenty of moral laws I have thought I might like to see changed–plenty. The fact that they almost certainly will not change despite my desires is what makes them more than just policy or culture, but morality. There is no greater respect Elder Oaks could show Church members than to speak plainly what he believes is morally true and necessary for Church members to understand.

  38. Mungagungadin

    I can’t believe Jana is ignorant of the history here re: the church’s war on LGBT using alienation abuse, coercion, torture and coordination to remove all places of comfort and acceptance from the LGBT as they could have found by retreating to the protection of the civil law. I do not believe she is ignorant of the legions of the dead children that resulted.

    Jana did not write this blog post honestly. She does not acknowledge the truth of the claims because she is busy attacking Kyle for tone. Don’t call people names, she says, even if their actions have lead to death. It isn’t charitable.

    • I don’t follow your logic. Are you saying that we shouldn’t be Christian to those we regard as enemies? And Kyle’s claims about Oaks aren’t true–that’s part of the problem.

      • Mungagungadin

        I’m saying that in order to justify that Kyle used an *unacceptable* tone, Jana has to draw a line at which point she calls Kyle’s words hyperbole. Does she say that Kyle is using hyperbole because in Jana’s mind, one can only treat Brother Oaks as a man who gets away with a facebook-bullying-kind-of-murder because he bullied just 19999 people to death? If Brother Oaks bullied 20000 people to death, is that the cut off? If Jana believes that the tone should be charitable, no name calling, based on the blood-cost, but then at what point – how many dead – does she allow folks to call a spade a spade without apology or moderation? Or is Jana making the whole world Kindergarten where it doesn’t matter how many are dead, everyone has to talk super nice and respectfully to those who are continuing to alienate, shame and thus drive to suicide thousands of kids with total and complete impunity (limitless)?

  39. You evaded the question.

    Again, what Kyle said about Oaks isn’t true. Oaks hasn’t bullied anyone. He accurately restated the Church’s policy, which is based on scripture and doctrine that appear to most to leave no room for other views. That policy does hurt people. But it’s not in place for that purpose. It’s the result of earnest effort to follow God’s will, not to hurt or hate. That should matter in how the policy, and Oaks, are responded to. Letters like Kyle’s increase polarization and misunderstanding, which doesn’t help anyone.

      • Mungagungadin

        Kyle,

        Yes, Oaks has and continues to hurt people. It isn’t Oaks’s job to merely state “this is what has been handed down generation to generation” and impose the policy (though it mean horror and death in individual lives) with cheerful gusto. His job is bigger than that. His job is to get to the bottom of the assumptions (for instance, that Sodom and Gomorrah had anything to do with homosexuality, which connection was an early justification for our policy) and to use his mind to deduce logical faults in order to come to more correct views on such topics. So, the Lord called Oaks, a man who can think, who decided not to think and instead imposed coercion, threats of alienation, and torture. He did not sit back and say, “since Sodom and Gomorrah are wrongly interpreted, and so many other things are based on that wrong foundation, what guiding principles of God’s love help me make new decisions?” And I grant that he didn’t do it alone. Yet, he was in charge in places like BYU where so much death did occur. He chose himself to be an enforcer of what is obviously flawed for, it must be supposed, personal reasons or a lack of inherent compassion inside of him. To put it baldly, an educated view of those scriptures- especially with the help of the Jewish scholars- leaves no room for interpreting that they are against LGBT relationships. None.

        So, while it may be said that the average Mormons job is to merely obey what the leaders say, if we are to be a people progressing which does mean changing and learning grace upon grace and line upon line, the leaders must take upon them the obligation to investigate things that to any mind would appear cruel, alienating, not-of-the-gospel-of-grace (of the old law) or simply un-Christ-like. We could call it apostle homework. If we are going to reduce the thinking power of 15 million people down to a mere 15 they had better be doing their job. It wasn’t ever Brother Oaks’s job to merely expound policy. It was also his job to make sure it was true. I do not believe there is a lack of a Plan of Happiness for God’s LGBT children, but I think it is not refutable that we have so far failed to have it articulated. Where is the Plan for the gay families? Where is the plan for the transgender families? Where are these things?

        I see no evidence that this apostle-homework was done. I see strong evidence that it was enthusiastically barged past by those who favor a doctrine of exclusivity, false-perfectionism, denial of God’s evident diversity and equality of all mankind, and many other bad acts, and that they were perfectly aware that it would case death. As a psych student at BYU we were flat out given the statistics of how many were unable to continue living through the “policy” of coercing the students into torture. No one thought those who lived were not permanently scarred. Those same policies carried forward into the civil world and into our sermons turned children out into the streets, or caused them to take their lives quickly.

        You call Kyle’s words polarizing? You say that all that bullying didn’t CAUSE death? What planet do you live on?

        • Mungagungadin, you’re still evading the question I asked about to whom we should act as Christians. It’s an important point.

          “You say that all that bullying didn’t CAUSE death? What planet do you live on?”

          What I actually said is that Oaks didn’t bully anyone. And your comments don’t show he did. Making unfounded charges of bullying, enjoying harming others and so on distracts from the real issues and draws people to focus instead on how hateful and unreasonable some critics are. Is that your goal?

          It’s legitimate to criticize leaders for not verifying the foundation of teachings that might cause pain, if they fail to do that, but your particular criticisms aren’t as strong as you seem to think. There’s a lot more than scriptures about Sodom and Gomorrah shaping LDS doctrine. And it’s not true that “an educated view of those scriptures- especially with the help of the Jewish scholars- leaves no room for interpreting that they are against LGBT relationships.” That’s not the consensus of scholars. I’ve seen people try to get around the plain sense of the passages, and I’ve tried it myself, but it’s a stretch at best. And on top of that is the LDS view of eternal gender roles. There’s not a lot of leeway in how to understand these things without a lot of stretching. Blaming the Church, and Oaks, for reaching the best supported conclusion ignores the facts.

          The Church doesn’t claim to know exactly what the plan is for LGBT folks in the next life, but they do generally teach they can have all the blessings anyone else can. The Church believes following the teachings against homosexual behavior is best for all involved because they believe that’s what God has revealed. They don’t teach these things to hurt anyone. They are alarmed by suicides among LGBT LDS and are trying to address it in ways consistent with scripture and doctrine. They’ve made some bad errors based on lack of better information, such as in recommending conversion therapy, which they no longer do.

          These are things the Church and those critical of its policy need to continue to work together to better address. Expressions like Kyle’s make that more difficult.

          • Mungagungadin

            I’m sorry to all the folks, but Kent wrote this long, twisty comment to me and I can’t see any way around it but to answer all the twisty turns.

            Kent, you write to me: “Mungagungadin, you’re still evading the question I asked about to whom we should act as Christians. It’s an important point.”
            I say: I have answered it, variously. Some have said “turn the other cheek” without the context that such an act in Jesus’s meaning was not a mild submission but a challenge to mistreat a slave to his face. Jesus had no patience at all for those who alienated and separated people. He actively broke rules that put people down for any reason.

            Then, Kent quotes me: “You say that all that bullying didn’t CAUSE death? What planet do you live on?”
            And Kent clarifies: “What I actually said is that Oaks didn’t bully anyone. And your comments don’t show he did. Making unfounded charges of bullying, enjoying harming others and so on distracts from the real issues and draws people to focus instead on how hateful and unreasonable some critics are. Is that your goal?”
            I respond now: Bullying does cause death. Oaks and the other leaders have used bullying. So, as you say that Oaks did not bully anyone, I have to say you are totally incorrect. Oaks and the leaders have lobotomized the LGBT, have coerced and tortured them, have said to other Mormons that it is a terrible sin, have encouraged the cutting off of such people from our community (which is like death for us clannish, scared-of-the-world Mormons), and told the Mormons and then the outside world not to consider the lives of LGBT people as having the same needs and deserving of the same treatment as everyone else… the list is unfortunately DAMN LONG. That is bullying, all of it. It is not a distraction from the real issue if there is nothing at all I want to see changed faster in the church than to stop bullying people EXACTLY like Brother Oaks did last Conference. It was, in fact, that bullying that triggered the letter TO him from Kyle. Kyle got ill watching more bullying from the pulpit.”

            Kent says, “It’s legitimate to criticize leaders for not verifying the foundation of teachings that might cause pain, if they fail to do that, but your particular criticisms aren’t as strong as you seem to think. There’s a lot more than scriptures about Sodom and Gomorrah shaping LDS doctrine.”
            I answer: Agreed, but most of it that is LGBT-related has some basis in the Old Testament (since it is hardly mentioned in the new).

            Kent says, “And it’s not true that “an educated view of those scriptures- especially with the help of the Jewish scholars- leaves no room for interpreting that they are against LGBT relationships.” That’s not the consensus of scholars.”
            I say: I’m afraid that if you ask those who study the language and the culture, it is. Those churches that fail to study the roots of the language (as our religion does) make the mistake we made. So, we’ve got plenty of company but no real excuse for *not* seeking out those who could interpret the ancient writing and meaning for us, as soon as possible. Hebrew tradition considers the question of how to treat the foreigner to be “settled by Sodom”.

            Kent continues, ”I’ve seen people try to get around the plain sense of the passages, and I’ve tried it myself, but it’s a stretch at best.”
            My response: Then don’t read it yourself and go get the scholars. It’s been helpful to me, when I have done this, to remember that just because an idea is recorded doesn’t mean that God is responsible for it. We make these concessions all the time, as we deal with slavery and the reducing of women and children to property of men.

            Kent continues, “And on top of that is the LDS view of eternal gender roles. There’s not a lot of leeway in how to understand these things without a lot of stretching.”
            My answer: There is tons of leeway for any Mormon official. Anyone in a position of leadership should have studied our history extensively, especially our treatment of women. I would expect someone in Oaks’s position to ask himself the question, “Is it really right that we treat women as though they are the property of men? Does it seem right that we have a doctrine that places women and men in equal power and authority – priestess to priest – and yet we continue to treat women as though women should appeal to men who shall make decisions for them? What does our understanding of the equal standing of men and women mean to our continual placement of women at the back of the bus, our exalting of men to all positions of power and authority while giving women none? Is Patriarchy right, and if not, what does that say about our Gender Role teachings?”

            You say, “Blaming the Church, and Oaks, for reaching the best supported conclusion ignores the facts.”
            My answer: Not at all, his position is not the best supported by scholars. It is only the best supported by Mormon culture, American anti-LGBT culture, and the group of students who study what scriptures say not what they meant when written.

            You say, “The Church doesn’t claim to know exactly what the plan is for LGBT folks in the next life, but they do generally teach they can have all the blessings anyone else can.”
            No, we do not teach LGBT that they can have happy families according to the way they have been created. Show me the primary picture of LGBT families – somehow – having all the blessings anyone else can.

            You say, “The Church believes following the teachings against homosexual behavior is best for all involved because they believe that’s what God has revealed.”
            I say, asserting that people should invest themselves in ways that are sexually and emotionally violating is stupid and going to cause suicide. Which is exactly what happens *all the time*. God has not revealed any such thing regarding LGBT. I read nowhere in any scriptures that Jesus spoke to a gay person and gave that person specific direction on how to form his family. I see no history of an angel telling Joseph what fixtures to install in our program for the transgender people. Show me the path in the D&C for the LGBT to form families appropriate to them. Show me their path through the temple and in our communities. We have NO PATH for the LGBT, which is why they fall off the earth. I couldn’t expect LGBT to live for any period of time any more than I would be able to live as one of them. It’s an obvious death plan.

            You say, “They don’t teach these things to hurt anyone. They are alarmed by suicides among LGBT LDS and are trying to address it in ways consistent with scripture and doctrine. They’ve made some bad errors based on lack of better information, such as in recommending conversion therapy, which they no longer do.”
            I say: Bunk. Forcing LGBT people to endure the touch of people they cannot abide in intimacy has been causing suicide for thousands of years. If I had to become married this moment to a lesbian, I’d shoot myself quickly. The leadership cannot be shocked by the most known outcome of this policy. They cannot be at all unaware of its bloody price tag. To say they are alarmed is to assert that they are stupid and I disagree. As they are not stupid and could not be unaware, so take your pick of emotional motivators and I still do not really concern myself with what is *causing* them to do the bullying but that they are.

            You say, “These are things the Church and those critical of its policy need to continue to work together to better address. “
            I say, you are mistaking “working together” for tolerating bullying. You are favoring the powerful to the detriment of the friendless and wounded. It IS important to address the problem of bullying people to death. This letter from Kyle might have been clumsy but it apparently worked to cause one of the most consistently bullying people to turn …and just take a deep chunk out of Kyle. Oaks sent back a very large power-slap (which is more bullying) by essentially implying that there can be no questioning his bullying because covenants (where is there a covenant to not stand for truth and right, to let those who are mourning do so alone and without defense…?). The membership-policy of remaining silent while the leadership bullies children to death needs to change.

            You say, “Expressions like Kyle’s make that more difficult.”
            I say, I don’t think you can show me anywhere where Oaks or the other bullying members of the leadership are pushed into addressing their bullying behavior. When the past efforts have provided zero result, and the Kyle-effort resulted in just an enraged slap to quash Kyle but really no change in bullying, I don’t think you can say that were ever getting anywhere. There has never been any good thing from Oaks or the other bullies. There wasn’t a period of time that they were kind to the LGBT. You are acting like you want to be nice and have a renaissance of the kind policies that were once in place. The Very Best Thing they can do and have ever done is refrain from being totally awful, as you complimented him in the upper comments on NOT repeating that parents of LGBT should be sure to not let their LGBT adult children in the house (didn’t that make you feel a bit dirty to be giving praise to someone for not being cruel? Is that the standard you usually set for people? Person X isn’t being a sadistic bully so I’m going to go praise him for forgetting to threaten his usual victims. Is that part of your usual way of dealing in the world?). I don’t think you can show that there is any headway that has been made by letting the bullies have free-run. It seems that only when held more accountable, as Kyle did a bit brusquely, are they able to refrain from letting their bully out.

            And here’s the real issue and I’ll float it between you and me: do you think even this head-on address of a bully is going to reduce any of the bullying from Oaks and his like? Want to lay a wager he continues alienating LGBT and saying very clearly that they have NO HOPE of any revelation for their families? Me, I bet Oaks bullies til the bitter end.

          • Mungagungadin, I disagree (as does almost everyone else) with your peculiar interpretation of turning the other cheek, but that wasn’t what I asked about anyway. I asked whether we should act as Christians even to those we view as enemies.

            One thing that strikes me as the opposite of christian is to keep insisting that someone has bad motives or is evil without any good evidence. It’s bizarre to accuse someone of lobotomizing and torturing people and then conclude therefor he’s a bully. Anyone who did that with any bad intent would be far worse than a bully. On the other hand, it’s just ridiculously weak to assert that correctly stating the Church’s policy on homosexuality in Conference is bullying.

            The way Oaks is viewed by some reminds me of how some conservatives view Obama. There’s some derangement involved. The fixation on Oaks as bogeyman and his behavior as bullying in such incoherent and unfounded ways isn’t going to end the behavior you consider bullying, as you point out yourself. It’s going to do what it’s doing here and now, distract from the harms of the behavior to focus instead on whether it’s bullying. It’s sad and almost funny to see you actually arguing against working together, belittling progress, claiming there has been no progress, arguing the Church isn’t concerned about gay suicide, etc. It’s so counterproductive, but you’re stuck, apparently. You’d rather keep your imagined enemy than do anything constructive. And you try to read the Christian message to support that dreary, unproductive approach.

            I don’t know why you believe most scholars think the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual behavior, but that’s simply not true. Until you recognize that you won’t understand the conditions for the Church’s policy. (And homosexual behavior is mentioned in plain ways in the New Testament. See the end of Romans 1, for example.) It’s a completely different idea to claim, as you also do, that just because an idea is recorded doesn’t mean that God is responsible for it. That’s a means of reading scripture that LDS try to avoid, and it becomes more difficult to resort to as the number of passages that require discounting pile up. And they are numerous in this case.

            You don’t suggest any way in which to understand LDS doctrine as incorporating LGBT gender roles in eternity. Yet you keep complaining that the Church hasn’t provided such a path. Well, that’s because it’s hard to see how there could be one based on present scripture and doctrine.

            The Church does *not* teach that gays should seek romantic relations or marriage with the opposite sex, so I don’t understand your point about that.

          • Mungagungadin

            Kent, I will answer again in parts.

            “Mungagungadin, I disagree (as does almost everyone else) with your peculiar interpretation of turning the other cheek, but that wasn’t what I asked about anyway. I asked whether we should act as Christians even to those we view as enemies.”
            I say: You are putting a lot of position in your way of viewing this. I do not view the church leaders as enemies. I view their behavior as bullying. You are asking us all to turn the church leaders into enemies in order to answer this question this way.

            You say, “One thing that strikes me as the opposite of Christian is to keep insisting that someone has bad motives or is evil without any good evidence. It’s bizarre to accuse someone of lobotomizing and torturing people and then conclude therefor he’s a bully.”
            I answer, I did not do that. The whole of the behavior of the teaching-intolerance to an entire community constitutes bullying, but the really physically harmful behaviors of various kinds, specifically the lobotomizing and torture upon threat of alienation are much more than bullying. Viewed by a department of human services and without the protection of being a church, it would likely be punishable. Yet, in order to accomplish those physical harms, the church had to provide a backdrop of bullying: a threat of alienation if person did not conform. The bullying continues very strongly today, as we saw in the last conference. Due to that bullying there are still parents who put their poor teens in cure-the-gay programs.

            You continue, “Anyone who did that with any bad intent would be far worse than a bully.”
            me: It’s a bad idea to bring intent into this. We will never know what happens inside the heart. Let’s keep it to the behaviors.

            You, “On the other hand, it’s just ridiculously weak to assert that correctly stating the Church’s policy on homosexuality in Conference is bullying.”
            Me: If you feel that the teachings in question are not made to convince a community to support a refusal to accept people as they are and you feel that the teachings are designed to teach tolerance, acceptance, inclusion, go ahead. I still hold to my position that the teachings are meant to teach the whole people to refuse to allow LGBT behaviors among us and thus, teach us to refuse our LGBT children, unless they conform. Anything that encourages a community-wide alienation is bullying from a high vantage point.

            You, “The way Oaks is viewed by some reminds me of how some conservatives view Obama. There’s some derangement involved. The fixation on Oaks as bogeyman and his behavior as bullying in such incoherent and unfounded ways isn’t going to end the behavior you consider bullying, as you point out yourself. It’s going to do what it’s doing here and now, distract from the harms of the behavior to focus instead on whether it’s bullying. It’s sad and almost funny to see you actually arguing against working together, belittling progress, claiming there has been no progress, arguing the Church isn’t concerned about gay suicide, etc. It’s so counterproductive, but you’re stuck, apparently. You’d rather keep your imagined enemy than do anything constructive. And you try to read the Christian message to support that dreary, unproductive approach.”
            Me: whatever.

            You, “I don’t know why you believe most scholars think the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual behavior, but that’s simply not true.”
            Me: If you can find Hebrew scholars who support your point, please do. What I find now from the current scholars in my reach, is that they teach the Sodom story as a message about how to treat foreigners and the Levite prohibitions as being about restrictions to set apart.

            You, “Until you recognize that you won’t understand the conditions for the Church’s policy. (And homosexual behavior is mentioned in plain ways in the New Testament. See the end of Romans 1, for example.) It’s a completely different idea to claim, as you also do, that just because an idea is recorded doesn’t mean that God is responsible for it. That’s a means of reading scripture that LDS try to avoid, and it becomes more difficult to resort to as the number of passages that require discounting pile up. And they are numerous in this case.”
            Me: If you’d like to argue for God really actually being a sexist, homophobic, narcissistic creep as portrayed in the scriptures, you are welcome to it. Me, I go with the simple view that our Heavenly Parents – whoever and whatever they are – have a Plan of Happiness for us all. I say that the LGBT and the many races and other differences are here to teach us to choose to love and help one another, not to bully each other.

            You, “You don’t suggest any way in which to understand LDS doctrine as incorporating LGBT gender roles in eternity.”
            Me: True, I did not offer one here. It seems to me that this is primarily the job of the fifteen. I do have my personal views, but until the plan that incorporates all people is introduced, my “draft” is only slowly forming according to the observations I have.

            You, “Yet you keep complaining that the Church hasn’t provided such a path. Well, that’s because it’s hard to see how there could be one based on present scripture and doctrine.”
            Me: Not terribly hard. I’ve got more than one idea in my heart/head, that conform with the important truths.

            You, “The Church does *not* teach that gays should seek romantic relations or marriage with the opposite sex, so I don’t understand your point about that.”
            Me: I’m sure you know that they used to, very recently. I know many couples trapped in such marriages, and they are desperate, horrible things for both partners until they can work through the wounds from it. I can’t imagine being married to someone who is not attracted to me; ultimate rejection. Yet, I understand the coercion/ bullying that went into such deceptions, which of course is more failure of the leadership.

          • Mungagungadin, you’re still avoiding the question. If you don’t like the word enemy, then use bully. The question is still whether we should act as Christians to those we regard as bullies.

            “Let’s keep it to the behaviors.”

            You can see that Kyle didn’t even try to do that. Do you think his accusations of bigotry, homophobia, hate, etc are constructive?

            It’s just not true that anything that encourages a community-wide alienation is bullying. It matters what the intent is, and what else is being done. The Church, including Oaks, is working hard to embrace LGBT members. That’s the opposite of what bullies do.

            The intent of Oaks’ conference talk was not “to convince a community to support a refusal to accept people as they are.” It was to reaffirm the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage. There wasn’t the slightest hint of “teach us to refuse our LGBT children, unless they conform.”

            For the Hebrew Bible, it’s not about Sodom, it’s about Leviticus. A convenient way to see what scholars of Hebrew think the Bible says is to see what Jewish scholars think. They range from very conservative to very liberal and know their Hebrew. Here’s a page that covers the basics. You can find many more. I don’t see any that deny the Torah condemns homosexual acts. They just respond to that condemnation differently.

            http://judaism.about.com/od/homosexualityandjudaism/a/samesex.htm

            The parts of the Bible that are in Greek are just as plain. I’m not arguing that God believes anything. I’m pointing out what LDS scripture and doctrine say, and how that constrains policy. As long as you fail to take that into account you won’t understand why they have the policy they do.

          • Mungagungadin

            Kent-

            Kent: “Mungagungadin, you’re still avoiding the question. If you don’t like the word enemy, then use bully. The question is still whether we should act as Christians to those we regard as bullies.
            “Let’s keep it to the behaviors.”
            You can see that Kyle didn’t even try to do that. Do you think his accusations of bigotry, homophobia, hate, etc are constructive?”

            me: The world has set an example of how it treats bullies that persuade communities to alienate individuals, that paste the individuals in the colors of extreme wrong so that the community members should all reject that individual, which of course has a high suicide rate. Our society arrests those people and charges them with a version of Murder. Do you think that the community should take action when such bullying is taking place, or should we all allow the bullying to continue which would likely result in more deaths? Judges usually take into account expressions of remorse. Do you see serious expressions of remorse for the teachings that led the community to behave in such a way that all these children felt- and in many cases they were actually right because that’s exactly how extremely the whole community had been taught- that they had no place to turn for inclusion and acceptance? What do judges do with those who continue bullying and refuse to change their tune? Do we say, “oh, treat that person with charity and I’m sure the death rate will drop off. Don’t call that person out because the bully won’t feel respected.” ? What is your answer as to how we should treat bullies that use the community to alienate vulnerable people to death?

            You: “It’s just not true that anything that encourages a community-wide alienation is bullying. It matters what the intent is, and what else is being done. The Church, including Oaks, is working hard to embrace LGBT members. That’s the opposite of what bullies do.”
            Me: no, that’s not true. In fact, it doesn’t matter at all. If the person is using their influence to encourage a whole community to alienate vulnerable people, it is bullying and it doesn’t matter what emotional problems went into the action. Of course we would want to put the offender in therapy to discover and work on exactly what is wrong, but that isn’t the job of most people and as none of us here are licensed therapists with access to the bully, what exactly do you want anyone to do? Oaks is not working hard to embrace LGBT members. He’s still making sure that they know that they aren’t acceptable as is and he’s especially making sure that EVERYONE ELSE knows that they still can’t have normal, peaceful lives among us with their families. Being subtle about bullying doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of the bullying. In fact, it can increase it.

            You: “The intent of Oaks’ conference talk was not “to convince a community to support a refusal to accept people as they are.” It was to reaffirm the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage. There wasn’t the slightest hint of “teach us to refuse our LGBT children, unless they conform.””
            Me: You have no idea what his private intentions are. Neither do I. Let’s not go there. Oaks made clear that the LGBT people have, in his view, no hope of receiving revelation about how they can be happy because NOTHING is going to change for them; there will be no families that they can love, not in this church and get out if you think differently. Because Oaks is one of the 12 and is required to pass any new revelation, his expression is easily also understood as a commitment that even if others of the 12 feel that it is time to practice a higher law, he is giving notice that he will not approve it. His talk was a slap-down to anyone who had hope.

            You: “For the Hebrew Bible, it’s not about Sodom, it’s about Leviticus. A convenient way to see what scholars of Hebrew think the Bible says is to see what Jewish scholars think. They range from very conservative to very liberal and know their Hebrew. Here’s a page that covers the basics. You can find many more. I don’t see any that deny the Torah condemns homosexual acts. They just respond to that condemnation differently.”
            Me: So, you are saying that if any of the Mormons are Levite priests under the Law of Moses, this applies to them.

            You: “The parts of the Bible that are in Greek are just as plain. I’m not arguing that God believes anything. I’m pointing out what LDS scripture and doctrine say, and how that constrains policy. As long as you fail to take that into account you won’t understand why they have the policy they do.”
            Me: Why don’t we try to follow the laws for how to pay your debt in children? Or how to stone them? Or how to inherit someone’s wife? You are implying that there is something in the Old Testament Law that applies to us, when Christ makes it clear that it doesn’t. This isn’t the church of the Old Testament. This is the Church of Christ. To imply that the leaders made the mistake of drawing from the wrong gospel is a serious accusation. I don’t think there is any Mormon I know that would join that church.

          • Mungagungadin

            Kent,

            Just noticed the word “greek” – in the bible reference. Those parts are not the words of Christ, they are the teachings of just 1 apostle who we already know was pretty much a product of his era (women should be silent, etc). Those words are areas that we can have mercy upon, but certainly should not take as guidance.

          • Mungagungadin, now you’re evading two questions: Should we be Christian towards those we consider bullies, and do you think Kyle’s accusations of bigotry, homophobia, hate, etc are constructive, given you opposition to focusing on motives?

            You seem to be implying we should arrest Oaks and charge him with murder. You don’t see a problem with your logic?

            Of course we should act against what we perceive as bullying. How best to do that depends on the circumstances. In an emergency it might call for a punch in the jaw. In a case like this, where there’s time for reflection before acting, we should start by applying the principles of charity in understanding the actions we’re opposing. Doing so in this case, which you keep resisting, reveals that there is no bullying in Oaks’ conference talk. That should guide us in a different kind of response than if there were. We can criticize the Church’s stance he repeated in his talk in strong terms without violating the principles of charity.

            “If the person is using their influence to encourage a whole community to alienate vulnerable people, it is bullying”

            If that’s the intent, then sure, it may be bullying. But again, that has not been the intent of the Church and was not the intent of stating the Church’s policy in Oaks’ talk. Your view that it doesn’t matter what the intent is still makes no sense. If someone takes a swing at a bully and hits the victim instead, that’s not bullying, precisely because that’s not what he was trying to do. Intent matters.

            There was nothing, zero, in Oaks’ talk about “making sure that they know that they aren’t acceptable as is and he’s especially making sure that EVERYONE ELSE knows that they still can’t have normal, peaceful lives among us with their families.” Nor was there any making clear “that the LGBT people have, in his view, no hope of receiving revelation about how they can be happy because NOTHING is going to change for them; there will be no families that they can love, not in this church and get out if you think differently.”

            Oaks did come close to implying the Church’s policy won’t change, but he didn’t quite do so. There was no indication he would veto a change, as you seem to think.

            The standard view of Hebrew scholars doesn’t limit the condemnation of homosexuality to Levite priests. In regard to Paul, as I mentioned before, the Church is very reluctant to discount scripture as uninspired, especially if there are numerous passages involved as there are in this case. You seem to view it as a simple matter to just dismiss several scriptures and doctrines about eternal gender roles. It’s not, and it’s something the Church will only do if it feels God has revealed it should be done.

          • Mungagungadin

            You: Mungagungadin, now you’re evading two questions: Should we be Christian towards those we consider bullies, and do you think Kyle’s accusations of bigotry, homophobia, hate, etc are constructive, given you opposition to focusing on motives?
            Me: Let me answer all:
            a. We should be Christian towards bullies. This means both stopping the bully and saving the victim, having the bully make restitution if possible.
            b. I think Kyle’s accusation could have been constructive, if Oaks were less proud. As the goal isn’t to change Oaks (no one can change him but himself) but to stop the bullying, I’m not sure what is going to be constructive. Do you think you know what is going to stop that bullying? I’ve helped put on ten parades in the last two years to try to reach out and rescue the bullied youth, I work hard in forums to give comfort to those who are wounded by that bullying, but I don’t have the magic-bullet-answer. I wish I did.
            c. “given your opposition to focusing on motives?” I have absolutely no idea what you are asking here. How would focusing on motives have any impact on the issue. No one will ever know what motivates Oaks or any of the others who are bullying our LGBT. I cannot grok your desire to focus on something we can neither know nor change.

            You: You seem to be implying we should arrest Oaks and charge him with murder. You don’t see a problem with your logic?
            Me: No, just drawing the analogy to how this lethal bullying practice would be treated outside of the protection of religion as granted by all government layers. Oaks can’t be arrested, he can’t be charged, and he cannot be stopped by any civil instrument. I never pretended it was really possible but used it as a moral marker. What would be the problem with my logic, because you are right, I don’t see it.

            You: Of course we should act against what we perceive as bullying. How best to do that depends on the circumstances. In an emergency it might call for a punch in the jaw.
            Me: Punching a bully has never worked. I have no idea what you are talking about. Bullying is not only pushing people around in the hallways, where maybe – but very unlikely – a physical resistance could help. Even then, I can’t recall where a picked-on kid really settled anything with a punch as things usually just escalate. Bullying tends to require intervention.

            You: In a case like this, where there’s time for reflection before acting, we should start by applying the principles of charity in understanding the actions we’re opposing.
            Me: I’m appalled that you don’t feel a sense of urgency about this. How many people in your MO-LGBT-support groups are suicidal right now? There are more than a few in mine.

            You: Doing so in this case, which you keep resisting, reveals that there is no bullying in Oaks’ conference talk.
            Me: Do what in this case??? And, the reason for the up-tick in those suicidal feelings is pretty clear, dude. Yay conference.

            You: That should guide us in a different kind of response than if there were.
            Me: What should? What are you talking about???

            You: We can criticize the Church’s stance he repeated in his talk in strong terms without violating the principles of charity.
            Me: I am doing my best to follow you and it is very hard. Where is the intervention for the bullying, here?

            You quote me: “If the person is using their influence to encourage a whole community to alienate vulnerable people, it is bullying” and then you continue with: If that’s the intent, then sure, it may be bullying. But again, that has not been the intent of the Church and was not the intent of stating the Church’s policy in Oaks’ talk. Your view that it doesn’t matter what the intent is still makes no sense. If someone takes a swing at a bully and hits the victim instead, that’s not bullying, precisely because that’s not what he was trying to do. Intent matters.
            Me: There is zero discussion of INTENTION in my statement. He used his influence with a result of increased alienation of vulnerable people. Go find the intent in my statement. If I use the word “because” you’ve found motive attribution. What the heck are you talking about taking swings and missing? Who has access to actually physically punch Oaks, and why would a physical punch address someone who uses community-wide alienation not physical threat to bully? Since that can’t be what you mean, how has the written confrontation – Kyle’s clumsy attempt at an intervention – resulted in hurting the LGBT community? You are waaay off rails. Kyle did motive attribute, Kyle said that Oaks *wanted* to and that Oaks *loved* it, and yet, since it got the powerful bully to look down even if only for a moment to smash Kyle, it was a better intervention than any I’ve been able to pull off. Have you been able to get Oaks to even notice his bullying before?

            You: There was nothing, zero, in Oaks’ talk about “making sure that they know that they aren’t acceptable as is and he’s especially making sure that EVERYONE ELSE knows that they still can’t have normal, peaceful lives among us with their families.” Nor was there any making clear “that the LGBT people have, in his view, no hope of receiving revelation about how they can be happy because NOTHING is going to change for them; there will be no families that they can love, not in this church and get out if you think differently.”
            Me: Yeah, he did. All that “this will never change” stuff, considering that right now, the marriage doctrine is only a plan of happiness for the straight people. He doesn’t have to say every part of the system by which he creates an unsafe environment for the LGBT in one breath to be a bully. He can just say, “this will never change” and it means “all your hoping is for nothing”. A quick, deep exclusion to cause the LGBT to remember ALL of the past exclusion. Emotional association did some work for him; he doesn’t have to repeat all his past condemning exclusive language, he can bring it all to mind with just a few references. He says we cannot condone or find ANY justification for giving LGBT people the same civil protection that we enjoy. He says, “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.” So, that means DON”T EVEN THINK that this is ever going to change, people. Just because his phrasing is elegant doesn’t meant that the meaning isn’t plain and harsh.

            You: Oaks did come close to implying the Church’s policy won’t change, but he didn’t quite do so.
            Me: Baloney. Look above.

            You: There was no indication he would veto a change, as you seem to think.
            Me: We’re all familiar with what the votes were like for race-equality. Many apostles died completely unwilling to consider the issue and finally, when most of the 12 were for the change, a few still held out and prevented it for years and years. What do you think Oaks is committed to do, even if he won’t say so?

            You: The standard view of Hebrew scholars doesn’t limit the condemnation of homosexuality to Levite priests. In regard to Paul, as I mentioned before, the Church is very reluctant to discount scripture as uninspired, especially if there are numerous passages involved as there are in this case. You seem to view it as a simple matter to just dismiss several scriptures and doctrines about eternal gender roles. It’s not, and it’s something the Church will only do if it feels God has revealed it should be done.
            Me: The church doesn’t have to say that something was uninspired, nor does the church have to stick to any standard view. We expect that new revelation can be received. Inasmuch as we already have an obvious amount of old-things to disregard including the treatment of women, slaves, wives… putting LGBT into that group will not be hard at all. And, the church’s capacity to get that revelation is what makes it a true church. Obviously, women are more than wombs with legs though that is how we are treated in scripture (and quite often, by Brigham). We know in the latter days that women are anointed to the priesthood to have equal power and authority with our spouses. No one tripped on that and it has been in the temple for generations. You are acting like this leap to truth is impossible when I say it is the mark of the true church.

          • Mungagungadin, your latest responses are filled with comments missing even the most simple and obvious points, which makes it difficult to make any progress. Plain English no longer helps. It now appears you’re avoiding almost every point, even trivial ones.

            Your view of what it means to be Christian is strangely limited when it comes to behavior toward Oaks. It should be obvious that you’re avoiding treating Oaks with any degree of charity. Failing to do that will cause you to continue to misperceive what he does in exactly the ways lack of charity towards LGBT people prevents understanding. Your view is just as darkened and falsified as the views you fight against, for the same reason.

          • Mungagungadin

            Kent,

            I have no idea how you can interpret my unwillingness to pass judgment on what goes on inside the soul of people who have crafted and coordinated a community-wide attack on LGBT that has cost thousands of lives over decades. None of us can take their confessions. If a mass murderer were on trial for those deaths, would you insist on getting to the intent or would you be happy enough with my withholding of scrutiny that really no human should attempt and would you settle for a description of the harm, only?

            Withholding judgment of the soul is my gift to the leadership. In light of the deaths (especially the deaths that were anticipated and understood to be the likely outcome of torture, coercion and threat of alienation and damnation) withholding of judgment of the soul is the most that should be given and it is also the least that should be given, given our faith in Christ to handle all these wounds.

  40. I think it is important to remember that Dallin Oaks wields great power and influence. It is easy for men like that to, with soft words and polite tone of voice, inspire and encourage both great goodness and great evil. When their measured, “loving” rhetoric leads to the destruction of lives and families, that is evil. Call it what it is. Let’s not frown and say how sad we are. To say that we should be polite in the face of such malignant but quiet power is cowardly. We need more people like Kyle Pederson who are willing to speak the truth, no matter how impolite, to men like Dallin Oaks. Let’s all unclutch our pearls and remember, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

    • “We need more people like Kyle Pederson who are willing to speak the truth, no matter how impolite, to men like Dallin Oaks.”

      Kyle comes nowhere close to speaking the truth in the way he characterizes Oaks. What he did say instead inhibits constructive discussion with Church leaders.

      • Mungagungadin

        You come no where near viewing Elder Oaks’s history of bullying accurately. Your disregard for reality impedes the constructive conversation.

      • Kyle was quite constructive in his criticism of Oaks. Oaks doesn’t seem capable of handling the true reality of the harm he causes. Oaks’ threatening tone makes that quite obvious. Why should anyone play nice when kids are killing themselves and made to feel unworthy and flawed?

          • Mungagungadin

            Kent, there is plenty of evidence that alienation (as is caused by failing to be included for not being acceptable) is the most common precursor to suicide. That’s what Oaks has been peddling. There are plenty of LGBT who say directly that they can’t figure out how to not be themselves, in their suicide notes. There are people who were simply wrecked, unable to find any joy at all in living, post-torture. Oaks and the other put them on those decision-prongs. Your insistence on not drawing conclusions from the strong correlation is not reasonable or moral.

            I’ll answer your longer comment in a moment.

          • As I said, Kyle isn’t speaking truth in *how he characterizes Oaks*. Oaks isn’t a bully, isn’t acting on hate, etc. If you’re concerned about suicides, an excellent way to distract from that is to make unfounded charges of someone causing them on purpose because he likes that. Then people will focus instead on the unfounded charges.

            So I ask again, how is making unfounded charges about Oaks’ motives constructive?

          • Oaks is most certainly a bully, 2nd only to Packer. Both of them have caused enormous harm. Deny it all you want, the truth is still the truth.

          • Causing harm doesn’t at all imply being a bully, as I think anyone should know. Many people cause harm unintentionally, for example, and that would apply to Oaks. Insisting on unfounded charges seems to make people feel better, but it distracts from the truth you say you’re concerned about. So I ask again, how is that constructive?

          • Oaks knows exactly what his words do, just like middle school kids. Your denial is a choice.

          • Mary, even knowing that what one says may harm people wouldn’t imply one is a bully. But that misrepresents Oaks, in any case. He believes what he says is what’s best for LGBT folk because he believes it’s what God has revealed.

            Again I ask, and I hope that you’ll attempt an answer at some point–though as you say it’s a choice–how is it constructive to draw attention away from the harms and to unfounded charges about motives instead?

          • Mungagungadin

            Kent,

            You are being tedious. Being a bully isn’t an INTERNAL question. We cannot concern ourselves with what is going on inside of Oaks. We can only look at what he does. He is a bully.

  41. Nonsense. Of course it matters what the intent is. A political leader who passes a law he thinks will help that actually hurts his constituents isn’t a bully.

    Looks like neither of you will answer the question I keep asking, for obvious reasons, but anyone can see the clear effects of the focus on Oaks’ supposedly evil motives. It only distracts from what matters most. Not constructive.

      • Mungagungadin

        Kent,

        I have been round and round with my own local leaders on this and there is one very wise point that we all agree on. No one can read inside the heart. You are baiting me with motive attribution. You are trying to get me to speak to WHY Oaks is doing something and to what his INTENTIONS are when you and I both know that no one has the vantage point to define it but Oaks himself. Your baiting that I’m not meeting your standard of debate because I will not lower the level of debate to motive attribute is, itself, a low and disreputable action. No, I won’t do it. You shouldn’t do it. The end.

      • Mungagungadin

        and to this, Kent:

        “Nonsense. Of course it matters what the intent is. A political leader who passes a law he thinks will help that actually hurts his constituents isn’t a bully.”

        You are oversimplifying what has been done. A political leader who passes a law he thinks will do good is not a bully. That same political leader becomes a bully when he encourages everyone to obey that law or suffer social and family rejection, encourages all the people to work to strip the people the law does not serve of any location of care or refuge, arranges for such alienation of those who cannot keep the law that they are in such fear they agree to torture, knowing it will very likely lead to their death. When that political leader defines people who cannot keep that law as sinners who are unfit if they do not keep the law, of any inclusion in family or society, arranges such isolation for those who cannot keep the law that they are brought to suicide. THAT politician is a bully, and should be tried in every court of any kind until that person’s behavior can be stopped. 1 dead child is too many.

        • I didn’t hear any of that in Oaks’ conference talk. There was no bullying in that talk.

          I’m not asking you to speculate on Oaks’ motives. I’m pointing out that you’re implying motives when you accuse him of bullying.

          • The accusation from Kyle, from you, and from others has been that the talk was bullying. Do you agree that the talk didn’t contain the things you just said above are bullying?

          • Mungagungadin

            The individual talk did not contain ALL of the things that the church has and especially Oaks has done to bully. Was it ever a question of only the bullying contained in 1 talk?

            I *wish* our bully-streak was just 1-talk wide. No, it is a vast collection, including programs, firesides, handbooks, legislative actions…

            And of course, there was plenty of bullying in that single talk. Just not ALL of the bullying we have discussed in this thread.

          • The talk, as I said before, didn’t contain any of the elements you described above. None. But you’re determined to see them in it. It’s triumph of bad will over anything constructive. Self-defeating.

        • Mungagungadin

          OK, Kent. Tell you what. Let’s reverse this. Show me where Oaks discusses the LGBT and states clearly that they are included in the Plan of Happiness, that they can take their loved ones to the temple immediately, that they should have full respect in our families and in our communities before the church and the law.

          Show me Oaks’s “Uchtdorf” moment, where he says that all our diversity is our strength and it is welcome and honored in every way.

  42. Kent, you’re getting lost in the details. Your defense of Elder Oaks is admirable, and yet I get the feeling you are ignoring the experiences of every single one of us that has felt bullied by his words because of the SHAME involved in what he is telling us about who we are and where we fit in the world. The key to shaming and coercion is to appear righteous and superior and to present a standard that can’t be denied. This mere act of shaming someone into an action of self loathing and hatred because of their biological differences IS BULLYING. To tell someone to not invite gay couples to a family gathering is SHAMING. Shaming is the worst kind of humiliation and the most damaging psychological technique apostles use. It is passive aggressive, non direct, motivating, self condemning…etc….

    • Emily, I’m not ignoring anything. Even with the progress that’s been made, I still think the Church’s policy is harmful and I oppose it. But I also understand the reasons for it, and that it’s not about bullying.

      There was simply no bullying in that conference talk. There was no shaming either, for that matter.

      (I disagree that shaming implies bullying, but that’s also not the same thing as teaching that those who violate God’s teachings should feel shame. That’s a tricky subject in itself.)

      • Mungagungadin

        Kent, there you go again. Where is the revealed Plan of Happiness for God’s LGBT children? How are they possibly violating a teaching that has not been given? As that is the case, how was it that Oaks could use his position to continue to preach an exclusive Plan, that only works for straight people and boldly explain that there would be no other plan, ever? What was he doing, except telling the LGBT and their families that the LGBT among us have no Plan of Happiness for them.

        • As you know, the Church believes it has been revealed that homosexual acts are wrong, so the plan for happiness for gays and everyone else must exclude homosexual acts. The Church doesn’t claim to know what happens beyond that for LGBT people, apart from their being able to receive all blessings. Oaks didn’t actually say there would be no other plan ever, though he suggested that by his rhetoric.

      • Kent, it’s simple.
        Guilt = The self reproach we experience when we violate an inner standard. When guilt is serious, we feel the need to atone. In church language, guilt is feeling bad about sin, but not feeling like you’ve lost any of your worth to God. Guilt encourages repentance. Guilt encourages action to right a wrong, but it does not diminish the worth of the individual in any way. I.E. GODS PLAN FOR HAPPINESS

        Shame = To feel shame, you feel bad about who you are, not what you have done. It is a feeling that your very being is flawed. You feel a lessening of your worth. You feel broken. Shame that accumulates within the self often expresses itself destructively. Shame feels defective and is especially strong when the person feels as if their defects are exposed to an audience. I.E. SATAN’S PLAN OF MISERY

        You cannot tell people that they are not allowed at family gatherings, because of who they love, without shaming them. You cannot tell people that they cannot have intimate relationships in their lifetimes because of their biological drive, without shaming them. Exclusion is shaming. Withholding of love and affection for choices made is shaming.

        Oaks may believe that God told him homosexuality is a sin, but that does not make an excuse for him to shame or to encourage shaming and exclusion of individuals in families. If I told my gay son he could not bring his partner to a family reunion, that would be telling him that his worth is lessened because of his choice of partner. That would be telling him that he is flawed, that his most basic biological desire for love and intimacy in his life is unacceptable to me. Wouldn’t that exclusion result in his family acknowledging his absence because of his “choice” to be gay? THAT IS SHAMING. A reduction of worth based on WHO YOU ARE.

        Ultimately, if you believe that gay people choose to be gay and to act on that gayness, then you believe something that is a lie and has been proven wrong over and over again. Gayness can’t be cured. It is a part of our biological makeup. You can’t cure it. It won’t go away. The torture experiments further solidified this point.

        Try to separate a gay person from their identity as a person, and dehumanize them based on their gender/sexual identity and impulses by insisting they become someone that they aren’t, and it will result in deaths. A gay person cannot deny their identity anymore than a person can choose to be a different color skin or a different ethnicity. It’s really that simple.

        “There may be no feelings more responsible for destruction than shame and inferiority. One reels at the number of wars and genocides ignited by some real or imagined indignity – Hitler was quite explicit about seeking to wipe out the humiliation of Germany in World War 1, the “shame of Versailles.” Yet the violations caused by shame and a sense of inferiority are mostly prosaic and everyday…” – Richard Weissbourd -Faculty at Harvard School of Education and author of “The Parents We Mean To Be – How Well Intentioned Adults Undermine Children’s Moral and Emotional Development”

        ONLY LOVE AND REASSURANCE CAN REMOVE SHAMES DEEP STING

  43. It seems to me that all of this discussion boils down to this question. ‘Do you believe that homosexual acts are sinful as called out in both the Old and New Testament?’ If your answer is yes, then you probably don’t see anything wrong with Elder Oaks message. If your answer is no, then I can understand that you feel hurt and rejection. But, quite frankly the two groups are not going to be able to effectively communicate on this, or a host of other social and moral issues, because of the differences in your world views.

    • HarryStamper

      Well said James. Most people are commenting in circles and have got to the point where
      the original issue is lost. I may point out….Elder Oak’s conference talk was about “No Other Gods”….there’s a lot in there besides the restating the church’s position on homosexuality. In fact perhaps only 10% involved this subject. For example, I play too much golf and I watch my big screen too much, I admit I’m ashamed…but in my case it motivated me to redirect my priorities in line with God. Now my brother, he doesn’t want to give up his high tech devices, he loves, his IPhone, IPad, IMac and Apple TV….he was so upset with Elder Oaks I had to talk him down from the ledge. Tomato….tomotto…..

      • Mungagungadin

        you are both speaking baloney.

        If this is Christ’s church, and His messengers use their influence in a community to alienate people to death, it matters. TO EVERYONE.

        • HarryStamper

          You say “If this is Christ’s church..”….Yep…in a way it does divide us…..as Christ said..Matthew 25:33 “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” Christ also taught sacrifice….even family….Matthew 19:29 “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

        • I would point out that sometimes preaching the gospel doesn’t make the listener feel good inside. When one’s sins are being called out, it is an uncomfortable experience. So, could you entertain the possibility that if someone feels alienated by a message in General Conference, that just possibly they feel that way because they are doing something wrong?

          • Mungagungadin

            Why entertain what is clearly false? Our DOCTRINE fails to have a Plan of Happiness for everyone. It is incomplete. There is no revelation for how the LGBT are to form their happy families. When we undertake to make the decision that what is meant for some is meant for all, He is not in error, we are. I have great faith that God loves his LGBT children as much as any other children and that it will be received, and hopefully soon.

          • The only plan of happiness offered requires that we follow the path that leads to it. If we wander off on to other paths, there is no guarantee for the wanderer.

  44. It seems to me that many members are dialing into sentiments not expressed in those Conference talks mentioned. I felt the Spirit of God in every talk, as I listened open-mindedly. Doctrine doesn’t change – it is eternal truth. The Church changes policies and procedures to better teach the gospel over time as needed. Our Church leaders teach doctrine. Are they perfect men and women? Of course not. That is where we are able to practice the gospel ourselves by refraining from judgement, loving, and forgiving. Just do not lightly dismiss their words: consider what they are trying to say (especially regarding doctrine) with an open mind and you will feel the Spirit enter and fill you with peace about it.

    Elder Oaks taught doctrine, even if he is brusque about it. Elder Christofferson does not dismiss women’s intelligence in the slightest: he talks about our gifts and talents and responsibilities as women. We have God-given duties as women of God just as men have God-given duties. And you make a fuss that your duties aren’t the same when men and women aren’t the same? I don’t get that – and I’m an LDS woman. I actually greatly appreciate the added clarity to our duties as our Church leaders instruct us about these different yet vital roles: to Sister Julie Beck talked about this very thing in a talk at BYU Women’s Conference (towards the end, mostly.)
    https://www.lds.org/callings/relief-society/messages-from-leaders/messages-from-leaders/womens-conference-2011?lang=eng

    • I didn’t feel the spirit in any talk -I felt dark, cold, creepy – felt pure evil in Oaks talk. Doctrine does change and has changed dozens of times in the church. Polygamy, Polyandry, Racism, Sexism, Word of Wisdom, Tithing, Temple covenants, Adam-God, Blood Atonement are just a few of the dozens of doctrines that have changed. And don’t give me any of that “speaking as men” or “those were just policies, not doctrine” nonsense excuses. There is no revelation that has ever been giving saying that homosexuality is a sin. Jesus NEVER taught it and there is no revelation in LDS canon that teaches it. When church leaders spew their hatred and bigotry towards LGBT’s they are speaking as men and teaching policy – NOT doctrine! The spirit of God has testified to me that this is true and the spirit does not lie.

      • Amazing. Oaks talk = pure evil. The people here and elsewhere who paint Oaks like he’s Satan make themselves and the views they represent look ridiculous. Completely counterproductive for everyone involved.

    • But how do you respond to that same doctrine and those God-given duties assumed because of sexual reproductive abilities when someone is inter-sex? Or dual gender? Or hermaphrodite?

      Do these people also have a place in the church? How do they know where they belong? What if someone is inwardly male and outwardly female? What if the opposite occurs?

      The gospel doesn’t have all of the answers for all of God’s children. It isn’t clarifying doctrine about our vital roles when you don’t know where you stand because you don’t fit the gender binary or you don’t have the same sexual identity as your sex characteristics, or you fall in love with the same gender.

    • *People* are different. Women are not different from men in any general way other than basic biology. Some men are nurturers, some women are nurturers. Some men are leaders, some women are leaders. If personality and character traits are God-given, Mormonism is flawed in its assumptions that skills and abilities, and therefore roles, can be generalized by gender. These generalizations are harmful to both genders, but especially to women and girls by creating a culture of female dependency that can cripple a female’s sense of self-worth for a lifetime.

  45. How on earth is Kyle being called out as the bully here and so many LDS people willing to not even think that perhaps he was right? Does being a mormon take away the parts of the brain that allow for a person to think for themselves? Seriously? There is so much documentation and reason that letter was sent. Oaks’s reply just showed how absolutely mean and unkind he is.

  46. I have often noticed that people who claim open mindedness or ask for tolerance are as lacking as those they appear to preach to. I recently saw a post from an acquaintance about a hollywood actor who reported extreme social repercussions for supporting a republican political candidate, for instance. This letter is another example- the writer condemns Oaks for allegedly being hateful, but the letter’s language is far more hateful than the addresses it decries. Jesus was right when he taught about the beam and mote- most of the time we see problems in others that we actually have ourselves.

    As a side note, from my brief glance the response letter looks like a sloppy fake. If it were real it wouldn’t change the point of this piece, but it looks to likely be a fake, particularly since LDS leaders typically only respond to mail that comes through local-leader channels and requires official response.

  47. The plan of happiness does have room for everyone. It just means that not all will be happy with exaltation, but will be happy with another level of salvation.

    The scriptures are clear that there is no place in exaltation (fulness of God’s presence) for those whose behavior is not in line with God’s command. The question here is what behavior demands repentance or not.

    Elder Oaks teaches according to his understanding of God’s requirements for exaltation, and not whether a person is born a certain way. For him, until God reveals something different, he is to continue teaching what has been taught.

    To focus on such things is to look beyond the mark, as to God’s real purpose for us here on earth. I just wrote an article at Millennial Star on what life’s real purpose is, and it isn’t to demand personal rights. You can read my thoughts here: http://www.millennialstar.org/the-big-lds-picture/

  48. Jana: I know you’ve read the Book of Mormon, so what are you on about here:

    Was Elder Oaks’s reply patronizing? Probably. But how could it not be, given the tone that the original letter-writer set in accusing him of all manner of hatred and bigotry? Who wouldn’t respond to such a nastygram with profound irritation?

    It’s one thing to disagree with LDS leaders, and to speak plainly and pointedly about the reasons why. Such discussions can elevate our people’s reflections about important issues. I have no problem with any Mormon writing an open letter expressing dissent on any topic; the more transparent our discourse, the better. Bring it on.

    But we do not call each other horrible names, or blame total strangers for the deaths of children. We focus on issues, not personal attacks. We behave like grown-ups.

    The BOM starts off with brothers calling each other names and blaming each other for the deaths of (yet unborn) children. And the story continues that way to its bloody and terrible end.

    Calling an entire society “ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people,” is actually calling them horrible names. But it’s OK… because God told Samuel to do that? And those who receive such a nastygram are just supposed to say, “Oh, hey, you’re right! Thanks, righteous right dude [cuz it's always a dude], for pointing that out!”? They mustn’t react with profound irritation?

    Saying “heavy destruction awaiteth this people [because of their sins], and it surely cometh unto this people,” is blaming the deaths of children on complete strangers. But that’s OK because God told Samuel to do that?

    Calling people horrible names, accusing them of the vilest wickedness and all manner of hatred, telling people that they’re the children of the devil and going to live with him forever, and blaming total strangers for the deaths of children, is the type of discourse Latter-day Saints revere as holy scripture. It’s at the basis of LDS ethics and concepts of righteousness.

    And you’re surprised when members actually use the sort of discourse they’re taught is the most worthy of their study and thought?

    Labeling all humanity “carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature” is what the most “righteous” among us do as their job. It’s the sacred duty of BOM prophets to call people horrible names and to blame total strangers for the deaths of children. And the subsequent irritation of those so labeled is not proof of their humanity and normalcy, but of their hard-heartedness and evil.

    But the prophets are the only ones who get to engage in name-calling–because they’re righteous…? Because when they call names or blame others for the death of children, they’re simply speaking the truth…? That seems to be the defense: a prophet is entitled; no one else is. His incivility is actually quite civil–but woe to any who speak to him as he speaks to them! For others just like him have said, and he himself has said, that he is called of God to name-call and to blame strangers for the deaths of children.

    DHO can and must blast others as evil and call them all manner of awful names, because he has claimed to be a prophet, and others who came and spake before him just as he has done chose him to be a prophet after their own manner and their own hearts. And Lord knows, it never happens that when men get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion, so it’s not possible that DHO is in any way led astray by his own prejudices and weaknesses, and no one should ever call him on it, or speak to him the way he speaks to others.

    Unless, of course, they’re somehow inspired by God to call a false prophet to repentance.

    So, relax. Kyle Pederson is only engaging in the sort of ethical discourse the church trained him in.

    Also: DHO does not qualify a “total stranger”: he is known to us through his many talks and the biographies published about him.

    Finally, as for this:

    Still others are wondering why, when the Church regularly receives far more reasonable and well-considered complaints from faithful Mormons about all manner of issues, this is the protest that gets a response at all. It’s an excellent question. Are extreme positions the only ones that will be taken seriously by Mormon leaders?

    It’s quite simple, actually: Kyle Pederson got a response from Oaks because he dared to speak to Oaks the way Oaks speaks to everyone else, and Oaks had a conniption fit. He absolutely couldn’t bear any sort of “turn about is fair play.” He claims the right to call others wicked, but assumes that absolutely no one has the right to turn that label back around on him.

    By exposing all this, Kyle Pederson has done Oaks and the church a great service, and we should be thankful–Oaks most of all.

  49. I fear Jana’s post has gotten lost in a battle of words here. Clearly, there is a lot of emotion on both sides, and people talking past one another. There are claims being made that clearly are as untrue as calling anyone on either side of the discussion a Nazi.
    I don’t think anyone here truly hates the other side. At least I hope not. I see there are differences, which the Church is addressing. It has backed off from its strong stance on Prop 8, taking a softer stance with others in Hawaii – where the SSM bill is not being fought, but they are seeking to ensure religious freedom is not impinged upon.
    The Church has also encouraged us not to foresake those with SSA, but to love them, even if we disagree with any sexual behavior. But this is no different than what is taught regarding any sexual behavior.
    Never has anyone encouraged anyone else to commit suicide, though I can understand where stresses are placed upon those with SSA – making them feel trapped between Nature and Nurture. Yet, this is no different than telling those with other predispositions to abstain: heterosexual sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. We don’t seem to have a problem with banning tobacco and drugs, which many are predisposed towards and addicted to, and we do not see ourselves as haters for doing so, whether the actions of society in doing so are right or wrong. I know many smokers who do not think it fair that NYC is forcing them to pay $10.50 a pack for cigarettes.
    Sometimes it is not an issue of hatred, but an issue of a group’s principles being imposed. I do not recall hearing many people fighting for the rights of smokers over the years.
    As for God’s judgment, LDS teachings do not say gay people will go to hell. It says there are various levels of heaven, and those who do not receive all covenants and take up their cross to follow Christ and his apostles will mostly receive a lesser kingdom of God.
    For those who do not believe in prophets and apostles of God, none of this discussion will matter to you. You will continue seeing Elder Oaks and others as haters – even while many on that side have shown their own language to be filled with bigotry and hatred.
    While we encourage people to stay in the Church, nothing forces any of us to remain. I do not allow people in my home smoking or using drugs. I also have the right to limit what kind of relationships are expressed in my home. I have good friends who are gay, and they understand that in my home I have a set of rules I will expect them to abide by, just as I would expect to abide by their rules in their home. We disagree on certain things and will never agree on those things. But we are still friends and respect one another. Hatred is not an option.
    I’m sure there are some who would refuse to come into my home because of some of my stances. That is their choice.
    Sad that some have to take such an emotional stance, rather than seeking to understand and love. Elder Oaks’ response was appropriate, because there was no way he was going to change his belief, and no way he was going to assuage the angry man who wrote the letter.
    The scriptures tell us that real prophets are not popular in the world.

    • When you use a phrase like…”those with SSA”… you not so subtly tell people who are gay that they have a disorder. As long as LDS people think gay people have a problem, then gay people will feel they are inherently flawed and the rest falls out from there. In order to show acceptance, LDS folks need to stop using the acronym SSA.

  50. Well, all of you have proved my point about your inability to communicate with each other because of your world view on this subject. You’ve adopted positions that don’t allow any understanding or empathy for the other side and that is unfortunate. Just to stir the pot, let me bring up a point on either side that you may not be comfortable with.

    Threat to society and traditional marriage from same sex marriage: At present, this threat is vague and totally theoretical. Until an entire culture incorporates same sex marriage for a generation or more, there will be no hard data supporting or not supporting the proposition that traditional marriage gets damaged. This argument doesn’t resonate because there’s no data one way or another. Right now, a better concern is to improve the protections for rights of conscience, speech, and belief so that people are better protected from persecution for their beliefs. The concept of a society that values freedom of belief and speech demands protection for controversial and unpopular views. If you don’t see why that is important, read your own posts from the viewpoint of a person that disagrees with you.

    Biological basis for homosexuality: The scientific research attempting to support this theory is confused and often contradictory. Research studies using similar research designs contradict each others findings. In some of the studies, the statistical correlations are weak. Even so, there is some support for the theory that there are both biological and social triggers that predispose people to homosexuality. But in the end, all of this is irrelevant. Biological predisposition does not have to determine behavior. A person who is biologically predisposed to alcoholism is not required to become an alcoholic. The same applies to all of us, as sapient beings we have the ability to indulge or resist those biological predispositions.

    • HarryStamper

      Super comments…as usual…very concise and logical. One further comment on predisposition….let’s take responsibility for our behavior…it’s behavior we’re really talking about….we’ve heard of born liars….is right to lie?Obviously not but for some almost impossible not to.

    • James, I do believe it is you who have proven your own point. Sexual preference is not a predisposition for a disorder like alcoholism. All the studies in the world will not change the fact that a percentage of the population is and always has been gay and gay people do not deserve to be treated as though they are unnatural. Perhaps homosexuality is even by divine design. (I’m agnostic, so I’m open to the possibility of divine design.) Homosexuality is a natural defense against over-population. In fact, it’s the most loving population control phenomena there is. There is no trauma, no mass death, no tsunamis or meteors… can you regard my worldview as valid even though it’s different than yours?

  51. I’m surprised this comment thread is still open after all the Hullabaloo but I’m glad it is. I wanted to chime in on a few things if it’s not too late. The first thing is that I’m really surprised at Elder Oaks response. Mostly that there was a response. I had a hard time sorting through all the comments, do we know for sure the response is legitimate? Not challenging it so much as wanting confirmation. Proper vetting and such ;)

    Assuming this is a legit response, I want to point out the most obvious aspect of the doctrinal position of this. Since this doctrine is a long-standing traditional Christian position on this issue, and since it would seem like an obviously accurate position when viewed through traditional gender binaries, isn’t it conceivable that Elder Oaks has the Homosexual best interest in mind? If he truly believes that homosexuality is a damnable offense, wouldn’t he feel like his position is the more safe position?

    As a gay man, I personally don’t think homosexuality is inherently sinful (perhaps other sexual activities, independent of homo or hetero could be though). But it isn’t hard for me to reflect back on the ways I viewed the state of my eternal soul if I didn’t overcome my ‘thorn in the flesh’. For many many LDS faithful, they haven’t had to challenge the status quo in order to survive. They might not even be able to dedicate that much energy to challenging themselves this way. When they think of the battle of homosexuality, what they see is a battle over the souls of many many people. They can afford the luxury of premium position. It is the misguided soul who wants to support homosexuality even at the cost of damnation. Elder Oaks is one such person. If we lose 1,000 souls to suicide, that’s a small, though tragic, price to pay for standing for truth and preserving the souls of perhaps millions more souls who can look to the church for truth and solid doctrine.

    I’m not saying Elder Oaks is right. I’m saying he’s not acting out of malice. He isn’t. He views this as a fight for the souls of men. It’s what I want my leaders to do. I want them to stand for something when the values of the world seem to be collapsing. I want them to have the courage to stand for what is right.

    Kyle did what he felt he had to do. I also applaud him for standing up for himself and for the true victims in this ongoing struggle for legitimacy among gays. We also need those who can stand with courage and who can uphold truth in the face of bigotry and oppression, which is why I felt compelled to also add my voice to this discussion.

    If Kyle’s voice were the only type of voice speaking to this topic, truly we wouldn’t get very far simply because the leaders of the LDS church are prophets, seers, and revelators, not politicians. They don’t run for office and aren’t answerable to the voice of the people so they don’t really have to listen to voices like Kyle’s, as evidenced by Elder Oak’s reply.

    So for what it’s worth, I do agree that the policies of the LDS church are harmful to gays, and the fruits of this doctrinal position are inherently bad, that the most rapid way to change such policies is to put effort into really understanding the position we’re trying to change. What are possible reasons for the error in this doctrine? Can we as gays and allies articulate them? What are some potential alternate ways of looking at a homosexually supportive policy in the eternal scheme of LDS doctrine? I think we assume way too much on that front.

    I think it’s important to address the type of discourse we should be having and why the tone of our conversations is important. For instance, if we’re trying to persuade the faithful LDS perspective, is vitriol or extreme and unsupported declaration likely to change minds about gays? I think they already view the gay position like that. Militant cross dressers shouting hate at the breeders. I suggest instead that the most influential discourse up to this point has by far been when rational voices speak. When people get to know gays in every day life, not as blustering ‘other’, but as trusted friend.

    Our position is right. I have no doubt of that. But the manner in which we seek to influence others should be more carefully handled in the LDS sphere. The tactics have to be more thoughtful. Truth via accurate information is far more effective than a barrage of accusations. Even if those accusations are justified. The next time you feel like yelling at a faithful LDS, ask yourself if you really want change, or if you’re more interested in justifying yourself and your anger? I think it’s time we set aside our anger and focussed on truth and love. We can change more hearts with truth and love than we will ever even touch with aggression. Attacking Elder Oaks does more harm in the long run because it only validates incorrect assumptions about gays as being unwilling to seek truth. So why should they think we tried it their way? Why should they reexamine their position when it’s clear we haven’t really tried hard enough yet?

    I hope I’m being seen as an ally here. I know there is a lot of anger about the injustices against our community, but I want to emphasize that this specific conversation is taking place within a religious context and we need to think in terms of effectiveness, not impulsiveness. If we show emotional and spiritual maturity to the audience we seek, they have no choice but to reconsider our position. If you really have faith in the righteousness of the gay position, then prove it by embracing the spirit as an ally. What greater ally can we have than God? I believe in the rightness of our cause. I have used the spirit as my ally and I testify that it will support us if we humble ourselves and seek it’s support, but to do so requires a change of heart and mindset. Isn’t that what we’re asking for as well?

  52. I am bothered by the fact that the Homosexual community has complained about the laws and government and religious organizations dictating to them what they can and can not do in their own bedrooms and intruding in their lives, then turn around around and demand that the laws and government and religious organizations support what they do in their own bedrooms.

    • It’s not about supporting what someone does in their *own* bedroom, its about standing up for the rights of others. There is a reason people have become bitter towards the church. The organization implicitly approves of intolerance when it allows their leaders to deal with people this way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe0Bc0Y_OJM

      We need leaders in the church who are not afraid to speak out against such blatant bigotry within the church and to demand the kinds of reforms that will help rid the organization of this prevalent problem, like eliminating the mandatory nature of the church’s ward membership assignment.

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