same sex marriage xmasFriday’s surprising decision that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional has resulted in an unsurprising flurry of political debate.

Controversially, some Utah counties have attempted to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to last night’s Salt Lake Tribune, only 22 of the state’s 29 counties are complying with Judge Shelby’s “plain talk” from yesterday in which he upheld his ruling and denied any delay in its implementation.

For now, same-sex weddings have proceeded apace. As USA Today reported this morning:

About 700 gay couples have obtained wedding licenses since U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby on Friday declared Utah’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but lawyers for the state are trying every legal avenue to halt the practice. Shelby on Monday denied their bid to temporarily stop gay marriage while the appeals process plays out, and they quickly went to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

How long that will continue is still undetermined; the legal wrangling could continue for months. But in the meantime, hundreds of happy couples and their friends and families are reporting their joy as they wait for hours in line to obtain a license from counties where they are being issued.

In my Facebook feed this morning, I saw to my delight that a high school friend from Illinois who now lives in Salt Lake City had posted a picture of the line he and his longtime partner were waiting in as they prepared to take this next step.

And then, hours later, the joyous photo of the two of them . . . with their marriage license.

For me and many others, this is thrilling. However, as I noted on Friday, the LDS Church responded swiftly with an official statement that marriage should be solely between a man and a woman, and many Mormons have expressed anger and opposition to the judge’s ruling. In an editorial yesterday for Meridian Magazine, Maurine Proctor wrote:

In a move that is both arrogant and irresponsible, one district judge overstepped his bounds, trampled the constitution of Utah, ignored the clear will of thousands of voters and imposed same-sex marriage on Utah on Dec. 20.

Conservative Mormons are railing against “activist judges,” while progressive Mormons are taking aim at Utah governor Gary Herbert for attempting multiple measures to stop the judge’s ruling. The “activist governor” has received his very own satire at By Common Consent, a clever and funny rendition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Here’s an excerpt:

And THEN
They’d do something he liked least of all!
Every Gay down in Zion, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, like they’re dressed for the Emmys.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Gays would start FAMILIES!

They’d sing! And they’d sing!
AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Gov thought of the Gay-Marriage-Sing
The more the Gov thought, “I must stop this whole thing!
“Why for fifty-three hours I’ve put up with it now!
I MUST stop Gay families from forming!
…But HOW?”

Some progressives have also noted that the long-championed argument of the Religious Right — that same-sex marriage would do material harm to traditional marriage between a man and a woman — is actually coming true thanks to the conservative backlash. In some of the counties where licenses are being denied, they are being denied to everyone, not just to same-sex couples.

 

43 Comments

  1. Jana, you write: “Conservative Mormons are railing against ‘activist judges,’ while progressive Mormons are taking aim at Utah governor Gary Herbert for attempting multiple measures to stop the judge’s ruling.”

    Here’s the problem. When it comes to discipleship as believing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one’s personal politics are utterly irrelevant. For those who have testimonies of the restoration of the gospel, who sincerely sustain the President of the church as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and who correspondingly sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators, the matter is quite settled. We have been repeatedly counseled by these men who are called of God and anointed to be His living oracles to not just exercise our franchise to uphold traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but also to oppose efforts to redefine marriage as something else.

    When we raise our hands in General Conference to sustain these men, it isn’t an empty gesture. It has real meaning. We do not sustain them conditionally upon how conservative or progressive their teachings may be, but rather as a collective body of Latter-day Saints regardless of our personal preferences.

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

    “A clear test of our readiness to hear the living prophets is our receptivity to the statements of the First Presidency. Of these President Ezra Taft Benson has said, ‘If we are living the gospel, we will feel in our hearts that the First Presidency of the Church not only have the right, but are also duty bound under heaven to give counsel on any subject which affects the temporal or spiritual welfare of the Latter-day Saints.’ (Conference Report, October 1950, p. 148.)

    “Being alive to the living prophets means, said President Romney, that ‘what the presidency say as a presidency is what the Lord would say if he were here, and it is scripture. It should be studied, understood, and followed, even as the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants.’ (Conference Report, April 1945, p. 90.)

    “This is a hard but necessary dimension of the doctrine about living prophets, and each in his circumstantial turn will need to be tested to see if he really subscribes to it. Our relationship to living prophets is not one in which their sayings are a smorgasbord from which we may take only that which pleases us. We are to partake of all that is placed before us, including the spinach, and to leave a clean plate!” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Things As They Really Are” [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], Chapter 4: The Reality of the Living Prophets.)

    Marion G. Romney’s comment about “what the presidency say as a presidency” is critical to the believing Latter-day Saint position on the contemporary question of marriage. And on a personal level, this made a significant impact on me personally not just with regard to the question of same-sex marriage, but also on the question of civil unions.

    If one had asked me several years ago what I thought about same-sex marriage, I would have responded that I oppose them (President Hinckley was clear on the matter back in 1998 & 1999), but that I could see no compelling reason to oppose domestic partnership laws which would grant much of the rights associated with marriage to same-sex couples who would like to legally affirm their relationship.

    And then the First Presidency issued a formal statement on the matter on October 20, 2004:

    “We of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reach out with understanding and respect for individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. We realize there may be great loneliness in their lives but there must also be recognition of what is right before the Lord.

    “As a doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture, we affirm that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

    “Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.”

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/first-presidency-statement-on-same-gender-marriage

    So much for what I thought was a tidy compromise position. The First Presidency not only reaffirmed the traditional definition of marriage, but also expressed opposition to measures which “confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.”

    And thus my test of discipleship. Do I truly subscribe to the doctrine of living prophets and its implications in all things, or am I taking heaping portions of the things which suit me while abandoning the spinach and going so far as to publicly condemn the spinach?

    On June 29, 2008, the First Presidency weighed in on the matter again, issuing a letter to be read in each congregation in California which was Ground Zero for the same-sex marriage issue at the time. They wrote:

    “Dear Brethren and Sisters:

    “In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.’ The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008 Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.

    “The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between and man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.

    “A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.

    “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.”

    Another test of whether a member of the LDS church truly subscribes to the doctrine of living prophets and cleans his plate of the spinach in addition to the bacon. No longer was it just a matter of repeating doctrine and encouraging support of the same. The First Presidency upped the significance by stating “our best efforts are required.” Not our grudging, half-hearted efforts. And not just “if we feel like it” or “if we already agree,” but “required.” For some, this was a heaping pile of spinach. And a significant test. Especially in families very personally touched by this issue.

    Elder Maxwell, in his afore cited book, explored the dynamics of this discussion well:

    “Revelation is at one and the same time both a conservative force and a progressive force. It is conservative and stabilizing in that it places before us and affirms all that God has communicated to man in the past, giving us continuity. At the same time, the open-endedness of the process of revelation brings us truths and realities that are, to us, new.

    “When some initially are uneasy with the stand taken by the living prophet for and in behalf of the living God, this may mean that they are basically faithful but puzzled and simply need to work through the matter until they come to a feeling of peace and support. But some people are so frequently unsettled by what the living prophets say that it is likely they are unsettled in a more basic way.

    “Prophets have a way of saying what the people need to hear, not what they want to hear; and when people cannot accept these utterances, it is usually because they are uncertain at their very center about things as they really are. So often we find that in order to get to the heart of the matter, it is necessary first to get to the hearts of those involved. Prophets do that!

    “Following the living prophets is something that must be done in all seasons and circumstances. We must be like President Marion G. Romney, who humbly said, ‘. . . I have never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, and political life.’ (Conference Report, April 1941, p. 123.) There are, or will be, moments when prophetic declarations collide with our pride or our seeming personal interests. It can happen in many ways: businessmen caught in Sunday-closing efforts who must decide how they really feel about the fourth commandment; theater owners showing near-pornographic films who must decide between prophets and profits; politicians involved in an erring movement that calls forth a First Presidency statement, forcing them to decide which flag to follow; academicians whose discipline gives rise to moral issues on which the Brethren speak out, who must choose between peers and prophets; laborers who are caught in union-shop and free-agency situations. For the participants, such painful episodes tend to force home the question: Do I believe in the living prophet even when he speaks on matters affecting me and my specialty directly? Or do I stop sustaining the prophet when his words fall in my territory? If the latter, the prophet is without honor in our country!”

  2. Jana, I get the impression that you find it somehow amusing that “conservative” Mormons are struggling with the recent ruling by Judge Shelby. Your retelling of a satire that mocks those who are trying to right this injustice, calling it “clever and funny,” does not help those who are suffering under its burden. I can only hope that somewhere deep inside you are seeking to learn to compassionately understand the “anger” and “railing” you have noted in some and address it with the loving tolerance progressives so loudly proclaim they own.

    The Lord has made His position on the issue clear. You know what it is. I try to understand your disagreement with it. Perhaps you think He is unfair to narrowly define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Or, maybe you think the Lord’s prophets are wrong, and don’t understand the Lord’s “true” position as a liberal, or that He just doesn’t care.

    In an effort to promote understanding, please allow me to share with you my thoughts on the subject. Please understand that no-one understands all the reasons for all of God’s commandments. Those who truly follow God, do so primarily relying on faith. They trust that His reasons are good. But it is not a blind faith. The Spirit confirms that their trust is rightly placed – both in God and in His prophets. Therefore, they are confident that God will prevail and that all His promises as given through His prophets will be fulfilled.

    So, if the Lord says that same-sex marriage will be very harmful to families, traditional marriage, children and society (and even to those who think they will benefit from it), then faithful Mormons know this will be the case – even if they don’t understand yet exactly how and why. And this brings them great sadness, a sadness that should be respected by those who claim to be tolerant.

    • “The Lord” has not said anything. Those claiming to be His servants have weighed in. Let me know when those servants say that they have *explicitly* asked God for revelation and received it in response to copious new light and knowledge about homosexuality. Otherwise… it’s just the usual “doctrines of men, mingled with (mangled) scripture” coupled with social and political conservatism. Church leaders were wrong about polygamy; they were wrong about blacks & priesthood; and they’re wrong about gay marriage, too.

      • Molly Mormon 2.0

        Mofembot, I couldn’t agree more. When we receive an official, binding revelation, then maybe there’s more ground to stand on for “God said…” but right now, what we have is the Proclamation on the Family–clearly a legal document drafted for the 1995 court hearings on same-sex marriage in Hawaii which even the church as of BKP’s 2010 conference talk is loathe to call “revelation”–and some scriptures that proclaim homosexuality to be a sin right alongside eating shellfish, having rounded haircuts, and women who don’t cover their heads.

        • Molly – Believing Latter-day Saints don’t hem and haw over the legitimacy of formal proclamations of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

          • Molly Mormon 2.0

            You’re right. Though, I consider myself a believer. Of course, the paradigm has to shift once you have studied enough and delved deep enough into our own history and doctrine. I understand why traditional believing Mormons hare having a tough time reconciling it. To them I would suggest they read D&C 134.

          • Either one believes the church is led by God or men. There isn’t an in between. And D&C 134 is a wonderful section.

          • @TomW or Peter: Can the Lord’s prophets be wrong ever on official doctrines? It seems that is the broader issue here. You don’t think so. Many of us other members of the church do think so.

            “Either one believes the church is led by God or men. There isn’t an in between.” But what about the times when the church is in error? God does not make mistakes, so the only way I see to make this work is to allow for the imperfect men who lead the church to make mistakes, and for God to allow it. Whether or not the issue at hand is a “mistake” or not is another matter. It all rests first on these basic assumptions. To be honest, I’m not sure how any of my fellow believing Latter-day Saints are unable to see that God clearly allows his Prophets to err. They are not infallible, and neither is the church. Tell me though, how do you reconcile the errors in doctrine, or policy, or teachings, or practices, with your beliefs that all of these things are straight and perfect directly from God? I just can’t see how it is possible (sincerely).

          • Adam…good question….The Church is led by men who are human and make mistakes, from Joseph Smith to Thomas Monson. The Church is not in error when the First Presidency and the Quorum of 12 Apostles agree unitedly on the issue or principle. That’s the difference. Because they are united and publicly state it…for example the Proclamation on the Family is signed by all 15 men whom we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators.
            By the way…that proclamation begins…(note the unity)….”We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God…..”
            The proclamation gives this warning at the end……”we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” Yes..those calamities are coming because of the behavior of the people.

          • http://rationalfaiths.com/gay-marriage-mormonism/

            TomW,

            You might do well to read points 8-10. Also, notice that in point 14, it is mentioned that Elder Packer was required or encouraged to soften the tone of his emphasis on the proclamation.

            Many of the people debating with you, myself included, used to have opinions as strong as yours. When digging into the history, you find that the prophets have made mistakes even when saying “Thus sayeth the lord…” There are bishops, current patriarchs well known to church leadership, authors with works published and sold at Deseret Book and certainly general authorities with these understandings.

            Just one simple example from the OT is when Jonah went to Ninevah. He didn’t command them to repent, he told them that they would be destroyed in 40 days. (Chapter 3)
            When the Lord spared the people in Ninevah, Jonah showed his bigotry and had to be corrected. (Chapter 4)

            The early apostles needed correction during and after the life of Christ. Joseph Smith was called to repent SEVERAL times during his lifetime and even had the plates removed for a while.

            Just because the church may be led be God, doesn’t mean that it’s led in a straight line. God works with humans who have limited understanding and a serious cultural bias. This is a result of the fall. He allows people glimpses into the divine but with the lens of mortality, there are smudges which occur.

            The modern day “doctrines” regarding blacks and the priesthood should be reason enough to make you realize that prophets and those called of God have and do make mistakes.

            Your kind of binary “right/wrong”, “prophet speaks: end of story” thinking has led to an awful lot of shaken faith syndrome when the person with those opinions comes to realize that prophets are MEN with their own cultural baggage. The binary path was the one which was rejected in the pre-mortal existence.

            I would go further to say that in order to sustain the church leaders, we need to make sure we weigh the matters out in our thoughts and our hearts and share IN LOVE if we believe a mistake has been made. There is a significant difference in this and “hemming and hawing” over church proclamations.

            In this particular case, I feel that if the church wants to call gay marriage a sin, that’s their prerogative. When the church intervenes into removing their rights, I consider that a violation of the teachings of King Mosiah as he was establishing the reign of the judges. At that time, he insisted that the laws didn’t infringe on the rights of the believers or on those of the unbelievers regardless of their views.

            I also believe that the threats to the family mentioned in the proclamation would be far better addressed by spending the same effort which was put into Prop 8 and other campaigns into marital counselling and reminders of the importance of compassion and honesty within and without the homes to reduce instances of financial irresponsibility (the #1 cause of divorce) and infidelity.

          • Sker, I read your link with particular attention to points 8-10 and 14 as you requested.

            With regard to point #8 (“But the prophet said!”), I hope we all understand that prophets and apostles are capable of speaking both as agents of the Lord as well as fellow mortals. Most sections of the Doctrine & Covenants are derived from the Joseph Smith era of the church. Each of Joseph’s successors have understood quite well the protocol for elevating something to the level of doctrine, and few have invoked it. For all of Brigham Young’s pontifications, there is but one section of the D&C credited to him (136), and it addresses the westward migration of the Saints.

            John Taylor never suggested that the quote you attribute to him be taught as doctrine. Neither did any of the myriad General Authorities of the church who offered their views about cursings and priesthood eligibility. As Elder Oaks wisely noted several years ago, the lesson is that avoid attempting to put reasons to the workings of the Lord, as the speculations we come up with will be predominantly man-made and can only bite us in the rump. (OK, he didn’t quite put it that way, but that was his point nonetheless.) As for the church’s statement, it reads as follows: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” This statement is quite proper in that it clearly disavows the theories that were put forth. The theories weren’t exactly considered doctrine.

            By invoking the Taylor quote (and frankly, you could have cited any number of similar comments from numerous General Authorities over the years), Devery Anderson commits what LDS scholar Stephen E. Robinson might refer to as misrepresentation. In a New Era outtake of his book, “Are Mormons Christians?”, Robinson writes: “Another form of misrepresentation is to claim something is official LDS doctrine when it may merely be an individual opinion or even speculation. The official doctrine of the Latter-day Saints is clearly defined and readily accessible to all. Doctrines are official if they are found in the standard works of the Church, if they are sustained by the Church in general conference (D&C 26:2), or if they are taught by the First Presidency as a presidency. Policies and procedures are official whenever those who hold the keys and have been sustained by the Church to make them declare them so.”

            As such, the Family Proclamation – signed by the First Presidency AND the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – and widely distributed throughout the church and repeatedly quoted by them in the intervening years, surely meets the standard of being “taught by the First Presidency as a presidency.”

            With regard to point #9 (“OK, all of those racist things they said were just their opinions because they lived in a culture that thought that way.”), that’s probably a very reasonable explanation for the speculations for the priesthood ban. But when Anderson follows up with, “Bingo! And we are likely hearing lots of ‘opinions’ today,” you might wish to reconsider whether faithful Latter-day Saints should make this their personal default position for everything the leadership of the church teaches, because if they do, they might as well not have a church with prophets and apostles at all. The key has long been that these leaders will not lead us astray, i.e. our salvation is not jeopardized by sustaining and following them. That doesn’t necessarily require that everything they say is the best way to say it, or that they necessarily understand why the Lord has commanded any given thing. We’ll be judged on our willingness to obey God and His chosen representatives, not on our bravery in slicing and dicing their every utterance in such a manner that we only accept what we feel like accepting and reject what we feel like rejecting, placing ourselves on a pedestal above those divinely called to lead the Kingdom. We know what the Book of Mormon teaches about learned people who think they are wise.

            With regard to point #10 (“But doctrines never change!”), God absolutely has the authority to require one thing of one generation and another thing entirely of another. The types of things that don’t change are the eternal divine nature of humankind – our premortal, mortal, and post-mortal identity and purpose.

            Lastly, with regard to point #14 (“But what about The Family: A Proclamation to the World that defines marriage between a man and a woman?”), Devery gets really creative by writing, “The proclamation states: ‘Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.’ It doesn’t say this is the ONLY way. This doesn’t say anything about gay marriage. It only says that this type of marriage is essential. In our belief system, this is how we complete the commandment to ‘replenish the earth.’ ”

            In our belief system, the earth is only a blip on the radar screen. In our belief system, marriage remains essential if we desire to spend eternity in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom participating in the ongoing creative process. The only way this type of marriage isn’t essential is if we disqualify ourselves from exaltation. And needless to say, in our belief system, we strive to aid the Father’s work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. This means teaching the very essential nature of “this type of marriage.” In the eternities, there is no other. In our belief system.

            With regard to Packer’s talk, an honest review of what he said and what was later modified comes down to a matter of tone, not content. In recent years there has been much talk about the church’s softened stance toward homosexuality, and this is largely a matter of more Christlike messaging, not an abandonment of the doctrines themselves.

            It is true that the Proclamation was not added to the latest update to the LDS standard works. I fully expect, considering its continuing emphasis by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, that the day will come that it will be presented to the body of the church for that purpose, much the same as Sections 137 & 138 were added in my youth. I could offer my own speculation as to why it wasn’t added yet, but it won’t be worth anything. It seems that the church didn’t want to launch a revolution in sales of the Standard Works in English when it implemented nothing more than minor modifications. As explained by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “This new edition incorporates adjustments that will be a blessing to Church members in years to come, but members should not feel that they need to purchase a new set of scriptures, particularly since all of the adjustments are available in digital formats at no cost. Changes to the scriptural text include spelling, minor typographical, and punctuation corrections.” The addition of the Family Proclamation at this time would have necessitated widespread updating of footnotes and topical guide references throughout the Standard Works. From a practical point of view, formally including it in the canon isn’t a priority. It is reasonable to assume that the vast majority of faithful Saints affirm proclamations from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve without an engraved invitation and upheld hands at General Conference. What is the point of coming to conferences to learn from the prophets and apostles, if our knee-jerk tendency is to dismiss anything we don’ t like?

          • Just a quick add to my last comment. It would have been MORE noteworthy if the church had updated the Standard Works with a new section to the D&C or another Official Proclamation while still omitting the Family Proclamation. But since no functional change was made at all, it doesn’t really mean much. Note that the church didn’t bother to get anyone’s sustaining vote for the minor changes in the new edition.

      • Let’s be clear, mofembot. Believing Latter-day Saints claim these men to be His servants. Latter-day Saints who cannot affirm this aren’t in harmony with their professed faith.

        • Just to be clear, TomW: many believing LDS affirm that these men are prophets *when they are speaking as such* — which is what the leaders themselves have taught. Dogmatically insisting that the only correct “default mode” for members is to treat leaders’ words and policies as coming from God, particularly when such defy logic, reason, mercy, kindness, and justice, suggests a radical misunderstanding of the definitions of faith, sustaining, inspiration, conscience, agency, etc., as well as a willingness to sidestep church history.

          • That’s the point, mofembot. When the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles release a statement under their collective signatures, they ARE speaking as such. If a Latter-day Saint can’t even be sure if prophets and apostles are speaking for the Lord when they are plainly declaring doctrine with such formality, what exactly can such a person still believe in AT ALL? We’re not talking about random spoken anomalies which are difficult to reconcile with a greater body of teaching to the contrary, we’re talking about serious declarations, prepared in extremely deliberate and collaborative fashion, which are consistent with the entirety of the Standard Works of the LDS church.

          • Molly Mormon 2.0

            TomW, I’d like to ask you to back up your claim that all the items put forth in the Proclamation on the Family “are consistent with the entirety of the Standard Works of the LDS church.” I’d like you to find me where in the scriptures it talks about parents acting as equals while the husband presides (an anomaly statement I might add…one cannot preside over an equal), where it states that a woman is to nurture and a man to provide, and where it talks about the dangers of monogamous homosexual couples joining in legal unions. I’d also like you to find for me where it says that it’s okay to make the religious definitions of one religious groups law for an entire society. Lastly, I’d like you to talk to me about the calamities that Canada is facing for legalizing same-sex marriage over ten years ago. It seems to me that the US is far more ripe for destruction even without legalizing same-sex couples, so drawing the line in that direction defies logic.

          • mofembot, you write: “TomW, I’d like to ask you to back up your claim that all the items put forth in the Proclamation on the Family ‘are consistent with the entirety of the Standard Works of the LDS church.’ ”

            For the record, my remarks didn’t read exactly that way, but close enough. I’ll address the specific comments you made. (Also, for the believing Latter-day Saint, the Proclamation could be a completely new teaching and would carry equal legitimacy, so I don’t get the point of having to defend it at all.)

            You write: “I’d like you to find me where in the scriptures it talks about parents acting as equals while the husband presides (an anomaly statement I might add…one cannot preside over an equal)”

            The apostle Paul taught: “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:4) They belong to each other in every sense. There is equality in that. Paul further taught, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:11)

            In the Doctrine & Covenants, parents share the responsibility of teaching their children and having them baptized at the age of eight, lest the sin fall upon them. The responsibility is equal.

            As for presiding itself, I give you Moses 4:22, which says, “Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

            mofembot, you scoff at the notion of presiding over an equal. In addition to the above, the church has put out the following on this topic in the “Eternal Marriage Student Manual,” which states under a section entitled, “Accept Wife as an Equal Partner”:

            “A man who holds the priesthood accepts his wife as a partner in the leadership of the home and family with full knowledge of and full participation in all decisions relating thereto. Of necessity there must be in the Church and in the home a presiding officer (see D&C 107:21). By divine appointment, the responsibility to preside in the home rests upon the priesthood holder (see Moses 4:22). The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership. Presiding in righteousness necessitates a shared responsibility between husband and wife; together you act with knowledge and participation in all family matters. For a man to operate independently of or without regard to the feelings and counsel of his wife in governing the family is to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

            Moving on to where the standard works teach “that a woman is to nurture and a man to provide.”

            In 1 Timothy 5:8 we read: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

            In D&C 75:28 we read, “And again, verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown; and let him labor in the church.”

            The importance of nurturing mothers is perhaps best illustrated in the Book of Mormon account of Helaman’s stripling warriors: “yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” (Alma 56:47-48)

            The roles of women in child-rearing and men in providing go back to Adam and Eve at the time of the fall: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” (Genesis 3:16-17)

            This is my favorite objection, “and where it talks about the dangers of monogamous homosexual couples joining in legal unions.”

            Let’s be blunt. The biblical punishment for homosexual behavior was death. Even if we do not advocate this punishment in the 21st century, one cannot twist the biblical condemnation into modern sanctification. It just doesn’t work.

            You continue: “I’d also like you to find for me where it says that it’s okay to make the religious definitions of one religious groups law for an entire society.”

            This is not addressed in the Proclamation.

            We finally arrive at the end of your questions, “Lastly, I’d like you to talk to me about the calamities that Canada is facing for legalizing same-sex marriage over ten years ago. It seems to me that the US is far more ripe for destruction even without legalizing same-sex couples, so drawing the line in that direction defies logic.”

            The Proclamation warns “that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

            In my book, Canada and the United States – as well as the rest of the world – has fallen way short. And the Proclamation addresses the entirety of the Family and its needs. That it describes long-held Latter-day Saint teaching with regard to the eternal identities of mankind and our future potential, and that these things have bearing on homosexual relations as they do all extramarital heterosexual relations as well, does not mean that any particular group has been singled out by it. The Proclamation isn’t an anti-gay document, it is a pro-exaltation as husbands and wives in the presence of the Father document.

          • Sorry mofembot and Molly, clearly my last remarks are in response to Molly despite my error above.

          • Molly Mormon 2.0

            As someone who was counseled into a marriage with a gay man, I’d just like to point out that advocating for the legal recognition of same-sex unions is probably the best way to ensure the continuation of “traditional” families. What everyone seems to forget is that 1) none of us were never meant to be alone–which is what is currently counseled for homosexuals and it’s clearly in contrast to everything we know about humans sociologically, biologically, and even spiritually and that 2) when we tell our LGBTQ brothers and sisters that they cannot be with someone they are *naturally* attracted to, they often enter into mixed-orientation marriages, that have a 75% chance of failure. If we want to raise the status of “traditional” marriages and give them a fighting chance, we will stop encouraging this.

            As for the examples in the Bible of homosexual conduct and punishment, none of those examples deal with homosexual monogamy. They all are speaking to homosexual acts as adultery and/or fornication. Also, per my earlier comments about the unnatural state of living alone, Biblical times knew nothing of single-family dwellings. They lived in communities and small villages. Our current society that shuts away mothers in what is basically solitary confinement and sentences our LGBTQ brothers and sisters to lives of life-long solitude (if they are following the standards/expectations of the Church) is simply not compatible with Biblical times. If we are to request that the standards of an ancient society be adopted for these marginalized groups (and I include SAHMs in that group as well), we need to go back to tribal living as well. Frankly, I think we’ve approached these issues all wrong in the first place. Our current society does not allow for the healthy adult attachments and companionship outside of marriage (or cohabitation, but we can agree on the lesser morality of that) and so it is unhealthy what we are requesting of LGBTQ.

          • Molly, does your concept of LDS doctrine in any way suggest the possibility of a same-sex eternal union with continuing offspring?

          • Molly Mormon 2.0

            TomW, my concept of LDS doctrine includes the law of adoption, which was practiced in the early church. I can easily conceive of an eternity that includes our LGBTQ brothers and sisters being sealed together in the human family for eternities to come. Our concept of sealing couples rather than families/communities is quite distant from the concept of sealing that existed when Joseph Smith was given the keys for sealing.

  3. Some have asked this question here in one form or another: “What if the prophets are wrong? They are not infallible. How do we know what to believe? On this matter, I think they are wrong.” I suggest they give heed to this answer given by Jesus Christ in John 7:16-17 “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

    Jesus teaches that we can “know” whether a doctrine is of God or not by first doing God’s will. If you love God, keep His commandments and see where He leads you. God will not allow those who love Him and keep His commandments to be misled. I know I can trust Him with my eternal soul – and I do. I testify that I know that the Lord’s doctrine of marriage as described by our church leaders is true and correct. I know this because it has been revealed to me by the Father.

    • As unthinkable as this may be to you, other devout and obedient LDS can with equal fervor, devotion, and sincerity testify that they, too, have received an answer from God that differs from what you experienced. We are all prone to confirmation bias — which means that we *all* hear (or interpret) what we receive in ways that reinforce what we already believe or expect.

      • It’s not unthinkable to me at all, because tales of Latter-day Saints claiming to have received answers from God which stand in opposition to the direction of His appointed leaders are as old as the church itself. I don’t doubt many people’s sincerity, but I’ve learned long ago that if I’m going to hitch my wagon to someone’s horse, it will be the horse of the prophets and apostles who I sustain as God’s agents on earth, and not that of their critics.

          • Feel free to create your own metaphors, mofembot. The point remains that from a believing Latter-day Saint perspective, Heavenly Father has restored His church to the earth and has called modern prophets to lead and guide us and to administer the affairs of His kingdom. If at any time I find that my thoughts are not in harmony with their thoughts, my default position is that I’m probably the one requiring adjustment, and I take it to the Lord accordingly. I have yet to emerge from the experience with a testimony that the Lord’s servants are wrong, and that I’m the one blessed with a special manifestation from above which trumps their inspired direction. But I do generally emerge from the experience with a greater appreciation and understanding of the Lord’s ways.

          • I love that I can trust the answers I receive from God. He is trustworthy. His goodness and greatness never wavers. His answers are always right. We need not fear that in following God, we may err or be deceived. He wants us to live without fear, doubt or worries – which is one of the main reasons he has given us these mortal lives: to learn to live by faith so that we can learn to trust Him and know that He is wonderful and that all His promises will be fulfilled, so that we might experience a perfect fullness of joy, even a joy as great as His.

            When we humbly and sincerely surrender our will to his, with a commitment to Him to do His will always, give up all our sins, keep all His commandments, whatever they might be, and love and serve Him with all of our heart, might, mind and soul, no matter how difficult the world may make it for us, no matter the opposition, without compromise, without seeking to bargain with the Lord, without seeking to gain anything from it for ourselves, except the fulfillment of His promises of eternal life and eternal joy, and maintain this commitment all the days of our lives, through sickness and health, riches or poverty, ignoring Satan’s discouraging lies and temptations such that the devil has no power to lead us into misery and frustration, then His truth will be perfectly clear to us. Then we will feel His love and know for ourselves, as I and millions of other faithful Mormons do, that God lives and loves each one of us with a love we cannot now fully comprehend, that Jesus Christ lives, and that Christ is the head of this church that bears his name, that He restored it to the earth through His servant, the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was chosen for this work before he was born, and leads it today through living prophets and apostles He has called and through whom He reveals His eternal and unchangeable truths.

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  5. Peter,

    In your post on Dec 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm you said:
    “I love that I can trust the answers I receive from God.”

    How can you trust what you believe to be answers from God when:

    – Your answers contradict answers others think they have received from God? (For example, there are Catholics that believe God has told them the Catholic Church is God’s one and only church with authority from God, yet the LDS Church indicates the creeds of all churches besides the LDS Church are an abomination to God.)

    – Such influence from God is admittedly easily confused with emotions or influence from the adversary? (search for the words “emotional” or “adversary” in this article by Elder Packer at http://www.lds.org/ensign/1983/01/the-candle-of-the-lord)

    – You have no objective way to determine that your perceptions of the Spirit are anything other than a psychological experience called elevation? (see more about elevation at http://www.theamateurthinker.com/2011/02/how-can-we-find-truth-part-4/)

    – “A common technique among religious cults is to instruct people to ask God what He wants them to do. Members are exhorted to study and pray in order to know God’s will for them.” (Steven Hassan, Combatting Cult Mind Control, p. 70)? Keep in mind that this kind of exhortation to prayer to find answers from God often leads to conclusions like the “Reverend Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah.”

    Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this!
    Zack

    • Peter Marlow

      Zack,

      My trust in God does not waver because of things that happen apart from me in the world, or because of the differing opinions of others. My trust in God is built on a solid foundation – the rock of personal revelation upon which Jesus proclaimed that His church would be built (see Matthew 16:15-18).

      Personal revelation is pure knowledge received directly from God. This knowledge does not need to be helped by any interpretations given by another. The opinions of others about the substance and nature of such revelation is irrelevant. They can only guess what it was and still is. No-one but God and the recipient know the truth.

      It is not simply an emotion. And it cannot be Satan’s deception. In the verse cited above, Jesus taught that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is because personal revelation is always accompanied by a “seal of authenticity,” as I like to call it. One who receives personal revelation will know from God that the revelation is genuine. He is a powerful and loving God. He can and does give such assurance.

      To be sure, those with dishonest motives, with polluted hearts or who are otherwise afraid to trust God may suffer self-deception and proudly proclaim their experience as a “revelation.” The only defense against such error is to have faith in Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. As I quoted in an earlier post here, Jesus taught, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

      The person with faith and trust in God who keeps His commandments need not live in the fear of a dark and uncertain world. They are not tossed about by the ever-changing opinions of men. The Lord’s faithful can enjoy perfect peace knowing that God is watching over them with love, and will by personal revelation guide them unfailingly to eternal life.

      I know directly from God that He lives, knows you and me perfectly, and loves each one of us with a love we can only begin to imagine. I know directly from God that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, the one – the only one – by whom we may receive eternal life. I knew nothing about Jesus – I had never been in a church, heard a sermon, seen a missionary or touched a Bible – until the Father revealed Him to me in my first ever prayer, which I gave while sitting alone in my bedroom when I was 20 years old. That experience is still so real, beautiful and wonderful to me today, 37 years later, that just reflecting upon it now brings tears of joy to my eyes.

      I know directly from God that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, that he was called of God, while still a child, to help restore Christ’s true church upon the earth. I know directly from God that the Book of Mormon, like the Bible, is truly the word of God. I know directly from God that the prophets and apostles who today lead His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are truly called of God and authorized by Him to do this work.

      I bear my testimony not to convince and convert you, but to motivate you to seek to experience what I am experiencing, that is, to love and trust God and allow yourself to receive from Him your own personal revelation, that you may have true Godly peace now and His infinite and eternal joy forever.

      • Zack Tacorin

        Peter,

        Thanks for your quick response, but I think you may have misunderstood my question. I did not ask you about your trust in god. I asked “How can you trust what you believe to be answers from God when . . .” Then I gave four very specific points that I think get at problem with LDS revelation. If I’m wrong, then please help me understand by answering my questions.

        Thanks again!
        Zack

        • Peter Marlow

          Zack,

          I‘m sorry, I thought I did answer your basic question, “How…?” I trust in the answers I receive from God, regardless of whatever “when…,” because I have an assurance from God that He loves me and will forever guide me correctly. I’ll explain how this works in connection with each of the points you presented.

          Others may receive answers from God that they may claim contradict or oppose those I have received. I will not judge their honesty or their understanding of what they had experienced. Though I have never heard a Catholic (or anyone of any other religion, for that matter – and especially not an atheist) tell me that they have received personal revelation regarding the truthfulness of their church (I’d like to learn more – please point me to web sites where I may find such testimonies), as far as I am concerned, such personal revelation would be between that person and God. It would have nothing to do with me.

          My and every other person’s responsibility to God is to love and trust Him, and keep His commandments so that we each may be able to receive the personal guidance He continually offers each one of us, and then faithfully follow it. I have no responsibility to follow the guidance God gives someone else, unless He instructs me to do so, as is the case with His prophets. In the end, I recognize that I do not know all things that God knows. So I have no problem with God doing things that I do not understand. What I do know – what God has revealed to me up to now – continues to give me a truly divine peace and happiness.

          You point out that we teach that the creeds of all other churches are an abomination to God. Please note that the other churches are not an abomination, only those creeds they have adopted which add to or take away from the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the LDS church, we recognize the much good that is done in other churches. Personally, I occasionally listen to sermons given by non-LDS preachers and ministers. I enjoy some of them very much. I know many non-LDS Christians who are wonderful people. I sincerely believe I will someday see them with God in heaven.

          In my previous post I explained how we can avoid confusing revelation with emotions or the influence of the adversary. It is simply this: Trust God, love Him and keep His commandments. Don’t be afraid – be faithful. He watches over and protects His faithful.

          Psychologists and academics have no objective way to analyze or understand the process of personal revelation. They may be able to artificially induce “elevation,” a feeling or experience that they claim is the same, but this doesn’t prove anything. Until they have experienced what I have experienced, they cannot know what it is and will have no idea how similar it may or may not be to “elevation.” Their conclusions are nothing more than their opinions.

          Their science is not infallible, their reasoning is not flawless and many of the assumptions upon which they base their conclusions are wrong. The one constant in science is change. There are no proofs in science as there are in mathematics, only theories. New discoveries are continually overturning theories previously held as sacred. Such changes and advancements are among the most exciting things about science. God has proven His truths to me in a way that scientists cannot even begin to understand. I will put my trust in God.

          As to Steven Hassan’s opinions, many of them are good and accurate. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that because a person is correct about many things, he is correct about all things. If we cannot ask God for guidance, where will we get it? From a man? Which man? Steven Hassan? Or, should stumble about on our own, alone, with no map or compass, refusing the guidance God freely offers, because He loves us, which guidance will lead us to infinite joys?

          What does Jesus teach?

          “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11)

          “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:12-14)

          Don’t be afraid to trust God. Let Him be your rock. He is wonderful. He loves you. Allow Him to lead you by His Spirit to know His eternal truths. Allow Him to open your eyes to your divine potential. Experience the abundant life He has promised to those who love Him. If you have made serious mistakes, know that He forgives sins completely. It is never too late. Yield to the gentle invitations of His Spirit. You will be eternally grateful.

          • Peter,

            The question I asked is how you trust spiritual experiences discern truth considering certain points. You have not responded to those specific points. (This is my short response. If you have the patience, the rest is my response to your details. I really wish you would focus on responding to the specifics of the original question though.)

            Just because you’ve never heard of people receiving a witness from the Spirit that their non-LDS Church is the Church of God, does not mean these people do not exist. To assume something is not so because you have not heard of it is a logical fallacy called argument from ignorance. For examples of spiritual confirmations of various religions–many of which have fundamental tenants that contradict LDS truth claims–go to http://www.theamateurthinker.com/2011/02/how-can-we-find-truth-part-4/

            You declare you do not need to follow the guidance others get from God. Good because that’s not what I was saying. I asked how can revelation be a reliable way to discern truth if revelations people believe they have received contradict one another. For example, the LDS claim that Jesus was the Messiah. Moonies testify that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah. Either one, the other, or both claims are false. Why should we consider this kind of revelation reliable when it is not consistent?

            You seem to have missed the point about the LDS claim that all other religions’ creeds are an abomination. It is only to point out that the beliefs others claim God has revealed as truth contradict things you believe were revealed. In other words, either one, the other, or both claims are false. Why should we consider this kind of revelation reliable when it is not consistent?

            Right you are that until someone experiences what you’ve experienced, they cannot know what it is. Likewise, you cannot know what others have experienced. How do you know their experience is not really enlightenment from God (including their witness that the LDS faith is not a restoration from God)? Perhaps it is you that has not experienced a true manifestation of the Spirit. How would you know, understanding that these other peoples experience is indistinguishable from your experience?

            You speak of the scientific method’s disposition to change as if it were a weakness. Many think this is the greatest strength of the scientific method, since (if followed) it promotes true humility. Accepting that we may be wrong and constantly questioning one’s own conclusions is the essence of humility. The LDS Church on the other hand teaches that if you have revelation, you should not question or doubt it (as long as it agrees with the LDS Church). Given that even the prophets and apostles get it wrong (since they are fallible after all), why would a person think that they can know something with certainty with only very subjective spiritual experiences? (By the way, contrary to what you wrote, the scientific method indicates that nothing is sacred. As Carl Sagan said of science, “Its only sacred truth is that there are no sacred truths.”)

            You point out that Steven Hassan can be wrong. I agree. But the question is whether he’s wrong about religious cults (manipulative and overly-controlling groups as he defines it) encourage people to pray to discern God’s will for them. His book, Combating Cult Mind Control, is not an anti-Mormon book. He’s an expert on manipulative and overly-controlling groups, even having been a Moonie himself before discovering its fraud. He’s counseled thousands as they recover from these manipulative and overly-controlling groups. Why would you suspect he’s wrong on this point?

            You quoted Matthew 7:7-11 and John 16:12-14 to support your claim that we should seek truth by asking God and listening to His Spirit. Many Christians read the same verses and
            1. Disagree with you on how that is manifest or
            2. Agree with you on how it is manifest, but believe they’ve received answers that contradict what you believe you’ve received as revelation.
            If they believe they have received revelation that contradicts your revelation, is it possible it is you that is wrong?

          • Peter Marlow

            Zack,

            I’m sorry for your frustration. These things can be difficult for one to understand unless he first humbly yields to God’s gentle invitations to know Him and love Him, and puts off the natural man, as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 2:9-14. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

            I read the spiritual witnesses given by others in the link you provided. I thought they were all beautiful. I don’t understand your problem. I found nothing in them that contradicts the truth that God reveals Himself to those who allow Him to do so – in fact, they reinforce this eternal truth. God is truly wonderful. His loving care for all His children, regardless of what religion they presently choose to believe, is wonderful.

            While I was still an atheist at 18 or 19 years old, God miraculously spared me from certain death. In fact, I suffered no pain or even the slightest injury after an experience that usually kills a person quickly, or in cases less severe than mine, sends them to the hospital with life-threatening burns. At the time I attributed my survival to luck. God gave me no clue that He was involved. But in hindsight, I know God was protecting me because He knew that just a year or two later, humbly and without being compelled, I would seek to know Him.

            At that later time, I made a sincere promise to give up all my sins, keep His commandments, do His will always, regardless of how I might be rejected by family or friends, without compromise, without bargaining, without holding anything back, without seeking to get any gain from it for myself, for the rest of my life, come what may. I just completely and totally surrendered myself to God.

            I wasn’t expecting to feel anything. I just did what I thought was right. God then revealed Himself to me in a way that is impossible to describe. The love, beauty, peace and power of it cannot be expressed by man. I was still not yet a Christian – that came about a minute later, after God taught me about Jesus Christ. A few weeks later I joined the church He commanded me to join, that He told me was His, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

            I relate my experience as an example of how God is kind, loving and wonderful. I believe if He can do this for me, He can do it for anyone. I hope it give others hope. I don’t feel I need to defend it because I am not trying to force it upon anyone or convince anyone that I am correct. I simply had a beautiful experience that had changed my life for the better, and I share it with others. A person may do with it what he will.

          • Peter,

            Thanks for your words of concern. Don’t worry. I’m not frustrated. I’d say I’m a bit confused. I’m confused the you won’t directly answer my question. I can only speculate about why you won’t address these very specific points. My best guess is that you have no rational response to these points. Have I guessed right, or is there some other reason?

            You mention the description of spiritual experiences and tell us you don’t see the problem with these. I think you and I agree that such experiences are beautiful and potentially very valuable. But remember that some of these experiences lead people to think they know certain things that contradict your testimony, so such experiences tell us nothing about the veracity of the belief in question. Is there a way to rationally explain why your experience trumps that if another whose revelation contradicts your testimony?

            Thanks again!
            Zack

    • Raymond Takashi Swenson

      Zack, are you claiming that Catholics believe they have received revelation from testifying to the truth of their church’s doctrines and authority? I don’t think that is how Catholics formulate their faith.

      Mormons don’t rely on a transient emotional state and testify to it as revelation. We are taught to study (reading the 500+ pages Book of Mormon is a major undertaking), to ponder and consider deeply the meaning of the things we study, and then ask God in faith, in sincerity, and with willingness to act in response to the answer we seek. Ongoing revelatory experiences are linked to lived obedience ot God’s commandments and efforts to understand the scriptures and live according to them. We also note over time events that are unusual and even miraculous which others, if they note them, classify as coincidence, but which we perceive as evidence of God’s influence in events. And on occasion there is unexpected information that is confirmed later by other facts.

      The attack on the Mormon teaching that we should ask God for truth is an attack on James 1:5 and so much more of the Bible. Jesus taught “Ask, and ye shall receive.” You have to throw out the New Testament to throw out the Mormon belief that God answers prayers.

      Maybe you profess to be an atheist and don’t believe there is a God who can communicate with us. From my perspective, you are like someone who never checks his voice mail, email, or text messages because he doesn’t believe anyone has his phone number or address. The steps to receive revelation are simple, but you will never receive it if you don’t sincerely live them. Your rejection of the possibility of revelation from God will be a self-fulfilling prophecy for you.

      Don’t think that you are passing judgement on a particular religious belief. All of us are in this life to be tested about what we desire most. If you don’t desire the companionship of God, that is what you will not have through eternity.

      • Raymond,

        Thanks for your comments. I’m not claiming that all Catholics believe they have received revelation about the truth and authority claims of their church. I wouldn’t make that claim about Mormons and LDS truth and authority claims. There are Catholics however who do believe they have received revelation that the Catholic Church is the one and only church with authority from God. I personally know one Catholic converted to Catholicism this way who is a former Mormon. For other examples, Google something like “my conversion to Catholicism.”

        You spoke of the miracles noted by Mormons. Do you realize that many from various religions also claim to witness miracles? Don’t you suppose these miracles sometimes strengthen what they see as knowledge that theirs is the one and only true religion?

        You indicate that an attack on LDS teaching that we should ask God for truth is an attack on James 1:5. Yet there are non-Mormon Christians who think the LSD use of James 1:5 to support LDS claims about revelation is a misinterpretation of James 1:5. (By the way, I’ve not attacked the LDS teaching about revelation. I’ve only asked specific questions that no one has answered yet. Would you say these questions are not valid and appropriate questions? If so, why?)

        I claim to be nothing more than a seeker of truth. That’s why I’ve asked my questions. You spoke of judging others beliefs. Isn’t that exactly what we find in Joseph Smith-History 1:19 where Joseph tells us flat out that all the creeds of the religions at the time were an abomination and that their professors were all corrupt? If you believe this, aren’t you judging the beliefs of those of other faiths?

        Many thanks,
        Zack

  6. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Jana, I am an attorney who has worked in Utah, California, and other states and now works in Washington State. IN Washington, a combination of legislative action and a voter referendum enabled same sex marriage. While I was in the minority on that issue here, it was plainly a result achieved through democratic means.

    The decision by a single Federal judge in Utah to overrule an amendment to the Utah constitution that was supported by a large majority of voters is the exact opposite of democracy. It is judicial tyranny. Separate from the specific issue decided in that case, the judge has made an argument that could be applied to overrule democracy any time he feels offended by the judgment of the majority of voters in the state.

    Even more fundamentally than the 14th Amendment, the US Constitution enshrines democratic government, both at the state and Federal level. When government is no longer “by the people”, then the Civil War has been lost, and the “equality” we have is the equality of slaves, not citizens.

    That Federal judge in Utah has become a despot, in violation of his oath to uphold the Constitution. He has undermined the consensus that underlies the power of the Federal courts, and by his grab for power has weakened the power of the courts, and of the Federal government, in the long run. Mormons are well aware that judges can abuse their power, and by so doing destroy the government that gives them that power. I am afraid that the social and governmental chaos that preceded the coming of Christ in 3 Nephi is going to be replicated in these Latter Days.

    • Raymond,

      You’ve made some comments I’m very confused about. You labeled the Judge’s decision on Utah’s Amendment 3 as “judicial tyranny.” But isn’t it the role of the judiciary to interpret the constitutionality of laws and overrule those they understand to be unconstitutional, regardless of how the laws were enacted? I mean, if a law were enacted to prohibit the practice or teaching of LDS doctrine in a state, would it matter how the law was made? Wouldn’t that law likely be struck down as unconstitutional? I’m reminded of the rulings against anti miscegenation laws. Would you say overruling the anti miscegenation laws was “judicial tyranny?”

      Thanks for anything you can explain to help me understand this!
      Zack

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