Homosexuality, Feminism, and the Intelligentsia

[ 25 ] Comments

by Bonnie

This is the sixth in a 7-part series, A Compound in One.

boyd-k-packer-10Twenty years ago this year Elder Boyd K. Packer taught precious doctrines of submission in a beautiful talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council (the whole talk is worth a read). These gentle teachings would make him a target for three increasingly powerful secular movements that currently threaten the members of the Church:

Perhaps too many of us are strong advocates of our own specialized work or are such strong protectors of our own turf that we face the wrong way — maybe just sideways. Simplification and reduction must come. Simplification and reduction will come! If we cannot do it on our own — and we seem to be in that circumstance — the future will see us doing, in anxious haste, that which we might have done with deliberate care had we followed the vision which has been given to us.

Surely you have been anxiously watching the worldwide evaporation of values and standards from politics, government, society, entertainment, schools. Could you be serving in the Church without having turned to those pages in the revelations and to those statements of the prophets that speak of the last days? Could you, in working for the Church, not be conscious of or have ignored the warnings? Could you be blind to the drift that is taking place? Are you not conscious of the drift that is taking place in the Church? Could you believe other than it is critical that all of us work together and set aside personal interests and all face the same way?

It is so easy to be turned about without realizing that it has happened to us. There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems so reasonable and right.

The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. Our local leaders must deal with all three of them with ever-increasing frequency. In each case, the members who are hurting have the conviction that the Church somehow is doing something wrong to members or that the Church is not doing enough for them.

Three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away.

March Against Rape Culture and Gender Inequality - 3

In shuddering recognition, we must acknowledge that the three worldly movements causing more division among the Church than any others focus on homosexuality, feminism, and the ever-continuing sniping of the intelligentsia. Using our litmus test for the theology of the family, the doctrine of one becoming two becoming many, these all three smack of the influence of Satan.

The false belief that many hold that God will somehow change His mind about the structure of the family and one day seal same-sex spouses together is ludicrous when we know the mysteries of eternity. The idea that women must be made into caricatures of men, focusing on their personal or sexual fulfillment to the exclusion of families is ludicrous when we know the mysteries of eternity. The idea that our prophets are befuddled, delimited geriatrocrats whose views will be overturned by a more progressive generation of apostles perfectly fits the description of the proud intelligentsia, a foundationless building filled with pointing, jeering, laughing better-than-theys. How clearly Elder Packer prophesied.

More importantly, if we teach the doctrine, our youth can immediately identify Satan at work in the ideas that bombard them, and they will be protected.

In 1979, over three decades ago, Elder Neal A Maxwell uttered these prophetic words, bringing shivers of recognition:

Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions…. This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ….Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted….Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened….Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel.” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Feb 1979, p. 69-73)

The dualism we now face, the clear distinction between good and evil, the counsel of prophets and the challenge of Babylon, is a temporary dualism.

All things must fail, first, before we find a compound in one.

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photo by: CMCarterSS

About Bonnie

Living life determined to skid sideways into the grave and say, "MAN, what a ride!"

25 Responses to Homosexuality, Feminism, and the Intelligentsia

  1. Jenn says:

    “The idea that our prophets are befuddled, delimited geriatrocrats whose views will be overturned by a more progressive generation of apostles perfectly fits the description of the proud intelligentsia, a foundationless building filled with pointing, jeering, laughing better-than-theys.”
    Though I like to think I’m reasonably intelligent, and that that intelligence and thirst for knowledge led me to look at history for precedents of Prophets changing their minds over the course of generations, I certainly don’t feel better-than-they or feel a need to jeer or point. But if I feel strongly that God wants me to believe a certain thing, and that thing contradicts what the current prophet is teaching, the only thing I know how to do is pray about it and look in the history books. And sure enough, over the course of a generation or two, the official church stance on issues like polygamy, adam-god, blood atonement, blacks/priesthood, and others definitely HAVE changed, and often only because of disagreement/agitation in the church. As soon as Brigham Young died, John Taylor and the remaining apostles removed the lecture at the veil and the blood atonement from the endowment ceremony- that part of the TEMPLE ceremonies, which is undoubtedly under the jurisdiction of a “prophet speaking as a prophet”, were deemed to be tied to only Brigham Young, not doctrinal, and removed.
    And now the prophets and saints say “we don’t know where the ban on blacks and the priesthood comes from”… sure we do, it was taught as doctrine by prophets and apostles, with scripture and revelation to back them up. In retrospect it is easy to say “that was cultural, not doctrinal” and go on thinking our doctrine is eternally and unchanging, but at the time, many things we know longer believe were once part of that eternal and unchanging doctrine. The blacks could have gotten the priesthood 5 years later if Harold B Lee hadn’t blocked it despite all the other apostles being ready and feeling guided to remove the block- proof that individual preferences and cultural policies of the men who lead our church DO play into church doctrine and policy.

    So yes, historically, there is definitely reason to hope that the church may change its stance on homosexual marriage- we’ve already seen it change its stance on same-sex attraction being a choice or being a sin. Even since Boyd K Packer’s infamous (and hardly gentle) talk on the evils of “feminism, homosexuality, and feminism” the church HAS softened or completely changed its view on those issues, and I don’t hear anyone saying it is for the worse.

    The joy of living in a church with modern revelation is that things like this can change, new revelation can be given, but only when the saints are ready to receive it, which often doesn’t happen without a little upheaval. I don’t say this to jeer or judge, but yes, I used academic means to arrive at a conclusion because the church offered no other means to account for my conscience and personal spiritual witnesses on the topic. I don’t point it out to jeer but because I honestly think the church would better be able to fulfill its mission if it could allow for some change and progression.

    • Zen says:

      Jenn,

      You are consciously discounting the idea that Pres. Lee may have felt inspired to do so. Pres. McKay also prayed about it, and had the Lord instruct him to leave it alone.

      Just because it was right for the Nephites to stop living the law of Moses in 34 AD, did not mean it was appropriate in 30 AD.

    • Adam G. says:

      There is hardly a sentence in there in which you don’t set yourself and your own standards as superior to that of the prophets and the saints.

      But neither modern liberal academics nor yourself are unbiased or unflawed. Scholarship also changes dramatically as intellectual fads change. So, apparently, does personal spiritual witness, since you seem confident that the personal spiritual witnesses of millions of Mormons will change once you upheave them enough.

      The liberal ideology of societal progress has been exploded too often to count. It’s sad to see Saints at this late date still placing their faith in it.

    • Becca says:

      I think it is important to separate doctrine from policy and culture. The actual doctrine of the Church is quite limited in its scope, and centered entirely on the plan of salvation, which is the doctrine of the family, and includes the creation, the fall, and the atonement. Anything beyond the true doctrine of the gospel is policy, which we believe is based on an understanding of doctrine and revelation. These policies we sustain in General Conference as we sustain the leaders who we trust to make the policies Heavenly Father feels are best for our time which means they – the policies – do change while the doctrine remains unchanged.

      And the Church allows for lots of change and progression :) It’s called continuing revelation. The hard part about that is that the change and progression will be what Heavenly Father thinks is the best direction for change and progression – not what societies ideas are. And while you can definitely go through Church history and find examples of times when the leaders “changed their minds”, you could most certainly frame those incidences as examples of continuing revelation instead. Belief is a choice. (Which is a main point of Terryl and Fiona Givens’ book, The God Who Weeps – which I highly recommend)

  2. readermom says:

    I also see public opinion given more weight in every area of life because it is so much easier to gather opinions and run on what is current than move slowly and thoughtfully and patiently. Who are we listening to and following?

  3. ji says:

    Thanks, Bonnie — I appreciate your posting…

  4. Ray DeGraw says:

    All other things aside, the quagmire in which many religions and religious people find themselves now is of their own making.

    Rather than railing against something, I prefer to listen carefully to what is being said and look for the root cause of the disagreement – then ask, retrospectively, “Lord, is it I?” In many cases, there is legitimacy in the complaint, even when I don’t agree with the approach or ultimate conclusions. Let me use the three examples of the title to illustrate my point, very briefly only:

    1) For many years, religion made homosexuality a scientific issue by claiming that such attraction was “not natural”. Now, we know it is natural and biological in many cases, and our church has changed its position recently to a more scientifically correct stance – but I can’t blame homosexuals for their bitterness about being called liars for their honest and correct claims that we rejected for so long. In this case, WE were the cause of much of the issue – not “them”.

    2) For thousands of years, women were relegated to religious servitude, essentially, because “God is male”. That is an oversimplification, I know, but it is a reasonable statement, nonetheless. We teach of a Heavenly Mother, but women were killed for that claim in the past – for a long, long time. Women have faced tremendous discrimination throughout history, so I can’t blame them for fighting for the end of such discrimination – even if I believe some of them go too far in some cases. Again, WE (men) were the cause of much of this issue – not “them” (women).

    3) Intellectuals who saw the error of religious doctrine were killed and persecuted for standing up to those errors – particularly in the scientific fields. Yes, there are people who are prideful of their intellect, but there also are brilliant but humble people who were harmed greatly simply for recognizing unpopular and even threatening truth and sticking to it. In those cases, the battle between religionists and intellectuals was just as often initiated by the religionists as it was by the intellectuals.

    Bottom line:

    I don’t like stereotypes that end up being used to denigrate and dismiss entire populations improperly, by casting anyone who believes passionately in something that is not popular within religion as apostate – and, even worse, that force people to choose, unnecessarily, between extremes. I believe most of progress is found in the muddle in the middle – the struggle to acknowledge and even respect the extremes without giving in to them. Most of all, I hurt when I see homosexuals, feminists and intellectuals I know personally and love deeply mis-labeled for nothing more than their primary passion.

    I personally am outside the Mormon mainstream on all three of these issues and could be rejected and judged harshly based on the strictest interpretations of these statements, even though I have a rock solid testimony of the Gospel and the Restoration and would never dream of fighting the Church leadership. I really dislike using overly broad labels to dismiss people, and “feminist” and “intellectual” are probably the two best examples of this for me.

    • Adam G. says:

      A lot of what you’re saying about women and intellectuals/scientists in history is secular mythmaking, not true history.

      • Ray says:

        I’m a social scientist by nature and a history teacher by training, Adam. Nothing I said in my comment is myth; every bit is true history.

        Give me a specific statement I made that is myth, if you can.

        • Zen says:

          1) That is a very sloppy way to discuss ‘not natural’. If I were to eat my own children or someone else’s, depending on your definition it would be both very natural, or quite unnatural.

          2) What are you smoking? Most religions have goddesses in them, and apparently so did the Old Testament before Josiah and the Deuteronomists, but the only person they were trying to kill was Jeremiah.

          3)Again, sloppy and reeking of confirmation bias. You blame religion, when it was human nature and corrupt people, but laud intellectuals when those people were just as religious, if not far more so. There was Outward Religion and Intellectuals on both sides.

          Such weak reasoning does more to harm your own points than anything I have or could bring up.

        • Adam G. says:

          Not “natural,” meaning not part of the organic range of the behavior of the human species, was originally a claim made by secular scientists (primarily psychologists) who were trying to put morality on a scientific basis.

          “Religious servitude” is a very vague concept, one that I’ve never seen an actual historian use. I am not aware of any religion that taught that women should be slaves.

          The idea of a ‘heavenly mother’ married to the father was not a concept that occurred to anyone during the Middle Ages, so it was not a concept that anyone got burned for. There was, on the other hand, a perfectly orthodox movement for the adoration of Mary as the Mother of God and supernatural being. So Marian devotion was orthodox and *not* the grounds for persecution.
          I can’t think of any scientists who were killed for challenging erroneous religious doctrines (or true ones, either). Village atheist websites will sometimes claim Giordano Bruno, but his claims to be a scientist are very, very dubious–he was more of an astrologer and renaissance magician and mystic.

    • Andy says:

      I suppose I fail to see what you are getting at Ray. Are you saying homosexuals and feminists and intellectuals are right to fight the church, because the church started it?Are you saying we should not be judged by the groups we align ourselves with?

      As for your three reasons- again, I am still confused. Homosexuality is still not natural, in the sense that it goes against God’s plan. Just because it exists in non insignificant numbers, doesn’t make it ok. Just because medicine gave way to gay pressure and removed it as a mental disease- doesn’t mean it is not. And as I recall, President Hinckley said it doesn’t matter if people are born that way- they still have a problem….sure, there have been plenty of hateful, uncaring members- but the church never taught or condoned those activities.
      The church also never persecuted women, or subjugated them….
      And the church has not killed or persecuted intellectuals….so why would it be ok for any of these groups to seek reconciliation, recognition, or validation from the church?

      And as for your passionate beliefs, I would ask- if God told you today your beliefs were false, would you still follow him despite your “convictions?” I have gay friends who have turned their back on God because he does not condone their acts. I know feminists and intellectuals who have also left because their passions are more Important than following God and his church. I would dare say the majority leave the church, the next group try and change the church to suit themselves, and a small minority realize what is really important and submit themselves to God’s will, finding a way to make it work. This is why these three things are dangerous. Because it leads people away. Because most people lose faith instead of find it.

      • Ray says:

        No, Andy, I am not saying those things – and they aren’t anywhere in what I wrote. I also believe strongly in sustaining and supporting church leaders. It’s really hard to talk about these issues in a limited, non-face-to-face forum without having people read into the words what they think the writer must be saying between the lines, but I don’t write that way. I only mean what I write – nothing more. Sometimes, I don’t say it very well, but I still try to say what I mean without any hidden messages. Seriously, if it’s not in my words, I didn’t mean to say or imply it.

        In the end, I’m saying I don’t like combative “us vs. them” arguments that paint with a broad brush, since those brushes tend to blur lines badly and mislabel so many people. I know too many people who are homosexual, feminist and/or intellectual and also firmly believing, dedicated, faithful members of the LDS Church to like labels that cast them as “the enemy” and/or as a threat.

        If you want an excellent summary of my feelings and what I am trying to say, read or watch Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk in the Priesthood session this evening. That’s the message I’m trying to convey.

        • Andy says:

          Ray, I agree that Elder Uchtdorf’s talk was fantastic. I think I would also agree that sweeping generalizations are not good, to a point…I also don’t think this article is condoning sweeping generalizations or judgements of people, rather it is judging movements, and pointing out dangerous ideas.

          The doctrine that E. Uchtdorf taught, that we all don’t need to think or be the same, is true. But there is also the doctrine of becoming one in purpose. This is the doctrine I believe E. Packer is talking about here, and what this article focuses on.

          I was told a story in institute about the artist commissioned by the church to paint Christ’s coming to America (the painting of Christ descending in a beam of light to the temple ruins below.) I was told that originally the artist painted Christ closer to the earth, and he had a clearly visible open chest. The brethren of the 12 felt this was inappropriate, however, the artist felt personally that it was an accurate description. Ultimately, the artist kept Christ with an open chest, but he put Christ high in the sky, so he was small enough that it wasn’t noticeable. The Brethren agreed the painting was good, and it was used throughout the church.

          The point of the story, which illustrates both Uchtdorf and Packer’s point is this: even though we are different, we need to find a way to make our differences one in purpose. The artist did not reject the brethren and “turn away” as Packer points out here. He also didn’t fight the brethren on the point. The artist complied while still being true to himself.

          The three ideas pointed out in this article are dangerous. They lead people away, making their individual convictions superior to the principles of the church, and following the prophets. A feminist, who after yesterday’s conference, is still actively pushing for ordination- is not being true to the doctrine of one in purpose. They are kicking against the pricks, and are off the path of righteousness.

          It is true, there are some who seem to fit into one of these three groups, yet still live within church boundaries, i do not condone judging these people. but it is my experience that these people are the exception, not the rule, and even still, most in this crowd are marginal members, teetering on the edge of activity, as they struggle with sometimes conflicting edeology.

          Most who entertain dangerous ideas do so unprepared, unfortified, with weak foundations. They end up confused, unable to discern truth from error, and they end up leaning on worldly reason rather than inspiration. They end up “fighting” the church. This is why Joseph said stay close to the trunk. This is why E. Packer warned of these dangers. It does not mean we should cast people out, or judge them. It means we should individually be vigilant that we don’t fall into temptation, while helping those who are lost find their way.

          • Ja says:

            Moroni 9:4,6,18,22 talk about how to address it when there is differing opinions. We need to labor still. There will be judgment for whatever choices are made, but we are there to offer an example and help those that want it. When they are beyond feeling, they will account for their own choices. We are asked to follow the spirit and not contend or judge. Stay true to what we believe and know our stewardship. If we can make a difference Great! but do not judge.
            I believe that there will be further revelation on this topic. Are we prepared to believe if we do not fully agree or understand? I would wonder how it would be accepted if there was revelation that the 3rd member of the Godhead was female. The family of God as man, woman and child. She does not have the body of a man. How would people respond. One in purpose but 3 individuals. The nurturer and comforter and testifier of truth that teaches all things. The provider and protector that is angered and shows wrath at the disobedience of His children. The eldest brother that has the birthright. He is responsible for the siblings and eventually offers the role of ultimate sacrifice but only in righteousness. He was the first and set the precedent for that all others will be judged. Would anyone listen? There is equal but different.

            What would people think? THAT IS EQUAL BUT DIFFERENT

    • templegoer says:

      I think I understand that what you are saying Ray, that it is important to draw a circle large enough to encompass those who might otherwise define themselves as outside. I’ve certainly learnt the necessity of this throughout my thirty years of parenting. Satan is only too happy to aid those who find themselves in the minority by telling them that there is no place for them in the church. Every soul is precious. I want to give my children no excuse to count themselves out, and I’ve learnt to shape conversations that would otherwise end in an assertion of difference so great that there might be no meeting point, and increase my embrace and resist the temptation to place the individual outside of the group with which I identify. I find this very demanding on a case by case basis, but I observe individuals who are very skilled at this and am awed by there ability to create shared space. With no meeting point , there can be no dialogue, if there’s no dialogue the likelihood of further damage is increased and of healing decreased.

      • Ja says:

        Persuasion, meekness, love unfeigned, longsuffering, patience.

        We are not to cause contention especially among those we love.

    • Becca says:

      Ray–I really appreciated this very articulate response. The broad strokes that she used in this particular essay were unfortunate.

      • JessK says:

        I think it is important to point out that the “broad strokes” in this post were defined by Elder Packer, not the author.

    • Ja says:

      I am wondering if there is any other religion or doctrine about gender as an eternal characteristic. I saw that there was definitely a focus ofather mother equality without sameness in conference. There was an underlying concept of remain faithful in what you know and be obedient as people have differences with the teachings. I am sure that revelation is continuing and I feel that family is a focus, the main focus even but I feel like the traditional patriarchal hierarchy family is set as the standard. I would like to see more about the cooperation. There was an air of tolerance for nontraditional, which I appreciate but I feel it is looked down upon. The concept of egalitarian marriages is not the culture. It is a male dominated religion as preside provide and protect. Women do nurture, but men do too. Women provide and preside and protect, but not as a main role according to the Proclamation. Is there any other doctrine that has such a focus on gender role as identity? I am trying to get my head around it. Thanks!

  5. Adam G. says:

    Inquiry, inborn sexual desires, and respect and praise for women are all good things (or, in the case of homosexual attraction, at minimum not itself a bad thing). But in the modern age, ideologies and myths–almost quasi-religions–have accreted around them that claim their followers loyalties and beliefs. These cannot be syncretized with the gospel.

    “If Jehovah be God, then serve him. But if Baal be God, serve him.”

  6. Bonnie says:

    We were reminded in conference that any virtue (and tolerance was specifically mentioned) can be taken to an extreme and then become a vice. We are invited to be extraordinarily clear about sin and extraordinarily kind to people who sin. If I am sinning and someone teaches about that sin, I am pricked in my conscience. It is the way we are designed. There are some who do not seem to feel that anyone should feel uncomfortable – ever. This is Satan’s philosophy, and it is dangerous. Scholarship is one of my first loves, but I also have a healthy respect for its limitations. I know many people who experience same sex attraction or are gay, however they prefer to refer to their experience, and they have as many perspectives as there are of them. I have a healthy respect for the limitations of a desire for doctrine to fit our personal experience. And I am a feminist of my own stripe, with a different perspective for every decade of my life. My sympathies run deep for these three groups, but my allegiance is to God before those philosophies. I do not apologize for painting with a wide brush. I stuck to prophets.

    • Ja says:

      I stick to the prophets and know that they will give us what we are ready for. The Israelites during the Exodus were not ready for the higher laws, they got the 10 commandments. I think that feminists argue that women should be ordained as many more women than men are active members. There is an imbalance in the fact that lots of men do not use the priesthood they have. If women were ordained, what might happen? In the Garden of Eden, Eve understood the Plan and knew it would take the transgression of the forbidden fruit to be exalted. Eve partook of the fruit and knew that in order for progression, Adam also must partake. Not the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman. According to Ensign April 2013 “partaking of the fruit was not a sin but a necessary transgression: “[Eve’s] act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression, but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. … [The Prophet] Joseph Smith taught that it was not a ‘sin,’ because God had decreed it.”5

      Eve’s choice was momentous: because of her choice, sin and death afflicted her and Adam and their posterity. However, by entering mortality, she and Adam gained the opportunity to have children and to strive toward exaltation.

      The prophets have taught that we need to be obedient and seek personal revelation to gain exaltation. Faith and works. Male and female. All things in balance. All things have an equal and opposite. Interesting how that works. The prophets have told us many things. What have we chosen to listen to?

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