As I thought might happen, the text version of Elder Packer’s controversial talk from conference was changed from the spoken version. There are two (in my view) very important changes made to the text at the most controversial passage of the talk. I want to discuss what the changes mean, whether you think they went too far or not far enough, and any other thoughts you might have about the changes.
UPDATE: The full transcript, with changes shown, is available at Mormons for Marriage. HT: Heather.
Here are the two versions of the talk:
The version spoken in conference and transcribed by a random John at Mormon Mentality:
We teach the standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes and counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From The Book of Mormon we learn that wickedness never was happiness. Some suppose that they were pre-set, and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father.
Paul promised, “God will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (paraphrased I Cor 10:13)
You can if you will, break the habits, and conquer the addiction, and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must watch and pray continually. Isaiah warned of them that call evil good and good evil. That put darkness for light and light for darkness. That put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”
Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.
Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”14 You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”
Isaiah warned, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
I haven’t compared the other parts of the talk yet, so there may be more changes, but this is the most controversial passage.
What do the changes mean? To me, the change from the word “tendencies” to the word “temptations” is highly significant. It reflects the fact that the Church is not comfortable with saying that some “tendencies” are not “preset.” This is an important change to the original version that ought to be celebrated.
Second, the rhetorical question “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” was simply deleted. This is also important, since that question is highly suspect as a rhetorical device. It gives rise to all kinds of further questions which are not relevant to the subject of the talk, and not easily answerable.
Overall, I’m grateful for the changes, as I see them reaffirming the distinction the Church has drawn between attraction and behavior. It is not sinful to have sexual attractions, only to have sexual relationships outside of marriage. One could even read the changes as bringing the talk closer to being completely about pornography and taking the issue of homosexuality completely out of it.
How do you read these changes?