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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : What makes it different? » What makes it different?

What makes it different?

Lamonte - November 14, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I left HP Group meeting in disgust.  The lesson was taken from the teachings of President Kimball and it centered around chastity.  For us old codgers there was much of the usual talk about the addiction to pornography and the dangers of even the slightest involvement with it.  One HP group member who is serving in a high calling in the church actually broke into tears when talking about his friends who had succombed to the tempatations of pornography and whose marriage and family life was destroyed.  Certainly it was something to sadden us all.

But then, just moments later, the instructor did a sharp turn away from “chastity” and started discussing recent legislation passed in California that require the elementary and secondary schools to eliminate the terms “parents” or “mother and father” from their corresdondence to and from the school.  The instructor believed this came about because of the strong lobbying of the same sex community and so the discussion naturally shifted to living in an openly gay relationship.  The adjectives used by the typical class member to describe those who live in such a relationship were venomous and ugly.  Even the gentlleman who spoke with such caring and concern about his friends who had committed adultery started to speak in the same mean spirited manner about gays and the gay lifestyle.

And so I wonder – if one believes that living the gay lifestyle is wrong and one believes that committing adultery is wrong should there be a difference in how we relate to those involved in such living?  Should we have compassion for the one but disdain for the other?  Isn’t it possible to “love the sinner but hate the sin” no matter what the trangression may be?

Recently I re-read a talk given by Elder Robert Orton at General Conference in October 2001.  Here’s what he had to say about all of us loving our brothers and sisters, “If we do not love all of these, our brothers and sisters, can we truly say that we love God? The Apostle John declared “that he who loveth God love his brother also, ” and added, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar” (1 Jn. 4:21, 20). Love of God and neighbor must therefore be inseparably connected.”

And so I wonder if we don’t sometimes selectively choose which serious sins we try to understand and which sins we have no tolerance for. 

66 Comments »

  1. It’s not different (or rather shouldn’t be…)

    Of course, as noted, it *is* different in practice for many Church members who casually talk about ‘beating up’ gay men, when no one would ever suggest ‘beating up’ a porn-addict, or even an adulterer as a viable solution. Many church members would rather hear the two men living next door to them are drug dealers than a gay couple.

    “Homophobia” is a too-oft-used buzzword, used by the gay-rights side to slander anyone who doesn’t accept any part of their agenda…but, ‘homophobia’ in the true sense of the word, is still a reality (and, of course, is not limited to Church members).

    Somewhere there’s a practical balance: where Church members can accept homosexual behavior as a sin without treating people with SSA as inhuman animals that need to be beaten or shunned…and where Church members can respect gays as children of God with a soul of great value, without needing to, for example, support legalized gay marriage.

    Comment by KMB — November 14, 2007 @ 11:05 am

  2. Yes, we should love the person and hate the sin. I think it’s a matter of personal feelings that messes us up. I think men find it exciting / erotic to look at pictures of naked women. They think it would be exciting / pleasurable to have a “relationship” with the woman. It’s what a “straight” guy would think of as a natural reaction.

    On the other hand they think it disgusting to see a naked man or think about a “relationship” with him.

    So they treat the situations different, they treat the people involved differently too. I think it would be “I can understand how and why you got involved with pornography – even thought it’s a sin, I can understand.” “I can’t understand how you could get involved with being gay, that’s disgusting.”

    I’ve hired 3 gays, 2 women and a man as theater managers over the years. Two of them were excellent employees. I’ve had dinner with them and their partners. They were / are great people. I don’t agree with their lifestyle but as people they were a lot better than other employees I had. (And by the way this was 15 years ago.)

    Because of this personal experience it’s easier for me to accept and love the person and not judge them just because of their lifestyle.

    It’s too bad more members don’t have the chance to associate with gays on a more regular basis – they may come to the same conclusion.

    Comment by Don — November 14, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  3. I think part of the problem is that most church members hear “gay” and start and stop at sex. They don’t consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s about two people loving each other and being complementary and building a life together, etc. In contrast, the talk surrounding porn addiction is actually more about addiction than it is about sex. At least the sense I get is that members are so horrified about the relationships that are destroyed, such as marriages, and not about the looking at photos and jacking off.

    I’m not bothered that “living a gay lifestyle” (Mormon-speak for whoring it up with members of the same sex) came up in a lesson on chastity. I am, however, slightly disturbed that the instructor thought it was appropriate to bash legislation that really has nothing to do with sex at all. I mean, conspiracy theories aside, I’m guessing you’ve got a lot more kids in homes where “parents” doesn’t apply than just the two mommies situation (such as single parent homes, being raised by extended family, etc).

    Comment by alea — November 14, 2007 @ 11:24 am

  4. When I moved to Utah from Massachusetts I got some strange comments along the lines of, “Wasn’t it horrible being there with all the gays getting married?”

    My response was always, “Yes, I was concerned that at any moment Boston was going to fall into the sea!”

    Blank stares for a few seconds…

    “I’m kidding! Gay marriage had no effect on me at all!”

    Somewhat coming to their senses, “Oh, yeah. Well I can’t imagine anything more horrible…”

    At that point I’d change the subject.

    Comment by a random John — November 14, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  5. Lamonte: Did anyone ask why politics was being brought-up at all — regardless of issue?

    Beyond that, I’m no fan of the legislation in question. It’s part of an on-going war on the idea that there is such a thing as normative/traditional/accepted/common behavior; and I find that not only preposterous but insidious as well.

    * grr *

    Anyhow, I wish I had been in the your HPG meeting. I think I would have had a word or two for your brothers.

    Comment by Silus Grok — November 14, 2007 @ 12:31 pm

  6. Somewhat coming to their senses, “Oh, yeah. Well I can’t imagine anything more horrible…”

    Mitt Romney can.

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

    Comment by Last Lemming — November 14, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  7. I think there are two factors at play: one is the “understand it vs. disgusted by it” reaction outlined by Don in #2, and the other is that adulterers don’t typically campaign for legislation eliminating any reference to “mother” and “father.”

    It is not asking too much that people of any persuasion be let alone to live as consenting adults in the manner they choose. Per comment #5, it is quite something else to insist — and demand, via legislation, that society agree — that there is no difference between one’s own choice and the norm.

    Comment by acm — November 14, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

  8. Lamonte,
    Not to defend those men in your class, because I certainly don’t agree with their opinions or behavior, but I think you’ve framed your gripe incorrectly. Porn addicts generally don’t want to be addicted to porn. Homosexuals generally are okay with homosexual behavior. In other words, these men have compassion on the person who wants to change their ‘sinful’ behavior but when someone doesn’t even admit that their behavior is sinful then it’s more difficult to have ‘compassion’ on that person.

    At least that’s the rational way to see it. But I think for them it’s probably more a matter of what I said a couple years ago, that it’s gross.

    Comment by Rusty — November 14, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  9. When I was a stake executive secretary, I sat in a high council meeting where homosexuality somehow came up as a tangent. A few of the high council members began to make rather vicious comments on the subject, including that anyone who was attracted to the same sex was wicked. The stake president stopped them cold, emphatically stating that being gay was not, in itself, a sin. He went on to tell them that when he served as a bishop, he had a ward executive secretary who was gay, celibate, and in perfectly good standing.

    Of course, he didn’t know that I was at the other end of the table, realizing he had a talent for calling gay executive secretaries! ;-)

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 14, 2007 @ 1:34 pm

  10. Silus – I’m sure you would have had something to say and I’m a bit ashamed that I didn’t say something myself. I did discuss my feelings with the instructor but only briefly and through an e-mail. I’m afraid I wasn’t very courageous that day. (Is that a redundant statement?)

    Rusty – I think both of us work in an industry with more gays than the norm. Through that association I have come to understand things differently than I used to. A close friend who is gay has convinced me that he didn’t choose to be gay but that despite all of the prejudice and persecution he finds in his life, it is still easier to live as a gay man than to try to live as something he knows he is not. He may “choose” his lifestyle but only because it is the least painful way to live. I personally believe that for a heterosexual man it would be easier to rid one’s self of the pornography addiction than it would be for a gay man to rid himself of his gay identity. That is simply my observation from dealing with both.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 14, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  11. Just one small point…
    I appreciate those who speak up in threads like this, sharing their experiences with gay friends as real people, rather than the scary monsters that some like to portra us as. I would appreciate it even more though, if some of you thought for a moment about what it means when you refer to the so-called “gay lifestyle.”

    While I realize that even some homosexuals toss this phrase around, it really bothers me. My “gay lifestyle” includes working 40 hours (or more) a week in a government program to assist those who have become ill through radiation and toxic exposures in the nuclear defense industry. My “gay lifestyle” includes helping a friend with his resume. My “gay lifestyle” includes volunteering with, and donating to, community organizations which serve the disadvantaged. My “gay lifestyle” includes helping family members with their own personal crisis. Last weekend, my “gay lifestyle” included spending about a day and a half helping someone strip wallpaper (ugh!!).

    Bigots invented the phrase, “gay lifestyle,” in order to condemn all gay men and lesbians as wild, sexually-deviant, drug-abusing, abusive, etc. By all means, refer to me as an openly gay man, but please—don’t use the language of bigots to label my “lifestyle” in their dark terms.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 14, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  12. Nick – Thanks for the information. My references to “gay lifestyle” was simply to indicate a same sex attraction – nothing more. I hope all of us know that gays live essentially the same lifestyle and contribute as much or more to our civic and social lives as do those of us who live the straight lifestyle (There I go again!). Anyway, no negative connotation was intended and I’m sorry if you perceived one.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 14, 2007 @ 2:01 pm

  13. Nick,
    You’re right. And it reminds me of this brilliant/hilarious McSweeney’s note.

    Comment by Rusty — November 14, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

  14. Here are my random thoughts on the subject (if it even matters):

    I do not agree with gay marriage or homosexuality in general, but I would never condemn a gay person or treat them with disdain.

    My MIL’s cousin is a lesbian and she married her partner a couple of years ago in Canada. I found them both to be very kind and fun to be with. The fact that they were lesbians was, honestly, just a small part of who they were. Granted, I was glad they didn’t start kissing in front of me –but I would never just start kissing my husband in front of people, either. That’s just about respect. Of course, I do admit that the idea of two men kissing or two women kissing in a passionate way totally freaks me out. But I don’t go screaming out my opinion to everyone about it. I just deal with it.

    I like Rusty’s explanation for what the men might have been thinking –that makes sense. I mean, I have gay friends, and I will always love them. It would suck feeling trapped, as it were, in a religion that condemns those actions (please note that I did not say feelings) and a society that completely embraces them. Seriously, that would not be fun.

    As far as discussing politics in Church? That should be vetoed. Lamonte, do you live in CA? If so, I could see the concern. A little. If not, what’s the big deal? Yeah, you had a right to be upset. I think they were out of line.

    Nick, I think you put it well.

    Comment by Cheryl — November 14, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

  15. Thanks, everyone–and please know that I wasn’t for a moment thinking any of you had ill intent. :-)

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 14, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  16. Cheryl – I don’t live in California. I live on the other side of the country – you know, where all the “liberals” live! My ward seems to be a huge exception to that assumption. I guess their stated concern was that if it started in California who knows where it could end. The instructor also excused Governor Terminator for signing the legislation saying he was tired of fighting the opposition and simply caved. By the way the folks at Meridian Magazine have taken up the charge to counteract this legislation. But it seems more like a scheme to raise money than a genuine social concern and I think they are using hyperbole to make the legislation sound worse than it is. Just my opinion.

    Comment by lamonte — November 14, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  17. My references to “gay lifestyle” was simply to indicate a same sex attraction – nothing more.

    Um, not to beat a dead horse, but I think that would be a misnomer as well. There are people who have same sex attraction who do not act on it. They are certainly not “living the gay lifestyle.” I agree with Nick that the term “gay lifestyle” should be dropped as pejorative and inaccurate. There are too many lifestyles out there for there to be one that is recognizable as “the gay lifestyle.” What you usually mean when you say that is someone who is openly gay, so I suggest we just use that terminology instead.

    Also, I’m not sure that we should ban politics from church. First, because I’m not sure what “politics” means, and second, because there are political topics that naturally come up in a discussion of a gospel topic which are of critical importance and should be discussed.

    Comment by MCQ — November 14, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  18. Just to add to the reasons, I feel men in general feel aprehensive about gay subjects due to unsecurity about what peers or society in general will think about them.

    As a result, a lot of men feel like repudiating the idea out loud and in public is a clear message they have nothing to do with it and that they are not to be confused with or related to anything homosexual. These men may fear showing ANY empathy for gays would make people think they are somehow supporting, or even more, having those feelings.

    Even some gay men are caught in this game of “Look at me, how much of a straight man I am because of how openly I repudiate gays.”

    Let’s not forget how Senator Craig from Idaho spoke against homosexuality repeatedly yet he was caught by a police officer soliciting sex in a public mens room. He later tried to use his statememnts repudiating homosexual acts as grounds for his innocence.

    Comment by Manuel — November 14, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  19. To get back to the original topic, I think we should all resolve to be more willing to stand up and call a halt to the kind of hypocritical condemnation described in the post. It’s pernicious, widespread and just plain wrong.

    The idea that it is justified by the fact that some gays do not recognize homosexuality as a sin and are not trying to change is a red herring. If you speak and act hatefully toward anyone, it is wrong. You may disagree with their choices, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to demean them personally. You should still love them.

    Comment by MCQ — November 14, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

  20. Nick… wonderful comment on the “gay lifestyle”.

    My gay lifestyle includes hours and hours spent each week in my calling as Ward Clerk (I’ve been an Executive Secretary in the past)… helping little old ladies cross the street… and talking trash about Texas sports teams.

    It doesn’t include sex.

    Go figure.

    :)

    Lamonte: don’t feel bad. No one wants to be a source of contention. The Spirit just flees, and so it’s always uncomfortable. It would take a deft hand, indeed, to call your brothers to repentance without also causing the Spirit to flee.

    Comment by Silus Grok — November 14, 2007 @ 6:29 pm

  21. #9: Kudos to your SP for actually understanding the position of the Church. Many Mormons are too distracted by their own personally biases to actually find out what the Church (and/or God) feels about the subject.

    See my comment #4 on sunstone for an experience I had as a youth that defined how I feel on this subject.

    To address the original issue: I share your frustration about what I see as a double-standard in the church membership regarding moral transgressions. Let me be clear that I support the Church in opposing homosexual behavior (although I admit it’s a difficult issue), but I don’t at all support the idea that is common in the church membership that those who have homosexual tendencies, and even those that act on them, are more evil than any of the rest of us who commit sin.

    Comment by Horebite — November 14, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

  22. A deft hand, yes, but let’s not all use that as an excuse to continue to do nothing in these circumstances. I don’t blame Lamonte at all, but I want to learn from his experience. Calling to repentance is not what I’m suggesting. Setting an example of love is.

    Comment by MCQ — November 14, 2007 @ 7:07 pm

  23. To clarity in #21, I didn’t mean to imply that those who have “homosexual tendencies”, by which I mean those who are attracted to the same sex, are committing sin even if they are not acting on those feelings. That would be inconsistent with the position of the Church and my own position.

    Comment by Horebite — November 14, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

  24. Oh, but Lamonte, I live in the SF Bay Area! I don’t think it could get much more liberal than this. ;) However, I find myself liking it. A lot. Not the liberal p.o.v. per say, but the laid back, environmentalist attitude. It usually equals kindness, respect, and great parks! However, I’m still fairly conservative, and yet I didn’t hear about this legislation. Guess I should read the paper more.

    MCQ and Silus, I think you’re right. If the Gospel teaches us anything, it’s to love one another, eh?

    Comment by Cheryl — November 14, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  25. Lamonte: was the group leader there? What did he do?

    Everyone: Let’s assume that the group leader wasn’t there… what might you have said? I’m serious; what language wuld you have used?

    Comment by Silus Grok — November 14, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  26. I’m one of the habitual commenters in my Elders Quorum and Sunday School classes. I also tend to be a bit of a loner in real life.

    I probably would have openly disagreed with him first chance I got. I’m always playing devil’s advocate in church. Usually a hint of contention is enough to shut up most Mormons on any topic.

    I attended an EQ lesson on parenthood where a guy tried to rag on “how artificial” Dem. House Leader Nancy Pelosi looked holding a press conference with her grandchildren posed with her. And how real LDS women don’t need to showboat like that.

    I remarked rather sarcastically that LDS mothers don’t need to get elected for their positions either (I resisted the urge to point out that Mitt Romney does the same sort of thing… regularly). That kind of killed the topic and we moved on.

    I also mildly reprimanded an entire Gospel Doctrine class for sniggering at some non-LDS portrayal of Jesus baptism that just wasn’t properly Mormon.

    No, I don’t think I would have had a problem with speaking out. It’s shutting up when called for that’s my problem.

    Comment by Seth R. — November 14, 2007 @ 11:01 pm

  27. Good for you Seth!

    I’m an EQ instructor and have encountered some really ugly comments in EQ about gays and lesbians. My stategy is just to remind people that other words for gays and lesbians include your brothers and sisters. That tends to take the wind out of their sails.

    Comment by MCQ — November 15, 2007 @ 3:02 am

  28. Wow, overnight left some really great comments. Just a few follow-ups:
    #17 MCQ – I think I get the picture now – “gay lifestyle” connotes a negative image while “openly gay” is more accruate regarding those who are openly gay? Got it!

    #24 Cheryl – Touche’

    #25 Silus Grok – The HP Group leader was there and, in fact contributed to the negative, politicized comments, “We left San Diego 18 years ago because we were in the wrong state and the wrong party.” Some comments sarcastically hoped that California would soon fall into the ocean when the San Andreas fault gives way. This, ironically enough, was just a week before the terrbile wildfires that claimed lives and property in Southern California. In my e-mail to the instructor I used sarcasm to suggest that those wishing for the demise of California were probably getting their wish with the onset of the fires. Finally, I should admit that I am the HP Group First Assistant – so I guess my guilt for not speaking up is justified.

    #22 MCQ – I should mention that I gave the lesson just two weeks after this incident and chose a talk by Richard G. Scott called “Living well among increasing evil” as the basis for the lesson. The talk discusses how we should live in this imperfect world with our heads high, with acknowledgement of our great blessings, and with the understanding that the world is full of good and decent people and we can be most effective when we stress the positive side of life over the negative. My intention was to shift our focus from the negative to the positive. I think it was worth the effort and the class responded well.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 15, 2007 @ 5:14 am

  29. One more note:

    #24 Cheryl – The legislation in question is the California SB777 and here is just one conversation about the bill

    http://dailywhackjob.com/index.php/2007/05/27/california-sb777/

    Comment by Lamonte — November 15, 2007 @ 6:27 am

  30. Well, I ostracize adulterers and fornicators much more frequently than homosexuals. I rarely knowingly encounter homosexuals (the last time was about a dozen years ago), but adulterers and fornicators who cross my path are not welcome in my home, and I do not visit theirs.

    Comment by John Mansfield — November 15, 2007 @ 6:38 am

  31. #30 John – I’m interested in how you identify those “adulterers and fornicators.” Or for that matter how you know WHEN you have encountered a homosexual? Does it show on their faces? ;-)

    Comment by Lamonte — November 15, 2007 @ 7:12 am

  32. #23:
    To clarity in #21, I didn’t mean to imply that those who have “homosexual tendencies”, by which I mean those who are attracted to the same sex, are committing sin even if they are not acting on those feelings. That would be inconsistent with the position of the Church and my own position.

    That’s okay, Horebite. I know you just have “heterosexual tendencies,” too. ;-)

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 15, 2007 @ 7:49 am

  33. What I think is funny is something Nick touched on, and Lamonte in #31—we don’t necessarily know who is gay. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a gay man in that meeting with you, Lamonte. People can be so short-sighted.

    I like MCQ’s response—other words for gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters. Maybe because I actually have gay brothers. And uncles. And cousins.

    Comment by Susan M — November 15, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  34. @Seth… Yeah, you sound a bit like me.

    :)

    Funny thing: I don’t remember once having been in a church class where homosexuals were disparaged. Not once. I’m blessed that way, I suppose… though I do remember countless times as a youth being part of a rag session on Catholics or Protestants — most of the ragging being done by me. Which is an embarrassment to me now that I’m older.

    Anyway, there’s a conversation over at BCC, In which a Mormon Goes to a Bar and Faces Temptation, that I think has a good deal to contribute to our own.

    Comment by Silus Grok — November 15, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  35. Susan’s right. You never do know. People are myopic, especially when their own life experience is narrow.

    My uncle was here with us visiting this week, and his gay-lifestyle included helping me cook dinner, playing with my kids, making us all laugh, participating in FHE and prayers, and being an around awesome uncle.

    When he’s not visiting us, his gay-lifestyle includes working as an artist for Disney, restoring his craftsman bungalow, travelling, and sharing his life with his wonderful partner of over a decade.

    Yeah, boy, those gays. You gotta protect our families. Sheesh.

    Comment by tracy m — November 15, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  36. Lamonte, like I wrote, I rarely knowingly encounter homosexuals. On the other hand, most adults I know are married or divorced. If you want to assert that a large fraction of them are closeted, go ahead. When others write about all the homosexuals they are on good terms with at work, in their neighborhood, and in their families, I am a bit mystified. For me, homosexuals effectively only exist in the newspaper. All the hoopla about them, pro and con, is mainly just flag waving, because they don’t exist in large enough numbers to really have a group impact on society.

    As for the adulterers and fornicators, cohabitation has been the issue that has come up a few times. As with the throngs of homosexuals that you are convinced that I am oblivious to, there are no doubt many secret adulterers and fornicators that I deal with unaware, and I don’t make any effort to unmask them. When they publicly set up house, though, I don’t treat such a household as legitimate.

    Comment by John Mansfield — November 15, 2007 @ 10:13 am

  37. John – I think your tone indicates that you have taken offense by my response to you. I’m sorry if that was the case. I was attempting some humor (didn’t you see my smiley face?). I must have failed.

    I should mention that I never suggested there were “throngs of homosexuals” or that you were “oblivious to” them. Once again, I apologize if you construed my message that way.

    On the other hand, I will say that many people would be shocked to discover how many homosexuals live among them. I lived and worked in Salt Lake City for 11 eyars and through my work association I became familiar with a large community of gay people who owned businesses that were frequented by devout Mormons – most of whom, I’m convinced, never realized who they were dealing with. In fact, I know of a professional consulting firm used consistently by the First Presidency, whose senior partners includes gays. Either the church leadership doesn’t know about them or they don’t care. Either way, I’m OK with that.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 15, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  38. I think there is a lot of self congradulation and PC group think going on here.

    “Look at me I am so enlightened compared to my fellow LDS. They just do not get it.”

    I actually believe as do most of my fellow ward members in the LOC and the churches teachings on this topic.

    To bad those of us who take the Churchs position on the topics of the day are looked down upon by other more enlightened LDS

    Comment by bbell — November 15, 2007 @ 10:28 am

  39. bbell – I didn’t hear anyone in this thread suggest that they reject the church’s positioon. I only heard them reinforce the idea that “the Church’s position” on loving our neighbor should apply to all of our brothers and sisters. This thread was oringinally written to suggest a double standard exists in that commendment.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 15, 2007 @ 10:37 am

  40. bbell- what does that mean for those of us with gay family? It becomes a difficult, if not impossible line to walk. How do we love our gay family, demonstrate the gospel through our actions, yet exclude them from our lives? (I’m honestly asking, not being snarky)

    I haven’t figured out if there is a way to do this, so I err on the side on being openly loving and welcoming to my three gay family members.

    Comment by tracy m — November 15, 2007 @ 10:38 am

  41. #38 bbell:
    I’m sorry you feel so frustrated at the tolerance exhibited by those commenting in this thread. I really do understand your feelings. When I was an active member of the LDS church, I felt the same kind of frustration when I felt the organization was gradually abandoning the teachings of Joseph Smith, and congratulating themselves in the process for their “enlightenment.”

    I don’t, however, see the above comments denigrating the position of the LDS leadership on homosexuality. To the contrary, several have affirmed their belief in that position. What I do see is a discussion of how those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus should behave in relation to homosexual persons, as well as a discussion of why certain LDS members appear to treat homosexuality as a more serious sin than, for example, adultery.

    I would suggest that adultery is actually a more serious sin than homosexual intimacy between two unmarried persons. Adultery certainly involves the breach of additional promises, even covenants, that simply do not exist for unmarried persons. As the posts above indicate, however, many LDS behave as if homosexuality is far, far more repugnant.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 15, 2007 @ 10:57 am

  42. lamonte-
    Thanks for the thread!

    bbell-
    I think a lot of people here understand that openly engaging in a pre/extra-marital sexual relationship (gay or straight) is considered a sin in the Gospel. But what I think most of us are trying to reinforce is that we are not to hate those that commit the sin.

    Okay, here’s a question that kind of goes along with tracy m’s: My MIL decided to leave the church (excommunication) and live with her boyfriend willingly, with all the relations that doing so would entail. My husband and I, engaged at the time, decide that although we love them both, we would not stay with them in their home while they remained unmarried. This could kind of go along with what John said in #30.
    But what do we do if my MIL’s cousin and her wife (see comment #14) choose to stay with us (not that it would actually happen)? They are legally married, although it’s not recognized here. The Church would never recognize their marriage, either. So, how does one act?

    Since there are no easy answers, I think we do what tracy m said. We ere on the side of love. Blasting people because they make mistakes –in Church, no less! –can’t possibly be the way to teach righteous principles, regardless of the sins spoken about.

    Comment by Cheryl — November 15, 2007 @ 11:14 am

  43. When they publicly set up house, though, I don’t treat such a household as legitimate.

    I dont get this, nor you bbell. Christ would certainly be willing to associate with those who were in sin (aren’t we all in sin in some way?), so why aren’t we? Why do we have to disassociate ourselves from people, or refuse to enter their homes if we disagree with their behavior?

    How do you do missionary work? Isn’t that a commandment? Doesn’t that require you to associate with people who aren’t keeping the commandments? Aren’t we commanded to “leave the ninety and nine and go after the one?” Please explain what I am missing here, honestly.

    Comment by MCQ — November 15, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

  44. #38: bbell, I fear that you might think we’re ganging up on you. I admire your courage to stand up to what you feel is wrong regardless of how many people (including myself) disagree. Ironically, that’s what this thread is partially about. I would like your comment to add to the discussion rather than be dismissed, so I ask you this: Can you site some comments on this thread that you feel are contrary to the teachings of the church? If you site them we can debate those specific instances.

    John and Cheryl, I repect the fact that you have the right to associate with whoever you want, but I don’t understand shunning people who are sinning, even if they are serious sins. Maybe you don’t see it as shunning, but that’s what it feels like to me. The only justification for that in my mind is if you feel that having a relationship with the person will somehow hurt you or your family, but I don’t see that that’s the case with respect to adulterers/fornicators. Perhaps you could elaborate on your reasoning for this?

    Comment by Horebite — November 15, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

  45. Horebite-
    I think that it’s a very personal case by case decision. Not everything is cut and dry, but some things are very firm –especially in the Gospel.

    My husband and I felt that by staying with his mother and her boyfriend we would be showing support for her decision. Even though we had a very good relationship with her (and have an even better one now), we did not want to condone her actions. Staying with the grandparents down the road a ways solved our personal dilemma. I do not feel we “shunned” her, and neither did she. She knew exactly what she was doing (being excommunicated willingly so she could live with her I-hate-marriage boyfriend) and she respected our decision.

    People can throw out there that we have to love everyone. Yeah, I get that; I mentioned it myself earlier. I believe we should love and respect everyone. But it cuts both ways. To sell out on loyalty and truth to the Gospel in the name of Compassion is just as bad as those in Lamonte’s class that condemned an entire group of people they’ve never met. So I can see where John is coming from. Just as I can see where Horebite is coming from.

    It’s complicated. But I think that’s the point. If it were easy, then we’d be living under Satan’s plan now, wouldn’t we? ;)

    Comment by Cheryl — November 15, 2007 @ 7:25 pm

  46. 41:

    I would suggest that adultery is actually a more serious sin than homosexual intimacy between two unmarried persons.

    I agree. I view homosexual relationships to be on about the same level as fornication, and adultery to be somewhat worse considering there is a covenant that is broken. In the case of non-temple marriage, in my view there is still a promise that is recognized by God that is broken.

    So that brings up a question I have that perhaps those of you are more familiar with these issues can answer: I hear about homosexuals who are excommunicated, but I don’t hear about fornicators that are excommunicated. In my experience they are sometimes disfellowshipped but not excommunicated. Here are some possible answers; please tell which which one it is or if there is another reason:

    (1) It has more to do with the unrepentant attitude of the sinner, rather than the sin itself. An unrepentant fornicator would be excommunicated and someone engaging in homosexual relationships would not be if they did not claim it was ok.

    (2) The Church views homosexual relationships as worse than fornication.

    (3) It has to do with whether the sinner is endowed (which would explain my observation since a higher proportion of fornicators would be unendowed, it seems to me).

    (4) My observations are just wrong and the Church does excommunicate fornicators.

    Let me be clear that I’m not trying to question Church policy, I’m just trying to understand it.

    Comment by Horebite — November 15, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

  47. 45: Cheryl, fair enough. I’m not sure I would have made the same decision as you did, but I agree with you that it’s a personal decision and I don’t know all of the details. I have never been in that position so maybe I would change my mind if I was in your situation.

    Comment by Horebite — November 15, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  48. I just realized that I never really asked my question in #46. Hopefully you were able to figure it out, but the question is: Why is it so?

    Comment by Horebite — November 15, 2007 @ 8:00 pm

  49. Would any of us weep for the people in the class who had spite in their hearts or who said unkind things or who may not fully understand or who may have felt uncomfortable and dealt wrongly with that discomfort? Compassion is easy to preach, and yet often hard to practice. It’s definitely something we all need and all need to develop more of. I think what happened in that class shouldn’t have happened, but anger, or sarcasm, or other tools of reproof or disapproval aren’t any better, are they? Sin is sin, and sinners need compassion, no?

    And then there is a comment on a blog. Is is compassionate to say something on a blog on compassionate correcting by correcting or at least pointing out potential hypocrisy in identifying hypocrisy? Does hypocrisy ever end in a process like this? :)

    Comment by m&m — November 15, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

  50. #46 Horebite – I have been involved in church disciplinary actions and my experience is this:

    1. Excommunication is usually reserved for those who have been endowed in the temple and who have committed serious transgressions.
    2. Priesthood holders are usually held to a higher standard than female members (think: Oath and Convenant).
    3. Most “fornicators” are usually younger folks who have not yet been to the temple. Thus the disciplinary action is less severe.
    4. I have never been involved in a discipinlary action involving homosexual behavior so I can’t comment on any experience in that regard. I do find it interesting that for some gay members excommunication has come rather quickly once they reveal their sexual orientation and yet for others, no such action is taken. This would lead me to believe that the local leaders and their respective attitudes have something to do with it – but I can’t say for sure.
    5. Although, to my knowledge, it is not written anywhere, I beleive the church DOES consider homosexual relationships a greater sin than fornication, although rules #1 and #2 would apply here as well.

    #50 m&m – Although I see your smiley face at the end of your comment I take most of what you say seriously and I think you make a very good point. Compassion IS easier to preach than to practice and maybe I should have had compassion for my fellow class members when considering their lack of understanding – at least according to my opinion. The phrase “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” comes to mind.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 16, 2007 @ 5:12 am

  51. Re Lamonte’s post:

    In my experience, confessed fornicators are usally young people who feel guilty enough to go to their bishops, or whose parents, friends,or ward members rat them out.

    I think there are a great many more fornicators (male/female) who are not young people:

    older divorced people
    older single, never-married people
    older widows/widowers

    Most of these people never go to their bishops and either continue going to church (some with or without minor discipline), stop going to church/become “less active”, or leave the Church.

    Typically, the Church just turns a blind eye to these folks.

    Some examples I know of:

    A 45 year old friend of mine who had never married and was tired of being alone hooked up with several men over the course of a year (i.e., slept with). When she tearfully confessed to the bishop, he said her actions were totally understandable and she was put on informal probation for three months.

    If this happened with a gay man or lesbian, he would most likely be under far more stringent punishment.

    A 60-ish widower friend of mine started sleeping with his 60+ divorced friend. He did not want to remarry because of animosity from his children and because of convoluted tax/other issues. He was never “disciplined” and maintained his visible calling.

    Comment by an interested visitor — November 16, 2007 @ 7:06 am

  52. #50:
    I have never been involved in a discipinlary action involving homosexual behavior so I can’t comment on any experience in that regard.

    #51:
    If this happened with a gay man or lesbian, he would most likely be under far more stringent punishment.

    As it happens, I have been involved in a discussion elsewhere this week, about disciplinary councils for homosexual behavior. The discussion actually began because of a gentleman who recently came out to his wife. She promptly reported the matter to her bishop, who arranged a \”mandatory\” (his word) meeting with the brother. The meeting was unremarkable, aside from the fact that the bishop told him that \”the next step\” was going to be a disciplinary council. Mind you, there is no indication at this point that the brother has had sexual relations outside his marriage. This goes to show that even some local leaders are not yet on the same page as the general authorities, new pamphlet notwithstanding.

    The ensuing discussion hasn\’t been so much about individuals reporting on their own disciplinary councils (if any), but rather individuals who have served as high council members and stake clerks, sitting in on the disciplinary councils of other gay men, while they, themselves, remained closeted at the time. While I do not, by any means wish to paint LDS leaders with a broad brush, let me share one example from a man who was serving as a stake clerk, when a young man was excommunicated for homosexual activity:

    \”The young man was invited back and told the decision. He left. With him gone there was a real sense of relief to have that one over. While the men were gathering themselves for the next orders of business, I kept waiting for the Stake President to assign a high councilor to the young man to guide him back. Nothing. Finally, I asked him in front of the group…what of the assignment? He said, and I quote, \”I won\’t bother, he is a waste of my time.\” That hit me like a brick wall. It was difficult enough to sit through the court, myself being gay and hear the crude remarks and see the suffering of a brother. Worse, was to hear that \’I\’ am a waste of time tore me to pieces. I finished the meeting in a daze. The meeting over, I quickly left, went down a side street, sat on the curb, and vomited….\’We are a waste of time.\’\”

    When I chose to withdraw my membership from the church, I discussed the matter with my stake president (I had served two and a half years as his executive secretary at the time), and he was remarkably respectful, loving, and understanding. Unfortunately, I have also come across several experiences like that reported by the brother above. There is still progress to be made on the \”love the sinner\” front, at least when it comes to homosexuality.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 16, 2007 @ 8:06 am

  53. Argh…sorry, I forgot to close the italics after the quoted material from “#51.”

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 16, 2007 @ 8:14 am

  54. “There is still progress to be made on the “love the sinner” front, at least when it comes to homosexuality.”

    Nick – your comment might be an appropriate way to close this thread and just say – Amen.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 16, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  55. Back to the original post here is my take.

    There is a key difference between the following 2 situations.

    1. Adultry. The LDS guy who commits adultry knows its wrong and is usually deeply ashamed of their actions unless they are total cads.

    2. The couple living in a homosexual partnership of some type is unapologetically openly flaunting Gods laws.

    Different situations entirely.

    Tracy you asked a serious question above in #40. I am not PC so here is the reality in the LDS church

    The answer is its very difficult to reconcile the belief in the LOC and pro gay secular attitudes about homosexuality. If you teach your kids secular non LDS attitudes about homosexuality they will run into an opposite message from LDS in leadership positions who will unapologetically use the scriptures and statements of the prophets to point out that the secular attitude on this topic and the LOC in general is inspired by the devil. And a direct fulfillment of the idea taught in Isiaah that in the last days there will be those who call “good evil and evil good”
    So you are setting them up for a conflict at some point when they eventually run into a lesson where the teacher, Bishop, SP, fellow ward member does not pull punches out of PC concerns.

    Comment by bbell — November 16, 2007 @ 9:03 am

  56. bbell- thanks for answering my question. I’m aware of the official church teachings on homosexuality- and I’m aware there is a shift between those teachings and what we teach at home. I don’t think the chasm is as wide as you suppose, however.

    See, with three close family members being gay, I had to deal with this early in my conversion- even before my bapsitsm- in order to decide to become a member of this church. (of which I am a full-fledged member, not not on the fringes or borderline whatsoever)

    What I have opted to do is err on the side of love, and welcome my family into my life and our home, just as I always have. I cannot think of a better way to show the gospel of Jesus Christ than for my family to see how we live- to take part in family prayer, FHE, even church activities. If I were to exclude them, or teach my children they were less valuable because of choices those adults made, I would hardly be modelling love and charity.

    The LOC arguement doesn’t hold up with me- my uncle is breaking the LOC with his partner of over a decade because he is not legally allowed to make his partnership legal. I’m not interested in opening the SSM can of worms, however, it is a fact, if they could be legally bound, they would be. Then, the LOC arguement would be mute.

    One of the most amazing things I’ve heard from the pulpit in our ward, was a statement made by our CES seminary teacher, a church employee and one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met. (paraphrasing here_

    He said that it was entirely possible that the Lord made certain people have this challenge, that that arguement was irrelevent- that no matter what or who, our job is to exhibit Christ-like love and compassion. We are commanded not to judge- only to love one another.

    That is the path I have chosen. Let the chips fall where they may.

    Comment by tracy m — November 16, 2007 @ 9:29 am

  57. Tracy,

    I regret to inform you that your understanding of the LOC is wrong. Who taught you this? “The LOC arguement doesn’t hold up with me- my uncle is breaking the LOC with his partner of over a decade because he is not legally allowed to make his partnership legal. I’m not interested in opening the SSM can of worms, however, it is a fact, if they could be legally bound, they would be. Then, the LOC arguement would be mute.” This is simply false.

    Any homosexual sex is a violation of the LOC whether between Massachussetts married Lesbians and 2 guys in a bathhouse who never met before.

    Its that simple.

    Comment by bbell — November 16, 2007 @ 10:15 am

  58. #57 bbell:
    Over the past several years, LDS leaders have consistently claimed that homosexual intimacy is wrong specifically because it falls under the category of sex outside marriage. Mormonism further teaches that we will not be held accountable for obedience to a commandment, when obedience is prevented by our “enemies.” At the present time, committed same-sex partners are prevented from legally marrying in the United States, unless they are existing residents of the Commonwealth of Massachussetts. If committed same-sex couples travel to a foreign country (such as Canada) and are legally married in that jurisdiction, their marriage is not legally recognized in most U.S. jurisdictions.

    The situation is not as “black and white” as you might suppose. My former wife served a mission in Ireland, during a time when the Catholic-inspired civil law completely prohibited divorce. It was quite common to find heterosexual couples who cohabitated without the benefit of marriage for many years, because one or both partners had a previous marriage, which could not legally be dissolved, thus the “new” couple could not legally marry. It may surprise you to know that the LDS church routinely allowed the baptism of these persons, realizing that the couple remained unmarried (and yes, sexually intimate) only because they were legally prohibited from marrying.

    Here in the U.S., I am personally aware of at least one situation where a gay member of the LDS church, who attends regularly but does not hold a calling or temple recommend, was threatened with disciplinary action, based upon his intimate relations with his partner of several years. He and his partner happen to have travelled to Canada to be legally married in that jurisdiction, quite some time ago. This presents a challenge, of course, to the LDS reasoning that homosexual intimacy is wrong due to the lack of marriage between the partners. If disciplinary action is taken, this will “put the lie” to that reasoning, making it appear insincere, at best. Further, the situation has garnered a certain amount of publicity. As you may know, stake presidents routinely request and receive guidance from higher authorities in unusual situations. It is significant, therefore, that the matter has been quietly dropped.

    I really do understand your commitment to the teachings of LDS leaders, bbell. I was once at least as militant as you are, and even more so. With age and experience, however, I learned that few things are as clear and unquestionable as they initially appear.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 16, 2007 @ 12:00 pm

  59. Rusty: In other words, these men have compassion on the person who wants to change their ’sinful’ behavior but when someone doesn’t even admit that their behavior is sinful then it’s more difficult to have ‘compassion’ on that person.

    I’m late to this discussion, but I wanted to react to this by pointing out that when you say that homosexuals won’t even “admit” that their behavior is sinful, you are suggesting that we know it is, but just don’t want to ‘fess up. In fact, many of us who are gay genuinely believe that homosexual behavior is no more inherently sinful than heterosexual behvior. In other words, we have nothing to admit.

    Comment by Chris Williams — November 16, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

  60. Chris,
    I know where you (and others) stand on this. What I was saying is that in the eyes of the person saying these things the homosexual isn’t admitting their sin.

    Comment by Rusty — November 16, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

  61. In other words, if you’re the kind of person that will say bigotted things about homosexuals in church then you’re also likely to be the kind of person that thinks everyone (in the church and out) agrees with your definition of sin.

    Comment by Rusty — November 16, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  62. Rusty,

    Got it. Thanks.

    Comment by Chris Williams — November 16, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  63. That church leaders in discussing homosexual behavior rely on the “no sex outside marriage” standard should provide some corrective to the discussion in the high priests group–that standard puts all sex acts outside marriage (whether heterosexual or homosexual) in the same category, but doesn’t reserve a hotter ring in hell for homosexual rather than heterosexual acts. (Those hotter rings appear to be reserved for those whose actions also include the breaking of covenants, whether the endowment or marriage.)

    It’s quite a leap, however, to suggest that a decision by Canada or the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is the harbinger of a change in the church’s understanding of marriage, and that a failure by other jurisdictions to follow their leads is somehow the “enemy” that prevents gays from marrying and therefore keeping the commandment.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 16, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  64. Can I just state that the initial premise of this post had nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of homosexual behavior but rather it was a suggestion, with evidence , that we (meaning Mormons, or Christians or straight people or whomever) sometimes have a double standard for practicing the Lord’s commandment to “Love one another.”

    Comment by lamonte — November 16, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

  65. Yes, we are to love one another, but we are not to condone sin. This does not equate hate, intolerance or bigotry. Many religions state that homosexuality is a sin. Does that mean that every person who adhere’s to the teaching’s of their religion are extreme right wing wackos or crazy fundamentalists? I think not. I would challenge that position. It means they have codes of morality that they are following. Intolerance is being directed towards them. How do you love somebody that is practicing a sin? Well, we are all sinners. Let’s not lump homosexuality as the only sin to touch this world. There is adultery, divorce, fornication, theft, murder, and the list could go on endlessly. My point is, nobody is in a position to judge another’s sin. Where this should stop is having the sin taught as right to our children. SB777 seeks the right of the gay community to teach morality to California’s children. They are not qualified to do that. I, as an American, celebrate their right to choose their lifestyle. I, as a Christian, draw the line when they want access to the public school system to teach all children their code of morality.

    Comment by Crystal — December 14, 2007 @ 1:19 pm

  66. ovLQg2 Thanks for good post

    Comment by johnny — December 29, 2008 @ 4:34 am

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