Saturday, November 12, 2016

Gay Activism and the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Ruminations on Promoting Sin

Editor's note: an earlier version of this appeared here on February 13, 2016.

(Revised and Enlarged)

President Gordon B. Hinckley knew exactly what he was talking about when, in a 1997 general conference, he cautioned members of the Church, saying: “I hope you will never look to the public press [or bloggers/social media] as the authority on the doctrines of the Church.” His point was that most commentary from such sources fails to one degree or another to accurately represent or communicate Church doctrine, practice, and policy. The result is that many readers are given a false impression of the Church’s position and judge it falsely thereby. Of course, such a result—misunderstanding and confusion—is usually what the reporter or blogger—often a gay activist—seeks. They know there is nothing easier to sway than an outraged but misinformed audience.

The Position of the Church

The Proclamation on the Family, issued by the First Presidency, teaches that “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”[1] The First Presidency has further stated:

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.[2]

During an occasion when activists and media were agitating, President Hinckley stated the following, which is the same thing he would say today if he still lived:

People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families.[3]

In one of his last major addresses, Elder L. Tom Perry stated: “We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established.”[4] This message follows a decades earlier declaration from him: “I want to publicly profess my opposition to those who are so caught up in their own learning they believe with their enlightened minds they can change the laws of God. A consensus of mankind is not and never will be empowered to change these divine laws.” Elder Perry continued:

These seemingly enlightened minds are trying to destroy the sacred institution of marriage with their erroneous doctrines and teachings. . . .
            The union between husband and wife is sacred to the Lord, something not to be trifled with. . . .
            In all periods of time, he has declared his divine law is to safeguard and protect this holy union between husband and wife. . . .
            I leave you my witness that there is a consistency in the laws of God that will not change. When we conform our lives to his laws we will find a rewarding joy, a fulfillment, and a peace as we live here on earth. When we would pervert or change his laws or disregard them, we must stand the judgments of God, and as surely as that occurs, misery, sorrow, and heartache will be the result.[5]

While much more has been said and written by the Church or its Public Affairs spokespeople, these quotations convey the Church’s position well. None of this should surprise anyone who pays attention to modern prophets and reads material on its newsroom website.[6] Sin is still wrong and serious sin still results in serious spiritual consequences. Gay activism can’t change that fact. Those who refrain from or sincerely repent of serious sin of any kind have a far smoother time progressing spiritually than those who do not. God blesses those who keep His commandments, serve Him and have faith in Him.
And for those trying to wrest the scriptures to include gay relationships in the spirit world and the resurrection, we quote Elder Bruce C. Hafen referencing Elder Oaks: “If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then—you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex. Some of you may wonder if that doctrine is too good to be true. But Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said it MUST be true, because ‘there is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband and wife, and posterity.’ And ‘men (and women) are that they might have joy.’”[7] Alma further taught: “Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction” (Alma 13:20). That’s the plain long-established doctrine of the Church and it will never change.

What or Whose Standards ought we live by?

It becomes increasingly clear that many voices around us call for a growing variety of standards or norms of human behavior. They often desire others to follow them; to think like they do, to espouse their particular cause of social justice.
Some call for an end to all religion and eagerly litigate if a religious meeting is held in a public building. Others call for animals to be given the same rights as human beings. Some say that if we don’t join their religion they will kill us. Many begrudgingly concede that religion has some minor uses as long as adherents stay out of public policy and opinion. So what is the point?—ideas once considered extreme are now the norm. Whether or not a majority in the United States or on planet earth actually do think there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriage or not, if activists become loud enough they can often bully people into believing that they do constitute a majority. Words like “homophobic” are invented and given connotations similar to “racist” and “bigot” and are used to silence or shame anyone unconvinced by their great lie. The gay activist’s logic is so flawed that if God has given laws and commandments against homosexual acts, then they say God himself must be homophobic; or they disbelieve in him.

Good and evil inverted today

The great Old Testament prophet 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!” (Isaiah 5:20; see also 21, 23-25; and 2 Nephi 15:20-25.) The prophet Mormon echoed this same caution, warning those living in the latter days to “take heed . . . that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil” (Moroni 7:14; see also 7:15-19). One would think that such a thought as to charge God foolishly might be found in an atheists’ mind, but would never enter the heart of anyone claiming to be a latter-day saint—yet here we are: “I sit here heartbroken that the Church is not only standing by this regrettable policy but enshrining homophobia as God’s will.”[8] We would be hard-pressed to come up with a better example of sophistry and disloyalty.
The pertinent question becomes—what standard should Latter-day Saints or any people of faith and morality hold to? Whose beckoning voices should we follow, if any? Do we find spiritual safety with the popular trends of modern secular society, following their descent into a river of filthy water? Or do we hold to a higher, iron-clad standard?
Is there a penetrating and familiar warning voice to be heard amid the activist’s noisy clamor? It seems that a General Conference cannot pass without God’s prophets and apostles employing strong language that warns of how modern society continues its unrelenting downward spiral toward immorality, amorality, secularism, atheism, moral relativism and the spirit of anti-Christ. A few examples suffice:

“In a confusing world of conflicting ideas, shifting values, and selfish desire for power. . . .”[9]

“People are looking for a solid anchor in a world of shifting values. They want something they can hold to as the world about them increasingly appears to be in disarray.”[10]

“One of the consequences of shifting from moral absolutes to moral relativism in public policy is that this produces a corresponding shift of emphasis from responsibilities to rights. Responsibilities originate in moral absolutes. In contrast, rights find their origin in legal principles, which are easily manipulated by moral relativism.”[11]

“I need not remind you that the world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. The moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken.”[12]

“Look at the world around us. There has been a decline. The world has been slipping for as long as we know. Since World War II, the plane dipped and it gets ever steeper. The world is slipping into mischief and wickedness and depravity at a rate faster than we have known or that we can find in the annals of history.”

These are warnings from church leaders that the truly faithful hear and recognize and heed, and that others ignore or rail against. Prophets and apostles not only know how things are in the world now, but they also know much of what lies ahead; of course, that is nonsense and gibberish to unbelievers and activists who desire to keep an iron grip on their position of being the blind leading the blind.
Over two decades ago, a great Seer prophesied of our time and of the decades to come. He declared: “As we continue on our course, these things will follow as night the day: The distance between the Church and a world set on a course which we cannot follow will steadily increase. Some will fall away into apostasy, break their covenants, and replace the plan of redemption with their own rules.”[13] “Their own rules”; their own shifted and corrupted standards; evil is pronounced good and anyone disagreeing is swiftly denounced as a homophobe. This same Seer further noted that “President Harold B. Lee told me once of a conversation he had with Elder Charles A. Callis of the Quorum of the Twelve. Brother Callis had remarked that the gift of discernment was an awesome burden to carry. To see clearly what is ahead and yet find members slow to respond or resistant to counsel or even rejecting the witness of the apostles and prophets brings deep sorrow.”[14]
Could Isaiah and Mormon have described our society’s present condition with any greater clarity? How many fringe, progressive (liberal), dissident, and misled Mormons now proclaim evil is good and good is evil on this issue and others? Who can doubt that the growing distance between the Church and the world will continue to get wider as courts continue to legalize other forms of sin and immorality.
In our current sex-saturated society, it is easy to forget that commission of sexual sin is very serious; next to murder in gravity in the eyes of the Lord (see Alma 39:5). Gay activists don’t want homosexual relations to be considered sinful and so if they are latter-day saints, they either need to apostatize or they need to wrest the scriptures. Elder Boyd K. Packer noted: “Some challenge us to show where the scriptures specifically forbid . . . . a gay-lesbian . . . life-style. ‘If they are so wrong,’ they ask, ‘why don’t the scriptures tell us so in “letter of the law” plainness?’ These issues are not ignored in the revelations. The scriptures are generally positive rather than negative in their themes, and it is a mistake to assume that anything not specifically prohibited in the ‘letter of the law’ is somehow approved of the Lord. All the Lord approves is not detailed in the scriptures, neither is all that is forbidden.” Then Brother Packer quoted D&C 59:6, which says this: “Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.” To illustrate his point, he read it this way: “The scriptures tell us: ‘Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it’” (D&C 59:6). The “anything like unto it” expands each category of sin—stealing, adultery and killing—so that every conceivable wrong does not need enumeration. It is also correct read this way: “Thou shalt not . . . commit adultery . . . nor do anything like unto it.” What is like unto adultery?—any major sexual sin. As King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon explained, “I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them” (Mosiah 4:29). Both the scriptures and today’s prophets and apostles have clearly and forcefully declared the truth of this matter.

Media/blogger sophistry

One online piece on gay marriage stated: “The Mormon Church has long opposed gay marriage. But until now, its bishops were given discretion over whether to discipline Mormons in same-sex relationships. Some Mormon congregations have quietly welcomed gay couples and their children.”[15] This is another example of clever sophistry. The variables are glossed over and ignored. Anyone (that is not being disruptive) can indeed attend a sacrament meeting and will be welcomed. However, if the couple is/was breaking the law of chastity, which is the assumption here, whether married by the law of the land or not the couple simply was not actively participating as members in good standing.
Before the policy adjustments were made, members breaking the law of chastity were just as subject to church discipline then as they are now, and if their local leaders were not following through with such measures they either needed further training or to be released.
The stories that find their way into the media or blogs about gay couples attending church are often misleading because the implication for many readers is that they are fully participating. However, only those not committing serious sin can participate fully as members in good standing. Most media and blog stories neglect to mention that the gay people are either living the law of chastity, are lying to their bishop, or are attending without the privileges of membership. One article in the liberal-extremist Huffington Post gay activist section used this strategy by intimating that a gay couple was fully participating in their local congregation after having come back to church after a very long absence. Whether on purpose or on accident the piece neglected to mention the strictly limited level of participation the couple could have. They had been married by the civil law of the land and this implies that they were breaking the moral law of chastity. Again, such sinful conduct meant that they could not participate in the Church as members in good standing (hold service callings, offer public prayers, take the sacrament, pay tithing, give talks, teach lessons).
One gay activist compared the First Presidency to a wife-beater, having equated their desire to keep the inner vessel clean with spousal abuse.[16] Such thinking demonstrates ignorance of fundamental doctrine. In the same article the activist also said: “We may have alienated a portion of what could be really amazing Latter-day Saints.” If they are defiantly practicing the gay lifestyle, they cannot be active latter-day saints; if they are keeping the law of chastity than they are entitled to all the blessings of the gospel and may indeed be amazing latter-day saints. But the media often fails to make such distinctions, leaving readers confused about the true position of the Church. Again, confusion among readers helps the gay activist cause.

There is no such thing as a practicing gay Mormon

In point of fact, the oft-used term “gay Mormon” is really a misnomer as the world or modern society views it. It is more accurate and correct to say “same-sex-attracted Mormon,” (which is entirely possible) since if the person is sexually active with someone of the same sex, that person by definition cannot be an active, faithful, spiritual Mormon. Another phrase that is being widely used and abused and inaccurately applied is some combination of “faithful gay Mormon,” as in this sentence from a feminist blogger evidently ignorant of Church doctrine and practice: “The Lord, apparently, thinks it is the right thing to do . . . to declare gay church members who are living in faithful and monogamous marriages to be apostates, subject to possible excommunication.”[17] She came to this conclusion after listening to a talk with parts related to the subject given January 10, 2016, by President Russell M. Nelson. She should have known what the position of the Lord and His Church was on gay marriage years before hearing that talk. (She probably did but wants to challenge or dispute it; that’s what disloyal gay activists do.)
There is no such thing as a gay church member living in a faithful and monogamous marriage to someone of the same sex. Further, attaching the word “faithful” to people—married or not—that are having same-sex sexual relations is another impossibility. Being “faithful” implies spiritual and physical worthiness and commitment to serving the Lord and keeping His commandments and repenting of sins. Living in a same-sex relationship evidences a blatant disregard for the commandment to live the law of chastity. This was true before the handbook changes were made and is after. It’s simply stated more clearly now.
The blogger continued her line of backwards reasoning, betraying her lack of knowledge of the doctrine of the Church she claims membership in:

So what does this mean for the many, many Latter-day Saints who have indeed prayed about this, fasted about this, and similarly “wrestled at length” to get the Lord’s guidance—only to receive a totally different answer than the prophet’s? . . .
And an answer that recognizes the inherent sacred worth of LGBT persons — and their marriages?
I am in that camp. I sit here heartbroken that the Church is not only standing by this regrettable policy but enshrining homophobia as God’s will.[18]

Latter-day saints who pray and receive an answer “totally different” from or in opposition or contradiction to the voice of the First Presidency and Twelve are deceived and wrong and should repent or suffer the consequences. From Hiram Page and his phony seer stone (see D&C 28) to gay activists and sympathizers getting false impressions today, such counterfeit personal revelation has long been a serious problem that has led many people astray.
Regarding the status of children in this matter, I would much rather rely on the interpretation of scripture and doctrine from the First Presidency and Twelve than that of a gay activist or doctrinal dissident. If the Holy Spirit directs them to implement a policy for children of polygamists and same-sex couples that is different than for others, that is fine with me. I do not know their reasoning or the inspiration they received beyond what they have said, but I can venture a guess for what it is worth.
If a child is raised in an environment where something very wrong is portrayed as normal or good; where example, discussions, teachings and lessons, on a daily basis, convey such a lifestyle as good, those teachings become ingrained and powerfully influential in a child’s understanding and experience. Whether they themselves develop same-sex attractions or not, they are likely going to view such relationships as good and right. Then, when these impressionable children go to Church, they will be taught that the lifestyle of their “parents” is sinful and wrong, and will also be taught why. They will see that the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles and the stake president and bishop and primary teacher oppose what they receive at home. These kinds of contradictions could be very difficult for children to deal with, especially when the Holy Spirit whispers to their souls that the way their parents live is sinful. The policies in the handbook help mitigate such concerns. And of course, without court approved adoptions or scientific intervention, gay people cannot normally (biologically) have any children to worry about in the first place.
Another consideration that comes to mind is that of lawsuits. Since the days of Joseph Smith, anti-Mormons have filed suite as a way to harass and vex the Church; it is standard operating procedure among them. This is why the Church has an Office of General Counsel and a respected law firm on continuous retainer. It could well be that a hateful or angry gay “parent” could decide to sue the Church over religious matters; the policy avoids such possibilities.
But just what is the inherent worth of LGBT marriages? Is an arrangement or lifestyle that continuously breaks the commandments of God “sacred” as the blogger states? This blogger claims to hold a temple recommend. Is she justified or in open public rebellion? Is she moving from being a wolf in sheep’s clothing to being a wolf in wolf’s clothing? How much humility and contrition will such a person have in their lives and prayers as they find prophetic counsel and established doctrine contradicting their personal views? She seems to have answered this question by rhetorically asking another: “By rejecting this policy, are . . . members like me, people who hold a calling and a temple recommend, now to be regarded as ‘servants of Satan?’” As the First Presidency put it: “Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.” In this same vein, newspaper reporters who persist in fanning the flames of the gay activist cause in opposition to the teachings and policies of the Church are also subject to Church discipline; further, if for some reason they are not excommunicated or disfellowshipped, one wonders if they could not find honorable employment elsewhere, doing something helpful; using their influence for good instead of evil.
This blogger and others, as well as various media outlets, have taken notice of President Nelson’s January 10, 2016, talk, “Becoming True Millennials.” The reason is because, in something of an unusual gesture, as part of his remarks, President Nelson shared some of the behind-the-scenes deliberations and procedures of the First Presidency and the Twelve in relation to the handbook revisions. He declared the substance of the changes to have been a result of revelation to President Thomas S. Monson. Such declarations of the will of the Lord by the Prophet of the Lord are simply not acceptable to an unbelieving world responding to moral relativism as dictated by social media and activism. To them such prophetic pronouncements need to be qualified or altered or mocked. One blogger did his best to rationalize President Nelson’s language to mean policy, not revelation, for the Church, and therefore something he hoped to be changed later. Many commenters seemed to hope he was right. Parsing such terms in a search for loopholes does not demonstrate either understanding or loyalty. Of course, church policy is rooted in revelation and therefore usually becomes enduring, with little or no adjustment.

President Nelson speaks of the handbook changes

In his unusually powerful talk, even for him, President Russel M. Nelson said:

This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change in minimum age for missionaries and again with the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries. Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter. Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson. Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process, and so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation.

Only ignorance of what revelation is and how prophets and apostles receive it allow people to twist President Nelson’s wording into “policy” instead of “revelation,” a word used three times in two sentences. Words like direction, inspiration, and spiritual confirmation are also used and by a speaker who chooses his words carefully. One can disbelieve that it is genuine revelation from God to His prophet, but one cannot change the meaning of the words.
President Nelson also took occasion to give members a warning we should all take as seriously as we value our hope of eternal life:

Prophets see ahead. They see the harrowing dangers the adversary has placed or will yet place in our path. Prophets also foresee the grand possibilities and privileges awaiting those who listen with the intent to obey. I know this is true! I have experienced it for myself over and over again. The Lord has promised us that He will never allow the prophet to lead us astray.
Around 41 B.C., many Nephites joined the Church, and the Church prospered. But secret combinations also began to grow, and many of their cunning leaders hid among the people and were difficult to detect. As the people became more and more prideful, many of the Nephites made “a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation.”
Those same threats are among us today. The somber reality is that there are “servants of Satan” embedded throughout society. So be very careful about whose counsel you follow.[19]

This is what we see on social media and in newspapers today, people in and out of the Church, including those who should know better, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation: “Deny not the spirit of revelation, nor the spirit of prophecy, for wo unto him that denieth these things” (D&C 11:25). We can follow the unbelieving and faithless activists’ counsel or that of President Nelson and his apostolic associates. Elder M. Russell Ballard has given this warning:

Too often we hear, “why do the Brethren…”, or, “why does the Church…” instead of, “why do the scriptures teach…” or “why does the Lord say…”. We need to remember that when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice it is the voice of the Lord for that time. . . . So I am saying to you, when you step out into the noisy world, keep your eyes on us. We will not and cannot lead you astray. Do not ever follow those who believe they know more than Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ about the administration of the affairs of Their Church here upon the earth. . . .
In every generation there are those who have partaken of the fruit, but later became ashamed of the gospel. Today is no different. To them and to us, Paul boldly declared, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” The Lord needs an army of faithful, dedicated, and loyal disciples who are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and who are willing to speak and stand up for the doctrine of Christ, including all principles and practices that flow from us as announced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—even when the principles and practices are not popular with some who may say they are not currently politically correct. . . .
Please remember that public opinion is not God. We must be faithful to Him. Additionally, public opinion is not our judge; God is our judge and He will stand by us. . . .
You will be going out into a noisy world. This noisy world will have some things to say that are nice about the Church and they will have some things not so nice. There will be those who want to tamper with the doctrine, but you don’t listen to that because you stay anchored to the fundamental doctrine and gospel of Christ. May God bless you with the courage and the strength to stand wherever you are serving and whatever your circumstances may be—that you may stand never never ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ; never with a wonderment or concern about the leadership of the Church. We are led by a prophet; there are fifteen apostles on the earth. We meet together. And I said earlier, we cannot and we will not lead you astray. Keep your eyes upon us. . . .
I leave you my witness and testimony. I know that Jesus is the Christ; I love Him. I know you do to. But I witness to you that He lives.[20]

Bearing false witness for others

A Salt Lake newspaper website posted a letter from an old man who is the grandson of a deceased apostle and a descendant of some prominent early Mormons. This aged man, long known for his heretical religious views, apostatized and left the Church years ago to join a protestant denomination. In the letter the man castigated Church leaders for the manual changes, and declared them in apostasy and in danger of hell-fire. He then reverses himself and says he loves and sustains them and acknowledges that they speak for “the institutional church” (that he himself has left). He then declared that he speaks for his ancestors and announced that they would approve of gay marriage.[21] He evidently doesn’t know his Mormon history and how these earlier (actually) faithful latter-day saints reacted when they learned of homosexual practices in their midst. One of his named ancestors was Zina D. H. Young, a plural wife of Brigham Young and part of the most prominent circle of leading women in Utah and the Church. Her associates were women of profound spiritual stature like Eliza R. Snow, Emmaline B. Wells, Mary Isabella Horne, and Helen Mar Kimball Whitney. Helen Mar was a plural wife of Joseph Smith, daughter of Heber C. Kimball, and the mother of Elder Orson F. Whitney. She and Zina Young and the others all worked and traveled together in Relief Society matters and held harmonious views on fundamental gospel principles. On learning of the specific homosexual sins that lead to the excommunication of a local ward bishop, Helen wrote the following in her dairy for Sept. 3, 1886: “Stopt quite a time to rest & visit with Em. & Elmira Taylor, & there I learned the facts concerning Bp Taylor’s being excommunicated from the Church—I was too horrified to give expression to my feelings—I never dreamed that Salt Lake was so near being another ‘Soddom’ . . . I thought What will be the next horror in Zion.”[22]
Our activist letter writer should have done his homework before claiming to speak for Zina and his other ancestors who were not steeped in today’s secularism and moral relativism. He is the one who apostatized, not they.
It is amazing what can be heard from ignorant critics. One explanation that I heard was that when the strengthened handbook wording leaked and the liberal dissidents filling social media didn’t like it and therefore called it “changeable policy”, that Church leaders quickly got together and decided to have President Nelson give a talk proclaiming it revelation. Besides revealing a complete lack of understanding of how such internal things work, this fellow didn’t realize that the published Church Correlation approval date for the talk was 11/15. This means that the talk was written by November, the same month the unscrupulous blogger leaked the confidential changes and that Elder Christofferson gave his video interview. No conspiracy there, sorry.
President Nelson would never speak of internal processes, procedures, decisions, and revelations that take place in sacred and confidential council meetings without authorization. Similarly, as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve and the next senior apostle in the line of succession to become the President, he is positioned to appropriately explain such developments. He declared: “I love and sustain President Thomas S. Monson in this sacred work of Almighty God. Jesus Christ is our Savior. This is His Church. We are His people!” So it is.

Where the line is drawn

The Church is not anymore against gay sex than it is abortion, fornication, adultery, stealing, lying, and serious sin of any kind, all of which it opposes to the extent it can; but activists usually confuse sin with sinners. All mankind are sinners, they just don’t always become activists seeking to justify sin by calling evil good.
Some activists express regret for the Church’s firm stand because they desire to continue living in the “Mormon culture.” They see the good it does for people and desire to combine that good with their sinful lifestyle. While they find that such a course doesn’t work and makes life untenable, they are still welcome to eat green jello and funeral potatoes, show up ten minutes late for meetings, and enjoy any other trappings of the culture that they like. But they are not welcome to foul the inner vessel with iniquity.
Following Jesus’ example, Church leaders teach love for all men and women. But, as Elder Packer taught, that love and compassion and hope for others does not include efforts to save people IN their sins, but rather to save people FROM their sins (see Alma 11:34-37). Nor do Church leaders allow gay activists to blackmail them by predicting suicide increases among same-sex attracted members if they won’t change church doctrine. While Church leaders mourn the tragedy of people taking their own lives for whatever reason, they do not soften the commandments to accommodate sin for any reason.
A common word cast about by gay activists is “pain”—meaning the Lord’s position as given by His prophets to His Church regarding homosexual activity causes those involved in it pain. And this is seen as bad; even intolerable; and some think to avoid it by lashing out publicly at the Church or the Brethren. But pain, spiritual and emotional and even social, is simply the price of sin. Until relieved by true repentance and forgiveness, anyone involved with homosexual sin, adultery, fornication, and any other kind of serious sin will experience a degree of pain. Others may grieve to watch their loved one suffer this pain, or feel it themselves for that person because of their love, but it is a consequence of sin that activism will not alleviate. Only the atonement can do that when properly applied. People who sin can, by process of spiritual law, expect to experience pain.
Many people want to stretch the virtue of tolerance so far as to cover serious sin, turning that virtue into a vice. Or they want to say that the Church’s position on gay marriage is not “Christ-like.” They incorrectly seem to think being Christ-like means tolerating anything and everything evil found in the world. We are told we must love and accept gay people to the point of condoning and normalizing and accepting their sexual lifestyle, even though it is contrary to the commandments of God. If we don’t, they say we are “judging” others—a misinterpretation of scripture. On the subject of loving God and His children, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty. “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said.

Some people evidently forget that Jesus cast the money-changers out of His Father’s House—if He wouldn’t tolerate greedy merchants making money off temple rites, what do we suppose He would do today with those seeking to marry people of the same sex in His Holy House (or anywhere)? Even the mere thought of such desecration and abomination taking place in the House of the Lord causes one to shudder and to thank God for prophets that safeguard and protect the keys of the sealing power from the worldly and unworthy.
If the Lord decided to permit people with same-sex inclinations/temptations to engage in sexual relations without spiritual penalty, then he would also have to allow others to commit their own favorite sins with impunity—fornication, petting, adultery, pedophilia, rape, incest, stealing, drug abuse, alcoholism, abortion, even murder—all would cease to be sinful.[23] The list of commandments would disappear and God would cease to be God.
The apostle Paul taught:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men [and women] shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such [the wicked] turn away.

In a sense, we turn away from sin and especially the activist who promotes sin, not the sinner (unless the sinner is also the activist); we try to save the sinner from the sin by teaching repentance and forgiveness and about the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ and faith in Him. And sometimes we try to clarify some of the nonsense posted by activists on the internet. Conversely, if something upsets the gay activists, it may very well be good and true. Some correct doctrine:

It’s true that the law of chastity forbids all sexual relations outside the bonds of a married heterosexual relationship. And while same-gender attraction is not a sin, you need to resist cultivating immoral, lustful thoughts toward those of either gender.  It’s no sin if a bird lands in your tree, just don’t let him build a nest there.  The adversary will tempt you by constantly “enticing” you to “do that which is evil,” because “there is an opposition in all things.” (2 Nephi 2:11) But God will also constantly “entice” you “to do good continually.” (see Moroni 7:12-13.  No temptation is so strong that you can’t resist it, unless you have already given away some portion of your agency to a total addiction. So will you choose to “yield” to temptation, or will you “yield to the enticing of the Holy Spirit”? (Mosiah 3:19) It’s up to you.[24]

Bundles of Sin

            Having now reviewed the profound implications of promoting homosexual sin, a further generalization is in order, one that pertains to the sophistry used by activists. While not applying in all cases, we should remember that often, if someone engages in one weighty sin, they are usually committing others at the same time. Sin, especially serious sin, is usually present in groups or bundles—meaning that lying, deception, Word of Wisdom violations (especially drug use), viewing pornography, and other kinds of sin are often indulged in together. These sins of commission are also usually accompanied by sins of omission—meaning offenders stop praying, stop reading the scriptures, stop attending church, stop heeding prophetic counsel, lose the Holy Spirit, and so forth. These behaviors usually lead to loss of testimony, rejection of God, and rank personal apostasy. They purposely walk a path of great “pain” leading to spiritual death, and they call it standing up for right. People in this category often seek support by commenting on or engaging in discussions in online support groups, where bashing the Church is considered sport. This kind of vicious religious hate speech and bigotry fill the comments sections of many online newspaper stories and blogs about the Church. When gay activists criticize the Church for being true to God’s commandments, they often purposely mislead by withholding the fact that those they write about are often committing other serious sins that also interfere with their ability to be faithful latter-day saints.
One such gay activist-apostate used his position in the music industry to release videos and song lyrics containing sacrilege, blasphemy, religious hate speech, and mockery of the sacred. (He spoke of getting drunk as he began his descent into bitter apostasy and sin. All the disbelief he can muster will do him no good when the inevitable time comes to account for his behavior.) Others have likewise used what pulpits the media have offered them to do all in their power to harm the Lord’s Church; all to no avail.

The Future of the Church

In conclusion, despite all that gay activists can and will yet do, we rejoice in a bright future for the truly faithful and for the Church, which can and does include many same-sex attracted yet chaste and worthy people on an upward path of spiritual progression. Things will be well at the final judgment and throughout eternity for any and all who keep the commandments and receive the ordinances and live clean truly faithful lives of love and service—whether they are same-sex attracted or otherwise.
Some have foolishly predicted the eventual demise of the Lord’s Church because of its uncompromising stand on this central issue. A few once thought to be strong have said it may cause them to leave the Church. Hundreds of those who have already left (in every way but that of formally writing a resignation letter) have joined publicity stunts of protest, seeking to harm or influence the Church. But their actions are negligible and barely noticed. Although church leaders are saddened by the loss of any soul to the deceptions of the Adversary as voiced by gay activists, we note that recently a church spokesman released the statistic that less than one-tenth of one percent of members resign their membership each year. Such a tiny number shatters the illusions so carefully created by the activists and anti-Mormons.
On President Boyd K. Packer’s passing, his son noted: “Dad was always optimistic and positive and not afraid of anything. He said over and over again—we've heard him say—'The Twelve are not afraid of what's going on in the world.' That brings great peace to the church and the family.”
Those paying attention to the prophets, seers, and revelators know what the eventual destiny of the Church is. President Packer has prophesied: “No matter if the Church grows to be a hundred million (as it surely will!), it will still be no bigger than a ward. . . . Whatever happens in the world, whatever heights of civility or depths of depravity emerge in society, the plan remains unaltered. The Church will grow until it fills the whole earth.”[25] That time of fullness, of course, will occur during the Millennium. Until then, things will get more and more ugly in the wicked world around us. Elder Bruce R. McConkie declared: “We know that the world will go on in wickedness until the end of the world, which is the destruction of the wicked. We shall continue to live in the world, but with the Lord’s help we shall not be of the world. We shall strive to overcome carnality and worldliness of every sort and shall invite all men to flee from Babylon, join with us, and live as becometh Saints. . . . Our only hope is to free ourselves from the bondage of sin, to rid ourselves from the chains of darkness, to rise above the world, to live godly and upright lives.”[26] Further, “We weep for those in the true Church who are weak and wayward and worldly and who fall by the wayside as the caravan of the kingdom rolls forward. We rejoice because of the glory and honor that awaits those who come forth out of all this tribulation with clean hands and pure hearts.”
The prophesy of the future is clearly set before us:

But the vision of the future is not all sweetness and light and peace. All that is yet to be shall go forward in the midst of greater evils and perils and desolations than have been known on earth at any time.
As the Saints prepare to meet their God, so those who are carnal and sensual and devilish prepare to face their doom.
As the meek among men make their calling and election sure, so those who worship the God of this world sink ever lower and lower into the depths of depravity and despair.
Amid tears of sorrow—our hearts heavy with forebodings—we see evil and crime and carnality covering the earth. Liars and thieves and adulterers and homosexuals and murderers scarcely seek to hide their abominations from our view. Iniquity abounds. There is no peace on earth.
We see evil forces everywhere uniting to destroy the family, to ridicule morality and decency, to glorify all that is lewd and base. We see wars and plagues and pestilence. Nations rise and fall. Blood and carnage and death are everywhere. Gadianton robbers fill the judgment seats in many nations. An evil power seeks to overthrow the freedom of all nations and countries. Satan reigns in the hearts of men; it is the great day of his power.
But amid it all, the work of the Lord rolls on. The gospel is preached and the witness is born. The elect of God forsake the traditions of their fathers and the ways of the world. The kingdom grows and prospers, for the Lord is with his people.
Amid it all, there are revelations and visions and prophecies. There are gifts and signs and miracles. There is a rich outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God.
Amid it all believing souls are born again, their souls are sanctified by the power of the Spirit, and they prepare themselves to dwell with God and Christ and holy beings in the eternal kingdom.
Is it any wonder that we both rejoice and tremble at what lies ahead?. . .
If we, as a people, keep the commandments of God; if we take the side of the Church on all issues, both religious and political; if we take the Holy Spirit for our guide; if we give heed to the words of the apostles and prophets who minister among us—then, from an eternal standpoint, all things will work together for our good.[27]

The only question then, is who will loyally come along for the ride, or, who will be left behind; who will have their lamps trimmed and lit or who will run out of oil. The wheat is being separated from the tares with the hastening of the Lord’s work.

[2] Deseret Morning News, Oct. 20, 2004, “Statement from the LDS First Presidency”.
[5] “For the Time Will Come When They Will Not Endure Sound Doctrine,” General Conference address, October 1975. While these quotations are directed at adulterers, there is no question they apply equally well to same-sex relationships and that Elder Perry would so apply them today.
[6] I say this because some reporters and semi-apostate bloggers seem to react with surprise to each successive reaffirmation of the Church’s position by its leaders or spokespeople.
[7] He also taught: “Having same-gender attraction is NOT in your DNA, but being a child of God clearly IS in your spiritual DNA—only one generation removed from Him whom we call Father in Heaven.”
[14] As quoted in Mine Errand from the Lord, chapter on Leadership and Following the Brethren.
[20] M. Russell Ballard, typescript excerpt from an address given at Provo, Utah, MTC, June 17, 2014, np.
[22] As quoted in Hatch and Compton, “A Widow's Tale: 1884-1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney”, (p. 187).
[23] As the guide to the scriptures says regarding “Sexual Immorality” is defined as: “Willful participation in adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, or any other unholy, unnatural, or impure sexual activity.”
[26] “Stand Independent Above All Other Creatures,” April 1979 General Conference;
[27] Bruce R. McConkie, “The Coming Trials and Tests and Glory,” April 1980 General Conference;

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