Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Seeking Truth


            Some months ago I noticed the comments of a critic of the Church posted on a (highly critical) chat-site forum. This person wanted to engage with me in a discussion (debate) about Church history and doctrine in hopes of causing doubt or loss of faith. His opening catch-phrase was clever. Something like: “I assume he is a truth-seeker” (meaning me). This was meant to sound innocent; after all, for goodness sake, shouldn’t we all be truth-seekers?; especially Latter-day Saints?

            At first glance I knew sophistry was in play. I realized that this question “are you/is he a truth-seeker,” was a wolf-question in sheep-question disguise. It was a way to ensnare, to set a trap. Something like “beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes.”

            But it also gave me further occasion to ponder whether or not I am a truth-seeker, and if so, what kind of truth-seeker I am, and this caused me to engage in some introspection. Sometimes the deceptions of the enemy (Satan’s mortal servants and spokespeople who often don’t know they are) can prod thoughtful people into adjusting or refining their thinking and views, and such was the case for me. While I made no direct response to the subtle crafty critic then, I now offer some broader thoughts on the subject.

Friday, October 4, 2019

LGBT Activists and Reporters Oppose the Prophets Again


             In an LGBT activist “news story” recently published by the Salt Lake Tribune, Peggy Stack, the (alleged) religion reporter and progressive activist, took special aim at President Dallin H. Oaks’ message to church leaders in the General Authority leadership training session of General Conference. (Whether this Tribune piece is really news is debatable, but it did give Peggy an opening to gripe.) President Oaks referenced and defined the word “gender” in the Proclamation on the Family and in other church publication since then, and clarified that it meant biological birth sex—not what some confused person might decide to decree for themselves later. “ ‘Finally, the long-standing doctrinal statements reaffirmed in [The Family: A Proclamation to the World] 23 years ago will not change. They may be clarified as directed by inspiration.’ For example, ‘the intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation and as used in Church statements and publications since that time is biological sex at birth.’ ”

            This doctrinal statement and clarification from President Oaks evidently upset and offended some LGBT activists, including Peggy Stack (the religion reporter), who then raced to collect some quotations from her activist contacts that could be used to criticize the story. Hence the title including the misleading words “dark day for transgender Latter-day Saints.” The fact that a non-Latter-day Saint (a transgender excommunicant) gave her the quote is ignored; maybe it is simply the fault of a bad headline writer).

            This excommunicated (former) member, who clearly decided it was more important to portray themselves as supposedly becoming the opposite sex than to be a member of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is then referenced again: “Oaks’ definition of gender as being the ‘biological sex at birth,’ she [or really he] said, directly contradicts Hall’s own ‘personal revelation.’ ” Stack explained that this person “believes that gender is eternal but that she was born in the wrong body.” And “That is a view shared by many transgender Latter-day Saints who continue in their faith and practice with the church.”

            There are some major issues brought up here. One pertains to the validity of “personal revelation” that contradicts the position of the Church of Jesus Christ and the scriptures. Another is the faulty doctrinal notions of the transgender group Stack references. It might very well be that the very reason that the First Presidency devoted some time to clarifying this doctrine is because some people were viewing it wrong. And another is to speak of “transgender Latter-day Saints who continue in their faith and practice with the church.” People who use surgery and hormones to attempt to change their God-given sex would be highly restricted in any “faith” or “practice” in the Church; their status would leave them able to do little more than a nonmember.

            President Harold B. Lee shared an experience from his tenure as a stake president that explains this transgender activist’s experience with getting false personal revelation. A man in his stake had committed gross immorality, having “harmed a lovely young girl.” The stake presidency and high council met for most of a night and deliberated. The verdict was that the man should be excommunicated. That morning, the man’s brother met a weary President Lee at his office. “This man said, ‘I want to tell you that my brother wasn’t guilty of that thing which you charged him with.’ ‘How do you know he wasn’t guilty?’ I asked. ‘Because I prayed, and the Lord told me he was innocent,’ the man answered.” Thereafter followed a little discussion, in which President Lee interviewed this man who was the brother of the man who was excommunicated. He quickly learned that the man was inactive, did not keep the commandments, and was angry with (had been offended by) his bishop. He did not pray or read the scriptures. President Lee then explained to him how attending church and keeping the commandments and praying and studying the word of God were necessary activities that helped someone to carry the Spirit of the Lord with them and receive personal revelation; the most important one of all being keeping the law of chastity; being morally clean.

            “ ‘Now then,’ I said, ‘fifteen of the best living men in the Pioneer Stake prayed last night. They heard the evidence and every man was united in saying that your brother was guilty. Now, you, who do none of these things, you say you prayed, and you got an opposite answer. How would you explain that?’ Then this man gave an answer that I think was a classic. He said, ‘Well, President Lee, I think I must have gotten my answer from the wrong source.’ And you know that’s just as great a truth as we can have. We get our answer from the source of the power we list to obey. If we’re keeping the commandments of the devil, we’ll get the answer from the Devil.”

            Could any clearer explanation of this current transgender person’s scenario be given, than that set forth 67 years ago by a prophet of God? Anyone getting answers to prayers that conflict with or contradict the word of the Lord as given through His prophets and apostles can easily conclude they are getting their answers from the Devil, like this confused activist did. He/she won’t accept this truth because it runs counter to their new worldly sinful lifestyle and culture, but it is true nonetheless.

            The second issue is whether male spirits can mistakenly get born in female bodies, or female spirits be born in male bodies. We should just as well ask whether God is perfect or not, whether He makes mistakes or not, whether He is omnipotent or not, and so forth. If we buy this argument, then God becomes imperfect and ceases to be God (some baloney that many LGBT activists are arguing is the case anyway).

God does not make mistakes; He puts the right spirit in the right body: male in male and female in female; that we can know with absolute surety. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone said that President Marion G. Romney taught the Brethren that God has never put a female spirit in a male body or a male spirit in a female body. "Just a word about homosexuality. President Marion G. Romney said, 'the God of heaven will never put a female spirit in a male body and he’ll never put a male spirit in a female body.' You can write that down as God’s truth. . . . You’re going to hear so much of it in this generation. You need to hear and understand the word of the Lord in this dispensation. And understand the great direction the Brethren have given over the years." God does not make mistakes. The LGBT activist’s arguments are erroneous and only lead themselves and others astray. But Peggy Stack must make an issue of it, being a marvelously misled activist herself—even if it means criticizing in public print a prophet of God. The sad thing is, General Conference time is the most visible time for her to do it and she knows it.