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Edits to Boyd K. Packer’s talk

We’ve discussed this talk briefly in another post and noted that there were some changes made between the version given at General Conference on Sunday morning and the official transcript now available online at lds.org.   For those of you interested in the changes, read on.

Thanks to Heather for doing the legwork on this one. She took the time to listen to the original audio and compare it with the new version of the transcript so we can see the changes.  Deletions from the original are in strikeout; insertions are bold.  Footnote references are noted, but are not included in this markup.  They are available here.

Edited to add official LDS Church response:

The Monday following every General Conference, each speaker has the opportunity to make any edits necessary to clarify differences between what was written and what was delivered or to clarify the speaker’s intent. President Packer has simply clarified his intent.

As we have said repeatedly, the Church’s position on marriage and family is clear and consistent. It is based on respect and love for all of God’s children.

-Scott Trotter, LDS Church Spokesman

Cleansing the Inner Vessel
President Boyd K. Packer
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance.

This general conference was convened at a time when there is such confusion and such danger that our young people hardly know which way they can walk. Having been warned through the revelations that it would be this way, the prophets and apostles have always been shown what to do.

The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith “that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world.”1 When the keys were restored, they provided priesthood authority to be present in every home through the grandfathers, the fathers, and the sons.

Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It qualifies according to the definition as a revelation and would do well that members of the church to read and follow it. It is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and to follow.

It states in part: “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”2

“The Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.

“And the Gods said: We will bless them. And . . . we will cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”3

This commandment has never been rescinded.

“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”4

It is intended that we be happy, for “men are, that they might have joy.”5

Lehi taught that men are free and must be “free . . . to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day.”6

The old saying “The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts” describes a doctrinal certainty that our agency is more powerful than the adversary‘s and his will. Agency is precious. We can foolishly, blindly give it away, but it cannot be forcibly taken from us.

There is also an age old excuse: “The devil made me do it.” Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.

To be entrusted with the power to create life carries with it the greatest of joys and dangerous temptations. The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Through the righteous exercise of this the power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy. This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key—the very key.

Whether we use this power as the eternal laws require or reject its divine purpose will forever determine what we will become. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”7

There is something very liberating when an individual determines of his or her own free will to be obedient to our Father and our God and expresses that willingness to Him in prayer.

When we obey, we can enjoy these powers in the covenant of marriage. From our fountains of life will spring our children, our family. Love between husband and wife can be constant and bring fulfillment and contentment all of the days of our lives.

If one is denied these blessings in mortality, the promise is that they will be provided for in the world to come.

Pure love presupposes that only after a pledge of eternal fidelity, a legal and a lawful ceremony, and ideally after the sealing ordinance in the temple, are those life-giving powers released for to the full expression of love. It is to be shared only and solely between man and woman, husband and wife, with that one who is our companion forever. On this the gospel is the very plan plain.

We are free to ignore the commandments, but when the revelations speak in such blunt terms, such as “thou shalt not,” we had better pay attention.

The adversary is jealous toward all who have the power to beget life. Satan cannot beget life; he is impotent. “He seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”8 He seeks to degrade the righteous use of the life-giving powers by tempting you into immoral relationships.

The Lord used the expression “is like unto” to create an image His followers could understand, such as:

“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man.”9

“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field.”10

In our day the dreadful influence of pornography is like unto a plague sweeping across the world, infecting one here and one there, relentlessly trying to invade every home, most frequently through the husband and father. The effect of this plague can be, unfortunately and often is, spiritually fatal. Lucifer seeks to disrupt “the great plan of redemption,”11 “the great plan of happiness.”12

Pornography will always repel the Spirit of Christ and will interrupt the communications between our Heavenly Father and His children and disrupt the tender relationships between husband and wife.

The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography—and it is a plague if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show you how to break a habit, and even erase an addiction. The holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to cast out these combat evil influences.

We raise an alarm and warn members of the Church to wake up and understand what is going on. Parents, be alert, ever watchful that this wickedness might threaten your family circle.

We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”13

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, God He is our Heavenly Father.

Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”14 You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”15

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!”16

Years ago I visited a school in Albuquerque. The teacher told me about a youngster who brought a kitten to class. As you can imagine, that disrupted everything. She had him hold up the kitten up in front of the children.

It went well until one of the children asked, “Is it a boy kitty or a girl kitty?”

Not wanting to get into that lesson, the teacher said, “It doesn’t matter. It’s just a kitty.”

But they persisted. Finally, one boy raised his hand and said, “I know how you can tell.”

Resigned to face it, the teacher said, “How can you tell?”

And the student answered, “You can vote on it!”

You may laugh at this story, but if we are not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, what good would a vote against the law of gravity do?

There are both moral and physical laws “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world” that cannot be changed.17 History demonstrates over and over again that moral standards cannot be changed by battle and cannot be changed by ballot. To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day.

Regardless of the opposition, we are determined to stay on course. We will hold to the principles and laws and ordinances of the gospel. If they are misunderstood either innocently or willfully, so be it. We cannot change; we will not change the moral standard. We quickly lose our way when we disobey the laws of God. If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties must needs perish.

“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”18

Every soul confined in a prison of sin, guilt, or perversion has a key to the gate. The key is labeled “repentance.” If you know how to use it, this key, the adversary cannot hold you. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter. If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop that conduct that is harmful. Angels will coach you,19 and priesthood leaders will guide you through the those difficult times.

Nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance. Do you understand the consummate cleansing power of the Atonement made by the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer? He said, “I, God,  have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent.”20 In that supernal act of love, the Savior paid the penalties for our sins so that we might not have to pay.

For those who truly desire it, there is a way back. Repentance is like unto a detergent. Even ground-in stains of sin will come out.

Priesthood holders carry with them the antidote to remove the terrible images of pornography and to wash away guilt. The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of our habits, even to unchain from addiction, however tight the grip. It can heal over the scars of the past mistakes.

I know of no more beautiful and consoling words in all of revelation than these: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”21

Sometimes, even after confession and paying penalties, the most difficult part of repentance is to forgive one’s self. You must come to know that forgiveness means forgiveness.

“As often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.”22

President Joseph Fielding Smith told me of a repentant woman struggling to find her way out of a very immoral life. She asked him what she should do now.

In turn, he asked her to read to him from the Old Testament the account of Lot’s wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt.23 Then he asked her, “What lesson do you gain from those verses?”

She answered, “The Lord will destroy the wicked.”

“Not so!” President Smith said that the lesson for this repentant woman and for you is “Don’t look back!”24

Strangely enough, it may be that the simplest and most powerful prevention and cure for pornography, or any unclean act, is to ignore and avoid it. Delete from the mind any unworthy thought that tries to take root. Once you have decided to remain clean, you are asserting your God-given agency. And then, as President Smith counseled, “Don’t look back.”

I promise you that ahead of you is peace and happiness for you and your family. The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home. And I invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you who are struggling against this terrible plague, to find the healing that is available to us in the priesthood of the Lord. I bear witness of that power in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Filed in Uncategorized | 102 responses so far

102 Responses to “Edits to Boyd K. Packer’s talk”

  1. 1KayGon 07 Oct 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Thank you Laura and Heather, for making this so clear and understandable. Those two deleted sentences (as well as changing “tendencies” to “temptation”) are significant.

    Was it in the 70s or the 80s that Ron Poelman’s General Conference talk got re-video’d and much-edited for publication? Few people knew about that. In this era of easy video recording of the original talk, and discussion on the Internet, it’s harder to conceal an about-face!

  2. 2Phouchgon 08 Oct 2010 at 7:01 am

    We are at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eurasia…

  3. 3Joe Geisneron 08 Oct 2010 at 7:52 am

    Great job Heather. Thank you both for providing the transcript.

  4. 4Lauraon 08 Oct 2010 at 7:53 am

    As was noted on the other post, it’s not unusual for minor changes to be made to the text of conference talks between the time those talks are presented in conference and the time the transcripts are available for printing and reading. Many of the grammatical changes as well as the incorporation of gender-inclusive language fall into that category here. The printed versions of talks are used as references and as the basis for lessons in Sunday School and other classes, as well as for talks in Sacrament Meeting, so it’s important that they are well-edited.

    Several points stand out in my mind in these revisions to Elder Packer’s talk:

    1 – The language used to describe The Proclamation on the Family is religiously significant to Mormons. There is a difference between a “revelation” and a “guide” and since the Proclamation is NOT canonized scripture at this point, it was important to clarify that point.

    2 – The rhetorical question and the language surrounding it – whether it’s a temptation or a tendency – created the largest controversy in General Conference history, not only within the Church, but also within the general population. The reaction of the HRC was unprecedented and if anecdotal stories are correct, hundreds, if not thousands of members, media representatives and non-members were contacting both local and general leaders for guidance, clarification and reassurance. Removing the question helps to address the ambiguity of whether it is doctrine or opinion that homosexuality is a choice.

    Even though Elder Packer did not use the words “homosexual” or “gay” or “same-gender attraction”, because of the placement of the question, the references to the Proclamation and marriage equality referenda, the stories of gender confusion (which is regularly conflated with homosexuality within LDS circles), and the use of words like “unnatural” many listeners got the distinct impression that Elder Packer was suggesting homosexuality is a choice. While that may be what he believes or understands, it is not in line with current church teachings which indicate General Authorities do not know what causes homosexuality.

    And, KayG – the Poelman talk was from 1984.

  5. 5Joe Geisneron 08 Oct 2010 at 8:00 am

    I agree with your comments Laura. What you have pointed out are key elements.

  6. 6fiona64on 08 Oct 2010 at 8:26 am

    Boyd Packer: And I invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you who are struggling against this terrible plague,

    Wow. “Terrible plague”? Being gay is a “terrible plague”?

    I am so sorry for young people who sat and listened to this, and can only imagine how they must have felt.

  7. 7CJon 08 Oct 2010 at 8:57 am

    The Proclamation on the Family should be considered to be revelation just as much if not more than anything written in the Doctrine and Covenants. It is God’s authorized representatives declaring the mind and will of the Lord. That, by definition, is modern-day revelation straight from God. That is what makes this church different from all other churches.

    President Packer’s message is one of hope and love. He is saying that we can change our very natures with the help of Jesus Christ. That is the whole point to this religion. We, unlike many other Christians, believe that Christ’s atonement applies not only when overcoming sin but also when overcoming addictions, temptations, and tendencies. The world tells us we can’t change and that we are stuck as we are. God’s appointed prophets and apostles tell us that Christ will help us overcome. As President Packer noted, “…God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able…”(1 Corinthians 10:13) I feel like President Packer is on my side and wants me to know that Christ is also on my side. I thank both of them.

  8. 8lisaon 08 Oct 2010 at 9:28 am

    good god.

    i want to post this at my facebook but it wouldn’t matter. i don’t know. i’ll have to think about it.

    a friend of mine who seems to be wavering was taken aback by that rhetorical question. i’m hoping she’ll read the talk and realize it’s gone.

    and notice the change from “revelation” to “guide.” I can’t believe my eyes. that’s *huge*

    after hearing some of the more staunch members praise this talk (and I do mean the whole thing), I’m feeling a bit defeated. There’s no convincing some people, but others maybe.

    We’ll see.

  9. 9Mollyon 08 Oct 2010 at 10:17 am

    @Phouchg EXACTLY what I was thinking!! The second this story broke all I could think of was Winston Smith sitting at his desk, deftly rewriting reality.

  10. 10Kathleenon 08 Oct 2010 at 10:36 am

    @ CJ You said “We, unlike many other Christians, believe that Christ’s atonement applies not only when overcoming sin but also when overcoming addictions, temptations, and tendencies. ”

    HUH? You seriously believe that other “christians” don’t believe they can overcome their additions through Jesus Christ? That’s about ALL they believe, my friend.

    That might be the most whackadoodle comment I’ve seen in awhile! Please try and educate yourself on what others outside of your Mormon circles believe.

  11. 11Dave Hoenon 08 Oct 2010 at 11:00 am

    When I first listened to this speech (Most of it is available on YouTube) I had to laugh at the hypocrisy of Elder Packer’s statement, “there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature.”

    I thought, does he listen to what he is saying and does he not even realize the hypocrisy of this statement when the Church paid for putting Prop 8 on the ballot and then paid and organized the campaign itself? But then I realized he knows exactly what he is saying. His speech was given to the Church membership as a whole and outside of California, most Mormons don’t know about the Church’s key role in Prop 8 and the Church leadership doesn’t want them to know. (And if it hadn’t been for all the publicity, most California Mormons would have been kept in the dark too.)

    If the Courts don’t extend marriage equality first, California and other states will use ballot initiatives to legalize marriage equality. No doubt Elder Packer’s quote will be used in Mormon Churches to rally the troops about how wrong it is to use the ballot box for this purpose.

    And from the Church’s press release after Judge Walker ruled Prop 8 as unconstitutional, “California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage . . .” So apparently in Elder Packer’s mind it is okay to use the voting process to take away basic civil rights, but not to extend those rights.

    Elder Packer’s “cute” story about the kitten is laughable and pure hypocrisy!

    Dave Hoen

  12. 12Sherion 08 Oct 2010 at 11:51 am

    So many people are being paralyzed by this kind of fear rhetoric. Neall Donald Walsh in his message for today had this to say:

    “….that the mere apprehension of a coming evil has
    put many into a situation of the utmost danger.

    F.L. Lucan said that, and it is right. There is no faster way to bring about misfortune than to think it is coming. Thought is a powerful force, and it is a creative tool that many people give little energy to — or abandon in the face of any real threat to safety or stability.”

  13. 13jedon 08 Oct 2010 at 12:49 pm

    CJ,
    I have to take issue with your statment the the proclimation should be concidered revelation. As it happens the church, as outlined in the doctrine and covenants, has a process for accepting something as being a revelation or not, this also qualifies it to become cannonized. So my question is this, has the church followed this process and accepted the proclamation as scripture? My other question is who wrote the proclamation, who receved the revelation?

  14. 14Tachyon Feathertailon 08 Oct 2010 at 1:07 pm

    The Proclamation on the Family should be considered to be revelation just as much if not more than anything written in the Doctrine and Covenants

    That’s not what the correlation department thinks. Or LDS.org newsroom.

    When was the proclamation sustained as a revelation by the membership? Why isn’t it in the D&C? If the message is one of love and hope, is it everyone else’s fault that they’re hurting?

    Wait — don’t answer that question. Because when I was growing up in your church, it was always my fault.

  15. 15Heatheron 08 Oct 2010 at 1:48 pm

    @Dave–yes! I leaned over to my husband and mentioned that absurdity. I agree–moral/religious issues shouldn’t be decided by ballot . . . which is why the church shouldn’t have gotten involved in that.

    You can’t say that you’re against legislating morality only if you disagree with the proposed ballot measure . . .

  16. 16fiona64on 08 Oct 2010 at 1:55 pm

    As I posted on another thread:

    If there ever comes a day when the Saints interfere with the rights of others to live as they see fit, you can know with assurance that the Church is longer led by a Prophet but by a mere man. — Brigham Young

  17. 17Jameson 08 Oct 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for posting this, and for making the edits so clear. If the church thought this would soften their words, I think they will find it will backfire, again.

    Sad.

  18. 18Julianeon 08 Oct 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks everyone for this post and the comments.
    It has been very confusing for me to figure out what is “official doctrine”/revelation and what is merely a guide, a tradition, or even just a personal opinion. I found this article on staylds.com (careful not to type in .org as that will land you on an anti-mormon site) which explains the process in more detail on how official doctrine is approved. It was extremely helpful to me since I’m struggling with much of the frills that have nothing to do with the gospel. Here’s the link:

    http://www.staylds.com/docs/WhatIsOfficialMormonDoctrine.html

    you can check out my personal journey with living in cognitive dissonance on http://www.mollymormonseviltwin.blogspot.com

  19. 19Ellieon 08 Oct 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks! That’s helpful information.

    A few questions:

    What you’re saying is that the prophet never approved BKP’s talk, right?

    What is this about the term “free agency” “no longer allowed” in GC addresses?

    I also heard that the word “homosexual” can’t be used anymore. Any idea if that’s true?

    Thanks!

  20. 20Mike Parkeron 08 Oct 2010 at 3:26 pm

    fiona64 (#6): Four times in the talk, he referred to pornography as a “plague.” It seems to me that’s the plague he’s referring to in the closing portion.

  21. 21Mike Parkeron 08 Oct 2010 at 3:30 pm

    fiona64 (#16): I have electronic databases of both the Journal of Discourses and the comprehensive Addresses of Brigham Young, and I can find nothing like that quote in either one of them.

    Can you provide a citation for that quote?

  22. 22Lauraon 08 Oct 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Ellie – Go do a search at lds.org and see when the last time was that they used “free agency” in any official publication. Then look up the term “moral agency” – that’s the new terminology. There may even be a talk or article about the reason “moral agency” is more accurate than “free agency” (I can’t remember for sure and don’t have time to look it up myself.)

    I don’t know if there’s a rule against the term “homosexual” but it certainly is hard to find articles at lds.org (or any of its sub-sites) which use the term on its own. If you want to know about the church and homosexuality, you need to look up same-gender attraction or same-sex attraction. There are several posts on this site where we’ve discussed the use of “homosexual” in comment threadjacks. (HINT: Don’t go there on this thread, folks.)

  23. 23fiona64on 08 Oct 2010 at 3:48 pm

    @Mike Parker:

    http://brighamyoungquotes.com/?s=blacks

  24. 24EmiGon 08 Oct 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Hmmm…the context of the Brigham Young quote isn’t particularly encouraging. “The man who abandons polygamy or allows blacks the priesthood of God is a fallen prophet”? And it still doesn’t really provide a source, unless I’m missing it…

  25. 25Mike Parkeron 08 Oct 2010 at 4:04 pm

    fiona64 (#23): An uncited quote on an anonymous web site is not a source.

    This quote is all of sudden popping up on the Internet. You’d think something so inflammatory would have been discovered and used for years now.

    It sounds manufactured to me.

  26. 26Sherion 08 Oct 2010 at 4:30 pm

    The daily message from Neale Donald Walsch (author of Conversations with God) is rather appropriate here (IMHO).

    “….that the mere apprehension of a coming evil has
    put many into a situation of the utmost danger.

    F.L. Lucan said that, and it is right. There is no faster way to bring about misfortune than to think it is coming. Thought is a powerful force, and it is a creative tool that many people give little energy to — or abandon in the face of any real threat to safety or stability.”

    The fear in people’s hearts being generated by talks like this one, achieves nothing but rigid, paralyzed spirits. Whatever light that is intermingled is quicly snuffed out with the dark thoughts being promoted.

  27. [...] major changes of import (and you can see a great blog post comparing the spoken and written version here) are [...]

  28. [...] changes of import (and you can see a great blog post comparing the spoken and written version here) are [...]

  29. [...] our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” (You can see a combined version of the two talks here). The emphasis of these revisions seems to realign Pres. Packer’s remarks with those made [...]

  30. 30wgon 09 Oct 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Laura (22) & Ellie(19) Free agency has often been used in the past but it is not found in scripture. Moral agency is the correct term and is found in D&C 101:78.

  31. 31Lukeon 10 Oct 2010 at 12:31 pm

    @Dave: I really don’t see any hypocrisy here.

    The quote you give comments on using the ballot box/voting process to promote/accept immoral behavior (i.e., behavior that is contrary to God’s laws). Which the church has ALWAYS taught that we should do: people who know what is good and right should stand up for it and promote it using every legal and appropriate means to do so.

    (Disagreements can come up about what is good and right, of course, but voting with your conscience is always been a consistent message of the Church for as long as I can remember)

    And you make it seem like the church tried to be secretive about Prop 8 efforts. I’d be surprised to see facts that back up the assertion. I’ve never lived in California, (Oregon and Massachusetts have been my homes for the past few years), but I frequently heard about the Church’s efforts to get contributions / organize efforts to promote the ballot initiative.

    I don’t see any evil secret conspiracy here: Just a church that has a strong belief and is doing what it is free to do (and obligated by its own beliefs to do) to fulfill its mission.

  32. 32Geneon 10 Oct 2010 at 3:20 pm

    In the Proclamation referred to it states: “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.”

    Would someone please explain how an hermaphrodite fits in that picture? One out of 200 live births in the UK is identified as an hermaphrodite (it has both sexual organs present). What is it a son or daughter, male or female? If gender is “an essential characteristic” of eternal identity and purpose, please, someone explain. According to BKP a loving God would not do that to one of His children, right?

  33. 33Marcos Puertaon 10 Oct 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Gene – Excellent question. In the past babies with ambiguous genitalia (the term hermaphrodite can be misleading and carries a certain stigma) were assigned a gender. We have learned through these cases that pure environment cannot make that child that gender and many of these intersexed individuals felt the medical team made the wrong call. Now physicians usually wait until later for gender manifestation before surgical intervention, and that person will have to make the call. In accordance with the Proclamation (and consistent with scripture), that child does have a male or a female spirit.

    Those are tough calls. There is genotype (what the genes look like) and phenotype (physical characteristics) and even chimerism (different genetic patterns in different ares of the body). As Elder Russell M Nelson said in conference in 2002, “Gender disorientation is poorly understood.”

    If you believe scripture and the living prophets, the clear answer is that each person carries a male or a female spirit, regardless of physical manifestation.

  34. 34Nicholeon 10 Oct 2010 at 11:05 pm

    What person among us has not mis-said something? Or used a similar word when it was not in fact the precise term we were intending? I’ve had many years of teaching both in and out of the Church (not the least of which includes my children) and I have definitely found a need to clarify or change wording to better get my point across. Often this need has come to my attention after I have seen the effect of my words as spoken on my ‘student.’

    Of course the reaction to those words could have spurred “the need” for changes. Because at the reaction Elder Packer could see what the perception of what he said was. At that point he can decide if that was what he meant or not.

    I would say that how his words were taken was probably not exactly as he meant them. I come to this conclusion because he changed them. Elder Packer does not generally mince words. If he wanted to make a certain statement then he would have. Obviously what he said was not received as exactly the message he intended. Why is this so inflammatory?

    On that note, I suppose I could see the need for a notation in the printed document that some words were changed from the original oral presentation. I don’t believe the exact changes would need to be listed. If someone was so moved, they could research it as I did and listen to the original talk while reading the written version to find the changes. For the Church to publish the original version in a written format would be putting out there with “endorsement” exactly something they felt needed to be changed.

    On the point about that Brigham Young quote used by fiona64- the author of the site “spoke” as ‘Brother Brigham’ in response to questions about his lack of citation and explained that it isn’t an actual Brigham Young quote.

  35. 35Debbion 11 Oct 2010 at 4:58 am

    I could have sworn that when I first watched the clip of Packer’s talk that after he stated “he is our Heavenly Father” he went on to say “God doesn’t make mistakes”. There is an edit, a change of camera angle right at the point I thought this was said. Does anyone else remember this?

  36. 36fiona64on 11 Oct 2010 at 8:45 am

    Luke wrote: And you make it seem like the church tried to be secretive about Prop 8 efforts.

    It did. In the Kolob Cafe transcript of the “special comment to California,” people who were “called” to go door to door were cautioned not to wear white shirts and ties, or look “too Mormon.” They were cautioned not to identify themselves with the Mormon church during their “callings” in the phone center.

  37. 37fiona64on 11 Oct 2010 at 8:46 am

    25Mike Parkeron 08 Oct 2010 at 4:04 pm

    fiona64 (#23): An uncited quote on an anonymous web site is not a source.

    This quote is all of sudden popping up on the Internet. You’d think something so inflammatory would have been discovered and used for years now.

    It sounds manufactured to me.
    —-

    And, of course, your Church would never try to “hush up” anything controversial said by Brigham Young …

    Whatever.

  38. 38fiona64on 11 Oct 2010 at 8:47 am

    Luke wrote: I don’t see any evil secret conspiracy here: Just a church that has a strong belief and is doing what it is free to do (and obligated by its own beliefs to do) to fulfill its mission.

    What about the church’s statement that it stays out of politics? Running phone banks, sending out precinct walkers, and sending bishops to peoples’ homes to tell them how much they were “called” to donate toward Prop 8 hardly sounds like staying out of politics to me.

  39. 39Carrieon 11 Oct 2010 at 9:32 am

    @Dave: “there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature.” He’s saying that man’s vote does not change God’s law.

  40. 40Timon 11 Oct 2010 at 10:23 am

    I’m linked here from Huffington Post and have no real connection to this controversy on either end. (Not Mormon, not gay, not a gay Mormon.) I’m surprised at the vitriol being shared here … seems like you either disagree and shouldn’t give a second thought to what he said, or you agree and shouldn’t have any complaints. Clearly, his comments are for his followers. And from the way I understand it, you either whole-heartedly support your leaders, or you aren’t really a true Mormon.

    I don’t consider his comments to be that inflammatory. He seems more concerned about pornography than homosexuality, but you don’t see porn lovers flocking here to complain how they’re offended and feel like he’s infringing on their rights. I don’t think his comments are so cruel … I think he’s just big into God’s laws and trying to clarify them to a specific group.

    I’m politically moderate, so I disagree with some of his comments and agree with others. But in the end, they weren’t intended for me. They were intended for a church congregation that already believes that homosexuality is a sin. So what’s with all the drama? I’m afraid you guys have created that, not him. (Just had to say it.)

    Perhaps we could save our comments for positive pro-(sexual)-choice forums.

  41. 41Lauraon 11 Oct 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for checking in, Tim. Just as a background, this site, Mormons for Marriage, was created because there are Mormons who are opposed to their church’s involvement in trying to impose LDS moral standards on the rest of the community, and there are participants in this discussion on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue. This is a pro-sexual-choice forum.

    We try to be civil here, we avoid calling one another to repentance and we avoid personal attacks as much as possible. Same-sex marriage and treatment of GLBT people (especially by God’s spokespeople) can be and often does turn heated and emotional very quickly.

    Part of the angst surrounding Elder Packer’s talk is that some of the things he said, and the way he said them, were hurtful to GLBT Mormons and their friends and family members. Because of the ambiguity and euphemisms Elder Packer used, it’s not always clear how the message was even related to homosexuality, since Elder Packer never used the term homosexual (or even the Church-approved same-gender-attraction) in his talk.

    This is certainly not the first time Elder Packer has used references from The Proclamation on the Family, or voting down God’s laws, or conflating gender identity with homosexuality or speaking about unnatural tendencies and temptations when discussing homosexuality. Anyone can do a search at lds.org on the term “unnatural” and see who uses it and what it refers to.

    There has been an unusual amount of rancor in the discussions this week (and that’s only counting what’s been reflected by the posts which have made it through the moderation process). We all have things to learn from one another if we can step away from our cherished beliefs and chronic hurt long enough to listen quietly and non-judgmentally to those “on the other side.” This is not a black-and-white, all-or-nothing, wheat-and-tares, righteous-and-evil issue. It is complex, there are nuances and there are real feelings, real stories, and real people behind every comment.

  42. 42Dave Hoenon 11 Oct 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Luke #28

    Yes, the Church has always encouraged its members to vote their conscience. But except on gay rights and womens rights, it has never told them how to vote and it has never inserted itself into the political process and spent millions like they did on Prop 8.

    There are some religions who believe they should be able to marry gay couples. They don’t think it is immoral or contrary to God’s laws whatsoever. The Mormon Church took those rights away from those Churches. What if the Evangelicals, Catholics and Protestants decided Temple work for the dead is immoral? What if they secretly formed a coalition to pass a law that would make it illegal to perform any religious rituals for people who are dead? What would you think about this use of the ballot box? After all the majority wins, right? Regardless of what the issue is?

    Luke, I have you at a disadvantage because I have seen it from both sides of the fence and I know how difficult (if not impossible) for members to see the other point of view or to believe that the Church ever does anything wrong (how could they after all, since it is led by God). That you believe that the Church wasn’t being secretive only means that you haven’t learned everything the Church was attempting to be secretive about. And the things that you have heard about, didn’t come from official Church sources. It came from media reports, because the Church “got caught”. If you only read what the Church distributed you wouldn’t know boo. But if you are a true seeker of truth, I would recommend you seeing the documentary “8: The Mormon Proposition”. But if you’re only going to believe what the Church tells you, it won’t have any meaning.

    Dave Hoen

  43. 43Nicholeon 11 Oct 2010 at 3:31 pm

    “There are some religions who believe they should be able to marry gay couples. They don’t think it is immoral or contrary to God’s laws whatsoever. The Mormon Church took those rights away from those Churches.”

    Really? I was under the impression it was a public vote. I realize that the majority here wish the LDS Church hadn’t involved itself in Prop 8. But to say the Mormon Church caused all of it. Or to make it seem as though it wasn’t a vote is kind of…well, I don’t want to use any words that may offend anyone. Yes, the LDS Church pushed for a certain political outcome. And they did push hard. Whether or not you think they should have is not really what I’m saying. What I am saying is it seems overboard to state that the Mormon Church took rights away, that the LDS Church was the cause.

    And, in the Mormon Church history, there was a time when a certain principle was deemed illegal by many religious and politically motivated groups outside of the LDS Church. And the Mormon Church did give up that practice in part because it was illegal.

  44. 44fiona64on 11 Oct 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Nichole wrote, in message 43: “There are some religions who believe they should be able to marry gay couples. They don’t think it is immoral or contrary to God’s laws whatsoever. The Mormon Church took those rights away from those Churches.”

    Really? I was under the impression it was a public vote.

    —-
    Yep. With a scare campaign primarily financed by the Church of LDS and the Catholic Church. It was the first time in *history* that a designated civil right was put on a ballot to vote to have it TAKEN AWAY.

    Which of your rights should we be allowed to put on the ballot to scare someone into taking away with deceitful campaigning?

    Why should your church’s beliefs trump the beliefs of another church?

    Nichole also wrote: And, in the Mormon Church history, there was a time when a certain principle was deemed illegal by many religious and politically motivated groups outside of the LDS Church. And the Mormon Church did give up that practice in part because it was illegal.

    Oh, dear. Here we go again with re-writing history. The Church of LDS only “gave up” polygamy because Utah was going to be denied statehood because of Church practices — and please don’t pretend that the Church didn’t run Utah back then, because it did (much as it does now). And I put “gave up” in sarcasti-quotes because the Church still practices polygamy in its beliefs, in terms of men being sealed to multiple women in celestial marriage.

  45. 45fiona64on 11 Oct 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Nichole wrote: Yes, the LDS Church pushed for a certain political outcome. And they did push hard. Whether or not you think they should have is not really what I’m saying.

    How do you reconcile this with the church’s stated apolitical position?

    How do you reconcile the fact that the church successfully inserted its beliefs into civil law (in violation of the 1st Amendment) and took civil rights away from law-abiding citizens (in violation of the 14th Amendment)? What happened to the church’s stated position in favor of separation of church and state?

    Or doesn’t that count when the church sees an opportunity, via California’s absurd ballot proposition system, to take away rights from a group of people they find “immoral” or “impure” or “unnatural”?

    Don’t you get that the slippery slope is not any of the nonsense that the LDS-paid-for ads (under the rubric of “National Organization for Marriage,” which is an LDS front organization) about teaching kids or anything else? It’s about having precedent to take away rights from any group of people that you deem distasteful from the pulpit.

    Womens’ suffrage? Let’s get rid of it. Women shouldn’t be doing anything but working in the home and having children; they shouldn’t be voting. And while we’re at it, how about if we put the coverture laws back in place, so that women have no property rights, not even to the clothes on their backs? Or maybe we can bring back the days of NINA and separate drinking fountains?

    Don’t you get it? Prop 8 is the exact same thing.

  46. 46Lauraon 11 Oct 2010 at 4:38 pm

    How about, “The Mormon Church led the way in taking away those rights by providing the bulk of the grassroots leadership and volunteers, by soliciting and raising the most amount of money provided to the ProtectMarriage coalition, by supporting the groundwork to create a coalition in the first place, by facilitating leadership for traditional marriage coalitions in California for 20 years, by disseminating and not contradicting the less-than-accurate campaign bullet points, by advising in legal briefs both directly as an amicus curiae and indirectly as non-public reviewers of both briefs and pending legislation?”

    And how about, “The Mormon Church did not hide the fact that it was involved in the campaign, but it did delay, postpone and minimize the full extent to which it was involved in trying to persuade its members to volunteer and donate money and by limiting its donations to non-monetary donations only so that it could truthfully tell the world, ‘We did not donate any money to the campaign.’?”

    A timeline discussing the things the Church did during the Proposition 8 campaign can be found here. If any of the foregoing activities are new to you, it would be especially helpful for you to review the timeline before continuing the conversation.

  47. 47Nicholeon 11 Oct 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I read your entire list. Most of them were not “new to me.” I’m not an idiot, I just feel differently from you. And I’m on the other side of the fence in regards to the Church’s campaign, I suppose. I guess it’s an agree to disagree.

    “Yep. With a scare campaign primarily financed by the Church of LDS and the Catholic Church. It was the first time in *history* that a designated civil right was put on a ballot to vote to have it TAKEN AWAY.”

    I don’t believe that it was a ‘scare campaign.’ However, I can see how there were undoubtedly members that must have felt steam-rolled in the frenzy of action and opinions. That is the part that makes me sad and I think was handled poorly. The Church isn’t a “Big Bad Wolf” to me. It makes me sad to know there are many out there who see it as such.

    As for the ‘TAKEN AWAY’ part. When was same sex marriage legal in California? I’m not being bratty, I really don’t know. What other states have allowed same sex marriage and then had the right removed? Just curious.

    I can see why you might feel it is a right being ‘TAKEN AWAY.’ However, the other side of the debate is that asking for same-sex marriages to occur is asking for a right to be ‘EXTENDED’ and a often-religious as well as legal definition changed. And there are those that want to prevent that so that the original definitions can be preserved. It has a huge part to do with the fact many people view marriage as a religious institution. Therefore it follows that religions the world-over have opinions on the matter in regards to its secular handling.

    I guess it comes to this for me: If the Church is morally opposed to a certain thing, where is the line in how they participate to prevent it? What rights does the Church have as an organizational entity to act? And that followed by where is the line in regards to requests/calls to action for its members? I suppose that is the major issue being debated here and in thousands of other places.

  48. 48mofemboton 11 Oct 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Ah yes, the Proclamation, the compromised, committee-written, year-long-internally-disputed “next best thing to genuine revelation.” BKP didn’t think it went far enough, others thought it went too far.

    Use calligraphy and print it on expensive paper, frame it, encourage people to have a copy displayed in the homes, sell it in Deseret Book, and perhaps then the membership will ignore its origins and inconsistencies and forget that it really didn’t emanate straight from the mouth of God to a prophet.

    Glad someone caught BKP’s attempt to canonize this thing all by himself.

  49. 49Nicholeon 11 Oct 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Also, just another quick question…

    I noticed that only in some states where same sex marriage is approved is a caveat made to allow religious institutions the right to refuse to marry same sex couples (or at least only specifically noted in your time-line). Is it the position of most pro- same sex marriage groups to allow that caveat to stand in all states? Or is that just considered another step that will be taken in equality of marriage? Is that the eventual goal?

    Because I can definitely understand even more why some religions (including the LDS Church) would stand against same sex marriage. How would a church that holds marriage and particular types of marriage to such high ideals deal with a forced need to perform marriages that it is morally and doctrinally opposed to?

    Again, I’m not trying to be bratty, I’m trying to get more information.

  50. 50Thomason 12 Oct 2010 at 12:17 am

    Concerning the Brigham Young quote from #16 Fiona64 and #23 Fiona64 response to citation, when you follow the link you find the line quoted in the About section. There is a direct quote from Brigham Young from the ‘Journal of Discourses’. Brigham Young never what Fiona64 quoted. The second section on the page is an ABOUT area, written by the ‘Brother Brigham’ the site admin of brighamyoungquotes.com NOT Brigham Young. ‘Brother Brigham’ the site admin responds in the about sections comments section stating the “To answer your questions, the above information is merely words that sum up my doctrine and my teachings. While I never said these exact words (and they do not appear in any of my published works) they express my personal religious convictions and a life time of teachings.” The site is not a reliable source as the site admin seems to believe he is Brigham Young.
    http://brighamyoungquotes.com/?page_id=2#comments

  51. 51Lauraon 12 Oct 2010 at 7:46 am

    There were 18,000 same-sex couples legally married in California the summer of 2008.

    The Church could have done in Prop 8 what it did with the Federal DOMA legislation, or Canadian Same-Sex Marriage legislation, or Argentinian Same-Sex Marriage legislation, or Amendment 3 legislation in Utah: Send out a letter from the First Presidency telling members the legislation is coming up and urge members to express their opinions on the legislation/vote to their elected representatives/neighbors. It could have even done that multiple times during the election. They could have reminded members to register to vote. I personally wouldn’t have had any problem if they’d repeated some of the things done in the Prop 8 campaign: assigned each bishop to say a special prayer the Sunday before the election, create a website and provide content for that website (so long as the website used truthful, gospel-centered messages about marriage and was not paid for by tithing funds).

    What it did not need to do was pick a political committee with which to align, tell members about it, set fundraising goals for wards and stakes, call (even informally) members to supervise political campaign ZIP codes and regions, have general authorities make multiple personal fundraising conference calls to potential large donors, assign young single adults to spend specific numbers of hours blogging/texting/emailing – campaigning – each week, organize call banks and firesides for people with California connections, encourage pollwatching and precinct-walking, etc. We did not need church meetings taken over every week to discuss the evils of homosexuality and the threats to our own families if our gay neighbors wanted to create lasting pair-bonds. The only thing that kind of rhetoric did was fan the flames of fear, misunderstanding and battles, and it served to give free rein to those Mormons who felt the need to speak out derisively of GLBT people.

  52. 52Lauraon 12 Oct 2010 at 7:50 am

    California had this legislation passed this summer, with the full support of many (if not most) GLBT groups in the state. The governor vetoed it.

    No GLBTQ people or organizations that I am aware of want to force religions to bless and sanctify marriages against their own beliefs.

    That being said, there is currently no law in California which forces clergy to marry anyone and everyone who comes to them for marriages. Moreover, religious leaders are free to impose counseling, membership and/or worthiness standards on anyone who wishes to have a religious marriage ceremony in the state. Otherwise Mormons would have to open temple doors to anyone who wanted to get married in temples and Catholics would have to provide marriage masses for non-Catholics.

  53. 53fiona64on 12 Oct 2010 at 9:24 am

    Nichole asked: As for the ‘TAKEN AWAY’ part. When was same sex marriage legal in California?

    From May of 2008, until Nov. 2, 2008. During that time, 18,000 same-sex couples were married. Supporters of Prop 8 sought to have those marriages judicially annulled, and failed. Those couples are still married.

    So, I guess you have to ask yourself this question, Nichole: since you didn’t even know that gay marriage had been legal in California, how were you harmed by those 18,000 marriages?

  54. 54fiona64on 12 Oct 2010 at 9:28 am

    Nichole wrote: I guess it comes to this for me: If the Church is morally opposed to a certain thing, where is the line in how they participate to prevent it? What rights does the Church have as an organizational entity to act?

    When it comes to civil law? Your church has no right to impose its “morality” on non-members — which is exactly what Prop 8 sought to do.

    Why should your church have its “morality” put into law instead of say, the “morality” of some other church? Say, Unitarian Universalists?

    That’s the point — marriage is a *civil contract.* Churches have to have permission from the state to perform legally binding marriages, and must cite it (“By the power vested in me by the State of …”). It’s a *courtesy* to allow religious marriage to be legally binding, and one which has been done away with in the EU, among other places.

    I’m beginning to think that’s the only correct answer in the US, to be honest. Have all of the church weddings you want, but they won’t be legally binding without a civil one. Keep *your* church out of *my* laws, because your right to swing your Bible/D&C/Pearl of Great Price/Book of Mormon/Whatever ends where my nose begins.

  55. 55fiona64on 12 Oct 2010 at 9:30 am

    Nichole wrogte: I noticed that only in some states where same sex marriage is approved is a caveat made to allow religious institutions the right to refuse to marry same sex couples (or at least only specifically noted in your time-line). Is it the position of most pro- same sex marriage groups to allow that caveat to stand in all states? Or is that just considered another step that will be taken in equality of marriage? Is that the eventual goal?

    Honestly? That caveat is there to mollify churches that don’t seem to comprehend the 1st Amendment. No church can be forced by government to do something liturgical against its will.

  56. 56Fredon 12 Oct 2010 at 10:02 am

    Does anyone have the link to Scott Trotter’s statement? I would like to see it in it’s original context.

    Thanks all – and great comments thus far in this thread!

  57. 57Lauraon 12 Oct 2010 at 10:45 am

    Fred – Trotter’s comments are complete and in context as presented at the site here.

    It was a very short statement issued at the end of the day in response to multiple media inquiries about the differences between the spoken talk and the written talk which will be published in the Ensign/Liahona.

  58. 58Lauraon 12 Oct 2010 at 11:27 am

    For those of you interested, here’s a link to today’s coverage by CNN:

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/12/mormon-leaders-remarks-spark-outcry-on-same-sex-issues/?hpt=T2

  59. 59Geneon 12 Oct 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Marcos Puerta – With respect to gender characteristics (both primary and secondary), as we define them, it has been my observation in my short existence on this earth (67 years) that each of us can find him/herself somewhere on a continuum with strong, definite male characteristics on one end and strong, definite female characteristics on the other end and with hermaphrodites (ambiguous genetalia) right in the middle. And that not only applies to physical attributes but, emotions, predilections and preferences, or other psychological attributes which are all tied together in genetics and environment (each individual packaged uniquely).

    For example, I have known women who have born children but get up every morning and shave their faces, have a low register in their voices and are likely stronger than most men and I have known men who have very definite female characteristics who have sired children. Gender characteristics are obviously not black and white throughout humanity and that includes sexual preference.

    The stigma that is placed on those who have same-sex orientations is just as wicked as the stigma that was once placed on the mentally challenged, the epileptics, the “spastics” and many other different groups of people who have struggled to find acceptance and happiness
    in this world.

    Jesus taught us to love and accept everyone including our enemies. Surely the homosexual is much less than an enemy. My wife and I have known a number of people who have struggled in our culture because of their basic same-sex nature (yes, it is their “natural self,” in spite of what BKP says) and in every case they were wonderful, kind, loving, productive, creative people.

    If two women or two men want to live their lives together in “marriage,” that is no threat to me and my wife or family. If they are sinning, as some say, it is not for us to judge or condemn. That will be between them and the Lord. We are commanded not to judge but to love (and that includes acceptance). From a legal stand-point they should be allowed all the benefits of marriage.

  60. 60Kirkon 12 Oct 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Also, for those interested, here is a link to a statement from the church posted in response to the petition by the Human Rights Campaign: http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/article/church-mormon-responds-to-human-rights-campaign-petition-same-sex-attraction

  61. 61Nicholeon 12 Oct 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Laura, thank you for your responses. I appreciate the respect with which you respond and communicate here. Also, very informative. And for the record, there are definitely some parts of what you said in the second paragraph of comment #51 that I agree with. Again, thanks for the info.

    Fiona,

    “So, I guess you have to ask yourself this question, Nichole: since you didn’t even know that gay marriage had been legal in California, how were you harmed by those 18,000 marriages?”

    I actually never said I was harmed. I was aware that some marriages took place but I didn’t know the time-line and I didn’t know what the legal standing was in regards to the time-line. That’s it.

    By the way, I also never stated what my own personal beliefs are in respect to whether or not gay marriages should be allowed. I was talking about my feelings and thoughts regarding the LDS Church’s actions. And I don’t believe I did any book waving in your face. I have a different opinion than you. In fact you are more than free to your opinion. The only time it bothered me was when you used a quote by Brigham Young that wasn’t actually said by Brigham Young. I’m sorry I obviously offended you.

  62. 62Marcos Puertaon 12 Oct 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Gene – your question was…”Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
    Would someone please explain how an hermaphrodite fits in that picture?”

    So how did you get from the gender identity of intersexed individuals to sexual preference? A woman who shaves or a man with breasts is not necessarily intersexed, and if so, all three individuals still have a male or a female spirit. That’s how an intersexed individual fits into the picture, and as I said before, the only way we may know if they are male or female is through consideration of all physical and psychological characteristics and after they weigh all the data to let the individual identify which gender they identify with.

  63. 63chrison 12 Oct 2010 at 10:10 pm

    wow i see the controversy however. I still believe in Christ and I still believe in this church. No one I know of is perfect and i do not expect anyone to be perfect if he misspoke then it is within his right to correct himself. I make mistakes all the time. I say oops and I move on. If he did or not I can not judge I am not God. His actions and words whether I agree with them or not will not effect my belief in the whole church. I have a greater witness than mankind. I have a greater knowledge than what words can express. My faith in God does not rest on one person and whether or not I agree with them.

  64. 64Brad Carmackon 13 Oct 2010 at 9:44 am

    @ Gene and everyone- I recently finished the second draft of a 123-page book entitled “Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective.” It contains two parts: 1) homosexuality and 2) same-sex marriage. Chapter 5 contains a detailed response to part of this talk. Keep an eye out, I’ll probably have edited the book enough to distribute in a couple weeks.

    In the meantime, thanks to Heather for doing the “legwork” on this one.

    Okay fine, I’ll just paste the relevant section from chapter 5 now.

    “Many church leaders have argued against a biological origin for homosexual orientation based on the claim that God makes no mistakes- “While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men –masculine, manly men –ultimately to become husbands and fathers” (Packer 1978). This position was reiterated as recently as the October 2010 general conference: “Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father.” [one might question the implicated theodicy (resolutions to the problem of evil) here- if He is our benevolent Father, why did He create and send so many of us physically and mentally disabled into a world saturated with evil and suffering?]

    God created man male and female- Genesis says so, right? Not if you’re talking about physical sex. Application of the idea that God made us all physically male or physically female fails not far beyond its limited application to Adam and Eve. The proof:

    Because the claim requires gender to be binary (either male or female and nothing in between), in order to be reliable a gender test must also place every individual it is applied to correctly into one of the two categories. This infers two requirements:
    1) the test must place every person (i.e. none can be ambiguous), and
    2) there must be no false positives or false negatives.

    What criteria would you use to ascertain physical gender?
    (for support of the examples cited below see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klinefelter's_syndrome,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_hermaphroditism,
    http://www.isna.org/, and the references section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex)

    I present several commonly proposed phenotypic and genotypic criteria:

    a. The “pull your pants down” test (genitalia)- take a look and see if they have a vagina or a penis. This test fails because there are some people that have both. There are some that have a partial penis/partial clitoris. Some have both ovaries and testicles. Some have testicles where their ovaries should be. This test violates both requirements 1 and 2 above.
    b. The genetics test (XY is male, XX is female)- this will help by separating those with ambiguous genitalia, and is testable through genotying. However, this test also fails because some people are XXY or XXYY. Also, some have XY but the SRY gene either isn’t expressed or is damaged (so the XY individual is phenotypically female, the default gender in the sexual differentiation of humans- see chapter 2). This test doesn’t tell a judge how to come down in these cases (violating 1 above).
    c. The gametes test- whichever gametes (eggs or sperm) a person makes defines the person’s gender. A number of people fail to make any gametes (e.g. via upstream aborted oogenesis or spermatogenesis)- thus frustrating requirement 1.
    c. The brain test- though largely alike, as Brizendine (author of The Male Brain and The Female Brain) summarizes, there are distinct structural differences between the average male and the average female brain. The exceptions here are 1) those who exhibit intermediate brain phenotypes, 2) those who have a male brain but female genotype and female genitalia, and 3) those with a female brain and female genitalia but male genes. Thus, requirements 1 and 2 are both violated.
    d. The sexual orientation test- assign the gender opposite the sexual orientation of the subject (e.g. if the person’s attracted to men, conclude the person is a female). This test fails both because it is counterintuitive and because sexual orientation is spectral rather than binary (e.g. what about bisexual people?), thus at the least violating requirement 1.

    Take Mr./Ms. Chase as an example. Born in New Jersey with ambiguous genitalia that baffled doctors, her/his parents originally named her/him Brian Sullivan, noting that “Chase is XX, and the reason for her intersex condition has never been fully understood.” Chase was born with “mixed male/female sex organs” and after the discovery of ovaries and a uterus, a clitoridectomy was performed when she/he was aged 18 months. Her/his parents, as advised by doctors, moved to a new town and raised him/her as a girl, Bonnie Sullivan. Although she/he had begun speaking before the operation, she/he fell silent for six months after the operation. She/he developed ovotestis at age 8 (later clarified as “the testicular part of her ovo-testes”). She/he found out about the clitorectomy aged 10, and at age 21 succeeded in gaining access to her/his medical records. She/he now goes by two names, Bo Laurent and Cheryl Chase, and advocates that surgery should only be done on patients who are able to make an informed choice.

    What is a bishop to do when one of these ambiguous-gender persons comes before him requesting marriage? Does he send the person away with a prescription for celibacy? Does he randomly assign the person a gender and restrict their marriage prospects to its opposite? Oftentimes judges decide the gender of these ambiguous individuals when the intersex person is young, ordering invasive surgery and hormone treatment to force the individual to become one gender (one of the judges I’ve worked told me he has had to make the call a few times). Not infrequently the person grows up and angrily claims the judge got it wrong, in some cases seeking a sex change operation. In other cases the individual grows up and criticizes the judge for not letting them remain as they were born – phenotypically a third gender.

    Now back to the argument, where I conclude:
    Unless and until a reliable and ubiquitous test of physical gender is identified, the existence of these intersex persons frustrates the two-gender claim.

    As one can see, the claim that God made all people either physically male or physically female is demonstrably false. If this building block is destroyed, the cross-beam that relied upon it, namely that God placed the proper sexual orientation into every body, is also suspect.”

    I would also note how absolutely useless the doctrine of “premortal gender identity” is in these cases. True though it may be that each person is spiritually male or female, it doesn’t do decision makers like the judge or bishop above a lick of good to help in the difficult judgments they must make. Epistemologically we are forced to admit that we have no idea if a person standing in front of is a spiritual man or a spiritual woman, as the person’s body is obviously not a reliable indicator, even if there existed some basis for the presumption that physical sex is always matched to spiritual gender. Similarly, as demonstrated by their comments, many church leaders seemingly presumed that everyone starts out with the “proper” sexual orientation and homosexually oriented people chose to pervert that orientation. As I demonstrate in chapter 2 of my book, this view finds painfully little evidentiary support, and instead the evidence best supports the theory that [genes + prenatal hormones] is at the least the primary cause of homosexual orientation in at least the vast majority of cases.

  65. 65Markon 13 Oct 2010 at 1:25 pm

    All I have to say is that I wish I had the time back that it took me to read this “edit”. Heather waisted her time in going back and looking for these changes. I was expecting some real “key” changes, not the ones listed above. The items that were struck out or added are so small and petty that it was pointless to read. Next time you post something in opposition of the Mormon church make it worth the readers time.

    Sincerely
    Disappointed Reader

  66. 66Jedon 13 Oct 2010 at 2:05 pm

    First, Nichole, thank you very much for your comments. I appreciate it and agree with you.

    Gay marriage was only made legal in CA after the California Supreme Court overturned a state statute in May of 2008. Prop 8 was an attempt to ammend the CA constitution to ban same-sex marriages and take it out of reach from the court system. So yes it can be viewed that prop 8 “took away” same-sex marriages, but it would be more accurate to say that it was restoring the law to what it had previously been before the court system intervened. It did it by appealing directly to the citizens of CA in American fashion by letting voters decide the law and exercise self-government. Proponents of same-sex marriage would be equally happy if the opposite had happened, namely an ammendment that allowed sam-sex marriage had been passed. The voters ultimately decided in favor of banning same-sex marriage, it wasn’t a removal of civil rights, it was an act of self-government, the main principle our country was founded on. You may disagree with what the LDS church promoted, you may disagree with what the people voted, and that is fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and until the majority opinion of this country and CA changes, this is how our laws will stand.

  67. 67Debbion 13 Oct 2010 at 4:11 pm

    @Brad

    I totally agree. Even if we cannot be sure what causes sexual orientation we can be sure that we cannot conclusively rule out inborn same gender preference as you outline. In view of that uncertainty we must give those who feel they are irrevocably same sex oriented the benefit of the doubt and treat them with compassion and understanding even if we believe it to be morally wrong.

    I agree that sexual orientation is a spectrum. I’ve heard it said that 5% of the population is left handed but only 5% of the population is truly right handed and the other 90% are somewhere in between. Because society and the world at large caters to right handed people, that is what most become or identify themselves as being but there are people who are truly ambidextrous or have varying capacity to use both hands. I believe sexual orientation is the same.

    I propose that there are a percentage of individuals that are only attracted to the opposite sex, with not even the slightest curiosity about relationships with their own gender, and a percentage of individuals who are only same sex attracted. Everyone else is somewhere on the spectrum; from very limited curiosity about their own sex to gender neutral (where the gender of a person isn’t really a factor in what makes them attractive) to predominately same sex oriented but if the right person of the opposite sex came along sparks might fly.

    Basic human psychology means most people believe what is true for them is true for everyone. Many of those for whom there is an element of choice (where they have some same sex attraction but choose to remain heterosexual) believe those claiming to be exclusively same sex oriented aren’t really because if “I can choose, so can they”. Those who are truly “heterosexual” may find “homosexuals” non-threatening because they have no doubt they could never be “infected” but those elsewhere on the spectrum may fear “conversion” because they have felt some degree of same sex attraction. A true “heterosexual” may also disbelieve a “homosexual” because they have never had even an inkling of same sex attraction and it is so foreign as to be impossible in their minds.

    Summation: There is enough doubt to make anyone claiming ALL LGBT people choose to be that way guilty of prejudice. By making such blanket claims enormous harm is being done to some LGBT people resulting in despair and suicide. BKP certainly inferred that and reinforced prejudice and discrimination of LGBT people. I find that to be morally wrong and unworthy of anyone claiming to be a true follower of Christs teachings and philosophy.

  68. 68Marcos Puertaon 13 Oct 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Brad – Again, without confusing intersexed individuals with homosexual orientation, the answer seems quite simple. If I were a bishop, and someone came to me for a recommend, and told me they were intersexed, the only way to know their gender would be to ask them. As you said, and I said before, there is no other objective way to know the gender of an intersexed individual. I don’t think any church leader would disagree with this.

  69. 69Debbion 13 Oct 2010 at 8:10 pm

    @Marcos

    If a church leader can take the word of an inter-sexed individual, why can’t they take the word of homosexual or trans-gender individual? That seems neither fair nor logical.

  70. 70fiona64on 14 Oct 2010 at 7:00 am

    Jed wrote: The voters ultimately decided in favor of banning same-sex marriage, it wasn’t a removal of civil rights, it was an act of self-government, the main principle our country was founded on

    Um, Jed? You might want to take a look at Loving v. Virginia. Marriage is cited as a basic civil right.

    So, I ask again: which of your basic civil rights shall we put up for a vote?

  71. 71Marcos Puertaon 14 Oct 2010 at 11:49 am

    Debbi – For the third time, lets not confuse gender identity with gender attraction. When you don’t know the gender you just have to trust them. Again, as Elder Russell M Nelson said in conference in 2002, “Gender disorientation is poorly understood.” The Proclamation is very clear on gender. It is not clear on intersexed individuals for good reason.

    I absolutely believe people with same gender attraction and gender identity disorder (the only self diagnosis in medicine, ICD-9 302.85) truly do have strong feelings, for whatever reason. Again, nature versus nurture is not something the church has a stance on, which is why President Packer clarified his statement. The feelings are there, and as a bishop I wouldn’t sit second guessing why they are there. I would absolutely trust them on that. What the Lord and his prophets have promised is that by forming a family according to the scriptures and Proclamation you will be blessed. If you can’t because you can’t find someone you love or because of same gender feelings you will still be blessed, I believe even moreso because of having to wait and withstand the temptation of acting on sexual feelings, homosexual OR heterosexual.

    Some of the happiest people I know are active Mormons who will never marry in this life. They have filled their life with Christ and service for others and have great blessings awaiting them. I know about this from personal experience and the experience of close friends. Telling a young Mormon who is gay that they have to act on their sexual feelings to be happy is a gospel of dispair because you are pitting deeply held feelings against one another.

  72. 72Cashon 14 Oct 2010 at 12:03 pm

    #70 fiona64
    Loving v Virginia declared marriage to be a basic civil right for men and women. In fact, the decision specifically said that the reason it was a basic civil right was because of the powers of procreation that are inherent in its application with regard to men and women.

    This does not apply to same sex marriages and so, when it was declared to be a fundamental right, that statement did NOT pertain to same sex relationships which are inherently not about procreation.

  73. 73Cashon 14 Oct 2010 at 12:09 pm

    An example of how this failure to recognized differences on the basis of gender and sexuality can be seen in a recent court case that was filed in San Francisco.

    There a person who is genetically a man and who has the bone and muscle structure of a man, has been surgically altered to have the appearance of a woman.

    Now he/she wants to compete as a golfer in Lady’s tournaments. But He/She is able to completely dominate because He/She is not really a woman in structure or abilities.

    It is very unfair. His/Her surgical alternation should not be sufficient to compare him/her to other women athletically.

    And thus, the whole notion that “gender doesn’t matter” is exposed. Gender does matter. And it matters profoundly in marriage, because marriage is for the union of a man with a woman.

  74. 74fiona64on 14 Oct 2010 at 1:34 pm

    72Cash
    on 14 Oct 2010 at 12:03 pm
    #70 fiona64
    Loving v Virginia declared marriage to be a basic civil right for men and women. In fact, the decision specifically said that the reason it was a basic civil right was because of the powers of procreation that are inherent in its application with regard to men and women.

    This does not apply to same sex marriages and so, when it was declared to be a fundamental right, that statement did NOT pertain to same sex relationships which are inherently not about procreation.

    Dear Cash:

    Please show me the requirement to demonstrate either fertility or the desire to procreate in order to obtain a marriage license, in any state of the union.

    I’ll wait.

    I know a number of same-sex couples who have kids — many of them biological — who would be surprised to learn that their kids apparently don’t exist. I also know a number of opposite sex couples (my husband and I among them) with no desire to procreate — and yet we are legally married. How can that possibly be, if the civil right of marriage is only extended to certain people.

    Are you seriously trying to pretend that marriage is predicated on breeding? Will your church next go after the marriages of the infertile and the post-fertile?

    Civil rights are NOT up for balloting. Which of your rights shall we put on the ballot for a tyrannical, whimsical and (I hasten to point out) temporary majority to take away? Seriously, which of your rights would that be acceptable to do that with? Because you seem to have no problem with the concept of doing it to those whom you find personally distasteful, but I suspect you would kick up a big ol’ stink if it were *your* rights on the line, and *that,* my friend, is the slippery slope that you and your churchy friends have started.

    BTW, Cash, your discussion of gender reassignment surgery above demonstrates an extraordinary lack of understanding, along with an enormous depth of prejudice. The person is a woman, not “he/she.” She is indeed really a woman, whether you happen to like it or not. Gender is a matter of far more than external genitalia.

  75. 75Bob25on 14 Oct 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I am a new poster, and usually quiet, and mostly enjoy reading what everyone has to say. I am an LDS gay man that turned 60-years old this year. I know I was born gay because of the way I was “naturally” as a child. I spent YEARS faithfully serving in the church—a mission, and faithfully serving in every calling that I was called to. When I finally had to admit to myself that I was gay in my very early 20’s, I began to desperately try and change. Yes, I was one of those who sat in church and at General Conferences and heard the General Authorities tell me what a vile and horrible person I was, and I would just die inside. It was the most hopeless feeling anyone can ever have. I fasted and prayed endlessly that God would lift my “gayness” from me, and indeed I had often thought about suicide as well, but thankfully I never followed through. But finally at the age of 38-years old I decided to find out about the Affirmation group (and thank goodness I did). I also heard at this same time someone say—and he wasn’t gay or even talking about anything gay, he was just giving advice in a church meeting—that sometimes we pray for things that God does not feel we need in our lives, and that we should consider what we pray for and instead ask God to help us be what He wants us to be, and what He wants us to have in our lives. I really considered this for a long time, and began praying with a whole different way of thinking. I asked God, if it was possible that he did NOT want me to be straight, that he really wanted me to be homosexual like he had obviously made me, and if he did I wasn’t going to fight it any more and I asked him to help me be just what he wanted me to be and guide me as to what to do. I asked that if there was someone that I could love out there, that He would guide me to that person. Well, I know that God does answer prayers because it was like God was just waiting for me to come to my senses, and with hardly any effort on my part He answered my prayers so fast I couldn’t believe it. I had almost lost any kind of faith that God would ever answer any of my prayers, but this was uncanny, and the remarkable things that happened in my life at that time will always resonate strongly in my mind. Within days I had met the man that would become my life partner (we have been together now since 1989), and I came out to my family, which was another miracle all on its own.
    Since that time I have met many gay Mormons—both men and women. And I have also heard many of them tell me stories about their personal experiences with various church leaders that would make your skin crawl. But what was most shocking to me were the stories I heard of personal experiences that some had with the General Authorities themselves. They were hard for me to believe because of how I had always thought of them as these perfect, infallable, incredibly righteous men. But as I have watched what the church has done over the years toward the gay community, including their own gay members—and especially recently with Prop 8 and now Boyd K. Packer’s remarks this past General Conference, none of this really surprises me.
    The minute I started hearing about Boyd K. Packer’s remarks, I was immediately reminded of an interview I had read with D. Michael Quinn, who is an historian of Mormonism and former Brigham Young University professor. He was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1993, after publishing research into controversial subjects in church history.
    Only part of the interview was available, but I was still amazed by what I read, and I copied it so I could refer back to it. Boyd K. Packer’s remarks to D. Michael Quinn only proved even more to me that I couldn’t trust these men “without question” as most members do. It also proves that these men also try (and possibly do) re-write history! Here is the part of the interview that was conducted on January 6, 2006:
    What were your confrontations with Boyd Packer about your different views on history and faith-producing history?
    When I was admitted to the faculty of Brigham Young University, I had the same kind of interview that all prospective faculty members have, and that is that a General Authority of the LDS Church meets with the prospective faculty member. The person who interviewed me was apostle Boyd K. Packer. We were together about 45 minutes, and almost all of that was a lecture. He began by asking me what position I was going to be hired in or was being considered for, and I said it was as a professor in the history department. The very next words out of his mouth were—and I’m not exaggerating; these were seared into my memory—Elder Packer said, “I have a hard time with historians, because historians idolize the truth.” I almost sunk into my chair. I mean, that statement just bowled me over.
    Then he went on to say, quoting him as accurately as I can …: “The truth is not uplifting. The truth destroys. And historians should tell only that part of the truth that is uplifting, and if it’s religious history, that’s faith-promoting.” And he said, “Historians don’t like doing that, and that’s why I have a hard time with historians.” And the conversation just went from there. He occasionally would give me the opportunity to respond to what he was saying, and I would talk about putting things in context, and that one could deal with a controversy or a sensitive area, or even a negative experience in the past, but put it into context. I said that it’s a question of do you talk about this in a sentence, a paragraph, a page, or do you just have a footnote reference to it? And I said, “That’s a decision that each individual historian will make, but,” I said, “I cannot agree with the idea that I should conceal this evidence.” And he just shook his head, and he said, “You’re wrong,” … and he went back to what he had started with to begin with.

    And with these remarks by Boyd K. Packer, one can make up their own minds as to what this General Authority is really like. I always try to remember not to “judge” harshly. It is easy to do, and I know I do sometimes. But I always have to remind myself that God will do the judging in the end.

  76. 76a random Johnon 14 Oct 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I am pretty sure that the line:
    We teach a standard of moral conduct…
    was originally delivered as:
    We teach the standard of moral conduct

  77. 77CASHon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:57 pm

    #25 Bob,

    My posts do not seem to be showing up here. Not sure why. But never mind.

    I love the last like of your post: “I always try to remember not to “judge” harshly. It is easy to do, and I know I do sometimes. But I always have to remind myself that God will do the judging in the end.”

    This sounds just like me.

  78. 78fiona64on 15 Oct 2010 at 5:52 am

    77CASHon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:57 pm

    #25 Bob,

    My posts do not seem to be showing up here. Not sure why. But never mind.

    Dear Cash:

    This is a moderated board. Sometimes it takes a while.

  79. 79Jenniferon 17 Oct 2010 at 3:09 am

    I read the BKP talk published above, and I see no mention of homosexuality whatsoever. I have no idea where the controversy is coming from. The talk seems to be about avoiding pornography, addiction, and also adultery and fornication (hence, the emphasis on marriage and having children within marriage and preferably a temple marriage, as stated in the talk).

  80. 80Steveon 17 Oct 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Even with these changes, his core message is unchanged. In line with what President Packer said, Satan does not have that power to procreate which power is central to our Father in Heaven’s plan. He will do anything to entice, lead, or tempt us to use that power in violation of God’s Eternal Laws. Satan does not care how he leads us astray whether it’s through masturbation, fornication, adultery, sodomy, pedophilia, bestiality or any other immoral behavior. How a person refers to those actions makes no difference, tendencies or temptations it is the same. What is important is what we do, how we use our agency to act on those inclinations. It is critical to remember that the action not the individual is abhorrent to God. In regard to same gender attraction, deciding to ignore behavior or voting to redefine marriage does not make it correct. Our Father in Heaven loves us and will forgive us as often as we repent (Mosiah 26: 30). He wants us to be happy and He knows that is only possible through obedience to Eternal Laws. He will help us overcome our weaknesses and make them become our strengths through our faith and desire to align our will with His (Ether 12:27).

    “…the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” -1 Ne. 16: 2

    I know Boyd K. Packer is a prophet, seer and revelator and if Christ were here he would have said the same words.

    “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” -D&C 1:37

  81. 81Sherylon 17 Oct 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Why do so many people have a problem separating church doctrine from civil laws. Allowing same-sex civil marriage in no way devalues church doctrine. Since some are so bent on making everyone live according to LDS standards, perhaps they will soon start campaigns to make smoking; drinking alcohol, coffee, or tea; and sex outside of marriage illegal. After all, those are also against LDS standards.

  82. 82fiona64on 18 Oct 2010 at 6:27 am

    I wonder if people understand that they are talking about real people when they compare gay couples (consenting adults) to pedophiles (children cannot consent), those who practice bestiality (animals cannot consent), rapists, gamblers, etc.

    I wonder if people understand that they are talking about real people when they say that the power to procreate makes one holy — because there are plenty of straight people out there who are infertile, and plenty of straight people with no desire to procreate. I guess those people are unholy, and like unto pedophiles, rapists, etc., in some peoples’ eyes.

    As for the “sodomy” business, I guess that some people also do not understand that there is nothing that same-sex couples get up to that straight couples don’t. I wonder at the obsession with one particular act, though …

    Anyway, unless and until people start to recognize that being gay is part and parcel of who someone is, just as being straight is part and parcel of who someone is, they can continue to fob off their personal distaste as being righteous and pretend that they are not part of the problem.

    I pity those people, to be honest. It must be hard to live completely without empathy.

  83. 83Sam Okraon 18 Oct 2010 at 7:35 am

    [Moderator note: This comment is in response to Bob25's comment here, which was made into a guest post on another thread. Because it deals with Elder Packer and Mike Quinn, and not Bob25's personal experience, we've moved the comment to this thread, per the instructions left at the other thread.]

    Laura:

    This post has nothing to do with the marriage or gay marriage for that matter. I can read Michael Quinn’s “tired” anti-mormon apostate statements on thousands of anti-mormon websites. His comments are unproven heresay and I see no reason to post these inflammatory, “off topic” comments on your website. I thought this was a forum for people who are basically believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ but who are working to reconcile the church’s doctrines with their own.

    Posting this statement gives “tacit” if not outright endorsement of his statements. Michael Quinn is a disengenous apostate who has done considerable damage to his family and his church. He blames others for everything and takes zero responsibility for his own actions.

    Sam

  84. 84Lauraon 18 Oct 2010 at 7:39 am

    Sam –

    Elder Packer speaks of his own distrust of historians in his biography, A Watchman on the Tower. He has whole chapter about it, plus at least one letter between himself and the First Presidency discussing his concerns with historians. If there’s time later today (and if nobody else puts the citations up before I do) I will provide page numbers and quotes for you.

  85. 85fiona64on 18 Oct 2010 at 10:53 am

    http://www.mormonismi.net/kirjoitukset/bkp_mantteli.shtml

    Above is a link to a talk Packer gave in 1981; one of the many thing she addresses is his “concerns” with historians.

    In this speech, he cites historians who tell the truth as “serving the wrong master,” says that historians who follow the tenets of their profession instead of the tenets of the church are putting themselves in “spiritual jeopardy” and more.

    He further specifically says this: In an effort to be objective impartial, and scholarly a writer or a teacher may unwittingly be giving equal time to the adversary.

    Really? Being scholarly means that one is somehow in league with Satan? I mean, honestly. I didn’t like my algebra teacher very much, but that didn’t mean that he was evil … or that his scholarship was off.

    I guess that, somehow, speaking the truth about things a man has said from his own mouth, and in his own writings is apostasy? Wow. From the perspective of one who finds history fascinating, I cannot help but wonder what it is that the church so fears …

  86. 86Joshuaon 18 Oct 2010 at 2:38 pm

    fiona64,

    A sexual action is not a part of who someone is, but a choice that they make. Gay couples chose to be in a gay couple. No one forces them to. From a Mormon perspective, the comparison between homosexuality and fornication and adultery is a perfectly good comparison.

  87. 87fiona64on 18 Oct 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Joshua, you are being ridiculous.

    Was I not straight when I was a virgin, despite being attracted to men only? Was I not straight when I was divorced from my first husband, since I wasn’t seeing anyone? Was I not straight until I met my second husband, no matter how many men I dated? Was I some amorphous something else?

    Give me a break.

    Your sexual orientation does NOT change with your virginity, or your sexual activity. It is NOT a reasonable comparison whatsoever.

    You can keep telling yourself that, though, since it appears to make you feel much better.

    I just prefer not to tell myself comforting lies, okay?

    “Gay couples choose to be in a gay couple” because they love and care for the other person. No one forces *anyone* to be part of *any* couple, gay or straight.

    I’m not Mormon, so your “Mormon perspective” doesn’t apply to me. I prefer the reality based community, where words mean what they mean and not what someone wants to pretend they mean in order to “justify” their cruelty.

    If your logic applies, Joshua, being gay is not a noun but is an adjective (just as Packer once said). That means you aren’t a Mormon; you just do mormon things.

    (Your religion, unlike your sexual orientation — *is* a choice.)

  88. 88Joshuaon 19 Oct 2010 at 7:38 am

    I did not mention sexual orientation. I specifically said sexual actions are not part of who someone is, but a choice they make. I said nothing of sexual orientation.

    And for the record, I think sexual orientation is more of a choice than my religious beliefs. I can chose not to act on my religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean my religious beliefs go away. I met way too many apostate Mormons who still fully believe in the Church, despite trying their hardest not to.

    Often people ask straight people if they can chose to be gay. Well, let me turn this around. Can you chose to believe in Mormonism? You may live a Mormon lifestyle, but to actually believe in it?

    I don’t believe either is really a choice. I simply cannot chose to disbelieve Mormonism. I could chose not to act on it, but I cannot chose not to believe on it.

    That is why a web site who makes people chose between sexual orientation and religion is so damaging. You are asking us to chose between two parts of ourselves.

  89. 89fiona64on 19 Oct 2010 at 2:40 pm

    You don’t believe that Mormonism is a choice, but you believe sexual orientation is?

    How is it, then, that I can choose not to be Mormon but cannot choose against being straight?

    Let me make it perfectly clear, in case you have some confusion remaining.

    Joshua, you’re not asking me anything my Mormon parents haven’t asked me when you say: Can you chose to believe in Mormonism?

    The absolute, unequivocal answer is *no.*

    Just as the answer would be if you asked me whether I could choose to be gay. Nope, no can do. I’m straight.

    You are using circular “logic,” Joshua.

    Your ongoing assertion that sexual orientation is separate from sexual acts is ridiculous. As I pointed out already, I was straight when I was a virgin. My orientation is not based on my sexual activity, no matter what you seem to believe. It is as part and parcel of who I am as you allege your Mormonism to be.

    You further wrote: That is why a web site who makes people chose between sexual orientation and religion is so damaging. You are asking us to chose between two parts of ourselves.

    Sort of like your own church does, when it tells you to either marry a person of the opposite sex or be celibate and alone for the rest of your life if you want to be a “good Mormon”?

    No one here is telling you to make a choice, Joshua.

    Laura is saying that she and other Mormons disagree with the church’s stance against GLBT people. She’s not asking people to choose anything. There are plenty of Mormons who agree with her, BTW.

    You, OTOH, are bowing and scraping along with policies that do harm to your fellow GLBT people because it makes you feel good to do so for some odd reason. I can’t help comparing this situation to one of the many described in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s most famous novel. I understand that it’s a coping strategy of some sort, but that doesn’t make it any less sad to me.

    Let me see if I can help you understand your own position a little better.

    How would it be if a large group of friends and I got together and decided that we could somehow get a proposition on the ballot to make it illegal for the Mormon religion to exist in the public square. Disregard the unconstitutionality thereof (after all, that’s what people did with Prop 8, which was obviously a violation of the US Constitution. We’re going to compare apples to apples here.) So, now we succeed! Much whooping and hollering and backslapping now ensues because we took away someone’s right to practice a particular religion. We say things like “You have the same right to practice religion — Uggabugga, just like everyone else. We all practice Uggabugga, our ancestors have always practiced Uggabugga, and you can do Uggabugga or nothing.”

    That’s what you and yours did to people, Joshua. People whom you will never know. People who do not subscribe to your church’s belief system.

    Would it be okay for us to do that to you, Joshua? Would it be okay for someone to say: you can’t have what you really want, something essential to who you are, but you can have Uggabugga?

  90. 90Steveon 19 Oct 2010 at 2:48 pm

    The Proclamation on the family is not considered canonized scripture as Laura pointed out. However, all official proclamations by the first presidency are considered doctrine. This was stated on the lds newsroom site in 2007.

    As far as it being revelation. I believe that it is. I don’t know of any statement that a revelation has to be voted on by the general church to be considered revelation; just to be considered canonized scripture.

  91. 91Sherylon 19 Oct 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Interesting thoughts you have, Joshua. While it is true that acting upon one’s sexuality is the sin in Mormon religion, the problem is that for those who are unable to form the loving relationship that you have with your wife, the only thing left is a life of celibacy and, in my opinion, loneliness or a sham marriage which has the potential to bring heartache to all involved.

    Were you baptized at age 8 or did you join the church at a later age? If at age 8, I better understand your feeling that one’s religion is not a choice. If at a later age, then it most certainly was a choice for you as it is a choice for all of the converts. Yes, I’ve known apostate Mormons who still believe in the tenets of the church just not the changes that have come down thru the years (i.e., the blacks receiving the priesthood). I’ve also known people who have left the church and are quite happy with another religion. So, in my opinion, religion is a choice. I firmly believe that sexual orientation is in no way a choice, it is a part of who one is. Religion, on the other hand, is a learned belief. We either accept it (no matter what the religion may be) or we don’t.

    Now, back to my not understanding why people cannot let go of their religion when it comes to a civil issue. Allowing same-sex marriage does not require a church to change their teachings about marriage. It does allow the committed couple to have the same civil rights as heterosexual couples.

  92. 92Dr. Boneson 19 Oct 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Great that you believe it to be revelation. It looks like Elder Packer (or whoever changed the talk) is clarifying its description and calling it “a guide” for Mormons to follow.

    It does bring up an interesting question for Mormons, though. Is it more important to follow the words you hear (“revelation”) or the words your read (“guide”) when discussing General Conference talks?

    Forgetting the details of exactly what the Proclamation is, are there any guidelines as to whether the printed version or the spoken version is The Correct Version to use? I’m guessing that the grammatically correct and footnoted printed version is going to be the default that’s used.

  93. 93Cresley Walkeron 19 Oct 2010 at 4:49 pm

    I was born with a rare physical condition related to my male gender for which medical science and LDS Church authorities have no answer.
    I know that God has permitted me to have this condition and I trust that God will use the experiences I am having for my eternal benefit.

  94. 94Dave Hoenon 19 Oct 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Joshua -

    Just a little technical detail I want to ask of you. I hope I’m not embarrassing you, but could you try to correct your usage of the words “chose” and “choose”? In your last post @ 7:38am, you used the word “chose” many times when you should have used the word “choose”. It may seem like a little thing, but it makes it difficult to read otherwise. “Chose” rhymes with “hose” and “choose” rhymes with “snooze”.

    Thanks!
    Dave Hoen

  95. 95Steveon 19 Oct 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Dr. Bones – Those are good observations. I’m not sure that I know the answers to them. I know that there is a book called “Conference Reports” (or something like that) that is considered the official transcript of the conference talks. The talks printed in the Conference edition of the Ensign are not considered to be the official version. I don’t know if there are texual differences between the two publications.

    As far as the Proclamation on the family, I think your assumption that the “grammatically correct and footnoted printed version is going to be the default that’s used” is most likely correct. At least that would be my guess as well.

  96. 96Ex-Mormonon 30 Oct 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I just want to say that I am incredibly happy that this website exists. I am an ex-Mormon for many reasons, including my fundamental disagreement with the LDS Church’s position on women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. I have spent several years trying to overcome intensely bitter feelings toward the Mormon Church and the tendency to see all Mormons as the same. The way I was taught Mormonism, it was all or nothing. There was no room for dissent and continued identification with the church. This and other doctrinal and on-the-ground practices were unbearable for me, so I left.

    I just want to say that seeing self-identified LDS members publicly declare their support for gay rights is extremely encouraging for me. It is one more piece of evidence that Mormons do not all blindly follow church teachings, that many are willing to challenge what they find morally questionable while still embracing elements of the Church that work for them.

    Way to go, Mormons for Marriage! Keep standing up for justice and keeping talking to your ward and branch members and leaders. There was a time when I would never have dreamed of accepting gay marriage. Now I am a solid advocate. People and their opinions do change. Keep talking to people!

  97. 97Sherion 01 Nov 2010 at 11:49 am

    Well stated Ex-Mormon. I too am an ex for the same reasons and found this site extremely helpful in healing the anger I’ve felt over the church’s all or nothing doctrine.

  98. 98cowboyIIon 05 Nov 2010 at 3:19 pm

    And so the news from the Salt Lake Tribune is: 55% of Utah Mormons believe gays can change.

    (I have to interject something here before I go on. I had to qualify it as UTAH-based Mormons because they are a different breed. I can dare say without speculation that Mormons who live outside the boundaries of Zion are a more educated and well-rounded Saint.)

    I’m a bit dismayed when the author of today’s (Friday Nov. 5th) front page article said:

    “The majority of scientific research suggests that efforts to change one’s sexual orientation aren’t effective.”

    That’s the understatement of the day.

    “Majority?” … If only the Tribune person who typed the headline had inserted: “vast” in front of the printed word: majority. (That’s probably why you don’t see it on the web version.)

    I can only surmise that Utah Mormons are less likely to study or even have an educated debate about this. They believe whatever is spoken from the pulpit of their magnificent conference lectern. Closed-minded they be. But, that’s what we have to fight.

    Enlightenment. And the truth shall follow.

    Oh…please let me vent a little bit more on the Salt Lake Tribune. They had an opinion about something being anti-family. What is that? Who is anti-family? Really?

    Whenever I read where someone is saying “they are anti-family” it really means: they’re mad at the gay culture. We see so often in the political junk in my mailbox.

    Quit saying that, please. Nobody here is anti-family.

  99. 99cowboyIIon 07 Nov 2010 at 10:49 am

    Elder Boyd Packer has opened a can of worms. Coupled with this latest survey of Utah Mormons, I come to understand that 55% of Mormons reject scientific analysis and would rather blindly believe what Mr. Packer said during General Conference.

    I would almost say it’s a lost cause. I will not waste time with trying to convince those 55% of Mormons but I do appreciate the other 45% who possibly will treat me with respect and are, at least, intelligent enough and are willing enough to discover the truth.

    Which group of Mormons do I go to work with tomorrow and feel I have any kind of mutual respect? That’s rhetorical. It’s a moot point. I don’t have any right to ask my Mormon co-workers their feelings about Boyd K. Packer. And they don’t have any right to ask about my personal life. Stale mate.

    Life goes on, though.

    As the holiday season approaches, I will partake of the marvelous concerts and revel in the joyous festivities. I will even attend some concerts on Temple Square. I wish all a very Merry Christmas and I hope the Mormons who rule the Utah legislature in 2011 are of the 45% I mentioned above.

  100. 100Sherylon 12 Nov 2010 at 12:57 am

    I share that sentiment with you, CowboyII, in hoping that those in a position to effect change believe in that change and will work toward it.

    And, thanks ex-Mormon, for your insights.

  101. 101Jenon 05 Dec 2010 at 7:47 pm

    A couple of people mentioned Leviticus. I don’t really see how this applies. Was this written only for men? Because in that case, lesbianism isn’t wrong. On the other hand, if it was written for men and women, how would this work? If women do not mate with men, no children would be born…

    Does anyone else see the hypocrisy of this particular verse, or is it just me?

  102. 102fiona64on 06 Dec 2010 at 7:18 am

    Jen, there are a number of things at play in your question. The first is that during Biblical times, sexual orientation was not understood as it is now. Sex was not something that occurred between equals. A man could have sex with a woman (who as considered property) or with a slave of either gender (as both were considered property). If he had sex with another free man, that was “toevah,” which means “ritually impure.” He would have to be ritually purified before he could return to temple for services (just as every woman had to be ritually purified after her menstrual period, because menses was “toevah”).

    The other factor seems to be (and please correct me if I am misunderstanding here) the assumption that if gay marriage is acceptable, no children will be born? Please. Only about 5 percent (it’s hard to know, exactly, because people come out at different points during their lives) of the population is GLBT. Some of those people have kids. Many straight couples do not (by design or accident). Some straight couples have what I personally consider an insanely large number of children (e.g., the Duggars) … although I would not stop anyone making their own reproductive choices. The population of the planet is rapidly becoming unsustainable, so I doubt that the human race will die out if gay couples are permitted to marry.