Restless Mormons, Part II

A little more than a week ago, I posted a blog entry stating that many Mormons are becoming increasingly restless with the institutional church.  There have been further developments since then (plus a few issues that I missed):

LBGT:  The LDS Church has decided to reenter the gay marriage discussion, this time in the State of Hawaii.  LDS leaders have asked Church members there to read The Family:  A Proclamation for the Family and then vote their conscience.  This might be viewed as a setback for Mormons advocating a more liberal approach to gay marriage.  This is likely to reignite some of the restlessness on this issue.

On a more positive note, last Saturday, Provo hosted its first Provo Pride Festival at Memorial Park.  And it was deemed a success.

Women and the Priesthood:  The Church leadership has decided to broadcast the semi-annual, Saturday-night priesthood conference session.  Thus making it available to everybody (male and female).  But women are still not invited to attend the session.  Approximately 200 women plan to apply for tickets anyway.

The decision to televise the meeting is an interesting one.  If women can watch it on TV, why not let them in the building? I suppose that the answer to this has to do with precedence.  If women are allowed in the conference priesthood session, then why not to all priesthood meetings throughout the Church?

Marriage Ceremonies:  There are awkward issues associated with who can attend temple marriage ceremonies, particularly if some family members are not LDS Church members.  This issue was recently discussed on slate.com.  In my case, since I don’t have a temple recommend, I did not attend the actual wedding ceremonies of my three children.  During the wedding of the youngest, outside the temple with me were my two brothers, one brother-in-law, one sister-in-law, and one nephew.  My brothers (and in the case of one, his family) had flown in from Chicago and St. Louis.  For a church that values family relationships, this all seems strange.  Hopefully, some accommodation is being considered.

All the boiling issues are being brought to the forefront, in part, with the aid of technologies like the Internet and social media.  I wonder if soon someone will develop a macro-website that directs members toward the issue and/or petition drive of their choice?  On issues like LGBT and women, the leadership is certainly looking at the membership.  Small things have changed in the LDS Church in a relatively short period of time.  And I suspect changes will continue.

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10 Responses to Restless Mormons, Part II

  1. Allen says:

    Thanks, Roger, for posting this information. I hadn’t heard about those changes in church policy.

    I thought I’d take advantage of this comment to express my opinion about marriage. If my view were adopted by governments and the church, the LGBT issue would disappear, as would the sticky problem of non-LDS family members not being able to attend the Temple wedding of their children and relatives. I see no valid reason for governments, whether local, state, or Federal, to be involved with marriage. Marriage is a social contract between people, and governments should stay out of those contracts. Governments do have legitimate reasons to be involved with civil liberties of its citizens, but those matters shouldn’t, IMHO, be tied to marriage. Instead, they should be tied to something similar to Civil Unions. If my views were to be adopted, governments would focus on civil liberties and not on marriage. Social organizations would be free to conduct marriage ceremonies however they wish. LGBT groups could have marriage ceremonies conducted by their groups. However, I’m not holding my breath waiting for my views to be made law.

    Concerning marriage, I would like to see all LDS marriages performed by a Bishop or some other church official, outside of the Temples, and then later on the union of the husband and wife sealed in a temple.

    I’m glad to hear that the Saturday PH session of conference will be televised. This means that I can view that session the same as I view the other sessions of conference. The Saturday PH session has been printed in the Ensign magazine for as long as I can remember, so putting that session on TV is not a big change.

    Some people might point to these changes to bolster their argument that the LDS church is changing. I point out, however, that these changes are changes in policy not in principles. Policies do change as conditions change. Principles do not change.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      I think the problem comes in determining what is policy and what is principle. For example, before 1978 was the black/priesthood issue policy or principle? I think many like Joseph Fielding Smith, Ezra Taft Benson, and Bruce R. McConkie (not to mention some of the more prejudice GAs) might have considered the exclusion to be principle (war in heaven or whatever). I think the Church is changing . . . in all areas. And not always for the best.

      • Allen says:

        You’re right, Roger, the problem is in determining what is a principle and what is a policy. We all have our own interpretation of those definitions.

        For what it’s worth, I consider a principle something that is necessary for salvation/exaltation and a policy something that is temporarily necessary for the church to function. The 4th article of faith gives two examples of principles, faith and repentance. A third principle is the atonement as described in D&C 19 and other places. Examples of policies are dress codes for missionaries and for Sacrament Meeting attendance, tithing. I wouldn’t consider the exclusion of the PH a principle, but I realize that other LDS, including the GA you mentioned, might consider that a principle. Be that as it may, as you said, the church is changing, because, I think, the conditions we live in, social customs, etc. are changing, and the church has to change to meet the changing conditions. If the church didn’t change at all, it would soon be a small group of people who live by themselves and who don’t fit in with society at all. It would not be able to fulfill its mission of preparing the world for the return of Christ.

  2. rogerdhansen says:

    So would you consider the exclusion of women from the priesthood to be a principle or a policy?

    • Allen says:

      I would consider that a policy. Policies can change but don’t necessarily change. Will women ever be ordained to the Priesthood? I don’t know. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Exclusion or inclusion of women from the Priesthood is not something necessary for salvation.

    • Allen says:

      What society thinks about women holding the priesthood is not important. What GA think about this is not important. What you or I think is not important. What is important is what Jesus Christ thinks of this, and I make no pretense of knowing what he thinks.

      • rogerdhansen says:

        Uber-apologist Daniel Peterson (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2013/09/i-dont-care.html) might disagree with you on the policy part. He thinks such a change should require a revelation. But he has no problem seeing women ordained, as long as it isn’t a decision made by a committee, group pressure, etc. So I suspect, he would put it in the principle category.

        But I would agree with you, it seems more like a policy.

      • Allen says:

        As I mentioned before, many LDS won’t agree with my definitions of “principle” and “policy”, and that is fine. My definition has served me well. It answers critics who say the church shouldn’t change, and it fits well with past actions of GA. Principles are required for salvation/exaltation and never change. Policy concerns the administration of the church and may change as conditions surrounding the church change. Policies are not required for salvation/exaltation.

        Policies may change, or they may not change, but they have the potential for change. Nothing is said about policies not requiring revelations. Peterson may be right. It may take a revelation to change the current policy or practice of not giving the PH to women, I don’t know. But, I think this issue concerns policy, how the church is administered in these times. Salvation/Exaltation is obtained via the atonement of Jesus Christ, and that atonement is the same whether women hold the PH or not. Thus, I consider the exclusion or inclusion of women and the PH to be a policy not an eternal principle that is required for salvation/exaltation.

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