Mixed Messages from LDS Fall 2013 Conference

The LDS 2013 Fall Semi-annual Conference started out with a bang and ended with a whimper.  The most memorable and topical speech of the conference was given late Saturday morning by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.  In it, he addressed the issue of imperfect leadership:

He [God] works through us [the LDS Church leadership]–His imperfect children–and imperfect people make mistakes.

He then goes on to encourage individuals who have left the Church because of “imperfect” decisions to return to the fold:  “first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”

While it is very important that Uchtdorf acknowledges that the LDS Church leadership has made mistakes in the past, it would been even more helpful if he would have provided a few examples of past “mistakes.”

For me, the real importance of Uchtdorf’s conference talk, however, is that it seems to imply a “larger-tent” Mormonism.  A Mormonism that is more inclusive of diversity of opinions.

After Uchtdorf admits that the Church leadership has made mistakes in the past, Elder Dallin H. Oaks late in the Sunday afternoon session gives a speech that has caused many to ask questions.  For example, despite the Church’s checkered past on marriage, Oaks continues to insist that marriage is only between one man and one woman:

We believe that, as an essential part of His plan of salvation, God has established an eternal standard that sexual relations should occur only between a man and a woman who are married.

Many in the Church–particularly the young–struggle with the Church’s continued opposition to same-sex marriage.  Such “radicals” as Steve Young and his wife and Marie Osmond are among those who question.  Many members have had person revelation questioning the Church’s stand.

If individuals have doubts and have either become inactive or left the Church, is Oaks sending the right message?  Isn’t he suggesting a “smaller-tent” Mormonism?

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