Clayton Christensen, Why Are You Retreating?

Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor and innovation guru, has found himself in a bit of hot water over a published article in the journal Nautilus.  According to the journal:

Christensen [a Mormon] says he realizes that same sex attraction and marriage can be seen as a disorder and a sin.  But even if his position were that church leaders were wrong, Christensen says, “I can’t announce to mankind that I’m right and the Church is wrong.  The best I can do is to say ‘well, where the truth is on the other side of this boulder, I’m on this side, I’m learning and I can say to myself and to my friends, I think I’m farther along than the church is on this one.

Christensen alleges that he was misquoted.  And he seems particularly embarrassed about the statement “I’m further along than the church is on this one.”  And in an open letter bares his testimony:

I support wholeheartedly every phrase in “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.”  I sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who penned that document.

He goes on to state:

I am grateful that I belong to a church in which we do not attempt to convince God or our leaders that certain opinions in our society are correct, and God’s are not.

There are several problems with this.  First, we will never know what was actually said (there was no recording) and I doubt that Christensen has a perfect memory of the interview.  And, for me, the reporter’s quote doesn’t seem out of line.  Second, Christensen has responsible position(s) with the LDS Church (particularly its commercial media efforts), so there are good reasons for him to be defensive about the quote.

But the real issue for me is the content of the quote.  I lived through the LDS Church’s debacle with the race issue.  I know for a certainty (my testimony) that members can be “further along than the church” leadership on salient issues.  We are now seeing this with Mormon feminist issues.  Women are underrepresented in LDS leadership positions.  With or without the priesthood, Mormon feminists have a legitimate point.  Christensen, being an innovation guru, knows this.  And when it comes to SSA, the Church seems to be headed down the same highway it traveled on with the race issue.

Christensen is grateful that he belongs “to a church in which we do not attempt to convince God or our leaders that certain opinions in our society are correct.”  I feel differently.  I think we have the God-given right to try and influence our leaders when we think they are wrong.  Christensen is intertwining LDS leadership and God.  One is perfect, one is not.  Mormons believe that their leadership is inspired, but certainly not perfect.

This entry was posted in feminism, mormonism, Personal Essays, Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

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