After a series of colossal missteps over the last few weeks, I have to wonder: Who is minding the good-ship LDS?
First, Elder L. Tom Perry, at the 2015 LDS Spring General Conference, defends “traditional families” (a legally married mother and father, who rear their children together) and warned against the dangers of “counterfeit and alternative lifestyles,” code words for same-sex marriage and the like.
Just as the LDS Church was getting kudos for a Utah law protecting the rights of the LGBT community, up steps Elder Perry and destroys all the good will in one fell swoop. Elder Perry, who is 92 years old, is seriously out of step with the youth of the Church, the majority of whom don’t have a problem with same-sex marriage. (And his talk is not going to change their minds.) My children, all of whom are active in the Church, don’t have any problem with SSM. It is not an issue to them. They don’t see SSM as a threat to “traditional” marriage.
To further complicate matters, the LDS Church recently joined with other conservative Christian groups in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against legalized SSM. According to Mormon spokesman Eric Hawkins:
We believe that a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples has profoundly troubling implications for society in the long term.
Really? Is there some shred of evidence supporting this accusation? Fortunately, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and his daughter, Abby, (both members of the LDS Church) signed their names to a “friend of the court” brief urging the Supreme Court justices to rule in favor of SSM nationwide.
Second, up steps Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, past president of Brigham Young University, and complicates Mormon theology by reviving the old “chestnut,” that without a literal Fall there is no need for an Atonement.
In an increasingly secular society, it is as uncommon as it is unfashionable to speak of Adam and Eve or the Garden of Eden or of a “fortunate fall” into mortality. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ . . . without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequence that fall carried with it.
Really? Perhaps, Elder Holland should have explained how this Fall fits in with evolution? You know that topic that LDS biologists teach at BYU? Is he saying that Adam and Eve were black and that the Garden of Eden was in Africa? Does he believe that Adam lived for 930 years? And was there death before the Fall? When you talk of a literal Adam and Eve, you open up an “interesting” collection of dilemmas.
But most importantly, teaching OT biblical literalism is not healthy for the youth of the Church. When they discover science and verifiable history during their formal or continuing education, we don’t want them having to choose between science and religion. The two should be viewed as compatible. And connecting an allegorical Adam and Eve with Christ’s mission is downright dangerous.
Third, and perhaps the biggest symbolic misstep, was not inviting women leaders of the Church to the confab with President Obama. What were our leaders thinking? They had the perfect chance to show that women leaders matter.
So during the month of April 2015, LDS Church leaders alienated not only the LGBT community, but also many of its non-LGBT youth. They caused eye-rolling among its scientists and further alienated Mormon feminists (whose numbers are growing dramatically because of previous missteps). This was not a real good month.
For many Mormons, the poet T.S. Eliot was right: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”