Responsibility of Membership in the LDS Church

If we agree that our religious leaders–prophets, popes, archbishops, rabbis–are fallible, we must deal with the issue of:  What are our responsibilities when we believe they have erred?  This is a particularly cogent issue when a religion believes in personal revelation.

I personally do not believe that LDS Church policies and/or doctrines regarding the LGBT community are inspired.  In fact, I personally believe they are mean spirited and wrong.  They represent a poor understanding of human sexuality, and are unChristian in their application.

I’m old enough to remember the LDS debacle involving blacks and the priesthood/temple ban.  To this day, I regret that I acquiesced to the ban.  Instead of participating in civil rights protests in the 1960s, I went on a LDS mission to Belgium and France.

With all the recent brouhaha over Lynette Nielsen Gay being selected to receive an honorary degree from the University of Utah, now is a good time to look at the relationship between an organization, its leaders, and its members.

Gay served on the board of directors for World Congress of Families, a traditional family advocacy organization listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its efforts to restrict the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Resulting from protests at the university and beyond, Gay gave up her leadership position at the Congress.  According to her:

While we believe the World Congress of Families has been a vehicle for doing good for families throughout the world and I joined the board only in keeping with my aim to improve the circumstances of all types of families and to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children, I do not want my personal values to be misinterpreted.

If we are a member (or a leader) of an organization, and that organization has major tenets and actions that we don’t agree with, what is our responsibility?

The Germans have had to wrestle with an extreme version of this issue.  In a recent Time magazine dealing with remains of the Nazi war trials, author Eliza Gray concludes:

Perhaps the real value of the trials lies in the way they show that the Holocaust was the product not of a conspiracy of extraordinarily cruel individuals, but rather the ordinary actions of ordinary people.  “They remind us that this genocide would never have taken place without these lowly foot soldiers,” says Lawrence Douglas, a legal scholar at Amherst College who has studied Nazi crimes, “things can go wrong in a hurry in countries, and when they do, it is shocking how willing people are to go along with it.

The Holocaust is obvious a much more serious event than LDS Church discrimination against blacks and the LGBT community.  But we need to remember that LDS discrimination won’t and can’t happen “without the foot soldiers.”  So what are our options?

  • stay a member and quietly acquiesce (conservative)
  • stay a member, and ignore and/or protest (liberal)
  • become inactive and protest (very liberal)
  • leave the LDS Church (ex-mon)

Is it better to protest from within or from without?  For some of us, the first option is not an option.  Neither is the second.   Thus, there is only one question left.

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13 Responses to Responsibility of Membership in the LDS Church

  1. shematwater says:

    The LDS doctrine concerning homosexual practices has nothing to do with the ‘foot soldiers.’ God is not intimidated by people who protest His gospel, nor will He change eternal truth to cater to those who think they know better than him.
    Follow your conscious, but don’t think that you can alter the truth because you don’t like it.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      That’s what many members said before the revelation lifting the LDS Church ban against black’s holding the priesthood and temple entrance. The Church is evolving all the time. As President Uchtdorf stated: The Restoration is still going on. And the more pressure from the “foot soldiers,” the faster things will turn around (or evolve).

      Are LGBT issues really where the LDS Church wants to draw its “line in the sand”? Stopping loving couples from marrying and having sex? Creating sexual confusion where there is already a lot of confusion? Discriminating against a segment of society? Didn’t we learn anything from the black discrimination? Apparently not.

  2. shematwater says:

    The difference is that it was always known that the ban on blacks would be lifted. It was only a question of when, and it was a question that every prophet was asking from the beginning. The Homosexual life choice has been condemned since the days of of the Old Testament. It has never even been hinted that such would ever change.
    The scriptures declare that God created them Male and Female. He did not create them male, female, gay, lesbian, male-female transgender, female-male transgender, and anything else that people would imagine in their hearts.
    And yes, this is exactly where the line needs to be drawn. Otherwise the church has no more claim to divine revelation and guidance. Rather they would be just another liberal church that caters to the whims and desires of men rather than the commands and directives of God.

    • Roger Hansen says:

      I’m not buying your spin on the black-ban issue. Do you really believe that it was God who instigated the ban? Even LDS leaders are backing away from that allegation. Mormons need to abandon that argument and stop throwing God under the bus. It was the prejudice of leaders and members that created the ban and allowed It to continue to exist. You need to come to grips with this reality.

      Relating to the LGBT issue, sexual preference is mostly not a choice. And to require celibacy is just plain wrong. To discriminate against LGBTs and their children is also wrong, wrong, wrong.

      • shematwater says:

        I have read everything the church has said regarding the ban, and yes, it was from God. This is not throwing God under the bus. It is admitting that I am far to limited in my knowledge and understanding to judge God or those whom He has anointed. It is those who feel to judge and criticize the Lord’s anointed that need to come to grips with reality, or they will be in for a rude awakening when Christ returns.

        As to sexual orientation, it is most definitely a choice and there is not evidence to even suggest otherwise.
        No one is requiring celibacy, but they are requiring that people do not engage in acts that are directly forbidden by God and are contrary to the gospel plan. If Celibacy is the only way that some people can do this, than alright.
        As to discriminating, God discriminates against all sin, and requires that we do the same.

  3. rogerdhansen says:

    Most Mormon and non-Mormon historians now believe that the ban was a function of the times, and not a revelation from God. I suspect that many of the 1P and Q12 now feel the same way. The essay on lds.org almost admits it wasn’t from God. The essay does admit that there was no scriptural justification for it. It is unfortunate that it took until 1978 to overturn the ban. The rest of America came to its senses in the 1960s. I refuse to throw God under the bus.

    Only a few diehards believe that LGBT is a matter of choice. It is mostly genetic. Efforts to turn gays is wrong. To describe homosexuality as a sin is wrong. To forbid marriage is wrong. To require celibacy is wrong. As with the black priesthood ban, the world is ahead of the LDS Church. When we will ever learn?

    • shematwater says:

      The essay all but states that it was from God. After all, if it was of men it would not have needed a revelation to change it.
      I have no problem admitting that it was a function of the time, but that in no way contradicts the fact that it was of God. God is very loving and merciful, and has always given laws and regulations that the saints of the time could live. So, it may well have been that God, seeing the ingrained racism of the United States, gave this restriction to make things easier on the people of the time. This is why He gave the Law of Moses to ancient Israel, and why He replaced the law of Consecration with the law of Tithing.

      As to homosexuality, it is not uncommon that it is the minority that stand up for what is right, only to be ridiculed by the majority who has embraced doctrine that is contrary to truth and the gospel.
      Just because most people want to be deluded does not just the fact that there is no evidence to support their position.
      Homosexuals can be cured, and while it should be their choice, the choice should be offered.
      Homosexuality is a sin, and to call it anything else is wrong; and is a denial of the scriptures and the prophets.
      To forbid marriage in general would be wrong, but to restrict it to be between men and women is exactly what God does, and thus to allow any other kind is wrong.
      Again, no one requires celibacy, and to do so is wrong.

      The world may be ahead of the church, but it is a track that is leading strait to hell, so I am all for them being ahead of us.

  4. Susan says:

    Your insinuations, Shem, are an insult to all, LGBT or straight. Homosexuality is most certainly genetic. And it is as natural to someone born as such as it is to someone straight.

    What are you going to do, Shem, when someday, LGBT members are allowed full fellowship in the LDS Church? It will happen. Will you still believe in “revelation” and “prophecy”? How will you judge your neighbor and fellow members?

    • shematwater says:

      I will follow the church where ever it leads. The real question is, what will you do when Christ returns and disavows every claim the homosexual community has made? What will you do when Christ comes and condemns that life style and declares it a sin along with all the other sexual immorality that has been declared an abomination to God from the beginning of the world.
      Your claims that the church will give full fellowship to homosexuals has no standing in scripture or truth. It is a wishful thought that is fueled only by your desire for your personal opinion to be validated by the church.
      What I have said is based in scripture and the doctrine of the church. I am on much better ground than you are.

  5. rogerdhansen says:

    Shem, your claim that God instigated the black priesthood/temple ban is undermined by the following statement made at lds.org: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” There is no reason to believe that this statement doesn’t condemn the racism that existed in the LDS Church prior to 1978. We need to stop throwing God under the bus.

    The Church alleges that its current anti-LGBT policies are necessary by claiming that they are pro-family. A case they have yet to make successfully. As each generation becomes less prejudice, the current LGBT policies will eventually be abandoned. To the embarrassment of the Church. Susan is right. The youth of the Church are far less prejudice than the elderly Q12 and 1P.

    The Church faces real issues, and the anti-LGBT policies are an unnecessary distraction. Some Mormons allege that we should “love the sinner, hate the sin.” But there is no sin. A member of the LGBT is born that way. He or she is a child of God. How that is worked out in the hereafter is for our leaders to determine. I dare not speculate.

    • shematwater says:

      Your quote doesn’t undermine anything, as I have never claimed that black skin is a sign of disfavor or curse. I simply said that the ban was put in place by God. The fact that is was put on only one black race (being the African race, which is descended from Ham) would prove that simply having black skin is not a sign of anything much.
      However, we read in the Book of Abraham that Pharaoh was of the lineage whereby he could not hold the priesthood (Abraham 1: 27). So, clearly there was a race at the time of Abraham that could not hold the priesthood because of their race. So we have a precedent in scripture.

      Your reasoning that the next generation will simply do away with the doctrine regarding homosexual choices again has no basis. It is also irrelevant because the last days are upon us and so there simply wouldn’t be enough time for such a corruption of the gospel to take place. That is the one hope that we have; that Zion will be established and Christ will return before our world falls into greater wickedness than it already is.

      Oh, and despite the repeated claims of people who want to claim wickedness is actually righteousness, there is no evidence that homosexuality is in any way genetic. Repeating a lie over and over doesn’t make it true, regardless of how much you want it to.

  6. rogerdhansen says:

    According to lds.org: “Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” Since Church leaders unequivocally condemn past racism, are you saying that they are condemning God’s racism until 1978? I think not. They are condemning man-inspired Mormon racism.

    If you reject the science of LGBT sexuality, we have nothing more to discuss.

    • shematwater says:

      I don’t reject the science, and the actual science (not the pseudo-science that most people what to pawn off on the public) shows that there is nothing genetic about it. At least, there is no more to it than a persons preference for red-heads or blondes, or a person enjoying actions movies over romances. These are choices that are made, and are partly conditioned through experience. The same is true of homosexual desires. They are choices that are made, though partly conditioned through experience. They are not genetic.

      As to the rest, I honestly don’t pretend to understand the reasons behind it. There is nothing in the revealed word concerning this and until there is I will leave it at that. But there is enough in the revealed word to establish the fact that God restricted a race from holding the priesthood. To deny this is to deny the scriptures.
      The quote you give in no way denies this, as it does not call the restriction racist. It calls the explanations that men have offered racist, but not the restriction itself. It is saying that anyone who ever tried to use this restriction to justify their racism were wrong and stand condemned. But it makes no direct comment on the restriction itself.

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