Am I a Sheep or a Goat?

Like 750,000 other California Mormons, I sat amongst my fellow ward members in our local chapel today as our bishop read the Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families memo over the pulpit. He followed that by reading a memo outlining the church's views on political neutrality. He closed by asking each of us to ponder in our hearts in the coming days and weeks how we could best follow the prophet and implement his advice.

There was no discernable reaction from the congregation ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú no murmurings of disapproval, nor whispers of agreement; no heads silently nodding in assent, or shaking with quiet displeasure. The subject did not come up in our Gospel Doctrine class, nor during our combined Priesthood/Relief Society lesson. If there was discussion about the memo in the hallway, I didn't hear it.

My reaction? During the reading of the memo, and for most of Sacrament Meeting, my heart beat fast and my face slowly burned. What was my emotion? Anger? Disappointment? Sadness? Not really. Sure, I've felt those emotions with regard to this issue, but I've known about the memo for days, and I've always maintained a pragmatic, low-expectations approach to the issue: I'm optimistic that positive changes for Gays in the church will occur, but it won't happen overnight, and it will inevitably come about via the stumbling two-steps-forward-one-step-back process. This was yet another proverbial step back.

So if I wasn't feeling noticeable anger or sadness, why was my heart thumping like a pair of shoes in a Whirlpool washer-dryer?

It took me a few moments, but I finally realized what it was: Impotence. I wanted to do something, I wanted to say something. But do what? Say what?

My wife's advice was to remain silent and not make waves, that it would all sort itself out in the end. On the other end of the spectrum I'd read of others who planned to stage a walk-out protest during the reading of the memo, and heard of others who planned to stop attending church altogether. Neither alternative appealed to me, nor seemed particularly effective.

My feeling of impotence was exacerbated because just that morning I had re-read Frances Lee Menlove's superb devotional, Compassion With Action. (Go read it right now ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú trust me, it's the best thing you'll read on the bloggernacle this month.)

Menlove's devotional is an exciting and somewhat daunting exploration of Matthew's parable of the final great division of the sheep and goats. The Son of Man will separate people, one from another, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. To the Son of Man, the sheep are those who '…did it unto the least of these… For I was hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.'

According to Menlove:

In this story, the final performance appraisal reduces all criteria to compassion. There is not a whisper about creeds or doctrine. There is not a word about cursing, or attendance at church meetings, or homosexuality. Nothing about fame, knowledge, or fortune. It is so simple it's scary.

Actually, that's not quite correct. It does not simply reduce to compassion. The difference between the sheep and the goats is action. It is compassion with action. The goats are goats because of inaction. They did nothing. There is no indication they had hostility or any ill will. They didn't do anything wicked, they just failed to do good.

But this is the part that really sunk its hooks in me, the part that was primarily responsible for my feelings of impotence:

But the Bible is concerned not only with suffering but also with causes of suffering. In fact, it could be argued that 'the Bible is less concerned with alleviating the effects of injustice, than in eliminating its causes.' William Sloan Coffin puts it this way: 'Said prophet Amos, ?¢‚ǨÀúLet justice' ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú not charity ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú ?¢‚ǨÀúroll down like mighty waters,' and for good reason: whereas charity alleviates the effects of poverty, justice seeks to eliminate the causes of it.'

It is a lot easier to talk about charity than about social justice. Social justice talk leads to political controversy. But ignoring social justice issues because they raise political issues is itself a very political position in favor of the status quo. We are called on to be more than an effective and compassionate ambulance service. It is important to save poor orphans from burning buildings, but it is also vital to work toward a society where orphans are not poor and buildings adhere to fire codes.

In other words, as followers of Jesus, we are called not only to care for those who are suffering, but also to transform the conditions that bring about suffering.

So my wife's advice ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú to remain silent, or 'go write a dumb blog post that nobody is going to read' ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú left me feeling like a bleating goat. It's all compassion and no action. It's ignoring social justice issues because they are political and unpleasant. It's tacitly accepting the unjust and unequal status quo. It's agreeing to live with systemic cancer.

So how can an Active Mormon who values his or her membership in the church, but who also supports the rights of gays to marry, show compassion with action?

Any ideas? Here is what I decided to do:

I made an appointment to see my bishop to discuss the Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families memo. My purpose is two-fold:

First, I'd like to share my concerns regarding the church's position on Gay Marriage, as well as my unease with the church's definitions of 'political' vs 'moral' issues. I think it is important he know that some people ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú and at least one member of his ward ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú believes that committed gay marriage is not a threat, but possibly even a boon to traditional heterosexual marriage. I consider my bishop a friend. He and I have kicked around other controversial subjects in the past, always in an open and respectful manner.

Second, and more important, I'd like to share resources with him that might be of use when or if he counsels gay members (or member spouses, mothers, fathers, etc. of gays)?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ call it a Gay 'Care Package.'

It will include the following:

1.) One copy of the pamphlet A Guide for Latter-day Saint Families Dealing with Homosexual Attraction. A wonderful little guide written by Robert Rees, Ron Schow, Marybeth Raynes, and William Bradshaw that does just as the title suggests.

2.) One copy of the book In Quiet Desperation by Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield. It isn't perfect, but it was published by Deseret Books (very important), and accurately depicts the sometimes agonizing struggle of those who feel same-sex attraction, as well as those related to them.

3.) The classic Sunstone article, Pasturing the Far Side: Making a Place for Believing Homosexuals, by Stan Roberts.

4.) The Dialogue article, Between Suicide and Celibacy, by Robert Rees, a great framing review for the book In Quiet Desperation.

5.) Ben Christensen's Dialogue article, Getting Out/Staying In: One Mormon Straight/Gay Marriage, as well as Ron Schow's response, Homosexual Attraction and LDS Marriage Decisions.

6.) John Gustav-Wrathall's Sunstone article, A Gay Man's Testimony.

So here are my questions:

1.) Whether you agree with the recent memo or not, how else can Active Mormons who support gay rights show Compassion with Action? How can we be sheep, not goats?

2.) What are some other good resources that I can include for my bishop's Gay Care Package?

Postscript, July 18, 2008:

I had a wonderful meeting with my bishop last night.?Ǭ† I told him I wanted to focus on the needs of our Gay brothers and sisters, and the feelings for Members who might not agree with the Church’s stance on this issue, rather than the political, social, or religious pros and cons of Gay Marriage, or the very complex nature of sexual attraction.?Ǭ†

I’ll keep the rest of our meeting private, except to say that I think we both felt uplifted by the conversation, and that he appeared to be very touched by my “Care Package” (which included everything listed above, plus Carol Lynn Pearson’s “No More Goodbyes“).?Ǭ†

He closed by thanking me again, and saying,?Ǭ†”I wish every Bishop had a Matt Thurston in his ward.”?Ǭ† Ha.?Ǭ† That made me smile.?Ǭ† Not that I doubted his sincerity for a moment, but that was one of those “Was that a compliment… or not?” statements. 🙂


  1. Rick Jepson says:

    “Where is this lecture on how God wants them to be miserable?”

    See your post, #198:

    “The world would have us believe that anything that brings mortal happiness will likewise bring eternal happiness, but the Lord did not agree.”

    Although I’m sure that you find YOUR OWN mortal happiness to be perfectly acceptable to the Lord. Am I wrong?

    I’m not sure how you could argue that homosexual culture and practice is not considered subservient to heterosexual culture. If they were on equal footing in our society, this conversation wouldn’t be taking place. Homosexuals would be getting married and adopting kids, sharing insurance benefits, etc. So long as they are not, they are at the mercy of the heterosexual majority.

    And, as I said, the majority seems always feels entitled to remind the minority that mortal happiness “isn’t what it’s all about.” They said to the slaves, “Don’t run away from your masters, accept your station in life and wait for happiness in the NEXT LIFE.” Or, per the modern debate: “Don’t succumb to your own orientation. Remain alone, celibate, and frustrated your whole life. Heap guilt upon guilt. Enter into a disastrous traditional marriage doomed for failure and heartache for you, your spouse, and your offspring. Because, after all, mortal happiness isn’t what it’s all about.”

    Although, of course, heterosexuals are entitled to both mortal AND eternal happiness.

    Any argument along this lines is egotistical and condescending. Sorry.

  2. Dane says:

    Although the family structure is a condition of the natural man and cannot and will not be changed or corrupted by human values as feared by neurotic, dogmatic, humanly contrived religions based upon humanly mistranscribed and misinterpreted opinions posing as scripture, has anyone made much of an effort to challenge to flimsy basis in the bible and other such books about the assumption that “God” doesn’t know what God is doing by creating humans the way they are, which it seems has always been a minority-persecuted range of hetero to homosexual orientations?

  3. enigma says:


    Nothing I said in either post says “God wants His children to be miserable”. YOU are the one saying that, repeatedly.

    Your argument insinuates that you can either read the hearts and minds of ALL heterosexuals, or that you have determined that they ALL think and feel exactly the same things because you have discerned that they are influenced by evil and selfish motives. It is also evident that you feel the need to intercede and interpret the word of God on behalf of all homosexuals to be sure they ALL understand as you do that He wants them to be miserable.

    At least we agree on the definition of egotistical and condescension.

  4. enigma says:

    I’m sorry. I thought that the Sunstone blog enforced its own comment policy which states in part-

    “Please note that Sunstone requires certain standards be met for participation in these forums.

    First and foremost, posts and comments must be respectful of all people and the ideas and beliefs they hold sacred.

    In addition, posts and comments to SunstoneBlog must be related in some way to Mormonism.

    We reserve the right to remove comments or posts that contain profanity, personal attacks or spam, and reserve the right to also remove comments that have nothing to do with the associated article or topic.”

    “Disagreements are bound to occur and may be explored in a respectful manner. However, please focus on your own experience, ideas, and/or interpretations. Avoid personal insults and derogatory comments. While you may debate beliefs, do not attack a person for their beliefs, and do not call into question their intelligence nor their righteousness.”

  5. enigma says:


    I testify to you with every righteous fiber of my being and with every ounce of the truth that God has granted me personally and directly that the ONLY “divine truth” you came close to in your last post was that whatever “being” it is that you claim has spoken to you is in no way related to God the Father or His son Jesus Christ.

    You are of course welcome to embrace and worship any deity you wish. But I would rather endure having my intestines sucked through my eyeballs with a straw and then replaced only so the procedure could be repeated over and over for all eternity than worship any God that would 1) “force” its minions to “breed”,2) “laugh” at those who (according to your report) have been blinded and led astray from its “divine truth”,and 3)divulge all of its wisdom, power and transcending glory to someone like you.

  6. Rick Jepson says:

    E–I don’t have to read the minds of the masses or accuse the majority of condescension. The perfect examples came from your posts….as I mentioned above. This is an historical pattern, and–by my reading–you’ve epitomized it by condemning folks here for hoping that God might want homosexuals to find some comfort and companionship in this lifetime. If I’ve misread you, please explain the quotes that I referred to and what else they could mean.

  7. Rick Jepson says:

    Dane, are you at all trying to have a conversation? Your tone and format suggest not.

    With every fiber of my being, I exhort you to use paragraphs.

  8. Sid says:

    I am finally beginning to understand why the church has taken a policy toward gays of no exceptions to the rules that govern the rest of us heterosexuals.

    The other morning as I was waking up it hit me like a ton of bricks. Members of the church actually view gays as being abnormal and in need of repair!

    Growing up with gays in my family (my favorite uncle and my slightly older cousin), and now being the father of an incredibly gifted and compassionate gay son, never once did I think gays were abnormal or bad – they were just gay. Being gay is different from being straight, and I truly believe God sees them as just that too – they are just gay; not bad, not abnormal, just gay.

    I can see why church members in California are working so hard to prevent abnormal marriages from being legal. If something or someone is abnormal or bad, we certainly should fight against it. I am in agreement there. I just don’t happen to agree that gay people are abnormal or bad, or that their actions are bad. So, my feelings about gay rights haven’t changed, but my understanding of other’s beliefs, and therefore their motivations, have.

    I am saddened that so many members of the church have been guided by well-meaning leaders to take a few scriptures found only in the bible (ones that we really don’t know were translated correctly) and use them as a basis to demean and often destroy the lives of innocent children of God who were born different.

    (Remember, the words in these scriptures are actually the words of men, written in the style and with the understandings and beliefs of the people of their times, in different languages, and then re-written several times through numerous translations.)

    I sincerely hope and pray, however, that we will all (including church leaders) be willing to ask Heavenly Father the more difficult questions about gays soon. To me, those questions are…

    Did God have a positive reason for creating gay people on this earth?

    Does God have an eternal plan of happiness for them that we (church leaders) don’t know at this time?

    When I consider that some of the greatest people I know are gay (you won’t find a more righteous person than my son, Nick, “except for his one fault of being gay”:-), and some of the greatest people in history were also gay (Susan B. Anthony, Aristotle, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Vladimir Horowitz, Sir Isaac Newton, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter, Eleanor Roosevelt, William Shakespeare, Henry David Thoreau, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde – to name a few of the millions of gays throughout history), it really causes me stop and think that God must have a very special plan for them to ask these incredible individuals to endure such a difficult and horrifying challenge (horrifying due to mankind’s constant persecution), all the while knowing they were going to contribute so much to the betterment and beauty of our world.

    (These are hardly the type of people one thinks of when discussing gay rights and such.) 🙂

    It is my sincere prayer that we will all be able to understand the purposes for having gays in our world, and that we will be able to embrace them within the church in the near future. It must start, however, with a willingness to consider that we (and the leaders of the church) may not have all the answers at this time. It won’t be the first time that we have had a need to change our beliefs and become a more gentle and accepting church.

    That, I pray, with every fiber of my being…and for more paragraphs… and a kinder tone by Dane.

    P.S. I don’t believe the saying, “love the sinner, hate the sin”, should be used when being gay IS the sin according to church policy and most members’ views. It IS the sin because being gay means being attracted to the same sex and wanting and eventually getting love, mutual respect, emotional bonding, closeness, friendship, companionship, family and ultimately intimacy. Gay people do seek after all the same things we heterosexuals seek after, but they do it with like kind. They ARE different from us, no doubt. But that shouldn’t be a reason for us trying to prevent them from living a happy and fulfilled life too.

    My wife reminded me that our son wakes up every morning thinking, “Today I must try to be something I am not.” That is a very sad thing that his church has caused him to believe.

    Hopefully we won’t see numbers like 9 out of 10 gay church members leaving the church in the future. There has to be a better policy and a better reason for gays being here on earth. We just need to ask the questions.

    I for one am truly grateful for gays in my life and for all the contributions gay people have made throughout all of history.

  9. Rick Jepson says:

    Yes, any discussion of homosexuality that starts with the premise that homosexuality is an illness, deficit, or failure, is outdated and doomed. I think the issue of homosexuality in the context of the gospel is very complex, and I don’t pretend to be capable of the necessary nuance. But we absolutely have to start with the acceptance taht something can be different without being wrong.

    However, I do have to add that any time someone compiles a list of historical figures that were all gay or all bipolar or all whatever…’s always pretty much hogwash.

    : )

  10. enigma says:


    Let’s review the facts since they are available for all to view. In post #198 I quote ONLY the words of Jesus Christ himself, or the doctrines of the LDS Church that I can personally witness as truth. You respond in post #199 “That this same mentality once used to control black slaves” and call it “dangerous and egotistical”. The facts establish that it can ONLY be your OPINION that post #198 constitutes “a lecture on how God wants [homosexuals]to be miserable” since it does not contain that statement nor anything remotely close to it.

    In post #200, I again state nothing but accepted LDS doctrine reinforced with scripture and I invite you to point out anything I said that is not in agreement with both. You begin post #199 by posting my question “Where is this lecture on how God wants [homosexuals]to be miserable?” and indicating (again)that it occurs in post #198 and you supply the following quote as proof:

    ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThe world would have us believe that anything that brings mortal happiness will likewise bring eternal happiness, but the Lord did not agree.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    You then make an odd declaration about my personal life that has absolutely no relevance to the fact that the Lord does not agree that anything that brings mortal happiness will also bring eternal happiness. You follow that with more things I have never referred to like celibacy and slavery, ignoring the fact that everything I actually DID say applies equally to ALL of God’s children irregardless of their sexual orientation including how to obtain His blessings by following His commandments.

    Your last post mentions “historical patterns”, and claims that my posts are the epitome of condemnation even though there is absolutely no evidence to support that argument. You can only “misread” statements that are actually made. What you are doing is called “misrepresentation” which is an observable pattern rather than an assumed one.

  11. enigma says:


    As I read your words, my heart aches for you and your son. Even though I have children who at various times have not been completely within the boundaries of Church doctrine I am sure I can only relate in the smallest way to what you must be going through. I assure you that I do NOT believe as Rick thinks I do that God wants ANY of His children to be miserable.

    You said “Members of the church actually view gays as being abnormal and in need of repair!”

    I have no doubt that some members probably do view gay people as abnormal or broken human beings, but I do not believe that all of them do. I know many that think there is a distinct differentiate between “beings” and the actions or desires of those beings.

    Some mortals like to assign “value” to things, including people, based upon the condition they are in. For example-a “whole” light bulb is more valuable than a “broken” one, a “new” car is more valuable than a “used” car, a fit, attractive person is more desirable than a fat, unattractive one.

    But the “worth” of the human soul is GREAT and that value doesn’t increase or decrease based upon its condition. Souls have such great (and equal) value because they are organized and loved by God the Father and ransomed by our Savior.

    In Mosiah Chapter 2, King Benjamin teaches his people that says that if we should render all the thanks and praise and service to God that our whole souls can possess, we would still be unprofitable in the sense that nothing we do would leave us with a “profit” if we attempted to God back for everything He has given to us.

    In other words,if the value of something is based on what someone is willing to pay for it, then consider the price that Jesus Christ was willing to pay for the souls of all humanity.

    King Benjamin goes on to explain that all God asks in return for granting us life (not to mention the chance to obtain all that He has obtained!)is that we obey His commandments. Is that an unfair request? And what happens when we do? He gives us even more-more prosperity, more love, more blessings, more peace, more joy. No wonder we will always be indebted to Him.

    That said, I would ask you to consider something in context with what I said above. Every modern prophet has stated that the words spoken by the current prophet is more relevant and applicable to us than the words of any preceding or ancient prophet. President Monson has issued an official statement that God’s view of homosexual behavior today is exactly what it has always been-that it is a sin.

    If that is true, and what King Benjamin said is also true, then part of the reason many members respond so passionately in opposition to the “sins” of others is because to choose NOT to obey God’s commandments is in a sense not to be thankful to Him. It is to determine that what we WANT is more important than what we OWE. It is to treat the Atonement as a waste of time where it applies to us personally-a “thanks but no thanks” attitude of incredibly selfish proportion.

    This applies to ALL sin-not just homosexuality. ALL of us sin. ALL of us require the Atonement to return to dwell with God. But access to the Atonement requires repentance-and if homosexuals do not view their behavior as a sin, they will of course not seek to repent, and the Atonement will not be able to act in their behalf. They will have to suffer for their own sins after they die, rather than Christ’s sacrifice removing that requirement. And no loving, caring, truly compassionate member of the Church would EVER want another brother or sister to endure a misery that makes what you and your son are going through feel like a day in the park by comparison.

  12. Dane says:

    Thank you all for your suggestions and exhortations. I will do my best.

    Who can list the authoritative and legitimate evidence that being and acting homosexual is a sin, and/or that you have experienced direct witness from the supreme divine source of all creation and existence?

    And how can one consider themselves a Christian Sheep vs. Goat when one discriminates and/or persecutes another human being?

    Enigma, how can we determine whose truth is more accurate? What do you know about true biblical history and the myths & stories you have invested in as truth?

    Of course it is easy and convenient to dismiss the profound contact I had as a ?¢‚Ǩ?ìwhatever being?¢‚Ǩ¬ù but I challenge you to prove your knowledge and presumed personally granted truth over mine.

    I have some suggestions including scientific measuring, monitoring and documentation equipment to go along with a DNA analysis of the hair that changed after my ?¢‚Ǩ?ìvisit?¢‚Ǩ¬ù with the ultimate source of divinity, which you and most people pretty much completely and entirely misunderstand due to creative but primitive dogma.

    Obviously I did a poor job at communicating, so please allow me to clarify:

    1. I didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t say God forces his minions to breed. People do that on their own, especially Mormons, Catholics and particular ethnic groups, often motivated by religious orientation. My point is that more and more Mormon offspring will be gay until the Church and people that believe like you are forced to reckon with your ignorance and judgmental blasphemy.
    2. The Heavenly Host is so highly amused at the creative imagination of the Founder Joseph Smith and how ludicrous such a notion as his (several times revised) vision of being visited by the Father & Son in ?¢‚Ǩ?ìperfected bodies?¢‚Ǩ¬ù that it busts a gut laughing upon being asked the question. This silly fantasy is simply hilarious to anyone who has any legitimate clue as to the true nature and magnitude of Divinity. Yes, you can believe whatever you want, but it doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t make it true.
    3. Thank you for demonstrating your true hubris and judgmental colors, which are an infection like an anti-Christian virus in this Church. Yes, even someone like me, that you can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t really say you know much about, can experience conditions and circumstances whereupon contact with the supreme divine source and mind of all creation can be made, and the absolute and unequivocal universal Truth can be imparted. However, this is not to suggest that ?¢‚Ǩ?ìall?¢‚Ǩ¬ù of its wisdom could be imparted, because this is impossible due to the limited and primitive nature of our human construction, and the incomprehensible magnitude of Divinity.

    I may not be the most diplomatic, and I have had numerous severe concussions that may affect my ability to restrain my annoyance and frustration of people who claim to know things that they do not, and cannot, except that they spoke directly with the supreme source of all that is, was, and will be, which you obviously have not, but this does not mean that I did not have legitimate and direct contact and that I know for a fact that the majority of your beliefs and understandings are categorically erroneous.

    Of course, it’s not likely you’re really interested in learning anything, you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re just interested in defending that which you have been taught and accepted and upon which you have based your entire life and community.

    The great thing is, contrary to Mormon and most other religious beliefs, direct contact with the supreme source of all power, love, joy and creation can be achieved, and the Church can work toward facilitating this ultimate in absolute universal spiritual achievement as soon as the institution confesses that its prescribed structure for exclusive prophecy and revelation and authority is an inherited fraud that it no longer needs to invest in and defend.

    The answers are out there (I should say in there), you just have to be willing to learn how to get them, and not continue defending the self-fulfilling, self-serving traditions of a primitive belief system and beneficial culture club.

  13. Rick Jepson says:

    Enigma, despite all of your protestation, you turn right around and tell Sid that his son should suffer now to enjoy later. Again, pie in the sky.

    No one tells upper middle-class, conservative, republical heterosexual Mormons not to enjoy life–in fact we’ve almost made a sacrament of .75 acres with four wheelers and a boat.

    But you do expect Sid’s son to carry the burden of total loneliness, without even the hope of companionship, because, once again, mortal happiness is supposedly transient.

    Your comments, however you deny it, reflect the horrid, egotistical condescension of the majority.

    The underlying point of this thread, and it’s companion “Inevitability” thread, is that our moral standards and theological restrictions have proven to be highly cultural in even our brief history.

    My grandfather couldn’t conceive of an equal place for blacks in the church and felt quite strongly (backed up by both scripture and contemporary prophets) that blacks should stop complaining and bear the burden of exclusion because they’d be happy in the Millenium or in the next life—and, after all, mortal happiness is a lowly goal.

    If he were alive today, I have no doubt that he’d push that same line of reasoning on homosexuals.

  14. Rick Jepson says:

    Dane, take this for what it’s worth.

    The problem you have is that you make very good points and couch them in purposefully inflammatory accusations and belittlements. You also, against your own condemnation of others, state them with a tone of unquestioned authority and superiority.

    If you want to help people change, you absolutely have to try to speak to them in their language and appreciate their view. Not everyone who disagrees with you is just living life with blinders on or is just mentally incarcerated and uninlightened.

    In fact, that seems to be the exact mindset you’ve seem to dislike in the orthodoxy. Just be careful not to put old wine in new bottles.

    (I only offer this advice since its a weakness of my own.)

  15. Rick. Bless you! I have not been able to express these same sentiments in earlier attempts. You have given them ‘beloving’ wings! And I know you have blessed this brother. Thank you again.

  16. Rick Jepson says:

    Dane, I’m interested in your concussions. Do you mind discussing them? If not here, perhaps e-mail me at jepsonrick “at”


  17. Rick Jepson says:

    Thanks, Gene. I just wish I did a better job of following my own advice.

    Good to see your name and think of your ever-smiling face. Thanks for your immutable passion and uniqueness.

  18. Dane says:

    Rick, thanks for giving me something specific to speak to and help clarify myself.

    I drafted what I feel is an important 8 page response that seems too lengthy for this medium of exchange, so I’m wondering how to proceed from here.

    I would not have any reservations talking about my concussions, and the extent to which they might limit my emotional patience and endurance, but not if they are going to be used or construed to suggest that they are the cause of, and allow you to conveniently dismiss, my “extra-dimensional” knowledge.

    But thank you. Your words, attitudes and interest are reflective of being a true Sheep in Matthew’s interpretation of Jesus’ parable.

    With regard to sheep and goats, The “Christ Consciousness” calls to members of the LDS Church to reach out to the discriminated against and persecuted, and reexamine the basis for the primitive and misconstrued underlying belief and fears against sexual preference.

    The fears and beliefs are simply unfounded, and these reflect an absolute lack of faith in the genius and intelligence in the divine design.

    And once again, where’s the beef for this belief?

  19. Stephan Wyatt says:

    “Christianity, considered as a moral system, is made up of two elements, beauty and severity; whenever either is indulged to the loss or disparagement of the other, evil ensues.”
    –John Henry Cardinal Newman, Sermons on Subjects of the Day


    My initial impression of your odiferous tone that was pervasively woven into each one of your arguments led me to analyze the genesis of your anger. So often when I encounter individuals or groups simply proclaiming that I am wrong about my faith, I notice it removes any possibility for productive dialogue. If what we believe appears wrong from your perspective, and you are obviously aware of how right you are, then what is the design behind your exclamation of how wrong we are?

    I am interested to know how flawed our logic appears to someone who does not share our faith. Within each ad hominem festers a desire to understand how it is possible that we can believe what it is we believe. I would like to address some of your emotionally-charged assumptions that were spread throughout comment #204 like shards of glass with the genuine hope that a productive dialogue ensues.

    “The fact is, the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìvision?¢‚Ǩ¬ù that the Founder Joseph Smith supposedly had about God the Father and Jesus the supposedly only begotten son, is one of the biggest jokes in heaven.”

    The fact is I am unclear as to what you mean by the term “fact”. On one hand, facts are based on empirical evidence–that a fact can be verified to be either true or false. For instance, I can say George Bush has blue hair. One can verify this fact and determine if it is true or false. The problem with asserting whom Joseph Smith saw as a false fact would presume that faith can be empirically verified. It would be difficult to measure the revelation Joseph Smith experienced when he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. It is a fantastic leap of faith to believe that he saw two parts of the Godhead, considering it has been an assumption of Orthodox Christianity that God can not be seen, touched (literally), and made of finite materials. From an empirical standpoint, I can see the absurdity in the revelation. However, because Joseph Smith’s revelation cannot be measured, touched, or seen by others to does not mean in any way that it never happened.

    “Be ye ware, that every time one presumes to know or represent the Will and Word of that which is God without having received the absolute and universal Truth directly from the Source, it is ultimately blasphemy and an abomination in the eyes of Divinity.”

    In the midst of the capitalized abstract nouns, “Truth”, “Will”, “Word”, and “Divinity” was the absence of definition. More importantly, it is obviously certain that those words possess a significant meaning to you. If our understanding of absolute and universal “Truth” is something we only pretend to understand, then help us understand what you mean by this instead of telling us that we don’t understand. Give us a chance to demonstrate to you our misunderstanding of these dizzying concepts. This would fortify your position that we “…have no idea” how “foolish” our beliefs are.
    Moreover, I enjoyed your personification of “Divinity”; although you have determined that this “Divinity” is not a he, you have at least determined that this “Divinity” has eyes to see us 🙂

    “This Church is so wrong with its position and its understanding of the purpose of life and sexual orientation that Divinity will have it breed so many homosexuals that it will be FORCED, just like it was with polygamy and the black fiasco, to reckon with the Truth in an embarrassing way, which again will witness the attempts of the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìAuthorities?¢‚Ǩ¬ù to defend their uninspired, humanly contrived positions, and reinvent history.”

    The LDS Church has a unique position concerning abortion. It is one of the few religious organizations that addresses the sensitive nature of rape and incest as a means to an abortion. Conversely, the Catholic Church’s position on abortion, as eloquently described in Truth and Splendor by John Paul II, regards all life as sacred, stemming from God’s magnificent creation, that adamantly discourages abortion even in the case of rape or incest. Although this would make an interesting thread–to compare other church’s positions on issues concerning life–I will move to another issue you have addressed: homosexuality.

    It is interesting that those opposed to the Church’s position toward homosexuality want the Church to detach itself from its tangible, corporal history that is linked to the ancient Israelites and embrace contemporary arguments rooted in modernism’s most spurious culprit, moral relativism. Too often I hear “Although the church believes ____, I don’t subscribe to their position.” It allows us to subjectively pick and choose what makes us feel comfortable about our faith. I believe this, but not this. Our faith is reduced to a fragmented, consumeristic faith–a drive-thru faith–that allows us to simply choose what we want to believe. This does not mean that dissent cannot occur. Yet, if dissent takes the place of faith or becomes the reason as to why one chooses to no longer believe, then the purpose of a corporate identity within a church body is pointless. For instance, I believe Christ who hugged lepers and championed the socially persecuted people of Palestine, Jew and Gentile alike, would chastise the divisive rhetoric and incredulous actions that many churches demonstrate toward homosexuals. But I will not abandon my faith because of the undesirable actions of others. Also, this doesn’t mean that we cannot develop better ways to address morally controversial issues like homosexuality. Our positions shouldn’t pit “us” versus “them”; our position should be to establish a reasonable dialogue with dissenting opinions.

    Finally, the condescending ad hominem references to our “Authorities”and our beliefs weaken your arguments. They are blanket statements that have no other aim but to tear apart our beliefs. So, it begs the question: with what should we replace our faith? You didn’t provide any alternatives, thus I am curious as to what you would suggest. Yet, beneath your Mormonphobia is a desire to understand you disdain for our faith.

  20. Rick Jepson says:

    I am actually very interested in the phenomenon of brain injury (or epilepsy or migraines) combined with spiritual euphoria and a sense of having received visions or prophecies. There’s some great literature on this, and I’m interested in your experience and the temporal relation of your concussions and spiritual awakenings.

    This doesn’t, in my mind, necessarily diminish the spiritual connections being made. Injury or deficit in one area of the mind can lead to brilliance in another. A friend of mine was struck by lightning and thereafter was a brilliant pianist by ear—but I never discounted his playing as “not real.”

    I understand, however, if you don’t feel like having a magnifying glass taken to your medical and spiritual history. So please forgive the intrusion.


  21. Sid says:

    E, you said…

    “I assure you that I do NOT believe … God wants ANY of His children to be miserable.

    “Some mortals like to assign ?¢‚Ǩ?ìvalue?¢‚Ǩ¬ù to things, including people, based upon the condition they are in.

    “But the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìworth?¢‚Ǩ¬ù of the human soul is GREAT and that value doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t increase or decrease based upon its condition. Souls have such great (and equal) value because they are organized and loved by God the Father and ransomed by our Savior.”

    I agree completely. You are helping me to make my point. God does love gay people, not because they good or bad, but because He is good. We humans (members and leaders of the church) are the ones diminishing the value of these poor souls by determining that their actions are cause for us to reject them from full fellowship in the church, in spite of not knowing the reasons God has for creating gays in the first place.

    God has not rejected gays, we have. And just like Rick’s grand father rejected blacks as a good Latter-day-Saint-follow-the-prophet-at-all-costs man should have back in the 60s and 70s, many people continue to reject the latest minority, of which they can’t see a reason for accepting. “It is wrong – end of discussion.”

    I will be the first to admit that I am not as articulate, nor do I share the intellect most regular posters on this site have. But I do have something most of you don’t. I know first hand of the gay experience and how utterly devastating it can be on a good person and their family, and that gives me insights that you may never understand. And frankly, that is the sole reason for my postings on this site or any other place that I can share my experiences.

    It doesn’t take great “intellect” to realize that the policies and procedures for dealing with gay members is NOT working the way God wants. Any policy that turns the majority of a group away from the protection of the church needs to be reviewed. And just like when the church adjusted its beliefs (policies & procedures) regarding the blacks and priesthood, interracial marriages, temple ceremony, birth control, polygamy, etc., I sincerely believe that change is coming regarding this issue as well. And, it will likely be difficult for many members to accept.

    If we can all agree that being gay is not a “illness, deficit, or failure” or even a punishment, as I have been told before, then we need to find out what God’s “gay” plan for eternal happiness is. Because I too believe God doesn’t want His children to be miserable here on earth.

    The worst thing we can do to a prisoner is put him in isolation. When put in this condition for any length of time, the prisoner will ultimately lose his mind. It is not good for any man to be alone – gay or straight.

    The current option for gays is nothing more than isolation – a life of solitary confinement. But in this case, he is free to escape anytime. Who among us wouldn’t want to escape?

    So, what is the answer? Frankly, I don’t know. But this much I do know. We are not serving the needs of our gay brothers and sisters adequately. And it seems to me that the only way we are ever going to get members of the church to accept and actually “love” gays is for a change to come down from our prophet.

    My goal as a father of a gay son is to pray for that change, and hopefully educate others who will be willing to join me in prayer. If enough people will begin to ask the hard questions, we will be able to evolve and give these gay members who honestly feel rejected a home in our church instead of creating a even greater divide.

  22. Sid says:


    Regarding my “hogwash” inclusions, there is a reason I listed the names of famous gays in history. My bad for not explaining fully. Often my mind charges ahead without completing thoughts.

    The point I wanted to make is this:

    If God knew these great individuals were going to do something exceptional on earth, why would it be important for them to be gay? Or was it just the luck of the draw?

    Could it be that da Vinci needed to be gay and posses extraordinary right-brain functions normally attributed to females to complete his work as perhaps one of the greatest artists to ever depict Christ?

    Could it be that Susan B Anthony needed to have the strength and resolve that men similarly posses in order to lead a charge to give women rights they had been denied?

    I think you see where I am going. Each one of these incredible people had to be gay for a reason. They didn’t just show up that way and give Heavenly Father a surprise he wasn’t expecting.

    I think we need to look at gays as being something special. Why else would they need to overcome this horrific challenge just to live a normal life – one without misery?

  23. Rick Jepson says:

    Sid, I think this whole discussion would have been pointless without your posts–which have been consistently personal, sincere, and humble.

    I took a lot of hope from Marlin Jensen’s expression of empathy for gay members during his interview on the PBS special. I had never heard a GA speak of homosexuality in such a tender way, and I hope its a harbinger for a fuller understanding and embrace by all of us.

  24. Rick Jepson says:

    And sorry for the “hogwash” insult, even though it still stands. : )

    It’s not like Bill Shakespeare had a journal someone found that said, “by the way, I’m gay.” He definately explored gender roles in bold, shocking ways—and that may speak to something about his persona. But it’s still just limited to conjecture.

    I’ve found lists of famous historical figures that were depressed, drug addicts, bipolar, schizophrenic, etc. And they are always more conjecture than fact. Also, they force a connection between the condition and the brilliance that may be true…but may not be. That’s a tough call, in my opinion.

    Anyway, I love your posts. Ignore my nit-picking. I’m a certified A-hole.

  25. Sid says:

    Rick, your humility amazes me. I love reading you posts because I find them to be always on topic and presented in a manner that shows your deep thinking and ability to articulate. If only I could be the same…

    But, I beg to ask once more:

    What, if any, are the reasons God may have asked or required some individuals to go through the challenges of homosexuality, or is it really just the luck of the draw (whatever it is that causes it)?

    I for one believe everything DOES happen for a good reason (ultimately) and nothing is left to chance. God is never surprised.

    Thoughts? Anyone?

  26. I hesitate to intrude on this exchange, but feel a need to echo Sid’s comment about Rick. And, also as the father of a gay son, celebrate Sid’s belief that “everything DOES happen for a good reason…” I have commented before about my belief that gays of all genders are special people with special gifts and purpose. ALL THEY NEED is a loving, accepting and supportive family community to help them blossom and express their creativity.

  27. Rick Jepson says:

    Hi, sorry I’ve been gone for a few days.

    Theologically, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that the challenges of being gay in a heterosexual culture are inevitably bound to gifts—–gifts that perhaps are tied to looking at things from a different perspective or understanding that perspectives differ in the first place.

    Given that both of you (Sid and Eugene) have considerable experience with the phenomenon, your testimonies of it make a big impact on me.

  28. enigma says:

    Sid and Rick,

    I wish only to share two great truths-

    1) “Men never disagree about that which is definitely known: they disagree about that which is a matter of opinion or belief.”

    2)?¢‚Ǩ¬ùAny accountable person can gain a testimony of the gospel by obedience to that law upon which the receipt of such knowledge is predicated.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    If two people have access to the same gospel of Jesus Christ, obey the law required, and come to ?¢‚Ǩ?ìknow?¢‚Ǩ¬ù by obtaining a personal testimony of its truths, they have no reason to disagree about them because their personal opinions or beliefs will have been replaced with a divine knowledge that they now share. If two people have access to the same gospel of Jesus Christ and find reason to disagree about it, either one or both of them have neglected to obey the law required for obtaining a witness of its truths.

    Spencer W. Kimball said:
    ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThe Redeemer declared: ?¢‚ǨÀúMy doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ (John 7:16-17)

    What is it to know of the doctrine? It is an unwavering assurance. The Lord has offered a rich reward but has provided that it can be had only by meeting certain requirements. In this case the blessing promised is a knowledge of the divinity of the doctrine. And in this case the law or requirement is that one must “do his will.” Most of us know what his will is, far more than we have disposition or ability to comply.

    One must not only be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, but also live the commandments to be given the knowledge of the divinity of the work. Mere passive acceptance of the doctrines will not give the testimony; no casual half-compliance with the program will bring that assurance; it will come only through an all-out effort to live his commandments.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    As active/worthy members of the Church, you should both know where the only pure source is that can answer the questions you have and how to obtain what you seek. You and the Lord are the only ones that know why you have not obtained an unshakable testimony of the scriptures or that the words spoken by our living prophet are the words of God, but you will only receive a witness after the depth and sincerity of your faith has been tried and it has been determined strong enough to always remain loyal to the truths you want to have revealed to you.

    Until you obtain your own witnesses of the things that can be (and are) “known”, you will continue to disagree with everyone except those who have similar personal opinions and beliefs. I’m sorry, but I simply have no appetite for further disagreement.

    God bless and good luck to you all

  29. Enigma, does this mean you are getting off the bus? I had hoped you might be interested in the experiences, questions and stories of others. No one commenting on this thread or any other has the same experience or sees through the same lens. I’m always interested in how others experience living this life, especially when those experiences are different from my own. That’s what makes this world interesting. To beat my drum again (don’t cringe, Matt), that is why getting to know the dreams of others is so fascinating to me. They ALWAYS contain new information.

  30. enigma says:


    I’m always interested in the experiences, stories, and questions of others, but on the bus I am looking for the passengers don’t care more about their questions than they do the answers, the lenses do not result in blurrier vision, and reality has the potential to become more than any dream ever could. But thanks for the ride. 🙂

  31. Sid says:


    I am sorry that you haven’t perceived WHY I am posting here. It is not to change anyone’s mind. But rather to encourage critical thinking. I believe posters here are looking for answers most members take for granted or don’t even contemplate.

    When a doctrine or a policy of the church is not working the way I believe it would best serve members (particularly my family), I have to go to the source of all truth – Heavenly Father for understanding. Man and scripture may not have the answers I am searching for.

    We are promised and required to use our priesthood powers responsibly to bless especially the lives of our family members. We are also taught that the rightous can know the mysteries of God.

    Alma 12: 9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

    D&C 76: 7 And to them (the faithful) will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

    When I go to my Father in Heaven and ask for guidance in faith and humility, I receive answers, just as I think you and others do.

    But I cannot come out and tell you the answers I have received personally as they were give for me to bless MY family. But what I can do is share with you the right questions. Then, if you are willing to ask with faith and humility, you too can receive further light and knowledge – if you desire it.

    I don’t know if what I personally know to be true is fully understood by church leaders or not. It may very well be known, but the time to share that information with the members has not come. It may require more faith on the part of the church in general before we are ready for more knowledge.

    Or, as in cases in the past when church leaders were ignorant of certain issues (civil rights, interracial marriages, etc) that were part of the societal mores of the time, their beliefs were eventually corrected and further light and knowledge was presented to the church body. It actually might be possible that our leaders haven’t ASKED the right questions – yet.

    So, if you are interested, I hope you will ask this difficult question. If you do, your mind and your heart will not stop searching until it is satisfied that an answer was received.

    QUESTION: What are the reasons God may have asked or required some individuals to go through the challenges of homosexuality?

    As I have said, I believe everything DOES happen for a GOOD reason (ultimately) and nothing is left to chance. God is never surprised. But He may surprise you. And you may realize that we can agree on a different level.

    Please don’t fear the answers you might receive. Nothing is given from a position of fear.

  32. Rick Jepson says:

    Enigma, oh, Enigma. Love the fade-out backhand.

    It’s too bad that your interpretation of my disagreeing with you seems to be that I’m just less rightous (or that you’re less righteous than I—but I doubt that’s what you were implying). I have to wonder what you make of famous disputes like Hugh Brown vs. J.F. Smith. Which apostle was less righteous than the other?

    I take the opposite stand than you do. I find that discussing, questioning, and wrestling are glorious, enlightening, and edifying. They’re not right for all places and times—I don’t debate in the celestial room, for example. But in this online format, these discussions both distill and broaden my understanding.

    It’s a backward approach to enter the discussion believing that you already have all the answers, to condescendingly try to “enlighten” the others, and then to walk away certain that others didn’t agree with you just because they are less righteous.

    It does you no good, and makes you look like a stereotype to someone like me….someone who could have benefited from your perspective had it been shared in an open, frank exchange.

  33. Rick Jepson says:

    BTW, I believe that history is clear on an important precedent: if brave souls from Dialogue and Sunstone and elsewhere had not begun openly questioning the church’s racist ban in the 60’s and 70’s, the church as a whole would never have been ready to receive the revelation in 1978.

    There were plenty of poeple then demanding that these “dissidents” step in line and behave. But they never did. And we’re all better off for it now.

    It’s certainly possible that nothing will ever come from my questioning the role of women in the church or the place for homosexuals in the Church. But I’m allowed to hope. And, however small any of my contributions to the dialogue may be, I still take pride in participating in that wonderful tradition.

  34. Enigma, Sid and Rick, bless you all! In my #231 above, I had incorrectly posted my comment on this thread, thinking that I was driving the school bus on my post “How Can We Be Saviors on Mt. Zion”. When I discovered my error, I asked the Blog Sheriff to remove it, BUT thanks to your comments above he did not act. So, Sheriff, please forget my request.

    Now to Enigma #232. This morning as I awoke I found myself reflecting on a final word to you before you stepped off the school bus. It seemed to me your words reminded me of an attitude I encounter a lot among so many active LDS: we have nothing new to learn because we know it all now.

    A line of poetry came to mind, which I couldn’t place for a while. Then I realized it was my own verse! It was written in early 1993 in excited response to hearing a high councilman speak in the Santa Fe Ward! I call it “Morning”:

    Will they say of Santa Fe
    The same as of Ventura?


    I believe they’ll say
    It’s a great new day
    For us to wake each other.”

    I had been excommunicated in 1992 in Ventura and had moved to Santa Fe where no one knew me. I loved to sing the Mormon hymns incognito on the back bench in the Santa Fe chapel. I did not identify myself to friendly handshakes afterward. That is, until I heard RM speak and remember thinking, “THIS MAN should be stake president!”

    By October 1993, RM HAD become the Santa Fe stake president! I’ll continue this story on the “Saviors on Mt. Zion” thread where it more properly belongs for those interested.

  35. Rick Jepson says:

    Correction to my post….I think Sunstone actually started in Dec of ’78…….so it wasn’t around to question the ban at all.


  36. Rick Jepson says:

    Great post, Eugene. Worst thing we could do is assume we’ve alread got all the answers and that further exploration is a bad thing.

    Hugh B. Brown: “We have been blessed with much knowledge by revelation from God which, in some part, the world lacks. But there is an incomprehensively greater part of truth which we must yet discover. Our revealed truth should leave us stricken with the knowledge of how little we really know. It should never lead to an emotional arrogance based upon a false assumption that we somehow have all the answers–that we have a corner on the truth. For we do not.”

  37. Stephan Wyatt says:


    It is the framing of your question,”What are the reasons God may have asked or required some individuals to go through the challenges of homosexuality?”, that is problematic. The supposition made here is that God created the challenges attached to homosexual experiences, which implies that God helped to shape mankind’s perspectives on homosexuality. Social persecution is at the helm of our faith. It is Jesus’ rife defense of the discontents of our civilization that reveals God’s expectation of us when confronted by society’s “undesirables”. Christ’s cleansing of a leper [Mk. 1:40-45], His healing of a paralytic [Mk. 2:1-12], the Woman with a Hemorrhage [Mk. 5:21-34], to the poor widow’s contribution to the temple [Mk. 12:41-44] exemplifies and effusively explains how we should comfort those who are on the fringes of society. The challenge of the persecuted is to love their enemies as much as their neighbors. This doesn’t not mean complicit agreement via de facto acceptance of seemingly socially acceptable issues; it means that we as Christians are to champion groups and individuals who are outside the circle of social acceptability. Hence, why Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter (a priest) as well as the hemorrhaging woman (an untouchable). Jesus wanted to bring everyone that existed on the outside of society’s fringes together with those who had taken them for granted or persecuted them. I believe Jesus would have embraced a homosexual male or female in the same way he embraced a leper. Thus, the issue is not to understand why homosexuals experience the challenges from a society with an inflexible and unforgiving position, but why a society possesses an inflexible and unforgiving position toward accepting and welcoming all that are persecuted into the fold, especially those who profess Christ as their Savior.

  38. Dane says:

    First of all I hope everyone received my apologies for being such an (jack)ass. If not, here it is again.

    Sid #239:
    What makes you so sure that you understand God and that God is never surprised?

    Rick #244 That is a great, wise and true Hugh B. Brown quote!

    Brother Wyatt #245:
    Are you saying that Jesus would’ve healed the homosexual like a leper, or accept him/her as an outcast who wasn’t actually defective and that it is the discriminatory and judgmental attitude that is defective?

    And isn’t the answer to your last question: Because it still needs “salvation from ignorance” (I believe Joseph Smith himself said this) which is the ultimate cause of all attitudinal injustices and misunderstanding?

  39. enigma says:


    Same speech-Hugh B.Brown

    “While we speak of independence and the right to think, to agree or to disagree, to examine and to question, we must not forget that fixed and unchanging laws govern all God’s creations, whether it be in the vastness of the starry heavens, in the minute revolving universe of the atom, or in human relationships. All is law. All is cause and effect, and God’s laws are universal. God has no favorites; no one is immune from either life’s temptations or the consequences of personal deeds. God is not capricious.”

    But then, selective misrepresentation is just another sign of “faithfulness” isn’t it? In post #147 you did the same thing. You state-

    “In fact, the entire conservative side of the churh completely ignores everything Pr. Kimball decried in The False Gods We Worship” and that they “have great excuses about how this or that isn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t what Kimball REALLY meant, or blah blah blah about in a perfect world, maybe, but not here and now. So, we don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t consider it a ?¢‚Ǩ?ìrevelation?¢‚Ǩ¬ù to stop building up arms, stop trashing the earth, etc.”

    And then conveniently ignore the following quote from the SAME talk:

    ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThe Brethren constantly cry out against that which is intolerable in the sight of the Lord: against pollution of mind, body, and our surroundings; against vulgarity, stealing, lying, pride, and blasphemy; against fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and all other abuses of the sacred power to create; against murder and all that is like unto it; against all manner of desecration.

    That such a cry should be necessary among a people so blessed is amazing to me. And that such things should be found even among the Saints to some degree is scarcely believable, for these are a people who are in possession of many gifts of the Spirit, who have knowledge that puts the eternities into perspective, who have been shown the way to eternal life.

    Sadly, however, we find that to be shown the way is not necessarily to walk in it, and many have not been able to continue in faith. These have submitted themselves in one degree or another to the enticings of Satan and his servants and joined with those of ?¢‚Ǩ?ìthe world?¢‚Ǩ¬ù in lives of ever-deepening idolatry.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    If someone desires to be as “faithful” as you and Sid are, I’m sure you won’t mind explaining the following quotes either: (And no matter how hard it will be for you to do so, you must ONLY address their exact words ok?)

    Ezra Taft Benson said:
    “One who rationalizes that he or she has a testimony of Jesus Christ but cannot accept direction and counsel from the leadership of His church is in a fundamentally unsound position and is in jeopardy of losing exaltation.”

    Joseph Smith:
    “It is an eternal principle: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, is on the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”

    Spencer W. Kimball:
    “There is the man who, to satisfy his own egotism, took a stand against the Authorities of the Church. He followed the usual pattern, not apostasy at first, only superiority of knowledge and mild criticism. He loved the Brethren, he said, but they failed to see and interpret as he would like. He would still love the Church, he maintained, but his criticism grew and developed into everwidening circles. He was right, he assured himself; he could not yield in good conscience; he had his pride. His children did not accept his philosophy wholly, but their confidence was shaken. In their frustration, they married out of the Church, and he lost them. He later realized his folly and returned to humbleness, but so very late. He had lost his children. “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (In Conference Report, April 1955, pp. 94-95.)

    Marion G. Romney:
    “They assume that one can be in full harmony with the spirit of the gospel, enjoy full fellowship in the Church, and at the same time be out of harmony with the leaders of the Church and the counsel and directions they give. Such a position is wholly inconsistent, because the guidance of this Church comes, not alone from the written word, but also from continuous revelation, and the Lord gives that revelation to the Church through His chosen leaders and none else. It follows, therefore, that those who profess to accept the gospel and who at the same time criticize and refuse to follow the counsel of the leaders, are assuming an indefensible position.” (In Conference Report, April 1942, pp. 17-18.)

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

    “Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who “speak evil of dignities.” (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God.

    It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947, “When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.” (In Conference Report, April 1947, p. 24.) ?ɂÄö?ǂĶ

    The counsel against speaking evil of Church leaders is not so much for the benefit of the leaders as it is for the spiritual well-being of members who are prone to murmur and find fault. The Church leaders I know are durable people. They made their way successfully in a world of unrestrained criticism before they received their current callings. They have no personal need for protection; they seek no personal immunities from criticism-constructive or destructive. They only seek to declare what they understand to be the word of the Lord to his people.” (Ensign, February 1987, p. 70.)

    George Q. Cannon:
    “God has chosen his servants. He claims it as His prerogative to condemn them, if they need condemnation. He has not given it to us individually to censure and condemn them. No man, however strong he may be in the faith, however high in the Priesthood, can speak evil of the Lord’s anointed and find fault with God’s authority on the earth without incurring His displeasure. The Holy Spirit will withdraw itself from such a man, and he will go into darkness.”

    Jesus Christ:
    “If they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest,” “Instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies.” (D&C 124:46, 48.)

    There are hundreds of such comments and teachings. I testify to you both and to anyone who reads this blog that they are true and you can know for yourselves. You are guilty of placing stumbling blocks in the paths of sincere truth speakers and the day will come that you will answer for every “idle” word spoken here that you so mistakenly call “edifying”. I wonder how hollow your apologies will sound in the ears of those who trusted in your words and became lost right along with you.

    You declared yourself in this same thread that you know you are “sinning” with such behavior and yet you continue to do it and wonder why anyone would EVER call you unrighteous or lacking in faith. Every word you speak reveals you for what you are to those who actually know the living God and His principles. But the Atonement applies even to you, should you ever desire to embrace it and become truly converted to the Lord and the Priesthood covenant you made.

  40. Sid says:

    I am thrilled that others have hopped on the bus. I appreciate so much the insights you all share on this tread and wish I could contribute more. I believe these discussions allow us the opportunity to expand our capacity for understanding, despite often being told not to by a sometimes restrictive church.

    Stephen, thank you for your thoughts.

    If God created all things first spiritually, then surely He plays a part in the physical manifestations of this world.

    Christ was asked if the parents of a blind child had sinned, and his reply was that the child was blind so that the goodness of God could be manifested through him.

    My belief, gained through fasting and prayer, is that God agrees to and allows physical anomalies to occur in nature to give us the opportunity to learn charity as we work to overcome prejudices and our natural instincts to judge and withdraw from that which we don’t understand or accept.

    I will be forever grateful to my son for agreeing to the earthly challenge of homosexuality while still in the pre-existence, as without his willingness to suffer, I doubt I would have ever learn how to love the unlovable (as viewed by most people on earth), just as I know God and Jesus love him.

    My son is not in need of healing as he is not ill or defective. God doesn’t love him because he is good in terms of the current church’s position on homosexuality. God loves him because God is good. That is our ultimate test – to love as God loves. Nothing more, nothing less. Gays just give us the opportunity to test our capacity to love.

    Dane, I appreciate your coming back.

    I don’t believe God can ever be surprised since he doesn’t live with the limitations of time (an earthly phenomenon). He knows the end from the beginning, as it is referenced time and again in the scriptures. He is merely waiting to allow us the opportunity to prove to ourselves (not Him) that we have learned the lessons of this earthly probation, as we discussed with Him before our birth.

  41. Richard Jepson says:

    Enigma, thanks for your condemnations! Unlike you, I have never felt so sure about my own salvation and another person’s condemnation. What must that feel like? I hope I never know.

    I am also very aware of the hundreds of such quotes, which boil down to “get back in line.” And I’ve very thoroughly addressed this in my posts 132 and 147. I admittedly find myself in a precarious position and feel forced to choose between allegiance and integrity. It’s painful and horrible…but I won’t give up either easily, so I’m still wrestling and looking for the right solution.

    I have not, as you suggest, criticized the brethren, stopped sustaining them, or done anything obscene like picketing in front of Temple Square. As far as I can tell, the membership holds the church back–not the brethren.

    I have allowed myself to explore my own thoughts and beliefs and have discussed them as even-handedly as I can. The church has been extremely clear that it does not punish beliefs, but actions. And I have made every effort to circumscribe my actions and maintain my standing. Why you are so quick to condemn me when the Church isn’t, I cannot know. Perhaps you should consider the matter.

    I get the impression that your anger toward me is not because of my beliefs or because of the discussion I’m engaged in, but rather because I don’t accept your attempts to set me straight or “tell me how it is.”

    I answer only to those who have authority over me. I’m happy to be accountable for the thoughts I dare to think and conversations I dare to engage in. Just not to you.

  42. Rick, please look at my comment #66 on the “Saviors on Mt. Zion” post. That Enigma commands so much of both our attention these days is an interesting phenomenon. Both of us have been reactive to what we perceive to be a self-righteous judging tone. How to transform OUR reactions to a beloving response to this perception seems to me the challenge for us. It is unrealistic to expect HER to change, even though we would like that, but perhaps we can help each other see this as an opportunity to transform our own tendency to exert a power trip.

  43. Dane says:

    Please allow me to make an observation that this is not the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìBus?¢‚Ǩ¬ù post. The bus is on the Saviors on Mt. Zion thread.

    Sid, thank you for noticing that I was ?¢‚Ǩ?ìmissing?¢‚Ǩ¬ù because I was being an idiot, and that I have been allowed to rejoin, presumably as long as I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t lapse back into complete ?¢‚Ǩ?ìassholicness.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    Consider the possibility that everything is intelligent and intentional and absolutely nothing happens for no reason, and due to the nature of creation, which means creating something that previously didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t exist, even in the dimension(s) beyond time, unexpected surprises can and do occur.

    Who in their profound and insightful wisdom as learned from the Mormon or any other church, or from personal enlightening contact with Divinity, can tell us, from comprehending the true nature and will of G-d, how G-d reacts or responds to such unpredicted, unexpected surprises?

    Enigma: There have been so many before you that have done and felt the same way and made the same claims of truth and knowledge, felt it to the depths of what they knew of themselves, and it works for as long as it lasts. Then things can change and the neat little formula for following the rules and receiving the blessings collapses. You only see, claim and promote such a relationship because you have not yet experienced its failure. And I caution you not to make so many assumptions and judgments because they tell your consciousness what you may need to learn the hard way.

    Rick my good fellow. May I compliment you on your sincerity, integrity and willingness to struggle with what the truth actually is.

    The most important thing I accepted as a Mormon growing up in the church was the notion and value of truth. I never gave it up. This is why I call myself an ?¢‚Ǩ?ìuncompromising Mormon.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    The choice between allegiance and integrity to truth is one I had to make over 30 years ago when I was at that critical point whether or not to continue to invest my life and cultural lifestyle in the addictive and beneficial ?¢‚Ǩ?ìexclusive righteousness club,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù especially when my innocent childlike spiritual intuition and honest, practical, logical observations told me what was being claimed was not quite accurate or consistent.

    Despite what people convince themselves of, or are influenced or coerced to accept and claim, I didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t know ?¢‚Ǩ?ìthe truth?¢‚Ǩ¬ù and wasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t going to claim I did because it was pounded into me by my religious culture. And it was clear to me, and has gotten clearer, that neither did the Church actually know the truth ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú at least not in the way it was represented.

    Of course I received all manner of suggestions, admonitions and exhortations on how wrong I was and how to compromise my integrity and my divinely endowed spiritual intuition, which BTW existed before I was ceremoniously baptized, did not change after baptism, and which I would not deny did not correspond with the prescribed model concerning the process of receiving the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìHoly Ghost.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    After about 30 years of living, studying and experiencing outside of the Church I had come to the conclusion that it and all others were full of bunk and the Mormons were essentially no different than any of the institutions they criticized, especially the Catholic Church.

    Then the most amazing circumstances set me on a 5 year path from admirable success to one of failure and extended emotional and physical pain and suffering, ultimately to a literal life or death situation, where I was faced with the question of whether or not God even existed.

    I was beyond all presumption of knowing anything about the existence of divinity, and was pretty sure, based upon how my life had seemingly arbitrarily turned into crap, that no loving God could possibly exist given such a nonsensical scenario. I had done nothing ostensibly to deserve this. But I had to know or it was the end of me that night.

    So after 5 years of trials and tribulations, weak and hungry after two weeks of little to eat, with my appendages ?¢‚Ǩ?ìburning freezing?¢‚Ǩ¬ù up to my shoulders and hips from the bitter cold, knowing that if I unzipped my jacket it would be over within hours and I would hopefully find peace from leaving my torturous mortal coil, I collapsed to my knees in complete and utter exhaustion and fatigue and cried to the heavens, with the mustard seed of faith and what little voice I had left, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìIs there a God?! I HAVE to know!!

    And this is when the most profound and extraordinary ?¢‚Ǩ?ìopening?¢‚Ǩ¬ù and event of my life took place, which took me through a literal purification process, and which ultimately allowed me to stand before the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìthrone?¢‚Ǩ¬ù of the Creator and ask every question I had ever had about God, Jesus, religion, the Mormon Church and Joseph Smith.

    As a result of the extraordinary nature and content of this event, which I couldn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t possibly have conjured up in my semi-creative imagination, and which no ungodly form could possibly recreate or duplicate, I actually know for a fact, from the only true and legitimate source of such knowledge and information, that divinity actually exists, that the Church was established for divine purposes, and that the Church is so far removed from representing divinity accurately that it is embarrassing, not to ?¢‚Ǩ?ìGod,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù but to humanity. I already told you how divinity responds to such things.

    It should also be understood that, despite the beliefs and practices of its membership, the divine cause and purpose for the Church will be fulfilled. Stay tuned. There are lots of fireworks yet ahead.

    And Sid, may I suggest that this is one concrete example of how Divinity has been surprised at what its creative extension of itself, humanity, has done to interpret and represent what divinity is.

  44. Rick Jepson says:

    Dane, sorry I haven’t gotten back to you in our e-mail conversation. Please know that I’m eager to and will shortly.


    To everyone, I love you all. I think I’ve done as much good and bad in this thread as I’m capable of, so I’m considering bailing out. Thanks to everyone for stimulating me and pushing me way past where I was comfortable. Although I continue to be unsettled with this matter, I feel like my understanding of it has grown exponentially through everyone’s contributions…particularly those that disagreed with me or were even critical of me.


  45. Dane says:

    Stephan, Sid, Enigma and Rick, I responded to your earlier posts but they were apparently blocked for being inappropriate and/or too lengthy and then, it appears, for just being mine.

    Anyway, I am endeavoring to improve my ways and I hope you can find the “Sheepness” in your hearts to forgive me for my rude and crude behavior.

    Rick and Sid, you especially passed the “test” for giving an old goat like me the time of day.

    Blessings to you both and to anyone who shared their thoughts and feelings in an attempt to engage this member of the greater flock.

  46. Cindy says:

    I am trying to understand all the positions regarding gay rights and I want to understand the truth. If it is against God’s plan,I have to defend what’s true. How can I vote in favor of an amendment that I know is against God’s plan when doing so can only bring distruction and pain? I have learned the hard way how that works. We can keep our faith by being true by following and supporting truth. I know of only one base-line for truth…God’s.

Comments are closed.