The Inevitability of LDS Gay Marriage

Somewhere in the roiling sea of the Gay Marriage Debate ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú where the determined, but overmatched boats of Prophetic Proclamation, Scientific Speculation, Political Posture, and Bleeding-heart Babbling bob and weave, toss and turn ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú stand two immovable pillars.?Ǭ† Like towering lighthouses, they patiently endure the pounding sea, barely taking notice of the pitching and tossing boats, except for an occasional, bemused glance in their direction.?Ǭ†

The pillars are two immutable facts:?Ǭ†

  1. The Onward March of Civilization.
  2. The LDS Imperative to Maintain an?Ǭ†'Optimal Tension' with the World.

To support the first pillar, I turn to the sage advice of Levi Peterson:?Ǭ†

Many Mormons see little value in the process of civilization.?Ǭ† Some of them tend to regard the Church as a culture which gives to but does not take from its sister cultures in the world, particularly in such essential matters as theological insight and moral understanding.?Ǭ† Such things, in their view, come strictly through revelation, and it is the role of the Church to dispense them to the world through missionary work.?Ǭ† It is inconceivable that an increased understanding of perfection might come to the Church from the wisdom which slowly accumulates through the civilized development of the human conscience in many cultures.?Ǭ†

Certain other Mormons are even more militantly conscious of their disesteem for civilization, which they express by rejecting the world at large as the symbolic Babylon from which the Church, as God’s specially anointed society, is to keep itself unspotted.?Ǭ† This view tends to take on a doomsday color, for the changes occurring in non-Mormon cultures are often seen as totally corrupt and retrogressive, tainted by sin and worthy of destruction.?Ǭ† Everywhere are wars and rumors of wars without end and perversities and whoredoms beyond calculation.?Ǭ† Armageddon looms on the horizon, and the fearful settle into the fortress of their righteousness to await the imminent end of the world – something like Jonah, who supposed there was nothing in the city of Nineveh worthy of salvation.?Ǭ†

This cynical view of civilization is unfortunate.?Ǭ† The Church is not a detached and isolated island; it has a symbiotic, interdependent relationship with numerous other cultures, with whose people its members commingle on a daily basis.?Ǭ† Civilization is a social process which flourishes most dramatically precisely when such interaction takes place.?Ǭ† A new insight, a new value, a new tool passes from person to person, crossing boundaries and domesticating itself in various cultures, stimulating among its recipients further inventions and discoveries.

Civilization, what Peterson calls the incremental 'development of the human conscience,' inevitably marches on.?Ǭ† There seems to be little doubt, even in the minds of most conservative members, that the world will eventually accept Gay Marriage, whether Prop 8 is defeated this fall or not.?Ǭ† Heterosexual-only Marriage is taking on water like the Titanic, and?Ǭ†though the water may not have reached the tipping point, the end is a 'mathematical certainty.”

Bruce Ismay (a.k.a. Titanic’s venal businessman): But this ship can’t sink!

Thomas Andrews (a.k.a Titanic’s builder): She is made of iron, sir. I assure you, she can. And she will. It is a mathematical certainty.

So the question is not whether the World will accept Gay Marriage, the question is whether the Mormons will follow??Ǭ†

The answer to that question is the second pillar: The LDS Imperative to Maintain an “Optimal Tension” with the World:

Since shelving Plural Marriage in the late 1800s, the LDS have steered a course that allows us to be both 'in' and 'out' of the world. We maintain a healthy distance, or 'optimum tension' between the Church and the World, but we will never let the distance or gulf to grow too wide (or too close). Armand Mauss convincingly details this phenomenon in The Angel and The Beehive as the ongoing process of assimilation and retrenchment:?Ǭ†

If survival is the first task of the movement, the natural and inevitable response of the host society is either to domesticate the movement or to destroy it. In seeking to domesticate or assimilate it, the society will apply various kinds of social control pressures selectively in an effort to force the movement to abandon at least its most unique and threatening features. To the extent that the society succeeds in the domestication effort, the result will be the eventual assimilation of the movement. Failing to achieve sufficient domestication, the host society will eventually resort to the only alternative: persecution and repression.?Ǭ†

Movements which, like Mormonism, survive and prosper, are those that succeed in maintaining indefinitely an optimum tension between the two opposing strains: the strain toward greater assimilation and respectability, on the one hand, and that toward great separateness, peculiarity, and militance, on the other.?Ǭ† Along the continuum between total assimilation and total repression or destruction is the narrow segment on either side of the center; and it is within this narrower range of socially tolerable variation that movements must maintain themselves, pendulum-like, to survive.?Ǭ†

If, in its quest for acceptance and respectability, a movement allows itself to be pulled too far toward assimilation, it will lose its unique identity altogether.?Ǭ† If, on the other hand, in its quest for uniqueness of identity and mission, it allows itself to move too far toward an extreme rejection of the host society, it will lose its very life.?Ǭ† Its viability and its separate identity both depend on a successful and perpetual oscillation within a fairly narrow range along a continuum between two alternate modes of oblivion.?Ǭ†

So, unless the Church reverses its course to become a truly (not just 'sort of') 'peculiar people,' (think FLDS, Amish, or other fringe groups who doggedly refuse to shift with the World), it will continue to shift along the continuum with the rest of civilization.?Ǭ†

We're seeing it now ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú since the charged rhetoric of the 1960s and 1970s (i.e. homosexuality is an abomination on par with beastiality), the Church has slowly adopted a decidedly 'softer' stance towards same-sex attraction.?Ǭ†

At some point down the road ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the next generation? the generation after that? ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the 'optimal tension' between the Church and the rest of Civilization on the issue of Gay Marriage will become so strained that a revelation is likely to follow.?Ǭ† We have ample precedent ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the Manifesto of 1890 and the Revelation of 1978 are both fairly clear-cut.

Of course, reducing divine revelation to a mere sociological phenomenon, to worldly pressure, is a blunt and unnecessary conclusion.?Ǭ† But there is still ample room for the mystical or spiritual, for the guiding hand of the Divine.?Ǭ† I return to Levi Peterson and the process of civilization:?Ǭ†

Given the fact of proximity and interaction, the Church has inevitably influenced its sister cultures, not merely by proselyting converts from among them but also by the example it gives of Christian living.?Ǭ† But one does no dishonor to the divine mission of the Church by admitting that, in its turn, the Church is highly influenced by the world, sometimes even in matters relating to Christian living.?Ǭ† Evidence for this assertion may be seen in events preceding the revelation of 1978 which extended the priesthood to Mormon men of all races.?Ǭ† That revelation was an immense relief to numerous Mormons, whose united concern and questioning about the inequality of the former policy had moved the prophet to seek a revelation on the matter.?Ǭ† But why should Mormons of the 1970s have been so concerned when Mormons of the 1920s were not? The reason is that they had been influenced by the growing racial equality in other cultures.

Why can't the influence of Civilization be a part ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú sometimes even a key component ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú of Revelation??Ǭ† Don't we have ample precedent for this as well??Ǭ† Don't we have a long track record of accepting all truth, 'let it come from whence it may'??Ǭ† Don't we recognize that the Light of Christ shines on all of God's children??Ǭ† Don't we accept that many of Civilizations' greatest advances, whether spiritual, scientific, technological, industrial, etc., have come from non-Mormons??Ǭ†

(Pesonally, the idea?Ǭ†that God influences all of His children throughout the world, one person at a time, gives me goosebumps.?Ǭ† Sometimes, because of our unique gifts, our “readiness,” our sensitivity to this or that issue, Mormons are the first to hear God’s still small voice, and we set the example for the rest of the world.?Ǭ† But other times, other groups or cultures are better prepared, and God chooses them to reveal a new truth.)

With the Priesthood Ban against Blacks, the healthy or 'optimum tension' was stressed during the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, but had become seriously strained by 1978.?Ǭ† By ’78, the major Civil Rights wars had been fought and won, and we were left standing on the wrong side of the line.?Ǭ† Today, were the Ban still in effect, the tension would be unbearable.?Ǭ† Without the Revelation, I am doubtful that Mormonism could have survived today, except maybe as a fringe group, like the FLDS or the Amish.?Ǭ† But its international footprint, its mainstream acceptance, (and even respect), in society today would be gone.

Is it not so hard to see that history will?Ǭ†likely again repeat itself??Ǭ†

1890.?Ǭ† 1978. ?Ǭ†20XX?


  1. Matt Thurston says:

    Sorry Jeanne, my big mouth strikes again. Maybe that was a “duh,” was it really a “duh, to the max”? 🙂 On the internet, there’s always someone, somewhere, with a big nose who knows… and I thought you were one of them. One person’s sarcasm, is another person’s truth… and divining the diff can be damn near impossible: Is Jeanne a witty, sharp-tongued social liberal, or a ultra-right-wing, conspiracy-theorist crackpot? Given the tenor of some of these blog comments, Rick and I assumed the latter and took your comment at face value.

  2. Jon Butler says:

    If any church members today feel or think that the church is God’s specially anointed society to keep itself unspotted from Babylon they are quite ignorant of the details of their church’s history, especially mid to late 19th century, 20th century and now the 21st century.

  3. Eugene says:

    Jon #52, “If any church members today feel or think that the church is God?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s specially anointed society…they are quite ignorant of the details of their church?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s history…” And you know what Joseph Smith said about ignorance, yes? [Hint: D&C 131:16]

  4. Pete Pratt says:

    Eternal hetrosexual marriage is, with the Fatherhood of God, the atonement and the creation and fall, part of the very core of LDS doctrine. Regardless of the political pressure that may be brought to bear I do not think the Lord will every sanction same sex marriage. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth — a commandment that is repeated at every temple marriage.

  5. dear Mr Matt Thurstan,
    As the rabbi of Idaho for many years, I was pleasured to meet and talk with many of Mormonisms old guard and with a few of the new theologists. I also understand the inevitability of Gay Marriage in our time and space in history. Whether we agree with it or not is not an issue. We all agree that God Herself is the determiner of history. If it becomes a reality as I think it will, we religionists who represent the various belief paths, must come forth to accept it just as we accepted interracial marriages. Same Sex Marriage is not prohibited by Jewish Scripture no matter what anyone tells you. We Jews will not accept blame for denying marriage equality to gays and lesbians because religious fundamentalists want to give that blame to us.

  6. Larry Mann says:

    I notice that in comment #10, Gerald Smith asserts:

    “The Church will be compassionate towards those with same sex attraction, as they are with those with other addictions or temptations.”

    It is interesting to see there are still people around who suffer from the impression that homosexuality is pathological – a sexual addiction and a temptation.

    There are certainly people in the world who have sexual addictions, but I am quite certain that more than 95% of these sex addicts are heterosexuals. That is, sexual addiction is neither heterosexual nor
    homosexual. But Gerald wants to see it as homosexual. Odd.

    Gerald also supports the idea of loving the sinner but hating the sin. Does this really make sense? How would any of us here feel if our nonLDS friends said to us: “Love the Mormon but hate the Mormonism” ? Or worse, “I love you, but I hate everything you think, and feel, and say, and do, and believe.” Hmmmmm . . .

    As to the sage advice of Levi Peterson, he’s right on: what will make the Church “peculiar” finally is not being anti marriage equality, but supporting and defending and promoting healthy, productive relationships for everyone, irrespective of sexual orientation.

  7. Eugene Kovalenko says:

    Welcome Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill!

    With your refreshing remarks, it’s about time someone with your experience and the wisdom of your tradition has graced our upstart Mormon discourse.

  8. Matt Thurston says:

    Thanks for your comments, Rabbi (#55 – 56). And please feel free to weigh in with the Jewish perspective any time.

    So, are all Jews in favor of same-sex marriage? I know you can’t speak for all Jewish individuals, but is the stance or doctrine/policy of the “corporate church”, for lack of a better word, pro gay-marriage?

    It would be great to form a “coalition” of Jews, Mormons, and Christians in favor of same-sex marriage.

    Larry #57, well said.

    Pete #54, so much of “the very core of LDS doctrine” has changed over the years that it is silly to assume that any one doctrine or policy can’t be changed. Remember, we are always subject to the constraints of “limited light and knowledge”; and “we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

    So be careful what you say about Adam and Steve. Steve just might be your home teacher or your bishop one day…

  9. There is an old saying in Ladino, the Yiddish od the Jews of the Spanish-Portuguese Expulsion: Dos Judiyos, tres kehiloth (if there are two Jews, there are at least three opinions). All Jews are not in favor of Same Sex Marriage. Those who follow the more Orthodox perspective are exactly like those who follow a more traditional understanding within Christianity or Islam. However, those of us who follow a more inclusive and liberal understanding of the Torah; Conservative, Reform, Renewal and Reconstructionist Jews, accept that the understanding of the Torah that was accepted in the past is not the understanding of the Torah for today’s Jewish reality. The Torah is a LIVING document, not a once upon a time history. In order to be a living document it has to be reread and interpreted in every generation. In the second century C.E. the Sages of the Talmud stated unequivocally that there were passages in the Torah which purport to have been given as the Very Word of God (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21; Exodus 22: 1-2; Deuteronomy 22: 25-27)that they, 1500 years later, declare to have not been said by God at all (Sanhedrin 68B-73B). In other words, they understood that Laws that were given for one time period might no longer be applicable in another time period. Rabbi Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth, if the passage concerning the woman caught in adultery is authentic(John 8: 1-11) shows that Jesus agreed with the Sages, including Rabbi Hillel, who uttered a similar

  10. injunction against the death penalty, the required punishment for a woman caught in adultery. It is the job of a rabbi to seek to understand the Hebrew texts, the halakha (Law), and exegesis enough to be able to take part in the ongoing dialog with God so that he or she can convey to a modern Jewish world his or her understanding on what God’s message to us is now.

  11. Joseph Blow says:

    While this is a “thoughtful” post, this may well be the issue where the Lord may not budge, that may cause us to endure the kind of opposition we have never seen, almost to our dissolution.

  12. Lynn says:

    Thanks to Rabbi Steinberg-Caudill for reminding us Christians about Jesus’ response to those who wanted to fulfill the law by stoning the woman taken in adultery. I agree with the Rabbi that Jesus was reinterpreting the established law for a new era. In my view, Jesus?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ new teachings seemed to focus on challenging the old established order by preaching compassion for those who were disenfranchised and disrespected by society–namely the poor, sick, publicans, and sinners. Jesus seems to direct any ?¢‚ǨÀúfire and brimstone’ speech, not at sinners, but at the current established order, namely the Pharisees and Sadducees. There does not seem to be much focus in Jesus’ teachings about the importance of sexual sins. The emphasis is on service, compassion, acceptance and love. Perhaps we as LDS should also re-examine biblical teachings for our current times, or alternatively, just focus a bit more on Jesus?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ reinterpretation.

  13. David says:

    Your premise is misconstrued. The purpose of the church isn’t to recieve revelation and then distribute that revelation to the world through missionary work. It is also not a measure of revelation to point out how many Mormons were recipeints of divinely appointed revelation or inspiration in the development of technological, medical, humanitarian, political, or artistic creations.

    The Church and its missionary program serves first and foremost to gather Zion. The Book of Mormon ushered in that work and it continues today, gathering the wheat from the tares.

    Your article relates to one specific principle, that of enduring to the end, but it has little to do with the establishment of the church, the purposes of the church or any of its revelations guiding its way toward the second coming.

    You are simply applying a very narrow tangent of discussion (enduring to the end) to the entire purpose, course and direction of the Church.

    It happens all the time when an intelluctual emerses herself in say, the study of culture or anthropology or the rise and fall of civilizations and then believes they have merit when describing the course of the Mormon Church.

    Nice thinking. Poor application.

  14. Julie Stout says:

    Jeanne and Matt:

    It warms my heart that you would both so cleverly quote Morrissey and The Smiths in this blog (btw, my brother in law claims to have heard Moz deny being gay on the KROQ Kevin and Beane show). This is a fantastic blog and I only wish I’d had some of these sophisticated arguments at my fingertips when trying to defend gay marriage to some people a few years ago who accused me of being in grave spiritual danger based on my sentiments.

  15. Matt Thurston says:

    Julie, Morrissey is a poet and a prophet… I could probably find a Moz quote to fit almost any application. I’m guessing he doesn’t find sexual labels — straight, bi, gay — particularly interesting or important; hence his general refusal to discuss his sexuality, or to couch in coy terms. But I’m sure Morrissey could come up with something far more clever than I could to sum up this entire Gay Marriage debacle.

    David (#64), Sociology, Anthropology, Linguistics, Genetic, History, Science, etc. scholars all have their own point of view with which to analyze the past and future of religious traditions. Taken together or separately, they have a lot to say about our past, and help point the direction of our future.

    Of course, predicting the future, whether a Scholar or a Prophet, is an inexact “science.” The prophetic record is frankly pretty spotty on this account. The Scholarly record might not be that much better.

    Many religious “believers” hate to see their faith reduced to scholarly data points. I have tried in this post to show that there is room for prophetic and scholarly discourse in these matters.

    I have borrowed two sociological ideas from Peterson and Mauss to demonstrate why I think LDS Gay Marriage is inevitable at some future date.

    Over the past 180+ years of LDS history, we have not yet deviated from within the spectrum of these socieological goal posts. Of course, the past is not an exact predictor of the future. The church could very well keep to its guns on this issue. But I will “prophesy” 🙂 that doing so will have the effect of reducing the LDS church to a fringe group (at best, a “hiss and a byword” at worst)… just as would have happened had we not reversed course on Polygamy in 1890 or the Black Priesthood Ban in 1978. If that happens, then Chris’s comment #2 and Joseph Blow’s comment #62 are the only way we can go.

    But I don’t think that will happen… 1.) I have too much faith in our leaders that they will eventually come around, just as many people, my parents included, had faith in the 60s and 70s that they’d come around on Blacks; and 2.) The church has demonstrated since Day 1 that it is nothing if not pragmatic. If you discount “institutional survival” as anything less than an everpresent baseline given, then you aren’t paying attention to history.

  16. You will search the entire Hebrew Scriptures in vein for any admonition to do missionary work. The concept of denying that all religious paths can access God equally is not a Jewish premise and can be best seen in the statement of the Hebrew Prophet Amos, when he said: “To Me, O Israelites, you are just like the Ethiopians – declares YHVH. True, I brought Israel up from the land of Egypt, but (I also brought up) the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Arameans from Kir.”
    The God of Moses, YHVH, is the same God YHVH as is the God of Balaam, whose prayer-blessing on Israel we recite upon entering a synagogue.
    The concept of God speaking to Prophets and Kings of other people, other than the Israelites, is all through the Hebrew texts.

  17. That said, I agree with Matt Thurston that God will indeed give a new revelation to His/Her Prophets of the LDS Church to grant equal marriage rights to gays and lesbians PLUS other Priesthood opportunities as God has given your Church to understand. This is inevitable!I think that God will give that understanding to the Community of Christ Church first as they seem to be the most progressive and accepting of new revelation.
    However, eventually the Utah Church will come around to accepting what is God’s Will. They always have and I am convinced that they will not disapoint those of us who faith in the LDS Church’s ability to slowly move with the flow towards a New Age of Acceptance and Peace.

  18. Chad Shnider says:

    Today I discovered “Sunstone” thanks to LDS Temple Study Blog.
    The mission statement of this organization was so inviting and promising. I had, I suppose foolishly, assumed that this would be a place to discuss LDS doctrines from a scholarly point of view. I guess I had wanted a place where I could come and talk about the thoughts on my mind regarding where I thought particular doctrines are placed in the puzzle of the Gospel.

    I found the above post to be akin with anti-mormon arguments. To quote only scholarship irrespective of doctrine is dangerous in speaking about religion and religious movements. I gained from the above blog that doctrines, revelations, and all things that make religions religions are simply micro manifestations of larger social movements. I do NOT think your blog had anything to do with gay marriage. I think you used that issue to promote a well-crafted theory. Perhaps there is merit to your doctrinal theory of revelation and social movements being connected and I think that is worth more study. But applying your doctrinal theory to a long-shot hypothesis that the Church will accept gay marriage, for a lack of better wording, is simply wrong.

    As a budding political science student I became frustrated with the intellectual arrogance so prevalent among the scholarship of my field. I suppose you must need to be abhorrently arrogant to think an absurd opinion, though it can be defended by scholarship and intellectual reasoning, could actually be correct.

    Matt, if I have misinterpreted you, I apologize. If you are suggesting a larger doctrinal commentary that perhaps I have overlooked, could you explain your opinion using simple doctrinal statements and ignoring non-doctrinal scholarship? Or are you actually being critical of the Church rhetoric?

    I’m disappointed that this is a 100% intellectual and 0% practical organization from my limited observation. Now this is only my opinion and frankly if I receive emails saying that I used flawed arguments I don’t care. Christopher Bigelow, thank you for your posts. I agree with you on most of your points. Thank you for brining a pragmatic voice to the conversation.

    Are any of you aware of a blog, much like Temple Study, where practical doctrinal conversation takes place? Where are all of the doctrinal scholars hiding? I am new to the LDS blogging world and would much enjoy a push in the right direction.

  19. Tasithoughts says:

    A very well thought out out piece. I am sure it will get many reactions, some preatty emotional considering the topic. However, the LDS Church’s tenet of revelation is its strongest point of survival. I believe that it is conceivable given certain circumstances that gay marriage can be acceptable within the church. However, certain conditions wiuld have to exist and it would be necessary for the church to adopt such a policy. Plural marriage was dissolved under the threat of the Church being dissolved. The Blacks in the Priesthood came about because of the needs associated with growth. What triggers would favor gay marriage in the church would have to be compelling enough to reverse the official stance that has been made and must clearly be seen as divinely directed.

  20. Rick Jepson says:


    Perhaps I’m wrong, but aren’t you saying:

    arguments you agree with = logical, sound

    arguments you disagree with = arrogant, wrong

  21. Jon Butler says:

    Pete Pratt #54
    If what you feel to assert is true, there are some interesting points that could be looked at that, can be verified with a little intence study, that could cause you to question further.
    1. The little known(or not so little known now) ordinance of sealing men to men in the Nauvoo period, which came to be known as the law of adoption after Joseph’s death but looks to me like Joseph initiated it.
    2. Two years and nearly eight months after Joseph Smith jr. was killed, in Council Buffs,Iowa Brigham Young was organizing his family company (Feb. 16 1847) which consisted in part of the promises by some men to be adopted to him, as witnessed by wilford Woodruff. The nature of these relationships as near as I can gather were that these men were covenenting with Brigham to have him as their father thus setting up a patriarchal heirarchy. Of course Brigham’s biological sons and daughters would be included as well as his wives.
    Other brethern of the apostleship were doing this also around this time.
    This must have created quite a stirr among some there because Brigham had a vision or dream of Joseph Smith that night (the evening of Feb.16 and 17 in which Brigham recounts in his Manuscript history of Feb 23 1847. One statement Brigham makes is very telling in this entry. “I said ‘Brother Joseph’ the brethren you know well better than I do; you raised them up and brought the Priesthood to us. The brethern have a great anxiety to understand the law of adoption or sealing principles and if you have a word of counsel for me I should be glad to receive it.”
    Brother Joseph doesn’t answer in technicalities, but does tell Brigham to tell the people in about six times snd ways of utterance, to get and keep the spirit of the Lord and by telling them to keep their hearts open to the Holy Ghost, and how to know this spirit of the Lord.
    3. The brethern who found themselves to some degree dissenting from the interpretation of Brigham Young on Feb 16, had good cause I say because of their ernest study and reflection of the Book of Mormon, and scriptures in the D&C like section 76;94&95.
    4. This interpretation of Brigham Young became so troublesome that by 1894 Church President Woodruff discontinued the ordinance of adoption.
    It looks like to me the church collectively did not muster the necessary “spirit of the Lord” Joseph urged Brigham to convey in 1847.

  22. Rabbi Gershon #68, I very much agree with your observation that sister institution Community of Christ will likely continue to lead their big Utah LDS brother institution in progressive policies regarding same sex marriage, as well as women’s rights and priesthood equality. As they say: “We have learned to see Joseph through the eyes of Jesus rather than see Jesus through the eyes of Joseph.”

  23. RE: Comment # 74; I guess I do not really understand your quote. It is my humble opinion that the Utah LDS are a people who seek truth and the Way of YHVH. They are much closer theologically to us Jews than are the more Protestant Community of Christ (RLDS) Church, even though there are deep and serious differences. I would think that the LDS would see Jesus through his Jewish origins, yet, their understanding of Jesus would be from their own unique Mormon Story.
    As a Jew, I see Jesus as my brother, yet as a rightful heir to the throne of King David which qualified him to be called Messiah ben David. He did not need to do miracles for a Jew to be able to see him as a Messiah figure, one of many. That he failed in his mission is readily apparent in the texts about him. As Jesus was a Jew, he must have also been married. And if he really did conduct the trial on the woman caught in adultery, he must have been a rabbi. Much that is written about the real Jewish Jesus is wrong and represents a view that brings in Greek and Persian concepts that really do not do the historical Jesus justice.

  24. You Utah Mormons are the only Christians that I know of who seriously thought about some of these thing during your Apostolic Period (1844-1895), and dared to bring Jesus closer to his historical reality. I admit that I have not read everything that the early Mormon Elders wrote about Jesus or about the Jews, but this I do know, the first land for the building of a Jewish synagogue in Utah was GIVEN to the Jewish community by Brigham Young. The first Jewish cemetery was on land granted as a gift by the LDS Church. The Jewish community gave several thousands of dollars for the building of the Salt Lake temple. We have a bond.

  25. David says:

    I’m afraid the revelation has already been recieved:

    The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

    We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

  26. Texan says:

    To #2 Christopher: I think you are out of your mind if you truly believe the church will fold under pressure of gay marriage. The Bible condemns the sin, but says to love the sinner, and that is what the church teaches.

    There is no way we ‘will find faithful Mormons leaving the big metropolitan areas, especially on the coasts, and gathering together in places for safety and protection from the storm. You may even find the church itself officially disenfranchised or outlawed at some point, but if so then it will continue on an underground basis.’

    I don’t know where you are getting your info, but you need to find a new source.

    You might also read The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It will probably answer some question for you.

  27. Jon Butler says:

    David #78
    Anyone can write an edict conditioned by modern changes in culture, and even mix it with bits and pieces from the fountain head and those close to the fountain head of the movement.

    It seems to me that from my thoughful study of the “beginnings of mormonism” where by far the most revelation came, that relationships in time and in eternity pertain to the Church of the Firstborn. One verse of scripture from this “beginning of mormonism”, vs 7 of section 132 in the D&C, well provides the dimmentions of how these relationships are based and doesn’t exclude anyone or group.

  28. David, I agree that “children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony.” This is one reason why I support my Gay friends who have adopted to join them in their 20 year relationship that they already consider a “spiritual marriage.”
    As for “the revelation has already been given,” nu, we know from past history that you are given only as you are willing to receive. When you are ready to accept gay marriage, just as when you were ready to receive Blacks in the Priesthood, you will receive the direction from YHVH to do so. I know it will happen, may it come speedly and in my lifetime.

  29. Barry Schneider says:

    Comment # 57 by Larry Mann
    “As to the sage advice of Levi Peterson, he?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s right on: what will make the Church ?¢‚Ǩ?ìpeculiar?¢‚Ǩ¬ù finally is not being anti marriage equality, but supporting and defending and promoting healthy, productive relationships for everyone, irrespective of sexual orientation.”

    Now I’m confused. Armand Mauss states in the above quote that peculiarity is achieved when a body moves towards seperateness and militancy; Away from assimilation. So which which is it? We’re doomed to peculiarity not matter which course we take.

    Now there is one other possible “inevitability” that I haven’t seen mentioned. That the movement does not assimilate and pressure becomes so intense that it is either forced to leave (like Abraham), or is removed (like Enoch). But of course those are just fables! Right?

  30. Sid says:

    I believe the real reason behind the anti-gay rights position the church has taken is mainly to protect their belief that sexual relations are only permitted within the bounds of marriage, between a husband and wife. If gay people get married, in some sense, their expressions of love could be construed by some that they are no longer living in sin. I believe this is most troubling to the church.

    This is clearly a more difficult pill to swallow for the church than polygamy or the blacks receiving the priesthood. Nonetheless, I too hold out for the day that we treat all humans with the same respect and love God has for us all.

    For all you doubters out there, just what does the saying,”With God all things are possible” mean?

  31. Rick Jepson says:

    Actually, that’s just the scenario that Chris describes in the other thread: Am I a Sheep or a Goat.

    How, though, does that square with historical reality? If we still had a racist ban in place, you can be sure that we’d be under a tremendous amount of scruty and pressure….but we don’t. Same for polygamy.

    Considering that we’ve shown a careful balance with society throughout our brief history, I have a hard time picking any one current stand as the one we’re going to stand fast on until the end of the earth.

  32. Jason Bonham says:


    I think you make a great point. My thoughts in reading this is that Matt seems to approach the LDS church as an organization who primary goal is to appease enough people to be successful. Not a religious organization. He uses the manifestos to make his point, as if the decisions themselves operate in a vacuum, totally void of their connections to Doctrine.

    I guess if you weren’t a believing Mormon, you might argue that way, but I think the Church is ran by believing Mormons. To argue that the Church will run itself the way a non-believer would seems a little off.


    I am seeing the connection you make between Gay Marriage being accepted in the church, and polygamy.

    I don’t think the LDS church has reversed its doctrines and now argues plural marriage is not a true Doctrine, only that it should be practiced as directed by the prophet, and for now he has directed not to practice it. Most people in the Church still believe in polygamy, and it is still practiced in the sense that men can be sealed to more than one woman if the first spouse dies. The fact that the reverse (women being sealed to more than one man) is not allowed would be a more than obvious argument that church still holds the doctrines of polygamy true.

    Yes the Church bowed to political pressure, but only to the point to survival (it says as much in the manifesto), they did not embrace an anti-plural marriage doctrine.

    This is in direct contradiction to your argument that some how gay marriage will be accepted (an allowed temple ceremony?) and perhaps embraced. That would take more than the 1890 manifesto ever allowed, it would mean something beyond a survival mechanism for political pressure. It would mean embracing a new doctrine that is at the core of Mormon theology. You might as well argue that Mormons at some point will believe God is gay, for both arguments mean something beyond survivng for political reasons.

  33. EF says:

    I’ve come to understand many things in my short time being a member of this church. 1) Dont question things just because you dont understand. So many people think that the ban on blacks is a racist thing of the church. Yet it comes from a lack of understanding doctrine and scriptures. Our church was far from racist with actually many many abolitionist leaders, yet many ignore any and everything the early church leaders stood for, because they dont understand a doctrine that is still taught by God to those willing to seek. And now its over, blacks can hold the priesthood. God has his reasons for holding back things like that. As for the gay marraige issue, I think Elder Wirthlin said it best that on our doctrines we will not compromise. Sorry if some are hurt, but its not us who say it, its not the church leaders who say it, its God in his infinite wisdom. The church will and cannot change with the tide of civilization. To adhere to such an abominable sin in the sight of the Lord, would make God out to be a liar, he would change. And we know that God cannot change. If the church did succomb to this, then it would cease to be Christ’s church here on earth, the restoration would either be a hoax, or done in vain. YOu can’t have light and darkness in the same place and call it God’s church. As John Taylor so adhemantly said “The Kingdom of God, or NOTHING”

  34. No matter what the Torah Laws were believed to mean at the time that they were given (whether by Moses or by God), by the first century time of Hillel and Jesus, they were being interpreted quite differently. This was the genius of the Pharisaic movement, of which Jesus was a part, among Judaism. The Sadducees (a separate Jewish sect that the modern day Karaites are the spiritual descendants of) held that the Written Torah (the Five Books of Moses) was sacrosanct and had to be lived as it was written; thus no belief in Heaven or Hell, the survival of souls after death, the resurrection from the dead, or a judgment after death for sins committed during one’s lifetime, as these beliefs were not mentioned in the Torah. The Pharisees, however, recognized an Oral Torah; an Oral Tradition as to the meaning of the text; a re-interpreting of the Torah in every generation (or a continuing revelation, if you will), that allowed the Sages and Rabbis to say “God did not say these words, Moses misheard God’s words” (Sanhedrin 64b), in order to renew the Torah directions in every generation so that the Laws of the Torah could be LIVED. This is what we see happening today with rabbis re-interpreting the Torah, and Mormon Prophets wrestling with the same words, to include our gay and lesbian community members in a way that they feel fully accepted and a part of the community. It hasn’t happened yet. The old paradigm pulls strongly at the future to try to stop the inevitable from happening. BUT, IT CAN’T STOP IT! THANKS BE TO ALLAH (Arabic for Elohim)!

  35. Hashim Alim says:

    I strongly disagree with your opinion and perspective on the eventual acceptance of Gay Marriage in the LDS church. I believe God and the Leaders of the church have made it clear that the decisions have come by divine revelation rather than the urging and evolution of society and outside influences.
    Members of the church were told what would happen should polygamy continue and that it would bring the eventual downfall of the church and its properties. It was not because society disagreed and they wanted acceptance.
    I also believe that leaders of the church attempted to make clear the divine revelation and role of priesthood to all worthy male members. They testified to the divinity of the revelation rather than the emerging views of society and their need to change the views of the LDS church. I do agree that society had influence on that decision, but I also understand the church held no doctrine as to why blacks did not hold the priesthood. There was no official church doctrine pointing out why it would be a sin for blacks to hold the priesthood.
    The problem with your argument is that it would be inconsistent with your evidences and examples of the church’s “onward march” with society. Both cases presented did not conflict with the doctrine of the church and both were not made to tolerate societies views. The church has not changed their doctrine that homosexuality is an abomination before the Lord and it remains as serious a sin as it always has. The church has even proclaimed strongly the doctrine that marriage is between a man and a women and is divinely appointed to be that way. The church will not change their stance on such a decree. To my knowledge they never have changed their doctrine to agree with society. There will be no assimilation of Gay Marriage into the LDS church and I believe they have officially made it clear on such views. If they were to love the sin and mask it as righteousness it would be absolutely inconsistent with what the LDS church stands for.

  36. Matt Thurston says:

    Hashim (#89) said,

    “Members of the church were told what would happen should polygamy continue and that it would bring the eventual downfall of the church and its properties. It was not because society disagreed and they wanted acceptance.”

    Hashim, history is unequivocal on this one. Mormon Historians write candidly of this fact. What is “the eventual downfall of the church and its properties” if not “society disagreeing” with the Church? Polygamy was viewed by Society as one of the “twin barbarisms” of the time (slavery was the other). The pressure on the church and its leaders was incredibly intense. I can make room for “revelation” as a factor in the change, but to discount (or elliminate) “societal pressure” as impetus for the revelation is naive. Without societal pressure, there is no revelation. The prophets Smith, Young, and especially Taylor were unyielding on this fact. All prophesied the end of the world before the Lord would take “Celestial Marriage” from the earth.

    Hashim said,

    “There was no official church doctrine pointing out why it would be a sin for blacks to hold the priesthood.”

    This is simply gross revisionist history. All prophets from Young to Fielding Smith considered the Priesthood Ban “doctrine” based on scripture and prophetic decree. Yes, since 1978, prophets and apostles have reframed the Priesthood Ban as “policy, not doctrine,” but it is dishonest to retroactively project this stance onto prophets and apostles prior to 1978.

    Hashim, you can have your cake and eat it too. This is not an either/or proposition… either the church evolves by revelation, or by pressure from society. An honest and nuanced look at all LDS revelation since 1820 reveals that nothing happens in a vacuum, no revelation comes like a bolt out of the clear blue sky; but instead is influenced by innumerable factors from the surrounding environment, is either a response to something lacking, something needed in society, or from pressure from society as was the case with Polygamy and the Priesthood Ban.

  37. Matt Thurston says:

    Jason (#85) said,

    “My thoughts in reading this is that Matt seems to approach the LDS church as an organization who primary goal is to appease enough people to be successful.”

    Not at all. Were that the case, the church would have changed in innumerable additional ways. But “success” is always a goal. By “success” I don’t necessarily mean gross membership numbers, or public approval ratings, or number of temples, or dollars in the coffers… but the ability of the church to meet the temporal and spiritual needs of the people of the world.

    The world is constantly evolving. How we relate to God changes. How we view moral behavior is constantly in flux. Separating people based on color, banning them from participation, etc. was not considered “immoral” by the majority of good Christians/Mormons/etc in 1915, but it was in 1975. To meet the spiritual and temporal needs of the people, the church had to make a change. This is continuing revelation.

    The examples are endless. People today are different than people in the 1800s. For example, we no longer emphasize the gift of tongues (or we have re-defined it to mean learning a new language), but in the early days of the church the gift of tongues was an important spiritual manifestation or outlet. This is not a value judgement on the gift of tongues, just a recognition that people relate to God differently today.

    Another example is the way the church has changed the endowment ceremony over the years to better serve the evolving needs of the members. The various penalties met the spiritual needs of the early members of the church members, but they were confusing and offensive to some members today. All of these changes were made in the name of “success”.

    What will be the spiritual needs of the members of the church in 2050? The rising generation, and the generations that follow will relate to God and their fellow man different from the way we relate to God today. Will sexual orientation matter to God’s children in the future in the same way skin color mattered to our ancestors? And if it does not matter to future generations of Mormons, how will the church evolve to meet these needs? The current version of the Proclamation of the Family, so cherished by members of the Church today, may become the equivalent of “the gift of tongues” to future members of the church; in other words, archaic, and no longer useful.

  38. Matt Thurston says:

    Barry (#82) said,

    “Now there is one other possible ?¢‚Ǩ?ìinevitability?¢‚Ǩ¬ù that I haven?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t seen mentioned. That the movement does not assimilate and pressure becomes so intense that it is either forced to leave (like Abraham), or is removed (like Enoch). But of course those are just fables! Right?”

    The members of the church, especially Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodroff all envisioned that scenerio prior to the manifesto of 1890. Read “As a Thief in the Night: The Mormon Quest for Millennial Deliverance” by Dan Erickson. Didn’t happen. God, in his infinite wisdom, figured out a way to accomodate his Mormon children with the rest of his children.

    The Enoch/Abraham idea — that God will remove his chosen people from the world before he would allow them to compromise or bastardise his laws — is an idea common to religious believers of all ages. (You can find this sentiment proclaimed in the halls of hundreds of religions all over the world today.) It says more about us, than it does about God.

  39. Chad (#69),

    You seem quick to write off me and Sunstone by one blog post. You also are quick to impose your wants/desires (i.e. “a place to discuss LDS doctrines from a scholarly point of view”), which seem narrowly defined, onto both my post and Sunstone.

    The fact is, Sunstone is a place where doctrines are discussed from a scholarly point of view, (and a variety of other points of view), though it may not fit within the parameters of your definition.

    Furthermore, though you state otherwise, I believe my blog post does address a doctrine (i.e. the definition of Marriage) from a scholarly (i.e. Sociological) point of view. You just don’t agree with my conclusions.

    Next, you must understand the limitations of the Blog format. “Marriage,” to say nothing of the varieties and causes and social implications of “Sexual Attraction,” is a huge topic. Blog posts, at best, are short, 2-3 minute “snacks,” not a full, “three course meal.” You present an idea — something to uplift, or challenge, or merely amuse. Hopefully, a fruitful exchange will ensue. Obviously, the constraints of the format do not allow for a full, doctrinal evaluation of the topic.

    With this post I tried to examine the way LDS Doctrine in general is shaped by slow, Sociological shifts in society. I provided a few examples from past History, then wondered if in the future we would essentially repeat history. In my previous post — “Am I a Sheep or a Goat?” — I addressed the same issue (i.e. Gay Marriage), but from a personal point of view, i.e. what can one individual member do when personal conscience/integrity are at odds with prophetic counsel?

    Back when it became apparent that the Church was going to get involved in Prop 8, I actually envisioned three posts on the subject. I’ve written two, the third was going to examine the doctrinal implications, and how we might reconcile Gay Marriage (or at a minimum, a better way to accomodate Gays) with LDS doctrine. I didn’t write it because I didn’t want Sunstone Blog to become All Gay Marriage, All the Time. But we still have a ways to go before the vote, so you never know…

    In the meantime, while Sunstone may not be for you, I hope you’ll circle back once in awhile to weigh in with your opinion.

    And finally, forgive my hurt feelings, but did you really find nothing useful in this post? Really? Armand Mauss happens to be one of Mormonism’s greatest Scholars… surely you can’t just write everything off as “100% Intellectual and 0% Practical”? 🙂

  40. Rick Jepson says:

    Yes, as my racist grandfather surely sighed with relief when the church officially clarified their position on blacks and the priesthood…supplemented with an intellectual argument of justification.

    My only point is that the fact that we have an official stand today in no way guaruntees its immutability.

    The First Presidency Statement on the Negro Question

    August 17, 1949
    The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time…..

    ….The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.

  41. Jon Butler says:

    I challenge any or as many who would like, who have left messages on this blog regarding the church having(today and in the last 100 or so years) received revelation from God with and of the same caliber and authority Joseph Smith received, to give us examples. Actually Brigham Young had none, with the exception of The Word and the Will of Lord, recorded as D&C 136, 1981 ed. and a little known (I suppose) dream or vision of Joseph Smith, Feb. 17 1847, in response to “great anxiety” Brigham and the brethren were having regarding “The Law Adoption or Sealing Principles”. Brigham also received one or two in the early 1870’s. John Taylor received about 10 or 11, though these were never published nor distributed widely as far as I know. Wilford Woodruff had a few before the 1890 manifesto. Joseph F.Smith received that one newly published in the 1981 ed. of the D&C sec:138,in 1918. However this one seems to narrow down(vs 47 & 48) the broad scope of work for the dead, and sealing relationships in general Joseph Smith had in mind. Heber J. Grant I heard had said in relation to revelation coming through him, that the “heavens were as brass to him” in other words no revelaton.

    Official Declaration 1, 1890 gives advice, not a command or “Thus Saith the Lord revelation”.

    Official Declaration 2, 1978 claims the President of the church or entire first presidency, received a revelation, but to this time I have not seen one written or published.

    The Proclamation on the Family, 1995 is just that, not a revelation.

    I think this exercize of research and introspection would be good for us.

    Thank you

  42. Barry Schneider says:

    Let me retell in other words what I heard in your reply to my proposed outcomes. “Eh, they?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve been saying that since the days of Peter and Paul. It hasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t happened yet and it ain?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t gunna either.” Although, your articulation was much more convincing.

    Matt, I confess I know nothing about you other than reading this post. It seems obvious that you carry a certain level of disregard(maybe its just cynicism) for religion in general. I’m curious as to why it is of concern to you to see doctrinal changes occur in the LDS church if you seem to not believe the church holds any divine governance in the first place. So why would you care?

  43. John S. Harvey says:

    I think that an interesting possible “turning point” in this debate will be whether or not the President of the Church receives a revelation for inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants. As history has shown us First Presidency Statements and Proclamations by the First Presidency and Apostles are not binding in the long term. Hence the *extremely* embarrassing quote in post #95. Many apostles are quite prone to “over-stepping” for example following the 1978 revelation Elder Bruce R. McConkie had to simply announce that what he had written and said in the past on the subject of the Blacks and the Priesthood had simply been wrong, and that all members of the Church should ignore it.

    If the Proclamation to the World on the Family is either put forth to be included in the cannon, or a new more definitive revelation on the topic is received and added to the cannon then we will know the Church is going to “draw a line in the sand” on this issue; if neither happens then we will probably (IMO) see the current “kinder and gentler” approach evolve, i.e. that homosexual members can participate fully in any ordinance as long as they violate no commandment. And if that were the case then the Church would likely advocate that yes they either marry [some one of the opposite sex] “and make it work out”, or they remain celibate – the same as any other single member of the Church.

    This thread has been very interesting to read. My personal perspective is that the Church ought to get out of politics and law making. Let the “state” define legal marriage any way they want to and the Church can then define the acceptable parameters of a spiritual marriage – i.e., the sealing. Much like what occurs in a few countries around the world today when members of the Church want to marry they must first be married in a government recognized ceremony and then they go right to the temple and get married in a Church recognized manner. My personal feeling is that I doubt the Church will ever agree that a homosexual couple is not breaking the commandments.

    Thank you for the information and ideas provided above!

  44. Richard Jepson says:

    John, my own view is basically identical to yours. I wish we’d stay out of politics for any reason and don’t support the current involvement. I also think that our understanding of homosexuality will continue to broaden and to become more nuanced. I also can’t personally imagine homosexual marriage in the temple.

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