Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Church Supports Nondiscrimination Ordinances

I think this is really interesting given that so much has been said by critics about how the LDS Church fosters discrimination and homophobia.

Church Supports Nondiscrimination Ordinances

SALT LAKE CITY 10 November 2009 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has declared its support of nondiscrimination regulations that would extend protection in matters of housing and employment in Salt Lake City to those with same-sex attraction.

The Church said the Salt Lake City Council’s new nondiscrimination ordinance “is fair and reasonable” and balances fair housing and employment rights with the religious rights of the community.

The remarks, representing the position of the Church’s leadership, were read by Michael Otterson, managing director of Church Public Affairs, as part of a public comment period discussing the ordinances at a Salt Lake City Council meeting tonight. (Read full remarks).

Otterson told city council members: “The issue before you tonight is the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against. But, importantly, the ordinances also attempts to balance vital issues of religious freedom. In essence, the Church agrees with the approach which Mayor Becker is taking on this matter.”

The Church said that while protections in housing and employment were fair and reasonable, the Church also remains “unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.” Otterson also pointed out that this position was “entirely consistent with the Church’s prior position on these matters.”

Otterson added, “I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree — in fact, especially when we disagree.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apostle Says Religious Freedom Is Being Threatened

This was posted at the newsroom of the official church website. Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave this groundbreaking and thoughtful address at a fireside at BYU-I on Tuesday. It has been picked up by the Associated Press. In connection with his speech, he also gave the following interview.

SALT LAKE CITY - An apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said religious freedom is being threatened by societal forces intimidating those with religious points of view from having a voice in the public square. (See the full text of the speech here)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks made the comments today (Oct. 13) in a major address to Brigham Young University-Idaho students on the importance of preserving the religious freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Elder Oaks has had a front-row seat in observing what he calls the “significant deterioration in the respect accorded to religion” in public life. Prior to his appointment to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Oaks had an illustrious law career. He served as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court, was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court.

Although his address on religious freedom was not written in response to the Proposition 8 battle over same- sex marriage in California, Elder Oaks likened the incidents of outrage against those who prevailed in establishing marriage between a man and a woman to the “widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South.”

He said members of the Church should not be deterred or coerced into silence by threats. “We must insist on our constitutional right and duty to exercise our religion, to vote our consciences on public issues, and to participate in elections and debates in the public square and the halls of justice.”

Elder Oaks also said religious freedom is being jeopardized by claims of newly alleged human rights. As an example, he referred to a set of principles published by an international human rights group which calls for governments to assure that all persons have the right to practice their religious beliefs regardless of sexual orientation or identity. Elder Oaks said, “This apparently proposes that governments require church practices to ignore gender differences. Any such effort to have governments invade religion to override religious doctrines should be resisted by all believers.”

Noting that the students he was addressing were among the generation that would face continuing challenges to religious freedom, Elder Oaks offered five points of counsel:

* Speak with love and show patience, understanding and compassion to those with differing viewpoints.
* Do not be deterred or coerced into silence by intimidation from opponents, insisting that churches and their members be able to speak out on issues without retaliation.
* Insist on the freedom to preach the doctrines of their faith.
* Be wise in political participation, remaining respectful of those who do not share their religious beliefs and contributing to reasonable discussion.
* Be careful to never support or act on the idea that a person must subscribe to a specific set of religious beliefs in order to qualify for public office.

“Religious values and political realities are so interlinked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of Christianity in the public square without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms,” Elder Oaks concluded. “I maintain that this is a political fact, well qualified for argument in the public square by religious people whose freedom to believe and act must always be protected by what is properly called our ‘First Freedom,’ the free exercise of religion.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Ten Virgins, the 99 and the one and the Prodical Son: Waiting with a fatted cow

Growing up I have always wondered how the parable of the Ten Virgins fits with what Christ taught about the 99 and the one.

I used to wonder why if Christ would leave the 99, whom I assumed are those who are faithful, to go after the one who wasn't, then certainly He would also leave the wedding feast and the five wise and prepared Virgins to go after the five who weren't.

I also wondered about how in the the story of the Prodigal Son, the father killed the fatted cow when his wayward son returned.

I used to think of these as conflicting tales. But over time I've come to see them in perspective. They all talk about various places we may find ourselves in the repentance process or even just in life.

When I hear of dear friends who have been brought up in the gospel, much like in the story of the Ten Virgins wherein the five foolish virgins who have been warned to have their oil ready when the bridegroom arrives "throwing in the towel" and choosing to engage in aspects of the homosexual lifestyle such as dating men and getting into relationships that convinces them that they are being true to themselves and whatnot and then leaving the church - I find it a real tragedy.

I think about what the father of the Prodigal must have felt. He had given him the means in which to be able to do what he did which led to him finally "dwelling with the pigs." I think about how God has given us things that are great blessings like sexuality and how some have misused this great blessing for selfish fulfillment.

I've also had friends who have told me that they have a testimony, that they know the church is true BUT they just don't want to or aren't ready to be strong.

Thinking back to the coming of the bridegroom, we don't know when that time will be. We have all been invited to that wedding. And yes, we are the ones who decide to RSVP by being ready for it. Unfortunately the invitation doesn't give the when, it just gives the how and that it's soon.

When the bridegroom does arrive there will be no time to argue or debate his arrival, the fact of the matter will be that he has arrived, HE is here and those without oil after having been given sufficient time to gather it will be left behind, I do mourn for them because these are my brothers and sisters. I feel sorry for them and yes until then I will do everything within my power to support them in getting them to gather oil. But I can't make them. You can't give oil to them. It doesn't work that way. I think until the day does come I will be out searching for them.

We all know his is not an easy life, its not easy to keep our lamps full of oil all the time, our wicks trimmed and ready for the time of the wedding feast. I think we all look for things that provide us comfort and that help us feel like we are normal. But I believe we are all challenged in some way or the other. It's part of the oil gathering process. It's not easy.

But there is a time when we will have to be judged with the oil we do have, the oil we did gather. Until then we should be willing to share, to help other gather their oil. And I think those people who do advocate for the gospel are trying to do that, but its up to the individual to listen and to gather their own oil so to speak.

There are lots of voices out there that would tell us not to bother gathering oil, or that if they didn't gather it that it's okay someone will give them some at the last minute, not to worry because it will be easy to get when its needed. Or that perhaps there is no wedding after all or that those who stock up are the foolish ones. Some would say there is probably no reason to even have a lamp.

But if the gospel is true then one day when the bridegroom or in this case the Savior arrives, it will be too late to barrow and we will need to stand on our own. This is that time, this is the time for us to prepare to meet God, this is our preparatory state. This is mortality. That is why we are here. To make choices on temporal desires when we have a grasp of the eternal perspective is short sighted and much like choosing to put off gathering our oil until its too late.

And this isn't to say that I know that when that day comes Christ will wonder were those Five Foolish Virgins are and where "the One" is. Hopefully they will realize that before the Savior returns that they must also return like the Prodigal Son. And yes when and hopefully they do, we need to be willing to greet them with our fatted cows.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spiderman socks and a stuffed mouse

It occurred to me recently that yes it is entirely possible to be faced with challenges and temptations that if we attempt to face alone, on our own, without the Lord's help, will do us in.

Without the atonement we are done for. That's the whole point. We can't do it alone, on our own.

I firmly believe that if we seek the Lord's help when faced with temptation He will always provide a way out. But we also really need to want to avoid it. Not just say we do. And we also need to do all we can to avoid it.

In sacrament meeting I usually sit with a couple who are good friends of mine. A few weeks ago I was sitting the back row and the microphone was broken. I also was helping them keep three kids quiet. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the week.

I looked at the young couple. He's in the elders quorum presidency, she is a Primary teacher. They have a 1, 3 and 5 year-old. I don't know how much they really get out of Sacrament Meeting. They are usually late, but they are always there.

I think its important that we always do our best to be there so to speak. I don't just mean be at church, but just be willing to be where we need to be, where the Lord wants us to be, even if we do mess up. Always try to be where we should be even if we feel the work to get there or stay there is an uphill battle. If we are just willing to do our best to be there, He will meet us there.

While I know its often hard for them they do their best. I look at their struggles and responsibilities and I look at mine and I realize that we all need help but that's why we are friends. He is trying to run his own business. They know they can call me in a time of crisis to babysit or bring dinner over etc. I've taken the wife Christmas shopping when she wanted to get away and surprise her husband. When she was away in Utah I went over and brought him pizza and "did a few dishes" etc. They also help me.

I think that's how we need to all be for each other. This is much like our need to stand by and support each other.

I know its hard for them to always be there. Sometimes the 3 year-old ends up wear Spiderman socks or sandals because he didn't know where his left shoe was. Sometimes the 5 year-old turns up with his stuffed Fival the Mouse. Sometimes the father falls asleep because he was working until midnight. But they are there.

I think God looks at that and smiles. They are always there even with a stuffed mouse and Spiderman socks.

I find a lot of inspiration in that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction

For the complete text of Elder Bruce C. Hafen's address on same gender attraction click here Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction

Don't succumb to cultural confusion, Elder Hafen urges
Deseret News - By Lana Groves and Scott Taylor
Published: Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009

Individuals struggling with same-gender attraction should not let their challenges define their entire identity nor succumb to the increasing cultural confusion swirling around the topic of homosexuality.

That was Elder Bruce C. Hafen's message Saturday morning at the two-day annual conference for Evergreen International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Latter-day Saints diminish same-sex attraction. The organization, which has no affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held its conference at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

"You are not simply a child of God. You are a son or a daughter of God, with all the masculine or feminine connotations of those words," Elder Hafen, a member of LDS Church's Quorum of the Seventy, told conference attendees Saturday.

"That is your true, eternal identity," he said. "I urge you to seek a testimony, even a personal vision, of that identity. I ask you to take every possible step, each day, to align your physical and emotional life with the spiritual reality of who you really are."

With his background in family law, Elder Hafen, the former dean of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School, listed four misconceptions that he said activists try to establish as facts to try to influence policymakers and the public:

* That same-gender attraction is an inborn and unalterable orientation.

* That therapy cannot treat, let alone change, same-gender attraction.

* That most Americans favor same-gender marriage, which means the church is outside the mainstream in opposing it.

* And that there are no rational, nonreligious reasons for opposing same-gender marriage.

Of the latter, Elder Hafen said society and laws have long endorsed marriage between a man and a woman with an honored priority as a significant institution. The result is children of that marriage — the future society — thriving best in a formal family with their own father and mother in a setting befitting society's long-term interests and well-being.

Elder Hafen encouraged conferencegoers to open themselves to God's influence in their lives.

"Then your confidence will grow — not only in him, but in yourself," he said. "I am describing a process, not an event, and it can sometimes seem hopelessly long and difficult. But I promise you that as you learn to connect your righteous desires with his love, his power really will put you home — eventually, all the way home."

Individuals struggling with same-gender attraction should not let their challenges define their entire identity nor succumb to the increasing cultural confusion swirling around the topic of homosexuality.

"Sometimes that attraction may make you feel sinful, even though the attraction alone is not a sin if you do not act on it," he said. "Sometimes you may feel frustration or anger or simply a deep sadness about yourself. But as hard as same-gender attraction is … it does not mean your nature is flawed. Whenever the adversary tries to convince you that you are hopelessly 'that way,' so that acting out your feelings is inevitable, he is lying."

Jesus Christ's atonement offers two healing blessings to those challenged by same-gender attraction, Elder Hafen said.

"First, Christ helps us draw on his strength to become more at one with God, even while overcoming the attraction. He helps us bear the burden of the affliction," he said.

"As a second healing and compensating blessing," he later added, "the atonement enables the grace that assures this grand promise: No eternal blessing — including marriage and family life — will be withheld from those who suffer same-gender attraction, if they do 'all they can do' to remain faithful."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lessons from Liberty Jail

Each of us, at some time or another will have to spend some time in Liberty Jail. This is the message of Elder Jeffery R. Holland in his recent CES fireside address, "Lessons from Liberty Jail." (Sept 09 Ensign) Just like the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions, who endured the cold winter months of 1838-39 in what could only be described as a miserable dungeon for crimes they didn't commit, each of us will face things that seem unfair and unjust. How I personally handle them and what lessons I learn from these experiences depends greatly on how I choose to endure them.

While the conditions were bleak, it was during this time period that some of the most sublime passages of modern scripture were revealed to the prophet. It was during this time of desperation that Joseph pleaded with the Lord (see D&C 121:1-3). In response, the Lord replied that the purpose of our afflictions and the blessings we can obtain if we but endure (see verses 7-8). It was also during this time in what Church historian B.H Roberts calls "the prison temple"—noting the refining elements of the experience—that some of our most sacred spiritual instruction, including the Lord's teaching that "many are called but few are chosen" and the proper characteristics for exercising power in the priesthood, is set fourth (see verses 34-43).

Speaking of enduring and learning, Elder Holland promises: "You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life-in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and oppositions you have ever faced."

While personally I would never pray for bad things to happen in my life, I know I need to be prepared to face them. Elder Holland gives three keys to doing this: first, realize that everyone faces trying times; secondly, that even the worthy will suffer; and third, remain calm, patient, charitable and forgiving at all times. Finally, he concludes that we need to face all things with a cheerful spirit.

For me there are times when I've felt almost overwhelmed by my personal struggles; times when I've felt unfairly judged by others; and worse, times when I've felt used and abandoned by the very people whom I loved and viewed as a friend. At times, I've wondered, "Why me Lord? I'm doing what you asked me to do!" But as Elder Holland points out, "Why not me?" The scriptures and Church history are full of people who have suffered and endured things that they clearly didn't deserve. The atonement is the supreme example of this. According to Elder Holland, our trials put us in good company.

Ironically, the times when I feel the furthest from the Lord are the very moments when I am the closet to Him if I but reach for Him. This is one of the lessons of Liberty Jail. Sometimes these bad days are those humbling moments that I need to remind me that the same things I'm enduring now also happened to the Savior of the world as part of the great atonement—that when I plead, "Lord, how much worse can it get?", the answer is simple: "I died for you so that it won't get worse. I am with thee."

Thursday, July 30, 2009


There are a few things in life I have control over. One of these are my actions. There are also a few things that I don't have control over and that's the things people say about me. I would rather people talk about how wonderfully talented I am or my keen sense of style and whatever but sadly not everyone does. I'd like to be viewed as good friend, as someone who cares and who love but again I'm not always. I would love to be sought after as a friend, but sadly that isn't always the case. Fair? Justified? No. Reality? Yes. I was once told that I can't control what people think about me, but I can control what I say or do to other people.

I fear at times that sometimes a person may have a lot of good to say but that they will never be heard because of gossip spread about them by others. Sometimes this is even second or third generation gossip that has evolved into something completely not true but that has lingered on to haunt that person. I've also found through my own experiences that at times the very people who should understand how hard it is will often be the most cruel, the most hurtful. The ones who give you the cold shoulder. This could be because I remind them of what they are trying hard themselves to overcome or perhaps they feel some sort of fear based on "what so and so has told them." But at the same time I don't think we ever progress along the path of salvation by climbing over another person and forcing them under. I hope and pray that I never do that to another person or that my actions never make another person feel that way.

We can be the greatest support to others who struggle with SGA because we know what it's like. We can also be the ones who make it worse for others when we do as you said and let gossip or other shallow things prevent us from reaching out.

It takes a very brave person to stand up to a friend we love who may be doing this and say "I've heard that." It takes an even braver friend to take it a step further and say, "Why do you think that is the way it is?" or "Have you actually talked to that person and know that that is the truth?" Challenging them to step back, to take a walk in the others shoes.

Joseph Smith taught that if we have an issue with someone, we should take it up with them personally and in such a way that we resolve it. We do this so that we don't become stumbling blocks to each other. Often times I know from experience that I may have slighted someone or done something to them in the past. I may have since then moved forward and have tried very hard to live the gospel. However, my past actions will always cloud that persons opinion of me and my new good actions may even come off as hypocritical, unless I take the time to make peace with that person and try to resolve things. And yes, I realize that that clouding could be the result of the other persons pride or whatever or maybe its easier to vilify me then to make amends.

There are times when no matter how hard you try to resolve those things, that person may never ever want to and before jumping to whatever conclusions we can come up with we should consider maybe there is something within their own space that prevents them from being able to do that. Once we have apologized sincerely in such a way that it should mean something to that person and not just makes us feel better we should consider walking away but as my grandma once said, leave the door open to them.

Yes, I do believe there are times when it is needed to reach out to warn another person if you feel that they may be getting involved with something or someone that we may know isn't going to be good with them. But there are ways to do that that are uplifting and that may even build up that person you think is dangerous so that they may become someone we don't fear. Why not try to reach out to them and build them up? Again going to that person personally, seeing them as a child of God first and foremost. We need to be careful that we do this out of love for that person. And yes maybe sometimes our fear are justified and we do need to stay clear of them. But I think those times are few and far between. Our motives need to be well meaning and not to tear down. Understanding why a person may be motivated to act or think a certain way goes a long way to developing empathy for them.

If people were less judgmental of each other over stupid things that don't matter, or if we were to let go of second or third generation gossip that we often cling to in order to justify the boundaries we throw up around ourselves, we may soon find that there are a lot of good people out there. Boundaries are there to help protect ourselves not to hurt others. I have found more times then any that there are a lot of human people out there, a lot of imperfect people. And a lot of people just like myself.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Highjacking a victims memory

It also rubs me the wrong way the way these so called "LDS," gay affirming groups evoke the name of Stuart Matis to play their "political card" in their efforts to lobby the church to change doctrine so that acting on homosexuality is no longer considered a sin.

This is just my opinion, but I don't know and I don't think anyone can really know what was going through Stuarts mind when he made that final tragic decision to end his life. For anyone to say they do is out of place. Yes, he may have left letters, but I don't think anyone can fully understand the thoughts that drove him to it. The closet thing that I can say is that I can relate to the frustration he felt as he struggled to live his life in a way that he believed pleased Heavenly Father, weighed against feelings and attractions that are real, but if acted on conflict with those beliefs. Many of us have been in that same desperate moment, but I think its also an individual experience. To say he did it because of Prop. 22 or anything else I think is really speculation or subjecture on the part of those who are trying to use him to lobby support for their own cause.

It is out of place on many facets. First, because now its between him and Heavenly Father and the Savior, who is the only one who can fully understand him. Secondly, I think that it is really cruel to his family when his name is shanghai-ed by people who never met him or who have only had limited contact with him but claim to be close friends with him. I personally believe that common decency would dictate that it is inappropriate for these groups to post suicide notes and letters as a means to "fight for a cause" when one would wonders if he would really have supported them in the first place, but who have used him as a means to evoke sympathy for their cause.

In addition, for these same groups to use the actions of a small misguided group of church members who do act inappropriately out of intolerance to judge the doctrine and main body of the church as intolerant is rather like judging every gay person by the sick displays of debauchery seen at many pride events.

Yes, I do believe that the Prophet was speaking on behalf of the Lord when in both cases he asked us to give our time, talents and best efforts to support Prop. 22 and in Prop. 8. Just because it may make me uncomfortable because it hits a personal cord in me, doesn't make the voice of the Prophet any less real or valid. But I also do believe that in so doing we also needed to show forth as much love and compassion for those who do struggle and not to be motivated by hatred and intolerance for people who do choose to use their agency in a way that goes against what we have been taught by the Lord through the Prophet to be correct.

I don't think anyone who struggles with SGA was happy that the church was involved in Prop. 22 or Prop. 8. in California. I'm not happy that the church has to get involved in anti-pornography campaigns or in programs that promote adoptions over abortions, but I also understand that sometimes it is necessary for the church to get involved in moral issues that do effect society as a whole and marriage is just that.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Storm Over the Mormons

It looks like the LDS Church has found itself in the pages of Time Magazine again. Enjoy!
The Storm Over the Mormons

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Some Inspired Words Concerning Prop 8

Concerning Prop. 8 in California, here are a few quotes from church leaders.

First Presidency Letter read to all congregations in California on 29 June 2008 reads in part:

"The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.

"We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage."

Elder Neal A. Maxwell speaking before an audience at Brigham Young University said:

"Discipleship includes good citizenship; and in this connection, if you are careful students of the statements of the modern prophets, you will have noticed that with rare exceptions–especially when the First Presidency has spoken out–the concerns expressed have been over moral issues, not issues between political parties. The declarations are about principles, not people, and causes, not candidates.

"But make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions (see 1 Kings 18:21)

"President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, or political life” (CR, April 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ.

"We are now entering a period of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage.

"This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain of people’s opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will soon be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened."

President Gordon B. Hinckley said in his conference talk “Loyalty:”

“Now may I say a word concerning loyalty to the Church. We see much indifference. There are those who say, ‘The Church won’t dictate to me how to think about this, that, or the other, or how to live my life.’

"No, I reply, the Church will not dictate to any man how he should think or what he should do. The Church will point out the way and invite every member to live the gospel and enjoy the blessings that come of such living. The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein.

"When I was a university student, I said to my father on one occasion that I felt the General Authorities had overstepped their prerogatives when they advocated a certain thing. He was a very wise and good man. He said, ‘The President of the Church has instructed us, and I sustain him as prophet, seer, and revelator and intend to follow his counsel.’

"I have now served in the general councils of this Church for 45 years. I have served as an Assistant to the Twelve, as a member of the Twelve, as a Counselor in the First Presidency, and now for eight years as President. I want to give you my testimony that although I have sat in literally thousands of meetings where Church policies and programs have been discussed, I have never been in one where the guidance of the Lord was not sought nor where there was any desire on the part of anyone present to advocate or do anything which would be injurious or coercive to anyone.

"The book of Revelation declares: ‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. ‘So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth’ (Rev. 3:15–16).

“I make you a promise, my dear brethren, that while I am serving in my present responsibility I will never consent to nor advocate any policy, any program, any doctrine which will be otherwise than beneficial to the membership of this, the Lord’s Church.

“This is His work. He established it. He has revealed its doctrine. He has outlined its practices. He created its government. It is His work and His kingdom, and He has said, ‘They who are not for me are against me’ (2 Ne. 10:16).

“In 1933 there was a movement in the United States to overturn the law which prohibited commerce in alcoholic beverages. When it came to a vote, Utah was the deciding state.

“I was on a mission, working in London, England, when I read the newspaper headlines that screamed, “Utah Kills Prohibition. President Heber J. Grant, then President of this Church, had pleaded with our people against voting to nullify Prohibition. It broke his heart when so many members of the Church in this state disregarded his counsel.

"On this occasion I am going to talk of uncompromising loyalty to the Church. Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing."


The Proposition 8 Ruling: What It Means

What did the court decide?
The court ruled against opponents of Proposition 8 and upheld traditional marriage. The key issue before the court was whether Proposition 8 was an amendment or a revision to the state constitution.

A revision is a fundamental alteration of California's governmental structure. A revision requires a 2/3 approval by the legislature before heading to voters. The court agreed with Proposition 8 supporters that the ballot measure was a valid amendment, not a revision. The simple 14-word insertion of the traditional decision of marriage does not fundamentally change the structure of government.

This ruling was a victory for the democratic process and the people's ability to change our governing documents. While Proposition 8 was upheld, it was also subverted by the ruling. In recognizing the 18,000 same-sex unions performed last year, the court undercut the constitution, which clearly states that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

What about the same-sex marriages performed last summer?

Last May the California Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22, declaring it unconstitutional. Since Proposition 22 was not placed in the constitution, but simply in state law, the court contended that it violated the state's ultimate law, the constitution. Six months later, voters approved Proposition 8, which placed the true definition of marriage in the state constitution, thus superseding the court's ruling. In that six month window, an estimated 18,000 same-sex unions were performed in the state.

The court placed itself in the untenable position of upholding the people's ability to defend traditional marriage and extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. In the end, the court reluctantly agreed Proposition 8 was a valid constitutional amendment, but it held to its social engineering by validating the marriages performed last summer.

The court ruled that Proposition 8 did not contain a "retroactivity provision" and therefore any marriages performed before it took effect were valid. The ruling held that voters did not intend to invalidate existing same-sex marriages, and neither Proposition 8's language nor any voter guide information would lead voters to believe that existing same-sex marriages would be invalidated should Proposition 8 pass. This is an attempt by the court to find a legal loophole in order to placate those they wronged last year by impatiently and imprudently declaring same-sex marriage legal before voters had their say on Proposition 8.

Will same-sex marriages outside of California be recognized?

In the last footnote of the majority opinion, the court indicates it is open to hearing a case on whether same-sex marriages performed outside the state during the six-month window last summer may also be recognized in California. It is doubtful that such marriages would be recognized, especially not until such a legal challenge is brought forward. However, the court does seem to invite such a challenge, and based on their illogical justification for recognizing the 18,000 existing same-sex unions, justices seem amenable to the idea of recognizing out-of-state unions.

Does this mean the fight over marriage is over?
Not at all. Even before the ruling was handed by the court, homosexual activists were organizing and planning their next steps. Already, there is a movement to place a repeal of Proposition 8 on the ballot in 2010. Rallies, protests and demonstrations are scheduled all across the state as opponents of Proposition 8 express their anger.
The day after the ruling was handed down, two lawyers announced they had filed a federal challenge to Proposition 8. Former Solicitor General (under President George W. Bush) Ted Olson and David Boies, who were opponents in the historic Bush v. Gore case of 2000, jointly filed the lawsuit. The suit alleges Proposition 8 violates the United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of equal protection and due process. On behalf of an Alameda lesbian couple and Los Angeles gay couple, the suit requests an immediate injunction to stop the enforcement of Proposition 8.

There does seem to be some division amongst homosexual groups, as several have denounced the lawsuit, preferring instead to try the issue at the ballot box again. Homosexual advocacy organization Equality California is already laying the groundwork for a statewide ballot initiative to make same-sex marriage legal. If it qualifies, such a measure could appear on the 2010 or 2012 ballot.

We must remain vigilant because the battle for marriage has just begun.

Capital Resource Institute 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

LDS Church Response to CA Supreme Court Decision on Prop. 8

SALT LAKE CITY - Today’s decision by the California Supreme Court is welcome. The issue the court decided was whether California citizens validly exercised their right to amend their own constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The court has overwhelmingly affirmed their action.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes the deeply held feelings on both sides, but strongly affirms its belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The bedrock institution of marriage between a man and a woman has profound implications for our society. These implications range from what our children are taught in schools to individual and collective freedom of religious expression and practice.

Accordingly, the Church stands firmly for what it believes is right for the health and well-being of society as a whole. In doing so, it once again affirms that all of us are children of God, and all deserve to be treated with respect. The Church believes that serious discussion of these issues is not helped when extreme elements on both sides of the debate demonize the other.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What we do need to do more as a Church

I was asked the other day how can the Church do better with the whole SGA issue. I looked back to my life growing up and how I felt and what I believed. I think there may have been some confusion on my part about what was doctrine and what wasn't. A lot of times growing up I did feel alone and isolated. I did feel unloved and confused and scared to ask for help. But I also think it was because things weren't explained. I do think its getting better now.

This is the one area in which I will agree that the church can do more. I do think that it is time for the church to teach or provide guidance to leaders of youth about this topic. I do think that including support material in future editions of "For the Strength of Youth" would make this material more readily available.

I know that I had friends who bought "In Quiet Desperation" removed the cover and read it as if they were reading a dirty magazine making sure to hide it when they left home. I think when young people feel they have to resort to measures like that we do have some issues.

I know how I was raised. I know I was told that homosexuality was a sin and that it was a choice. That people choose to be this way not that people choose to act out. What I wasn't told was that it was "acting on it" that was the choice not the feelings. For a long time I believed that since it was a choice if I wanted it to go away I could choose for those feelings to go. They didn't. Growing up I often felt as if I was the only guy in the church who felt this way and to make it rough I was the only Mormon in my high school so I really didn't fit in anywhere.

It didn't help that I was overweight, wore glasses and was socially awkward. I didn't like sports and was into art and stuff like that.

Many times I would have loved to be talk to someone I felt I could trust. But I always felt that if I did tell someone how I felt that I would be deemed perverted and evil and that I would be excommunicated. And yes while those feelings and a lack of anyone around that I was aware of, kept me from acting out. I did feel really alone and isolated and at times would come home from school, going into my room and begging God to take me away and let me die. Many times all I craved was a best friend.

I went to EFY and that made me realize that I wasn't alone and I made a promise to God that if I served a mission he would help me deal with these feelings.

So my mission came and when the bishop asked me all those questions about "had I" I could honestly say no. But at the same time I felt that because I "wanted to or had wanted to" that I was just as bad. So I felt I had lied my way into the field.

One evening I woke up, there were supposed to be 8 people in our dorm rooms and I realized I was alone. This was odd. But I was feeling troubled. I got on my knees and plead with God and said "I don't know if I should be here or if in serving unfaithfully I'm damning myself, but I have a willing heart and I want to be an instrument in this work, so if you want me I'm yours." I can't describe the peace I felt at that point. I stood up and walked over to the window to see the Provo Temple seemingly floating in the nights sky. I then realized that I was alone and went to find all the other elders in my district. I found them, in the bathroom all crying about how unworthy they were and how they all needed to go home. I spend the rest of the night comforting them, hugging them and getting them all built up. This was one of the most meaningful experiences for me because all these Elders were sure they were unworthy and all of them really were, they just doubted themselves.

So I served, did my part. Hope that I did some good. Came home still liked guys. But I had gained something I didn't have before I left. A real testimony of the gospel and the atonement not just a belief in God. I understood what was real and what was and what wasn't a sin.

In some ways I was grateful that I didn't have the influences of the internet growing up. I know I may have found support like North Star but at the same time I fear what I would have also found when I was desperate to feel loved and accepted. I think the net is a double edge sword.

A few years after my mission I happened upon this yahoo group (pre North Star) and it was the first REAL exposure I had had to those who struggled with same gender attraction who wanted to be faithful. Before that I didn't know they existed. This has been a great comfort to me.

I am grateful for the things that the church has developed since I was a youth. I hope that the leaders can start using them to reach out to those who are struggling before these young people reach out to groups with other agendas who provide information and support that does try to normalize it in their minds. When someone feels alone and unaccepted they will go to where the comfort is.

I think this is one area that those of us who have been there or who may now even be there can reach out and support and love.

So now I'm 36, still overweight, but a lot smarter. I know what I believe and I know what is real. I have a testimony of what I need to do. I try to reach out the best I can to those whom I can. I am single. I am opinionated but my heart is in the right place. Now all I can do is be an example of what I just said. I can try to be part of the solution.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Remember the Duck?

A boy and a girl were sent to the country to spend the summer with grandparents. When they got there the young boy was give a slingshot. He would go out into the woods and practice shooting at everything and pretty much missing everything.

One day he was heading home for dinner when he walked into the barnyard and say his grandmothers pet duck. He decided to take aim at it and to his surprise and almost immediate horror, this time he hit the poor duck square on the head. It was a dead duck.

So he quickly picked up the duck and hid it behind the woodpile but as he was doing this he realized his sister was witness to the whole things. She didn't say anything, just walked by him and smiled.

That night after dinner grandma said "Well Jenny if you can help me do the dishes we'll be all done." To which Jenny replied, "I'd love to but Billy said he wanted to help you with the dishes tonight." He looked at her and she whispered, "Remember the duck."

This went on all week with Billy doing all his chores and Jenny's also.

That Saturday grandpa came in and said "Billy and Jenny lets go fishing." Grandma then said that she needed help with some work she was doing and said that Jenny needed to stay at home and help her. But Jenny said that Billy had expressed a desire to help with the chore. She looked at him and mouthed "Remember the duck." So he stayed behind and Jenny went fishing with grandpa.

Finally the lying and deception and the extra chores became too much for poor Billy and he finally confessed to Grandma about the fate of the duck. Grandma gave him a hug and said that she already knew about it, she had been at the window and had witnessed the whole thing. She looked at Billy and said that she was waiting to see just how long he would allow himself to be a prisoner of his sisters.


I really liked this story because I wonder how many times I've allowed myself to be a prisoner of something that I did wrong and I allowed Satan to tell me to "remember the duck." And just like in the story Heavenly Father has seen all things, I can't hide the duck behind the wood pile. He's knows its there. I think this is a good story to share with those who allow themselves to be prisoners. I know its been me a few times.

Carrying our own crosses

At ward conference yesterday our bishop spoke about "taking up our cross." I have been praying about what I could say or contribute to the whole "giving up" or "giving in" thread and it occurred to me after his talk that its not a matter of either.

Each of us are given unique struggles and trials and experiences and things that refine us, challenge us and help perfect us. Its not so much the trials that make us who we are, it's what we do with them.

The Savior says to "take up our cross," he doesn't say to leave it and walk away from it. He doesn't say to overcome it. For there are some crosses that we can't overcome and only He can overcome. We were never meant to overcome them alone. How we carry it defines who we are and if we trust him enough to allow Him to carry them with us. If we have faith to carry it and put away all ungodliness aside then we can have faith that while the worlds burdens are heavy HIS isn't. He will be the one that comes along and helps us shoulder it.

For me this is where things have often become difficult. While I may say that I want to be faithful, to put aside all ungodliness, its often easy to sabotage my efforts by some of the things I choose to do, people I choose to associate with and the sites I have a presence on online. For instance if I'm trying hard to stay away from negative influences and I want God to bless my efforts if I'm spending a lot of free time on gay social networks trying to make friends or continue associations with people who represent the happiness found when a person pitches their cross and walks away from it. How am I really helping myself? I'm not saying we should judge others, but I'm also saying that we can't build our tents next to the great and spacious buildings of the world to dwell in their shadows and expect the light of the gospel to also play an equal role in our lives. We can't serve to masters. As it was once said we can't live in paradise yet keep a vacation home in Sodem.

I think sometimes I can be my own worse impediment to my own progress. But that takes a lot of humility to admit. Part of learning to bear our cross is learning that struggling isn't a bad thing if it means we are trying hard to continue forward. Struggle denotes a battle. At some point I think we need to realize what we are struggling with. Part of the giving up pride comes when we put that vacation home on the market and walk away from it.

The whole reason we are on the Earth is to gain experience, sometimes those experiences are struggles. Sometimes those struggles are needed to make the path clear. Sometimes we need them. Life is a test after all. Accepting our cross and committing to carrying it doesn't always mean an end to our struggles, but it does denote a decision in what direction we will move forward to. And that's already half the battle.