Mormon Church Softens on Homosexuality

or, Divine Revelation Evidently Done by Internal Polling and Focus Groups

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have launched a website and program to encourage LDS members to be compassionate when discussing homosexuality with homosexuals. From the website:

This website is a collection of conversations; conversations with Church leaders, conversations with Church members who are attracted to people of the same sex, and conversations with the loved ones of gay spouses, children, or grandchildren who are dealing with the effects of same-sex attraction in their own lives. These conversations are not always easy to have. They deal with love and acceptance, sin and morality, aspirations and despair. Those who speak from the heart on this website do not necessarily represent in every word or detail the policies or positions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but all of them speak with authenticity because they reflect what has happened in their own lives and the experiences of those they love. The Church leaders featured here reflect the sentiments and teachings of the highest Church authorities — the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

First, it is important to reiterate what LDS leaders consider to be “the highest Church authorities” — themselves. Lutherans might be tempted to ask the question: “What changed?” That would make sense; Lutheranism is defined by a set of beliefs rather than a common cultural heritage or being under one certain bishop or another. But for the LDS, who holds that their god continues promulgating new doctrine through LDS leadership, the answer must be that [their] god changed.

But setting the issue of continuous revelation aside, pay close attention to the language being used here. There a lot of “conversations,” for one. Next, the issue of the morality, the right-or-wrongness of homosexuality is downplayed in favor of “These conversations are not always easy to have.” This is really the language of psychotherapy, where morality is really not discussed so much as how an experience makes one feel. Interestingly enough, this has been the language of the pro-homosexuality side for decades. For example, one isn’t opposed to homosexuality on societal or moral grounds, he is “homophobic” — implying that a position against homosexuality is not merely unpopular or incorrect, but is a mental disease which is not to be tolerated and may be treated with medication.

To be fair, we Christians (and for the record, Mormons are not Christians — don’t ask me, ask Joseph Smith) ought to address these questions with homosexuals in a way that is not self-righteous, and does not make homosexuality the unforgiveable sin. However, it is important for Christians to know what Scripture clearly teaches and be able to present it in a clear way that leaves no room for interpretation where God has clearly spoken.

The LDS used to pride (no pun intended) itself on its staunch defense of family values, even branding itself as an organization which is about the promotion and defense of the family institution. So some questions linger: What did cause the change (I am rejecting out-of-hand the divine revelation which will no doubt be claimed)? Was it Mitt Romney’s loss as Presidential candidate? Why does the LDS all of a sudden care about being in step with culture? Or does it?  During the Civil Rights era, the LDS changed its teaching on race — specifically, in 1978 a “revelation” was given to LDS president Spencer Kimball that permitted black men to undergo ordination to the lay priesthood. So why right now?

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