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?

About Pastor Daniel Hinton

Pastor Hinton is pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Lubbock, Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, having majored in poultry science, and of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was ordained on Holy Trinity 2011. He has been married to Amanda for seventeen years, and has five daughters and one son. He grew up in the ELCA, and left in 2004 over issues of scriptural authority. It was because of a faithful Lutheran campus ministry that he was exposed to The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. He enjoys old books, teaching the faithful, and things that are beautiful.

Comments

Mormon Church Softens on Homosexuality — 70 Comments

  1. “So some questions linger: What did cause the change?… Why does the LDS all of a sudden care about being in step with culture?”

    First, the word, “Church,” is associated with the Christian religion. Its use by a demonic religion (or cult) such as Mormonism is simply another abomination.

    As to why the demonic religion of Mormons would change its position on homosexuality, the answer was provided earlier in the article:

    “But for the LDS, who holds that their god continues promulgating new doctrine through LDS leadership, the answer must be that [their] god changed.”

    The Mormon god is actually Satan, who just promulgated among his Mormon followers a similar view on homosexuality he has previously promulgated among many of his other followers, e.g., the Democrat Party.

    The motivation behind this recent change by Satan is, of course, evil.

  2. Pastor, I’m afraid I don’t know what your particular issue is here. What you’ve not mentioned in your article is that the substance of the “softening” is that Mormons have realized that same-sex attraction is not chosen by the people who experience it and they have come to believe that a same-sex attracted person is not in sin simply for being same-sex attracted. They continue to affirm, however, that same-sex sexual activity is immoral–in no way do they approve of such activity (though apparently, and given the comments above, you have led others to believe that they now do).

    I don’t believe that what the Mormons have articulated requires special revelation–the idea that same-sex attracted folks do not choose to be same-sex attracted is completely in line with what the scientific community has been discovering with regard to same-sex attraction: i.e., that it represents a non-pathological minority variant of human sexuality.

    Given that you chose to omit the substance of the Mormon community’s thinking on this issue (which, really, is a less well-articulated version of the position already taken by the Roman Catholic Church in the most recently promulgated catechism), I can only conclude that your article is not actually about the Mormon thinking on this issue at all. My suspicion is that it’s a bit more self-referential: i.e., look how right we remain! But because you don’t actually engage the issue (i.e., do you actually disagree with the conclusion to which the Mormons have come and to which the Roman Church came long before?), the rightness you assert does not seem particularly well-informed or fleshed out–it’s just asserted against an idea of wrongness that isn’t based on the facts of the matter because you don’t seem to want to include them. By leaving out the meat of the issue, the rightness you’ve asserted can only have a rhetorical–and not a real–substance.

  3. If memory serves, the LDS teaches that lust is a sin. This, then, represents a softening in that it would allow for the attraction itself (the lust) without acting upon it. Formerly this lust would have been seen as sinful, where now it would seem that it is not. I’m glad you pointed out the “scientific community” (though as a scientist by training, I bristle at the concept), as it would seem to be the ultimate source of this shift in thinking and rhetoric. The LDS has a well-known history of adapting its teachings to fit the current cultural thinking, and this would seem to be another example. The point of the post is to raise the question, “What changed?” and then to answer it here in the comments section.

    As to why certain details or conclusions were left out, you must consider the context of this blog. It’s written by confessional Lutherans for confessional Lutherans, and confessional Lutherans speak with one voice on this issue. It would be beating a dead horse to remind BJS readers what the Scriptural teaching of homosexuality is. Also, as a Lutheran, moral teaching comes from God and from Him alone. We Christians are under orders and we are not free to change them if they become unpopular. Doctrine does not come from culture, a perceived “scientific community” (Orwellian or otherwise), human “presidents” of false religions, what Rome is doing this century, or a well-known con man who claimed to see golden plates written in a non-existent language.

    Lastly, if you think I raise this question to show the rightness of the Lutheran cause, you must be new here. This site began out of sharp criticism of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, of which I am a member. I and most other BJS contributors are highly critical of Lutheran church bodies on many issues, including failure to speak with boldness and clarity on the issue of homosexuality. There’s nothing self-referential about this post. I live in the state with the second-highest population of Mormons per capita, and this cult has sweeping influence in this part of the country. Christians ought to know what the Mormons are doing so they can speak with them knowledgeably.

    In the end, it simply doesn’t matter very much whether the attraction is genetic, behavioral, or some mixture of the two. Homosexual attraction is a perversion of the created order and is to be resisted by those who suffer through it. God is crystal clear on this. When they fall into sin, they have a Savior in Jesus Christ (not the brother of Lucifer but the real Jesus Christ) who died for that and all sin, and salvation is given through Him and through Him alone to all who believe.

  4. :If memory serves, the LDS teaches that lust is a sin.

    A good example of the straw man fallacy. Mark wrote of (same sex) attraction, not lust. There is a difference.

    I.e., sexual attraction is a gift of God. It is a good thing. Lust is not.

  5. @Pr. Don Kirchner #5

    It’s not a straw man at all. Sexual attraction to anyone of whom it is forbidden (another man, the wife of another man, someone who isn’t your own wife, etc.) is certainly not a gift of God. It is, however, the very definition of lust. It is sinful. Sexual attraction between two people of the same sex cannot be “a gift of God” or “a good thing,” since it is contrary to His will. And even if the man never acts on it, as with all sinful proclivity, the tendency to sin (the attraction) is itself sin.

  6. Pastor Daniel Hinton :@Pr. Don Kirchner #5
    It’s not a straw man at all. Sexual attraction to anyone of whom it is forbidden (another man, the wife of another man, someone who isn’t your own wife, etc.) is certainly not a gift of God. It is, however, the very definition of lust. It is sinful. Sexual attraction between two people of the same sex cannot be “a gift of God” or “a good thing,” since it is contrary to His will. And even if the man never acts on it, as with all sinful proclivity, the tendency to sin (the attraction) is itself sin.

    A second straw man. I never asserted that same-sex attraction was a gift of God. It sinfully twists what is a gift of God- sexual attraction. You equate sexual attraction which is a gift of God- to lust- which is not. They are not the same.

    Goodness, sexual attraction is part of what leads to marriage, a true gift and blessed state!

  7. And I never asserted that sexual attraction (except as the Lord has prohibited) is anything other than a gift of God. It most obviously is. But would you be so good as to explain how homosexual attraction is not the sin of lust?

  8. Pastor Daniel Hinton :But would you be so good as to explain how homosexual attraction is not the sin of lust?

    3 strikes; you’re out. 🙂 A 3rd straw man. I never suggested that homosexual attraction is not the sin of lust.

    I did, however, suggest that sexual attraction and lust are not the same. The first is a gift of God. The second is not. Perhaps I should clarify that. All lust is a sexual attraction that twists that good gift into something sinful. All sexual attraction is not lust. Lust is commonly understood as having an illicit quality to it, an objectification of another person. It sometimes can have a lecherous quality to it. A good example:

    http://birdchadlouis.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/farmers-daughter/

    Mr. Bird seems to want to celebrate such lust that moves into the area of lecherousness, e.g., telling us how much he enjoys running behind women and how his “eyes—with utter disregard of any chivalry I ever pretended to possess—embarked on a embarrassingly slow pilgrimage from her face to her feet” of a young woman standing before him in a nightgown.

  9. Actually Christ Himself does not define all sexual attraction, even sexual attraction to one to whom you are not married, as sin.

    The construction of Matthew 5:27-26 (“pros to” plus the infinitive) generally indicates intention (as the same construction does at least 3 other times in the book of Matthew). Christ does not define attraction alone as sin but when that desire becomes intentional it becomes a sin every much as physical sin of the body. Had Christ intended that coincidental attraction be regarded as a sin a simple kai construction or participle would have served the purpose better.

    The danger of defining the direction of temptation as sin (attracted to same sex as opposed to opposite) is that the Bible never differentiates the new man from the old on the basis of temptation. Christ Himself was tempted. Temptation existed before the first sin. No where does the Bible ever say the new man is not tempted nor limit the new man’s temptation to a list of “acceptable” temptation.

    What is does say is that the new man in us faces temptation in a different way from the old man. Where the old man sees temptation as an opportunity to serve self, the new man sees temptation as a call to serve Christ and stand firm.

    If, therefore, we say to a homosexual that he or she is sinning based on the direction of their attraction alone, then we have mushed together sinner and saint. He or she is no longer simul justus et peccator but just “sinner.” We have, therefore, stolen from such an individual the very thing for which Christ died to give them – the new identity as Child of God in baptism. We have created a despairing sinner.

    This does not mean that we comfort such a person by telling them that as long as they control their urges they are not a sinner. (That is the direction the LDS will have to go as they are a works based religion). Rather, we point them to the cross where sin itself is forgiven and where, as bound together as the body of Christ, we treat those parts whom we might be tempted to see as “most shameful” with the greater honor.

    And yes, that is going to take some communication and discussion – not, however, as I suspect the LDS will do it.

  10. My personal sense is that the LDS will flip on same gender marriage and ultimately support/embrace it. Earlier in their history they flipped from polygamy to monogamy when pressed by the civil government. So changing marriage teaching based on civil government is consistent with their historical approach.

  11. @Pr. Don Kirchner #9

    Pastor, simply calling all of Pastor Hinton’s comments “straw men” is not very helpful. Frankly, your comments were confusingly written and can be easily read as though you’re lumping gay attraction in with heterosexual attraction.

  12. @Mark #3

    Mark, desiring the things that are forbidden by God and feeling no shame or remorse is sin. A man unrepentantly craving sexual relations with other men is not “ok” with God. I don’t know why you frequent a confessional Lutheran site and try to peddle the notion that God approves of homosexuality simply because you do. I’m hopeful that the Spirit keeps leading you back to this site to hear the Law and will bring you to true repentance.

  13. @Pr. Don Kirchner #9

    “All lust is a sexual attraction that twists that good gift into something sinful. All sexual attraction is not lust.”

    The only sexual attraction in my life that isn’t lust is my sexual attraction to my wife. When my sinful, adulterous flesh see an attractive woman my mind only goes to lust, not this sexual attraction that’s not lust. That sounds like how I used to justify my sexual sins. that’s like guys at the bar or in a social setting saying…oh it’s okay I can look as long as I don’t touch.

    Forgive me if I missed your point.

  14. Totally tongue in cheek: What probably changed is that Mormons started listening to the Book of Mormon Musical on broadway, which satirizes their view on homosexuality (among other things). Once they saw how ridiculous they sounded to the majority of the nation (liberals, etc.), the authorities immediately decided to join with the culture, gradually.

    Actually, I would think this is just another instance of the LDS having a great PR department. They have a website entirely devoted to Joseph Smith. When people started asking why there wasn’t one devoted to [their] Jesus, lo and behold! There it was. And now, when the Mormon church has become increasingly controversial in regards to the homosexuality issue, now they’re “reaching out.”

    I agree with the author that their rule, norm, and authority is whatever the so-called prophet and his helpers say, but I really think they’re starting to be driven by focus groups, at least to a great extent.

  15. …and compassionate conversation with homosexuals and with family members of homosexuals is a bad thing because…………?

    You said, “To be fair, we Christians…ought to address these questions with homosexuals in a way that is not self-righteous, and does not make homosexuality the unforgiveable sin.” I agree. I also note that I have seen little evidence of that approach on this website.

  16. @Pr. Don Kirchner #9

    Pr. Don Kirchner :
    I did, however, suggest that sexual attraction and lust are not the same. The first is a gift of God. The second is not. Perhaps I should clarify that. All lust is a sexual attraction that twists that good gift into something sinful. All sexual attraction is not lust. Lust is commonly understood as having an illicit quality to it, an objectification of another person. It sometimes can have a lecherous quality to it.

    I agree with that distinction. But, who among those of us heterosexual males who have lived most of our adult lives in a loving and faithful marriage with one woman can honestly say that we are innocent of the sin of lust?

  17. @Nathan Redman #14

    You must have had quite a wicked earlier youth and adulthood. Did you go out on dates? Did you have girlfriends? Did you court your future wife?

    If so, it was generally due to a sexual attraction. Good grief, the reason you married is partly due to a sexual attraction to a young woman who became your wife. Do you really want to characterize all of that as lust?

  18. Perhaps somewhat helpful:

    “We humans are called to love on another. This call to love is actually “stamped” into our very bodies. The physical union of man and woman in the sexual act is actually meant to be a foreshadowing of the union that we will all experience in heaven. That heavenly union is not a sexual one, to be sure, but it is real – more real than anything we have (or will) experience here on earth. It’s a perfect union between God and mankind – for eternity.

    Our sexuality is a gift through which we can choose to be generous or selfish. Society has flipped the idea of “self-giving” on its head. In fact, many “love stories” portrayed in the modern culture could be more appropriately be called “lust stories.” “Love” involves being generous – like God – while “lust” is sexual desire that is selfish – apart from the love of God. Not to be confused with sexual attraction (which is good), lust is almost purely self-seeking. As renowned youth leader John Crudele succinctly says, “Love seeks to give; lust seeks to get.”

    The truth is that God made us to desire sex, and that is a good thing. Our sexual desire is not merely a hormonal reaction in our bodies, but a deeply rooted attraction to the beauty we see in others. Our sexual desire is a gift from God, who put the desire for union with another in us. God created us male and female so that we can learn to make a sincere gift of self to another. The union between man and woman is intended for marriage, which is a foreshadowing of the union that will ultimately satisfy us – the union with God in heaven.”

    https://sites.google.com/site/stbernadetteconfirmation/home/confirmation/confirmation-2/god-s-design-for-human-sexuality-1

  19. Rev. Kirchner,

    Earlier you distinguished sexual attraction from lust. You also noted, “Mark wrote of (same sex) attraction, not lust. There is a difference.” This phrasing implies that homosexual attraction is not lust either.

    Rev. Kirchner, does your use of the term, “sexual attraction,” includes only “heterosexual [opposite sex] attraction,” or does it also include homosexual attraction or other kinds of sexual attractions?

  20. @Carl Vehse #21

    The term “sexual attraction” is included in both opposite-sex attraction and same-sex attraction. IOW, they both are forms of sexual attraction, though the latter is a corruption of the former good gift of God.

    BTW, Mark seemed to be on point when he stated that “the Mormon community’s thinking on this issue…is a less well-articulated version of the position already taken by the Roman Catholic Church…”

    “The faith still steadfastly opposes gay marriage but urges compassion and understanding, and encourages gay Mormons to remain in the faith. Church leader Dallin Oaks says on the website it’s no sin to have inclinations. He says the sin is in yielding to temptations.”

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/12/06/166687164/mormon-church-launches-website-on-same-sex-attraction

    “The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual sex is a gravely disordered act. It is a grave sin, and is in fact one of the sins “which cry vengeance to Heaven”. It is never anything other than a sin, although – as for all sins – the level of guilt can be mitigated by lack of knowledge, coercion, or habit and addiction.

    Regarding same-sex attraction, the Catholic Church does not regard this itself as a sin.”

    http://www.catholicbasictraining.com/apologetics/coursetexts/8h.htm

  21. Mark :…what the scientific community has been discovering with regard to same-sex attraction: i.e., that it represents a non-pathological minority variant of human sexuality.

    “Discovering”? No, they have been declaring arbitrarily that it is non-pathological — and that is a relatively new declaration from them. As recently as 1973, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

  22. As recently as 1973? That’s sneaking up on 40 years!

    But that certainly focuses in on the issue. Is a mental disorder a sin? Or is it the result of sin, i.e., like other mental disorders, disease, etc?

  23. @Pr. Don Kirchner #26
    I guess I am showing my age… I graduated high school in 1973 — and it doesn’t seem like that long ago! 🙂

    But to return to the subject, it was in the 1970s (not quite as long ago as the Dark Ages!) when scientists agreed that homosexuality was pathological, a mental disorder.

    Whether or not mental disease is a sin would make a good topic for discussion. AA leans heavily on that distinction, teaching that alcoholics are not evil, but have a disease. On the other hand (unlike the homosexual lobby), they also teach that, “We are not responsible for our disease, but we are resposible for our recovery.”

  24. And that’s the point of the RC view and, it appears, now the Mormon view. Having same-sex attraction is not a a sin. Acting on it, homosexual acts, is.

  25. The Dallin Oaks quote is a prime example of how the LDS/Roman position rationalizes and waters down the Law into something that you can keep if you only try hard enough. This provides no comfort for the sinner afflicted with temptation.

    If I read the law instead the way Luther/Jesus interprets it, there is no hope that anyone can keep it by his own efforts.

  26. Actually, Robert brings a valid point. The nature of the sin of lust is that it is entirely self-focused; instead of seeing the other person as a human being created in the image of God, we view them as an object whose only immediate purpose is to please our physical and emotional desires and needs. In other words, they may as well be a vegetable or a mineral or some other inanimate object.

    Contrast this with sexual attraction which a man can and should feel toward his wife: instead of looking inward, his concern is to please her and to fulfill his God-given responsibilities. Sexual attraction as part of a lifelong commitment to one’s spouse becomes a vital and God-pleasing part of the relationship. Regardless of whatever theological jargon we wish to throw into the conversation, the plain fact upon which most here seem to agree is that the homosexual lifestyle has no place in this model. Instead of arguing amongst each other on the internet, perhaps time would be better spent reinforcing God’s teachings concerning marriage and sex in our congregations. The rise of the homosexual agenda in this country is merely a symptom of a larger problem: namely, that the state has increasingly assumed ownership of marriage rather than the Church, who has in many ways allowed what is holy to be thrown to the dogs. Working to remedy that should be the focus of our attention. Focusing solely on the obvious problem of homosexuality is the equivalent of applying a band-aid to a gaping wound.

  27. The Mormon God is such a fickle God. He changed his mind on polygamy and african americans and now he is changing his mind on homosexuality. I’d say that he may change his mind on the gospel, but since the Mormons don’t have it, I guess I don’t have to worry about that.

  28. @Rev Don Kirchner #31
    I think that he meant one sex for others of the same sex.
    And lest people forget, have you read the articles about the “zoophilia farm” in Germany that was just shut down? Homosexuality is just the top of the slippery slope.

    From the American Heritage Dictionary: Lust, Intense or unrestrained sexual craving. Lust is not simply sexual attraction, it is one that is allowed to run rampant without control. I may have sexual cravings for my wife, but I’m not going to indulge them in public, or without her consent, no matter how strong the urge. As others have pointed out, our sinful nature is responsible for the sexual attraction outside of God’s parameters; the sin, however, is in not fighting that nature and following the desire.

  29. @Ted #32
    Yes, but let’s be careful here. As was discussed elsewhere, marriage is and always has been primarily a civil function, blessed by the religious authorities. By it’s definition, marriage is a contract between a man and a woman, enforceable by the state because it is a contract and supported by the state because of its many benefits to society. If we attempt to remove it completely from the secular realm, instead of fighting to maintain its original definition, than we open the door to any group that desires to defining their own versions of “marriage”, which is precisely what has happened.

  30. In a recent conversation with a rather knowledgable Mormon I asked him about his cults stance on several issues like polygamy and african americans. How specifically could prophets of Mormon have visions telling them one thing and then years or decades later change them? How could they even have a prophecy that seemed to contradict Scripture and even their own Book of Mormon? (which forbids polygamy and infant baptism among other things). His answer? God sends visions to the prophets to change the church for the greater good. So I asked Him how an unchanging God could change His own Law. His answer: God changes the Laws for mankind based on their needs and what is best for them. i.e. All contextual, nothing eternal or unchanging. Everything is up for grabs.
    I don’t know if this was his own personal stance or the churches, but boy! Talk about leaving the door open to allow just about anything! A prophet can basically say anything he wants, claiming it is from God, and it doesn’t even matter if it contradicts Scripture because God is constantly changing His Law for our benefit.

  31. Pastor Daniel Hinton :
    If memory serves, the LDS teaches that lust is a sin. This, then, represents a softening in that it would allow for the attraction itself (the lust) without acting upon it. Formerly this lust would have been seen as sinful, where now it would seem that it is not.

    Pastor, are you saying that an unbidden attraction represents actual lust and is therefore sin? How comfortable are you with affirming that being tempted means that you’re sinning? (See Matthew Anderson’s comment above.)

    I think there is a fundamental distinction between experiencing an attraction to someone and indulging in the sin of lust.

  32. Pastor Daniel Hinton :As to why certain details or conclusions were left out, you must consider the context of this blog. It’s written by confessional Lutherans for confessional Lutherans, and confessional Lutherans speak with one voice on this issue. It would be beating a dead horse to remind BJS readers what the Scriptural teaching of homosexuality is.

    Not being a confessional Lutheran, I nonetheless understand that homosexuality=bad to confessional Lutherans…but I don’t understand what this actually means to a confessional Lutheran, I don’t understand how a confessional Lutheran who is same-sex attracted should think of her attractions or herself, and I don’t understand the vision of life which the teaching imagines for a same-sex attracted confessional Lutheran person.

    I guess my questions are these: What is life like for a same-sex attracted confessional Lutheran? Is conversion therapy required since the persistence of the attraction represents actual sin? Should such therapy only affect behavior and not the presence of attractions (which seems to be what is affected in conversion therapy’s putative successes), how is the same-sex attracted confessional Lutheran to see him or herself, knowing that their sin persists in the persistence of their attraction? Is repentance even possible?

    If a tree is known by its fruit, what are the good, clear and recognizable marks of human flourishing which the confessional Lutheran teaching on homosexuality is meant to produce in the lives of same-sex attracted people–can we draw a straight and direct line from the teaching to the fruit it produces in a same-sex attracted person’s life and call it “good”?

  33. Pastor Daniel Hinton :
    Doctrine does not come from culture, a perceived “scientific community” (Orwellian or otherwise), human “presidents” of false religions, what Rome is doing this century, or a well-known con man who claimed to see golden plates written in a non-existent language.

    Of course not. But doctrine does reflect reality at its most fundamental level. As a general point, if our doctrine does not accord with what is real, then either our understanding of reality is faulty, or our doctrine is unrealistic and therefore impossible to practice.

    I.e., you write that a homosexual attraction should be resisted by those who suffer through it after you more or less affirm that the attraction is sin–so to be conscious of the attraction is to be conscious of actually being in sin. So what does resistance matter if the mere presence of the attraction means you’re guilty? How do you effectively resist something when its mere presence–and not your consent or resistance–is what affects whether or not you’re sinning? How is salvation possible in such a case? Does making the act of resistance or submitting to suffering have some virtual efficacy in itself? In which case, how does resistance and suffering in this case differ from an embrace of a works-righteousness position? How does one repent of a sin which one commits simply by being?

    I would humbly submit that making the distinction between attraction and action makes repentance a real possibility. Without that distinction, we’re all of us doomed, no matter how much or how often we repent.

  34. Rev. McCall :In a recent conversation with a rather knowledgable Mormon I asked him about his cults stance on several issues like polygamy and african americans. How specifically could prophets of Mormon have visions telling them one thing and then years or decades later change them? How could they even have a prophecy that seemed to contradict Scripture and even their own Book of Mormon? (which forbids polygamy and infant baptism among other things). His answer? God sends visions to the prophets to change the church for the greater good. So I asked Him how an unchanging God could change His own Law. His answer: God changes the Laws for mankind based on their needs and what is best for them. i.e. All contextual, nothing eternal or unchanging. Everything is up for grabs.I don’t know if this was his own personal stance or the churches, but boy! Talk about leaving the door open to allow just about anything! A prophet can basically say anything he wants, claiming it is from God, and it doesn’t even matter if it contradicts Scripture because God is constantly changing His Law for our benefit.

    Rev. McCall,

    I submit that this should not be surprising. Generally, it is not greatly different from the relativistic position that many Christian denominations, such as the ELCA, have taken., i.e., the idea that God is not finished speaking, etc., resulting in an a change on many issues, for what they would deem is best for them.

  35. @Pr. Don Kirchner #40
    The trick of Mormanism is that it goes to great lengths to appear Christian, disguising its true practices and teachings as best it can. I suppose I was more suprised than anything simply because this guy so matter of factly admitted the truth behind it all right off the bat.

  36. Jim Hamilton :
    @Mark #3
    Mark, desiring the things that are forbidden by God and feeling no shame or remorse is sin. A man unrepentantly craving sexual relations with other men is not “ok” with God. I don’t know why you frequent a confessional Lutheran site and try to peddle the notion that God approves of homosexuality simply because you do. I’m hopeful that the Spirit keeps leading you back to this site to hear the Law and will bring you to true repentance.

    Hi Jim. A couple things:

    1–If we desire something forbidden by God but do not pursue the desire, are you saying that it’s necessary to feel something in particular in order to not have fallen into sin? For a married man not to fall into adultery, is it necessary for him to bitterly reproach himself every time he sees an attractive woman who is not his wife? Is feminine beauty in such a case to be despised by a married man, or should he feel ashamed for being attracted to it in a woman who is not his wife? Is righteousness a matter of our feeling the right feelings at the right times or is it to do with grace?
    2–I’ve not peddled any notion that God approves of homosexuality.

    Thanks, Jim.

  37. @Mark #42

    Good luck with your struggles, Mark. I’m not going to banter with you. You’ve demonstrated time and again that you have no interest in true repentance. I hope that changes.

  38. @Jim Hamilton #44

    Jim, I’m not interested in banter either, but clarity would definitely be helpful.

    You seem to affirm that same-sex attraction is sin, which is to say that experiencing this attraction–which is unbidden and unwilled–is sin. To the extent to which I am conscious of experiencing an unbidden attraction to another man I am, apparently, actively sinning. I am same-sex attracted and am conscious of that fact. It seems to me that no matter what I do I will actively be in sin according to you simply by experiencing the attractions I experience, whether or not I will them. You tell me I’ve no interest in repentance, but what you have taught me about your view of same-sex attraction is that repentance is impossible for me.

    So of what would you like me to repent, and in what way will repentance be helpful if we cannot always control to what or whom we are attracted but being so attracted means we are in sin? What would you have me do, Jim?

  39. @Mark #44

    Okay, Mark. We’ve gone over this ground before but here goes:

    In the other thread you said you were “married” to a man. I assume that means you actively engaged in a homosexual relationship. That’s a sin. You must stop doing that.

    We are all infected by original sin. We are corrupt, sinful beings. That’s why we live a life of continual repentance. We will never fully destroy our old Adam on this side of the grave, but we must continue striving to improve. Your homosexual lusts are sin. You must resist them and repent of them, just as my own lustful desires about women not my wife are sin and must be repented of and resisted.

    That’s as clear as I can be. If you’re serious about repenting, stop being an active homosexual, resist your lustful desires, and repent. Good luck to you.

  40. @Jim Hamilton #45
    Perhaps this will help. Paul speaks of his “thorn in his flesh” and says in 1 Cor. 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” He also says rather pointedly that because of our fallen nature, we do what we don’t want to do and can’t do what we do want to do.

    It is a natural thing for a man to look appreciatively at a woman, and to feel the tugs of sexual desire. That is our lower brain speaking and is hardwired in. God cannot blame us for that. However, the moment that we give in to our desires, even to the point of “undressing her with our eyes” and fantasizing – much less actually committing any physical action, we start to sin. No matter what your inclinations (and, to tell the truth, even many “straight” men will have at least passing same-sex thoughts at some times; they will certainly have thoughts about women), than you sin the moment that you start to think about carrying through on your inclinations.

    Now because of our fallen nature we will always have to fight the inclination to take the next step. As Paul says, we will continuously and constantly have to discipline ourselves, hauling our hind-brain back on its leash and commanding it to “heel”. Nowhere in Scripture that I know of does God condemn us for our inclinations and our body’s weaknesses – although these are pointedly due to our fallen nature. However He does demand that we control them and – as James discusses in length – not let them through into our works.

  41. We are all by nature sinful. This side of the eschaton no one will be free of sin. You seem to be thinking that repentance somehow involves the ceasing of sinning. It does not. It consists of realizing that what you are doing is wrong and asking God to have mercy on you through Jesus Christ. Christ died for you sin. He took it with him to the cross and buried it. Take comfort in that. Yes, you will still struggle with it, but it no longer has to separate you from God.

  42. @Paul of Alexandria #46

    “Nowhere in Scripture that I know of does God condemn us for our inclinations and our body’s weaknesses – although these are pointedly due to our fallen nature.”

    I don’t agree with you. Since the Fall, we all carry the corruption of sin. Our very flesh is diseased with sin. The desires that arise from our flesh are all tainted by sin. God most certainly can and does “blame” us for our corrupt, sinful nature. As the Confessions say, “concupiscence damns and brings eternal death.”

  43. @Jim Hamilton #46

    Thanks, Jim. A couple thoughts…

    1–All lust is sinful (even lust for a spouse), because all lust is self-serving and does not seek the good of another but seeks to appropriate a good to oneself which either we would be better off not having or which we would be better off receiving as opposed to taking. Is it not possible, though, to conceive of a difference between an attraction to what is good, true or beautiful (such as masculine or feminine beauty) and lusting after that to which one is attracted? I think it is.

    2–You’ve given me some very specific things of which I can repent. Thank you. But were I to repent of those things, what good does it do me if I’m still same-sex attracted and therefore still sinning by virtue of my attraction? I can hate myself, I suppose, for being such a horrible person that no matter what I do I can never actually be righteous because the moment any righteousness is imputed to me, it vanishes like smoke because I’m still same-sex attracted. But what good would come of that self-hatred? I can reproach myself for being same-sex attracted, but the attractions won’t go away. What good will reproach do? I can avoid lustful thoughts and sinful actions by God’s grace, but, still being same-sex attracted, I will always be actively sinning simply by virtue of who I am.

    In short, what you’re teaching me about your beliefs regarding homosexuality is that it is characterized by the double bind. Because what you’re telling me is this: Mark, you should receive the righteousness of Christ through faith and repentance, but because you are same-sex attracted, you cannot actually be or receive that righteousness because you will always be an active sinner by virtue of your attractions.

    So what am I supposed to do with that? What kind of life are you actually asking me to live?

    I’m not just asking you these questions, Jim, so you can bow out if you like. I’m honestly interested in learning what people here expect of someone like me. I mean, you can articulate a vision of life that’s holy and wonderful, characterized by faith and repentance and righteous living according to the grace of God, but if in the final analysis it’s actually impossible to lead that life, then it’s all just talk. More than that, it represents an impossible burden and reminds me of this from Our Lord:

    “And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” Luke 11:46

  44. @Jim Hamilton #48
    Yes, but I was thinking more in the Pauline sense. We are, by nature, sinners; what God expects us to do – as saved creatures – is to refrain from acting on that sinful nature.

    Also, on second thought, many of these “impulses” are not themselves sinful, they are simply part of our nature. Hunger isn’t a sin, stealing food is. Sexual desire isn’t a sin, expressing it with someone other than my wife is.

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