I’m troubled when I look at how quickly the world eats up falsehoods and inconsistencies. I try to stay away from “religion-only” discussions here, but this is a case of liberal groups opposing the word of God and demanding that a religion bend itself to comply with hedonistic and political demands.
A few weeks ago, President Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, delivered a message in the October 2010 General Conference called “Cleansing the Inner Vessel”. In the talk, Pres. Packer talks about the miracle of repentance, it’s ability to uplift the soul, and that our loving Father in Heaven sent us to this earth with the freedom to choose between right and wrong – that none of us were born incapable of choosing the right.
Though he never specifically pointed at homosexuality (the plain and simple truths of the gospel make these concepts applicable to all temptations), the LGBT organizations – those who had been violently opposed to the LDS church since the 2008 elections – jumped all over the speech, protesting, writing offensive and accusation-laden articles, and attempting to hold up the Church of Jesus Christ as the guilty part in a number of “gay suicides”.
There is certainly a tragedy in attacking the very message of hope and of deliverance from pain that seems to be lost on the LGBT crowd. Suicide itself is a choice most often made in the despair of thinking that there is “no way out”, and if any community wishes to rid itself of this ugly specter, the task might best be accomplished through messages of hope, of the power to overcome, and of a loving God who knows each of us and our struggles individually.
These organizations rallied to have a message of God changed to be more favorable to their lifestyle. They protested, they sent letters, they attacked from all angles. They sought to displace a loving gift of God – “agency” – with the despair of Satan: “You have no choice, there is no hope for you. You were born this way and you need to make do.”
These demands fly in the face of scripture:
1 Corinthians 10:13 (New Testament, KJV)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1 Nephi 3:7 (Book of Mormon)
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
President Packer was simply stating these truths, within a general statement about repentance.
Though the news tends to focus on the sensational – the protestors and those who were “easily offended” – read the following statement, posted on a blog by someone who had formerly participated in a homosexual relationship, and who is LDS:
“… I’d like to share what I heard from Boyd K. Packer’s talk on Sunday. These are not quotes but my experience of what he said. If anyone wants to hear quotes they should listen to the talk themselves.
I heard that we are all given free agency to do what we choose to do in this life. That we will never be given a trial we are not able to handle. He said that the LDS Church believes marriage to be ordained of God and that it is to be between a man and woman. I heard him say that acting on same-sex attraction is not in alignment with the teachings of the Church and that if one does act on these attractions or one does have an addiction to some type of drugs or pornography that those actions and or addictions can be handled and if desired that person can over-come them and live the teachings of the Church and find the happiness that those teachings promise.
His comment referring to someone not being born gay, to me says we have a choice. I firmly believe that to be true, I feel I lived it. I also made the choice as to what I acted on. He stated our Heavenly Father would not do this to someone, what I feel that statement means is that our Heavenly Father would not send us to this life and have a “condition” be placed upon us that we could not change and then tell us we are wrong for it.
There was nothing in the talk that said anyone is hated, that anyone should be looked down on or cast out. It was a talk that reminded us that no matter what struggles we have in life there is hope, there is a way to overcome them and there is a way to be our whole selves.” – Janine McCauley, Another View of President Packer’s Talk
This morning I came across an article where a mother accused Packer’s talk of “re-opening a wound”. The woman’s son had committed suicide, presumably a result of difficulties he experienced while identifying himself as “gay”. It is truly a sad story, but I question some of the “facts” in the Salt Lake Tribune article.
The mother in the story claims she grew up in a small “Mormon community” where no one “ever even thought about people being gay”. She says her thoughts and feelings were ignored because she was a “dutiful little Mormon wife” and “that’s how you do things.” These kinds of statements are typical of people who are against the church for any reason. They follow the usual unfounded accusation that the church is riddled with ignorance and that some sort of traditional patriarchal abuse exists. These assumptions or claims are offensive to those who actually follow the gospel of Jesus Christ as members of his church. They are kin to claims that people are “brainwashed” or “don’t question their church leaders.” In truth, any behavior of “conformity” comes as a result of following a strait and undeviating path, a simple and consistent gospel, and from having a perspective of life that is uncommon elsewhere. Those who make claims against this either “never got it” in the first place, or they refuse to abandon some ugly habit or mindset that prevents them from feeling the spirit, such as adultery, alcoholism, or promiscuity, and their own conscience pricks at them until they run away to try to find peace in the shadows of a culture that lacks a higher standard. The gospel requires effort, and though no one can or will claim “perfection”, the true gospel demands that we make every effort to live the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ to our best ability. “Endure to the end”, “walk the extra mile”, “turn the other cheek”, etc.
It is not surprising, then, that this mother later divorced the boy’s father, left the church and is now atheist.
She makes the sensational claim that her son was sent by the Mormon church to have electroshock therapy “and was shown pornography with electrodes attached to his penis.”
I can say without any doubt whatsoever that the “Mormon church” did not show pornography to this young man or attach electrodes to his penis. The church is consistent, as God is consistent. Pornography is never good, it is never a “tool” for anything other than evil. Our bodies are sacred and this sort of thing would have never (nor will ever) happen at the hands of the LDS church. I cannot vouch for any other institution the boy may have gone to.
Finally, the paper itself claims that “Packer later made substantive changes to the speech to soften and correct it.”
To my knowledge, from the comparisons made by numerous news organizations, blogs, etc, these “substantive” changes were:
- He revised the talk to use the word “temptations” instead of the word “tendencies.”
- He dropped the phrase, “Why would our Heavenly father do that to anyone?”
Hardly “substantive changes”. The talk still says the same thing. Perhaps there is a slight difference between “tendency” and “temptation” – the former indicates a “drift” while the latter indicates a “pull”.
so the original statement was:
“Some suppose that they were pre- set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies (drifts, inclinations, leanings) toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father.”
and the revision is:
“Some suppose that they were pre- set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations (pulls, lures, attractions) toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Remember, he is our Father.”
* italicized words my additions.
The LDS Church’s official comment is as follows:
“The Monday following every General Conference, each speaker has the opportunity to make any edits necessary to clarify differences between what was written and what was delivered or to clarify the speaker’s intent. President Packer has simply clarified his intent. As we have said repeatedly, the Church’s position on marriage and family is clear and consistent. It is based on respect and love for all of God’s children.”
Was the talk changed as a result of the protests? I really don’t think so. I feel that changing the word “Tendencies”, which indicate an “inclination’ to do something to “Temptations”, which indicate an attraction to do something and has the added weight of the “sin” aspect actually increases the straightforward seriousness of his message. Dropping the rhetorical question, “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” simply streamlines the message and increases its clarity. i believe that these “last minute changes before publication” are as they are said to be. If the church were bowing to external pressure or if they were trying to “re-write history”, the original video and audio of the talk would not be available online, it would not be pressed into inexpensive DVDs for members to purchase in a few months, etc.
Do I care that the protestors claim they got their way? No. It serves no purpose. These are they who won’t listen to reason, ignore God, and “heap unto themselves teachers, having itching ears”. They only want to hear what justifies them, and they can’t weather the truth.
Yes, God loves his children. That’s why he handed us so many easy-to-follow instructions to get back to Him. That’s why we have commandments, scriptures, churches, the Holy Ghost and living prophets. He’s made it incredibly easy to get back to him.
He wants us to learn, though – to prove ourselves through obedience. We all will have struggles. We are veiled or “blindfolded” from being able to see Him because we must learn to make these choices to strengthen what is within us – not merely to satisfy the requirements to get us to the shiny reward at the end of the field.
We must seek to conform to God, not to mold him into the form which pleases us.
“There is also an age-old excuse: “The devil made me do it.” Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.” – Boyd K. Packer
- Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel”, October 2010 LDS General Conference
- Janine McCauley, “Another View of President Packer’s Talk”, Facebook 10/05/2010 4:10pm
- Paul the Apostle, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians 10:13, The Holy Bible (KJV)
- Nephi, First Book of Nephi 3:7, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
- Peg McEntee, “Harsh Words About Gays Rekindle a Mother’s Anger”, The Salt Lake Tribune 10/23/2010 10:06pm
- ABC4.com, “Packer Makes Changes To Sermon Regarding Homosexuality”
- KSL.com, “LDS Church Addresses Changes Made to Pres. Packer’s Talk”, 10/08/2010 4:59pm