As a Unitarian Universalist pastor in Utah, I serve a congregation composed of many people who have left the LDS church. Most have left with great pain, shunned too often by family and friends. Some were shamed for who they are and what they believed (or just could not bring themselves to believe.) My sermon yesterday addressed some of that pain (click) and I hope it brought some healing to some who heard it.
We always have more visitors during the LDS conference weekend, and the same was true yesterday.
I do follow what happens during the conference and was encouraged by some of the remarks made by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said “there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine.”
Wonderful words, words that generated hope among many. If the church could admit past mistakes, perhaps the future could hold positive change. Then 200 women were turned away from the priesthood meeting. Then Elder Oaks had to go on and on about how sinful same gender marriages are. The two issues are not unrelated. I truly believe if women had more real power in the LDS church, the bigotry against GLBT people would soon diminish. Almost all Mormon women are mothers, and given the large family sizes, many have GLBT children. They know the importance of unconditional love to a child’s spiritual and physical growth. They have also learned that rejecting such a child can lead to that child’s death either through suicide or through risky self-destructive behaviors.
President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, was relatively subdued this time. Elder Oaks took up his message, however, by saying,
“There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and are contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and child-bearing. These pressures have already permitted same-gender marriages in various states and nations.”
Laws legalizing so called “same-gender marriage,” he added, do not change God’s law of marriage of His commandments and standards.
“We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from bowing down to or serving other gods and priorities — even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.”
I wonder if he answered his own, earlier question:
“Are we serving priorities or gods ahead of the God we profess to worship?” “Have we forgotten the Savior who taught that if we love Him we will keep His commandments? If so, our priorities have been turned upside down by the spiritual apathy and undisciplined appetites so common in our day.”
Yes, I think the answer is definitely yes. The priorities of the LDS hierarchy are truly upside down. Patriarchy, homophobia, greed and arrogance have led them to forget the greatest commandment.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Excluding people from full inclusion in a faith community based upon their gender and or their sexual orientation does not follow that commandment. Jesus also did not say the church should build high-end shopping malls.
My marriage to my beloved partner is a blessing not a sin. The LDS church’s naming it a sin, is the real sin.
So keep praying guys (and you are all guys). Start listening to the God that lives outside your moldy doctrines. Start listening to the women who could lead you home.
Summaries of the conference talks are (here)