Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Change in the LDS Church?

There can be a good deal of cloak and dagger in the gay Mormon world, for obvious reasons, but much of the info that gets to me goes through the grapevine; it’s stuff that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. So when a LDS friend of Rob’s tell him that she has personally had a long talk with Monson just a while before he became President Monson and that she feels assured that he’s committed to slowly, but greatly improving the lot of gay men and women in the LDS church… well, it sounds fishy. It’s not that she’d lie but that she could have heard what she wanted; I don’t know her well enough to tell.

One thing has been on my mind, though. Danzig. Remember the LDS pressroom response to the Danzig controversy? It seemed kind of strange and out of character, but this was what really stuck out:

In his Tribune letter-to-the-editor, Mr. Danzig said he “was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ.” In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment.
The Church “did not request support or opposition to the amendment.” Now anyone paying attention would know that the LDS church in reality :-) has made it clear that they want members to support such marriage-banning amendments. Consequently, this statement, a response to a news story, caused some to experience a good deal of incredulity. It seemed to some like a disingenuous, or at least silly denial. But I don’t know.

The LDS church did most of that past encouraging of members to politically act against our families before this new presidency.

The problem for religions is that they benefit greatly by being the rock, the unflinching and assuring word of truth, but they also have to eventually change with new human moral discoveries. If you pay attention to, say, the Catholic Church, it takes a good deal of evidence to get anything near a mia culpa out of them, though. Most of the time a religion must use clever interpretations of their past actions and lawyerly arguments to both change and maintain that they never did, or to change but maintain that the change was already in the works; it was the unalterable plan of God all along for things to be one way back then, but another way now. That way they both evolve to survive and give that hard-to-find comfort in stability, in Truth.

So, what if there is a less PR-motivated explanation to this Danzig response? Is the church now trying to tell members they are not requesting that they support such legislation against our families? If so, does the change have something to do with the new President? Maybe it’d be putting too much weight into hearsay, but this could be seen as a change for the better, instead of a PR dodge.

Eh, I’m not putting much stock in it; it’s just been something on the mind.

7 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

The problem for religions is that they benefit greatly by being the rock, the unflinching and assuring word of truth, but they also have to eventually change with new human moral discoveries.

Amen.

Is the church now trying to tell members they are not requesting that they support such legislation against our families?

I wish I could share your optimism on that one. My view of the church's verbal sleight of hand is that the wiggle room was part of the package from the beginning. They know that as an ostensibly charitable organization they can jeopardize their tax-exempt status by direct politcal action. Hence, they encourage people to express "their views" (wink) on the topic of gay marriage.

When a person is ejected from the church for expressing a contrary view in public (oops), the church's potentially illegal political action is given the spotlight. The church goes into damage-control mode and coyly reiterates that it never really meant to say which side to take on this life-or-death, save-civilization-as-we-know-it, the-sky-is-falling moral issue.

This is, as my kids say, lame. And everyone knows it.

Not only do they know it, they're talking about it online. The Internet is making it a lot harder to control what people think. Eventually, the church must follow the lead of culture in general. So it's a question of when more than if. I hope your tip on Monson's openness to gay glasnost is on the mark.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

I'm not too hopeful that that is what they intended.

But I do hope that they may one day mean it.

Jér said...

Religion is, by its very nature, something of a long con, and the Mormon church is far from being an exception. I see this as just another part of the Mormon version of the religious long con.

Pressure is building, however. Things are changing, and will continue to change, and the Mormon church, along with all the other churches that try to appear reasonable, will find it harder and harder to maintain their outward positions as non-bizarro-fundamentalist sects. And maybe, like in 1890 with the Manifesto, or in 1976 with the revelation on the priesthood, the Mormon church will fold and try to backtrack and retcon their own history.

I'm no longer a theist, let alone a Mormon, so I have no personal stake in the Mormon church's position on homosexuality, but I would still love to see the day when the First Presidency tries to get the general membership to swallow a proclamation on homosexuality: "President Monson prayed and pleaded with the Lord for months, arguing on behalf of our homosexual brothers and sisters, and finally the Lord revealed the truth: being gay is okay! In fact, it always was, but you guys weren't ready to hear it. Or maybe we guys in charge weren't ready to allow it? Oops! Our bad."

Molly Sue said...

It bothers me that the "Church" would be compelled to change doctrine based on social and cultural proclivities. They should be leading the way if they are as they say "the one and only true church" otherwise they just appear to be giving into the pressures of society...I don't trust them anyway.

["President Monson prayed and pleaded with the Lord for months, arguing on behalf of our homosexual brothers and sisters, and finally the Lord revealed the truth: being gay is okay! In fact, it always was, but you guys weren't ready to hear it. Or maybe we guys in charge weren't ready to allow it? Oops! Our bad."]
I can just hear this happening (har, har) and I'm with you on the notion that it will a day late and a dollar short.

playasinmar said...

The forthcoming Monson Manifesto, to which you are referring, will contain not one but two CS Lewis quotes.

Also, not every change in stance is massaged into canon. Remember the Curse of Cain?

They dragged that folder straight to the recycle bin and that was that.

Scot said...

That’s certainly likely, MoHoHawaii. Maybe far more likely. What makes me second-guess is that it just seemed so unnecessary to publically state that they do not encourage members to vote in such a way here, when they most certainly have. I mean, if they still want members to politically act against our families with a wink, it seems best to just leave that disclaimer out of such a statement, and save the arguing for the unlikely event of court action on this matter.

On issues like this, I think I’d rather be political and pay the tax. If a group really thinks it’s right to use government to implement such a rule right along with any other moral, then to refrain from doing so for money is potentially debasing.

I’m just hoping that the rumors are true, and this is instead a sign of change.

Jer: I have no personal stake in the Mormon church's position on homosexuality

Just by living in Utah, though, I can’t help but imagine how differently I’d greet the legislative session if the LDS leadership said its members should treat our families with equity.

Molly: They should be leading the way if they are as they say "the one and only true church" otherwise they just appear to be giving into the pressures of society.

To my view, they, as part of society, do a bit of both. I can very much appreciate the LDS church’s charitable leadership and their focus on family here in Utah, even if, as it was with race, there are some areas where society’s effect on the church will be a welcome improvement. In fact I think they’ve already changed greatly in response to society's new understanding of orientation, and there’s reason for optimism.

Playasinmar: Also, not every change in stance is massaged into canon. Remember the Curse of Cain?

An exception to every rule :-).

Jér said...

@Scot: That's true. Of course I have a personal stake. Even if I don't care what their doctrine is, I care about the implications of that doctrine.