Back in November last year (2015) Christopher D. Cunningham wrote an article on ‘The 9 Facebook Myths About the Church’s New LGBT Policy.‘
This my response to most of it…. please note: The Capitals – mainly at the outset, are from the article above and are Christopher’s words, not mine.
“EVEN THOUGH THESE ARE PROCEDURAL CHANGES THAT REAFFIRM A CORE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH, THE CHURCH’S OPPONENTS HAVE WASTED LITTLE TIME IN BEGINNING THEIR ATTACK” Just ‘procedural changes,’ so shouldn’t really be a big deal to either member or ex-member? Well, what if another procedural change, was to place all children of Gay parents at the front of the primary opening exercises once per month so that kids from Straight parents can laugh them to tears? Ok, I know – I know, a rather bazaar idea, yet if such a silly rule should be adopted, how terrible for those children! Just to excuse it as a mere ‘procedural change,’ is a complete denial of its significance and cruelty – as if those who oppose it are being picky…. such a trivial thing to object to! So, the cruelty, isolationism, stigmatization and insensitivity toward children, that came as revelation, is just a ‘procedural change,’ Oh, that’s ok then.
Myth #1 THESE CHANGES PUNISH CHILDREN
“THE MOST PERVASIVE MYTH YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THESE CHANGES IS THAT THEY PUNISH CHILDREN. ALL PEOPLE CAN RECEIVE ALL THE ORDINANCES OF SALVATION AND EXALTATION. AND ALL CHILDREN CAN ATTEND ALL CHURCH ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS. THERE IS NO DEGREE OF PUNISHMENT THAT EXISTS IN THESE NEW CHANGES. CHILDREN MUST SIMPLY WAIT UNTIL THEY CAN LEGALLY MAKE THEIR OWN DECISION TO JOIN THE CHURCH, RATHER THAN RELYING ON THEIR PARENT’S APPROVAL.” Oh that’s wonderful too then – thank goodness that children of say, 3 to 8 are actually mature enough – who must, it seems, be quite capable and adequately adjusted in life to deal with the stigma and sense of shame that comes as naturally and as effortlessly, as sewer water through a pipe – distilling disapproval and contamination upon their pure souls, as they struggle to identify why they and their parents are part of a systematic persecution program?
“WHILE A PARENT IN A SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIP COULD THEORETICALLY APPROVE OF THEIR CHILD’S BAPTISM, QUESTIONING THEIR MOTIVATION TO DO SO WOULD BE PRUDENT SINCE THEY HAVE SO PROMINENTLY REJECTED THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH.” What a judgmental stance: ‘rejected the teachings.’ Oh my word, they must have completely thrown the towel in? Erased their entire testimony; dumped years of profound influence of making wise and loving choices; eradicated the affects of study, prayer, past sacrifice, association and service….. thus making them so unfit to know whether their child is ready for baptism? What a sanctimonious and altogether dismissive thing to say. Shame indeed.
But we learn here also, that the church is merely trying to ‘protect’ children? In my opinion the church absolutely had no such intentions, but if they can latch on to a benefit, this nasty and abusive rule will appear kinder. The truth is, the church has not the slightest idea what is good or harmful for a child and acts generally within the confines of religiously dogmatized ideas, that acquiesce to whichever parent is most active and whatever expands membership.
Myth #2 TREATS LGBT PEOPLE WORSE THAN OTHER SINNERS
What is clear, is that the church regards all moral transgressions (whether Straight or Gay, single or married) with their ongoing paranoia of purity codes. In this respect, fornicating youth can meet the same discipline as elicit single Gay sex.
However, Straight youth are not penalized for ‘appropriate sex’ once married – Gays are; they can NEVER find any approval or acceptance from the church, in either having, or celebrating a permanent loving relationship. It is not a myth to maintain, that in general, children from within Gay relationships ARE treated worse. If the hierarchy believes in Christian teachings, then they will recognize the concept of ‘Sinfulness’ within all members, or what they often refer to as: ‘The Natural Man,’ It is endemic. Every Saint is a sinner with a daily baggage of little transgressions. (I might add, these are no longer my ideas, but they are nevertheless canonized into Mormon philosophy and scripture). Such things as anger, hatred, greed, arrogance, conceit, ingratitude, indifference, harshness, abuse, jealousy, envy, dishonesty and sustained unkindness…. All these, and many more, are aspects of the same mess which share the same body as inner beauty, love, goodness, humility and unselfishness. But, there is no significant ‘badness’ or ‘goodness’ in us, which should especially penalize these little children, or their guardians. But the church with its harsh purity codes, seeks to always label and punish. Targeting children is another new low for Mormonism.
We should not be shocked by this. The church has always failed to value people from the perspective of their deepest and innermost condition. Sexual orientation, sexual transgression – even on the mildest level, is magnified so greatly in the eyes of the hierarchy that they are blind to the shining identity of each soul. Children and suicidal youth are now their latest victims.
“Myth #3 VIOLATES THE CHURCH’S 2ND ARTICLE OF FAITH
I’m not really interested in this argument, either for, or against.
“Myth #4 REQUIRES CHILDREN TO REJECT PARENTS
The idea that this requirement does not, or will not, cause tensions, a sense of disloyalty, conflict and possible damage with their parental relationships, is false. Of course it will cause problems. It reminds me of the cursed policy to deny non-member loved-ones, access to witness temple marriages…. only the church’s continuing and relentless unkindness, and their nasty tendency toward arrogance and control, stands in the way.
Myth #5 PLACES NEWBORN CHILDREN IN STATE OF APOSTASY
No, children are just pawns the church uses; the considered ‘apostates’ are the parents. The church and its spokespeople are mealy-mouthed with words of love and caring; how opposite are their real intentions, or at least, the actual effect upon people. Only deluded fools will follow the line that all this is to protect children. The truth is – this policy antagonizes the relationships it purports to safeguard. Why should such children have to ‘disavow’ the status of their parents? It is just a technicality, to suggest they are not required to say a word about their parents, when we all know very well, that that is what, in effect, they are being asked to do! Will they also be asked to ‘disavow’ Black prejudice, blood atonement, polygamy, or suicide bombers? Will ALL adults seeking to be baptized be asked such questions? If not, why not? It’s a policy of alienation, but the church is not honest enough to admit it.
“Myth #6 CHURCH IS DEPRIVING ITSELF OF LGBT MEMBERS
I share John Dehlin’s view, that the church is indeed depriving itself of so many great LGBT people. In addition, it deprives itself of so many Straight ex members, who might have stayed, had they felt unjudged and valuable. The logic of course is that this is a myth because LGBT members who persist in their life style choice (as with any other cohabiting members) create their own barrier through their own sins.
Whether it is a myth, depends on one’s fundamental beliefs about God, the church, human beings and individual conscience. Ironic to me, is the realization by many, that Joseph Smith himself was ‘sin personified’ in the area of moral behaviour. I would say without hesitation, that to trust God on the topic of Smith’s claimed character, is to be twice bitten, in claiming the church’s present policy represents the Divine Will. I remember that first cosy chat between Elder Christofferson and their own PR representative – announcing this new Revelation and how Christ was immediately dragged in as if to vindicate their pernicious definition of ‘caring’ and ‘love.’ Once – now deceased – an old English Cleric by the name of Jessop, who had the wisdom this church seems to have lost, coined a phrase most suitable. He, speaking of Law and Love, used the phrase: “The Badness of Goodness.” It describes that strange situation of a religious body being so paranoid about ‘righteousness,’ that they create badness.
“Is there anything so implacable as moral rigour? In its secular form it is harsh enough, but when it is part of a religious life, deriving its sanctions from God, it can be inexorable to the point of fiendishness . . . . . They had a view of life that made particular affection often wrong and general duty always right. In them moral rigorism showed its perfect fruit, goodness consistently leading to badness.”
“Myth #7 THIS HURTS ME PERSONALLY
Yes indeed, I agree – axe murderers and child rapist might also think that their feelings matter too. Interestingly, those who have ‘Come out,’ as well as those who have become ex members, have, generally, been on the ‘inside’ of Mormonism for decades (I myself for over 40 years) We have known the experience of conversion, the sacred and the holy. We were part of the same spirit and we KNEW what it meant and what it felt like to be wholly immersed in the LDS culture. Now we have come upon a different shore where we have found our more authentic selves. Contrary to the actual myth still perpetuated by the church – that we have LOST the spirit – I assure you we never LOST anything! Everything we ever did, everything we ever felt and everything we ever experienced was locked down in memory and is part of who we are. We have a white-hot memory; a vivid recollection of both the good and the bad; the tears, the fasting, the obedience and the sacrifices. We remember what it felt like to both think and feel as LDS. We have one single advantage over those who never stood apart for long enough to re-evaluate what was once chosen. And what strikes me is how naïve and stupid I was. I had no idea how badly my brain was dulled and reality distorted. What I have noticed so frequently with orthodox LDS, is the fact that most (I did not say everyone) seem disabled and incapable of seeing a hand in front of their face! As if they are quite blind! For ex-members or Gays to express any feelings of hurt, embarrassment, anxiety or fear, in any sincere attempt that appears to challenge (by design or default) the church, inevitably falls on deaf ears. The church must be right, so in the end, your feelings don’t matter – you are part of the problem. Your hurt can never be registered – they are not capable. No wonder then, that in the face of apparent charisma, priesthood authority, smooth words, threats and intimidation, Smith got away with murder. Sacrifice, tears, endurance and obedience, come from souls who have surrendered to a religious body who are hot on rhetoric but pigmies with compassion. Yes, bleeding hearts don’t necessarily justify the persons who claim rightness, but sadly, apostles and prophets are so badly prejudiced against common sense and clear thinking, that they blunder from one fiasco to another.
“Myth #8 THE CHURCH LOST AND SHOULD MOVE ON
I think that any church to stick by its principles is good, despite popular trends. However, the church staggers forward for contradictory leverage with past U turns on all kinds of things, like temple changes, polygamy, obeying the law, Black prejudice, phased out dogmas, moth-balled doctrines, political intimidation and financial greed. Not a very shining example. Even Mr Bushman has recently stated that the church needs to adapt. I don’t actually think the church really does stand on principles anyway – it stands on its own prejudice of distorted truth and will continue to struggle until it becomes totally clean.
“Myth #9 THESE CHANGES ARE ETERNAL DOCTRINE
Part of the fear in religion is to talk about ‘Eternal Doctrine.’ It usually manages to scare the pants of most members and lull the rest away into dreams of glorious kingdoms. Bless them.