Saturday, January 15, 2005


this is a little preface i wrote to my preceding post in an attempt to get it posted on


the restored gospel is something that is continuously on my mind. it's in my classes. in my drive to work. at the gym. and in my studies. i decided to jot down some of the things that have crossed my mind lately. some of you may agree with what i have to say. some of you may find it controversial. some may want to label me anti-mormon and kick me out of town.

i am far from anti-mormon. i love the gospel. i love what it teaches. i believe in it. if i didn't, i would not care about the direction much of the church has taken. i firmly believe that joseph smith wa a prophet of god. i love the book of mormon. what that book teaches can change the world if people would just open it up and really follow it. i love the teachings of god that joseph revealed. i believe president gordon b hinckley is a prophet of god. sure, sometimes i think what he is saying is the voice of an old guy who sees the world through old man eyes, but that doesn't make him less of a prophet. a prophet is not a marionette puppet dangling on strings guided by god's fingers. there is no papal infallibility in the church. the prophet is a man. a man who speaks and reasons with god and is inspired to make certain choices to bless human lives. his vision of mini-temple, the perpetual immigration fund, and such are great examples of his revelatory calling.

with all of this, i see that in some senses the church is failing (by 'church' i mean the people of the church). we are human (and yes, this includes church leaders). we make choices. sometimes we choose well. other times we don't. what bothers me at times is the beauty i see in the restored gospel being tarnished by pride, self-righteousness, selfishness, and power. this is the same problem that plagued the nephites continually in the book of mormon. unfortunately, it seemed that it usually took some pretty heavy destruction to set them right... not by fear, but by removing the power structures that bred their failings.

my latter quick notes on polygamy may seem the most troubling to some of you. to others, it may seem like nothing. the history (especially early history) of polygamy in the church is quite chaotic, i wish it were easy to settle. i've tried for several years to make sense of it. it's interesting that the dangers of polygamy are spoken of greatly in the book of mormon, yet there is also a polyamy clause as well... long before the idea crossed joseph's mind. i believe it is based on revelation. however, through studying much of it's history, it becomes quite obvious that there was much else going on and it became quite a mess. the bofm says that there is a place, time, and reason for it. i'm not sure what those are, but for several strong reasons, i do not believe that polygamy has any necessary value for salvation or glorification.

anyways... i'm posting this cuz i want to know how other college students here in happy valley feel about it. do you agree? do you you disagree? should i be tarred and feathered? why?


  1. "Elder Durden"--

    As you know I am neither a member of the Church not do I live in your town, so I shall not try to run you out of either. I might comment specifically about some of the theological issues you raise later, but for now I will just recommend that you pick up a copy of the December 2003 issue of SUNSTONE. Specifically, I recommend the articles under the heading "Spiritual Paths After September 1993," about the ex-communications of D. Michael Quinn and others.

    It will be interesting to see who--other than a non-Utahn, non-Mormon like myself--will be willing to talk to you intelligently about the things you want to discuss. Please post again if your submission gets put on

  2. On gays and the Church:

    There have been more than a few declarations by Church leaders on gays--many of which must be very hurtful to any young LDS man or woman dealing with same-gender attraction. The vehemence with which Church leaders often discuss this subject--and the political capital the Church has expended to combat measures it sees as fostering societal acceptance of homosexuality--is completely out of proportion to any actions the Church has directed against the legalization of gambling or abortion or any of a number of other "moral" issues--not to mention the absence of any strong support for widespread anti-poverty measures coming out of Salt Lake City. What has been surprising to me is the continued faith in the restored Gospel on the part of so many who must suffer at each new example of this seeming monomania on the part of their Church leaders.

    So it was with great surprise and joy that I saw that Deseret Book had published In Quiet Desperation, a poignant book co-written by Fred and Marilyn Matis (whose son killed himself after years of struggle with same-gender attraction) and Ty Mansfield (a young Saint who continues to struggle with same). This past September's ENSIGN there was an article entitled Compassion For Those Who Struggle in which a young man addresses his continued faith and commitment to the restored Gospel and how those who see him every week in his ward can (and can't) help him with his struggle. I hope that these writings will be only the beginning of a different approach the Church will take towards dealing with this issue.

    Ironically, though, it is not always the "Church leaders" and people from past generations who are the most difficult to bring around to this more compassionate approach. I continue to be stunned by this 2001 article about gays at BYU which appeared in the Salt Lake City Weekly. The young men profiled in the piece are, for the most part, very committed to their faith. Even the ones who admit that they might eventually find themselves loving and living with another man describe such a potential future relationship in terms of monogamous commitment to another person--not in terms of thousands of encounters with anonymous sex partners in bars (the view seemingly held by those expressing the greatest hostility toward gays).

    The article goes on to point out that the BYU administration is usually willing to work with these young men--so long as they remain committed to chastity and the Honor Code--but that fellow students are not so willing. In fact, 42 percent of BYU students surveyed around the same time felt that students with same-gender attraction issues should not be admitted to the Lord's University under any circumstances.

    The words of Mosiah 3:19 are certainly known to every Latter-day Saint:

    "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

    I see the spirit of this scripture at work in so many of the stories I have read of young Latter-day Saint men and women who are struggling today with many problems--same-gender attraction being only one example. The LDS Church--and indeed ANY Church--needs to be prepared and willing to be compassionate to those in their midst who continue to struggle to "putteth off the natural man" instead of slamming the doors to the Church in their faces.

  3. i never cease to be amazed by those who think the church ought to conform to their ideas, and not vice-versa...lots of "members in good standing" who feel themselves to be morally/intellectually superior to the church leadership often run into...

    ...well, do you remember the "september six" back in '93? that.

    it's not "free thought" that comdemns us, it's arrogance.



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