In 2013 when I was blogging independently at WBMW (now Latter-day Saint Woman), I wrote a post explaining my initial thoughts in response to the possibility of allowing openly gay youth to participate in the Boy Scouts of America program. This consideration by BSA was being made because they were receiving a great deal of pressure from the LGBT community and also some commercial supporters were threatening to withdraw much needed financial assistance. Needless to say, the liberal media, per their usual protocol, was firing the storm as advocates for gay rights and doctrinal change in the orthodox churches. BSA had some serious decisions to make considering their relationship with many of these conservative organizations, of which the Latter-day Saints were among the strongest.
Meanwhile, the Church was waiting on the sidelines to see what they would ultimately do if that actually happened and of course, members were on edge. In light of these circumstances, you can imagine the heated speculation taking place online; the catalyst which motivated my personal (totally independent) response as a LDS blogger to take a stand and declare that if the BSA made the decision to allow openly gay boys to participate in the program that I believed, simply put, that as disciples of Jesus Christ this would be the right thing to do and that I believed the Church would ultimately support. Let me just say, that in the years of blogging leading up to that issue I had never experienced such a strong division of feelings within our Latter-day Saint community. I was floored that so many good and faithful members could not see this ever happening. Many felt that if this actually came about that the Church would immediately pull out of BSA and if not, they would! That’s how passionate this issue became at the time.
Well, we all know how this story is ending, don’t we? BSA did make the decision to allow openly gay youth to participate in the program and the Church, vowing to maintain their standards, retained its longstanding relationship with the organization, until just recently.
I’m bringing up the past not to say I was right about what the Church did in response to BSA’s decision when so many were wrong in thinking the Church would go another way at that time. Rather, I’m bringing it up because I feel that we may possibly be experiencing a similar situation in perhaps some doubting the leadership of the Church incorrectly, yet again. At that time, many asked me what I based my opinion, so confidently, upon. My response, consistently, was that it was based on the doctrine and policies of the Church, what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ and our call to love as He loves.
Currently, many faithful members are feeling confused or are questioning the recent Church support (financial and or verbal) for the LGBT community on the topic of suicide prevention for LDS gay youth, among other issues. Their concerns are that these statements are void of any mention about Church standards (which they feel could go a long way for both members and those of other faiths who need to see how solidly we stand on these important issues). Some believe that in disregarding the doctrine when making public statements, the Church may be signaling an eventual softening of doctrines and policy regarding homosexual behavior. Needless to say, this is the exact hope of most Latter-day Saint LGBT advocates, strongly supported and promoted for by the mainstream media. In fact, the Church released the following statement via the LDS Public Affairs Department (Mormon Newsroom) in response to various inquiries by the media:
“We remain committed to support community efforts throughout the world to prevent suicide, bullying, and homelessness. Every young person should feel loved and cared for in their families, their communities, and their congregations. We can come together, bringing our perspectives and beliefs, and make each community a safe place for all.
God’s message is one of hope, and we want our LGBT brothers and sisters to know that they are loved, valued, and needed in His Church.
So much good can be done when a community comes together to address important issues. We appreciate the sincere efforts of many who are trying to prevent suicide, bullying, and homelessness among vulnerable groups, including LGBT youth. We are grateful to be a part of the work to find solutions.”
Now, at face value, most would not think anything of this statement other than seeing it as a kind gesture of Christlike support and love by the Savior’s Church and its leaders’ which it is. However, when either the media or various groups advocating for doctrinal change in the Church get hold of pretty much anything the Church distributes as a show of love and support for the LGBT community it is quickly manipulated by advocates, with the aid of Internet media, as a move closer to the desired hope for change. Certainly, we can understand how easy that can happen, and frankly, we should expect the challenge.
What concerns me, however, is that those of us who know the doctrine and faithfully “follow the prophet(s)” (meaning: we listen/watch General Conference and study the talks following conference) should know that we have been consistently, no wavering whatsoever, taught that the doctrine of marriage — only between a man and a woman — will not change. The doctrine of chastity will not change. Not going to happen, regardless of what anyone on the Internet insists. And the reason it will not change is simply that it can not in order to fulfill the laws according to the great plan of happiness. During the October 2017 General Conference of the Church, just prior to his call into the First Presidency, then Elder Dallin H. Oaks provided this instruction:
“The gospel plan each family should follow to prepare for eternal life and exaltation is outlined in the Church’s 1995 proclamation, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Its declarations are, of course, visibly different from some current laws, practices, and advocacy of the world in which we live. In our day, the differences most evident are cohabitation without marriage, same-sex marriage, and the raising of children in such relationships….
“Converted Latter-day Saints believe that the family proclamation… is the Lord’s reemphasis of the gospel truths we need to sustain us through current challenges to the family.
“The family proclamation begins by declaring “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”… It further declares “that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
“I testify that the proclamation on the family is a statement of eternal truth, the will of the Lord for His children who seek eternal life. It has been the basis of Church teaching and practice for the last 22 years and will continue so for the future. Consider it as such, teach it, live by it, and you will be blessed as you press forward toward eternal life.”
Knowing this should give us full trust in the Lord that regardless of how loud the voices in the world for doctrinal change become, we can be at peace with what we know to be bedrock eternal truths. The eternal truth of God’s plan as taught in the Family Proclamation is solid. No amount of “hope for change”, no matter the loud advocacy and political pressure upon the Church, can “soften” the doctrine. What it can do, and hopefully will do, is soften our hearts toward those who experience same-sex attraction and the many challenges they experience as they strive to come unto Christ. In this, we all have much growing to do as true disciples of Jesus Christ.
I am thankful for these times that we live in, where the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is upon the earth. I believe that the truths of the gospel are powerful enough to withstand the buffetings of the adversary, as are those whom the Lord has called to lead His Church. At least for me, as I did when so many were feeling unsure of what the Church would do where BSA is concerned (some beginning to lose confidence), I choose to trust completely their example of loving outreach to God’s children and their inspiration as to how to navigate the Church during these tumultuous times.
We must never forget, that God loves all of His children. Each of us is on the same journey back into His presence, though on different paths and at a different speed of progression dependent on knowledge and individual choices. With that understanding, let us strengthen our resolve to trust the Lord’s servants’ and increase our abilities to minister to one another. In doing so, we can stand firm in the teachings of the gospel and better apply those teachings to those whom we desire to lift and comfort. Truly, the gospel when lived brings great joy and peace into our lives. It changes us. It can change others when they feel that love as we more fully emulate it in our own lives. The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides that power; the literal power to heal all things and change every soul anew.
Like so many of you, I deeply love the doctrines of the gospel and find great joy in sustaining the Lord’s prophets’ as they teach and counsel us on how to come unto Christ and become like Him. Though not one of them is perfect, I believe they are inspired and directed on all matters important to our day. I have a peaceful assurance that the President of the Church, whom we sustain as a prophet, seer and revelator speaks the mind and will of God as taught in holy scripture and leads us with power today:
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”