100 Years of Seminary. And BTW Gay Marriage

In 1971, Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a talk in which he stated:

The gospel might be likened to the keyboard of a piano—a full keyboard with a selection of keys on which one who is trained can play a variety without limits; a ballad to express love, a march to rally, a melody to soothe, and a hymn to inspire; an endless variety to suit every mood and satisfy every need.

How shortsighted it is, then, to choose a single key and endlessly tap out the monotony of a single note, or even two or three notes, when the full keyboard of limitless harmony can be played. (BKP, The Only True and Living Church, Ensign, Dec 1971)

This quotation was directed toward other churches; however, over the years it came to be used as a caution to avoid “gospel hobbies.”

Tonight, as the keynote speaker at a Seminary Centennial broadcast “100 Years of Seminary,” President Packer extraneously hit the note we’ve heard all too often from his pulpit: homosexuality.

42:08  I want to speak now in the Marion G. Romney pattern of straight talk about another matter. One thing that I have learned about young people through all these years, you not only can take truth, but you want to know the truth.

We know that gender was set in the premortal world. The spirit and the body are the soul of man.  The matter of gender is of great concern to the brethren, as are all matters of morality. A few of you may have felt, or have been told that you were born with troubled feelings  and you’re not guilty if you act upon these temptations. Doctrinally, we know that if that were true, your agency would have been erased. And that cannot happen.  You always have a choice to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and live morally pure and chaste, one filled with virtue.

President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the following in a General Conference, “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves gays or lesbians. My response is, Do we love them as sons and daughters of God? They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have temptations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as others do as members of this Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to church discipline, just as others are.  We want to help strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties, but we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity. If they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make a light of a very serious and sacred foundation — God sanctioned marriage and its very purpose in rearing the families.”

President Hinckley was speaking for the Church. The first gift that Adam and Eve received was agency. Thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given thee. You have the same agency. Use it wisely. Deny acting on any impure impulse or unholy temptation that may come into your mind is a blessing. Just do not go there. If you’re already there, come back out of it.  Deny yourselves of all ungodliness. Do not tamper with the life-giving powers in your body, or with members of either gender. It is a standard of the Church, and it will not change.

When President Packer spoke about gays in his sermon given at the 180th Semiannual General Conference entitled Cleansing the Inner Vessel, he stated, “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.”  In response to protests, his words were edited and softened, but at the next General Conference he reiterated, “Some suppose that they were unfairly singled out for a specific temptation. This is the purpose of mortal life — to be tested. We must, and we can, resist temptations of any kind.”

Church leaders and members worldwide are concerned that President Packer continues to frame his understanding in an doctrinal manner, regardless of the concessions that have been made to modern research and understanding of the nature of homosexuality by other Apostles and by Public Affairs officials of the Church. In this latest speech, he again specifically uses the word “doctrinal” in his exposition.

As I looked around at the youth from my stake who were gathered to honor the Seminary program, I wondered how appropriate this topic was. Children as young as 12 years old had been invited to the program. President Packer warned these youth that they were growing up in enemy territory, and spoke pointedly of Satan and his influence. He admonished them to listen to the impressions of the Holy Ghost, so they would not be deceived. He mentioned pornography at least 4 times. Then it came; a full-blown rant on the gay issue from his bully pulpit. I wondered which of the youth were being more personally affected by his words, and how they were processing them.

I realize that I, and many of you who are reading my words, have sustained Boyd K. Packer as a prophet, seer, and revelator. I know we are living in troubled times, and such men are called to guide us through them. But to this audience, on this day, to commemorate and celebrate 100 years of the educational program of Seminary? How relevant were the notes from this particular piano key?

26 Replies to “100 Years of Seminary. And BTW Gay Marriage”

  1. I am trying to make sense of BKP and his remarks. I know I need to be kinder and more Christlike towards him and those like him, but it is really hard for me. Maybe reading your thoughts will, over time, help me make sense of mine.

  2. I’d just like someone to tell us which President of the Church received the revelation that Gender was premortally set. The Family Proc was said to summarize and proclaim already held beliefs, and the handling of Packer’s conference talk shows the Church is uncomfortable with the document itself being labeled as a Revelation (“it is a guide’). so I guess the question is for the source of Packer’s “we know that” premortal gender was set. Is this similar to the “it has been taught” source of Joseph Fielding Smith concerning blood-less Adam and Eve that originated as a speculation of Orson Pratt, and just happened to be popular with later anti-evolution GAs? I’m honestly serious about this.

  3. To be honest, when I heard that President Packer went “off” on SSM during the fireside, I expected much more than this. This is just a general rehash of what he’s been saying for decades–nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps he feels somewhat frustrated to see the general rhetoric of the Church to be progressing away from the standard he has long held, and thus sees a need to voice his opinion when he has a chance. I think it would have been more surprising if he didn’t mention something along these lines in a broadcast talk.

  4. Did he really quote Hinckley as saying “Do we love them as sons and daughters of God?” Hinckley’s original quote was a statement, not a question….

  5. Having now read reports of this broadcast in legitimate news sources, I wonder why you zero in on one small part of a much broader sermon, where sexual behavior (and not gay marriage) was one concern on a list of issues that can affect reception of the Spirit, and why you suggest that that facet of his talk would not be appropriate to his audience. I also wonder by what authority, knowledge or right you are justified in making the claim that “Church leaders and members worldwide are concerned” about anything at all with regard to President Packer.

    This post is unworthy of FPR.

  6. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with talking to the LDS youth about this subject material. Regardless of ones position on the issue, we should not be afraid to bring up current, controversial issues with them. Many of us feel that our LDS history should be opened up to the youth at younger ages, why not social issues as well? While I do not personally agree with President Packer’s hard-nosed position on homosexuality, I do not feel that his comments were particularly biting or bigoted.

  7. Geeeeeez!

    I think the post is worthy of FPR…and that is why I encouraged BiV to post it.

    It does not seems that President Packer was talking about SSM, but homosexuality. That said, I actually think that the way we frame homosexuality is even more important than SSM.

    I do not have a problem with Pres. Packer bringing it up in this context. Heck, it seems a fitting tribute to what the CES Seminary program has become. However, I also think we should be able to respectfully disagree and I think that BiV has done so.

  8. I do believe it’s very important to think things out for ourselves, form our own opinions, and be informed on the goings on in the world. That said, it blows my mind how much I’m seeing people trying to latch on to this idea that the church is “behind the times” and “needs to change”. BKP is an apostle. If the first presidency wasn’t comfortable with the things he was saying, they would tell him to stop talking about it. The fact that he continues to do so makes it seem more likely that they support him, rather than the idea of the church having a “rogue apostle”. Also he quoted President Hinckley, a prophet, who also spoke clearly the churches position on homosexuality and gay marriage. This stuff isn’t new, the church has had the same position on this stuff since biblical times. I don’t know why people want to single out BKP.

  9. “That said, it blows my mind how much I’m seeing people trying to latch on to this idea that the church is “behind the times” and “needs to change”.”

    Blows you mind…like being on an LSD trip? If that is the case, you are welcome.

    That said, I think that “behind the times” arguments are not good ones. Cruel treatment of homosexuals is not just wrong because it is 2012. It has always been wrong and always.

    I, for one, and not calling for the Church to change. I just disagree with them.

  10. “Blows you mind…like being on an LSD trip? If that is the case, you are welcome.”
    I would have replied sooner, but the walls kept turning into the ceiling… 😉

    I don’t agree with the cruel treatment of homosexuals, or people, for that matter. I know the church teaches us to love one another (and we all need to get better at it).
    I think it’s possible to love someone while disagreeing with (and even counseling against) their lifestyle. (Ask any parent). I don’t feel that the church is being cruel is homosexuals. There are people who are cruel, and I do believe that that needs to change.

  11. Church leaders and members worldwide are concerned that President Packer continues to frame his understanding in an doctrinal manner

    This sentence jumped out at me, as well, and I am curious regarding background. I have no problems with anecdotal or otherwise private reports, but am interested in distinguishing between them and other more open sources.


  12. Yeah, I do not get any sense that the Church views gender and homosexuality any differently than Pres. Packet does. I also think that the vast majority of members are not bothered by his views. So, I would not say that he is in anyway out of touch with the Church.

    I can see why we might want to view it that way, but we should not kid ourselves.

  13. Here is what is wrong with Elder Packer teaching this about homosexuality in last night’s meeting: There was no warning to parents beforehand. It is not Elder Packer’s perogative to teach my children about this sensitive subject. In keeping with what Elder Packer has said for many years, the church cannot – indeed must not – do for the family, what the family can and should do for itself. Also, I have NEVER sustained Elder Packer as a prophet, seer, and revelator. I have sustained the counselors in the First Presidency, and the Twelve Apostles as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. There is a distinction – a very important distinction – between those two options.

  14. #1, Kim – The change in President Packer’s Oct 2010 Conference talk came following a petition which was submitted to LDS Church headquarters on October 12, 2010 by the gay activist organization, Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In response to the petition, church leaders acknowledged that while they disagree “on many fundamentals” they join the HRC in condemning any “acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation.” You may disagree that President Packer’s talk was changed in response to this petition and other acts of protest which occurred in SLC that week. In fact, Church spokesmen explained at the time that it is common for GAs to review their talks on the Monday following Conference, and that Pres. Packer was simply clarifying his intent.

    #2, Hal – Thank you for the reminder on being Christ-like, Hal. Blogging helps me clarify my thoughts. I hope no one will hold me to them, as they may change drastically from post to post.

    #3 – David T., I don’t know where the concept of eternal “gender” came from. But that would make a most interesting subject to research. Does anyone out there have any contributions or thoughts for a project on such a subject?

    #4, Ben; #6, Ardis; #7, Bryan – As I mentioned, I was sitting in a room with some fairly young teenagers. My own 12-year-old daughter, though not present, had been invited to the event. I was glad she had not come. I felt uncomfortable with the tone and way this sensitive subject was presented with this audience and in this venue. Perhaps you would have felt differently in my position.

  15. #5, Deborah – The Hinckley quote is up on lds.org under the topic of “Homosexuality.” Pres. Packer did not get it exactly word-for-word, but pretty close.

    “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

  16. I wonder why no one stands up for the rights of the porn addicts? It is possible to train the brain to no longer be attracted to real human beings, but only to be attracted to porn. Ask the addicts. Yes no one is born an porn addict. I don’t believe any babies come out of the womb being sexually attracted men or women either.

    Yes addicts can be cured. But it is a painful process. Some even commit suicide, are disowned by families, divorced, lose friends. Should we say it’s ok to look at porn, and say it hurts no one? Do we hate the porn addict? Do we help them? Is there something wrong with them? Can they be helped? Is it a part of who they are? No we shouldn’t hate them, yes we should help them, and be their friends, They can overcome.

    Yes there have been scientific studies that show that there are physical differences between a gay and straight person. But the mind is a powerful thing, look at the placebo/ nocebo effect. Through the placebo effect a sugar pill can cure almost anything. The placebo effect is a phenomenon where just because the brain thinks it is being cured it is actually cured. So our brain can control many physical aspects of bodies. Another example is feral children, or children raised by wild animals. There are historical examples of a few children raised by dogs. They have better smell, hardly learn how to talk, and often go back to thinking they are in fact a dog. If it is possible for a human to forget it’s species, is it possible for them to forget their sex?

    I am not saying that these ideas are true. I am just throwing out ideas out there. Just food for thought.

  17. Putting ones self in President Packer’s shoes, seeing as many of the seminary aged youth have been or are beginning to experience sexual emotions, and assuming the premises that 1) homosexuality is wrong, and 2) youth is a time when many experiment with their sexuality, it would seem quite appropriate to speak, briefly, on this subject.

    Prophets throughout all recorded times have spoken on social issues, and the idea that we should expect otherwise is an untenable position to hold. We may disagree with certain ethical positions such leaders hold, but should we expect them to not speak out when they feel they are in the right? Not only is this an issue of personal opinion, but these leaders genuinely believe that their position is that of God’s, and to not speak out would be out of line with the parameters they believe that are entailed within their calling.

  18. #13, Mogget, and #6, Ardis —

    Church leaders and members worldwide are concerned that President Packer continues to frame his understanding in an doctrinal manner

    While the church remains remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman, the understanding of homosexual inclinations has shifted over the years. I have stated that church leaders are concerned about the doctrinal expression of this understanding given by Pres. Packer. These include but are not limited to: a bishop who resigned over the issue, a bishop and members of bishoprics who have blogged about their concern over President Packer’s stance, and a stake president who advises members privately that they need not hold the same views as President Packer.

    As for members worldwide, I refer you to facebook conversations between John Dehlin and some of his 4,475 friends.

  19. #10 and #12, Steve; and #21, Bryan — The concern, as I attempted to express in the OP, is not that this subject is addressed by Church authorities. Many have done so, and as noted, have not been singled out as Boyd K. Packer has. President Packer’s remarks can be unusually harsh and often are taken as insensitive and hostile (“Why would Heavenly Father do that?”). He seems to choose inappropriate times to speak on the subject (a Conference immediately following the suicides of at least four teenagers over the previous month, all victims of anti-gay bullying or harassment; a celebration of 100 years of Seminary, to which children as young as 12 years old were invited). Additionally, he addresses homosexuality often and energetically, to the point that his name has become linked with the subject.

    It seems contradictory to his point about playing one piano key.

  20. #20, Jonathan — Oh, don’t worry. Porn addicts have been properly castigated. But the appropriateness of small children hearing this over and over is questionable. I have heard of faithful TBM parents who now send their children out of the room when BKP comes up on General Conference.

  21. As for members worldwide, I refer you to facebook conversations between John Dehlin and some of his 4,475 friends.

    Used to be 4,476, until he de-friended me for disagreeing with him. The thinking had been done. 🙁

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