I believe in ongoing revelation. I believe that God inspires the leadership of the Church.

But I don't believe that He spoon feeds them every little thing they need to know. Rather, my guess is that, with most things, they have to struggle and work issues out just as they would in their personal lives. Often, we point to prophets' earlier lives to show that they were prepared by the Lord for their calling, and this proves that prophets must also rely on their personal experience and wisdom when making decisions. In many cases, though, with this experience and wisdom come biases and prejudice. While I hold the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of our church to be men of God, they are still just that--men--with all the flaws and imperfections of mortality. The results of this--which include the issue of blacks and the Priesthood--are quite clear.

I think Heavenly Father knew these dilemmas would arise, and gave us the Holy Ghost to account for that. After all, didn't President Brigham Young say, "The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord"? [By the way, this quote and others I found on Serendipity. Thanks, Sarah!]

On the other hand, I came across this reading in D&C, Official Declaration--2:

"Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance" (emphasis mine).

What do you all make of this? It seems to say that the obedience of the minority to the Church policy/doctrine (?) that restricted them was a reason for the prophets' seeking additional revelation. Does that mean we have an obligation to exhibit a similar 'faithfulness of the oppressed' in the hope that it would spur "spending many hours...supplicating the Lord for divine guidance"? Or do you think living a morally upright life in a monogamous gay relationship would have an equally powerful effect?

I know some gay members pray and fast and feel that the Holy Ghost has directed them to seek a same-sex marriage (or rough equivalent where marriage isn't available). Their question might be, "Why must I wait for the General Authorities to receive an answer Heavenly Father has already given me?" But does this kind of thinking conflict with the quote from D&C above?

In other words, is following the Church's prescribed celibacy an act of devoted obedience to a loving God, faithful submission to the True Church, or resigned acceptance of ignorant oppression? I suppose the answer must be worked out between us and God, a question of faith. But there again, I reject the simplistic viewpoint that suggests, 'Gay Mormons have a temptation like any other, and the 20% who stay in the Church are the 20% that have enough faith.' So many Mormons--taught the slogan "Life is a test" since their Primary days--see the MoHo predicament as, 'you have enough faith to stay in the Church--pass' or 'you don't have enough faith--fail'. I have come to see that it is not as starkly black and white as that.

I appreciate any and all thoughts if you would like to offer them!


Alan said...

All very relevant questions. And I like you reject the black/white approach to this, so I won't presume to try to give you answers to everything.

I will say however that I believe the phrase "witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld" is what we in the legal profession call "obiter dicta," that is, commentary that is interesting but has no binding or precedential effect as a law, rule, or reliable guidance. It's descriptive background.

If it does anything, it leaves open the interesting question of why the priesthood was withheld from otherwise faithful brethren. I think consensus is building that it was withheld not by divine mandate, because Joseph Smith's own actions contradict that, but rather it was withheld because certain early leaders' racism ossified into a policy and then a quasi-doctrine because nobody thought to question it. In short, it was withheld by man, not God.

And given the persuasive scholarly, historical, linguistic and theological analysis I've read which undercuts all popular anti-gay interpretations of Biblical verses, and the absence of any reference to homosexuality in the uniquely LDS scriptural canon, I can't help but wonder whether someday the same will be said about God's gay sons and daughters from whom many blessings are currently withheld by the Church.

Abelard Enigma said...

Welcome to the gray middle ground that so many of us find ourselves in. You bring up some profound questions that I wish I had answers to. Unfortunately, for now, we are left to our own devices to resolve this paradox of that which we are taught intellectually to be truth and that which we feel in our heart to be truth.

Beck said...

I'm convinced that the "one path fits all" answers no longer apply. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, for, for years I was the guy who professed there was "no other way". Now, I'm embarrassed to admit that I was once so all-or-nothing.

That said, I am a firm believer that change will come as we, the gay brothers and sisters of this community, STAY in the church and give face and voice to our predicament, working in faithfulness to increase love, tolerance and understanding where only darkness and disgust reside. LEAVING, at least for me, does less good than fighting from within.