Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Timely Message


Thank you, President Packer, for saying what I wait every General Conference to hear.  On some issues it just seems that, for whatever reason, the Brethren speak vaguely or generally, their words are twisted and manipulated to meet certain persons' needs and desires.  But in this instance, I felt the purpose and point of the talk were crystal clear.  President Packer's conference address, regardless of the incredible amount of political, social and religious (not to mention hypocritical and pathetic) backlash, was one of humility, compassion and love.  To infer anything else would be willfully and knowingly contrary to the intent and delivery, as would be obvious to any open-minded person who actually bothered to listen to/read the talk.  I've been feeling lately there's a pretty big problem with the rising generation having to do with victim mentality, a sense of entitlement and an overall know-it-all attitude (and I don't exclude myself in said generation).  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a doctrine of empowerment and encouragement, perspective and humility, understanding we are basically nothing without Him.  Ignoring all of that would be a huge personal and eternal disservice.

Things are getting more and more black and white these days, for better or worse, and lines are definitely being drawn and sides are definitely being taken.  I believe I said several years ago that this would be the issue that divides the Church, and it breaks my heart to see it happening more and more openly and blatantly.  Sinful tendencies, behavior, or even thought patterns of any kind (that's ANY kind) can and must be overcome.  Such is the state of humanity and the promise of the Atonement.  This is refreshing and necessary to constantly review, and really quite empowering.  Thank you again for the reminder, President Packer.


  1. Drew, I have never commented on any statements you have made on facebook (when it comes to this topic) because I usually don't agree, but I have to comment on the last statement in this post because I believe it is contrary to the churches teachings and the first presidency's message on same gender attraction. I believe your statement is to "black and white." This is a direct quote from the same gender pamphlet, found on the church's website:
    " Many people with same-gender attractions have strong testimonies of the gospel and, therefore, do not act on those attractions. Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction. The First Presidency stated, “There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior” (letter, Nov. 14, 1991)"
    So to have those attractions, or thoughts :) is not a sin. Also they changed the word tendencies to temptations in Elder Packers talk on the churches website. This change was consistent with my interpretation of his statement, and former statements from the church on this topic. As stated very often by church leaders, someone might have those tendencies and thoughts (attraction not immoral thoughts) their whole life and it is only when they act upon them that they are sinning.

  2. I just brain-vomited and Blogger wouldn't post the comment because apparently it can't be more than 4,096 characters... ha! Okay, so here's part 1:

    This is a subject I am personally quite passionate about. I find myself defending both sides of this controversy, depending on the detail at hand, and admittedly, I'm still not sure what the absolute truth is, but here are some things that I do know...

    Much of the uprising on this talk seems to be over the fact that Packer just declared that gay people AREN'T born this way and are using that as an excuse for being immoral. But he DID NOT say that. He just said you're not helpless. It's not set in stone for you. You won't be tempted above that which you are able. He didn't give an opinion or a prophecy on whether it's inborn or not. He simply said that IF YOU FEEL IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO OVERCOME, you are incorrect. What he said is irrelevant to whether same gender attraction is inborn or not.

    Something else that's irrelevant? Whether these tendencies/temptations are inborn or not is irrelevant to morality. But it does help in understanding. It does help in opening your heart. In having the compassion to treat those that struggle with same gender attraction the same way you would someone struggling with any other inborn temptation, be it of sexual nature or having "an addictive personality" or anything else.

    And I don't mean treat them with pity. Not from a pedestal. But from an equal, accepting, Christlike viewpoint.

    It is inborn in every human to lust after things that are not ours. It is inborn in teenage boys and even many girls to be tempted to masturbate. Does that make those things right? Either way, it is inborn. So yes, I mean to say that these individuals are going through the same struggle that I am. That my neighbor is. That you are. It's the same human struggle with a different label.

  3. BEGIN VERY ACUTE AND ABSURD EXAMPLE: Many say that God wouldn't allow something like this to be inborn. Yet he "allows" hermaphrodites to be born. And then in this case it is the parents job to choose a gender for them so they can be be made right surgically. What if during puberty, it's discovered that the parents made the wrong choice... made clear by the child's attraction tendencies? Is that person then a sinner? END VERY ACUTE AND ABSURD EXAMPLE. But if God "allows" this to happen, why is it so far-fetched to suppose that God would "allow" a far less drastic genetic uniquity to occur?

    This entire subject has stirred a lot of confusion in my own heart, due to witnessing someone close to me, who was raised LDS, and had same-gender attraction since the first grade. No, not as an adult claiming to have had it since then, but really having it since then, and telling me that IN first grade, which is the same year I had my first real crush on a boy. We were both innocent. My crush was innocent. My friends same-sex crush was innocent.

    What I took from this talk? Everyone needs to open their hearts. Religious straight people need to realize that a sin is a sin. RELIGIOUS STRAIGHT PEOPLE COMMIT ADULTERY MORE OFTEN THAN GAY PEOPLE HAVE SEX WITH EACH OTHER. (Because I presume there are more straight people on the planet than gay people.) The point is, we ALL have immoral tendencies, inborn within us, regardless of the flavor of that tendency. Does that mean they can't overcome these things? No. You will not be tempted above that which you are able to overcome.

    Don't forget about the many people who are gay, but choose a celibate life. Or choose to marry someone of the opposite sex and commit themselves to that person wholly. I see that as no WORSE than a married person who struggles with pornography temptations, who puts it out of their head and recommits on a daily basis.

    It's not just the straight, religious lot that need to open their hearts. Everyone does.
    If I picked through, there are many things that I could find incredibly offensive about other religions. Religions that believe that my way of living is a sin, yet MY religion tells me it's the right way to live. We could all get offended and start a riot.

    Lastly, marriage is and always has been a religious--not a secular--thing. It's a little lame to me that we even have to deal with the controversy of Prop 8... all because marriage had to become a matter of the state many hundred years ago. That way, gay people wouldn't care for it, and religious people wouldn't feel the need to defend it. True? again... irrelevant to morality, whatever.

  4. I agree to a point that the feelings themselves are not sinful, but I think a lot of people these days (of course not everyone) kind of use that as a crutch or an excuse to allow and indulge in and encourage those kinds of thoughts, which is acting out in a way. It's like with any kind of temptation (or tendency, if you will), a lot of it comes down to willpower, and how much thought and energy you're willing to give the thing. Of course, the behavior itself is what's actually the wrongdoing, but I strongly believe that thoughts and thought patterns can be controlled and overcome, and that they can eventually go away completely. For some people, it takes a long, long time, sometimes a lifetime, but my point is that if it's possible, it should be a constant goal. Don't forget, however it may apply, that Jesus taught that if a man looks upon a woman to lust after her, already he has committed adultery in his heart, and we are also commanded to let virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly. (There are many references in the standard works to controlling thoughts and feelings, etc.) So I feel like my thoughts are consistent with the teachings of the Church. Interesting, because I do think a lot of things these days are becoming more black and white, like I said.

    And Kenna, very interesting brain-vomit there! I agree with a great deal of it, but when it does to hermaphrodism, it's hard to compare, since that's a birth defect and really quite rare (though I guess you did say it was and acute and absurd example!).

  5. Wow, that WAS quite the barfing earlier. You're right: it's used as a crutch, more often than not.

    And I absolutely agree with your thoughts on the power of thought control. But I also can't think of a more difficult thing to eradicate than this, for so many people. I can't empathize, but I can only imagine how difficult it must be. And then there is the argument that maybe I am being dissuaded by today's over-acceptance of ALL THINGS inappropriate. Hmmm. :) -kenna

  6. In the Christian faith, there is a particular pitfall of sin to which the most faithful are particularly susceptible. It is the sin that sometimes comes after one has struggled hard to overcome a specific temptation, to put behind oneself an unfortunate incident in one's past, to call upon the power of the Atonement for complete repentance. After succeeding in the struggle, it is possible to look at other specific people who are still struggling along that path -- or to look at those who have not yet started down that road -- and, rather than showing empathy for those who are being harrowed up by the experience, to judge them more harshly than do those who never had those experiences or temptations.

    I've done this myself. I've been through some terrible experiences, both things that were forced upon me and things I later disobediently chose to do, and although I like to think such things are behind me, I know I'm not completely free of them as long as I continue to look at others who I know are dealing with the same issues, and mentally berate them for not "being healed" yet, for not being as far along the path as I think they should be.

    I think part of the reason why this particular sin is so common is the intense desire of the penitent to leave one's past issues behind and never return to them, and the fear that showing any kind of sympathy for others with the same issues might cause backsliding in oneself. Nonetheless, it is still an exercise of unrighteous judgment against others. We cannot know with the precision and certainty that God knows, what others are going through, even if they are our intimates -- indeed, even when they are family members. Every soul is unique; every soul struggles with different concepts of truth. Our job is to urge them to do what is right and to support them in all that they do right, not to constantly point the finger of judgment at them.

    There are times when I think God allows some of us to go through soul-scarring experiences or painful temptations so that when we come out of it on the other side, we will have greater understanding of and patience with others who have yet to overcome such ills. *It doesn't mean we stop talking about what's right.* It means we can say, from our unique standpoint, "Look at me. I've been through it. I'm living proof that it's possible, even though it isn't easy. If I can do it, imperfect as I am, then so can you. And I know what it's like, so if you need help, I'll be happy to do what I can to help you."