Has anyone seen the ridiculous brouhaha the Salt Lake Tribune is making of President Boyd K. Packer's talk in General Conference?
I didn't realize President Packer had said anything new or controversial when I was watching conference. But apparently the Tribune reporter covering conference (who happens to be a former member of the church) decided it was time to start a fire.
So what did President Packer say? His talk isn't written out on the LDS website yet, but it should be done today sometime. Check here periodically until you see it (he spoke in the Sunday morning session). There is audio and video already available on the website.
These are the quotes that the Tribune is using as ammunition:
“There are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. Do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?"
Some argue that “they were pre-set 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 he is our father.”
I'll get into my personal beliefs a little later. First I'll just describe the Tribune's response.
Here are their articles on the subject:
Although I would agree with that statement, President Packer never said that. I suppose it was somewhat implied, but it wasn't his point and wasn't a direct quote he made. I'm guessing the Tribune went with a more controversy-provoking headline, one that would anger people and lead them to believe that the Church wants to simply "fix" gays, with something crazy like electroshock therapy*. Not true.
This is one that tries to explain that President Packer's statements are somehow contradictory to other recent action from the church in response to same-sex issues. But they're not, something else I will get into a little bit later.
Besides, how can the Tribune say that President Packer is saying something new and shaking things up, and at the same time give a subheadline that says, "Apostle declares that church will 'stay the course' in opposing gay marriage despite opposition."
Thanks to press like the Tribune, people are acting out against the church, holding rallies and protests, etc. Of course, discrimination against gays that leads to extreme bullying and even suicide (something that has been in the news quite a lot lately) is absolutely wrong. But if a teen struggling to figure out his or her sexual orientation really listens to President Packer's talk, he or she should not feel pressure. He or she should feel relief, and look to Christ's Atonement for comfort and guidance.
Now, for my own beliefs and testimony.
I firmly believe that sins of homosexuality go against God's plan of salvation, as does any sin. Whether or not same-sex marriage is legal, it will never fit with God's purpose of marriage and family.
Because homosexual acts go against the plan of salvation, it wouldn't make sense for God to create us in such a way that some of us are "born gay," at least not in a way that we have no other choice but to be gay. People are born with weaknesses and imperfections, and some may have a personality that makes them more susceptible to certain temptations. But any temptation can be overcome.
And it should be emphasized that temptation itself is not a sin. It only becomes a sin when it is acted upon. Whether it be cheating, lying, stealing, being selfish and proud, marital infidelity, sexual immorality or homosexual acts, no one should feel guilty for the temptations that come to them. They should only feel guilty after they decide to act on those temptations.
That said, just because homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle does not mean homosexuals should be persecuted, mocked or attacked. The church is against legalizing same-sex marriage, but in many instances the church has come out to say that gays should be treated fairly. Recently the church supported a law in Salt Lake City that would make illegal any discrimination against gays in housing and employment.
And just like Jesus Christ did, we can be intolerant of sin but still be compassionate toward the sinner. After all, we're all sinners.
(The Tribune brought up an example of Church's recent compassion to those struggling with homosexuality, describing a meeting Elder Marlin K. Jensen held with youth in California. But what Elder Jensen did and what President Packer said do not conflict.)
You might think all those ideas I just described are incompatible with each other. But it makes sense to me that we can have Christlike love for our fellow man and also be clearly against anything that goes against the gospel.
I hope what I have said does not come across too harsh. I do believe it all to be true, and I won't be changing how I feel about it any time soon.
Anyway, enjoy the cartoon.
*This video on Hulu expires soon!