Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

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Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by SilentDawning » 24 Aug 2016, 22:09

I can't get over the fact that we started seeing a kinder, gentler church emerging in the last few years. It started with the new Church Handbook of INstructions. There were positive changes there, and then we had WW training where hardliner Packer said that we are not a moving service, not to look at members are mere resources to staff the church. Uchdorft gave talks about inclusion, worshipping according to conscience, and seemed to have read StayLDS and spoken directly to us. Ward council became the dominant committee with PEC following behind....women on the stand in important meetings...the essays emerged in a kind of covert honesty about the fact that we were wrong in our renditions of history, even admitting that the priesthood ban was a mistake (disavowed, anyway). Although probably inspired significantly by declining baptisms, Young Adult Women could go on a mission at the same age as a young adult man...all positive changes that seemed to point to a kinder, gentler, more inclusive church.

Then they came out with the NOvember policy. Which took a really hardline, exclusionary stance against children of gay couples.

Can you help me understand what they GA's were thinking when they did this? Does it undo the positive changes in the first paragraph, encouraging us not to forget about the harsh side of our church? It puts me on edge. It is like 10 steps backwards. Its like they learned nothing about the divisiveness Prop 8 caused.
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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by LookingHard » 25 Aug 2016, 05:50

I have felt the same thing.

Short answer, "No - I can't help explain."

I do hear many speculate there are real struggles going on within Q15. That would explain it, espcially given that they seem to have really strong "we speak uniformly" these days. It would really be interesting to see if they get into it when they meet - or if they have overly-cordial passive/aggressive stalemate conversations.

I also think the missionary age change was probably more about losing youth than baptisms. At least where I live at the leadership has been consistent on the missionary work, but really worried about how many kids never went on a mission. Where I am at if a kid didn't go to BYU, they were >50% chance in 2 years they were inactive.

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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by mom3 » 25 Aug 2016, 10:03

I will take a stab at it.

I think it is the perfect example of a divided quorum. I take heart in that knowledge. Do I like the Nov. Surprise - No. However looking back through the history and events I have learned some things that help me.

#1 - I don't think they meant for it to be such a big deal. Unwisely they didn't consider a cell phone getting in the way of the handbook roll out. I blame PR for that. I believe they intended to send out the handbook, encourage leaders to read it, and didn't think twice. Again a PR issue.

(I am not trying to let the leaders off. I really think as a church that has a doctrine of marriage is between a man and a woman, they are struggling. They are also from a different generation. I know that is not an excuse, but it allows me to make room for their anxieties.)

#2 The roll out of the policy (not a doctrine yet) hit the fan because of the leak. Yes it probably would have happened from a Bishop once the handbooks were sent out, nonetheless, it caught all of us off guard. I believe including them.

#3-Todd Christofferson tries to smooth it over. It's a nominal job at best. I believe the reason for that is a divided quorum. Nothing would please the media or ex-mo's more than knowing they are divided. So Elder Todd, brother of an actively gay man, gets the job of making nice with a strained interview.

#4 - A letter from the First Presidency comes out. It softens the policy. It inflects the suggestion that it is a case by case situation. We all begin to breathe. Maybe even let go.

#5 - President Nelson gets a mic. - To me this is where the policy hit the worst brick wall. In a fireside he proclaims it a revelation. As big as any we've had. Now it's hit the fan. Who knows if it is a revelation or a bad group decision or what.

#5 bugs me the most. When I was a teen and young adult I was taught that only the words of General Conference counted as doctrine. When a prophet or GA spoke in any other capacity it was a suggestion or guidance for that particular area. What they said in a fireside or an interview or wrote in a book were just their thoughts. If you agreed with them - wonderful. If not - no worries you weren't bound to them. Over and over I was reminded of the Joseph Smith line of "a man is only a prophet when he is acting/speaking as a prophet." To me that makes Elder Nelson's moment, mute. However, times have changed. Now every time anyone speaks the group think kicks in and we are off and running.

SD - I think it's a hundred steps backward. I am excited to see what the new lobbyist for Affirmation is going to bring to the table. I also work to be "Aware and There because of the policy. I don't have to speak. I just have to watch. Because I know it's a long road I try hard to present examples that show the side of the team I support. I bring up the Bishop's storehouse donation from the church to LGBT Pride in Utah. I mention the Mormon and Gays website when I get the chance. When all else fails I bring up President Monson's recent admonition ... er/s/82947 They can write any policy they want. And I can still say to anyone "Come sit by me."
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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by Curt Sunshine » 25 Aug 2016, 11:09

Along with what mom3 said very well, I think they are worried deeply about the upcoming challenge to anti-polygamy laws. I think they wrote and aligned the new policy with the polygamy policy partly to reinforce the polygamy policy if the anti-polygamy laws are overturned.

It's easy to forget that the federal government actually did attack the Church, literally, over its marriage doctrine - so I don't laugh off their probable concern over it happening again. I recognize the incredible irony of having been attacked as the liberal fringe group and possibly being attacked again as the conservative fringe group over the exact same foundational issue, and I also recognize that the current leaders have grandparents they knew and loved who were hunted and jailed for their marriage practice. A little concern is understandable.

I think we are seeing a perfect storm - and I also am old enough to remember how suddenly OD2 happened and overturned the Priesthood ban. The announcement was loved and celebrated widely in the Church, but almost nobody expected it to happen when it did - especially with the make-up of the Q12 at the time. That gives me hope.

Finally, they are strong-willed people who see some things differently. They always have argued / discussed passionately the issues and never agreed unanimously about everything. That goes back to the original Q12 in the Bible, as illustrated best by how the Gentiles were allowed to avoid circumcision. It can be read as one liberal apostle getting a personal revelation and convincing the President to accept it as God's will - with the practical benefit of opening the work to a HUGE new population.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
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Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by Roy » 25 Aug 2016, 15:45

I believe part of this is a reaction to same sex marriage becoming the law of the land. what does this mean for the church, church leaders, and individual members in dealing with such individuals? Will they/we be forced into doing things that we do not want to do? Religious freedom and all that jazz. So I see it as a reaction to SSM and as a preventative bulwark against what might be imagined to come next.
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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by university » 25 Aug 2016, 17:38

My opinion? It just showed to me the depths of which the Brethren are not listening.

I imagine that when gay marriage became legal in the United States, the 12 and First Presidency got together in a meeting and said something along the lines of “Alright, how are we going to respond to this? This is legal now, and we need to deal with the reality of it, so what policies should the Church pursue to protect the integrity of our doctrine?” I think they honestly did think they were being fair and considerate but still protecting the Church and its the doctrine. I’m sure it wasn’t all decided in one meeting. I assume that someone proposed the idea that the church treat gay marriage the way it treats another form of marriage that the church won’t condone or recognize: polygamy.

To me the initial policy shows the extent of which the Brethren are not listening to gay members and family of gay members. Beyond all its horror of condemning gay members as apostates and preventing children living with two gay parents/guardians from getting baptized, the original policy, before they revised it, showed no awareness or empathy for children of one gay parent. With the original wording, hypothetically, if one of a child’s parents came out as gay, and acted on it, divorcing the spouse and living with their partner, and the child had been spending weekends with that parent for visitation, that child would be cut off from baptism and a mission---talk about traumatizing for a child. Then, not only does a child have to deal with the trauma of their parents divorcing, but also not being able to participate in their church because of it. Let’s not mention how horrible that choice would have to be for a gay parent who wants to pursue romantic interests but, in doing so, would essentially cut their children off from their religion. What’s so disturbing to me is that the Brethren clearly had not consulted Mormons with a gay parent(s) before they went through with this. If they had, they would have realized the unintended consequences and worded it differently, at least provided clarification…and this is beyond their failure to recognize its consequences for the mental and emotional well-being of its gay members. I really think they did believe they would just slip it in the handbook and it wouldn’t be the big PR disaster it turned into. Clearly, again, they aren’t listening. If they were, they would have foreseen this. I have to be honest, I was pleased when I saw the story appear on national news with the headline “Mormon Church bans gay members” and “Mormon Church bans children of gay parents.” The Church deserved it.

I know some people think the Brethren are divided on this—I don’t. I guess that’s just too optimistic of thinking for me. I see a united front with them. I do, however, think there is division in tone. I think some of the old-hardliners are much more Packer-esque in how they want to discuss these types of issues, but in regards to actual policy, I am sad to say I really don’t see division in the Brethren. I am, of course, younger and I didn't live through the Priesthood Ban being overturned.

Nelson was clearly threatened by members rejecting the policy, who were falling back on the mantra of the black male priesthood ban “It was policy, not doctrine” and saying they still supported the Brethren but not the ban…or that they didn’t know whether or not it was right, but they were still believing members. He was probably a little surprised by the huge backlash by non-Mormons and post-Mormons, but that's not what got him. What got to him was seeing TBM’s not jumping on board with the policy. Hence why he felt it necessary to proclaim it a “revelation” when none of the other brethren took that tone.

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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by Ann » 26 Aug 2016, 00:22

The simple answer is that they're thinking it's an abomination for man to lie with man/woman to lie with woman. And no matter how much they encourage us all - and themselves, I'm sure - to be kind and loving and fair to everyone, it comes down for them to not bending so far as to break. They're thinking the world has gone crazy. I can understand the feeling because I spent so long there myself.

I know Elder Christofferson's brother is gay, but do we know if any of them has a gay child?

I doubt very much that they were thinking it would become a defining moment. People are digging deep and surprising themselves.
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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by LookingHard » 26 Aug 2016, 05:05

If you read one of the options was suggesting that God actually allowed POX to go forward, to slap some people out of blind leadership worship. Kind of intentionally giving something that SHOULD make someone have to go and pray about it because it doesn't feel right. I scratch my head a bit on that one wondering if that is the "why". I think it has done this for many members. I know all of my kids have told me something along the lines of, "That is stupid / doesn't make any sense." I have found many in my ward that also feel that way and even had a sacrament meeting talk that very skillfully said, "I think POX is bunk" without ever directly saying POX specifically.

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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by nibbler » 26 Aug 2016, 05:58

LookingHard wrote:I have found many in my ward that also feel that way and even had a sacrament meeting talk that very skillfully said, "I think POX is bunk" without ever directly saying POX specifically.
I was a bad boy at church the other day. The lesson was about temple work and my paraphrased comment was that when we do temple work we learn to give service unconditionally. We don't stop to think whether we should do an ordinance because the person we are doing proxy ordinances for was a hen thief or the child of gay parents, we don't even give it a second thought, we perform that service for someone and our ignorance of their situation helps us overcome our tendency to judge others. Then I said something about extending that same "courtesy" to the living. And that wasn't even the worst thing I said that day. :silent:

I'm not very skillful.

What were they thinking? I agree with mom3 and roy. I'll stop there. I don't have the skill to continue. ;)
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Re: Help me understand what the Apostles were thinking!

Post by LookingHard » 26 Aug 2016, 06:45

nibbler wrote:I'll stop there. I don't have the skill to continue. ;)
Ditto here. I know I would not do well on a debate team. I am more of a slow and methodical thinker (with very limited memory skills).

So I just don't engage very often.

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