Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestions?

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by SunbeltRed » 09 Jul 2014, 19:09

Turin,

Echo the thoughts. Thank you for your perspective!

mom3,

I think that is the goal for now. Words that hopefully help people open their minds and hearts a bit more.

Minyan Man
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by Minyan Man » 14 Jul 2014, 20:42

SBRed, did you give your talk yet? How did it go?

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by SunbeltRed » 15 Jul 2014, 05:09

Not yet. This coming Sunday.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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mom3
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by mom3 » 16 Jul 2014, 10:58

Hi Sunbelt - I just read this a moment ago and thought it might have use in your talk. If not, maybe you can share it with the Stake Leaders as they try to build healing bridges.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/8656 ... OFKFqBG.01
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by SunbeltRed » 19 Jul 2014, 14:03

I have a completed version of my talk if anyone is interested. No guarantees attached.

Just PM me if you would like a copy.

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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by Old-Timer » 19 Jul 2014, 15:17

If you don't mind posting it publicly, it would be cool for everyone who reads but never comments (hundreds per day) to be able to read it. If you aren't comfortable with that, sharing it via PM is fine.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by SunbeltRed » 20 Jul 2014, 18:47

If anyone is interested, I have posted the talk I gave today in Sacrament meeting. I am a little hesitant to do so, and as Joseph Smith said, if their are any errors, "they are of men." I make no claims or guarantees of the content.
I received some positive feedback and so I post this with the hope that other might be uplifted. Some of you may see some of your words, thoughts, and suggestions in the content/ Thank you, I greatly appreciate your insight.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts (please don't be too harsh :D ). It's not the cleanest as I had to copy form a word doc, but I tried to clean it up the best I could.

-SBRed

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Good Morning Brothers and Sisters,

Let me share with you the message from the Stake Presidency about our speaking topic this month:

“Brethren, this month’s topic is one that will need to be approached with sensitivity and prayerful consideration. We have provided for your preparation several different talks on the topic of Same Sex Attraction, Inclusion, and The Eternal Nature of Marriage. Our desire is for you to review these topics and prayerfully develop a talk that incorporates each into a single message.
Your goal is to help those within our stake understand the position of the church as it relates to the eternal nature of marriage as outlined in The Proclamation to the Family while still maintaining an attitude of loving kindness and acceptance of all as brothers and sisters in The Lord.”

As I mentioned to a friend what I would be talking about this month, his reply was something about walking into a “mine field.” Perhaps, but I think we will be uplifted together as we discuss the true essence of the gospel.
To start, here is the Church’s position on marriage and same sex marriage: This is taken from the Topics session on LDS.org and this document is titled: Addressing Same Sex Attraction

“The Church’s doctrinal position is clear: Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married. However, that should never be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.
In short, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms the centrality of doctrines relating to human sexuality and gender as well as the sanctity and significance of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. However, the Church firmly believes that all people are equally beloved children of God and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Church apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook stated, “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”

And from the church’s website Mormons and Gays.org:

“The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

And again from the previous document:

“Accordingly, the Church favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. However, “protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not remove Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people.”

So let me make re-clarify a couple of points:
• The Church teaches that the family is ordained of God
• The church’s position is that sexual activity should only occur between a man and woman who are married.
• The church’s position is that marriage is the lawful union of a man and a woman
• Many individuals do not choose same sex attraction
• Regardless of the church’s stance on marriage, we are obligated as Christians to love, be kind, and understanding to all people.

These are the official positions of the church.

Are some members going to have different opinions than the official church position? Yes. We are a big church. We cast a wide net. People will have different viewpoints and feelings about certain topics.
In a statement by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve published on June 28th they said:

“We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from Church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them.
Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.”

We are encouraged to seek understanding. D&C 107 vs. 7 says:

7 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;

Whatever our feelings on the doctrines I have discussed, we can advocate for tolerance, kindness, and good will with those of differing viewpoints. Inquiry, debate, and free expression of ideas are hallmarks of a free society; coercion is acted out when losing the battle of ideas, and thwarting free expression through authoritarianism. For those that preach tolerance, it must be a two-way street, and we are completely within our right to ask for such. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has observed:

“Tolerance does not require abandoning one’s standards or one’s opinions on political or public policy choices. Tolerance is a way of reacting to diversity, not a command to insulate it from examination.”[11]
Let us error on the side of kindness but always fight for the freedom to discuss, think, and advocate for ideas and policies that we deem valuable.

Let me spend a few minutes talking about the importance of families:

Throughout time strong families have served as essential institutions to teach and convey knowledge to future generations about morals, ethics, traditions and values that are vital to robust and free civilizations.
Marriage, in a civil sense, is an affirmation of a couples love for each other, a contract to work together, provide for each other and their children which comes with legally binding obligations. Marriage and the rearing of children within the obligations of marriage is the most optimal institution in a world governed by agency. Unless we believe that authoritarianism is the best relay point to transfer the necessary knowledge to the next generation, the family is the best alternative.

The Proclamation on the Family says:

“Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . . .
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.”

This is a theological and spiritual view on marriage with temporal implications. From a secular perspective, the data on marriage also tells an interesting story. The creation and sustainment of marriage provides the best opportunity for children, not only in an eternal sense, but for temporal growth and personal fulfillment.

Over the last decades there has been an erosion of intact families.

“In 2012, 40% of all births in the United States were to unwed mothers.[8] More than 50% of births to mothers under age 30 were out of wedlock. Further, the marriage rate has been declining since the 1980s. These trends do not bode well for the development of the rising generation.”

A study found on fatherhood.hhs.gov says:

Children raised by single parents have lower levels of social and academic well-being (17), (18) and more behavior problems (19) than those from intact families. "…adolescents who have lived apart from one of their parents during some period of childhood are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to have a child before age twenty, and one and a half times as likely to be 'idle' - out of school or out of work - in their late teens and early twenties." (20)

Charles Murray, in his book Coming Apart, wrote an in-depth analysis comparing different survey and data trends. In one observation based on his analysis he says:

“The raw material that makes community even possible has diminished so much in some parts of the country that the situation may be beyond retrieval.
That raw material is social trust-not trust in a particular neighbor who happens to be your friend, but a generalized expectation that people around you will do the right thing.”

We can help reverse these trends by advocating for strong familial relationships, helping those in our community, and working to make our marriages and families to be places of happiness, learning, growth, and faith.
One of the most important things that we can do as members of the church is to create as Celestial a marriage as possible.
The Proclamation of the Family states:

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities…In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”

As couples we are obligated to help each other as equal partners and to decide as a family what will work best for us; whether that be more traditional roles, or whether that be a working mom and stay-at-home dad, or somewhere in between. We have the ability to receive our own personal revelation of what will work best for our family.

And any relationships that are built on forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, teamwork, and wholesome recreational activities are bound to last for the eternities.

To cite Charles Murray again he notes:

“The relationship of marriage to happiness is simple as can be. There’s hardly anything better than a good marriage for promoting happiness and nothing worse than a bad one.”

The ideals of the LDS Church around family formation and the eternal nature of families can work really well for a lot of people. But it can be a very difficult concept and idea for others. What happens if someone’s situation falls outside this neat little box? What if we were sealed in the temple but now our husband or wife is no longer active in the church? What if our children have chosen different theological, personal, or spiritual paths than our own? What if we have family members, children, friends who are attracted to members of the same sex?

For many of us, we feel left holding a bag of disappointments, burdened by our inability to reconcile a God of agency and unmet promises of obedience. I have no easy answers for you, only a willingness to stand with those in need of comfort and faith and hope in an expansive view of the mercy of our Creator.

Chieko Okazaki, former first counselor in General Relief Society Presidency said:

"I don't want anyone to misunderstand what I'm going to say next. The First Presidency has made its opposition to same-sex marriages very clear; as a member of the church I support them in their position. But I want to stress that we can be opposed to a piece of legislation or to a practice and still behave with courtesy and decency toward those who hold other opinions. I would not want anyone to use the First Presidency's stand as an excuse for being hateful or disrespectful toward others..... It is very likely that every person in the Church knows someone - a family member or a friend - who is gay, lesbian or bisexual…I think there is much we do not understand about how such conditions come to be, or what resources are truly helpful. In the meantime, nothing has suspended the commandment of Jesus to love one another and to bear one another's burdens.

In my view it's understandable that the depression and suicide rates among gay people, in general, and in the LDS Church are significantly higher than in the general population. Many of our brothers and sisters feel alone, isolated, different, and in pain. Really loving someone who is different, in any way, isn't just a nice idea or a good concept; in many cases, it might bring a measure of joy to someone who has precious little happiness and, literally, help save lives.

I remember one particular service activity as a youth when we lived in South Florida. Our activity was to help clean up a hospice center where people who had contracted HIV and AIDS lived for a while before they passed away. This was during the early 90’s when AIDS was relatively new to the public and was wreaking havoc among the male homosexual population. I remember feeling conflicted during our service project. Many of the people who had inhabited the hospice were there because of choices that were not in agreement with the doctrines of our church and so why should we be spending our time at that particular place. On the ride home I expressed this conflict to my father and in his wisdom affirmed the centrality of the gospel message to me. His reply, and I am paraphrasing a bit here, was, “Son, we are all sons and daughters of God. As such we are all deserving of His love and it doesn’t much matter what choices others have made, we should serve and love everyone.”

I know that many of us can feel out of place, unsure of how to assimilate into such a performance based culture. Many of us are at different points on the spectrum in our faith journey, our life experiences, and the growing pains of mortality.


I find comfort in Elder Wirthlin’s words:

“Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.
Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
This variety of creation itself is a testament of how the Lord values all His children. He does not esteem one flesh above another, but He “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God.””

Our message as members of the church should echo the message of Elder Uchtdorf in the October 2013 General Conference. He said:

"To those who have separated themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here.
Come and add your talents, gifts, and energies to ours. We will all become better as a result."

And to those of you with doubts:

"It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.7
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.8 We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

I love that line; ‘We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner.” Wherever we are at with our faith, let us act on the things we do believe. If all you believe to be true is that we should be charitable with each other, that sounds awesome! Act on that. Don’t let the other things hold you back from helping and serving others. If all you believe to be true is that we are a part of a great cosmic unity, then let that belief flow into action of viewing others as a part of that journey and loving your neighbor.
And he addresses those who worry about living up to the standards:

"All the more reason to come! The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted. It is filled with people who desire with all their heart to keep the commandments, even if they haven’t mastered them yet."

I interpret that to mean, no problem. We come to church to work on our relationship with God and to work on being better. Don’t worry about what other members think, your journey is yours. It’s not our place to judge. And if we are being judgmental, call us out on it. And for heaven's sakes, let's cut ourselves and each other a break.

More from Elder Uchtdorf:

"Some might say, “I know a member of your Church who is a hypocrite. I could never join a church that had someone like him as a member.”
If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites. None of us is quite as Christlike as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

And this!

"If these are your desires, then regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us!
If you seek truth, meaning, and a way to transform faith into action; if you are looking for a place of belonging: Come, join with us!...If you are tempted to give up: Stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here.”

Elder Orson F. Whitney, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve said this:

“…The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours-long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them... Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend.
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. … Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”

I believe as C.S. Lewis that:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.”

I believe we are eternal and as such we have an obligation to treat others as Christ has instructed us to do, and to love regardless of others personal choices. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with others choices, but we must love as best we can. The gospel of Christ is one of faith and hope, charity and love, experience and progression. Let us remember the example of Christ in our interactions with others.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by Old-Timer » 20 Jul 2014, 19:12

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: *standing ovation*

Beautiful.

Do you mind if I post it on my blog at some point in the future - and share it with a couple of people I know who might be able to give it wider audience?
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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SunbeltRed
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by SunbeltRed » 20 Jul 2014, 19:42

Sure. No problem.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Giving a talk on SSM, Marriage, and Inclusion: Suggestio

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Jul 2014, 20:10

:clap: :thumbup: Nice job! I would have been happy to hear a talk like this in church. Thanks for sharing.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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