Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Public forum to discuss interesting and helpful books.
Post Reply
Roy
Posts: 7170
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Roy »

The following interview was linked in a FAIR article and help up as an example of "prophetic teachings:"

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.or ... attraction

First off, the interview was in 2006. GBH was president and the church was fighting against the legalization of SSM. I hope that there has been significant softening on this issue since this interview. I am glad that the questions were asked. I am dismayed at how they were answered.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Roy
Posts: 7170
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Roy »

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Let’s say my 17-year-old son comes to talk to me and, after a great deal of difficulty trying to get it out, tells me that he believes that he’s attracted to men — that he has no interest and never has had any interest in girls. He believes he’s probably gay. He says that he’s tried to suppress these feelings. He’s remained celibate, but he realizes that his feelings are going to be devastating to the family because we’ve always talked about his Church mission, about his temple marriage and all those kinds of things. He just feels he can’t live what he thinks is a lie any longer, and so he comes in this very upset and depressed manner. What do I tell him as a parent?

ELDER OAKS: You’re my son. You will always be my son, and I’ll always be there to help you.

The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear. It’s no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. The sin is in yielding to temptation. Temptation is not unique. Even the Savior was tempted.

The New Testament affirms that God has given us commandments that are difficult to keep. It is in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

I think it’s important for you to understand that homosexuality, which you’ve spoken of, is not a noun that describes a condition. It’s an adjective that describes feelings or behavior. I encourage you, as you struggle with these challenges, not to think of yourself as a ‘something’ or ‘another,’ except that you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you’re my son, and that you’re struggling with challenges.

Everyone has some challenges they have to struggle with. You’ve described a particular kind of challenge that is very vexing. It is common in our society and it has also become politicized. But it’s only one of a host of challenges men and women have to struggle with, and I just encourage you to seek the help of the Savior to resist temptation and to refrain from behavior that would cause you to have to repent or to have your Church membership called into question.
Wow, thanks Dad. :cry:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Roy
Posts: 7170
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Roy »

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Both of you have mentioned the issue of compassion and this feeling about needing to be compassionate. Let’s fast-forward the scenario that we used earlier, and assume it’s a couple of years later. My conversations with my son, all our efforts to love our son and keep him in the Church have failed to address what he sees as the central issue — that he can’t help his feelings. He’s now told us that he’s moving out of the home. He plans to live with a gay friend. He’s adamant about it. What should be the proper response of a Latter-day Saint parent in that situation?

ELDER OAKS: It seems to me that a Latter-day Saint parent has a responsibility in love and gentleness to affirm the teaching of the Lord through His prophets that the course of action he is about to embark upon is sinful. While affirming our continued love for him, and affirming that the family continues to have its arms open to him, I think it would be well to review with him something like the following, which is a statement of the First Presidency in 1991: “The Lord’s law of moral conduct is abstinence outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife, appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual conduct, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior is sinful. Those who persist in such practices or influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.”

My first responsibility as a father is to make sure that he understands that, and then to say to him, “My son, if you choose to deliberately engage in this kind of behavior, you’re still my son. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to reach out and cleanse you if you are repentant and give up your sinful behavior, but I urge you not to embark on that path because repentance is not easy. You’re embarking on a course of action that will weaken you in your ability to repent. It will cloud your perceptions of what is important in life. Finally, it may drag you down so far that you can’t come back. Don’t go that way. But if you choose to go that way, we will always try to help you and get you back on the path of growth.

ELDER WICKMAN: One way to read the Book of Mormon is as a book of encounters between fathers and sons. Some of those encounters were very positive and reinforcing on the part of the father of a son. Some were occasions where a father had to tell his son or his sons that the path that they were following was incorrect before the Lord. With all, it needs to be done in the spirit of love and welcoming that, as Elder Oaks mentioned, ‘You’re always my son.’ There’s an old maxim which is really true for every parent and that is, ‘You haven’t failed until you quit trying.’ I think that means both in terms of taking appropriate opportunities to teach one’s children the right way, but at all times making sure they know that over all things you’ll love them.
I am having a hard time understanding what this love looks like. We love you but we hate the gay part of you. We hate it so much that we find it necessary to conceptualize it as separate from who you are. This we do despite any amount of protesting on your part. We cannot in any way consider your own way of understanding yourself and rather insist that you conceptualize your sense of self according to our views.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Roy
Posts: 7170
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Roy »

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior? If the son says, ‘Well, if you love me, can I bring my partner to our home to visit? Can we come for holidays?’ How do you balance that against, for example, concern for other children in the home?’

ELDER OAKS: That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration. I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.’ Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that. There would also be other factors that would make that the likely answer.

I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.”

There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all.
Yes, come, but only if you come under cover of darkness and remain in the basement for the duration lest some of our neighbors see and forget how strongly we disapprove of the public displays of your sexuality.

Why, oh why is the word "partnership" in quotes? partnership can mean many things. It might be a business partnership, it might mean that you are teamed up for a game, or it might even be a folksy term of cowboy affection ("Put 'er there, partner!"). Why on earth would we want to deprive homosexual life partners from legitimate use of the word?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Roy
Posts: 7170
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Roy »

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Let’s fast-forward again. My son has now stopped coming to church altogether. There seems no prospect of him returning. Now he tells me he’s planning on going to Canada where same-gender marriage is allowed. He insists that he agrees that loving marriage relationships are important. He’s not promiscuous; he has one relationship. He and his partner intend to have that relationship for the rest of their lives. He cannot understand that a lifetime commitment can’t be accepted by the Church when society seems to be moving in that way. Again, if I am a Latter-day Saint father, what would I be expected to tell him?

ELDER WICKMAN: For openers, marriage is neither a matter of politics, nor is it a matter of social policy. Marriage is defined by the Lord Himself. It’s the one institution that is ceremoniously performed by priesthood authority in the temple [and] transcends this world. It is of such profound importance… such a core doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the very purpose of the creation of this earth. One hardly can get past the first page of Genesis without seeing that very clearly. It is not an institution to be tampered with by mankind, and certainly not to be tampered with by those who are doing so simply for their own purposes. There is no such thing in the Lord’s eyes as something called same-gender marriage. Homosexual behavior is and will always remain before the Lord an abominable sin. Calling it something else by virtue of some political definition does not change that reality.

ELDER OAKS: Another way to say that same thing is that the Parliament in Canada and the Congress in Washington do not have the authority to revoke the commandments of God, or to modify or amend them in any way.
There were other questions but this is the last one that specifically referenced the hypothetical son. This exchange leads me to believe that life growing up in the Oaks household was a pretty regimented and inflexible experience. :cry:
I wish that we as a church had someone else that could speak on this issue. I can't imagine that Elder Christofferson would answer these questions in the same way.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Carburettor
Posts: 103
Joined: 10 Jul 2023, 01:49

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Carburettor »

Roy wrote: 11 Sep 2023, 14:35 I wish that we as a church had someone else that could speak on this issue. I can't imagine that Elder Christofferson would answer these questions in the same way.
It may come as no surprise to hear that I have previously read this interview a couple of times or more. As you point out, the interview took place 17 years ago at a time when doctrine was still overflowing with incorrect assumptions and limited understanding.

What may surprise you is that I have no issue with DHO's clinical rejection of wayward choices. Moreover, I have no reservations about anyone defending and upholding morality — and DHO's position is precisely what I have come to expect from someone who has authority to speak on behalf of the Church on a topic about which they have limited understanding and precious little inspiration, revelation, and/or genuine Christlike compassion. DHO speaks as a lawyer since that is his area of expertise.

What I find egregious is that, a few years ago, I was assured by former and serving North Star board members that senior priesthood leaders (including members of the Quorum of the Twelve) have invested copious amounts of time discussing related issues with them and other subject matter experts. A fundamental problem with these so-called experts is that they all seem to be singing from the same or similar hymn sheets — and the music is off key. It comes as no surprise that DHO's comments should reflect everything that is wrong with the poor advice he has been receiving for decades.

He approaches the issue of individuals who fail to perform gender and identity properly from the same perspective as someone addressing a repeat offender who keeps being incarcerated for their crimes — or a drug addict who continues to cave in to addiction. These scenarios involve choice underpinned by poor habits and unwise actions, and it is this same principle of choice that is central to every piece of "propaganda" (I put it in quotes because it is my personal view — and I'm not stating it as fact) that the Brethren continue to broadcast.

It is my sincerest conviction that senior leadership — and almost all of society, including all you lovely people — are fundamentally missing a critical part of the puzzle, without which a solution will never present itself.

Simply because someone looks like the majority, speaks like the majority, and otherwise acts like the majority does not mean they are able to process all aspects of life like the majority. Fail to grasp that, and the true nature of this issue will forever elude us.

Let us revisit the case of someone with Tourette's syndrome. Please review the following short clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZfpJbjgCcI

Tourette's is a neurodivergent condition with outward symptoms that are impossible to miss. We have no choice but to accept that it causes individuals to behave in ways that make no sense to the majority. Despite our bewilderment about what is going on the mind of someone who has Tourette's, we can cut them some slack because it is clear they aren't faking it.

I am convinced that challenges that prevent individuals from being able to perform gender and identity in prescribed ways are at least in part rooted in a form of neurodivergence that is reinforced by social imprinting and hardwired by the body's sexual metamorphosis at puberty. Unfortunately, there are no visible ticks or aberrations, so it is unsurprising that conservative individuals such as DHO should continue to preach the issue as a matter of personal choice over which all are able to exercise adequate control. This is untrue. Worse than that, it is unwitting malfeasance. Given the mandate and influence of such individuals, their historical and current guidance is shameful, unenlightened, uninspired, uncharitable, and unChristlike. Unfortunately, I cannot imagine anything being resolved for as long as people like me insist they are no different from people like you. It's as unhelpful as someone with Tourette's syndrome insisting there's nothing wrong — and profanity is simply part of who they are. It creates an impasse.

I have no plans to ever advocate for immorality. My hopes are pinned on better understanding how to cope with neurodivergence that presents the world to me in ways that cause discomfort and distress. I have no support from the Church in this regard — so I am left to go it alone.
Roy
Posts: 7170
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Roy »

I do hope that Elder Oaks would answer the questions differently today if these same questions were asked of him.

I also wonder if Elder Oaks was answering fully truthfully on what he would do as a parent or if he is too fixed preaching and defending the party line to be able to transition to another and perhaps softer role (like asking a prosecutor if he would ask for leniency and compassion if his own son were the defendant on trial and the prosecutor insisting that he would still push for the strongest penalty against his son because justice must be served). I feel that I am holding out Grace for Elder Oaks that what he would really do if placed in this situation with his own children is not well represented by his words here in this interview.
Carburettor wrote: 12 Sep 2023, 03:58 DHO speaks as a lawyer since that is his area of expertise.
Yes, I do think that he speaks as a lawyer. I believe that lawyers are perhaps more comfortable than most using whatever legal stratagems available to them for the defense/benefit of their client - even if those stratagems involve misrepresenting, bending, or hiding the truth (within legal means).

I had thought of posing another follow-up question in this series of questions asked of Elder Oaks & Wiseman involving a hypothetical gay son. However, I feel that to do so would be to violate our policy of directing content towards individuals not on this site. It would be inappropriate to "ask" questions that they would not have the opportunity to answer and that is not in keeping with the purpose of StayLDS. Therefore, I will self moderate and keep it to myself. ;) :clap:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
AmyJ
Posts: 1241
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by AmyJ »

Carburettor wrote: 12 Sep 2023, 03:58 I am convinced that challenges that prevent individuals from being able to perform gender and identity in prescribed ways are at least in part rooted in a form of neurodivergence that is reinforced by social imprinting and hardwired by the body's sexual metamorphosis at puberty. Unfortunately, there are no visible ticks or aberrations, so it is unsurprising that conservative individuals such as DHO should continue to preach the issue as a matter of personal choice over which all are able to exercise adequate control. This is untrue. Worse than that, it is unwitting malfeasance. Given the mandate and influence of such individuals, their historical and current guidance is shameful, unenlightened, uninspired, uncharitable, and unChristlike. Unfortunately, I cannot imagine anything being resolved for as long as people like me insist they are no different from people like you. It's as unhelpful as someone with Tourette's syndrome insisting there's nothing wrong — and profanity is simply part of who they are. It creates an impasse.

I have no plans to ever advocate for immorality. My hopes are pinned on better understanding how to cope with neurodivergence that presents the world to me in ways that cause discomfort and distress. I have no support from the Church in this regard — so I am left to go it alone.
Yes, neurodivergent individuals are the "loosely identified minority" in most majority systems. "Masking" and "Hiding" and "Blending In" were the tools of the trade that allowed these individuals to pass on their DNA and have as much life success as they have had (additional mileage factors include family money, family power, personal willpower, communication skills, physical attractiveness, etc.).

I have learned the most about "the unspoken minority" from the marginalized/people in (or advocating for those in) the margins. Listening to the feminists, individuals from other races, the scientists and many others have taught me a few things.

Reading "The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die" was very thought-provoking for me.

The church is not in the business of teaching people how to accommodate others - though they do a decent surface job of it. The church is interested in gathering like-minded individuals together to form a unique (but standardized) community that funds the church organization through time/talents/energies donated to the organization. The inconveniences like the fact that communities are not standardized (and shouldn't have been treated as standardized in the first place), that other communities have more of a draw (offering better carrots or fewer penalties), that the "narrative" about and by the church is longer one that the church and/or the church members control (leading to trust/honesty questions) are a few of the main thorns in the church's side.
Roy
Posts: 7170
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by Roy »

AmyJ wrote: 14 Sep 2023, 06:11 The church is not in the business of teaching people how to accommodate others - though they do a decent surface job of it. The church is interested in gathering like-minded individuals together to form a unique (but standardized) community that funds the church organization through time/talents/energies donated to the organization. The inconveniences like the fact that communities are not standardized (and shouldn't have been treated as standardized in the first place), that other communities have more of a draw (offering better carrots or fewer penalties), that the "narrative" about and by the church is longer one that the church and/or the church members control (leading to trust/honesty questions) are a few of the main thorns in the church's side.
Amen! You condensed down the whole of StayLDS into one paragraph. :clap:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
AmyJ
Posts: 1241
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Interview with Elder Oaks & Wickman on SSA 2006

Post by AmyJ »

Roy wrote: 14 Sep 2023, 08:55 Amen! You condensed down the whole of StayLDS into one paragraph. :clap:
:D
Post Reply