Friday, May 20, 2011

President Packer's false teachings: An explanation

Since my post yesterday in which I stated that in my view Elder Packer's teachings on homosexuality are in fact false, I have had a number of friends ask if my testimony of the Gospel has changed. These friends find it impossible for a committed Latter-day Saint to question the teachings of a member of The Twelve.

Suffice it to say--no, my testimony of the Gospel or of President Packer's prophetic calling has not changed.

I have as firm a conviction of the Gospel's truth today as I have always had. It's just that I have never deified our ecclesiastical leaders and don't plan to begin to do so now.

Bishops, stake presidents, members of The Seventy, Apostles and even the Prophet are generally good men doing their best to serve the Lord, but they are all still men. They are subject to their individual views and perspectives, opinions and conjectures, just like the rest of us.

Sometimes what they say is true and accurate and sometimes what they say is not. As Joseph Smith taught, "… a prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such." At other times, the prophet is offering advice and guidance, some of which may apply to each of us as individuals and some of which may not.

The same, I'm sure, can be said of other church leaders.

Since 1976, President Packer has taught that homosexuality is a perversion with roots in selfishness. When he spoke in General Conference last October he stated, "Some suppose 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."

It is my witness that President Packer's comments are not only contrary to current Church doctrine, but more importantly to me, they are contrary to the spiritual insight the Lord has offered me on this issue.

The key point is that ultimately, it is my responsibility to hear what Church leaders have to say and determine its truth and applicability for me with the guidance of the Spirit.

As George Albert Smith said, "Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth ...[and] work out his own salvation..."

I believe that when I ultimately stand before the bar of Christ, I will be held accountable for following the guidance of the Spirit rather than the words of Church leaders.

Blind obedience or acceptance, which many in the Church inadvertently find agreeable and even espouse, is the essence of the gospel of The Destroyer and has no part in the Gospel of Christ.


  1. Amen! And some of what you've said here are EXACTLY what Scott and I said 2 years ago to our stake president and then he still refused to renew our Temple Recommends. So frustrating! I just have to keep in mind that God is the final judge, and with Him I have no fear.

  2. I understand what you're saying, but I feel like this is a conundrum that exists in many areas of the gospel. In my view, one could argue that the apostles are prophets, seers, and revelators; or, they are human beings who can also make mistakes or be biased by their own beliefs. I struggle with these two opposing options, because it's hard to see how it can be both. Either he's a prophet/seer/revelator or he makes mistakes and can wrong....and believe me, I don't react well to most of what Elder Packer has said about homosexuality.

    - Dave

  3. Dave,
    This is no conundrum because the fact is that prophets, seers, and revelators are both prophets and men. Their calling doesn't make them perfect.

    Scripture and history are replete with prophets who were very human individuals. There is a significant number of apostles who were excommunicated since the Restoration for apostasy, from Thomas Marsh (the first president of the Twelve) in 1839 to Richard Lyman in 1944 (polygamy/adultery). Joseph Smith's own brother, William, was excommunicated for apostasy.

    Elder Faust said it clearly: “We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the prophets, seers, and revelators.” Prophets and apostles, like the rest of us, receive revelation only to the degree they are WILLING to receive it. That willingness is based on their education, background, prejudice, etc.

    When you place these men on an unapproachable pedestal that makes whatever they say inviolate, you are handing them your agency which even Heavenly Father refused to accept. This idea that obedience is more important than faith is a blasphemy that caused a third of the hosts of heaven to be cast out of Heavenly Father's presence.

  4. Clive, thanks for both posts of insights on the complicated subject of LDS gays marrying heterosexually. As one who has navigated more than 30 years in a "MoMOM" (Mormon Mixed Orientation Marriage,as IP aptly acronymed), I understand and respect the issues for spouses who stay in or leave their marriages. There are no easy answers or one-size-fits-all solutions. Certainly the landscape of marriage changes as we mature and 'come out' not only to our spouses but to ourselves as well. I concur that our LDS Leaders need to more frequently acknowledge that they don't have all the answers here.

    My wife and I fall into the category of MoMOM that has considered the options, and still finds love and meaning in the marriage. For us, the benefits of marriage and what we want for the future outweigh the cost and uncertain return for my 'gay independence.' At times I am envious of your situation and wonder what such a course would be like for me, but yet I am content in the final analysis to continue to love and support my wife. I wish you the best in your journey of finding meaningful love and integrated faith. Both are critical to our happiness and eventual salvation.

  5. GeckoMan: Thanks for your thoughtful response. It's good to know that there are experienced couples out there who are making their MOMs work. I'm sure it has been difficult, but that you have been blessed for your devotion. I wish you all the best.

  6. Joseph Smith was wrong about the Kirkland anti-banking society; Brigham Young was wrong about sending settlers to "Hole in the Wall," Heber J Grant was wrong when he told inquiring members that it was okay to have blacks confined to seats in the back row of a chapel, Harold B Lee was wrong to have taken away the Relief Society's independent funds, and whoever allows Glen Beck to have a temple recommend...

    But that's okay. I screwed up trying to run a 12 member department at work, I can't imagine the difficulties of running a church.