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.