Wednesday, March 27, 2013

LDS Man Rejected For Missionary Service After Telling Stake President He Would Defend Gay Equality In The Church, To Include Gay Temple Marriage

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been rejected for missionary service after telling his stake president that he would defend gay equality within the Church, to include temple marriage for gays. The Salt Lake Tribune has a condensed account, but the value is also in the 250 comments appended to their story.

The original story was published by Joanna Brooks in the form of an interview on Religion Dispatches, where the man is simply identified as Emmett C., a 20-year-old community college student somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Emmett comes from a family of 11 siblings, including one gay brother and one gay sister, so he's personally affected by proximity (his gay brother actually expressed himself on this subject on No More Strangers). The two gay siblings are still active Mormons, and the parents have come around to the idea of supporting them. In summary, as he prepared to go on a mission, Emmett was afraid that the issue of gay marriage would come up during his mission and he didn't think he could tell people that it was wrong, because he had come to believe in marriage equality. Because he didn't want to be sent home early from his mission for cause, he wanted to get it sorted out before he left.

So he went to his bishop, who was sympathetic, but didn’t know what to do and asked for time to talk with the stake president. A week later, Emmett talked to the stake president, who wasn't particularly sympathetic after Emmett told him he believed that gay Mormon couples who meet all other criteria for temple marriage be gays be permitted to get married in a temple. This, of course, directly conflicts with core LDS doctrine. Since Emmett refused to back down, the stake president not only refused to accept his mission application, but said he would also refuse to give Emmett a temple recommend if he didn't recant. The latter decision hit Emmett even harder, and he says he "died inside" and suffered depression for a month until he could get control of his anger and restart. Nevertheless, Emmett remains a member of the Church at this time, so he may be accepting this as a test of faith.

I hope he does choose to remain with the Church. As a matter of fact, he's still young enough to be reconsidered for missionary service should he come around on the issue. But he must understand that missionary service is the most exacting and rigorous form of service in the Church -- the idea is to serve as a microphone for Jesus Christ for two years. A missionary can privately favor civil gay marriage, but he or she cannot preach that gay Mormons should have temple marriage without a revelation and expect to be allowed to continue serving on a mission. After all, how long would one last if one went to work for a Ford dealer and started pushing Toyotas on the job?

One person published a strong defense of the Church on Religion Dispatches:

Rodney Spuddie • a day ago
The leaders of the church, the first presidency and apostles, discuss and pray for guidance among themselves and then when they receive revelation and guidance, it is relayed to the rest of us via conference talks, scripture, letters to wards and branches, etc. That is how revelation worked in Biblical times and in Book of Mormon times. This is still how it works. It isn't a democracy. It is a Kingdom. God's Kingdom. His truths ARE NOT open for debate. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he didn't first poll the populace to decide on what the commandments should be. That should be abundantly clear if you studied LDS doctrine at all. I respect that you may not agree with that process. You may feel that all religions should behave like a democracy in setting doctrinal standards. That may be how many churches do it, but not this one. We know this is Christ's restored church on the earth. The issue here for all mankind is whether or not they want to investigate those claims seriously, pray about them and then upon receiving an answer, adjust their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors accordingly.

To clarify slightly what was published above, the Church leadership receives revelation and guidance applicable to the entire church and transmits it down. However, individual members are free to get confirmation from the Lord through prayer at any time, and are entitled to separate and personal inspiration and revelation affecting themselves and their families and callings. LDS members are not automatons incapable of original thought; in fact, in January 2013, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf counseled LDS members not to blindly accept everything they hear, but encouraged people to think and discover truth for themselves -— expecting that they ponder, search, evaluate, and come to a personal knowledge of truth.

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