Monday, 8 January 2018

A Times Response

So most of you by now are aware there's been a bit of a fuss over a certain obituary in the New York Times for President Thomas S Monson, and I genuinely have to wonder how many people have actually read the article? Are we reading the same article? From my reading of the interweb it seems a certain paragraph is causing the main concern and while I can in some way see why some people see it that way I am baffled that so many do.

"Facing vociferous demands to recognize same-sex marriage, and weathering demonstrations at church headquarters by Mormon women pleading for the right to be ordained as priests, Mr. Monson did not bend. Teachings holding homosexuality to be immoral, bans on sexual intercourse outside male-female marriages, and an all-male priesthood would remain unaltered."

Now let's take this apart a bit. vociferous according to the Oxford English dictionary means "Expressing or characterised by vehement opinions; loud and forceful." Weathering in this context means to "withstand"and usually has positive connotations for the subject. So despite vehement opinions and demonstrations he weathered those storms and did not bend. He remained resolute to core doctrines and tenets and refused to bend to public opinions. Why the hell aren't we seeing this as an amazing tribute for a prophet of God? I sure do! Add to this the implied praise they write regarding lowering the age of Sister missionaries, and for opening the church historical department in an "unprecedented era of openness" I read an article that portrays President Monson's stewardship through some difficult times as one of strong leadership, who listened to concerns and changed when he felt it was needed but remained resolute to doctrines as currently revealed by God. And to be completely frank if you feel The Times addressing of these issues constituted an attack upon our church then maybe you should reassess your own position on them? Maybe you're not as comfortable with the church's position as you think you are? And please do not see this as a personal attack on you? Anyone who knows me knows I live for these times. We should be uncomfortable with things at times. We need to be. Because when we're uncomfortable it forces us to evaluate and reassess ourselves.

I do not agree with every policy decision President Monson signed his name to. Our leaders have made mistakes in the past and I have no doubt that we have policies today in our church future generations will wonder at, and we will make more mistakes in the future. And while I am the first to say there are many things that need to change and will change in the church as further light and knowledge are received it makes my heart sing that our prophet is recognised as a man who holds firm to the light and knowledge as he has received it to this point. That our prophet is not a man who is seen as bending to public opinion but will stand firm even if the whole world is against him. Yes there are a couple of sentences in the article that have a tone that could've been better the overall tone of the article is one that I absolutely am proud of.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

LDS- An LGBT abomination

LDS- An LGBT abomination

So last week the ELM AP's got in touch with me, the Britannia 1st missionaries were teaching a gay guy and they wondered if I could help. I agreed, they phoned me & we arranged a time for me to go over and teach him with them. He was a cute guy, with a boyfriend, and very intelligent. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and the Elders thought that the best way to bring up being gay & mormon was to teach the Law of Chastity. We got to the point where we discussed no sexual relations outside of marriage nor any homosexual sexual activity, and this is where I entered stage right and took centre stage...where every gay man loves to be.The Elders explained I was a gay mormon and asked me to share my story with him. I did so. Warts and all. I felt if he was going to make the decision to enter the waters of baptism then he deserved the full truth, not the glitter covered one. (For those who don't know my story it can be found here).

He had met with the missionaries before and unfortunately he had learnt of the churches position on homosexuality when they had told him that homosexuals go to the Telestial Kingdom with rapists and murderers. I rounded on the Elders I was with, demanding to know if this was what was written in Preach My Gospel, they assured me it wasn't. I profusely apologised to our investigator for having been taught false doctrine and we discussed the real truth that all that God offers he offers to all His children, wether gay or straight. We discussed the churches current position, how members unfortunately can sometimes be behind the times on this subject & the problems that can bring. We discussed how the UK church can be more up to date than the US church, and how we can affect the change that is needed in the more bigoted members of the church. it went well, the Spirit was present and we closed and arranged a future teaching appointment.

The next day I received a message from Elders Nelson & Mauerhan telling me that the investigator had dropped them, with the following message.

Elder Nelson, I'm writing this to both you and Elder Mauerham. I hope that you can grant me a last favour and ensure that he too gets a chance to read this. 

When I think about the Church of Latter Day Saints, unlike many of you I cannot think of a happy childhood in the Church, nor of times in which the organisation has been there for me in moments of hardship. Instead, I think of an organisation that denies me my existence. As I made no attempt to hide, I am a gay man. I was upfront about this from the beginning by mention of my boyfriend. Your language, whether deliberate or not, made clear your opinion on this fact. And unfortunately I cannot say that I am surprised at what I heard. 

Your claim that it is fair to ask gay couples to be celibate, as you ask the same for straight couples, holds little water. Straight Mormons have a chance of family in the Church, they have a chance of marriage ordained by God. Gay people are not given this chance. Our relationships are seen as sinful. Our relationships are seen as not fit to raise children in. Our relationships are less than. Under your doctrine these are indisputable facts. I have zero time for any movement, doctrine, or speech, which denies the love I have for my partner as real. 

I am lucky that I am only insulted and disgusted by this, for too many of my fellow queer people who are raised in the Church suffer far worse fates. More than 60% of queer youth self-harm, and more than 20% attempt suicide -- yesterday you spoke with two such people, Scott and myself. Not even to mention how for trans youth these figures for suicide almost triple -- how do you think this aligns with the Church's policy to deny them their gender? In the LDS heartland of Utah these statistics are even more troubling. Here children hear loud and clear the denial of their identities, and how they will never know love, and how they will never have their own families. The state government here has supressed the collection of information on LGBT suicide, the LDS influence on their legislature ensures this. Preventing this collection continues to allow the mass suicide of queer Mormon youth to go unnoticed. This is Church violence on my community, on my personhood. 

One can attempt a defense of the Church here on the grounds that Church doctrine is written by earthly men. But doctrine that allows the death of its youth cannot be the word of God, it cannot be a part of the Gospel. Scott made a case of hoping for change, which I understand. Your organisation has often had doctrinal change to suit modem politics and public image -- the outlawing of polygamy, accepting black Elders, no longer teaching that non-white races are unclean, and hopefully one day the acceptance of same-sex relationships. But the hope for change is no reason to excuse the Church's current state. No one would stay with a business that is killing its young workers, even if they say that they might change their minds in a few decades or so. I will not deny the love I have for my partner for any misplaced trust in your organisation. To deny this would be to deny myself. 

As both you and Elder Mauerham told me yesterday, my interpretations of the scripture thus far have been cogent and well thought out. I have been honest with you in my thoughts and action all this time, but I will never deny any part of myself as valid in exchange for a place in your organisation. As I told the last pair of Elders, I will warmly and willingly walk into the Telestial Kingdom as punishment for this. But let it be known that this will never be punishment for me, the unwavering expression of my love, in the face of opposition, is the greatest freedom I have. 

I hope that the two of you may one day see what the real loving and accepting world has to offer.

And I find it difficult to argue his points. What do we offer the LGBT community as a church? Yes we offer the ordinances required for Eternal Salvation, we offer the gospel in it's fulness and continuing revelation, but can we appreciate that from the outside looking in as an investigator these are conceptual rather than actual? That without having received that testimonial baptism of fire of the truthfulness of the restored gospel they don't actually mean very much. That what we're telling our gay/trans investigators is we expect you to give up the one you love, or the hope of ever finding him/her. That in a church where every facet points to you having a family, you will be denied this unless you marry against your sexual orientation. Depending on your local leadership you may be allowed date according to your attraction, but you will never be allowed to marry them if you fall in love. So even that tender mercy may end up being a curse. If you're trans you will never be allowed to hold the priesthood, nor enter the temple if you have had elective gender assignment surgery, even if you have it reversed.

Thousands of our youth are looking in the mirror and hating themselves, an enormously high percentage are so desperate they decide that mortality has no more to offer them and choose to end their second estate. Too many succeed. It destroys me that as an organisation we are doing nothing to reach out to these youth. That no one is telling them they are not a mistake, that their Heavenly Father loves them. There are false prophets & prophetesses out there that are giving them this message, and it's taking them away from those saving priesthood ordinances, from the power of the temples. 

His message hurts because it has too much truth in it. The blood of our children is being split and it needs to stop. And I don't know how to make it stop. My heart aches, my tears are split but I sit here helpless. This situation is an abomination that stains the true church.

Our children are dying, spiritually and physically, I beg you please make it stop!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

My Mum's Eulogy: Given by me at her funeral 9/1/17

With her grandaughters
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God.

Hugh B Nibley, a noted historian and fluent in all the major ancient languages, teaches that on occasion the greek for word, logos, can also in rare circumstances be translated as council. This brings us greater knowledge of this verse.

In the beginning was the council, and the council was with God, and the council was God.

In Jermeiah 1:5 God tells Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” In this passage we learn that Jeremiah lived with our Heavenly Father before he was born, and was set apart to his calling. Jeremiah was a man like all men and so this teaches us that we too lived before we came to Earth. We are all children of our Heavenly Father and we are not here by accident.

Before the earth was created God called all his children together in a grand council, here we lived as spirits, and he told us that the time had come for us to progress further. To do this though we had to gain for ourselves bodies, like he had and the only way for us to do that was to be born into them. He would create us a world, a perfect world, and our first parents would be created there with perfect bodies. Before long sin would enter the world and this would lead to a fall. Those perfect bodies would become imperfect, we would be subject to illness and disease. Death would enter the world. We would suffer trials and tribulations, but that this was needed. In the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:22-25 we read

22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
 23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
 24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

Here we learn that it is only because of our trials and tribulations we can understand what joy is. For how can we understand something if we have no perspective? How can we appreciate the good times without knowing the bad?

He told us that as we entered this world a veil would be passed over our minds and we would have no memory of our life before. This would be so that we could learn who we really are? Where are our real hearts desires? When living in his presence it was easy to be good, but would we still desire to do so with that veil in place? We would make mistakes, we would trip and fall. We would commit sins ourselves, but that the lessons we learned from those errors had the potential to teach us much. As my own dad often says, it doesn't matter how many times we fall, just how high we bounce.

Another consequence of this fall is that death would come upon us, we would be separated from our physical bodies again and they return to the earth. Because all of us would do wrong things this would also mean we would be able to return to our Celestial home for only perfect beings could live in that perfect place and we would all fall short, but there was a plan for this. What would be needed is a perfect man to be born, a man who would commit no sin. The laws of justice demanded a price be paid, but a perfect man who had done no wrong could pay that price and by doing so he could pay the price for all mankind, that the arm of mercy could be extended. Because this perfect sacrifice was so all encompassing he would gain the power to break the bonds of death itself and all of our Father's children would regain their bodies back, all would be ressurected. Death would lose it's sting! If we sought forgiveness for the wrongs we had done that atoning sacrifice would pay the price that we could not and we could return home to live with our Heavenly Father and continue in our eternal progression, we could gain all that he had, we could become like him! Perfect exalted beings! This plan was called the Plan of Salvation and all who sit here today was there when this plan was presented, and we shouted for joy. We rocked the very heavens with our hosannahs! And the knowledge of this plan today gives hope, and joy and strength.

My mum's life in this mortal realm was filled with many trials & tribulations. She barely knew a day where life did not batter her and anyone who knew her could see how weighed down she was from this struggle. The knowledge of this plan teaches us there was purpose for this, so how did she react to all she had been through?

with her grandson
For some these things would have turned them bitter & resentful. Jealous of the seeming happy, carefree lives of others. It would have eaten them up and they would have turned that anger back onto what they perceived to be a hateful world. Not my mother. She sought out those who were suffering and sought to relieve them of theirs. That others would go through alone what she had gone through was unbearable for her. She refused to judge or condemn, always seeking to understand so that she could help. In her role as a teaching assistant at Oak Park School, she would often tell me of this child or that child that was struggling seeking to lift them up, to better them. Sometimes she would tell me of a comment one child would make ridiculing those that were less fortunate, instead of rebuking them she would teach them why it was wrong. How we shouldn't judge because we all had our own journey. This was a woman though broken would seek to lift others from their misery. She did not have much, but she would give all she had to help another.

Glens wedding day
Children were her life and to see one suffering was something she could not bear. Her grandchildren were her unashamed delight, she adored them more than anything else in life, and I have no doubt that from the Spirit World she will continue to take joy in watching them grow. She raised 3 sons under trying circumstances and although like all parents she made mistakes she raised 3 good men into this world. She instilled in us her morals, her values. It was on my mothers knee I learnt my alphabet, I learnt my numbers and later learnt my words. I remember once when I was very young I had been put to bed and I was reading the ladybird book 3 Little Pigs, when I finished it I came down running excited exclaiming “mum mum I just read it from beginning to end all the way through” This was the first time I had done this by myself. She quickly hugged me tight and told me how proud she was of me. She pulled out her purse and gave me a whole 50p for me to spend as my absolute fortune in the early 80s! But this instilled in me my love of books that I still have today. She never considered us ever too young to learn.

I was so happy when Glen gave her her first grandchild, it made her so happy, although when John gave her her 3rd it wasn't so great for me. This was she realised I had yet to give her any “the other 2 have when are you going to??' I tried to pull the gay card to little avail, “this is the 21st century...that's no excuse these days!!” There was no such thing as too many children for her. Bishop you should mourn for her loss, she would have made an amazing asset to your Primary organisation.

An outsider may look at my mothers life and see it as being less than, but when I look at her life through the lens of the plan of salvation I see nothing but success. I see a woman who bore all of lives troubles and though she struggled through the dirt of mortality was never too weary to lift the burden of another. If I see a weakness it was that she would never turn to another for help with hers.

What does it take to be accepted of Christ? In Matthew 25:31-46 we read:

31 ¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
With Olly
 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Family gathering
 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

By this standard we can know that my mother is accepted of Christ, her sins have been paid for and she will receive her Eternal Salvation.

With Glen, Kylie & Olly
Because of the Plan of Salvation I know that my mother is not truly dead, she lives still, she has returned to that spirit world and awaits her resurrection. Death is not final, she has only gone to a place I cannot visit yet. She was greeted by her parents and bridges are being mended. Her niece Donna, who went way too early and who mum continually mourned for, greeted her. She has broken free of all the dirt & grime & filth of this world and has been returned to her glorious spiritual form. Her healing as begun and she is enveloped in a pure love that has no end. That my mum is so happy today brings me peace and contentment. I mourn her loss and I miss her, but I know that families are eternal, she is our mother still, always a grandmother and one day she will see her great-grandchildren born.

At Mama Mia

Friday, 13 November 2015

Follow the Prophets

Well, this last week has been quite a rollercoaster of a ride, not with just the policy announcements but with the reactions of people surrounding these policy announcements. Lots of people have been left licking wounds and I have to admit I am one of them, though my wounds have not come from the policy changes but from peoples reactions to them and some of those have left me extremely battered. So much so that when friends have reached out to me to help me find resolution I have felt attacked when there was no attack there, only love and concern, but I have felt very tender at times. So I'm writing this blog post not only in response to certain things that have been posted on the internet but also to clear my mind & get things off my chest in an attempt to move on.

There have been posts that have called into question those of us that have had issues/problems. There have been claims that we are apostates for struggling to come to terms with these policy changes, or for disagreeing with them. That everything that issues forth from the governing authorities is inspired revelation and they cannot make mistakes and we should just fall into line & quit our whinging or leave the church.

I'm going to tackle the last comment first and relate a story involving Brigham Young and a Salt Lake bishop called Edwin Woolley that I recently read about in
"Brigham Young; an American Moses" by Leonard J Arrington. In this Pres Young & Bishop Woolley have had a stand up row over some policy Pres Young wanted to implement and at the end of the row Pres Young retorts to Woolley "Well I guess you're now going to go off and apostatise". Bishop Woolley responded with "Well if this was your church President Young I probably would, but this church is as much mine as it is yours and why should I apostatise from my own church". So I echo that statement, this is my church as much as anyone else's, and I ain't going anywhere. My Heavenly Father made it abundantly clear to me that this is where He wants me & this is where I'll be. Irrespective of the opinion of any member of the church!

So what about struggling to come to terms with new pronouncements from church headquarters, wether they be doctrine or principle? Well, once again I am going to refer back to Brigham Young on this one who when he was first taught the principle of plural marriage said he would rather die. We also know the Joseph Smith also struggled to come to terms with plural marriage and was threatened with destruction if he did not comply. It is also well
documented that Emma also struggled with, and disagreed with, the principle and continued to do so all her life; well past Joseph's death. Let's look at the great example, our Saviour, even He struggled with what he had to do. In the garden of Gethsemane as the full weight of taking upon him all our sins bared down on him he cried out "Father if thou be willing remove this cup from me." He didn't say this because this was easy for him, he was struggling, really struggling, and he wanted out! But it's the "but not my will but thine" that makes the difference. It's OK to struggle and even disagree with pronouncements that come out of church headquarters, as long as it's accompanied with "but not my will but thine."

So then we come to the last point that everything that comes from the brethren is inspired, comes from God & cannot be wrong; or in other words they cannot make mistakes regarding church policy. Well, anyone who says this seriously doesn't know their church history because there have been many instances where they have been. This has even been canonised in D&C 3 where Joseph Smith is rebuked by The Lord for his mistakes regarding the lost 116 pages. Then we have the case of the Kirtland Safety Society which President Smith set up in Kirtland as a banking system for church members & issued it's own bank notes (which was quite standard in the 19thC for american banks to do). The
bank failed and many members, including members of the 12, lost their investments and Joseph was accused of fraudulently running an illegal bank. The failure of the bank was so shattering that later Heber C Kimball would say that  "there were not 20 persons that would say Joseph Smith was a prophet of God." We also have the ban on those of African lineage from holding the priesthood, a ban which those of my generation and older will remember being believed as doctrine by the church. We were taught that this ban was brought upon by the curse of Cain, I could even argue this point scripturally, and there were those who believed & taught that those born into this ban must've been less valiant in the pre-existence. Today the church admits that the ban was more based upon social beliefs of the time than any divine mandate [in fact believing the African peoples were descended from Cain was a normal 19thC North American christian belief]. If you still disbelieve that church leaders in the past have made mistakes then take it from President Dieter F Uchtdorf who said in his October 13 Genral Conference talk Come Join With Us "And to be perfectly frank there have been times when members or leaders in the church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine." So we can see that in our history our church leaders have made mistakes, some costly, and it would be the height of hubris to think it could not happen today or in the future.

So we can see that it is not an apostate act to struggle with HQ announcements, and that our leaders can make mistakes regarding policy, so why should we follow them? Because their entire agenda is to get souls back to Christ, and while every now and again they make wrong decision that causes the good ship LDS to head into a storm, they will keep us in the right direction. They will get us to our destination. You see when we turn to others for our answers we become subject to their whims, their agendas & their discontent. We become subject to their vanities and their pride. While in Utah I had the privilege of spending some time with an apostle of the Lord and I could feel of his love for us, all of us. As I spent time with his family & saw their values, that he had instilled in them, I could see this was a family with Christ at the centre of their lives. A family that judges people by the content of their heart, not by their actions. Yes, the brethren may make mistakes at times, but the desire of their heart is to get us home.

While I was studying the Book of Mormon the other night I was reading about Lehi's dream of the iron rod, along with a Book of Mormon study guide and in it the author points out that the great & spacious building is lifted above the ground, so how do the people get into it? They are lifted up with the pride of their hearts and their vain & foolish vanities, the righteous when they get to the Tree of Life fall to the floor in humility. So while it is OK to struggle with policy decisions made by the brethren, to disagree with some of their decisions, to be hurt & feel pain, and to express that hurt & seek comfort we must be careful not
to let that that lift us up in pride. Why is there an Iron Rod on the straight and narrow path unless the Lord knew that the journey may get rough at times and we would need to hold onto something? But we must keep ourselves humble before the Lord and seek His guidance in our lives in how we can use that pain to fuel ourselves forward, to seek the atonement to heal our pain & to forgive those that hurt us. So the next time the good ship LDS hits a storm maybe the true test of discipleship isn't to blindly follow like robots, but as some of our shipmates are tossed about when their safety straps break loose is to wrap our arms around them to help keep them safe rather than grumble and complain because they're not sitting in their seats.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Suffer The Little Children

So this week has seen an announcement from the church in relation to a policy change to same-sex couples and their children. This announcement has rocked the Mormon world and it's reverberations are still being felt and will continue to be felt for a long time. News was leaked about this change before the church was able to present it in the most diplomatic fashion, which hasn't helped in the reception, and left almost every gay mormon man, wherever they fall on the spectrum, struggling to get their heads around this one. I'm still struggling to get my head around it myself at the moment, despite many conversations with many friends over the last couple of days. Intellectually it's easy to see that this is just an extension of the church's policy regarding polygamous families, but there are differences, some minor & some not so, that doesn't make this such a clear cut case as polygamy. 

First I think the church adapting the handbook to officially declare anyone who enters into a gay marriage to be in 'apostasy' expected if not welcome, it had to make lay leaders clear where the lines are so that there could be no misunderstanding; i.e. some local leaders excommunicating gay married couples and some not. There needed to be consistency. It's the new policy that the children of gay couples will have to wait until they're 18, left home & dis-a-vow gay marriages that is causing a whole shit storm in the LDS community. At first on the surface this seems to be clear cut, it's the same policy as for the children of polygamous families and is set up to protect those children from contention between church beliefs and their home life, but there're differences that aren't being considered. It's pretty much a standard that poly families don't attend LDS congregations, and will usually attend their own churches and raise those children within that church, whereas there are many gay couples who love the church, attend church weekly & have a testimony of the restored gospel that will want to have their children go through all the landmark stages that we go through growing up in the church that will have to sit there & watch their children denied those moments and blessings. Who will have to explain to their child the reason as to why all their friends in primary are getting baptised but they can't, having to explain to their son why he can't be ordained to the priesthood and pass the sacrament. Knowing all the difficulties that will be awaiting them as they grow up but not having received the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide them through it

But even then that's not the end of the differences. What about the man who followed the church's council of the 70's & 80's to marry the gay away and now have a divorce behind them and joint custody of the kids? They're now in a relationship with a man and are happy for their wife to raise their child within the church, but now because they have joint custody that child's baptism has to be cancelled due to new church policy? [true story by the way] How are these children being protected? They still go to church every Sunday and hear the same lessons & talks regarding the Plan of Salvation & the centrality of marriage between man & a woman, will go to their gay parents home's knowing the church teaches against it, but will be denied all the blessings of church membership, including the gift of the Holy Ghost, to help them through it. They won't understand that the church is trying to protect them from conflict, they will just see the church denying them & keeping them on the outside.

I have no doubt that this policy has come about with the best of intentions but I find it difficult to accept that every possible scenario has been contemplated. By labelling gay parents as apostates we are automatically assuming that they are anti the church when that just isn't always the case.

I have shared with many of you my struggles of my teenage years, how I was suicidal through most of my teens and often cried myself to sleep praying that Heavenly Father would take me. My story is not a unique story & is pretty much basic for a gay mormon teen, well the news this week has pushed some of those teens off their cliff. So while some are sitting there patting themselves on the back for following the prophet can we at least be mindful of the gay youth sobbing into their parents chests as they see this as their church not loving them, for those who have attempted suicide these past few days, for those parents getting texts from their children saying they never want to see their parent again because the prophet has spoken. While some are crowing how this is sorting the wheat from the tares, can we remember that good people who love their Saviour have had their world rocked by the announcements this weekend. As my newsfeed rolls through all these stories, and countless like them, of the pain and suffering of this weekend I really am having a hard time rejoicing in the good of this change.

And to the arsehole who leaked this information before the church had a chance to present these changes in a more diplomatic fashion, I hope you appreciate that in your eagerness to attack the church your methods have added to the pain and suffering that this announcement has caused.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Christ the Rabbi

I quite often watch a programme called the Hour of Power, Sky 1 at 6am or +1 at 7am Sunday mornings, which is presented by an American TV Evangelist called Robert Schuller. He's a good man and has many interesting things to say & I like his take on the gospel. I have shared with some of you some of the things I heard and I think he'd make a great Mormon. He's sincere in his beliefs and understands the scriptures well & this morning he was discussing Christ the rabbi. We know that Christ was a rabbi (Mark 9:5, 11:21 John 3:1-2) and it was quite an honoured position to be a rabbi, they taught people the Law, interpreted the holy writings and gave people the word of God. Many families would send their sons to established rabbis in the hopes that he would pick their son and train him up in the rabbinic tradition. These rabbis would only pick the best, the best looking, the most intelligent, the best speaker, best memory. Not only to ensure their legacy was carried on by the best but for the prestige that came with have only the best as students. Rev Schuller then goes on to discuss how Rabbi Jesus was criticised by his peers for dining with prostitutes, publicans & tax collectors. He described how the tax collector was the lowest of the low, how in the Zionistic culture the tax collectors had sided with Rome and were considered traitors. They weren't even allowed to worship in the synagogues, and yet here was a man who claimed to be Messiah but instead of teaching the elect of jewish society he was socialising with the 'scum' and we quite often comment on that in our classes and is a common christian theme. 

But something gave me pause & I looked at this from a different angle, that of choosing his disciples. Here is a rabbi and where other rabbis are waiting for the elect of jewish society to come to them, and having the prestige of sending
most of them away for failing to meet their high standards, Jesus went looking for His disciples. He went not among the elect most educated, but amongst the lowest uneducated. He went to Galilee, considered a backwater that nothing good ever came from, and found fishermen and even a vile tax collector. Think about that! Not only did he go and teach the lowest of the low, but he called them to be his inner circle! He called them to be the leaders of the early church, to be his confidents, his friends and his most trusted. 

And if you look through the history of God's dealing with man this as always been so. It wasn't the mighty Sumerians or Egyptians that God made his chosen people but a lowly family of desert nomads were sent into slavery & raised into a mighty nation. David, a shepherd boy, was sent against a mighty giant, won a war & his line was chosen to be the Royal line through which Israel would be ruled & the Messiah born. It was to a barely literate farm boy in a frontier town of the USA that the Father & Son would appear and bring about the restoration of Israel & the modern kingdom.

So the next time you look into the mirror and are swamped by your inadequacies, just look into your eyes and remind're the exact kind of person Christ has always relied on!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Rainbow & the Dove

Well, I guess this is the purpose of my blog, to hear my thoughts on things, and I can't really have this blog & not comment on events this week. Well my thoughts are a bit jumbled and over the place so enjoy the ride.

Well, first I guess I really don't get the whole big deal about the US legalising gay marriage. The whole of social media seems to be alight with the news, with peoples Facebook pages being rainbowed up like a major world shift has occurred when in fact they're hardly the first country to do so. In fact they're the 21st country to do so, so not even making it in to the top 20. I get why it wasn't such a big deal in the UK when we legalised gay marriage a couple of years ago, we had had Civil Partnerships since 2004 which gave gay couples full legal recognition under the law, so when gay marriage was legalised over here it was just really a matter of semantics; and allowing the ceremony to be performed in churches. I'm guessing that in the US the polar divides on this issue have been on such extreme ends of the spectrum and the swing to & fro of various States has fuelled a Big Brother style reality circus. 

I think a couple of misconceptions need to be addressed. A lot of people have expressed concerns over values of the conservative religious right. [In this blog entry whenever I refer to 'religion' I am being non-denominational, if I am specifically referring to the LDS church I will do so.] I fully support any religious leaders right AND obligation to speak out on what they perceive to be moral issues according to the light and knowledge as they have received it, but I think some people have confused the system of government that we operate in the West. Most western countries operate under a democracy not a theocracy, and defines democracy as this:

government by the people; a form of government in which the
supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their agents under a free electoral system.

So we can see here that a democracy is about the will of the people and unfortunately there is no obligation for the people under such a system to choose that which is moral. It is assumed that the collective conscious of the population will keep the laws moral, but that isn't necessarily the case. Also let us also remember that the concept of morality is a subjective state according to the light & knowledge that you have received and will change depending upon the philosophy/background/upbringing of the individual. Now as members of the LDS church we accept that we are led by a Prophet, and his counsellors, and a quorum of 12 apostles, and as such are a great moral compass for us today, especially when the sands are shifting so much. But we do have to accept that sometimes in a democracy that we're not going to get what we want, nor what we consider to be right.

Now I know some of you are diving to your scriptures right now to D&C 134:1 which says:
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

And absolutely  I agree that this is any form of governments primary responsibility, but before we start slinging fire & brimstone at those governments that pass laws that we disagree with let's turn to D&C 137:9

For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

and also  3 Nephi 14:1-2

 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Now from this I do not believe that a just and fair God will condemn any government body for enacting laws that they believe extend love, justice & mercy according to the light & knowledge that they have received. As Brigham Young teaches us in Discourses of Brigham Young 

So far as mortality is concerned, millions of the inhabitants of the earth live according to the best light they have—according to the best knowledge they possess. I have told you frequently that they will receive according to their works; and all, who live according to the
best principles in their possession, or that they can understand, will receive peace, glory, comfort, joy and a crown that will be far beyond what they are anticipating. They will not be lost (DBY, 384).

So let us judge not those who pass our laws, especially those who are not members of the church, but let us celebrate that there are people out there today who are celebrating the right to be united in their love under civil authority. Which is another interesting point, God's church has every obligation to follow God's revealed word regarding the sanctity of marriage and should only perform those marriages which Heavenly Father has approved of, but our civil authorities have every right to unite those that they see fit;  a secular government has the right the right to recognise whatsoever it wishes under its secular authority. Now remember that I live in a country that does not have separation between church & state. We have a state religion and it's only a Church of England minister that may marry a couple, every other denomination in the UK must have a government registrar present to legalise the proceedings. Our Head of State HM Queen Elizabeth II is also head of the Church of England, but even under this authority I do not recognise the Church of England's authority to overrule the will of the people on defining who may get married. Even more so under a system that separates completely church & state, each government has the right to circumscribe what it recognises or does not recognise.

And this is the one thing that concerns me is all the judging and condemnation being thrown about on both sides, let us remember that all the people involved are acting according to the light & knowledge they have received. Now I have no doubt that there are hate-mongers stirring the pot on both sides but there are many many more acting and talking within the bounds of their conscience. The phrase "according to their light and knowledge" is a phrase
that I have used again and again during this posting and quite deliberately too, because I am a firm believer that there is still much more to be revealed upon this subject by our Heavenly Father and I urge caution to those who stand in the extremes on either side. Be careful that what you say won't leave you regretting your words, because I believe that when that revelation comes many people on both sides are going to be shocked. It reminds me of a previous issue that when the revelation did come Elder Bruce R McConkie made this statement.
...and people write me letters and say, 'You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?' All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. [Horne, Dennis B. Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights From His Life & Teachings Eborn Books]

So let us go forward with this caution sounding in our ears from Matthew 25:31-46

31 ¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

An interesting point here is that Christ includes visiting the prisoner in jail with the hungry, naked & sick. The message is clear it is not just our mercy toward the innocent but to the guilty too. And let us learn from this that it is not our condemnation of the sinner that shall save us but our love and charity to those in need, and let us remember that along with the rainbow should be the dove of peace.