05 February 2011

ARG: Elder Oaks & Elder Wickman on SGA - Part 10

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Elder Wickman, when you referred earlier to missionary service, you held that out as a possibility for someone who felt same-gender attraction but didn’t act on it. President Hinckley has said that if people are faithful, they can essentially go forward as anyone else in the Church and have full fellowship. What does that really mean? Does it mean missionary service? Does it mean that someone can go to the temple, at least for those sacraments that don’t involve marriage? Does it really mean that someone with same-gender attraction so long as they’re faithful, has every opportunity to participate, to be called to service, to do all those kinds of things that anyone else can?

ELDER WICKMAN: I think the short answer to that is yes! I’d look to Elder Oaks to elaborate on that.

ELDER OAKS: President Hinckley has helped us on that subject with a clear statement that answers all questions of that nature. He said, “We love them (referring to people who have same-sex attractions) as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church.”

To me that means that a person with these inclinations, where they’re kept under control, or, if yielded to are appropriately repented of, is eligible to do anything in the Church that can be done by any member of the Church who is single. Occasionally, there’s an office, like the office of bishop, where a person must be married. But that’s rather the exception in the Church. Every teaching position, every missionary position can be held by single people. We welcome to that kind of service people who are struggling with any kind of temptation when the struggle is a good struggle and they are living so as to be appropriate teachers, or missionaries, or whatever the calling may be.

ELDER WICKMAN: Isn’t it really the significance of the Atonement in a person’s life? Doesn’t the Atonement really begin to mean something to a person when he or she is trying to face down the challenges of living, whether they be temptations or limitations? The willingness to turn to the Savior, the opportunity of going to sacrament service on a Sunday, and really participating in the ordinance of the sacrament… listening to the prayers, partaking of those sacred emblems. Those are opportunities that really help us to come within the ambit of the Savior’s Atonement. Viewed that way, then any opportunity to serve in the Church is a blessing. As has been mentioned, there is a relatively tiny handful of callings within the Church that require marriage.

ELDER OAKS: There is another point to add here, and this comes from a recent statement of the First Presidency, which is a wonderful description of our attitude in this matter: “We of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reach out with understanding and respect for individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. We realize there may be great loneliness in their lives, but there must also be recognition of what is right before the Lord.”


ME: I've already discussed the inconsistencies that I have found within the church regarding this claim. I have several gay friends who have wanted to serve missions. If they bring up their attraction to the same sex in interviews, they are subjected to an intense investigation. They are required to have special interviews, special permission from the first presidency, and often counseling. Counselors can suggest to bishops that their missions be postponed. This happens whether or not they have acted on their feelings. Even if everything has been repented of, they must go through this long process. They are treated completely different than their straight counterparts. Does a straight 19 year old have to discuss his attractions for the opposite gender? If he has those attractions, is he subjected to special interviews and required to gain special approval and participate in counseling? No.

These kids are ready and willing to dedicate 2 years of their lives. But instead this turns into 2 and a half or even three years as they await the approval they need. They don't know how soon it will come. They don't know if they should start school, or if it would be best to just work while they wait to hear back. This is setting them back. They are put at a disadvantage. It isn't right, and it isn't equal treatment. If you are going to say they are just as worthy to serve, they should not be treated any differently in the process to be called. By making that process more strenuous and by requiring more steps, those actions effectively void the claim that they are looked upon as being equally worthy.

While there are few callings in the church that require marriage... those are the callings where decisions are made on behalf of others. Bishops, Stake Presidents, General Authorities, anyone in the position to cast judgment or disciplinary action toward others must be married. So while single people can serve in many capacities, they are always under the direction of married men. I wonder when this became a requirement for God to call someone. It seems to me the scriptures are full of examples of men (and even women) called by God who were not necessarily married.

Finally, this comment by Elder Oaks seems backwards to me. "We realize there may be great loneliness in their lives, but there must also be recognition of what is right before the Lord." What is that scripture in Genesis? Oh yeah:
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone."
"Good" and "Right" are synonymous. So according to this scripture... what is right before the Lord is that man not be alone. So this sentence makes no sense to me. Loneliness was never something God wanted for his children.


AKgayN.LDS said...

I feel like a second class member most of the time at church. I agree with your opinion. Someday it may change. At least I hope it will.

Boris said...

Sorry, Jonathan, but this is one I can’t resist. I wonder if Oaks-Wickman realize they have become an ongoing joke, on your blog and probably many others, without even a clue how utterly stupid/insipid/disingenuous they sound. Back in the sixties, the Smothers Brothers had a similar repartee, but unlike Oaks-Wickman, the Smothers knew they were being facetious/humorous/satirical. What can we say about Oaks-Wickman? Obviously, they want us to take them seriously, but as you have pointed out time and again, their arguments are devoid of reason or logic. Maybe Oaks-Wickman should drop the pretension of being moral/ecclesiastical experts and just settle for performing a stand-up comedy routine. Then, at least, we might all enjoy a good laugh.

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