Over the past several years many have contacted me in response to my support of same-sex marriage and gender equality in LDS leadership to say:

“If you believe in this church, then you believe in revelation and in following your leaders. Consequently, it is inappropriate for you to be speaking openly about wanting LGBTs to be more accepted in the church, your support for gay marriage, or for women to receive more church responsibility. Either the leaders of the church get their direction from God, or they don’t. If you choose to be a part of this church, then it’s either get in line and follow, or get out.”

My response: A quiz for you.

1) What were the conditions/environment/personalities involved in Joseph Smith receiving the Word of Wisdom revelation? Was it purely direct revelation, or at least partially a response to people and situation?

2) What were the conditions/environment/personalities involved in the 1890 Official Declaration renouncing the practice of polygamy? Was it purely direct revelation, or at least partially a response to people and situation?

3) What were the conditions/environment/personalities involved in the granting of priesthood to black males? Was it purely direct revelation, or at least partially a response to people and situation?

4) What were the conditions/environment/personalities involved in the LDS church’s changing stance regarding oral sex (first forbidding it, then rescinding that forbidding)? Was it purely direct revelation, or at least partially a response to people and situation?

5) What were the conditions/environment/personalities involved in the LDS church’s change in stance regarding LGBT people, going from a) telling LGBT people that SSA was a result of sin, b) that being LGBT was a choice/non-biological, c) that LGBT folks should “get married, not tell their spouse, and it will go away,” or d) to try reparative therapy……vs. the church’s current position (https://mormonsandgays.org/) — abandoning all of those positions? Was it purely direct revelation, or at least partially a response to people and situation?

6) Rinse and repeat with other issues like the use of contraception, women working outside of the home, apostolic denunciations of evolution, interracial marriage, changes in the temple ceremony, the cessation of publishing Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine and Spencer W. Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness (now I’m being prophetic on that one), women praying in general conference, the modern young single adult program, etc.

7) In fact, are you aware of ANY significant changes in the church that were NOT made in response to conditions/environment/personalities ?

8) What is the value of continuing revelation, if it is not used….and what do you think precipitates revelation? Does it happen in a vacuum?

9) Finally, if conditions/environment/personalities can lead to change in all of these other scenarios, why couldn’t/shouldn’t it be so with gay marriage and the role of women in the church?


  1. Jeremiah October 8, 2013 at 9:20 am - Reply

    “Either the leaders of the church get their direction from God, or they don’t.”

    If they do not hold Jesus as authoritative on the issue of marriage and support same-sex marriage or any other form of marriage, then the answer is the latter. They don’t get their direction from God.

    • Nik October 8, 2013 at 9:28 am - Reply

      I don’t think everything is that black and white. I think that there is a lot of color that needs to be considered. I believe that the leaders of the church get their direction from God, but I also believe that the reason things don’t happen as fast as we would like them too is because we are not ready to receive those things as a people. Some of us are ready for the next step, but I think a lot of the church members are not there yet. But I feel that we are moving that way- all in due time.

      • Jeremiah October 9, 2013 at 11:19 pm - Reply

        Well, while appreciating your point that people do move in a cultural direction, this does not change the teaching of Jesus on marriage. If a person disagrees with Jesus, of course they are free to do so. However, why would such a person ever profess to be a follower of Jesus or identify as such? Would they not prefer to be a member of another group, possibly a new group “Christians Against Christ?”

        Thank you for taking the time to respond.

        • Scott October 27, 2013 at 10:09 pm - Reply

          Jesus hardly touched on homosexuality. In the rare instance he did, he did not condemn it, instead he refers to “eunuchs who have been so from birth.” I plead for you to find the scripture spoken by Jesus (which means New Testament) in which he condemns homosexuality.

          • Rob October 27, 2013 at 11:02 pm

            **find the scripture spoken by Jesus (which means New Testament) in which he condemns homosexuality.**

            Easy. Jesus said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” (Matt 19:4; Mark 10:6) Jesus reiterates that we weren’t made gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender; just male and female.

            He then continues, “FOR THIS CAUSE shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Christ Himself proclaimed the REASON we were made male and female – to MARRY each other.

            When combined with “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matt. 5:28)

            Christ Himself said it’s better to pluck your eyes out or to cut off your hand than to LUST even. How much more for the actual act of adultery itself? Jesus did not accept homosexuality any more than fornication, adultery, or other sins of lust. Lust is lust, and says “thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

            To DELIBERATELY create, or allow, other relationships outside of the REASON we were made is against God’s will. Due to individual circumstances, not everyone can fulfill the REASON we were made (marriage of a man and a woman), but those who DELIBERATELY choose against it find themselves on the wrong side of Jesus. And those who choose to SUPPORT those who DELIBERATELY choose against it also find themselves on the wrong side of Jesus.

            You guys should really get your Bibles out and read them more.

          • Scott October 28, 2013 at 1:21 am

            Typical answer. There is no condemnation of homosexuality anywhere in that statement. There is, rather, encouragement of heterosexual relationships.

          • Jeremiah October 28, 2013 at 9:54 am

            Scott, I plead for you to find the scripture spoken by Jesus (which means New Testament) in which he celebrates homosexuality.

            On a side note, Jesus is part of the Godhead, the scriptures are inspired by the Godhead, therefore any scripture condemning the gay lifestyle would be the words of Jesus.

            On another side note, in Matthew 15:19 Jesus condemns thoughts of fornication, which would include lustful thought towards the same-sex.

          • Scott October 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm

            I’m not sure why my replies were deleted since Jesus doesn’t speak explicitly against homosexuality. Oh well. It’s a point that needs to be made.

          • Ed November 22, 2013 at 5:09 am


            What would you say to someone who was born with disambiguous or two reproductive organs?

          • tropical animal November 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

            Someone asks what happens when someone is born with both male and female genitals? Well, if holding the priesthood is based on genitals, perhaps they could take their choice. I rather think in
            Old Testament times the priesthood was given to males becuse they could wield the sword and therefore make females subservient. Females were subservient in Old Testament times. Religions are a function of culture, thus with a different culture, like in modern times, where male/female have equal rights, it may be that women could also hold the priesthood. Certainy most of the commandments as outlined in the Old Testament are not practiced today in modern democracies, like burning witches and killing non-believers and such.

      • marko October 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm - Reply

        I’ve never understood the argument that “we are not ready to receive those things” at this time. I know lots of people that were still not ready for the blacks to receive the priesthood in 1978 and yet the revelation still came out. Does God work in percentages? When over 50% of the people are ready, then he reveals his will? Or is it 75%? Revelation to me is not so much about we the people being ready for it, but God just wanting to reveal his will when he is ready.

  2. Nik October 8, 2013 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Thanks for the quiz. A couple of years ago I would have disagreed with you 100% on this. However, as my eyes have been opened to a new understanding of things, I see things in a totally different perspective.

  3. huh October 8, 2013 at 11:15 am - Reply

    But, uhh, Elder Oaks said that “unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has declared to be unchangeable.”

    Does anyone know where I can find the list of the things “God has declared to be unchangeable”? And has anything been deleted from this list over time? I mean, is the list itself unchangeable or if God decides to change the unchangeable, the unchangeable list changes to changable and the unchangeable thing that became changeable comes off the unchangeable list?

    Oh, and, also, can anyone link to the “mistakes” list–the one confessing in detail the actual mistakes referenced by Elder Uchtdorf? This would be helpful, as I don’t want to believe in mistakes, so knowing what was a mistake and what was not will help me out.

    Appreciate it.

    • huh October 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      No, really, what is not changeable and what is changeable? Anyone? Someone?

      • huh October 8, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

        Can it really be that no one knows what “God has declared to be unchangeable”? So if a gay friend asked you about these things that your Apostle was talking about–these unchangeable things–you wouldn’t have any idea, would you? I’m pretty sure at least one prophet said plural marriage would always be practiced. Another said blacks would not get the priesthood. The unchangeable became changeable and changed. So who gives a rat’s what one apostle claims is unchangeable on a given day.

        • David October 9, 2013 at 6:59 am - Reply

          I was confused by this at first as well, but it can be simplified and become much easier. Doctrine is eternal and unchanging, as stated by prophets and scripture. This should be something accepted by anyone professing a belief in the restored church of Christ. These unchanging doctrines, which you can see much of in the talk you requested, are an umbrella to many points of doctrine, otherwise knows as policies. Points of doctrine change over time as directed by God through his prophets.

          For instance, sacrifice is an eternal doctrine that has always and will always be. However, the way in which this is applied is a point of doctrine that has changed from animal sacrifice to what it is now.

          Eternal Marriage between man and women is one of the more powerful doctrines that exists through the eternities. We have seen the points of doctrine change relatively recently. While at some times in history plural marriage was allowed it would now get you excommunicated to practice it, because that policy is changeable. This also encompasses what sexual acts between husband and wife are currently accepted.

          But the doctrine of it being between man and women is eternal and unchanging. While social norms can have an effect on what policies are acceptable they will never alter doctrine within Christ’s church.

          “Brethren, none within the sound of my voice should be in any doubt concerning what is moral and what is not, nor should any be in doubt about what is expected of us as holders of the priesthood of God. We have been and continue to be taught God’s laws. Despite what you may see or hear elsewhere, these laws are unchanging.” – President Monson

          “The Lord’s law of moral conduct is abstinence outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife, appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual conduct, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior is sinful. Those who persist in such practices or influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.” – Message from First Presidency.

          • Veritas October 9, 2013 at 9:14 am


            Because you (and most members) confuse doctrine with truth, leaders with God, and the Church with the Kingdom of God, you dismiss or reject those who simply acknowledge imperfections in the former and strive for the latter.

            The former are fallible and change to better match the latter, if only when prompted. The latter are eternal and unchanging.

            The former are too often worshiped, when it is only the latter that should be.

            God be with you.

          • Bob L October 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

            As for doctrine being eternal and unchanging, that sounds like the comment of someone who doesn’t study Church history at all. The current version of the LDS church is nothing like what Joseph Smith founded. In 1886 John Taylor had a revelation in his own handwriting using the expression, “Thus saith the Lord”, that plural marriage would never be taken from the earth. Just 4 years later, Wilford Woodruff was receiving a “revelation” supposedly ending plural marriage. The Temple ceremony was supposed to be of God, yet the difference between the 1990 version and the current ceremony is dramatically different. A few years back, the Church didn’t recognize gay people at all saying that it was a choice and now they’ve changed their tune. Before last Saturday, the Church didn’t welcome any other points of view. Now Uchtdorf is saying people leaving the Church and people questioning the doctrines are not necessarily because people want to sin and that there may be valid reasons because leaders of the Church have not always been the brightest examples of ethics and honesty. Given the “leaders” are imperfect and “make mistakes” how are we to know if and when a “revelation” is in fact from God? These are suppose to be men who have the constant companion of the Holy Ghost. I recall Elder Ballard smuggly saying, after Prop 8 passed, “We know what the Lord wants” and yet the state overturned it. Seems that if they knew “what the Lord wants” they’d have saved all that money “donated” by the members.

          • huh October 9, 2013 at 10:47 am

            So in the January 5, 1982, letter to all Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops; and Branch Presidents, the prophet and his counselors instructed that, “He should understand what being morally clean means, which should include refraining from homosexual or other unnatural, impure or unholy practices…The First Presidency has interpreted oral sex as constituting an unnatural, impure, or unholy practice.”


            Was it a violation of the moral law or not? And did that change? Again, you and the Church seem unable to define the things “God has declared to be unchangeable,” but can only reference vague statements that allow the kind of wiggle room necessary to change whatever the Church wants whenever it wants while claiming some undefined set of things is unchangeable.

          • Marty Erickson October 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm

            I read your post. I read “Constancy amid change” Elder Nelson `93 talk you post later.
            I’m now more confused. Are you indeed saying your post and the Nelson talk make it “simplified and easier”? My experience is it greatly obfuscates what is supposed to be apparently changeable and unchangeable. So what is changeable and what is unchangeable in light of the many arguments here with regard to authoritative doctrine, teachings, and principles from the LDS leadership through complex messy contradictory Church history? I kept wondering if your post was suppose to be a bit tounge in cheek sarcasm. Am I not getting it?

          • anon October 14, 2013 at 7:56 am

            “…While at some times in history plural marriage was allowed it would now get you excommunicated to practice it, because that policy is changeable…”

            my friend “serves” in the stake leadership and is sealed to two women (one dead) ? and so are many church leaders and regular members. what do you mean you would get excommunicated for practicing plural marriage?

          • Ed November 22, 2013 at 5:19 am

            Your two statements seem to disagree with each other.

            “Doctrine is eternal and unchanging, as stated by prophets and scripture”

            “Points of doctrine change over time as directed by God through his prophets.”

            So doctrine is “New and ever lasting covenant. We MUST be sealed in the temple” and Points of doctrine are “between ONE man and ONE woman” or “between Man and Woman.”

        • huh October 10, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

          “How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion.”

          —Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, pp. 290-291, 1859

          “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

          —Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.110, 1863

      • Capricornus October 9, 2013 at 12:43 am - Reply

        Based on Mormon doctrine according to the conservative part of the bloggernacle, these are the definitions you seek:

        Unchangeable: all things that are pleasing to me as they currently are
        Changeable: all things that I’d like to be different


    • Will K. October 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      The list would be too long to . . . um . . . list.

      And I don’t think a “whoops, there are our mistakes” list will be appearing any time soon.

    • Scott October 28, 2013 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Don’t worry about it. When oaks said, “unchangeable” he actually meant “unchangeably malleable”. Slip of the tongue me lad.

  4. Joel October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am - Reply

    John –

    I don’t think that anyone would suggest that “conditions/environment/personalities” do play somewhat into a prophet going to the Lord and asking. The greater question would be is, “Is what we are asking God going to be for our own good?” God sometimes with his children’s persistence may allow us to have what we want whether it is for our good or not.

    Martin Harris being allowed to take the B of M manuscript after several times being told no resulting the loss of 116 pages of painstaking work.

    Israel demanding a king in 1 Samuel and after a consensus of the people and the Elders resulted in God allowing a nation that turned from worshiping Him to a nation that wanted to be more like the world, ultimately resulting in the scattering of Israel.

    The point being that God listens to his noisy children and does at times relent to allow them to find the results of their desires for good or evil. After listening to conference it is pretty apparent that the brethren still believe that same sex marriage and ordination for women are not in the cards. I hear from many of the agitators for these issues that all they want is for the prophet to go to God and ask. I really don’t know why they believe that the prophet has not. Are they not listening to the prophet’s response? If conference wasn’t enough to show this, what do they need a personal invitation?

    God does speak through his prophet and does listen to His children and their “conditions/environment/personalities”. My only question for you and those that sympathize with you on these most poignant current events is, “are we willing to accept Gods answer?”

    Keep up the good work! Thank you for balancing the format for your podcasts. I really appreciate it. So much good has come from you airing our dirty laundry.

    Love you good brother.

    • Missouri October 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm - Reply

      Good points friend.

      I understand and appreciate your good examples. But, it is perplexing that this seems to fall so in line with atheist cynicism. We are simultaneously asked to:

      1. Trust God
      2. Don’t question his leaders
      3. Forgive leaders for being wrong sometimes
      4. Don’t be vocal about something that you feel is wrong
      5. Seek the Spirit for personal revelation of truth
      6. Ask for whatsoever thing we stand in need of
      7. Don’t ask for things that he may not want us to have because it could really destroy us (My ways are not your ways).

      …so why pray other than to give thanks and pray for the good of others?

      …in the end, should we ask him for anything if ultimately we really should just go with “thy will be done?”

      My family focuses our prayers on giving thanks. It is actually quite a beautiful thing to do. Then, each night when we tuck our little kids in, them we invite them to share their thoughts on the good things that happened that day.

      There is beauty in being submissive. I want to follow what God wants…but I am skeptical that He really wants me to go to Church for 3 hours every week (justified in conference)…Can I pray for a more reasonable 2 hour block with alternating weeks of auxiliary and SS? The Church block is another thing that has changed over time.

      • Joel October 30, 2013 at 11:37 pm - Reply

        Hi Missouri –

        What a wonderful way of looking at things. Always pray giving thanks… I love that.

        I can see how cynicism could creep into one’s outlook on how we Mormons, God, the church and it’s leaders all fit together. When we understand the concept that God always works through His children, life can become a little frustrating working with His children. LDSs like to have things cut neat and clean and rarely is that the case. So when a prophet of God speaks out and tries to direct God’s work on earth to further the cause of Zion and try to build His kingdom or a Zion here on earth it is going to be a little hit and miss. Telestial minds and bodies always contribute to hit and miss, but I thank God for 3-hours on Sunday that I can meet with like minded people to learn and prepare. I just wish that it was 24-7. Unfortunately I have to go home to a telestial family, then off to work and out into the world around less focused folks (to say the least). But maybe you are further ahead in your progression than I am and already know how to interact with all of God’s children. In the mean time the church time for me becomes very precious. the time I take for Home Teaching becomes very precious. The time I spend in my calling as the Ward Mission Leader becomes very precious etc. etc. My prayer time becomes very precious. I want to learn how to love like my Father in Heaven. I want to become like my Father in Heaven. unfortunately I don’t have church 24-7 to keep me focused, I get distracted with the noise of the world and some of God’s noisy children.

        It seems that if we are truly working toward becoming a Zion society, then we ought to let the prophet be the prophet rather than spending our time railing against the church policies and the prophet for some supposed error. Now with that said, I am so thankful that all worthy males can receive the Priesthood and any worthy person can enter God’s temples. Was it noisy children that brought that about. Perhaps it kept the issue in the forefront for the prophet to consider, but it is my understanding that the church had addressed the issue prior to declaration 2 and the noisy children were relatively quiet for about 3 years prior to Declaration 2. I loved the podcast “Alternative Feminest Approaches to Ordain Women”. They get my vote for how to approach the subject of women receiving the Priesthood. None of them have turned a blind eye to the issue. They instead allow the prophet to be the prophet.

        By the way how about we get rid of the 3-hour block and instead meet on Sundays for Priesthood in the morning. Come back for Sunday School and Primary and then again for Sacrament Meeting and lets extend Sacrament Meeting to 2 hours. Then let’s come back for any leadership or training meetings and make sure that Relief Society and Mutual meet during the week. I believe the Mormons that had that schedule back when didn’t have a lot of time to be noisy children. Way too much time on our hands in this day and age. (-;

        Let us all press on in the work of the Lord…. Glad of heart His holy name confessing….

        • tt October 31, 2013 at 2:49 am - Reply

          Joel, how did you come lds?

          • Joel October 31, 2013 at 7:49 am

            Born in the church. Wife is a convert. Grew up on the West side of SLC & moved to AZ out of HS where I lived until I moved moved my family to Colorado City, AZ. Currently live in S. Utah.

            By the way I forgot to share the idea of the temple where my view of the Priesthood developed. No bond or free. No rich or poor. Prophets, Apostles, Pres. kings and rulers sit next to each other with the lowliest and poorest of the poor without recognition as to who is who all being on equal footing with the same possibility; “To have the possibility of receiving all that God has.” No elevation in Priesthood. No elevation being man or woman. Simply a place where I can go and focus on becoming all that this human can be. Side by side with my siblings who also have a desire and choose to try and submit to a Celestial order. I cannot consider any other truth that is more beautiful.

            Personal revelation is more important than it is for any prophetic call. We can all share the view of Eternity. A prophet simply is God’s imperfect tool to try and organize and warn and attempt to bring Zion to the earth. No elevation, just a different stewardship than the rest of us. That is why I choose not to try and counsel the brethren. No need. A Gay person, a feminist woman, a single mom, a mentally ill homeless man, a transgender person that received the gospel after their sex change can make choices to either have this beautiful eternal view or not. I have first hand knowledge and seen this in all the people I have described as they received this same revelation in their lives. So we minister unto the one and let the prophet do his job without us being a noisy child trying to distract him or the brethren by trying to counsel them on their stewardship.

            Thanks again for sharing your focus on giving thanks in prayer. I know I could not have enough gratitude for my God after receiving the personal revelation of my possibility.

      • Sariah November 22, 2013 at 4:01 am - Reply

        Heavenly Father knows us. He knows what we want, what we need, and what will be best for us. Prayer is an excersize of faith. We go to Heavenly Father in prayer to show our faith in him, that he truly answers us and listens and is concerned about us.

        1: We trust God. We trust that he will provide and direct the leaders of his church.
        2: We sustain his leaders as the men of God they are. This is not to say they don’t make mistakes, but that being called and set apart means that they recieve revelation for everyone they are in charge of.
        3:We forgive our leaders for being wrong just as we ask HF for forgiveness when we are wrong.
        4:If something feels wrong to us, we are expected to be vocal. If we go to HF for revelation on the truth of a doctrine and He reveals to us it is wrong, then we are fully expected to voice this. However, we need to make sure that we truly are willing to recieve the answer he has for us.
        5:We seek the spirit through prayer, fasting, scripture study, and by asking and pondering on the things he has revealed through his prophets. This is the only way we can recieve direct personal revelation on the truth of a doctrine.
        6:Ask and ye shall recieve. It just might not be the answer you were expecting or the one you wanted. All my life I wanted to have some great experiance testifying of the truth, when the answer was just the quiet peace I felt whenever I read the BOM and listened to general conference.
        7:It is not wrong to ask, but it wrong to defy God’s will. That is the point behind Martin Harris. He did not suffer for asking something God did not want him to have, but because he refused to accept that God did not want him to have it.

        I think that focusing your prayers on Gratitude is an amazing action, and am in no way trying to deride it. I often do the same thing, but you can’t stop asking for blessings or answers. That scripture about asking goes the other way to, and we have been commanded to ponder and find out for ourselves.

  5. Joel October 8, 2013 at 11:19 am - Reply

    I meant to say. do NOTplay. Sorry for the typo.

  6. Darrell H October 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm - Reply


    Interesting quiz. Here are my answers.

    First of all, a clarification. When you say “purely direct revelation” I assume you mean unsolicited revelation, because the answer to your question, “Was it purely direct revelation, or at least partially a response to people and situation?” is, of course, yes—it was both. And, as you suggest in questions 7 and 8, this is the pattern for most revelations in the Church, at least those that become accepted as doctrine for the whole Church.

    I’ll begin with an answer to your last question, posed this way: If conditions/environment/personalities can lead to change in [some] scenarios, why couldn’t/shouldn’t it be so with gay marriage and the role of women in the Church? In other words, how are the examples you first cite DIFFERENT from the issues of gay marriage and women’s ordination to the priesthood? In other words, why SHOULDN’T the long-established pattern continue for these two issues? You’re insinuating that there is no substantive difference between these two issues and earlier ones. I think there is.

    The Word of Wisdom
    This revelation was given for the benefit of all members of the Church (“a principle with promise”) and, significantly, did not involve ordinances—much less saving ordinances—such as marriage or priesthood ordination. This is obviously different from gay marriage and ordaining women to the priesthood.

    Discontinuance of Plural Marriage
    This was based on a revelation that suspended a practice that was instituted based on an earlier revelation. In other words, a later revelation supplanted an earlier one, which is entirely consistent with the principle of continuing revelation to answer current issues and meet current needs. (This is what you’re arguing.) And what prompted this later revelation? The futility of sticking with the earlier revelation. (See Official Declaration 1 and the following excerpts from addresses by President Wilford Woodruff.) This is not the situation with either gay marriage or ordaining women, neither of which has been instituted by a revelation.

    Ordaining Blacks
    In granting the priesthood to black males in 1978, leaders were actually restoring a practice begun by Joseph Smith, therefore, there was a precedent for the change. This is not true for either gay marriage or female ordination. The discontinuance of these ordinations was not doctrine, but policy, and the 1978 change was the result of Church leaders seeking the change long before the civil rights movement of the 1960s; it wasn’t merely a response to demands by civil rights proponents. Rather, it was to extend temple blessings to all worthy Church members, blessings that are currently extended to both gays and women who qualify for them.

    As for the other issues you name, I’m not aware of any revelation even needed to have a “change in stance” on these. They seem to be the result of thoughtful, perhaps prayerful, consideration of the issues. As I think you’ll grant, God does not weigh in in a significant way on every issue that Church leaders have to act on. He gives them personal experience, scriptures, and a brain, then has them use their best thinking. So, lumping these latter issues in with the likes of the Word of Wisdom, plural marriage, and male priesthood ordination is pretty much an apples-and-oranges argument. To say God makes changes in the Church through revelation on some issues does now warrant saying that He makes changes in the Church through revelation on all issues.

    Most importantly, in the cases of revelations on specific issues, once the answer is given that is the end of the discussion, at least for the faithful. The answer on gay marriage has been answered more than once in both The Family: A Proclamation to the World and, most recently, in General Conference this past weekend (not to mention previous conferences). As for women’s ordination to the priesthood, that issue seems to be clearly answered as well, both by General Conference addresses and through Church spokespeople. But even if this particular issue is still an open question, it’s doubtful that “faithful agitating” is the proper way to get the desired revelation.

    If the devil is in the details, so is the divine. It is in distinguishing between the types of issues facing the Church that we can answer your very first question, How [and why] does revelation happen within the LDS Church?

    • Jeremiah October 9, 2013 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      Darell, very well put. I wish I had your ability to offer such a succinct, even-keeled, encompassing answer. Well done! Very well done!

      • Darrell H October 10, 2013 at 11:45 am - Reply

        Thanks, Jeremiah; that’s very kind of you. I was trying to add some rational (i.e., non-emotional) analysis to John’s argument. I hope my answer is helpful, though I’m afraid there are some with axes to grind who are rather impervious to even-keeled explanations.

  7. Kevin October 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    You’re the bomb, John. Pulling aside the curtain on the question of revelation is unnerving to some but I would hope it helps us come to better love and obey God. Yes, God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours but he always works within the framework of our understanding and perception.

  8. Michelle October 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    God is so much bigger than Mormonism. It took me 30 years to realize this. He is all knowing, never changing and doesn’t need any ideas from Joseph or anyone else on what his children need on earth. ( ie. temple Masonic ceremony structure) he is not a respect of persons ( discrimination of blacks in priesthood) he loves us all equally and unconditionally- sins and all! ( gays and lgbt community) I felt horrible after listening to the podcast of the sytycd kiddo- benji schwimmer) what the church did to that kid and the love for the religion from benji to try and fit that square peg! Bless his heart! He doesn’t require us to do anything( no, not temple ceremonies, sealings, handshakes, visiting teaching, family home evenings…etc) to be worthy of his love. We must believe and help others see this love for them. I am so glad to be free and have truth. To me there is no grey. It’s very clear. The foundations of the church were based on a con, not sincere search for truth. Do the research, it’s all in front of us, but we see what we choose to see. It took me a long time. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

  9. maddy October 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    I wonder how/what we should interpret Pres. Hinckley’s answers to an interviewer asking him about priesthood ordination for women?

    What was the mechanism for God opening up teaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles?

  10. Edward Bailey October 9, 2013 at 8:33 am - Reply

    The word of wisdom practice of today is Section 89+ as the scope and meaning of hot drinks, barley drinks, and meat changed over time. When these changes are made a new section in the Doc and Cov is not produced. Likewise with the Sacrament ordinance. We use cards under the sacrament table, but there is no revelation in the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Mormon, or Pearl of great price which reveals the new sacramental prayer that declares wine evil as the Saints used wine of their own make in St. George, UT for decades after section 89 was revealed. Instead a “handbook” says, please replace the word, “water for wine” in Doc &Cov, 20:79. Current revelation builds on older canonized scripture with more of a lattice work of practices stitched together with gum and string. The ability to reveal new sections to the D&C has not been used for close to 100 years. Concerns over the temple ceremony after a David Buerger article in Dialogue, resulted in a survey sent out to 1000’s of endowed saints, then the major changes in 1990. Joseph produced 100’s of pages of substantive revelations in only 14 years. I still believe that revelation is received today by the saints daily, and these are recorded in journals, meeting minutes, testimonies born, when stakes, wards, and relief societies are re-organized and so forth personal histories will bear out the hand of God revealed.

  11. Ralph Hancock October 9, 2013 at 8:48 am - Reply

    1. Of course all revelation is addressed to human being in their situation, including particular and local features of their situation. There would not be a revelation about tobacco use if no one were using tobacco. It would be surprising if there were a revelation that we should, say, stop walking on water, because there’s no conceivable issue with people walking on water, as far as I know. So, yes, divine revelation often applies to concerns people have. So in some sense, since revelation is revelation to some people at some time and place, it can always be construed I suppose as “in response to conditions/environment/personalities.”

    2. But you tend to notice revelations that you can fit onto a certain progressive grid, and beyond this you can’t think of “any significant changes.” To be sure, the Word of Wisdom is perhaps a less-than-stirring starting point for the progressive story, but it does take us back to JS’s day at least, and to a woman’s concrete concerns, so that’s something. But from there we’re up and running to the edifying tale of progress that goes like this:

    Monogamy  Blacks receive priesthood  Oral Sex  … and of course to the great moral-political cause of the present age, the liberation and full moral recognition of “gay” sexuality.

    A) What comes next? Surely progress cannot come to an end? If you are sure what direction we should go in, why make us (and the prophets) wait – why not tell us where it is all supposed to lead? What is the ultimate vision of individual fulfillment in a just society? After the overcoming of the traditional, natural, conjugal understanding of marriage, and of the associated preference for heterosexuality and role differentiation between the sexes, what further barriers must be toppled to reach our destination? Where does all this lead? Surely there must be more traditional barriers thought to be “moral” that will be revealed to be sheer, stupid, self-interested prejudice, or perhaps pathological hang-ups that limit our self-expression. What other barriers to equal freedom and free equality need to fall? And where will this leveling of barriers lead us? What, again, is the ultimate vision?

    How else could we be further liberated? Surely the whole church hierarchy thing would have to go eventually, no? Why be satisfied with the halfway house of a Constitutional Prophet regime, where a figurehead royalty responds to the demands of a freedom and justice-seeking people? Why not declare the people (and why just LDS, why privilege them?) as the absolute source of progressive energy and re-envision “the prophet” as the spokesman for the people, the true voice of God?

    Of course, since the people can never organize into an effective body and speak for themselves without the assistance of activists, of an avant-garde, then the liquidating of hierarchical religious authority can only mean the elevation of intellectuals who grasp the true morality of equal freedom in advance of ordinary people, who put no stock in prejudices but take only freedom (the more the better) and science as their governing values.

    Or, if you and the people you lead or propose to represent cannot clearly describe the features of the brave new world to which you would lead us, then how can you know what should be next on the horizon? How can we be sure that change is good if we cannot articulate a concrete and coherent vision of the final destiny of human beings? Whence your confidence that you have discerned the one true direction of all progress, at once revealed and popular? You and others who follow you or think like you may not appreciate being categorized as a “Progressive,” but you so categorize yourself every time you refer to the Church as “behind” where you think it should be, or congratulate yourself for your “patience” in waiting for the Church to adopt a purer moral code, or otherwise assume a directionality in history that you can know and that our Church leaders are still learning to discern.

    But as soon as this confident directionality is put in question, possibilities arise for careful thought which you don’t now seem to see. For example, why not envision the reversal of an earlier step that you now regard as progress? How can you know in principle that, say, new conditions might call forth a revelation that would re-emphasize the distinctive roles of men and women. In fact, I thought maybe I heard some rumblings of that in the last conference. Can progress go “backward”? For that matter, would there be something inherently … irrational, inconceivable, in the prophets, say, starting to warn us of the consequences of taking too much control of births, of not being open enough to the gift of birth… In fact, now that I think of it, I think I’ve been hearing rumblings of such a movement in recent revelations. Could this too portend a new and surprising “progress”? Or is it possible that “continuing revelation” might not align itself neatly with the narrative of Progress? Note that I’m not predicting and I’m not advocating; I’m just pointing out scenarios that could be regarded as at least as plausible as the progressive scenario. The point is, there is no reason to assume: continuing revelation (openness to change) = openness to change favored by progressives.

    As to substance, I will just note that the man/woman/posterity thing seems to be a pretty deep ground of LDS doctrine and sensibility. Mother in Heaven, for example? Do you really think this cosmic vision in which sexual difference is constitutive of eternity can be adapted progressively to include Gay Parent in Heaven, or Free Gay Relationship in Heaven or whatever, and the result could still be called “Mormon” in some meaningful sense?

    Of course the political/legal question is a distinct, prudential question – but not completely separate from the moral/religious question. Various conference talks I thought were quite firm yet careful on how these are distinct but not separate questions. We have a moral and religious duty to help shape institutions and cultures to promote and facilitate true human goodness and happiness so far as is possible, that is, to provide the best environment possible for the education and exercise of moral agency. But we also have to judge prudently what constructive action is possible in a given political sphere, and what is not. (This, by the way, might help to address some questions raised by Steve Evans in reply to Elder Oaks at BCC.)

    B) Are there really no other revelations to notice besides those in your inventory? Were the temple ordinances first introduced as a response to popular entreaties? But perhaps this hardly matters, since it is hard to see how they contribute to our “progress” in freedom and equality. And what about something like, say, the infamous Correlation, a reform of church government that has made possible the growth of a truly unified world-wide church? Or is that a bad thing, and so doesn’t count, doesn’t fit in the story of progressive revelation?

    And how about a little thing called the Family Proclamation? Was this a response to a popular movement for freedom and equality, led by morally advanced intellectuals? If not, then I don’t suppose it fits in your narrative of prophecy responding to social conditions. Anyway, it has been explained to me that the Proclamation is not really canonical, therefore not really revelation, just a passing nuisance from the standpoint of progress – unlike the notable signposts of progress you name such as the permission of Oral Sex (I missed that announcement, by the way) and the downgrading of a popular book called Mormon Doctrine.

    My reply to your quiz is vigorous because I think it is important to confront plainly the assumptions behind your quiz that you and many of your followers do not seem to be aware of, and thus to hold much too confidently. Some will not like my forthright tone, but it is always hard to appreciate the tone of someone who is confronting cherished assumptions that are very hard to put into question. I grant at the outset that there is no way to decide between our perspectives based upon pure and simple logic. There are sensibilities and understandings of purpose and meaning that separate us, and there is no sequence of pure reasoning that can resolve what divides us. I have little hope of finding a sympathetic hearing for my fundamental spiritual premises, since you can dismiss them a priori as casually (at least) as you do the entreaties of Elder Oaks and other General Authorities who have just addressed us. If you demand that the teachings of current prophets and apostles meet the test of your apparently unquestioned moral-political commitments, then it is no surprise that they continue to fail to impress you, and so my arguments are likely to impress you even less – unless, that is, you should be willing to question the fundamental story-line of Progress defined as the gradual overcoming of all restraints and norms that hinder equal freedom and free equality.

    My hope is that reasoning can be of some help by calling attention to assumptions that frame our narratives and our arguments. I have tried to contribute to such an excavation of firmly embedded assumptions. My whole point is to invite you and your followers to reconsider whether this assumption provides an adequate ground to justify dismissing the counsel of Church authorities that contradicts your idea of progress.

    If you should choose to reconsider this dismissal, you might even find that very reasonable arguments can be adduced in favor of many of the non-progressive views that inform our authorities’ counsel.

    But that’s another argument.

    • David October 9, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

      Absolutely beautifully said!

    • Missouri October 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm - Reply

      Awesome response Professor Hancock. Please keep participating in this dialogue.

      What should a Mormon do who feels a major or minor Church policy is wrong?

    • huh October 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      I think you meant “mothers” in heaven, no, Dr. Hancock? Or have you progressed beyond the teachings of earlier prophets regarding marriage in God’s Kingdom above?

      And had John entitled this post “How Does Revelation Meeting the Desires of Progressives in the Church Happen in the LDS Church,” would you agree that it is, at least in part, by agitation and criticism and, thus, it makes logical sense for progressives to agitate, criticize, etc., in support of the revelation they seek?

      “For example, why not envision the reversal of an earlier step that you now regard as progress?” Like if plural marriage were legalized in the US?

    • Marty Erickson October 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      I just wrote and impassioned reply to Ralph. I failed to include my email and got an error when I went to post the comment! D’oh!

    • Marty Erickson October 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm - Reply

      My passionate reply was threefold:
      1. Thanks to Ralph for his well-reasoned argument. I believe it would be well for all progressive minded Mormons, like myself, to understand this argument.
      3. I agree with ‘s comment here. I’m going to repeat it for emphasis, please respond: “…would you agree that it is, at least in part, by agitation and criticism and, thus, it makes logical sense for progressives to agitate, criticize, etc., in support of the revelation they seek?”
      2. Ralph: Are you willing to place your own point of view in the very same questioning place you are putting “John and those who follow him”? B/C your actual argument weakens your position if it is applied to you. As has pointed out succinctly and sarcastically. Deep humility is needed from conservative-minded and progressive-minded Mormons. Are we ready to have God fully undo us and our perspectives by revelation? I pray and hope that I am… but I doubt I am. Ralph, are you??

      • Marty Erickson October 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

        I agree with huh’s argument…
        As huh has pointed out succinctly…

    • jg October 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm - Reply


      Your rhetorical approach is so full of contempt and sarcasm that it hurts your points.

      You asked here: What comes next? Surely progress cannot come to an end? If you are sure what direction we should go in, why make us (and the prophets) wait – why not tell us where it is all supposed to lead? What is the ultimate vision of individual fulfillment in a just society?

      You asked before in a recent podcast something to the effect of: do we really want a church governed by public opinion? Do we want a leadership that is hasty?

      In truth, no one wants a church governed by public opinion. As you know, the primary thing that really gets people upset is injustice. I think the end that most progressives have in mind: equality. I know, I know. It is a platitude and an unrealizable goal, but we can forever approach it, even if we never reach it.

      The thing that makes your conservative approach so easy to criticize is that the church and the leaders that you elevate have been wrong so many times on issues of equality.

      We don’t want a church lead by public opinion. We want a church who leads public opinion–moral, egalitarian, forward-thinking, God resembling leadership.

      We want a church who leads the civil rights movement, not one that calls it a communist conspiracy.

      We want a church that embraces women’s rights BEFORE the world does.

      We want leaders, real leaders, not followers. The kind that gives blacks the priesthood in 1958 or 1858, not 1978.

      We want a church that is transparent with its finances that explains why a multi-billion dollar mall is Jesus’ business.

      We want a church that promotes and leads the way to equality.

      In short, the Mormon church has not been a moral leader on civil rights in the areas that matter most to the world. Of course, you can argue that the world is wrong and continue to showcase your contempt for it; but I fear you’ll find yourself like Ezra Taft Benson. And 50 years from now you’ll be viewed as a hold out on the wrong side of the civil rights issues.

      I think Mormonism will eventually die. And ironically it will die for the same reason it has lasted this long—it is exclusivist. While more successful modern churches are saying “we take all kinds”, Mormonism is not doing a good job of making people under 30, or progressives, or gays, or women, or liberals, or even sinners feel welcome.


      • tt October 14, 2013 at 8:24 am - Reply

        nicely put!

      • Joel November 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm - Reply

        Thanks J for pointing out all of the great civil rights initiatives on the planet and although equality for all is a great goal that is never achieved in this life or the next as you so adequately pointed out, it strikes me that it appears you have lost the purpose of what the church really is.

        #1 The church is not a civil rights organization designed to bring equality to all in this life although we do offer that possibility to anyone that receives and accepts the message and mission of the church. God offers to those who accept this message and live their lives by it’s standards the possibility to receive all that God has and become joint heirs with Jesus Christ. For those that reject that message, an all merciful God has prepared a place for them where they can feel comfortable with those that are like minded in the next life.

        #2 The church needs to survive in order to accomplish its mission. If all of the church and private business transactions were known to the world it would thwart many of the initiatives that the church is endeavoring to accomplish. It is a common practice in business and the church not to disclose what future forms of moving the business and the kingdom of God here on earth forward. It might appear to the world that disclosing all of our asset and finances would be a good idea or building a mall is not in the best interest of feeding the poor and needy for example, but at the same time a mall might be a security barrier for church headquarters and a money making venture that will continue to move the kingdom forward, not to mention beautifying downtown SLC. In short it would not have been built if it did not in some way move the purpose of the church forward. To someone that does not have the big picture in view for the church’s mission it might appear otherwise.

        #3 A WORLDY view of what is morally right or wrong is not the purpose of the church. We seek after the kingdom of God and relish in the word of God as we receive it from scripture and church leaders and personal revelation. In short, there might be misgivings by what the church has done in the past and in this day one might view some of those things as archaic thinking, but they were well within the norms for their time. By the way where was all of the civil rights and activists when the extermination order went out in Missouri and our treatment eventually in Illinois? See how a worldly view of right and wrong might get skewed if applied to the church? And yet we survived this civil injustice and eventually thrived like many other groups.

        #4 The latter day church will survive and fulfill it’s mission. It is merely a choice of whether you and others want to be a part of it. I do know that all of the brethren want all to come unto Christ and be a part of this great latter day effort to build Zion and prepare for Christ’s return. But it will not embrace all of the world’s view on morality and equality when it goes against the will of God for our time. It might be a handful of people compared to the population of the earth who stay. But those that stay the course will be blessed for their effort.

        #5 This quest for worldly equality is embraced by a universalist approach to religion. It fits the Community of Christ model quite well. I wonder why they have not leaped forward in membership since embracing many of the tenets this quest seems to champion? But when talking to the person that is a Seventy at their book store in Independence this last week, it seems to have had an opposite affect. Decentralized leadership; Schism. Women in the Priesthood; Schism! And the LGBT issue, he seems to think, is the next schism maker in their church with some embracing it and some not. He did say that in his opinion, Missouri will not embrace same sex marriage etc.

        So why does the church not embrace and jump out in front on many of these worldly view civil rights and other issues? I believe we have a prophetic view and quite assuredly jumping out front would thwart the overall mission of the church in my opinion. Thank God we have prophets that can see past current events and the puny thinking of man.

  12. Lj October 9, 2013 at 8:48 am - Reply

    John. Thanks for your voice in these matters. Your respected opinion and dedication exemplifies charity and Christlike love.

  13. European Saint October 9, 2013 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Two quotes come to mind as I read this thread.
    The first is from Frances Lee Menlove’s “The Challenge of Honesty,” published in Dialogue in 1966: “To the extent that the Mormon assumes the values and goals of secular society, to the extent that the radical and revolutionary gospel of Christ becomes indistinguishable from current social norms, Christianity becomes largely irrelevant and this irrelevance tends to dissipate the impetus for self-examination and to blur the issues relating to it. What I am pointing to is the fact that in some crucial areas, Mormons have ceased to remain in a state of tension with secular society. When living the gospel becomes synonymous with social progress or mental health, when the amassing of wealth or power becomes an acceptable goal, when the church as a group becomes irrelevant as a force for peace and human brotherhood, then the individual’s need to examine his own commitments to God and the church and the society in which he lives loses much of its urgency. If there are no real discrepancies or conflicts in these commitments, then there is no real need for agonizing self-examination.”
    The second is from Elder Lance Wickman, general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an emeritus general authority of the church: “Secular thinkers and advocacy groups now seek to portray (traditional) beliefs as little more than ignorant bigotry that must be denounced and banished from public settings and confined to purely private places. In other words, a new closet is being constructed for those with traditional religious values on sexuality.”

  14. Greg October 9, 2013 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Thanks to Darrell and Ralph for some very well thought out comments.

  15. JW October 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    John Dehlin, I’d like to ask you a question. What do you want the Church to look like? You probably have the answer to this somewhere on the website but I’d like to read your answer. If you could post it I think it would be good for all to read.

    I don’t ask that question to “set you up” or anything like that. I just would like to know.

    3 of my 4 adult children are no longer active at church. I found mormon stories last year while trying to help one of them work through their questions. Unfortunately all they saw or read was negative and they have left the church for now. I have learned a lot that I did not know about church history, Joseph Smith etc… And I can accept all the flaws because I, you, JS and everyone else are human. God may tell us what to do, but he may not always tell us how to do it. I feel that the church has made one huge error during it’s history and that is the thought, pushed by most members as well, that since Christ was perfect then his church and leaders are perfect. That recurring theme is now biting back at the church. I appreciate the openness and honesty that is now coming from SLC. It will help the church in the long run. But remember that no one, no organization, country etc…will admit to all the faults of past history because it does no good for those here, today. So if anyone is looking for a full blown mea culpa, I don’t think that is coming and I don’t need one.

    As far as LGBT folks go, sexual sin is sexual sin. The church deals with that topic in a uniform way. Meaning whether you are a man who cheated on his wife, or a woman with a gay lover you are treated in the same way and given an opportunity to return to full fellowship of the Church. I don’t believe the church can or should be all things to all people. Remember that Christ told the harlot/adultress to go and sin no more. Not, come with me and keep doing what you are doing. He called her to repent.

    I think as a church and individuals we need to make Christ the center of our lives. If we can do that, and we have the church to help us with that, we will find joy in this life.

    If you want the simplest version of the Gospel of Christ you can read it in 3 Nephi 27:12-21. It is simple, straight forward and beautiful. This is the filter that everything I see, hear, read or do at Church passes through. This is the focus of my religious and spiritual life now. The simple Gospel of Christ. If the church can help me accomplish this, and I feel it can, then I continue to stay.

    I apologize for thoughts all over the place and not on this one thread but this is probably the only time I’ll post a comment.

    Love and Peace to all,


    • huh October 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      He said: “As far as LGBT folks go, sexual sin is sexual sin… Remember that Christ told the harlot/adultress to go and sin no more. Not, come with me and keep doing what you are doing. He called her to repent.”

      LGBT Mormons = harlot/adultress…got it. I need a drink. But I don’t drink.

    • J October 9, 2013 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      Jw thanks for posting. I hope you and your kids are doing well.

    • Blake Stone October 20, 2013 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Yes, a church can be for all kinds of people.

  16. Patrick Jordan October 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Excellent points! I agree 100%

  17. Adam October 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    I have to really go back to Daymon Smith (author of the Book of Mammon) and his notions that the idea of revelation – at least for the church as a whole, has largely been corporatized-out of Salt Lake in favor of expediency/money based considerations.

    This is the danger of ALL organizations. The revolutionary, inspirational and even compassionate loose their magic to the 2nd and 3rd generation and you wind up with a bunch of “traditional” followers who have none of the original intent, but cling to the group out of tenaciously out of fear loosing position, status and the fear of change.

    It took us much longer than some, but the following seem to be much more what we are really about:

    “Make money. Make more money. Make others produce so as to make money…. However you get them in or why, just do it.”
    – L. Ron Hubbard 1972

    • Darrell H October 10, 2013 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Adam, you’re quoting Daymon Smith and L. Ron Hubbard?? Did you even read John’s post? I don’t see any connection between it and your reply–though you’re hardly alone.

      • Adam October 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm - Reply

        Sorry Darrell, I thought this was a question inviting discussion –

        What Daymon Smith talked about was how little stomach the people of the church actually have for revelation. The liberal and often controversial have a short life in conservative organizations, and often are things that the members like to think of “way back when”, rather than now.

        Often the impetus for new inquiry become extremely practical and inevitably begin revolving around the two great opposites of life: Self Justification and Self Satisfaction. In recent times, since the hostile corporate/fascist takeover of our church (which like it or not corresponds EXACTLY with the birth of Scientology) every new wisdom from Salt Lake takes the shape of justifying Avarice and Social Darwinism – Hence the Hubbard quote.

        The new Christianity (one with as little Christ as possible) has become a weaponized algorithm for skirting the 2nd commandment at every turn and has largely been a process of justifying the natural man and in fact allowing him to call the shots.

        • Darrell H October 16, 2013 at 11:41 am - Reply

          Adam, thanks for the reply. In fact, I probably owe you an apology for the somewhat snarky tone of my comment. My bad. Not all of that was directed at you. I’m afraid some of my irritation resulted from others’ comments, but got funneled into my reply to your post. Thanks for giving a “Pahoran” reply and ignoring my tone.

          As for Daymon Smith, what you’re describing above is basically Joseph Smith’s experience as well: “There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation [speaking of Church members]. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger [a piece of corn bread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [a wooden mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.

          “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions ….”
          And this is not to mention how those *outside* the Church viewed the prophet. So, point taken there. Thanks for clarifying.

          However, I really don’t see evidence for your claim about “the hostile corporate/fascist takeover of our church [where] every new wisdom from Salt Lake takes the shape of justifying avarice and Social Darwinism.” I wonder what you’re basing that on. It seems rather cynical and unfounded to me.

          Similarly, the “new Christianity” to which you refer certainly has many champions in broader Christendom (e.g., Joel Osteen today and predecessors like Robert Schuller and Jim and Tammy Baker), but I think you’d be hard-pressed to make that charge stick with the leaders in Salt Lake. Notwithstanding they must operate a world-wide Church that requires financing, I think they do an impressive job of keeping our eyes focused and our hearts centered on Christ and living Christlike lives–overcoming the “natural man” by serving others and putting off worldliness. It’s a real balancing act between vows of poverty and philarguria.

  18. J October 10, 2013 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Should the lords church have such disimbaguity regarding revelation and knowing what can and can’t be changed? To me this is yet just another problem for the church and its people.

  19. Brent October 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    John’s argument is that there is a precedent of LDS prophets receiving revelation as a result of pressure/influence from conditions/environment/personalities. I can’t think of an instance where an LDS prophet has received revelation condoning behavior that the scriptures refer to as an abomination and unrighteous (to the extent that it precludes them from inheriting the kingdom of God). I wouldn’t expect a revelation condoning homosexual behavior any more than I would expect fornication, idolatry, and adultery to be condoned.

    • Hmm October 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Never say never. Some thought the day would never come when blacks would recieve the priesthood. I’m not for the gay movement ether but I try not to say never ever. :)

    • Jeremiah October 11, 2013 at 2:06 am - Reply

      Brent, I do not know the history of the LDS prophets but if the Mormon church wishes to be seen as a Christian church, they will need to hold to the teachings of Jesus on this issue. I would not expect a “revelation” coming from the LDS prophet, either.

      That being said, the fact the Mormon leadership decided to continue to support the Boy Scouts of America despite this organization’s decision to promote living the gay lifestyle points to a failure somewhere in the leadership process. Such a decision points to these men not being God-fearing men. But I could be wrong…

  20. Lea October 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Let me see, if I can get my thoughts down in a some what organized manner. Joining the church ten years ago, the oppetunity for revelation stod out ( still does) as something special, allowing us to adapt and develop and minimizing the danger of ending up worshipping cultural elements. Being an historian there is no doubt in my mind, that our interpretation and understanding of the scriptures is strongly influenced by the historical and cultural context in which we find our selves. Like ways, being a text written down by people, I find it highly unlikely that the same does not go for the production of the scriptures themselves.
    I see The Old and New Testament as an example of how God leads his people to develop ( for instance the shift from the massive rule set of the Jews to the guidance by principles of the Christians).The New Testament introduced a lot of changes – so we know that God does change the rules some times. I believe that the gospel is, like Jesus said, based on the principle of love. I personally do not see how same-gender marriage or ordaining of women go against that principle. But we don’t know until we’ve asked. I believe our leaders should do that with an open heart and mind, as we as members should seek confermation about the received answer. To me it’s that simple.

  21. Howard October 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    The single biggest problem with the church is the substitution of inspiration which is more man than God for revelation which is more God than man resulting in it becoming reactive in place of proactive.

    • John October 12, 2013 at 7:17 am - Reply

      This is all the view from a road I am all too familiar with. My family converted from the Community of Christ (RLDS)in 1987. This conversion was the result of many calculated changes in doctrine over decades that obviously changed the course of that organization away from the traditional historical restoration path. I was converted after meeting a very sweet retired couple on a mission who convinced me that the church had in fact gone west with the twelve. Now that a more full version of history is becoming ever more available; I see the LDS church is going down (and always has)the same road of “conceptual revelation” and response to social pressure. I really doubt the entire history for the first time in my life and am studying ancient Christianity in an attempt to find some peace for my twice deceived soul. I am so weary of being fooled in pursuit of truth. At least in the ancient church (Orthodox or Catholic) they don’t deny there have been good and bad leaders who were right or wrong. I am tired of the hypocrite “prophets”.

  22. Chris MacAskill October 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    So many of our friends are current or former stake, temple and mission presidents. After spending so many years with them I feel the answer to John’s question is just a natural outgrowth of who they are.

    All the ones I know love the gospel and church as it is, and that’s why they have thrived in the church and risen to the positions they have. And the church is choosing men who have unshakeable faith in the beliefs the church has when these callings are extended.

    The very most faithful and conservative few of them end up as apostles, late in life. Of all members of the church, they are the least likely to feel church doctrines or policies need changing, the most likely to have fervent beliefs that the church is perfect.

    It’s the opposite of the way a democracy works, for example. There is no freedom of the press in the church, no young rebel who dreams of change who runs for office and gets elected at a young age. Joseph Smith was in that position when he formed the church, but the leaders of 2013 are not the John Dehlins who believe we must change, they are good men who have been deeply vetted over 8 decades to defend the church as it is.

    • Howard October 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      I think this is a good description of how church men move up in church hierarchy. Just add at some point being related to the right families and seniority. …the church is choosing men who have unshakeable faith in the beliefs the church has when these callings are extended.. Yes and this works well to keep a steady hand on the tiller but absent clear revelation (not inspiration or worse group inspiration) it can leave the church blindly following the wrong path – see the ban on blacks.

  23. Steve October 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    While I don’t see the church changing on the same-sex marriage issue anytime soon, there is no question the church has made incremental changes during its short history in response to social pressures, both internal and external. The degree to which the changes are doctrinal or merely practical is certainly subject to debate. I can understand changing the missionary age to 18 but would have a hard time seeing the church change the baptismal age to 5. At the same time, I do see cultural vestiges of the early church in the modern day church that I would like to see eliminated, such as conservative dress (white shirts and ties). The facial hair stigma is one that continues to baffle me (interestingly, most prophets prior to George Albert Smith had beards, and even God and Christ are depicted in church media with beards). Heaven forbid we allow the unshaven to enter the CK. The separation of men and women into priesthood and Relief society groups, as if there are some great priesthood secrets exclusive to men. There is no rational basis for separating the men and women at church, or in the temple for that matter. Let me be the first to agitate for change in his wholly cultural, sexist, non-doctrinal practice.

    • Tracy October 14, 2013 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      Steve, I love it! If you’re the first to agitate for this change, then I second and carry the motion! :-)

  24. […] to pursue the question in the first place (on this topic, see a list of thought-provoking questions here). We see this pattern of problem-solving in the Book of Mormon story of the Brother of Jared, who […]

  25. Rob October 14, 2013 at 7:21 am - Reply

    John seems to be confusing church policies with God’s eternal laws. God’s first law to multiply and replenish the earth and it’s accompanying law of chastity will not ever change. Gay marriage (as a CLASS) specifically and deliberately violates God’s first command because partners go into the marriage KNOWING they cannot have shared offspring.

    Church policies do not have millenia of doctrinal precedent and are subject to change. The basic laws of mankind were given to Noah after the flood (see Noahide Laws), of which God specifically prohibits homosexual activity. In fact, there is an oral Jewish tradition found in the Midrash Rabbah that states, “The generation of the Flood was not wiped out until they wrote marriage documents for the union of a man to a male or to an animal.” (Genesis Rabbah 26:5)

    If the church were to ever change their views against so great an evidence to placate progressives such as yourself, I would know that the church isn’t true. As it is, our society is evidence that the Second Coming is nigh at hand.

    • John Dehlin October 14, 2013 at 7:35 am - Reply

      Rob – Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Russell M. Nelson entered into their current marriages knowing that they would not have any shared offspring.

      And God’s “eternal laws” never change? Have you ever heard of the 1890 and 1904 Manifestos? See D&C 132, all of the statements made by early LDS apostles that polygamy was an eternal law, then read the manifestos, then see Gordon B. Hinckley’s discussion of polygamy with Larry King.

      Or you can simply read Charley Harrell’s “This is my Doctrine.”

      With respect, your logic fails on many levels.

      I believe that same-sex attracted individuals have the basic biological/psychological need and right to share committed love and partnership. It’s that simple. And I’m not interested in a God who believes otherwise. I believe that you and others have misjudged God based on false assumptions and misinterpretations….and that theses misjudgments truly harm millions of people every year….who just. want. committed. love.

      • Rob October 14, 2013 at 8:11 am - Reply

        My apologies, I didn’t realize you were atheist. Why do you even care about revelation then?

        Comparing the LGBT class to the elderly class is just stupid. They have already had their posterity, already filled their role to society and to God.

        I’m just pissed because you and others like you have taken away my legal right to be called a husband and father my state. And while SSA individuals might have the need, they certainly do not have the right to change the legal definition of what I am. I am now legally known as Spouse 1 (or 2) and Parent 1 (or 2). Forever changed my children from knowing what it feels like to be husband/wife as stated on a marriage certificate, and mother/father on a birth certificate. I’m sorry, but spouse/parent just does NOT have the same meaning or effect as husband/wife and mother/father.

        Men already have commitment issues. How is this ultimately supposed to help men stay and raise children when they feel like a women can take their place? How is changing the definitions within the family to gender neutral terms going to help boys “man up”?

        Are you aware that it takes a birth rate of 2.1 to maintain a culture. The birth rate for Caucasians in the US is 1.6. Because of these issues of “playing God” with society, we won’t have a civilization in 2-3 generations (at least one we would want to recognize).

        • J October 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm - Reply

          I am with all respect going to point out that you have a bigots opinion when you say “we won’t have a civilization in 2-3 generations (at least one we would want to recognize).” Why, because it might not be a whites only culture? This is a sad point of view and very narrow. much like much of your arguments.
          Also, Where did John D say he is an Atheist? Not that there would be a problem if he was.
          But again, with as much respect as I can get out, your in loony land Rob.

        • Jared October 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

          This kind of response is one of the biggest problems in the LDS Church right now. So many are unwilling to show charity to those who espouse a different opinion than their own. I’m glad for people like John Dehlin, who try to approach issues that arise in the consciousness of many good members of the LDS Church, and do it in a spirit of compassion and understanding. I am disappointed by your angry and judgmental response, Rob.

      • Rob October 14, 2013 at 8:28 am - Reply

        You changed your response between the time I wrote my reply. There is no specific prohibition against polygamy in the Noahide Laws or the Bible like there is for homosexuals. It’s kind of hard to base a “false assumption and misinterpretation” on a specific prohibition of ILLICIT INTERCOURSE in the 7 Laws of Noah.
        against (a man) copulating with a beast
        against a woman copulating with a beast
        against (a man) lying carnally with a male

        Do your research before making stuff up. These laws have been around for millenia. God’s not going to change them be cause “society thinks they can do better”.

      • tt October 14, 2013 at 9:14 am - Reply

        “Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Russell M. Nelson entered into their current marriages”, so they are practicing polygamy? they were sealed in the temple to their first wives and then they were sealed again in the temple to their second wives?

        • John Dehlin October 14, 2013 at 9:31 am - Reply

          It appears to be so.

        • Loraine October 23, 2013 at 5:53 am - Reply

          Totally agree with you on that point, it is polygamy. I cannot marry another husband in the Temple if my husband passed away.

      • Chris MacAskill October 14, 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

        > I’m not interested in a God who…

        This is something that has bothered me even through my very most faithful years in the church, and I don’t remember hearing anyone saying it like John just did.

        When there’s an issue we don’t feel good about, such as the language some General Authorities have used about blacks in the past, or about Joseph Smith fibbing about his polygamy, we don’t tend to consider the possibility that our leaders made mistakes. Instead, we paint a picture of God that makes me squirm because it feels like we’re inventing a depressing image of God.

        That line in the Book of Mormon play, “In 1978 God changed his mind about black people,” is seriously funny and gets a big laugh but…one reason it gets so much attention is it’s pretty close to what we say.

        I just read Michael Ash’s book Shaken Faith Syndrome, and perhaps I read it wrong, but it sure feels like he’s saying the early church leaders lied about their polygamy because God didn’t give them another way. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to paint an image of God like that unless we’re really sure that’s the way God really is.

    • wayfarer October 14, 2013 at 8:13 am - Reply

      Rob, your argument reminds me of the logic I used to justify denying blacks the Priesthood whilst i was on my mission before 1978. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

      According to Joseph Smith, god reveals his will to his servants progressively: line upon line, and precept upon precept, within the language and understanding (D&C 1) of the given servant, through his or her mind and heart. According to D&C 8, this is exactly the same process that Moses led the hosts of Israel through the wilderness — it is how revelation works.

      The mysteries of god are not fully revealed to us, yet it is given to many to know things beyond “that whichmis taught”, but those who receive the higher knowledge are under a strict charge not to reveal the greater portion of his word (Alma 12:9-11). What we have, then, is a “lesser portion of his word” as “what is taught”. Our “Doctrine”, literally “what is taught”, is therefore not the eternal truth of god, but something substantially less.

      How, then, can you make a public claim that Noahide laws are binding on the true and living church today? the operative element of a “true” church is that it is faithful to god alone, even as god only reveals part of his truth. the operative element of a living church is that it favors current revelation over historical revelation.

      this principle was true at the time of christ. if we ask, simply, what aspect of homosexuality christ prohibited, we come up with…exactly nothing. Christ did not speak of it. to the woman caught in adultery, he forgave with a charge to go and sin no more. when we explore why a woman was the accused here, it is because a man having sex with a woman outside of marriage was not considered adultery unless that other woman was married. the point being is that for anyone to claim that the law of marriage of one man to one woman as being an eternal, unchangeable principle is completely a-historical and false. from whence, then, can you derive your definition of eternal law respecting marriage?

      Even Paul did not specifically state that homosexuality was sin: in fact, he was completely antinomian. his explanation that men would turn against their natural affection was his opinion of what kind if things happen when a person is absent the spirit and grace… in other words, homosexual inclination and acts, to paul, were a consequence of sin, not a cause thereof. We know, today, that many of these early church claims were not based on scientific evidence: homosexual inclination we now know has nothing to do with sin.

      It would help for you to understand that church policies and teachings are subject to change. Church Doctrine, or that which is taught in the church, does frequently change, and it should. the only eternal principles are the Doctrine of Christ: explicitly stated several times in our scriptures as the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, and enduring to the end in love of god and our neighbors. whoever attempts to fix the Doctrine of Christ — the only eternal constant — beyond these simple principles stands condemned of the Lord.

  26. Doug October 16, 2013 at 10:15 am - Reply

    What an interesting discussion. I think a lot of us are still pissed off about our parents lying to us about Santa Claus, but that doesn’t change the fact that the idea of Santa was (is) pretty cool. Probably the biggest advancement in my life came when I realized that just because I believe something doesn’t make it true. It can still be a good story. A lot of folks here seem to presume they know what God does or doesn’t think, and what “He” can and cannot do. I guess that I always believed Joseph
    Smith’s teaching of eternal progression was sort of a “progressive” idea. It seems to be a lot like Carl Jung’s idea of individuation—that I am here to become who I am. Is it so hard to think that the process of individuation can’t apply to the Church as well? And why can’t women and LGBT’s also become who they are? Is that only reserved for us white males? I remember sitting in the Marriott Center at BYU and hearing Apostle Benson tell us that there is no room in the Church for liberal Democrats. Ouch. I remember President Hinckley being asked the question by Larry KIng about how he received revelation. HIs answer was revelatory to me—it was a feeling that came to him. Sometimes I get those feelings too. Very progressive. If there can’t be room for all of us becoming who we are in the Church, then there is probably no room for Jesus either. I think we are better people than we were 60,000 years ago. Laws can always change. We can change. I’m still hoping that church can be condensed to an hour on Skype. I’m happy that Africans can get the Priesthood. (Aren’t we all at least a little bit Black?) I hope I live long enough to see any of my gay grandsons or daughters sealed in the temple to their eternal companions. Progress—scary. I know, but beautiful.

    • Will K. October 16, 2013 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Amen, Doug!

    • J October 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      “Church condensed to an hour on Skype”. LOL. Love it. Thanks for your comments Doug!

  27. James October 16, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    I think if you do the Maths from the time of the restoration to now, there has always been a trigger before a revelation!

  28. Charlie October 16, 2013 at 9:57 pm - Reply


    Sure most of what is above, especially 1-3, came as a result of questions asked but those questions where always to Joseph Smith or another president, who then went and asked the Lord and received an answer. It’s never being about a member asking God x and then the answer to x coming to the prophet as a new revelation. Even in the africans and priesthood issue remember, from D O McKays biography, that he asked and asked about this to the Lord but the answer was always silence -however McKay did allow dark skinned indians and aboriginal to be ordained to the priesthood.

    So for “8) What is the value of continuing revelation, if it is not used” have you considered that they DO actually seek continuing revelations but the answer is silence -like in McKays case with africans- or simply a ‘NO’ for gay marriage? Certainly there have been enough talks given and letters sent out to support a ‘NO’ answer for gay marriage and homosexual relations including guidelines for discipline in the church handbook 1.

    So you may keep dreaming that one day a big revelation comes down changing the church’s views on SSM and homosexual relations (you are entitle to dream and keep asking God off course) but then again maybe that big revelation was already send down to us and the result was the Prop8 fight and recommending excommunication for homosexual relations in the new handbook 1 released in 2010.

    • Chris MacAskill October 17, 2013 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      > but then again maybe that big revelation was already send down to us
      > and the result was the Prop 8 fight and recommending excommunication
      > for homosexual relations in the new handbook 1 released in 2010.

      I think that’s where past issues such as blacks and the priesthood keep coming up. The big revelations came down and church leaders like Brigham Young and Elder McConkie were very emphatic about the Lord’s position. But President McKay got silence. And President Kimball got the opposite answer of President Young.

      And I remember the pressure John is referring to. I was a grad student at Stanford when we boycotted BYU and were very public about the reason being the church’s position on blacks.

      The day President Kimball had the big revelation, all the things we were taught in church before the revelation suddenly became unmentionable, and I’ve never heard them in church since.

  29. Taylor October 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Discerning the Spirit is not an easy task. Throughout my life, I have fooled myself into thinking that I have had a witness of the Spirit for particular tasks or questions that have been part of my life. To me, some of these decisions that I have considered have been ones that have been of great importance to me. That did not seem to matter to the Lord and I still had to feel my way forward. If you follow the line of logic that each of us is entitled to revelation relative to the things within our spheres of influence/responsibility and that process is difficult, then why should we expect it to be any different for those in positions of responsibility and authority above us?

    I have held positions of responsibility in the church and I can tell you that the feeling of surety in a decision that I have made being guided by the spirit that I could directly discern as being very few. I can also say that I asked for guidance and that I made my best choices and I had to trust that if the Lord needed to reveal something to me in a stronger way I hope that I would be receptive to that feeling. Otherwise, I just did the best that I could and hope that my decisions reflected the will of the Lord.

    I expect that at any level of the church the process is the same. We cannot expect that our church leaders somehow undergo a metamorphosis from being human and not having frailties and faults and prejudices to somehow rising above those things to deliver the “word of the Lord” in such clarity that we are easily disposed to accept it. It was not so with the Prophet Joseph Smith and has not been so since. We just flounder around down here in the mud and now and then, things become apparent to us and we act.

    That is really the only way you can live with the cognitive dissonance that you experience as you learn the deeper history and see the frailties of the men and women who try and do their best most of the time. We want mercy from God when it comes to dealing with our frailties but expect justice for all of those that we disagree with.

    I don’t think it works that way. The church is led by revelation from the top to the bottom as much as is needed to accomplish the work and no more. You may ask why? It is because we are fallen, in a state of spiritual separation from God, wanderers, seekers, left to our own devices and often in pain, overburdened with trials and living in the middle of this mess we call our second estate. This work is mostly about what it is that we hope for and not what we can know. It is about the fact that each of us needs to realize that each of us is in this fallen state and has no real clear vision of what it is that we need to be doing.

    It is too easy to think that the world we live in is only seen in two colors. I like the concept of opposition as taught in the Book of Mormon and have an analogy of how it works. If we had a car that only had a gas pedal that car would soon be wrapped around a telephone pole someplace. On the other hand, if we had a car that only had brakes; it would only sit in the driveway and never go anywhere. Once we learn to use both of the pedals and steer it we can take a drive to visit our friends.

    I think we expect too much of the brethren when it comes to revelation. I think that they feel that expectation and are very reluctant to say too much of anything. We are willing to live and die by their words. I have seen that as a church leader. People are too quick to abdicate personal responsibility for their choices when they often are capable of determining those answers themselves. Are we as a church collectively too quick to want to give up the responsibility for the choices we should make? Would the Lord intervene in some fashion if the choices we decided to make were not His will? Might it be that He expects us to do our best after asking for that guidance? That is how I’ve had to live my life in my sphere of responsibility and influence. Why should it be any different for anybody or anything else?

  30. Taylor October 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    There is one problem with the post that I just made. I find myself not believing that the process of revelation was much different for Joseph Smith. What that means to me is that I have some serious belief issues with the process of revelation for him too. That leaves me to believe that some of the statements he made were probably not revelation and we place way too much credence in them. The trouble with that point of view is that you could start to remove a lot of the things Joseph said and are left to wonder why he said some of the things he did as well as why he incorporated certain things into the religion. He was someone who had no problem pulling in things from Free Masonry, ideas of his day (the Word of Wisdom), social experiments (polygamy), and so forth… It can make you wonder about it all…

  31. Julio Ospina October 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    ALma 7:23 “And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times…”

  32. Charlie October 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    For general interest that’s related to the OP in a round about way:

    1- Interesting Prop 8 discussion and some of the reasons why the brethren reject SSM, youtube.com/watch?v=__rgv-sUpY0

    2- On revelation in church he also makes some interesting points here: youtube.com/watch?v=PxcQ2JS569s ; note that it isn’t a case of just recieving it out of the blue but usually a longer process.

    • Darrell H October 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Charlie, really excellent references. Thanks for posting these.

  33. European Saint October 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    For general interest related to the OP in a direct way (in terms of the marriage question), please consider reading Elder Holland’s address “Faith, Family, and Freedom” (given at a fireside during the annual J. Reuben Clark Law Society in Washington, D.C., on February 15, 2013):


    I would like to know what some MoSto readers might consider as “off” or “uninspired” in Elder Holland’s J. Reuben Clark remarks (I won’t hide the fact that, for my part, I found the entire article to be spot on).

    • Chris MacAskill October 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      That was actually a very interesting talk. He came across as warm, knowledgeable, with great quotes and very committed to families and religious freedom.

      I think he’d have a much easier time if the church hadn’t fallen on its sword so hard for marriage to be defined as between a man and many women, and not between people of different races.

    • Darrell H October 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      ES, thanks so much for posting the link to this excellent address. I loved the content of Elder Holland’s argument, and it was great to hear him once again speak in a scholarly manner.

  34. TS October 27, 2013 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Joel, Darrell and Ralph have really done a great job of responding to your question.

    I agree with Doug when he says,
    “A lot of folks here seem to presume they know what God does or doesn’t think, and what “He” can and cannot do.”
    We’re quoting one prophet here and then another there and adding in some scripture to defend our belief while all the while denying the possibility that maybe there is MORE. MORE truth and knowledge that we lack that would make things clear and reconcile these “conservative vs liberal/progressive” beliefs. I’m taken back by the lack of humility by those who think they can comprehend the grandeur of God and his thoughts by quoting a General Authority or scripture and assuming it to be the only truth on the subject by which to live. I can not take a stand either way on some of these subjects because I know that I(we) just don’t have enough information on the subject at the moment. The question is not if women should received the priesthood, or gays can marry, or blacks receive the priesthood etc. etc. The question is are you humble enough to receive MORE knowledge and accept it after receiving a confirmation from the spirt even if that answer is not what you expected? Or, have you alredy made your decision on the issue and you’re not willing to accept more or even believe that there could be more? Do you believe to know all there is to know about the subject? The lord declares his will through his Prophets and we are invited to receive a witness for ourselves of its truthfulness and divinity. I believe we are all blind men wanting God’s revelations like we want our food. Fast and our way!


    See the link above: E. Uchtdorf

    The Blind Men and the Elephant
    Well over one hundred years ago, an American poet put to rhyme an ancient parable. The first verse of the poem speaks about:

    Six men of Indostan
    To learning much inclined,
    Who went to see the Elephant
    (Though all of them were blind),
    That each by observation
    Might satisfy his mind.
    In the poem each of the six travelers takes hold of a different part of the elephant and then describes to the others what he has discovered.

    One of the men finds the elephant’s leg and describes it as being round and rough like a tree. Another feels the tusk and describes the elephant as a spear. A third grabs the tail and insists that an elephant is like a rope. A fourth discovers the trunk and insists that the elephant is like a large snake.

    Each is describing truth.

    And because his truth comes from personal experience, each insists that he knows what he knows.

    The poem concludes:

    And so these men of Indostan
    Disputed loud and long,
    Each in his own opinion
    Exceeding stiff and strong,
    Though each was partly in the right,
    And all were in the wrong!

    God is no respector of persons and I am all for equality but let’s not be ignorant about one fact. Woman and Men were not created equal…that is…equality does not mean everything a woman does a man should be able to do or vice versa. Men and Women come to earth with very different physical traits as well as responsibilities as sons and daughters of God as stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Because of this, “Gender equality” does not exist in the sense that one gender should have all the same attributes, natural abilities, or gifts of the other and therefore there will be limitations and strengths of each gender. Not supporting gay marriage does not mean you are not for equality. Not supporting the right for them to get married does. Equality is about Freedom, not gender. I would fight to the death for your right to choose good OR evil but if you choose evil that doesn’t mean I support you in your choice.

    So, How Does Revelation Happen Within the LDS Church? Just as it did with Joseph Smith. A problem/question exists that we take to the lord with a sincere heart, faith and real intent, usually in prayer, and then we wait upon the lord for an answer. I don’t know all the answers but I do know how to find them and I certainly would never eliminate the possibility that “all were in the wrong” as Joseph Smith discovered.

  35. European Saint November 3, 2013 at 7:00 am - Reply

    One final thought on this thread (quoted in Elder Maxwell’s 1995 “Popularity and Principle” talk):

    “For if God is a socially conscious political being whose views invariably correspond to our own prejudices on every essential point of doctrine, he demands of us no more than our politics require. Besides, if God is finite, progressive, and Pure Love, we may as well skip church next Sunday and go to the movies. For if we have nothing to fear from this all-loving, all-forbearing, all-forgiving God, how would our worship of him constitute more than self-congratulation for our own moral standards? As an atheist, I like this God. It is good to see him every morning while I am shaving” (Eugene D. Genovese, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” The New Republic, 11 May 1992, p. 38; emphasis added).

  36. […] but also local leaders and members, have risen to real challenges and sought practical solutions, exercising human initiative instead of sitting around waiting to be divinely compelled. Change in the Church is not a process […]

  37. Tropical Animal November 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    For all we know Jesus could have been gay. He chose his first four disciples from his naked fishermen buddies of Galilee. Neither Jesus nor his disciples showed any interest in women. Neither the celibacy of the New Testament nor the polygamy of the Old Testament offer a marriage pattern for the modern world. Being gay is not spiritually
    determined but is biologically predetermined.

    Being gay is biologically predetermined, not spiritually determined.

    • Darrell H November 19, 2013 at 8:36 am - Reply

      TA: You make some pretty bold and, to say the least, debatable assertions. If you really don’t know if Jesus was gay or not I have a difficult time trusting your judgment on the other Biblical assertions you’re making.

      If being gay is biologically determined (and I believe it may be), then won’t that change when our biology changes (in the next life) in order to conform to our Father’s plan? There are many biologically determined factors with which we deal in this life that will be changed or eliminated in the resurrection. I believe we learn from these, not use them as the basis for challenging the Lord’s latter-day teachings. The proclamation on the family is pretty clear on our Father’s plan and our part in it.

  38. Bill November 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    If God knows the end from the beginning and has control over when and where his children are born (and the implications of this are extremely profound), then he can control to a degree attitudes, situations, and circumstances without violating agency. This very fact is a form of revelation; he is revealing his will by guiding in large measure who are contemporaries. He knows the personalities and how they will mix and what issues will be grappled with all before it happens. This existence is not some grand experiment where God is waiting to see what will happen next. Without a belief that God is omniscient, true faith cannot be exercised, and we just flounder with these issues, thinking we have it all figured out. It was figured long before we were al born.

  39. Tropical Animal November 19, 2013 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Dear Bill. I appreciate and love your response. I see your interesting point. Open dialogue is great, isn’t it. It makes us think. But are we sure that personality and behavior are predetermined and predestined by God? Wouldn’t this eliminate free will and agency? And wouldn’t this put God in a role of creating evil personalities? Biologists believe we humans with our large inventive brain was first predetermined by evolution, and psychologists believe it is further developed by a combination of genetic patterns through mating, then continues to develope by experiences during growth and development.

    But regardless of what we say in our dialogue, love is the main principle, both biologically, psychologically and spiritually.

  40. Ed November 22, 2013 at 8:26 am - Reply

    I respectfully disagree.
    There are xxx, xxxx, xxx, xo and so on. Science disagrees also.

    • Rob November 22, 2013 at 10:03 am - Reply

      You can disagree with me (and science) all you want, but your own link proves my point.

      I quote, “Sex chromosome abnormalities are *gender specific*… *Female abnormalities* are due to variations in the number of X chromosomes. *Male abnormalities* are the result of irregular numbers of either the X or the Y chromosome or both.”

      These abnormalities do not take away the fact whether they are male or female to begin with. Maybe you should read what you post next time?

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