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The Matthew Gong Letter


pogi

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

If by the above you are admitting you don't really believe that "the majority" of President Oaks's talks "focus on" gay people, but that you were exaggerating for rhetorical effect (the definition of hyperbole), I acknowledge and welcome your clarification.

I said "published talks" and included in that his talks in other settings beyond general conference. And his talks are not all I'm considering, no, but I was responding to your assertion that "the majority" of his "talks" focus on gays. It's that assertion that I was challenging. 

It has been noted here by others that President Oaks seems to be something of the "point man" for the Brethren on this topic. I don't think that warrants hostile criticism of him. I'm glad for it, in fact. He is an intelligent and wise man, and his talents are sorely needed on such a sensitive issue.

Oh, I fully recognize this. It goes without saying, doesn't it? (My youngest son might say, "Thank you, Captain Obvious.") But even granting that, his talks focusing on gays still don't come anywhere near being the "majority." 

And at this point, I'm a bit confused. I thought you had acknowledged above that your assertion amounted to hyperbole, yet here you seem to be defending it as though you meant it to be taken literally.

Again, this doesn't strike me as all that remarkable, nor does it make President Oaks ripe for criticism.  

See above regarding him being the "point man."

But on this point, I don't know how much stock you can put in a crowd-sourced reference like Wikipedia, where anybody and his dog is free to add to or edit the entry. If President Oaks, as you have intimated, is regarded by many as the bogeyman of the Church with regard to LGBT issues, it is not unreasonable to surmise that some of that attitude at large regarding him would be reflected in this crowd-sourced entry.

I feel Pres. Oaks has caused tons of hurt by being the point man for the church in this regard. And having a grandson who is gay, I wonder if it's hurt him also. 

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2 hours ago, Tacenda said:

I feel Pres. Oaks has caused tons of hurt by being the point man for the church in this regard. And having a grandson who is gay, I wonder if it's hurt him also. 

I feel that you are deeply wrong. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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5 hours ago, Tacenda said:

I feel Pres. Oaks has caused tons of hurt by being the point man for the church in this regard. And having a grandson who is gay, I wonder if it's hurt him also. 

I totally agree. The ripples of his words have been extremely damaging.

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13 hours ago, let’s roll said:

@smac97

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People who truly love each other do not (or, at least, should not) use that love to coerce or manipulate family members into supporting, either financially or otherwise, behavior which the family members find morally problematic.

From one litigator (Skadden, Arps) to another I invite you to consider that your penchant for advocacy often gets in the way of acknowledging and building upon common ground.

Yes, I think that can happen.

However, discussions on this board are rarely about "acknowledging and building upon common ground."  It's more often about incessant attacks on my faith, and my sporadic defense of it in response.

In this instance "acknowledging and building upon common ground" seems to be a nice way of saying "Just hush up and let critics of the Church endlessly slander and demean things you hold sacred.  Just bend the knee, capitulate to the critics' disparagements, concede their arguments, and all the while call it 'building upon common ground.'"

Well, no.  I will not do that. 

In your first post in this thread, you praised Matthew Gong for his "realization, and articulation, of the 'false dichotomy.'"  I would ask you to consider that another "false dichotomy" exists in that A) engaging the substance of, and addressing, and sometimes rebutting, the endless criticisms of the Church and B) "acknowledging and building upon common ground" are not mutually exclusive exercises.

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When Jesus identified the human characteristics of eternal worth, peacemaking made the short list.

I don't think I've said anything that is incompatible with "peacemaking."

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So instead of pointing out how the above statement, along with a number of others you made have some obvious shortcomings you’d likely rebut rather than concede were they pointed out to you,

You never know.  I've conceded my mistakes many times.

Anyway, you're just perpetuating a false dichotomy.  I complimented Matthew's post for its strengths, and criticized it for its weaknesses / inaccuracies / cheap shots.  To treat his comments with kid gloves would be pandering.  To ignore his false characterizations of our faith is, to some extent, a concession to those false characterizations.  

I think "going along to get along" with critics and opponents of the Church (and, to be frank, that is what Matthew seems to be setting himself up to be) just does not work.  There seems to be a subtext used with (and by) critics that requires/expects members of the Church to not respond to criticisms against and mischaracterizations of our faith, 'cuz to do so is impolitic.  It's rude to not silently accept such things.

Again, I will not do that.

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I will instead invite all of us to remember: Blessed are the peacemakers.

Jesus Christ was the best "peacemaker," was he not?  And He did that peacemaking, in part, by saying things that were true, but sociopolitically unpopular.  John 6 is an excellent example of this.

I am also reminded of these remarks by Elder Christofferson:

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The more common (and sometimes more difficult) application of the Savior’s teaching, however, has to do with how we live day by day. It concerns the words we speak, the example we set. Our lives should be a confession of Christ and, together with our words, testify of our faith in and devotion to Him. And this testimony must be stoutly defended in the face of ridicule, discrimination, or defamation on the part of those who oppose Him “in this adulterous and sinful generation” (Mark 8:38).

"Must be stoutly defended in the face of ridicule, discrimination, or defamation."

Matthew Gong defamed the Church.  He wasn't the first person to do so.  He won't be the last.  What he said wasn't the worst said about us, either.  Nevertheless, I will not stand silently and let such comments pass uncontested.  

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On a different occasion the Lord added this remarkable statement about our loyalty to Him:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on [the] earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

“For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:34–38).

Saying that He came not to send peace but rather a sword seems at first impression a contradiction to the scriptures that refer to Christ as “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), the proclamation at His birth—“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14)—and other well-known references, such as “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27).

“It is true that Christ came to bring peace—peace between the believer and God, and peace among men. Yet the inevitable result of Christ’s coming is conflict—between Christ and the antichrist, between light and darkness, between Christ’s children and the devil’s children. This conflict can occur even between members of the same family.”

The conflict is coming.  It's already here in some ways.  It is a conflict of ideas and ideologies.

I do not understand your apparent call for unilateral disarmament.  I will not do it.

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I’m confident that a number of you have been rejected and ostracized by father and mother, brothers and sisters as you accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and entered into His covenant. In one way or another, your superior love of Christ has required the sacrifice of relationships that were dear to you, and you have shed many tears. Yet with your own love undiminished, you hold steady under this cross, showing yourself unashamed of the Son of God.

I am not ashamed to be a member of the Church.  To the contrary, I am grateful for that membership.  I am grateful for the Atonement.  For the gifts of the Spirit.  The Priesthood and the ordinances administered thereunder.  The goodness of its people and their efforts to improve themselves, their families, and their communities.

So when Matthew Gong comes along and badmouths the Church, I will defend it.

When Matthew publicly accuses the Church of being "corrupt{ed}" by "the malicious," I will respond.  I did not respond in kind.  I did not disparage Matthew's character or integrity.  I simply disagreed with his characterization of my faith.

When Matthew publicly characterizes the Church as being insincere in its teachings that "everyone is worth saving," I will respond.

None of this is a breach of "peacemaking."

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Godspeed to you.

And to you.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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11 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Let me try again. Imagine the following scenerio. It is 1944. A faithful Southern Baptist family firmly believes that inter-racial marriage is wrong.

No, I won't imagine that.  Endemic hatred of black people because of their skin color has no corollary in the Church's teachings about the Law of Chastity.  None.

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Matthew Gong has genuine, strongly held views that he views are moral.

I'm not sure about that.  I did not see him advance a "moral" argument.  

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Elder Gong has genuine, strongly held views that he views are moral.

Yes.  Those views are external to Elder Gong, though.  

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Since many of these views will be opposing, I object to your characterization (at least my understanding of your position) that a potential falling out between him and his father would be due to Matthew burning bridges. 

Way too much reading things into what I have said.

I did not say that Matthew, and only Matthew, is at risk of "burning bridges," and that any such results would necessarily be his fault.  I said nothing like that.  I was not speaking about Elder Gong.  At all.  You keep injecting him (Elder Gong) into my remarks.  I ask you not to do that.  If you have a question about my views, just ask.

Is it possible for Elder Gong to "burn bridges?"  Sure.  Have I seen any indication of him intending to engage in conduct reasonably calculated to burn bridges?  Nope.

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What about manipulating a family member to leave the most important person in their life behind?

Oh, brother.  What are you talking about?  Why are you fabricating issues I have not addressed, and then complaining about my position on them?

Anyway, I'll quote Matthew 10:37: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

And D&C 110:41-44:

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41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

I think this passage has regular application to our lives outside of the context of use of the priesthood.  I am a big fan of agency, free speech, and free exercise (of religion).  I am less a fan of emotionalistic arguments.  I am not a fan of coercion/duress.  I will try to influence those within my stewardship (and, to a lesser extent, to those within my sphere of influence) to A) strive to discern the will of God, and B) strive to follow the will of God.  Sometimes that striving can be difficult.  Sometimes very difficult.  

If I were ever to engage in conduct that compelled my wife or one of my children to choose between me and obedience to God, I hope she would choose the latter.  

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If your parents were opposed to your union, expressly forbade you from coming to their home with your spouse and your children would you visit?

Emotionalistic.

And no, I would not visit a home where I have been forbidden.  That's just common sense.

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If you did, how do you think your spouse and children would feel? Would you feel like you were being manipulated in anyway?

Emotionalistic.  

And no, I would not feel manipulated.

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My whole point is that it is a two way street. That is what Elder Oaks fails to grasp.

I think he is a pretty sharp fellow.  

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The idea that you should have to leave the most important part of your life behind in order to see your parents is just as manipulative as its opposite. 

Oh, brother. For someone who claims to be wanting to emphasize "a two way street," you sure seem to have difficulty in seeing both ways.

Elder Oaks was responding to a fair and reasonable, and very difficult, question: "At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior?"

Elder Oaks heavily qualified his answer.  His first statement: "That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration."  Are you seriously disputing this counsel?  Are you saying that such a decision is not one that "needs to be made individually?"  That such a decision should not involve "calling upon the Lord for inspiration?"

Elder Oaks proceeds to postulate two responses, one that starts with "Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position," and the other that starts with "Yes, come, but ..."

Elder Oaks then clarifies that these two scenarios are merely exemplary, and that "[t]here are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all."

Holy cow.  Elder Oaks was as diplomatic as all get-out.  He is calling for decorum and compassion, for patience and mutual respect, for boundaries and concessions.  And all of these things are to be governed by personal autonomy/reasoning ("That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible") and guidance from God ("calling upon the Lord for inspiration").

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I totally agree. The ripples of his words have been extremely damaging.

Similar ripples were seen in John 6.

Thanks,

-Smac

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33 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yes, I think that can happen.

However, discussions on this board are rarely about "acknowledging and building upon common ground."  It's more often about incessant attacks on my faith, and my sporadic defense of it in response.

In this instance "acknowledging and building upon common ground" seems to be a nice way of saying "Just hush up and let critics of the Church endlessly slander and demean things you hold sacred.  Just bend the knee, capitulate to the critics' disparagements, concede their arguments, and all the while call it 'building upon common ground.'"

Well, no.  I will not do that. 

In your first post in this thread, you praised Matthew Gong for his "realization, and articulation, of the 'false dichotomy.'"  I would ask you to consider that another "false dichotomy" exists in that A) engaging the substance of, and addressing, and sometimes rebutting, the endless criticisms of the Church and B) "acknowledging and building upon common ground" are not mutually exclusive exercises.

I don't think I've said anything that is incompatible with "peacemaking."

You never know.  I've conceded my mistakes many times.

Anyway, you're just perpetuating a false dichotomy.  I complimented Matthew's post for its strengths, and criticized it for its weaknesses / inaccuracies / cheap shots.  To treat his comments with kid gloves would be pandering.  To ignore his false characterizations of our faith is, to some extent, a concession to those false characterizations.  

I think "going along to get along" with critics and opponents of the Church (and, to be frank, that is what Matthew seems to be setting himself up to be) just does not work.  There seems to be a subtext used with (and by) critics that requires/expects members of the Church to not respond to criticisms against and mischaracterizations of our faith, 'cuz to do so is impolitic.  It's rude to not silently accept such things.

Again, I will not do that.

Jesus Christ was the best "peacemaker," was he not?  And He did that peacemaking, in part, by saying things that were true, but sociopolitically unpopular.  John 6 is an excellent example of this.

I am also reminded of these remarks by Elder Christofferson:

"Must be stoutly defended in the face of ridicule, discrimination, or defamation."

Matthew Gong defamed the Church.  He wasn't the first person to do so.  He won't be the last.  What he said wasn't the worst said about us, either.  Nevertheless, I will not stand silently and let such comments pass uncontested.  

The conflict is coming.  It's already here in some ways.  It is a conflict of ideas and ideologies.

I do not understand your apparent call for unilateral disarmament.  I will not do it.

I am not ashamed to be a member of the Church.  To the contrary, I am grateful for that membership.  I am grateful for the gifts of the Spirit.  The Priesthood and the ordinances administered thereunder.  The goodness of its people and their efforts to improve themselves, their families, and their communities.

So when Matthew Gong comes along and badmouths the Church, I will defend it.

When Matthew publicly accuses the Church of being "corrupt{ed}" by "the malicious," I will respond.  I did not respond in kind.  I did not disparage Matthew's character or integrity.  I simply disagreed with his characterization.

When Matthew publicly characterizes the Church as being insincere in its teachings that "everyone is worth saving," I will respond.

None of this is a breach of "peacemaking."

And to you.

Thanks,

-Smac

👏  👏  👏 

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8 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

It has been noted here by others that President Oaks seems to be something of the "point man" for the Brethren on this topic. I don't think that warrants hostile criticism of him.

"Hostile criticism"?   By saying, "I wonder how Elder Gong feels about President Oaks' approach on the issue?"  I rolleth mine eyes at thee.  If you think that the brethren are in perfect unison and never disagree with the approach or messages of others in leadership, you are sorely mistaken.  Are you now taking your turn at hyperbole?

8 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

And at this point, I'm a bit confused. I thought you had acknowledged above that your assertion amounted to hyperbole, yet here you seem to be defending it as though you meant it to be taken literally.

I am not defending the assertion that the "majority" of his talks are about LGBT issues. I am asserting that perceptions matter, and that his not-infrequent treatment of the issue has affected perceptions of many in not-so-positive ways.  You can dismiss the perceptions of others or accuse them of "hostile criticism", but I don't understand what good that would do.  You may not care what members think and feel, but the brethren do.  That is why the frequently send out feelers or surveys to assess the perceptions of the members...to listen, to care, and to change course where messages and approaches could be improved upon. 

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20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

No, I won't imagine that.  Endemic hatred of black people because of their skin color has no corollary in the Church's teachings about the Law of Chastity.  None.

I didn’t say that it did. What does relate is that both parents and child have moral views that are in opposition. If you think people don’t support and oppose gay marriage and homosexuality on moral grounds, I’m not sure we can have a conversation.  Speaks volumes that you are unwilling to address.  

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I'm not sure about that.  I did not see him advance a "moral" argument.  
 

What does a moral argument mean to you exactly then? The whole piece was his moral argument. 

And this is my whole point. Thank you for stating it! You read the piece, see someone speaking his mind with viewpoints against the church. You are concerned he is going to go and burn bridges with his family. 
 

You see Matthew’s father, who leads a church that teaches Matthew’s lifestyle is counterfeit, that Matthew is deceived by satan, that if unrepentant, Matthew is heading for “Eternal” punishment. But nope, nothing here that could burn bridges.
 

That is my whole point. 

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Oh, brother.  What are you talking about?  Why are you fabricating issues I have not addressed, and then complaining about my position on them?

Elder Oaks states that in most (more than half) circumstances parents will say “Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.” This is in response to bringing a gay son or daughter’s partner into the home. Help me understand what this means. Isn’t this an attempt to manipulate the gay son or daughter to leave their partner behind?

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Emotionalistic.

And no, I would not visit a home where I have been forbidden.  That's just common sense.

How is it emotionaistic exactly? It wasn’t you that was forbidden. It was you visiting with your spouse. And this is exactly the line that Elder Oaks thinks most Latter-day Saints will draw when it comes to their gay children.  

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Emotionalistic.  

And no, I would not feel manipulated.

I’m trying to understand your position here. A son that says essentially if you love me, you’d allow my partner into your home is manipulative. A parent that says if you loved me you wouldn’t put me in that position is not?

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think he is a pretty sharp fellow.  

Oh, brother. For someone who claims to be wanting to emphasize "a two way street," you sure seem to have difficulty in seeing both ways.

Elder Oaks was responding to a fair and reasonable, and very difficult, question: "At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior?"

Here’s the thing it’s not difficult! Jesus ate with sinners for crying out loud! Who was it that made a big deal about that!? Why would allowing your child’s life partner in your home ever constitute “endorsing behavior”? This is an honest question for you SMAC. 

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Elder Oaks heavily qualified his answer.  His first statement: "That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration."  Are you seriously disputing this counsel?  Are you saying that such a decision is not one that "needs to be made individually?"  That such a decision should not involve "calling upon the Lord for inspiration?"

I notice you really don’t want to talk about the specifics the only two concrete examples Oaks came up with. Examples that Oaks think would apply in the majority of situations.  I wonder why that is.

20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Elder Oaks proceeds to postulate two responses, one that starts with "Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position," and the other that starts with "Yes, come, but ..."

Elder Oaks then clarifies that these two scenarios are merely exemplary, and that "[t]here are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all."

Did you miss the part where he said those apply in the majority of situations? 

Holy cow”

“Oh, brother.”

I thought you didn’t use emotion in your arguments. What are these again?

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3 hours ago, pogi said:

"Hostile criticism"?   By saying, "I wonder how Elder Gong feels about President Oaks' approach on the issue?"  I rolleth mine eyes at thee.  If you think that the brethren are in perfect unison and never disagree with the approach or messages of others in leadership, you are sorely mistaken.  Are you now taking your turn at hyperbole?

I am not defending the assertion that the "majority" of his talks are about LGBT issues. I am asserting that perceptions matter, and that his not-infrequent treatment of the issue has affected perceptions of many in not-so-positive ways.  You can dismiss the perceptions of others or accuse them of "hostile criticism", but I don't understand what good that would do.  You may not care what members think and feel, but the brethren do.  That is why the frequently send out feelers or surveys to assess the perceptions of the members...to listen, to care, and to change course where messages and approaches could be improved upon. 

Your statement “I wonder how Elder Gong feels about President Oaks’ approach on the issue” amounts to innuendo implying disunity with no solid basis to assume such disunity is present. 
 

And your comment here on perception takes us back to our sharp disagreement about whether perception can be unjust. You seem to think perception is always justified and respectable regardless of how misguided, irrational and prejudiced it might be. 
 

I understand there’s a common saying stemming from the world of marketing and advertising to the effect that “perception is reality.” I think that’s one of the stupidest aphorisms that has ever been uttered. Perception can and quite often does conflict with reality. Here’s a thoughtful piece from “Psychology Today” on the subject:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201908/perception-is-not-reality%3famp

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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30 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Your statement “I wonder how Elder Gong feels about President Oaks’ approach on the issue” amounts to innuendo implying disunity with no solid basis to assume such disunity is present. 

Is that what it amounts to Scott?  If perceptions can be unjust, you must admit that yours is unjust here.  It in no way implies or suggests disunity.  I am not making any claims that require a "solid basis" of factual evidence.  That is absurd. Is it your position Scott, that the brethren are in perfect unison on all subjects, or approaches to issues?  To wonder if the brethren are in unison on an issue is not the same as implying disunity. Surely you see that.  Either way, how this amounts to "hostile criticism' is beyond me.  Again, to accuse me of "hostile criticism" is not fair and should be retracted. 

30 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

And your comment here on perception takes us back to our sharp disagreement about whether perception can be unjust. You seem to think perception is always justified and honorable regardless of how misguided, irrational and prejudiced it might be. 

  Unjust or not, perceptions are unavoidably influential for the person and should be taken into consideration.  If you think that the brethren don't care about appearances and PR, you are wrong.      

30 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I understand there’s a common saying stemming from the world of marketing and advertising to the effect that “perception is reality.” I think that’s one of the stupidest proverbs that has ever been uttered. 

Perceptions matter in PR, whether or not you consider them "real" is besides the point.  You can attack the messenger if you want, but a good PR person would listen and take notes. 

Edited by pogi
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27 minutes ago, Nacho2dope said:

I think President Oaks gets a bad rap here. Several Apostles have spoken out against this an everyone seems to focus on what Presidents Oaks says. I don't believe he is the "point man." for the Church on this issue. But at the end of the day, if you believe in this Church and believe in God, then you are upset with the wrong person. This is Gods law, and President Oaks is one of many messengers now and I am sure there are more to come. This is not Presidents Oaks  interpretation of Gods law, its Gods law. This is just my opinion thanks.

What about the priesthood restriction being a racist policy, which was once a doctrine? Have you read the church essay? I liken Pres. Oaks to that of Brigham Young and others. The members probably believed it came from God too. What would you and others do if one day this doctrine changed as well? Both racism and homophobia stem from bible teachings. What will you and others do if the day came. Would you go along or leave the church?

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2 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I didn’t say that it did. What does relate is that both parents and child have moral views that are in opposition.

I'm not sure that's true.

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If you think people don’t support and oppose gay marriage and homosexuality on moral grounds, I’m not sure we can have a conversation.  Speaks volumes that you are unwilling to address.

I think people can interpose "moral" arguments for and against same-sex marriage.  But I don't think Matthew did that in his letter.  He just expressed his feelings.  Feelings doth not an argument make.  

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What does a moral argument mean to you exactly then? The whole piece was his moral argument. 

That's not how I read it.  The whole piece was his personal life and opinions.  His feelings and emotions.

  • Matthew is gay.  He "came out" to his parents a few years ago, resulting in a "rocky patch" that they seem to have successfully traversed.  He expresses gratitude for his parents.
  • He was surprised when his father was called as an apostle. He had an emotional response to it ("I was furious. I was proud. I was conflicted. I was hurting. I wanted to be alone in my grief.").
  • He talks a bit about the Church, saying it's "a complicated subject" that "needs context."  He goes back to talking about himself and his feelings, juxtaposing them with barbed comments about the Church.
  • He labels himself "a consummate humanist and fiercely devoted to the belief that we have true agency," and speaks on that subject briefly.  He then goes into religion being "weaponized" against his "queerness," and the difficulties arising from this.  He resolved those difficulties by rejecting the Gospel and immersing himself in a gay relationship, which he says makes him happy ("Matt-unapologetically-queer-and-happy").
  • He states that he's spent two years deciding to "becom{e} visible," that he needs to be "speaking truth to power," and that he "can’t sit on the sidelines any more."
  • He talks about his "qualia" (his subjective experiences as a gay man) and wondering "if there are ways of architecting an experience to bridge the communication gaps" about "LGBTQ experiences."
  • He philosophizes a bit: "Authenticity has provided a useful dimension for calculating an action’s value in net human good, but it is ultimately a variable of human good. I’m condensing authenticity to be a variable of human good."  I have no idea what this means.
  • He talks about self-medicating, saying it's "not a healthy long-term solution."
  • He concludes with "It’s going to be a wild ride."

The letter has some interesting things to say, in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way.  But I don't see any particular "argument" in the piece, let alone one predicated on "morality."

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I’m trying to understand your position here. A son that says essentially if you love me, you’d allow my partner into your home is manipulative.

It could be, yes.

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A parent that says if you loved me you wouldn’t put me in that position is not?

No, it is not.  In this context, it is the parents that are resisting coercion.

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Elder Oaks was responding to a fair and reasonable, and very difficult, question: "At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior?"

Here’s the thing it’s not difficult! Jesus ate with sinners for crying out loud! 

Which did not "cross the line into inadvertently endorsing {sinful} behavior."

Do you acknowledge the premise of the question?  Is it possible that efforts to express love might be construed as endorsing sinful behavior?

For example, if a parent accompanies his child to an abortion clinic, and pays for the elective abortion, might that not be seen as endorsing the abortion?  

If a parent invests in his child's start-up marijuana business, might that not be seen as endorsing the sale of marijuana?

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Who was it that made a big deal about that!? 

You, I think.

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Why would allowing your child’s life partner in your home ever constitute “endorsing behavior”? This is an honest question for you SMAC. 

You are not fairly characterizing Elder Oaks' remarks.  And you seem to be getting pretty agitated.

Elder Oaks heavily qualified his answer.  His first statement: "That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration."  Are you seriously disputing this counsel?  Are you saying that such a decision is not one that "needs to be made individually?"  That such a decision should not involve "calling upon the Lord for inspiration?"

Elder Oaks proceeds to postulate two responses, one that starts with "Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position," and the other that starts with "Yes, come, but ..."

Elder Oaks then clarifies that these two scenarios are merely exemplary, and that "[t]here are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all."

Elder Oaks specifically allows for "allowing your child's life partner in your home."

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I notice you really don’t want to talk about the specifics the only two concrete examples Oaks came up with.

Yes.  Because, as Elder Oaks put it: "There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all."

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Examples that Oaks think would apply in the majority of situations.  I wonder why that is.

I wonder why you are so intent on misconstruing his remarks.

  • "That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration."
  • "I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say..."
  • "There would also be other factors that would make that the likely answer."
  • "I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but...'"
  • "There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all."

Elder Oaks was as diplomatic as all get-out.  He is calling for decorum and compassion, for patience and mutual respect, for boundaries and concessions.  And all of these things are to be governed by personal autonomy/reasoning ("That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible") and guidance from God ("calling upon the Lord for inspiration").

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I thought you didn’t use emotion in your arguments. What are these again?

I am not a Vulcan.  I have emotions.  I sometimes express them, usually in a by-the-way fashion.  That said, I strive to not base my arguments on them.  And I don't think the things I have said here are based on emotionalisms.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 minute ago, Tacenda said:

Both racism and homophobia stem from bible teachings

I think you're being extremely simplistic here.  Humans have always been wary of those who are different from them.  This is an evolutionary adaptation to help us quickly identify who is a member of our group/tribe/clan and who is a danger/outsider/rival.

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1 hour ago, Maestrophil said:

I have to admit first off, that I have not read the entire post, so if this is already mentioned earlier, please point me to it, and I will educate myself - but has anyone on this thread actually shared actual quotes from Pres. Oaks that have bothered them?  I have listened to his talks in conference, and have not heard anything that I bristled at in terms of sounding not in harmony with gospel teachings. What, specifically are people objecting to?

I am a father of two children that have alternate sexual orientations.  And my experience with the local and global church has not put a wedge between us, even with our acknowledged differences.  They both see the church as tolerant and loving, while still understanding that full activity (including temple worship) requires choosing not to engage in non-heterosexual activity.  I completely understand why my gay daughter no longer desires to be part of the church for this reason, and she understands and respects the church's position on chastity.

I do not align with Tacenda and others here who may be ascribing more nefarious motives to President Oaks.  For them, I don't think anything other than full acceptance of gay marriage would suffice.  My position is more subtle.  It is not about the message but the style of delivery.

Here is what I said previously in the thread which addresses your comment above:

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I know many, many people (very conservative I might add) who while they may technically agree with most of what President Oak's says, feel like his approach is...off-putting, unrelenting, overbearing, and almost obsessive... It is one thing to clearly delineate boundaries, but when the majority [hyperbole] of your talks focus on one group (even when it is couched in "but we need to be nice to them"), it starts to feel like something more than simply delineating boundaries.  

Smac brought up that President Oaks may be taking a legal bent on the issue, which is why he is the point man.  If that is true, there is nothing wrong with that, except that perhaps the church could use a healer's approach right now instead of a lawyer's approach.  There is a wound in the church over this issue, make no mistake about that. 

Edited by pogi
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31 minutes ago, Tacenda said:
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I think President Oaks gets a bad rap here. Several Apostles have spoken out against this an everyone seems to focus on what Presidents Oaks says. I don't believe he is the "point man." for the Church on this issue. But at the end of the day, if you believe in this Church and believe in God, then you are upset with the wrong person. This is Gods law, and President Oaks is one of many messengers now and I am sure there are more to come. This is not Presidents Oaks  interpretation of Gods law, its Gods law. This is just my opinion thanks.

What about the priesthood restriction being a racist policy, which was once a doctrine?

What about it?

The priesthood ban lacks revelatory provenance.  That's a biggie for me.

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Have you read the church essay?

I have.  Many times.

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I liken Pres. Oaks to that of Brigham Young and others.

Classic ad hominem.

President Oaks said X.  Pres. Oaks is horrible.  Therefore, X is false.

That just doesn't work for me.

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The members probably believed it came from God too.

Frankly, I think most members did not give the matter much thought.  

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What would you and others do if one day this doctrine changed as well?

What doctrine?  The Law of Chastity?

I think this hypothetical is extraordinarily unlikely.  However, AoF 1:9 states: "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."  I think God fundamentally altering the Law of Chastity to allow for same-sex behavior and same-sex marriage will never happen.  It's about as pristine an example of "wishful thinking" that we are ever likely to see.  However, in a de minimis sense, I am open to the possibility.  I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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Both racism and homophobia stem from bible teachings.

Not really.  Racial harmony and sexual purity stem from bible teachings.

The difference is that you are pointing to an eisegetical appropach to the Bible.  I am pointing to an exegetical and inspired-by-the-Spirit approach.

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What will you and others do if the day came. Would you go along or leave the church?

I think I'm in the Church, come what may.  I believe any member of the Church can be led astray, including leaders (witness the many who apostasized in the early days of the Church).  I also reject the notion of inerrancy (though I note that it is quite possible for a church leader to make a mistake, or even many mistakes, and yet not be "astray").  

However, I subscribe to the position that the Church and its leaders, collectively, will not be led astray.  

I believe in the prophecy found in Daniel 2 and in how it has been interpreted.  

I agree with Wilford Woodruff that "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God."  I think that's right.

I believe in The Book of Mormon, in its testimony of Jesus Christ, and of the implications that are associated with the prophetic mantle involved in its production, preservation, and transmission to us.

I believe the sentiment expressed here (attributed to Joseph Smith): "‘I will give you a key that will never rust, —if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray."

The Church is not perfect.  But it is, in my view, overwhelmingly good.  I love it a lot.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

What does Elder Oaks mean by most?

I assume he used the term for its normative, from-the-dictionary meaning.  As in "in the majority of instances."  As in "in the majority of instances" in which the parents are considering the potential effect on other children in the home.  As in he "can imagine" that where "there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example," that "most" parents put into that difficult situation could say something like "Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position."

But then, he also readily allows for alternative responses from the parents.

What does Elder Oaks mean when he says "That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration"?

What does Elder Oaks mean when he says "I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but..."?

What does Elder Oaks mean when he says "There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all"?

Why are you fixating on "most", to the exlusion of all of the above?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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2 hours ago, Maestrophil said:

I have to admit first off, that I have not read the entire post, so if this is already mentioned earlier, please point me to it, and I will educate myself - but has anyone on this thread actually shared actual quotes from Pres. Oaks that have bothered them?  I have listened to his talks in conference, and have not heard anything that I bristled at in terms of sounding not in harmony with gospel teachings. What, specifically are people objecting to?

I am a father of two children that have alternate sexual orientations.  And my experience with the local and global church has not put a wedge between us, even with our acknowledged differences.  They both see the church as tolerant and loving, while still understanding that full activity (including temple worship) requires choosing not to engage in non-heterosexual activity.  I completely understand why my gay daughter no longer desires to be part of the church for this reason, and she understands and respects the church's position on chastity.

 

 

From what I can see, the only quote that has been cited from President Oaks is from the Q and A years ago in which Church Public Affairs asked him how parents could show love to their gay children without inadvertently appearing to endorse behavior of which the parents disapprove. Elder Oaks on that occasion suggested a couple of hypothetical scenarios and couched his response in the message that it is impossible to say what to do in every situation and one should be guided by the Spirit. Yet what the critics seem to be most angry about is that he did NOT give a one-size-fits-all solution in the form of total capitulation without due consideration about giving an inadvertent endorsement to unacceptable behavior. 
 

Beyond this, there have not been any quotes cited here from President Oaks. The angry critics seem caught up in a group-think mentality such that they are determined to vilify him no matter what. 
 

I do agree with you that I have never heard or read anything from him that was not in total harmony with gospel teaching. It appears he has become their whipping-boy, and I think it scandalous. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I assume he used the term for its normative, from-the-dictionary meaning.  As in "in the majority of instances." 

Great. We are on the same page.

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As in "in the majority of instances" in which the parents are considering the potential effect on other children in the home.  

Hold on. Nope. He uses most without qualification. Most applies to everyone. He goes on to say that if children are in the home "surely" that would be the "likely" answer. He also states that "other factors" would also make that the "likely" answer.

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As in he "can imagine" that where "there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example," that "most" parents put into that difficult situation could say something like "Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position."

That's a misrepresentation of what he said. Most applies to all latter-day saints. See above. 

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But then, he also readily allows for alternative responses from the parents.

Yes. And he gives an example. He says some might allow the partner in the home, but would say "don't stay over night" and "don't expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or deal with you or deal with you in a public situation..." He then closes by saying "There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all."

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What does Elder Oaks mean when he says "That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration"?

I take him at his word. 

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What does Elder Oaks mean when he says "I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but..."?

He means exactly what he says and its pretty horrifying to me. I can tell you that if my parents set either of the boundaries with my spouse that Elder Oaks suggests as likely responses, I would remove their influence from my life and I think that would be the morally appropriate response. I would not say that they didn't love me. I would not ask them to approve of my partnership. I would tell them in no uncertain terms, that my wife and I are a package deal and you either get both or none. This is not manipulation or emotional blackmail. It is setting boundaries. Just like from my parents perspective, they would be setting appropriate boundaries (assuming they didn't use manipulative language like "if you loved me you would do x").

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What does Elder Oaks mean when he says "There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all"?

I honestly have no idea. Clearly he believes there to be a plethora of answers that would be appropriate. I'm not sure what Oaks would agree with or not. Certainly you don't believe that Elder Oaks thinks any response is appropriate? Let's say that I was a believing Latter-day Saint. Let's say I prayed following Oak's advise. Let's say that in answer to my prayer, I thought in my circumstance I should welcome the partner in my home, pay for his marriage, and question the church's teachings around homosexuality in public and to my friends. Would this be in keeping with Oak's advice? I would imagine you'd say no. There are many people on this board that have posted similar things, and you appear to disagree with them.

I don't know where Oaks would put the limit. To me, both of his suggestions horrify me and don't appear to me to allow for a healthy relationship between parent and child. I can't wrap my head around the idea that inviting someone into my home in and of itself implies approval of their relationship. I can't fathom the idea that introducing my son's partner to my neighbors would endorse their relationship. So given that both examples he gives are morally repugnant to me, I don't know what types of circumstances Oaks would approve of. Based on the ones he gave, I doubt I'd think highly of them.

Question for you. If your parents put either of the boundary's on your spouse that Elder Oaks suggests, would you continue to visit them and have a relationship with them?

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Why are you fixating on "most", to the exlusion of all of the above?

As I've outlined above, I doubt that Oaks would approve of all response to the question. I gave an example that I don't think he'd approve of above. When speculating on what he thinks would be appropriate responses, I'm merely reporting what Oaks himself suggests most people would do. I'm not a mind reader, so I can only go on what he has said.

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Thanks,

-Smac

-John

 

 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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9 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I feel that you are deeply wrong. 

Funny that.  My opinion is that Tacenda is spot on.  Oaks keeps pounding that same key over and over again.   I think Oaks along with several others of the Q15 are still recovering from the SCOTUS decision on marriage equally.  My opinion is that they need to get over this and move on.  The same thing happened in 1890 when the government put an end to the new and everlasting covenant.  The church survived this, and they can survive society accepting our LGBTQ bothers and sisters into the full rights and privileges that all citizens enjoy.

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2 hours ago, Tacenda said:

What about the priesthood restriction being a racist policy, which was once a doctrine? Have you read the church essay? I liken Pres. Oaks to that of Brigham Young and others. The members probably believed it came from God too. What would you and others do if one day this doctrine changed as well? Both racism and homophobia stem from bible teachings. What will you and others do if the day came. Would you go along or leave the church?

Thanks so much for your comment, sorry for the late reply. I think that we have a different definition of what is doctrine. This is my understanding of what the Priesthood Doctrine is:
 

6. Priesthood and Priesthood Keys

The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of His children. The keys of the priesthood are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to govern and direct the kingdom of God on the earth (see Matthew 16:15–19). Through these keys, priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances of salvation. All who serve in the Church are called under the direction of one who holds priesthood keys. Thus, they are entitled to the power needed to serve and fulfill the responsibilities of their callings.

 

This is from the Church's website, but if I understand you correctly you are saying this is post 1978. Do you have anything that states the doctrine prior. 

My personal opinion is that the priesthood ban and the current LGBT issue are not the same thing at all  and should not be compared, but again my opinion. 

 

I will always do my best to follow God and not man. I do not see God changing His law. I do see Him changing policies and the way things happen in the church. If however God does change his law I will pray for understanding and a testimony. I will never challenge God and try and tell him He is wrong and that I know more then Him. Again this is my opinion.

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