I Wish Boyd K. Packer Had Said "It"

Many people think that LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer's talk in October 2010 LDS General Conference was hateful toward homosexuals or that it encouraged hatred toward homosexuals. I don't. However, Elder Packer could have helped a lot of people if, in his talk, he had said "it".What, then, is "it"? "It" is this...

In the October 2010 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, church Elder Russell M. Nelson implied that all of God's children are worthy of our love, when he said

Heavenly Father loves every one of His children.

That statement clearly implies that we, too, should love every one of Heavenly Father's children.  But Elder Nelson didn't say "it".

Elder Robert D. Hales clearly stated the importance of always loving every one of our children:
our homes become an incubator for our children’s spiritual growth. There we teach them the gospel, bear our testimonies, express our love, and listen as they share their feelings and experiences.
But he didn't say "it" either.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, in describing the magnificent example of Church President Thomas S. Monson, counseled us to
...cultivate[] a listening ear that can discern even the faintest whisper of the Spirit signaling the need of someone [w]e can reach and help.

He came so close, it seems, and he maybe even thought "it", but he didn't say "it".

I like to think that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was thinking directly about "it" when he said:
I have struggled to find an adequate way to tell you how loved of God you are and how grateful we...are for you. I am trying to be voice for the very angels of heaven in thanking you for every good thing you have ever done, for every kind word you have ever said, for every sacrifice you have ever made in extending to someone—to anyone—the beauty and blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 But for some reason, Elder Holland sidestepped "it", too.

The person who had the best opportunity to say "it" was Boyd K Packer, quorum of the 12 apostles, because he talked around "it", when he said
Sometimes...the most difficult part of repentance is to forgive one’s self. You must come to know that forgiveness means forgiveness.
But, unfortunately, although he didn't say anything hateful, what he said was hurtful, because he didn't say "it".

Why does "it" need to be said? Because far too many Mormons think it is normal to make derogatory comments and jokes about gay people. Because far too many Mormon families are mortified when a son or daughter becomes a known homosexual. Because far too many Mormon families reject their children when their sexual orientation becomes public.

What, then, is "it"? "It" is this: the one group of people that so many Mormons seem to have the most difficult time loving is the one group of people who need our love the very most. The one direct lesson that members of the Church so desperately need, that, for whatever reason, Church leadership teaches only very indirectly is that it is a far greater sin to hate or harm or belittle someone who is homosexual than it is to actually be homosexual. I suspect that Christ was referring in part to those born with the orientation toward homosexuality when he said:
whosoever shall aoffend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
 As this father of a homosexual young man so truthfully stated:
my son is the most unselfish and Christ-like person I know. This holds true for most of the LDS homosexuals I know well. They have to be to keep trying [to be Latter-day Saints]. 
I know more than one somebody like that.  I'll bet if you think hard enough, you do, too. That is something for which there is no reason to be ashamed or uneasy.

Latter-day Saints, listen closely. Your leaders are teaching you an important concept, but they are, for whatever reason, teaching that concept indirectly. The LDS October 2010 General Conference was replete with exhortation and encouragement to love and serve everyone, including those who happen to be homosexual.

So I challenge you, much more directly than they have done. Not only is it okay to love and serve homosexual people as much as you love and serve anyone else, it is a requirement for your eternal salvation. Try it. You'll be glad you did.  And your Church will be much better off because of it.

Comments

  1. gives me chills and puts tears in my eyes. Beautiful and to the point. The world would be a much better place if all people took this to heart. Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone.

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  3. Diana: Thanks. And thanks for being such a good example of right conduct.

    Melody: I am glad to hear to you say that. I agree with your observation. I suppose we just need to love even those that don't understand the concept that you so well described--how important simply loving people is.

    I've made comments in our Sunday School class that go along with what I have written above, and I know that in at least one case it was very much appreciated; but I don't much dare look around the room while I'm saying it for fear that someone may be thinking that I've lost my marbles.

    Amber is right. You are a great mom, and the most important thing we can do is love. You are doing it correctly!

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  4. (Frank I deleted the original response that I made and edited it just a bit, but it didn't change the meaning of the comment. I realized that how I phrased things didn't fully express what I meant.)

    Frank, it is interesting that you posted this as it is something I've been struggling with and wondering about for the past little while.

    I cannot abide shunning or criticizing people because of their unrighteousness, but it seems to be so commonplace to Christians (and Jews, and Muslims, and....) that it is the norm, the mainstream. Somehow it seems that many think that rebuking people for their sins is the way to be a good disciple of Christ (or God or Allah...).

    The interesting thing about it is that Jesus commanded that we not judge each other, but to love each other as ourselves, but that isn't what I'm seeing.

    What I *am* is that when I say this to most Christian people (that is the circle I run in) in general and specifically in my LDS religion I am looked at strangely. Lately I have even been rebuked for going against what the prophets have taught to be correct. In one discussion I was even told to beware of my pride if I set myself so against the prophets... but all I was saying is that we need to not judge but to love.

    I have been concerned that perhaps I am viewing things incorrectly because of the reactions I've gotten, so I asked my older children if they thought I was a bad member of the church because I feel that loving people is more important than for me to judge the sinners. They told me I was silly. Amber then told me something that made me feel very good about how I parent. She said, "Mom, we know that no matter what we do, you will still love us. We know that you will tell us what you believe and what you want us to do it, but that whatever we choose to do, you will still love us."

    But that seems so contrary to what I often hear.

    It bothers me that we as a people don't take very seriously the commandment only second to loving God with all of our hearts, and that is loving each other as we love ourselves. And it bothers me. A lot.

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  6. Very interesting and very well-said.

    I do think that the message is more direct than it may seem to be. Maybe church leaders didn't say anything specific in this general conference, but they have been pretty specific in many previous talks and news releases. Perhaps the problem is that not enough members are hearing or heeding those words.

    For example, from The Divine Institution of Marriage,

    "We can express genuine love and friendship for the homosexual family member or friend without accepting the practice of homosexuality or any re-definition of marriage."

    And from Pres. Hinckley in Nov. 1998:

    "People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

    We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families."

    And from a public statement from the church last night:

    "On Monday, the LDS Church reiterated its stance on same-gender marriage, saying its "doctrine on the importance of marriage and family and its implications for same-sex marriage are very clear and are based on principles of truth, respect and love for all of God's children."

    The statement added: "We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone."

    I think the message is there, members of the church just need to follow it.

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  7. @piccolo: I did notice a story in the newspaper this morning that included the LDS Church's quote that you stated above ("We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone.") So that is a good thing. While I appreciate that, it only goes part way. We should spend as much time in the Church (or probably more) talking about the much greater sin of belittling and harming anyone for any reason, particularly belittling homosexuals, as we do talking about the sin of being homosexual.

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  8. Some would argue that to not accept homosexuals as they are is "mistreatment" in an of itself.

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  9. I thoroughly agree with the idea behind your post, but even though "it" wasn't said during this particular address-- it's been said MANY times before, will continue to BE said, and the direction in regards to our treatment of homosexuals has been very clear. The problem, is that those who are against the Church's stand on this issue ONLY listen to the addresses for the express purpose of finding something to critize.
    They are "offenders for a word" as the scripture says. EVEN IF he's included some words about loving them equally, and that Heavenly Father loves them, they would STILL be doing EXACTLY what they're doing. Those who track the messages from our leaders regarding this issue KNOW that the Church instructs members to treat EVERYONE, gays included with kindness and respect. That parents are told they need to continue to love and care for their children DESPITE sexual orientation. It's been VERY clear. So though I agree that it would have been prudent for Elder Packer to include statements that express love for those who are gay, it wouldn NOT have made any difference. They aren't complaining that he didn't say they aren't lovable or deserving of love-- they're complaining that we believe their lifestyle is wrong, and that we oppose the legalization of gay marriages, and they want him to RECANT. And that just ISN'T going to happen. They might as well ask the Church to change it's position on lying, stealing and murder. And that isn't going to happen, either.
    And something they don't realize is that their campaign to have 100,000 letters is EXACTLY the kind of thing that prompted such a proclamation type kind of address from Elder Packer in the first place.
    The VERY letter you quoted, from the Bishop with a gay son is the perfect example. It's letters like THAT that prompted the talk.
    Church members KNOW the Church's position on this issue. The context of the talk, and the very fact that such a talk was delivered at General Conference, broadcast around the world, essentially saying "we will NOT bend. We CAN'T bend. Truth isn't up for a vote" was evidence to me that the talk was pretty much directed at four groups. Lawmakers (members and non-members alike), church members with gay family members who want the church to change it's position, non-memebers who want the church to change it's position, and members who are WAIVERING in whether or not the church should maintain it's position. The church offices get letters ALL the time, from members who have gay family members-- saying how "unfair" and "uncompassionate" the church's position is, but it's EXACTLY those kinds of letters that prompt the church to have to make the kind of proclamation type statements that Pres. Packer gave in his talk.
    Yes, we know it's hard, yes, we know it hurts, but the Church can NOT change doctrine. We CAN'T recant Truth. Truth is eternal, and no matter how many voices cry in opposition, it can't be changed. It isn't a "business" decision. It isn't something Church leaders have the power to change. It's not like protesting a advertisement,where you can pressure a company to pull it's ads in support of a show. It doesn't work that way. They don't understand that Church leaders simply DO NOT HAVE THE POWER to change doctrine. Policies and procedures can change, administrative issues can change, but DOCTRINE doesn't change.

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  10. In the back of my mind I was thinking something similar. If only they had said "it".

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