LDS Member: “Church’s Stance Mocks Our Belief In Free Agency”

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2008

A website run by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, a.k.a. “Mormons”) opposed to anti-marriage initiatives has posted an interesting letter from the wife of a bishop’s first counselor condemning the church for “mingl[ing] religious influence with civil government.”

Amy Cox, of Payson, Utah, posted a letter to the website “Signing for Something,” in which she claims that the LDS church’s actions to impose its doctrinal beliefs on non-Mormons represents an interference on individuals’ “free agency.” According to LDS beliefs, infringing on an individual’s agency to determine the difference between good or evil (and to thus reap the benefits or consequences of those choices) can interfere with that individual’s “trial of faith,” which is an integral part of his or her “plan of salvation.”

(Caveat: This is how I read Wikipedia’s entry on the subject. I encourage hose who are more knowledgeable about LDS theology to clarify as necessary in the comments.)

Mrs. Cox, who describes herself as certified in “alternative Christ-centered emotional release therapy,” came to her current position after having worked with a lesbian LDS church member who had undergone counseling to change her sexual orientation at the behest of church leaders:

As I listened to her relate her experiences with these leaders, for which she was faithfully looking to for spiritual guidance, I became absolutely appalled at the abusive treatment that she was receiving in the name of God’s love. Their repeated promises given by the power of the priesthood, that if she would just prove faithful enough and abstain from acting on any of her natural inclinations, she would be blessed to overcome this “trial of her faith” and be able to marry a man and raise a family, have not been fulfilled.

As a result of this priesthood counsel which follows the teachings of the Church, her psyche has been severely damaged, and she has become more and more depressed with each failed effort. She was led to believe that what she was doing was not accepted as enough, that God’s love was conditional and He was withholding blessing her with her righteous desires because of her unworthiness.

This led Mrs. Cox to re-examine the Church’s stance on homosexuality as it relates to psychology, and she sought out more opportunities to talk with gays and lesbians. In doing so, she saw parallels to another dark chapter of LDS history — its now-renounced beliefs which once held that people with darker skins “were cursed and had been less valiant in the pre-existence”:

The teachings even went so far as the prophet Brigham Young stating that those who would mix seed with these people should be killed. It was also taught in the scriptures that their skins would become “white and delightsome” when they turned from their sinful ways, but I’ve yet to see that happen. Now thankfully, we distance ourselves from this bigotry and receive people of all races in full membership. These persecutions and teachings were false — the persecution and teachings regarding homosexuality are equally false, and the Church’s attempts to claim that homosexuality can be cured is as ridiculous as the possibility of a black man’s skin turning white.

Then Mrs. Cox turned to the Church’s stance toward LDS members who oppose the anti-marriage amendments now proposed for Florida, Arizona and California. Mrs. Cox described her husband as first counselor to their local bishop, and in that capacity he attends the Stake Bishopric Council each month:

Last week as my husband arrived, our Stake President (whose own brother is gay) referred to a letter signed by the First Presidency which stated the church’s position on Proposition 8. It was passed out to each bishop with instruction that if they hear of any member of their wards opposing the Church’s stance, they are to be reported to him. Our Stake President went on to state how there were people in our area who were collecting money to oppose the Proposition, and this was unacceptable.

Mrs. Cox also condemned the church’s action as it relates to non-LDS members who do not believe as they do, while recognizing the risk she is taking in speaking out:

I do not understand how the Brethren can justify taking such an active stance in government when it violates our own doctrine to not “mingle religious influence with civil government” (D&C 134:9). What sickens me the most is that the Church would use its power to not only influence members to vote for something that would take away the basic rights of those who most of which are not even affiliated with the Church nor believe as we do, but that in doing so they are now also infringing upon the rights of their own members by enforcing their stance on us with threats to those who in good conscience, do not approve. I am one of these latter members who is willing to take the risk of speaking out on something that mocks the Church’s claim of belief in free agency, and in doing so, may very well put my own membership in jeopardy.

[Hat tip: Nick Litersky]

Ben in Oakland

September 28th, 2008

All I can say is:

WOW!

Ben in Oakland

September 28th, 2008

Oh yes– there’s nothing so dangerous as an open mind.

cowboy

September 28th, 2008

I notice you say anti-marriage. I just wondered if you meant: anti-gay marriage?

————

You have to separate the canonized doctrines from the personal beliefs of some of the Mormon leaders. Not everything the Prophet Brigham Young personally taught or believed is necessarily accepted doctrine in the Mormon Church.

The Mormons have seen the errors of their past racist history. I can still get into some rather heated discussions with Mormons about this because I don’t think the change to their doctrine in regards to Blacks and their Priesthood blessings was a “revelation” (per se).

The biggest mistake I can lay at the feet of the Mormon leadership: They have NEVER EVER apologized for their racist past. Formally, that is.

Again, I repeat, mark this down, carve it in granite: Mormons will regret the day they worked to defeat anti-GAY marriage and how they treat(ed) their gay Saints.

Ben in Oakland

September 28th, 2008

the change in heart regarding race occurred, if I recall, in the late ’70’s as they were coming under increasing criticism because of third world missionary efforts showing only first world results.

didn’t they have a revelation about polygamy right about the time they were being considered for statehood, but for the polygamy issue?

cowboy

September 28th, 2008

We can never be sure what the real reason for the change of policy for Priesthoodship in the Mormon Church. It’s pure speculation on our part and unless we were inside the meeting with the Mormon Twelve Apostles and the Prophet and his Councilors that was held in the Salt Lake Temple we do not know the real reason.

I liken it to a membership into a country club. It simply was a change of rules for a club membership. Not unlike a C.C. would change their rules for including Blacks or Jews or Catholics onto their pristine golf course. There was no “revelation” only if you define revelation as a extremely powerful feeling that came over everyone in that Temple meeting. In my mind, it was just a Board of Directors coming to an agreement.

The change for polygamy in the late 1800’s was the result of pressure from the Government. The elimination of practicing polygamy was termed a “manifesto” (not a revelation). As you can imagine, there were orthodox factions that broke away from the main-stream Mormon religion because of this manifesto. It’s still controversial in certain circles of Mormons.

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2008

Re: I notice you say anti-marriage. I just wondered if you meant: anti-gay marriage?

No, I mean anti-marriage. After all, they are trying to prohibit marriage among some people — or further prohibit it where it’s already prohibited.

Tavdy

September 29th, 2008

In support of Jim Burroway’s use of the term anti-marriage, legalising gay marriage or civil unions appears to have a strengthening effect on straight marriage. Divorce rates in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, which were rising steadily since the ’60s, either levelled out or began falling after civil unions were legalised on those countries 15 to 20 years ago. I believe that marriage rates have also risen there in the last 15 to 20 years.

Conservatives would predict a rise in divorce rates; gays would predict no change to an established pattern – but both predictions are wrong. There seems to be something about allowing gays to marry which helps prevent straight marriages from breaking up.

cd

September 30th, 2008

“You have to separate the canonized doctrines from the personal beliefs of some of the Mormon leaders. Not everything the Prophet Brigham Young personally taught or believed is necessarily accepted doctrine in the Mormon Church.”

The more I read about the LDS Church, the more it seems to me that it really is very strongly tiered into leadership and membership.

The latter class seems almost oblivious of the intentions of the former but are highly compliant. There seems to be a very deliberate and quite extensive policy of information control by the leadership.

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