A response to the General Conference remarks regarding Divorce:
DOCTRINE, GUIDANCE, Or
Dilution of Doctrine, or Lip service?
In the last session of LDS General Conference, both Elder Oaks and Elder Faust gave talks that mentioned divorce.
This paper asks and proposes answers to the Questions:
What were the Past remarks / â€˜doctrineâ€™ regarding divorce?
What direction are current GA remarks headed in on this subject?
Were the latest remarks consistent with (recent) past pronouncements?
In the LDS church â€“ religion, and culture, Doctrine is tendered in-with a dogmatic presentation. It is said Not to be subject to negotiation or even discussion. Doctrine â€“ the living of individual Christ-Like lives, is presented in a manner that is Not subject to human will or wishes; Its origin is Heavenly, itâ€™s purposes and methods are sometimes mysterious or even foolish to people who are â€˜Children of a Heavenly Mother & Fatherâ€™.
Leaders of the church claim the privilege to ANNOUNCE Godâ€™s will to us; Not to alter, change, or modify it.
All scriptures in-from the Bible are somewhat suspect, because the Bible is correct â€˜only as translated correctlyâ€™. The Book of Mormon is presented as doctrinally correct and superior to the Bible.
LDS doctrine makes little (if any) distinction between â€˜serious transgressionsâ€™ and â€˜non-seriousâ€™ transgressions.
Some people say that the LDS presentation of Christâ€™s gospel is being â€˜watered downâ€™, â€˜Mainstreamedâ€™ to fit into common Christian culture, increased acceptance in the world.
Great changes â€“ departures from well established principles-policies-â€˜Doctrinesâ€™ are most always loudly heralded â€“ announced, with Great amounts of fanfare: Witness the granting to black males the LDS Priesthood.
Past sayings & Scripture:
A) TRUE TO THE FAITH A GOSPEL REFERENCE Â© 2004 BY THE First Presidency. Subject: Divorce, page 49:
â€œThis growing plague (divorce) is not of God, but rather is the work of the adversary.â€
B) ELDER BOYD K PACKER:
“Even a rickety marriage will serve good purpose as long as two people struggle to keep it from falling down around them. One who destroys a marriage takes upon himself a very great responsibility indeed. Marriage is sacred!
To willfully destroy a marriage is to offend our God. Such a thing will not be lightly considered in the judgments of the Almighty and in the eternal scheme of things will not easily be forgiven.
Do not threaten nor break up a marriage. Do not translate some disenchantment with your own marriage partner into justification for any conduct that would destroy a marriage.
This monumental transgression frequently places heavy burdens upon little children. They do not understand the selfish yearnings of unhappy adults who are willing to buy their own satisfaction at the expense of the innocent.” (â€˜Marriageâ€™ May, 1981 Ensign)
C) THE BOOK OF MORMON:
It hath been written, that whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whoso shall marry her who is divorced committeth adulteryâ€ (3rd Nephi 12:31,32)
D) The BIBLE:
â€œFor the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.â€ (Malachi 2:16)
E) The Doctrine & Covenants:
â€œThou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, not do him any harm.â€ (42:27)
â€œâ€¦and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.â€ (42:88)
Throughout the scriptures:
Repentance & Forgiveness are not optional, they are the Basis of Christ-Like living.
Retaliation & vengeance are Prohibited.
Note BOTH the ‘evolution’ of this ‘doctrine’, and also the disparity between Faust & Oaks.
Faust gives a moralistic approach, Oaks a legalistic.
Elder Faust tells us that:
Divorce can only be justified in the rarest of circumstances
â€œDivorce can be justified only in the rarest of circumstances. In my opinion, â€œjust causeâ€ for divorce should be nothing less serious than a prolonged and apparently irredeemable relationship that destroys a personâ€™s dignity as a human being. Divorce often tears peopleâ€™s lives apart and shears family happiness. Frequently in a divorce the parties lose much more than they gain.â€
Elder Oaks says that:
â€œWhen a marriage is dead and beyond hope of resuscitation, it is needful to have a means to end it.â€*
â€œUnless a divorced member has committed serious transgressions, he or she can become eligible for a temple recommend under the same worthiness standards that apply to other members.â€**
Isnâ€™t ending a marriage without adultery/fornication (abuse) a â€˜serious transgressionâ€™?
There are â€˜obviouslyâ€™ some â€˜optional â€“ discretionaryâ€™ divorces done in the churchâ€¦
The D&C says: Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm (42:27)â€¦
WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT?
In his remarks, Oaks seems to draw little, if any, distinction between the initiator of a divorce, and the respondent.
*Question: Who can decide â€˜When a marriage is dead and beyond hope of resuscitationâ€™?
A greedy spouse, who covets all the marital assets?
A spouse who is under the effects of hormonal changes or other medical condition(s)?
A spouse who is mentally ill?
A spouse who has a track record of not being responsible /accountable for their own shortcomings-challenges-mistakes?
Only the initiators of divorce claim this privilege, of course.
Comment: A blind Captain could pilot an ocean liner between the positions of Faust & Oaks. Faust is moralistic, Oaks is legalistic.
**Question-Statement: The LDS presentation does not make a distinction between â€˜serious transgressionsâ€™ and â€˜non-seriousâ€™ transgressions.
Would not initiating a divorce be â€˜A Serious transgressionâ€™ in light of A, B, and C above? Is not there a Temple Recommend question dealing with impact on the family?
* â€œ5. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?â€
Oaks quotes scripture as saying that:
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery”
And gives us the Biblical referenceâ€¦.BUT: Why Not the (almost identical) reference from the Book of Mormon (3rd Nephi 12:31,32) ?
Does Oaks NOT want us to believe that teaching/concept/principle?
(announced in Both Cases in the personal words of Jesus Christ)?
The Christian values of Love for neighbor: Honesty, Kindness, Mercy, Patience, Forgiveness & Repentance should be important if not our top priorities. Forgiveness & Repentance are important attributes of continuing any relationship, especially marriage;
Divorce is incompatible with most if not all of these.
In my humble opinion, divorce also gives the initiator a great sense of â€˜Church sayings & doctrine be Damned; Iâ€™m going to do what I feel (know?) is best for MEâ€™. That is the type of thought that tears people away from faith rather than brings them closer.
Is Oaks backing off of the First Presidency statement â€œAâ€ above, now less than 4 years old? Would he have us discount or disregard it?
One is left to themselves to decide; it appears to be the case.
Church leaders say they cannot change/modify anything given by those above them.
Is Christ â€˜above themâ€™?
Comment: Ambiguity â€“ equivocation serve no one, save confusion.