This week’s big Mormon news story was Elder Bednar’s public claim that there are no homosexual members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! It was the same tired old claim that you shouldn’t label yourself (with labels that the church doesn’t like) and pretending like that’s somehow being inclusive. It’s hard to avoid making the obvious parallel with Iran and/or getting snarky about it:
And then, the more I started thinking about this, I realized there really isn’t anything anymore. There are no sinners, because we are more than our sins. There are no Saints, because we aren’t just our good deeds. There are no heterosexuals, because they probably don’t want to be defined by their sexual orientation either, nor do I assume there are couples, because why should we be defined by our marital status, which brings me to the good news that there are also no singles anymore (wow, look, he just solved the “single problem” for the Church. Genius).
Elisothel presented an analogy that explained lovingly and eloquently what’s wrong with Bednar’s idea:
She told me of a school assembly later in the year where the headmaster, as a gesture of unity and in a moment of furvor, stated “We are more than our denominations, we are all Christians here…”
This statement was obviously exclusionary to the Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist families, but did this statement feel inclusive to my Mormon friend, who actually was a Christian? Did she feel embraced as a Christian? Of course not – she knew she would only be considered Christian if she betrayed her own identity as a Mormon. Did this statement acknowledge her Christianity as a Mormon? No, it set her apart from every other Christian in the room and echoed how non-Christian she was because of her Mormonism. Now, if the school had different practices, and hired Mormons as Christians, then the sentiment would have been received as inclusive. But in the context of school policy and practice, the sentiment highlighted her outsider status. If she chose to interpret the statement in the best way possible – that she was considered a Christian in that moment – she knew that at the very least it erased her Mormonism and saw her as a Christian in spite of her religion, not because of it.
My favorite observation was pointed out by Heather during the Infants on Thrones smackdown and by Andrew S here (and others). They pointed out that by saying “We are not defined by sexual attraction. We are not defined by sexual behavior. We are sons and daughters of God” — Elder Bednar doesn’t allow us to be more than our gender labels. And considering their constant barrage of nonsense (including later in his same remarks) about how men are like this and women are like that, I have to admit it would be pretty awesome to get to take a break from having these doofuses define us in terms of our gender.
In other churchy news, Mitt Romney may yet save the GOP from the horror of Trump, Leah Marie Silverman made some great points about the discussion of female ordination, the FLDS are facing legal and other challenges, and Elder Holland is telling strange things to missionaries.
In scripture study, Steve Otteson reviewed “How Jesus Became God,” by Bart Ehrman. Benjamin Knoll offered a new interpretation of the Nephi story as an allegory for the plan of salvation, with a little caveat:
Now, the skeptic/agnostic in me must candidly admit that this all may simply be a coincidence. Or that the similarity between the two narratives may be indicative of larger arch-typical structures underlying most epic narratives that gifted story-tellers (like Joseph Smith) have a keen ability to channel.
Hmm. The skeptic in me says the Book of Mormon doesn’t appear to contribute any new insights about the plan of salvation, so it’s still not terribly helpful for providing justification for revering the Book of Mormon. This review sums it up pretty well — but maybe the new edition for Millennials is better!
In personal stories, here’s a great comic about leaving religion. Mormon Hurt is having difficulty with mutual respect in a mixed-faith relationship. And a beautiful and inspiring love story from our community has reached a tragic transition:
But you know, as I think about it, Mark never did that. Not out loud, anyway. Not once in the nearly three years of his cancer did he bemoan his fate or express outrage that the universe had done this to him. What he did say, repeatedly, was how lucky he had been throughout his life. And rather than express sorrow over the short time he had with me, he instead expressed – many times – how lucky he was that I had come into his life and how fortunate we were to spend together what time we had.
In fun, check out some Mormon live stand-up comedy!
Folks, I’m sorry about the lateness of this SiOB — I had some Internet issues yesterday, but it appears to be all cleared up now. Happy reading!