In the Boyd K. Packer’s interview with Helen K. Whitney for the PBS documentary, The Mormons, Boyd K. Packer’s quote about intellectuals, feminists, and gays was mentioned. He clarified his view and I enjoyed reading the transcript. I was also interested to read the original statement from 1993:

There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems so reasonable and right.

The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. Our local leaders must deal with all three of them with ever-increasing frequency. In each case, the members who are hurting have the conviction that the Church somehow is doing something wrong to members or that the Church is not doing enough for them.

I especially found the last sentence interesting: “… the Church is not doing enough for them.” This is somewhat stinging because I’ve thought at times that the Church isn’t doing enough for gays/me. On top of that, I suppose I fancy myself a feminist and intellectual at some level too!

It’s easy, I suppose to be critical of church leaders and wallow in self-pity. But then, I think sometimes that gays are a more pitiable group than most—drama queens that they/we are.

On further reflection though, I’m glad Pres. Packer said what he did. There’s nothing there, really, that bothers me. But, I suppose, that’s not too surprising when there’s nothing he’s EVER said that bothers me much. Kimball either—I can explain away and empathize with pretty much everything they’ve said that cause some to boil over. And, in some ways, what Packer says is so apt that it seems almost prophetic.

“…seems so reasonable and right.”

“…the members who are hurting…”

“…the Church somehow is doing something wrong…”

And this was the great trap he saw and warned about. And lo and behold, there are case examples of this being true all over the place, not just among gays, but from other members for and in behalf of gays too. I love Pres. Packer, and I’m glad that I haven’t stopped listening to him or the other brethren.

Leave a Reply


  1. avatar

    To be by cynical self: if there are people committing suicide, then the Church is not doing enough. A society preaching the Gospel of Christ should bring hope, not despair.

  2. avatar


    If there are people sinning at all, the church isn’t doing enough, and that’s why we have the priesthood and people trying to do better all the time. It’s all part and parcel to the gospel. The church is progressive, as a doctrine.

    It’s just not necessarily progressive in the ways that people want it to cater to their own views on things. And when that drives them to suicide or despair, the misunderstanding is not mainly the fault of the church’s, despite the ever-present opportunity for improvement.

  3. avatar

    I would hope that you haven’t ever thought I’m not listening to The Brethren by anything I’ve posted on my blog, -L-. I guess I come at things from the “Gain your own testimony of things” instead of the “Blind Faith Is Enough,” that so many of Mormon Culture would suggest is the only way.

    Thank you for this post.

  4. avatar


    The hard part is just staying positive and keeping the faith in the face of seemingly so much unfairness. We didn’t choose to be this way. Fighting against the forces of nature seems such an insurmountable task without additional help from church leaders.

  5. avatar

    “…there?s nothing [Packer’s] EVER said that bothers me much.”


    “…I can explain away and empathize with pretty much everything [Packer’s] said…”

    Um, okay.

  6. avatar

    It was never said in the Bible but Jesus hung out with (As Kathy Griffen call) The Gays. I have a funny post on my BlogStrip Latte Day Saints about this very subject.

    Jamie Trwth

  7. avatar

    It?s just not necessarily progressive in the ways that people want it to cater to their own views on things.

    There’s a difference between catering to others’ views and respectfully considering others’ views. I don’t see the latter at all in the leaders of the Church; they’re the men of God; therefore, they are always right — others who feel different should be quiet and accept what they say because they’re not going to cater to ‘the views of the world.’

    And when that drives them to suicide or despair, the misunderstanding is not mainly the fault of the church?s, despite the ever-present opportunity for improvement

    No, when something is misunderstood on a large-scale basis, it is mainly the fault of those whose message was misunderstood as such a message was not presented appropriately and effectively.

  8. avatar


    Kengo, I was not thinking of you in any particular way for this post (nor of anybody else). I’ve critically mulled many things on my own blog, and finding that appropriate balance of faith and critical thought is always important, but not always so easy.

    Forester, life is certainly unfair for many, but I sometimes think we’re prone to overstate the significance of our own situation. It’s hard, no question, but the beauty is that I do think there is a lot of help available to us. The help doesn’t come in the form we want all the time, so we’re left whining. It’s like my three-year-old who cries how hungry he is as he sits in front of a plate full of yummy foods, none of which happen to be candy.

    Playa, you should probably go have your aphasia looked into. You might be having a stroke. As I tell my three year old, “use your words… help me understand…”

    Jamie, as always, your comics are fun. :-)

    Chednar, if you think the church hasn’t respectfully considered the views you defend, I think you’re delusional. So, we just have to disagree. And saying that dissenters should be a little more quiet and a little more humble in their listening is not just reciting excuses, it’s how I really feel. I also don’t agree that you can chalk up blame just by gathering up a majority into the misunderstanding group. There are examples all over the place where people hear only what they want to hear, interpret things only the way they want to interpret them. I choose the way I want, and choose the way you want, but neither of us can rationally blame our take on the messenger just because we’ve got company.

  9. avatar


    Plus, here‘s this post that’s sort of on the same topic… sort of.

  10. avatar

    I have to say that Packer’s comments, which include other controversial statements such as the famous “To Young Men Only” pamphlet adminition to deck any homosexual who makes a pass at you, come across as homophobic and somewhat “redneck”. I remember the snickering and laughter that went up from the Priesthood crowd in the Tabernacle when he said “somebody had to do it”. Not excactly what I would expect from an Apostle. Does, this man have a problem on a personal level that spills out into public statements? These are still people, remember.

    I also detest Spencer W.’s “Crime Against Nature” chapter in MOF. The negative attitudes and misinformation spawned from that book are legion. And its still in print! My old Bishop handed MOF copies out like candy. People think its “scripture”. He even quoted from it once, telling me “pornography leads to homosexuality”.

    Until the Church removes such erroneous material from its libraries, web sites, LDS Social Services manuals and Church curriculum, the misinformation will continue. They should have an old-fashioned book burning….

  11. avatar


    I have read and reread To Young Men Only quite a few times in my life and I always fail to get offended or find some outrageous advice to fight homosexual men when you come across them. When I was a missionary, if my companion had tried to grope me while I slept or get physically agressive with me in a sexual way I would have hit him without refrain. No one gets sexually intimate with me unless I give them consent. That is the context in which he made his infamous remarks. If someone is doing inappropriate things to you especially where chastitiy is concerned, you do whatever you have to to make it stop, including throwing punches. Its not outside the gospel to use physical force if you feel you’re in danger or simply as a reaction to unwanted advances.

    I’d like to echo what you said in your original post L. I deeply enjoy all the brethren’s talks, even if sometimes its uncomfortable for me because I know they’re talking to me and I’m not doing what I can to live the gospel.

  12. avatar

    Tyler Frost

    Excelsior, I’m not quite sure that the scenario described in “To Young Men Only” gives enough context to know exactly what happened in the missionary situation.

    The scenario you’re describing, however, is attempted rape. Rape and attempted rape should be prosecuted by those in authority and Elder Packer would have been best to have recommended police intervention if this is truly what occurred. The missionary who hit his companion could then have explained his actions as self-defense against a crime being committed against him.

    I’ve often had girls grab me inappropriately at dance clubs or college dances, but I’d never dream of hitting them for attempting to become sexually intimate with me. I still have my dignity. Flying into fits of rage or violence don’t match with that.

    “Flooring” someone may fly as a legal defense when someone is defending himself from a crime, but the act of doing so qualifies as a crime itself if the provoking factors were not sufficiently violent or criminal in the first place.

  13. avatar

    Whoa, L! Did you just call Chedner “delusional?”

    And in the same thread where you say, ??there?s nothing [Packer?s] EVER said that bothers me much,? no less.

    L, if that statement’s true you’re either lying or straight. Or deluded.

  14. avatar



    The context given in the story isn’t much that’s true. However, you can reasonably assume from the few sentences previous to the story that he’s talking about unwanted sexual advances or enticing someone to homosexual activity.

    I’m don’t want to split hairs about what constitutes sexual advances or attempted rape in the context of one guy grabbing another guy or one guy feeling another guy is trying to “get on him” . Ultimately, you have every right to defend yourself if you feel you’re facing an imminent threat to your person, that includes starting a fight (i.e. throwing the first punch).

    As for women doing inappropriate things in night clubs that’s irrelevant for this talk. We’re talking about men not women. And yes there is a different standard when it comes into this realm. It’s reasonable to say it is rare that a woman is going to get the better of a man in this context. So to say that the use of physical force is warranted when a man is trying to get too close sexually or interfere with another man in a homosexual context is completely appropriate. If a man tried to grope me or was getting too intimate(which is a level each person decides) while I’m on the subway he’s going to get a physical reaction. That’s not to say I wouldn’t let him know ahead of time.

    As for the legality of it all, again irrelevant. President Packer is talking to young men (i.e. 12-18 arguably the most vulnerable time in a man’s life) who could come across another young man or adult male who is going to entice them to either behave inappropriately or make unwanted sexual advances. To think that a man who represents Christ would give them the counsel to react physically is completely within the realm of the gospel. He was not promoting violence towards homosexuals. He was promoting guarding, at all cost, your virtue and self esteem and ultimately your soul.

  15. avatar

    Tyler Frost

    Excelsior, I appreciate the stance that virtue is to be protected at all costs. First off, though, I’d expect most people to do a little morality triage in an extreme situation and to have the restraint to simply back off from an advance from a same-sex aggressor rather than to resort to violence. It’s much simpler to simply leave if someone makes an advance on you.

    If beating someone to the floor is truly the only way to fend off a same-sex advance, I still hold firm to calling the advance that led to it sexual assault or rape. Anytime I’ve seen a church leader discuss self-defense to protect virtue, it has been a last resort in the case of rape, not simply one person hitting on another when the second person has the choice to recoil from the advance by physically leaving.

    I’ve no doubt a mission president would be fine with a missionary violating the rule of not always remaining with his/her companion if it was for the purpose of fleeing a sexual advance.

    And women doing inappropriate things to other women at a UVSC dance is certainly not irrelevant for this talk. ;) You may forget that same-gender attracted people are not always men.

    If someone gropes you on a subway, move to a different area or car. At least by so doing, you can assure you’ve followed the admonition of Christ to turn the other cheek. If you’re truly being assaulted and self-defense is the only possible way for you to avoid being raped, by all means, do so immediately.

  16. avatar

    There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

    While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

    After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.”

    “Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief.

    “But I floored him,” he said.

    After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.”

    I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

  17. avatar

    From that quote it’s silly to discuss the merits of hitting anybody. We haven’t the tiniest detail as to what went down between those elders.

    “After learning a little more…”

    That could be anything. Anything. His companion could have groped him, flirted with him, or merely come out to him.

  18. avatar


    Which underlines the point that people usually read Packer according to their own inclinations to look on the charitable side or not. The idea of fending off an aggressive unwanted sexual advance makes the idea of physically “flooring” someone a lot more acceptable (especially if the circumstances don’t allow for discussion or deliberation, just accepting the oncoming touching or not… or whatever). On the other hand, the notion that “somebody had to do it” is harder for me to palate. Ultimately, though, I take Packer’s position to be best summarized by his last two sentences Playa quoted, and when the issue is protecting oneself, it’s not homophobic at all.

    I can work through that reasoning for everything I’ve heard Packer say and come away edified, despite that I’m not lying, straight, or deluded. My charitability may vary according to my mood, but as I said before, my objections have never bubbled into the bothered-a-lot category that I recall.

    Usually I’m only bothered about Packer’s or Kimball’s words when they are taken out of context and reinterpreted. Unfortunately, this happens pretty frequently and I have to remember to go back and look at the original. And then I remember that I should be ashamed of myself for being critical of the brethren. Because, really, I have a testimony that they’re never far off if you really understand what they’re talking about. So, I try to listen harder… or at least, I’m trying to.

  19. avatar

    Neither Chedner, L, nor myself are deluded.

    Neither Chender, L, nor myself appreciate personal attacks.

    Do we have a consensus?

    Can I get an Amen!?

  20. avatar



    Um. Have there been personal attacks?

  21. avatar

    Not that I saw, -L-.

    To add to the conversation, I look at President Kimball and know that he was just a man. A prophet of God, yes. But just a man. He had his faults, he had his foibles.

    I know that my revelation is only as good as I’m prepared to receive, and while I’m not saying they’re not ready to receive revelation, I am saying that the brethren are also receiving revelation through their own understanding. And sometimes they’re speaking as themselves.

    How many of us have heard of Elder McConkie expressing his view that Blacks would never have the priesthood? And that he had to recant one conference later, and effectively said, “Whoops! I was wrong!”?

    That point made, I think some things, like Miracle of Forgiveness, are as useful as the Apocrypha; if one has the spirit, they can find edification. But if they don’t have the spirit, I’ve seen the exact opposite happen. Many missionaries in my mission complained of feeling so unworthy after reading the book, wanting to go home from their missions and repent for weeks on end.

    I think that President Kimball had a guilt complex at some level. He prayed for 80 nights straight for forgiveness when he was called to the Apostleship. (As per an LDS Institute Manual) He was a good man, but I think he was harder on himself than he needed to be. And I think we need to understand that unless it’s in the scriptures, or something we’ve gained a personal testimony of, then we need to be very, very careful.

    Yes, pamphlets are approved by the church, and I imagine so are books published by Deseret Book. But they’re not scripture. They’re not direct revelation from God. And so we need to read them, pray and fast about them to have our own testimony when it comes to their import on our spiritual lives.

    I think that’s where a lot of this conversation arises from. Blind faith is never healthy when used constantly, or with any frequency, I dare say.

    Yes, Nephi used blind-faith, following the Lord’s command to get the plates. But the whole plates-search was a faith exercise for Nephi to begin with. Yes, blind-faith is useful, but to rely solely upon it, we are stunted and quite frankly, damned. We’re not progressing.

    I’ll end here…this is getting lengthy.

  22. avatar

    From the pamphlet:

    “There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.”

    ?I hit my companion….I floored him”

    ?Oh, is that all,? Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn?t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.?

    “I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

    How much more redneck can you get?? This is in a Church publication. You’re telling people to hit homosexuals – that if they “entice” you, then you’re justified in “flooring” them. And you’re especially justified because a General Authority basically said HE would have floored him if you didn’t!!

    This story clearly “excuses” violent homophobic reactions on the part of straight people. Why did he use this story? If you’re talking about protecting yourself from forced sexual assault there are other stories that could illustrate the proper way to respond, including resisting, that are not homophobic. This one is pointedly homophobic. His first thought was about MEN (older) enticing YOUNG MEN into homosexual conduct, yet his story was about a YOUNG MAN hitting another YOUNG MAN and his approval of that action. This story has no place in a Church publication.

  23. avatar

    “Chednar, if you think the church hasn?t respectfully considered the views you defend, I think you?re delusional.” -L

  24. avatar

    That point made, I think some things, like Miracle of Forgiveness, are as useful as the Apocrypha; if one has the spirit, they can find edification.

    Or they can server to reinforce the prejudices and erroneous attitudes of society.

    If I have to pick my way through every official Church publication trying to discern truth from fiction, why am I reading in the first place? If it was a book from an outside author, then I should go in with open eyes. If its a publication published by the Church itself, like MOF, then there is a resposibility on the part of the Church for its accuracy. And if something proves to be inaccurate, then the Church should either correct it or stop publishing it. If you claim to be the True Church why would you publish things that aren’t true!? To the contrary…

  25. avatar

    Playa, I stand corrected. That looks ad hominem to me. Inadvertent it may be, but that would be ad hominem in my book.

  26. avatar

    I get your point, Neal, but The Miracle of Forgiveness was not published by the Church itself. It was published by Bookcraft, which has since been purchased by Deseret Book. And while I don’t think a qualifier was required then, all books by even by FP members and the Twelve published by DB state that they are speaking as themselves and not for the Church.

  27. avatar



    In the pamphlet/talk to Young Men Only, I do think you have to look at both the context and the era it was published in/given in about 1976. I would venture that if Pres. Packer was to give that talk today, there are some things that would be different including his message on protecting oneself from homosexual advances. Now, it is true, we do not know all the circumstances behind the exchanges between these two young men. I would say that if it was more than a simple proposition, as in the other young men was being physically agressive, then this course of action would be justified. In addition, to give Pres. Packer the benefit of the doubt, he does not say that he recommends this course of action, he just does not necessarily omit it if it is necessary to protect oneself.

    Again, I tend to think that Pres. Packer would probably not give that particular example in a talk in 2007. My personal opinion is that his views/opinions of how to deal with homosexuality/SSA have changed in the last 30+ years. His more recent talks have not been so much of “pound the pulpit”, “hell-fire and damnation” tone. In the last couple of years, he seems to have become a lot more compassionate. At least that has been my view.

    As for the Miracle of Forgiveness, the overall message of the book I think is good and that is why it is still in publication. The message that the Lord is waiting to forgive you when you turn to him and repent. I do, however, disagree with Pres. Kimball on some aspects and the tone, particularly in the chapter “Crime Against Nature.” I have heard from a couple of sources that he may have made statements years after the book was published that he wishes that he didn’t use such a harsh tone when writing that chapter. If you look at the context of the time it was written, that was just at the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. Stonewall had just happened or just about to happen and the anti-war, counter-culture, and feminist movements were in full-swing. Being the conservative man he was and the Church trying to stand up for what’s right in a time when the popular view was “do what feels good,” I can see why he felt compelled to use such a harsh tone. I have heard that in his later years, he was in regular correspondence with a few members or former members of the Church who were homosexual or had SSA and was trying to fellowship them, but that is based on rumors I have heard. I can’t substantiate that.

    All I am saying is that even the Brethren who are called and inspired by God and prophets, seers, and revelators are human. They do make mistakes and sometimes they say things that could be said in a better, more thoughtful or compassionate way. It doesn’t make them any less men of God but it does show that God does run his Church through imperfect men. I do think we should not hold them to such a high standard that we cannot allow them to be anything less than perfect. They are learning. We are learning and as time moves on hopefully, we can all learn and understand each other better in a spirit of fellowship.

  28. avatar


    Oh, in the last post I wrote I also meant to include, once again this is rumor that I have heard from a couple of sources but once-again, I can’t substantiate it, Pres. Kimball supposedly said that he regretted the harsh tone of the chapter he wrote on homosexuality and that if had the chance to write the book again, he would have written that chapter in a more compassionate way. Once again, this is unsubstantiated rumor. Take it with a grain of salt or for what it is worth.

  29. avatar


    I have no problem with the Brethren making mistakes or speaking out as men at times. I too think they are inspired, wonderful men. What i have a problem with is letting these messages that are outdated and wrong continue to circulate. If Packer would not say those things today, why do they still print that pamphlet by the millions?? And if Kimball was sorry he wrote that chapter, why don’t they print a retraction or clarification in MOF? Instead, these writings continue to misinform millions, to the detriment of SSA people everywhere.


  30. avatar

    But, Neal, are they still printing those pamphlets in the millions? I my be wrong, but I don’t think those pamphlets have been in print for many years (though ones already printed may still be laying around). And I haven’t verified this, but I was told that Elder Packer’s talk hasn’t been online for some time (years?) either. If someone gets hold of something, and circulates it around the internet as continual fodder against Church leaders, what more can they really do other than take them out of print or off the internet?

    And, as for MOF, I don’t know how long that will be in print. I was told by a religion faculty member at BYU that there’s been talk of letting that one go out of print, but it was second hand, and I don’t know if that’s still the talk.

  31. avatar


    Playa and Kengo, I apologized to Chednar shortly after writing that, in case he felt bothered, which he didn’t, so I don’t know why calling me delusional or accusing me of having made a personal attack, or ad hominem, or whatever, is somehow helpful. It was a poor word choice, true. Delusions are views held despite clear evidence to the contrary, which I feel applies to Chednar’s views on the brethren’s unawareness of his views. Perhaps he feels the same way about me. As I said in the very next sentence, “So, we just have to disagree.” I generally try to choose language that I think will be tolerable to the particular person to whom it is addressed, and after walking on eggshells in conversations with Chednar for a while, he has made it repeatedly clear that what I’ve said hasn’t bugged him. If you’re bugged, I’m sorry about that too. But don’t let that distract you from responding to the substance of the conversation rather than keeping score. I suppose, there’s a sense in which you’ve illustrated one of my points though–taking things out of context and a general propensity toward a charitable read or a critical one makes a big difference.

    RealNeal: “This story clearly ?excuses? violent homophobic reactions on the part of straight people.” No it doesn’t. This story doesn’t clearly do anything of the sort. When you chop it up and string certain phrases together as you have, it suggests a propensity toward physical resolution to conflict rather than the more favored deliberative approach everyone favors these days, but the comment wasn’t made in our time. And saying anything “clearly” says anything right inside a string of comments that shows it’s anything but clear shows a strong bias on your part. Is spanking redneck? Was it thirty years ago? Is/was it clearly?

    Regarding MOF, from the first time I read it I felt that President Kimball was discussing only a certain subset of homosexuals based on what he says about them. And from there, it’s a pretty smooth and accurate read. It makes sense to me that he might only have been aware of a certain “kind” of homosexual… the caricature common in the day. Taken in context and with a charitable read, it’s edifying and uplifting, in my opinion.

  32. avatar

    -L-, I’m not bugged, but I could see why Playa viewed it as he did. Thanks for the clarification.

    When I read Miracle of Forgiveness and the Packer Pamphlet I was on or shortly after my mission and very much charitable as I read, but I do have to admit when I read that response from Elder Packer I felt a bit rebuffed. While I don’t feel as militant as RealNeal seems to, I do agree that it seems to promote a certain genre of responses.

    And even a charitable read of MOF made me a tad touchy. I do agree that he may well have only been aware of a subset of homosexuals in his day. It would make sense to me. I know my parents are still having coping strain dealing with the thought of me being a happily straight-married gay.

    Charity while reading, yes. Context, absolutely. Grain of Salt, that too.

    And Tito, I think that the real issue comes from the fact that so many people are so wrapped up in Mormon culture that they can’t see your point, that these books are just the Brethren, as people writing these books, and not as part of their callings.

    I know I used to fall prey to that. In short, it either means a re-teaching of all Mormons on the meaning of books published by DB, or that DB should help pop that little bubble in some way, be it disclaimers, or a review of their material. I don’t know what the best way to do it is, but I think that culturally, we need some help, and I don’t care where it comes from, so long as it comes.

  33. avatar


    RealNeal: ?This story clearly ?excuses? violent homophobic reactions on the part of straight people.? No it doesn?t. This story doesn?t clearly do anything of the sort.

    Clearly, most of us disagree with you.

    It doesn’t matter what the context was when these or other inaccurate statments were made. What matters is that they CONTINUE to be made by being printed and circulated within the Church. It matters if they are not retracted or clarified. Members take them at face value. They shape perceptions. They perpetuate prejudice. They cause harm. Ask the Matis family how much harm they can cause.

    If you know something is wrong you have a responsibility to correct it. Its not enough to let people “discern” the truth behind the inaccuracies. Does that sound like something God would buy into? I think not. “The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and TRUTH.” I think the Church has a moral obligation not only to teach the truth, but to REMOVE untruth when it is discovered.

  34. avatar


    By the way, does anyone know if “To Young Men Only” is still in print and being distributed? I received a copy of it when I was 12 but that was back in 1988. I know that the Church distributes an updated version of “For the Strength of Youth” which that Matis’ played a significant role in updating with language that wasn’t quite as harsh (for example, the word ‘abomination’ as it relates to homosexuality was removed). However, I have not seen the “To Young Men Only” pamphlet in many years. I tend to think that it may not be in print anymore. If so, that may address some of your concerns, Neal.

  35. avatar

    “Out of print” and “retracted” are different.

  36. avatar

    My understanding is that it went out of print years ago, and nothing comes up on any search on or at Church Distribution Services. Short of a call to Printing and Distribution to verify, I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s no longer in print.

  37. avatar

    I look at this as a question of orientation. Not sexual, silly! Spiritual orientation.

    We can question things in a way that turn us away from or off of the Church, that can erode our testimonies, that causes us to feel despair (“Oh, the Church will never change it’s attitudes! It’s hopeless! I have no choice but to leave!”) Or we can question in a way that acknowledges we see contradictions, and that spurs us to seek more deeply — but with faith! — to understand what is behind the contradictions. We can question in a way that does not undermine the fundamental orientation of trust that our relationship with God requires. I think I understand, and can even agree, with -L-‘s point that the former is what Elder Packer was concerned about, not the latter.

    I was deeply wounded by his notorious “For Young Men Only Talk.” I’ve written about it elsewhere, I won’t go into depth in it here. Perhaps I’ll post a longer account of what happened on my own blog. I think Elder Packer probably said something he shouldn’t have. I would never say that was sufficient reason to doubt his calling as an Apostle, though.

  38. avatar

    In the latest issue of Dialogue, I read that as he was preparing to write his book on the life of the prophet Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling,Richard Bushman sought and received a blessing from Elder Packer.

    If any of you have read the book, you know that Bro. Bushman doesn’t shy away from any of the controversies… He acknowledges and deals with Joseph’s (and Joseph Sr.’s) involvement in magic and money digging, for instance, as well as the secret polygamy (which were major stumbling blocks for me for a long time), but he does in in a way that is faith-affirming.

    Of course Elder Packer’s blessing prior to the publication of Bro. Bush is not an endorsement of the book… But it also seems evidence to me, if any is needed, that Elder Packer is not hostile to intellectual activity in itself.

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    “Of course Elder Packer?s blessing prior to the publication of Bro. Bush is not an endorsement of the book? But it also seems evidence to me, if any is needed, that Elder Packer is not hostile to intellectual activity in itself.”

    I would agree with that statement. It should also be noted that Pres. Packer did not say that gays, intellectuals and feminists are a danger to the Church. He said that the movements are. There is a difference. I don’t think he has a problem with the individuals themselves.

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    It doesn?t matter what the context was when these or other inaccurate statements were made.

    What was “inaccurate” exactly? That one should defend oneself? That one should use physical force, if necessary, to repel someone’s repeated, habitual, and escalating sexual harassment? That one should “vigorously resist” an approach to engage in immoral acts?

    Clearly, most of us disagree with you.

    Wouldn’t be the first time. But, that’s relevant how, exactly? :-)

    …Members take them at face value. They shape perceptions.

    Members should take them at face value. And, for the record, if you come at me trying to entice me, I just might punch you. Not because I’m homophobic, but because I’m homophilic. If someone doesn’t happen to be as queer as me, they still might punch someone because they’re homophilic in a non-sexual way. ;-)

    Ask the Matis family how much harm they can cause.

    Blaming President Packer, the church, or any of the general authorities for the actions of a particular individual is absurd and repulsive to me. The leaders of the church do their best to protect and edify, but despite their efforts, there will undoubtedly be misunderstandings. If the meaning of Pres. Packer’s words are clear to me in an entirely different way than they are clear to you, they may have been one of those misunderstandings. I think the confusion in their meaning has only been amplified by those who intend to vilify the brethren in any way they can. However, the subsequent statements from the church on the topic serve as more than adequate clarification on the issue, except to those who have axes to grind.

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    I think Elder Packer probably said something he shouldn?t have. I would never say that was sufficient reason to doubt his calling as an Apostle, though.

    John, I totally agree. I also think it would have been appropriate for him to clarify those statements, since they caused so much angst, but to my knowledge he never did.

    My understanding is that it went out of print years ago, and nothing comes up on any search on or at Church Distribution Services. Short of a call to Printing and Distribution to verify, I think it?s pretty safe to say it?s no longer in print.

    Tito, thanks for that information. That makes me feel better, but I think my Bishop still has a 6″ stack of them in his office. :( Maybe I can help them find their way to the circular file.

    What was ?inaccurate? exactly?

    L – I used that as a general categorization for this and “other statements” . For example, in another Church pamplet it says homosexuality is caused by selfishness.

    Blaming President Packer, the church, or any of the general authorities for the actions of a particular individual is absurd and repulsive to me.

    I think the confusion in their meaning has only been amplified by those who intend to vilify the brethren in any way they can. However, the subsequent statements from the church on the topic serve as more than adequate clarification on the issue, except to those who have axes to grind.

    I completely disagree, and the actions of the Church do not support your statement. The Church carries a moral responsibility, just like physicians, to “do no harm”. If statements made by the Church or those representing it cause harm by engendering prejudice, fear, or self doubt then they have an obligation to correct those statements and reverse that prejudice. In the case of Stuart Matis, they did just that – they retracted the “abomination” references in the “For The Strength of Youth” pamphlet. They apologized to the Matis family.

    On my own support forum I have a member who, prior to serving his mission, had to meet with a General Authority. The first words out of this GA’s mouth were “your kind is not wanted in the church”. This man eventually had his name removed, after a number of additional negative experiences like that. Does the Church bear some responsibility for this man’s loss of faith? I think so.

    But I do believe the Church is (finally!) making an effort to reduce the prejudice and misunderstanding surrounding SSA. Local leaders are beginning to be taught correct principles when it comes to this topic. Not all of them are on board yet, but it is beginning. I am grateful for the improvements.

    But would these changes have come about if people had not spoken up? If people like Stuart had not shocked the Church into action? I personally don’t think so, because other issues also seem to have taken external pressure to stimulate change. For example, you used to NEVER see women giving talks or prayers in Sacrament meeting, or sitting on the stand at General Conference. Now they are given some measure of equality in public presentation, and I think that is a direct consequence of the pressure the Women’s Movement brought to bear. The Church did not change its doctrine, but it certainly changed some of its practices.

    And L, I’m not villifying anyone or grinding an axe. I am asking for change because I see people on my forum every day who are struggling to find meaning in this Church while dealing with SSA. In too many instances they are hurt, stymied, or down right persecuted by the people who should be the most Christ-like and supportive. If you want to believe “all is well in Zion”, then go ahead and bury your head in the sand. The “subsequent statements” by the Church are indeed encouraging and welcome, but they are NOT enough as long as gross prejudice and ignorance on this subject remain among our membership. Prejudice and ignorance can only be overcome with education.


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    Neal, I feel this need for reconciliation with you, and I suspect it’s because I’ve been irritable this week and consequently was adversarial when I really don’t like to be. I agree that there is more to be done on the part of the leaders as well as church members to help people understand SSA–hence this blog. I agree that there is a responsibility among the brethren to teach truths and to apologize when mistakes are made or misunderstandings occur. I believe your intentions are sincere and not just ax grinding (despite that many who say similar things do seem to be just kicking against the pricks, so to speak).

    On the other hand, President Hinckley repeatedly emphasizing the church’s inclusive desire and love for homosexuals, sometimes in General Conference, and most recently in a widespread publication entitled God Loveth His Children carries more weight than an unnamed GA alleged to have said something horrible to an unnamed individual purportedly known personally to a pseudonymous commenter.

    I don’t need to be reminded of how SSA folks in the church feel, because after all, I am one. When I see the mountain of materials available for folks to really understand the loving, accepting, and nourishing stance the church now has on homosexuality, I must agree with Pres. Packer’s sentiments I quoted in the post–that there is a real danger from people who are hurting to feel misunderstood and take upon themselves some privileged status in need of reparations instead of humbly moving forward and following the inevitable progress and divine destiny of the church.

    I appreciate your desire to lift up your brothers and sisters who are oppressed by a misunderstanding of their divine worth because of this issue. I do believe we can make a difference by educating others and speaking up to defend the truth, but I think assigning blame is counter-productive. Having made certain temple covenants, I feel the same urgency and ever-present desire to improve and clarify and progress on the issue that I believe our leaders feel. But, after all, Perfecting the Saints is not a check-box task, it’s an ongoing process–for our leaders, and for us all.

    Re-reading this it’s obvious that we’re saying very similar things, really, and I appreciate your comments.

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    I’m amazed at the trail of responses following this post, but not especially impressed. The sad truth is that those comments from BKP are easilly taken out of context especially by the very people that are supposed to benefit from them. Young people have often not developed the critical thinking skills to process that information with a “grain of salt” and whether the youth is gay or straight it would be easy to misunderstand the message. I was given the pamphlet when i was in the young mens program because I confided with my bishop and stake president that I was attracted to men. I read that along with the pamphlet “to the one” also by BKP with complete faith and without question. Need I say I was devestated at the time, and it was extremely detrimental to my soul and ability to positively deal with my personal issues. When you couple this with the advice of those same leaders who told me that if I would pray and fast, serve the lord in all things, and go on a mission that I would be able to overcome those feelings it was especially harmful. I fasted every Sunday, prayed constantly for relief, served a mission, and attended the temple every chance possible–but as you might imagine that does not change one’s sexuality and it left me with serious doubts as to the spiritual work and validity of my life as well as the truthfullness of what I had been taught by my priesthood leaders.

    I understand that things have changed now and I’m especially appreciative of the somewhat compassionate tone that is used now in discussing these matters and how we should treat individuals that identify as gay or ssa challenged or whatever. However it seems that in the culture that forms our wards and daily interactions these old attitudes are pervasive and even if the phamplets have been out of print for 10 years they seem to be widely available to eclesiastical leaders and distributed to youth who are often not prepared to digest the information maturely. If this were not the case we would not be typing about the harshness/truthfulness/outdatedness of the phamplets.

    If the church leadership does not consider this previously released information to be sufficient, compasionate, or accurate to what the current policy and doctrine dictate then they certainly have the means to disseminate retractions, corrections, and revisions to this old literature. If bishops and others still have this literature then very little has been done to stop its distribution.

    I truly see the bigger problem to be how the audience of “young men” to which it was given (and in some cases is still given) assimilate this information into their lives and self concepts especially in relation to the Lord, rather than whether or not we as adults might find some of the language harsh. Don’t look at it as adults, look at the message as a youth and then evaluate its usefullness.

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    Pres – I did exactly what you’ve suggested, and put up my own post on just this subject — how I reacted to this as a youth.

    We’re taught that when a wrong is committed, that those who commit the wrong apologize and then attempt to make some sort of restitution. For the many of us of that 40-something generation who were wounded by things said and done, it would feel good, wouldn’t it, for someone to sit down with us and say, “I am so sorry for what happened to you.” That somehow feels like it would be very healing.

    We may or may not get that kind of restitution in this life. I have received many, many comforting assurances and expressions of love directly from God, through the Holy Spirit, that have helped me to put some of this stuff to rest. I think ultimately, that’s how we have to move forward.

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    I appreciate your words! Just so you know, I’m in my early 30’s and have friends in their early 20’s that were also given copys of the BKP talks so they are still being distributed, at least to “at risk” youth. I have felt for a long time that the venom with which BKP speaks of these subjects indicates a lack of true compassion or understanding of those that struggle. I also don’t need the church or any of its leaders to appologize to me as I too have been able to receive comfort and know that I’m truly a son of God. My real concern is if one of my young family members or friends were to be given this erroneous information and be hurt by the unkind words. In truth I would be hesitant to refer a youth to ecclesiastical leaders armed with BKP’s words and especially those that don’t have a clear understanding of the real issues.

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    If I were a betting man, I’d suggest that now that Elder Holland’s talk is coming out, even with the BKP and SWK statements out there that are a bit more rough, it’s likely that before youth or even adults get to them, they are going to get “God Loveth His Children,” or the Elder Holland article, or the Elder Oaks 1995 article, or the Oaks-Wickman interview which, combined, are going to present a much more compassionate and informed stance than some of the previous statements. When I was on my mission, which is when I first came across any material, all I had access to was the Miracle of Forgiveness and old BKP pamphlets that were laying around our apartment. I bet/expect/hope that’s changing. My understanding is that there’s been some discussion even of lettting Miracle of Forgiveness go out of print along with Mormon Doctrine. I haven’t confirmed that, but I’ve heard rumor.

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    I better quick buy my own copy of Mormon Doctrine then! It’s a classic! I think I still have my old Miracle of Forgiveness around somewhere in all my boxes of books.

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    Bridget Night

    It was very interesting reading all of your comments. May I share my insights. I served a mission for the church in 1971 in Austria. Boyd K. Packer was the one that set me apart. I felt very nervous during his blessing. He said some strange things to me, like “Obey the priesthood no matter what while on your mission and that I would return with all the parts of my body in tact.’ Now that was scary. I came to understand what those things meant later on in my mission. While on my mission, one of my companions hit on me sexually. We were renting an apartment with one bed and in the night she touched me inappropriately. It scared the hell out of me and I just froze. The next morning, I said to her, ‘I don’t understand what happened last night but it better never happen again.’ She was so embarrassed and ashamed and apologized all over the place. She did not understand herself why she would do such a thing. I actually felt a great deal of compassion for her because I sensed that something was missing in her life to have done such a thing. Eventually, she confessed to our mission president who made her feel like she was the most disgusting person in the world. It destroyed her. He was such a jerk and I found out later he was excommunicated himself. This dear sister and I stayed friends until the day she died a few years ago. This experience helped prepare me for what I would deal with when I found out about my son. When my son told me that I could not possibly understand his situation, I was able to share my experience with him and he said, ‘Well, I guess you do understand.’ I just know that no one chooses these feelings and the pain ssa people go through in the church with their families is unbelievable. I believe in the gospel, but I know that general authorities are also just men with their own predjudices and hang-ups. I read somewhere once that Hinckley apologized for his own predjudice against blacks at one time saying they would never get the priesthood in this life. I believe evergreen and us members can influence church leaders to change their thinking. I have certainly changed alot of our local lds leaders attitudes on this issue. I just have to forgive imperfect members and leaders for their weaknesses as well. Bridget

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    Your comments are spot on! Thanks!

    In case some of you don’t know, Bridget is the author of a book on her experience with her SSA son called “Prayers for Johnathan”. She has been a great support to the LDS-SSA.ORG group and was one of our first members.

    B – Hope you didn’t mind me putting in a plug!

    Love ya!

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    Bridget Night

    Thank you Real Neal. That was sooo nice of you. Love, Bridget