North Star Saw Tooth_4

“If somebody arrives to sacrament meeting during the sacrament but already missed their opportunity to partake of the bread, should they partake of the water when they get opportunity to do so?”

Anarchy filled the room.

District O' Anarchy

My Mission District O’ Anarchy

My mission branch president, who asked the question at a group meeting, was trying to teach us something. The room, which was filled with Mormon missionaries, was deeply engaged in trying to answer this question. Scriptures were being shared, talks from Church leaders were being cited, yet nothing seemed to satiate our desire to know the answer. We were only confusing ourselves further. ‘What is the answer?!’

“We should let the individual decide.” My mission branch president eventually said.

*silence*

So…where do we draw these lines? How do we draw these lines? Are there any lines?

Obviously I’m in no position to answer these questions for you. In fact, this is my biggest claim. I gladly admit that I don’t have any of the answers when it comes to the hows and whys of homosexuality. It’s when somebody (who doesn’t speak for the Church) stands up and starts speaking as if they know the answers to these questions do I get riled up and ready to openly question their sources to what we know is only their opinion.

When an angel asked Nephi a question about God, Nephi answered, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17). I too affirm that God loves all His children and acknowledge that many questions, including some related to same-gender attraction, must await a future answer, perhaps in the next life.

Unfortunately, some people believe they have all the answers now and declare their opinions far and wide. Fortunately, such people do not speak for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction
BY ELDER JEFFREY R. HOLLAND
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Then while attending a religion course at BYU I saw an unofficial definition of the words “Church doctrine” and loved it. It said:

Elder Holland Quote

I figured this quote deserved a beautiful background.

Doctrine
-Taught consistently in the scriptures
-Taught currently by the Brethren
-Appears in official declarations
-Found in Church-approved materials

Theory
Not revealed, but soundly based on all of the above.

D&C 88:78
Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

To read where this definition came from I’ve shared the original sources with you at the bottom of this post.

It’s this definition of doctrine that has helped me accept latter-day teachings from the Brethren. I do so through studying and praying about such teachings in order to gain my own personal testimony of them. This definition has also allowed me to let go of some things that are ever-present in the Mormon culture that aren’t supported by church doctrine. Personal revelation is alive and well and is essential for us to thrive in this day. This makes me want to finish by sharing a little experience with you.

North Star Saw Tooth_4

I’m not proud to say, but my faith, testimony, activity in the Church, etc. seem to follow a saw-tooth line graph. Lately I’ve been feeling a little distant from God and so I’ve decided to start waking up 30 minutes before I usually would and study the gospel for 30 minutes each morning. Nothing seemed to be changing, so I prayed specifically for more guidance as to what I should study. Strange, but unlike in times past I felt a need to focus 100% on The Book of Mormon. I started doing so and instantly felt the Spirit more fully than I was feeling before. I’m not saying everyone’s study needs to focus 100% on The Book of Mormon, but for me right now, this is what I need apparently. Maybe for the time being I need to go without all of the commotion and dialogues out there and focus on the simple truths offered to me in that incredible book of scripture.

Funny how an ancient book that contains records of a people’s dealings with God, their trials, battles, and successes can have a direct effect on me today and my dealings with the public’s opinions concerning homosexuality. This doesn’t make logical sense. Homosexuality is never mentioned in the Book of Mormon, yet here I am receiving strength directly from it to stand on the front lines of being gay and Mormon despite [me] not having any of the answers.

I have a strong testimony about the significance of personal revelation and the importance of keeping ourselves pure enough to receive such. I’m far from perfect at doing this and it’s a constant struggle on my part. But the times when I’m diligent at it are enough to keep me striving to receive more personal revelation, and in turn, happiness & strength.


 

Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Be careful that you teach not for the word of God, the commandments of men, nor the doctrines of men nor the ordinances of men, inasmuch as you are God’s messengers; study the word of God and preach it, and not your opinions, for no man’s opinion is worth a straw: advance no principle but what you can prove, for one scriptural proof is worth ten thousand opinions: we would moreover say, abide by that revelation which says, ‘preach nothing but repentance to this generation,’ and leave the further mysteries of the kingdom, till God shall tell you to preach them, which is not now. (‘To the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to the Churches Scattered Abroad, and to All the Saints,’ Times and Seasons, Nov. 1839, p. 13)

 

President Harold B. Lee:

            “I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren’t able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false—it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think that therein is one of our biggest dangers of today.

            “When I meet with our missionaries and they ask questions about things pertaining to the temple, I say to them, as I close the discussion, ‘I don’t dare answer any of your questions unless I can find an answer in the standard works or in the authentic declarations of presidents of the Church.’” (“Find the Answers in the Scriptures,” Ensign, December 1972)

 

President Harold B. Lee:

            “If [someone] writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard Church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, ‘Well, that is his own idea.’ And if says something that contradicts what is found in the standard Church works, you may know by the same token that it is false.”  (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 540-41)

Leave a Reply

6 comments

  1. avatar

    Jimmy Merrell

    Thanks for this post. It’s something we all need to consider.

  2. avatar

    carolyn

    Thanks for your great article Jimmy. I love your comments about receiving personal revelation and that is a goal to which I aspire…though often feeling unworthy.
    Just two things: Would love to see you dance and play the trombone!
    And on that bread and water question…..?

  3. avatar

    Daniel Burgess

    Beautifully and wonderfully said.

  4. avatar

    smed

    I love the multiple times in the books of mosiah and alma, when the leaders have to leave their current responsibilities to go among the people and weed out the cultural practices and restate the basic, central doctrines.

  5. avatar

    JA

    Speaking of doctrine vs. opinion–I am curious about the origin of the teaching that homosexual orientation will not continue into the afterlife. Do we know who said it first? I believe Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson have both said as much, but I’ve not heard them explain how they came to that conclusion.

  6. avatar

    Rebekah

    I saw this blog because a friend of mine liked your YouTube coming out video on Facebook and I ended up seeing your blog. Anyway, I think that it’s great that you came out publicly. Being gay is certainly nothing that needs to be hidden. Your example will help other mormons who are gay to have strength to come out as well. There is nothing wrong with being gay. In my opinion church leaders are just humans with biases and the current ban on gay mairrage is based on those biases not actual doctorine or anything from God. Just like the priesthood ban back in the day. They’ll come around. Best of luck to you!