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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Some Thoughts About Historic Developments Which Occurred Prior to General Conference Weekend

Hello again, everyone! After taking time to deal with some personal health and computer issues, I wanted to post some thoughts about the General Conference weekend thus far. First, in yet another unprecedented move, the First Presidency authoried the release of reports about teachings which were delivred by Church leaders during the Global Leadership Training, which was held within the two days preceeding this General Conference weekend.

Such meetings have long been held, but releasing reports on them is unprecedented. Counsel was provided by the First Presidency and other leaders (including each of the apostles, and many other general authorities, in addition to general officers of the Church). But it is regarding the First Presidency's remarks that another unanticipated change occurred. It was announced that same-sex marriage, while still being considered a serious transgression of God's laws relating to morality, would no longer be considered an act of apostasy.

Also, the policy instititued in 2015, which prohibited the naming and blessing of infants whose parents were in a same-sex relationshp, and postponed the eligibility of such children into the Church until they were 18 years old, has been lifted, replaced instead by guidelines that same-sex couples could ask any worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder to give their baby or child a name and a blessing, and that such couples could decide with their children who are 8 or older on the subject of baptism, with the understanding that once on the records of the Church, children and youth of all ages would periodically be contacted by leaders and members of their local congregations.

I had a couple of observations about this policy update: Some may see this as President Nelson contiuning to undo things that have been standard for a long time, but the announcement was not made by President Nelson himself. Instead, it was made by President Oaks, who mentioned as part of that announcement that there had been full accord among all of the apostles that this change was in harmony with the Lord's will. And it was fitting to me that President Oaks made this announcement himself, since he has been one of the foremost apostles in recent years who has been unapologetic about the Church's stance on same-sex marriage and issues relating thereunto.

By saying that, I do not mean to imply in any way that he should be apologetic for the statements he has made defending the doctrine of the Church in relation to this subject. The Lord reminds us that he "cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance." But Church leaders throughout the ages have also made it clear that while one can hate the sin, the sinner should be loved, as should those who, through no fault of their own, are impacted by such transgressions of the Lord's laws.

And that aligns with what Christ said to the woman taken in adultery: "Neither do I condemn thee. Go thy way, and sin no more." With that example in mind, I want to clarify that He didn't condone or justify the sin: in this instance, He was saying in essence: "What you have done is wrong, but the old laws are outdated. Do your best to not repeat this error." In modern times, with the knowledge that the Law of Moses is fulfilled, and that the Lord now only requires a broken heart, a contrite spirit, and real intent to not repeat the error, His atonement makes up the difference for both the sinner and those affected by the sin.

With all of this in mind, we have yet another example of President Nelson earnestly seeking to know the will of the Lord, and his Brethren supporting the nature of these changes. which are perfectly aligned with the doctrine of the Lord and of His Church as those doctrines have been established in ancient and modern times. It is good to see that the Brethren recognize that the earlier policies took away from individual and familial choice, while the changes place more responsibility on the parents and the children affected by and through such changes.

I should also add that, after seeing reactions from those within the LGBTQ community to these adjustments, there seems to be a general impression that this may be the first of many efforts whereby the Church will continue to embrace and reach out in understanding to those in their community. I believe this to be a correct impression, but barring a complete paradigm shift in the Church's Bible-based doctrine about marriage (which, as supported by the Family Proclamation, teaches that marriage as sanctioned by the Lord consists of the union between a man and a woman), there are some aspects relating to the subject of same-sex attraction on which the Church cannot and will not change.

That said, I want to make my own position on one aspect very clear: the Church has supported measures that provide constitionally-based rights and privileges to those who are in same-sex relationships, and that is something with which I am also fully on-board. I have had a long-held belief that any two or more people or groups can disagree without becoming disagreeable. Differences of opinion are natural. What is unnatural is when such differences, disputes, or contentions lead to persecution, violence, or illegal conduct/

Even at times when any of us may not see eye-to-eye with each other, kindness, politeness, civility, respect, and common courtesy can, should, and must prevail in our discourse with one another. In the early days of the Church's establishment at various times and in various areas of the world, those who have joined the Church, and many missionaries for the Church have been subjected to violent persecution, mistreatment, and other conduct that would, in relation to similar treatement of other groups, be highly illegal. With such a history in mind, Church leaders have made clear how Church members need to act towards those with whom they disagree on any major issues. Our failure to follow that counsel will be something for which all of us will someday be held responsible.

Having shared my take thus far, I have some additional observations relating to the General Conference sessions held today, which I will share in another post later tonight, in addition to covering breaking news (if any) that will come from the Priesthood Session which starts in less than 15 minutes. That does it for this post. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly-added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.