Boyd K. Packer spoke in the sunday morning session of general conference - and before the morning session was even over my facebook newsfeed lit up. It hasn't even been 36 hours since his talk and already much has been written. His talk has caused a lot of emotion and anguish. Not only for those of us who deal with this "problem" of homosexuality - but also for the families and friends of such individuals who may feel stronger in their conviction that we're simply not trying hard enough - that we lack sufficient faith.
And I find myself asking the question "why?" - "why did the brethren feel it necessary to address this topic at all?" Why stir this hornets nest? And why choose to do it in such as caustic manner?
The talks we hear in general conference are generally topics that address problems the brethren feel need to be addressed - problems that affect the membership of the church. Some topics are addressed over and over - such as pornography. The frequency that pornography is mentioned suggests that it continues to be a problem in the church showing no signs of abating - perhaps even increasing over time.
Elder Packers talk suggests that the brethren perceive that, among the membership of the LDS church, there is increasing acceptance for their gay family, friends, and associates - to the point of accepting their gay relationships even knowing that such relationships go against the doctrine of the church.
I think it's no mere coincidence that Elder Packers talk was preceded by President Eyring telling us that we need to trust in the brethren. We need to trust our church leaders who are telling us that gay relationships are wrong - that homosexuality itself is wrong, it is merely a state of mind that is not immutable.
The text of Elder Packers talk contains no surprises. We all know how the church feels about homosexuality. And, the brethren of the church are entitled to their opinions. Whether those opinions are an accurate reflection of the will of God is a matter of discussion and debate. But, just as we want our own beliefs respected - we need to respect the beliefs of others.
What bothered me most about what Elder Packer spoke of wasn't so much the words - it was the tone in which it was delivered devoid of any compassion - bordering on ridicule of those who disagree when he, in effect, said "think gay people ought to be able to love those whom they are attracted too? Well, why don't you go try to defy the law of gravity and see how that works out." Not his exact words, of course, but that's how I took it.
An interesting, if not odd, comparison. For, the simple fact of the matter is, as a species, we have learned to defy the law of gravity. We didn't do it by trying to pass laws against it, we did it by finding other laws of nature and learning to harness those laws in such a way as to overcome the law of gravity. As the Flying Nun used to say: "When lift plus thrust is greater than load plus drag, anything can fly."
The same can be said in the fight to recognize gay marriage - using laws granting fairness and equality to overturn laws banning gay marriage.
There is no question that LDS doctrine allows for some laws and commandments to supersede others. We see that in the story of the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were given conflicting laws to "go forth and multiply" and "do not partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil". We see that in the Book of Mormon when Nephi was commanded to murder Laban in cold blood in order to obtain the brass plates so his descendants would not "dwindle in unbelief" (which they ultimately did anyway).
In LDS doctrine, there is no question that marriage is ordained to be between a man and one [or more] women (only one woman while living, but a man can be sealed to multiple women). This doctrine is not in question. Gay relationships cannot be condoned in the church given it's current level of understanding - I get that. But, can't we, at least, respect those who may disagree with our doctrine? Can't we engage in civil discussions and disagreements? Do we have to resort to brute condemnation?
And, why can't we entertain the remote possibility that other laws may one day be revealed that, under certain conditions, supersede the doctrine of eternal marriage as it is currently understood? We believe in continuing revelation. Joseph Smith only translated one third of the gold plates - the other two thirds remained sealed (suggesting that even Joseph was not allowed to view them). Are we so close minded of a people that we can't even allow for discussion that that God may yet reveal new doctrinal clarifications that allows for gay relationships? I'm old enough to remember the days when blacks couldn't hold the priesthood - and I don't recall anyone ever being rebuked for discussing the possibility that one day that ban would be lifted.
Is it really so terrible that some of us support our gay brothers and sisters who are in gay relationships - even rejoice in their happiness? Is it necessary that we be demonized and ridiculed because of our support for such relationships?
Homosexuality brings out the worst in Mormonism - it exposes the 'dark side' of our 'force'.