The Problem of Externalized Authority: A Response to the Mormon Gender Binary

To all the transgender Mormons, post or present, I want to make something clear: there are some things wrong in contemporary Mormonism, but you are not one of those things.

Our nearly 200-year history has bloated with one particularly harmful idea, namely that authority is external rather than internal. By this I mean that, as Latter-day Saints, we accept and celebrate the idea that someone else has authority that we don’t have. It starts in the family where tradition places the father as patriarch and final word. The bishop has authority we don’t have and the Stake President out-authorities him. Ultimately, we accept that one man (the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) holds the keys to the Kingdom of God on earth and in him rests all authority. The preference for external authority is so deeply ingrained that internal authority is viewed as highly suspect and we’re cautioned that it leads the “very elect” astray. Continue reading “The Problem of Externalized Authority: A Response to the Mormon Gender Binary”

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The Struggle for LDS Unity

A recent Sacrament meeting in my ward focused on developing unity. Unity is a topic that often occupies my thoughts because, when I look around my ward, what I notice are the faces I no longer see. Unity isn’t what’s happening in today’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Division is increasing. The orthodox stay. The heterodox leave. As an openly heterodox member, I’m getting more and more lonely in the crowd. Continue reading “The Struggle for LDS Unity”

On LDS Abortion Exceptions and the Angel Mother

For most Latter-day Saints, the answer to the abortion question is a resounding no. Yet, the official Handbooks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clearly state that abortion is allowable when:

  1. Pregnancy resulted from forcible rape or incest.
  2. A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.
  3. A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. (See 24.1.4)

In a recent Salt Lake Tribune article, Peggy Fletcher Stack demonstrates this stance on abortion suits the faithful of both political parties. The unanswered question, then, is how most practicing LDS came to their strident opposition to abortion. Continue reading “On LDS Abortion Exceptions and the Angel Mother”

Open Letter to Straight Latter-day Saints From a Straight Latter-day Saint

Dear Straight Latter-day Saints,

To be clear, I am one of you, both because I am heterosexual and a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When the reversal of the Policy of Exclusion (PoX) became public, I, like you, celebrated. My celebration, however, was cut off by the fierce growl of the wounded and weary LGBTQ Mormon and post-Mormon community as it carried across social media. The reversal, they said, didn’t make anything better for them. The PoX was gone, but the Theology of Exclusion remains. I’ve spent this week in reflection, reading as many LBGTQ voices as I could, hoping to understand them with clarity. Today, I’ll share some thoughts, from one straight person to another. To do this, I must indulge in a personal story, one that is unflattering to say the least. Continue reading “Open Letter to Straight Latter-day Saints From a Straight Latter-day Saint”

The Problem with Uncoupling “Jesus Christ” and “Latter-day Saints”

I vividly remember apostle Russell M. Nelson’s April 1990 General Conference address in which he reminded members to use the proper, full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember because I agreed, having never been fond of the nickname “Mormon” for either Church or member. Today, as president of the Church, Nelson is reiterating his sentiments by asking both members and non-members to drop “Mormon” entirely. In its stead, he’s sanctioned the use of “The Church of Jesus Christ” and the official Church website will soon become churchofJesusChrist.org, a move that a Salt Lake Tribune article indicates seems innocuous to some outside the Church and offensive to others. What the article doesn’t note is the feelings of Latter-day Saints about the removal of their identity from the URL. Continue reading “The Problem with Uncoupling “Jesus Christ” and “Latter-day Saints””

The Restoration of Hope

In less than a year and half, Russell M. Nelson, as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is managing to do something I hadn’t expected: he’s bringing hope back for many who had lost it, especially after the Policy of Exclusion became part of formal Church system. The hope I speak of isn’t perfect—and it’s far from full-grown—but the seed has taken root and the seedling seems to be pushing through the soil. Continue reading “The Restoration of Hope”

LDS Institutional Integrity and the Lesson of the Great and Abominable Church

On the day President Russell M. Nelson was given audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican, I encountered a Latter-day Saint pointing at the Catholic Church and accusing it of being “the great and abominable church” condemned by the Book of Mormon. This she called doctrine.

This coupling of the Catholic religion with the great and abominable church has rankled me throughout my forty years of adult membership. As a convert from Catholicism, I maintain respect for the good people and positive aspects of my former faith. But that’s not why. The claim is the ideological equivalent of a sickly inbred descendant. The amorous ancestors aren’t cousins, but Institutional Integrity and Sleight of Hand.  That’s harsh, I know, but I think fair. To demonstrate, it’s important to identify how wrong ideas have taken root in our religious culture. For this example, Step 1 must be a brief recap of the history of Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine. Continue reading “LDS Institutional Integrity and the Lesson of the Great and Abominable Church”