Strange Things, Horatio.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mitch-mayne/hidden-heroes-seven-mormo_b_4958132.html

Brother Mayne fights the good fight, with one foot in Zion and the other buried deeply in the viscous, primordial ooze of the sexual revolution (indeed, Mayne has made this case himself: ).

I must note the following:

Inside the Mormon community there are individuals just like Atticus Finch: those who have a deep sense of loyalty to their Mormon roots, but also an unrelenting desire to do the right thing — even when it means they may face cultural pressure inside their own communities by so doing.

This sets up a deep bifurcation – and tension – between the main body of the faithful (“TBM”) saints and a small core of Atticus Finches; enlightened, progressive members who face hostility, pressure, and resistance from the moral and spiritual peasantry in their efforts to open the church and its blessings to practicing homosexuals. The Atticus Finches in each ward and stake – the moral conscience of that ward or state on the cutting edge of the gospel – seem to be, in Mayne’s mind, the actual “church leaders” among us, not the actual called and ordained church leaders at either the local or church level.

The next statement is quite telling, in my view:

It doesn’t take much more than a quick web search to realize the Mormon culture is changing rapidly when it comes to the LGBT issue. And we have a long way to go before we’re where our Savior would have us be, but change is happening nonetheless.

Not only have church doctrine, teaching, and standards here remained unchanged and unaltered, but “where the Savior would have us be” is, as the gospel has been taught in this dispensation, not the province of individual members but of the man holding all the keys of this dispensation and the other special witnesses of Christ who, together, form the central authority of the restored church on the earth at this time.

This is not, in other words, Mitch Mayne’s call to make.

Mayne’s first “hero” is former Bishop Donald C. Fletcher, who we’ve encountered before in these forums and who, according to his own statements and to Mayne, has made it clear that open, practicing homosexuals are “welcome in the Bay Ward, wherever you are in your personal life.”

Wherever?  Whatever?

So are, I would assume, fornicators, adulterers, wife-swappers, BDSM fetishists (a very popular pastime among numbers of male homosexuals in the San Francisco Bay area) and chicken hawks. No standards or even invitation to adopt and maintain church standards were present in Bishop Fletcher’s invitation ( http://bycommonconsent.com/2015/02/17/mormon-lgbt-outreach-part-i/ http://www.sltrib.com/54372547 )

Not convinced? “Brother Blood, no called, ordained Bishop in the church would DARE publicly make such claims and initiate such programs, at least without making clear that church standards relative to the law of chastity are expected of members who desire to fellowship with the saints and receive any of the blessings of the church – including basics such as renewing our covenants through the taking of the sacrament.”  Really?

For gay Mormons, that means we can shrug off the cloak of fear we often wear, because we no longer face excommunication or church discipline, whether we’re single and living inside the confines of the Church policy as we understand it today, married with a partner of the same sex, or anywhere in between.

Let’s be excruciatingly clear what Mayne is saying here: Homosexuality qua homosexuality or, that is to say, not simply same-sex attraction, but homosexual sex, homosexual relations, relationships, and couplings (up to and including homosexual marriage, which the church does not even recognize as intelligible) are to be immune from church discipline of any kind, henceforth. Homosexuals, in other words, are to be given a special dispensation and given a moral and spiritual waiver in relation to the law of chastity (not available to me if my “sexual orientation” dictates that I need to have an affair with my gorgeous 21 year old secretary).

Mayne then falls back on the classic emotional blackmail, so beloved of the cultural Left, to drive home his position:

In addition to creating a welcoming and safe congregation (a direction which many Bay Area wards have taken), Bishop Fletcher authored a powerful op-ed supporting the evidence based research of The Family Acceptance Project advocating for a scientific approach to keeping our gay Mormon youth safe and healthy; and he spoke at several LGBT Mormon forums and shared his own experience, strength, and hope.

The emotional blackmail – less any reference to the law of chastity and the eternal importance of a clear and gospel-centered understanding of human sexuality and gender – continues with his foray into the work of Dr. Caitlin Ryan, a non-member who wants us to know that we can be good Mormons at the gospel, cultural – and sexual – cafeteria while still remaining – good Mormons:

 In 2012, Dr. Ryan published a version of her family education booklet “Supportive Families, Healthy Children,” that shows Mormon families how to respond to their LGBT kids in ways that keep them safer from serious risk — including homelessness, depression and suicide. And, this work is evidence-based, meaning it’s grounded in science, not opinion. Adding to her growing list of resources for Mormons is “Families are Forever,” a riveting award-winning short documentary that tells the story of a devout Mormon family’s journey from supporting Prop 8, to unconditionally loving and supporting their gay teenage son — all while remaining true to the best parts of their Mormon faith.

Being “true” to the restored gospel and to Jesus Christ does not, of course, entail being true to its “best parts” or to determining for ourselves which parts are best and which parts are inessential, but to the the entire system in its all-encompassing entirety.

Next we have Laura Compton, Scott Holley and Spencer Clark and a quick foray into LDS pro-homosexual marriage activism (which is, at its core, tantamount to complete and unabashed support of and for homosexuality, which is to say homosexual relations, practices, and lifestyles as morally and spiritually equivalent to heterosexual relations and to heterosexual monogamy specifically):

“In 2008, during the height of the Prop 8 debacle here in California, devout Mormon Laura Compton (a straight Mormon wife and mother) started a small website called, “Mormons for Marriage,” as a resource for active Mormon families who loved their faith — but respectfully disagreed with the Church’s involvement in Prop 8.”

Here I go again…what we see above here is known as “apostasy” and it begins with rebellion, revolt, and balking, “respectful” or not, against or at the mind and will of the Lord as expressed through his servants,the prophets, and grows, from that point, into a raging pyroclastic flow, often ending in complete alienation from the church and the gospel.

Soon, another member, Scott Holley, creates another left-wing activist organization, Mormons for Equality, which, like the others, promotes the complete redefinition of marriage, family, and gender and the abrogation of the law of chastity in the special case of homosexuals.

Spencer Clark, who took over leadership of this organization in 2012, makes the classic progressive argument for the complete compartmentalization of political and cultural life (essentially, the human condition manifest as human relations in complex, organized societies) from the gospel of Jesus Christ, an argument, quite popular on the Left, that we’ve seen before time and again:

“The church can define what it views as marriage. The question is how we determine the best policy for the country. It’s a political question, not a doctrinal one.”

This is not, of course, itself doctrinally defensible, nor are there, in reality, any clear demarcation lines, on the core aspects of how we should live together as citizens and fellow human beings in a free, open, ordered, lawful, peaceful civil society, between political and spiritual worlds.  All things to the Lord are spiritual; it is we, and only we, here in this probationary state enshrouded by a suffocating mist of darkness, who erect artificial (and convenient) boundaries between the sacred and the “secular.”

The true boundary is not between the sacred and the secular, but between the profound and the profane.  It is truth and falsehood that is the business of the saints, not the milieu in which the ongoing battle between good and evil takes place, or the stage upon which the drama proceeds.

Indeed, virtually the entire Book of Mormon and certain key sections of it call out to us as a clear and unequivocal refutation of and challenge to this entire idea.

There is no escape from the standards of the gospel, the commandments of God, or his perfect and just judgements, in politics.  We cannot hide under the cover of the secular, like wearing our Mardi Gras masks as we celebrate and revel in the carnal, sensual, and devilish, and then return to the sacrament table on Sunday, having removed our secular mask and staggered back to Zion.

As Clark himself stated:

“The church can define what it views as marriage. The question is how we determine the best policy for the country. It’s a political question, not a doctrinal one.”

Next is John Dehlin, whom we need not spend time on here.  “These active Mormons,” Mitch says (this is all prior to Dehlin’s excommunication, and its not at all clear how active he was in the years prior to his exit from the church) “don’t always have the easiest path inside their own community of faith. Indeed, some of them face sharp criticism — but those who make cultural change generally do.”

Here we see the core pattern yet again: it is forward looking, enlightened, spiritually advanced “change agents” within the church guiding, leading, and pointing the way out of neanderthal ignorance and moral primitivism (established church teachings) towards the glorious multiculturalist future, the future neither most members nor the Brethren see rising in the distance as the progressive morning breaks and the shadows flee, but which a gifted and chosen few – the Anointed – see clearly.  So brave, so courageous, and so pioneering are these few spiritual change agents among the LDS hoi polloi that they risk church discipline, including excommunication and loss of all their blessings, promises, and covenants, to stand as ensigns, not to the world, but to the church itself.  And, like Atticus Finch himself, “they still take action — not only because it’s the right thing to do for the LGBT community, but because it’s the right thing to do for the Mormon community, even if their Mormon peers haven’t recognized that quite yet.”

No, we haven’t recognized that quite yet.  Mitch, all I can say at this point is, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”

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Sunstone and the Progressive Challenge to the Permanent Things

The recent Sunstone Conference, ending on August 1, has been an object lesson for me in several areas, not the least of which being a further testament to the inherent, congenital incompatibility existing between the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and “progressive” social and political philosophy, including and encompassing its many and varied assumptions, values, beliefs, activist causes, and policy prescriptions as manifest within institutional politics.

Virtually nothing of its core worldview, and because of this, virtually none of its analysis, perspective, conceptualization, and practical application of fundamental principles respecting, for all intents, every aspect, challenge, and question of the human condition, can be harmonized with the gospel and the teachings and standards of the church, or, at least, while some motives and desires may appear on the surface and in the broadest of general outlines (Who wants war?  Who doesn’t want to feed the hungry?  Who doesn’t want to alleviate poverty?  Who supports wanton, heedless pollution of the environment?) to be harmonizable with gospel principles and philosophy, closer inspection reveals what lies behind the progressive happy face.  At the very least, we can admit, some progressive concerns appear at least gospel-like, at this level or resolution and when stated as general, underlying interests in the welfare of other human beings and in human felicity and flourishing.

As resolution becomes sharper and more detailed, however, and as fundamental ideological pre-assumptions and core premises about the nature of the human condition, the human subject, human nature and psychology, and the relationship of the human subject to other human beings and mediating institutions (most saliently, to the state and to other human beings or groups of human beings) becomes clearer, clouds begin to gather.

Fundamental assumptions regarding the proper role, prerogatives, and scope of the state, the nature of legitimate government, the nature and meaning of freedom, rights, and equality, and even deeper questions in which the meaning and definition of good and evil, the literalness and applicability of gospel teachings to contemporary conditions, the historicity of a number of scriptural narratives, and the relevance, meaning, or even existence of divine priesthood authority and its mantel as given to certain men on earth chosen to lead the church as a church, fall with what can be alarming ease into intellectual skepticism, existential doubt, and even hostile, accusatory questioning and critique under the influence of progressive ideological assumptions and a psychology given or susceptible to such modes of thought. I shall be frank here as I’ve probably not been frank before upon this particular subject, while attempting to be as diplomatic and balanced as the subject matter allows:

1.  Progressivism (i.e. leftism, “liberalism,” “social justice” etc.) is essentially and inexorably, at its core and in each and every detailed application of its principles, beliefs, and values, inimical, to a greater or lesser extent, to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to the teachings and standards of the restored Church bearing that gospel to the world.  This incompatibility does not always lie at the level of emotional or psychological intention or desire to do good or “make a difference.”  It lies, for many, at the level of core worldview assumptions and the nature of the perceptual filters through which one views the human condition and interprets that condition and whether one takes progressive philosophy itself or the gospel of Jesus Christ as one’s fundamental frame of reference.

2.  As a central organizing template for our perception of the world, ourselves, and our relations to others within it, progressive ideology presents us with two closely related problems, the first being this ideology’s critical misperception of the nature of mortality and equally, the nature of the the human beings who inhabit this world under mortal conditions, and the second being the unfailing tendency of policies, counsel, and advice for the solving of various human problems, grounded in progressive ideas, to either simply fail to even approach the desired goals, or to produce results and unforeseen effects wholly in opposition to the original aims sought, and to generate serious negative social consequences, including large-scale social pathology and the exacerbation, sometimes at potentially catastrophic levels, of exactly the conditions the polices or counsel were intended to alleviate.

3.  In a gospel sense, and because leftist ideology and cause activism is for many itself a religion (or surrogate religion) and is experienced as a religious calling or ministerial commitment, leftists within the church have little choice other than to attempt to import philosophies, ideas, interests, and activist concerns important to the progressive Left in the secular world into the church and then either work from within the church to acclimate the church and the body of its membership to them, or become disillusioned and disaffected and distance themselves from the church and/or leave it altogether.

Progressive ideology must colonize, displace and subjugate established church principles and standards or it cannot remain as a presence within the church in an open, unconcealed sense, let alone thrive (as it has in mainline Protestantism, Unitarianism, and within regions of Catholicism).  Progressivism is, in all its salient forms, and despite the historical mountain of majestic talk of “liberation,” “freedom,” “brotherhood,” “democracy,” and “a better world,” by its very nature and by the nature of the way it sees the world and the goals and vision it must justify and then seek to realize, authoritarian and, as its grander and more extensive aims are pursued, totalitarian.

As a meta-religion within the restored gospel, or an alternative call to the ministry of social justice (not individual justice, which is grounded in the rule of law and equality under the law, not in ideologically conceived status/power relations between collectives) in which the church may be seen either as a peripheral, diffident spectator or a bulwark of the very conditions the struggle for social justice seeks to eliminate and transcend, leftism displaces the fulness of heart, might, mind and strength required of true discipleship, and diverts our  focus, time, talents, energy, and resources away from both living the gospel and encouraging others to live it to the “quest for cosmic justice” and the vision of the anointed,” to quote Dr. Thomas Sowell’s conceptualization of the underlying psychological and intellectual dynamics at the foundation of progressive thought processes and self-concept.

Sunstone was once, some time ago, at least modestly open to conservative and faithful “orthodox” thinkers, scholars, and presenters as an adjunct and flavoring within an environment of generally center-left, progressive, cultural Mormon thought and analysis of all things LDS.  Today, we see at Sunstone, Dialogue, and sundry other informational spaces populated by the LDS Left exactly what we’ve seen over the past twenty to thirty years within the secular non-LDS Left: the relentless and continual drift farther and farther to the left, heedless of the boundaries and thresholds crossed and seemingly without philosophical or moral compass; the mainstreaming of ideas, causes, and beliefs once situated on the outer fringes of serious intellectual discourse, and the displacement of serious intellectual exploration, debate and scholarship with naked activism.

Rarely, it would appear, does the gospel and membership in the church change a progressive.  LDS progressives, however, are intensely interested in changing the Church.

Advertized as a conference focusing on “mental health,” a substantial portion of the presentations made were unabashedly ideological and activist in nature, having little if anything to do with mental health but centered strongly in promoting various causes, agendas, and belief systems, virtually of which can be considered inconsistent with or openly hostile to church teachings. Ubiquitous and disproportionate numbers of workshops on the political, social, and spiritual domestication of a variety of sexual philias and mental derangements centered in gender identity/sexual orientation were featured prominently throughout the conference, paralleling exactly a similar saturation of the secular, non-LDS Left and the pop culture with interest in and support for the new post-homosexual marriage movement for sexual rights (just “sexual,” encompassing all sexual potentials and possibilities) or “LGBPTTQQIIAA+.”

Homosexuality/sexual philias, polygamy, marijuana, environmentalism, transgenderism, support for and celebration of “exmo” status and critical analysis of the meaning and process of excommunication, and mixed in with these, here and there, a few interesting workshops on actual mental health issues that LDS therapists and the average member might find of value.  One must note, however, that most of the presentations on sexual orientation/gender identity appeared, unambiguously, to be either completely neutral as to LDS doctrine, philosophy, and standards, or openly dismissive of church teachings in this area.

What becomes clear, after many years of observing, analyzing, and discoursing with numerous members of what I call, appropriately I believe, the LDS counter-culture, is that the Left within the church, irrespective of the LDS glaze glistening on its surface, is essentially the same Left as exists and works outside the church on the same issues and in behalf of virtually the same ideological vision.  As in both mainline Protestantism and on the Catholic Left, what one does in the name of Marx can be just as easily done in the name of Jesus, and the divination of what are otherwise purely secular concerns have the perverse effect, not of sanctifying the profane, but profaning the sacred.

The Law of Chastity and the New Barbarism

Although having political ramifications, this discussion is not intended as a politically-oriented one.  Its purpose is a sober, rigorous, and reflective theological and philosophical exploration of the nature, meaning, and purpose of human sexuality within the context of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  Political and social implications, with consequences for current events of critical import, will be obvious, but it is not the intent of this discussion to engage those directly.  To move to that point, we must first pass through the refining fires of first principles, from which all other principles governing our understanding of this aspect of human relations must be derived and within which they must be embedded.

Underlying reality

1.  As in the heavens above, so in the earth beneath.  Certain fundamental features, ontological and structural, of what it means to be that which we are (i.e., human, in mortal, earthly terms, but in other words to be of the species representing and encompassing that which we are in all our and that species’ varied possibilities, potentials, and phases of development (from preexistent spirit individual to fully redeemed and exalted god)) are common to both earth-life and existence in the celestial worlds.

For our purposes here, this means that the fusion/complimentary unity of male/female, man/woman, yin/yang is necessary for the universe to exist at all, because the universe could not exist without the application of knowledge by intelligence to the infinite, eternal, primordial fundamental elements and materials of which the organized universe is constituted, and out of which higher order complexity can emerge as a manifestation of divine creative activity.

Without intelligence acting upon the underlying, elemental forms of that from which all forms of matter, energy, and spirit emerge, there can be no coherent, meaningful phenomena (no creation and no created, intelligible cosmos containing the kinds of environments, experiences, phenomena, and comparisons/contrasts necessary to the eternal progression of the individual spirit).  Since the creative/generative fusion and unity of man and woman in an exalted eternal marital relationship is required, not only for the creation of a universe in which eternal progression can take place, but for the generation of the spirit individuals who’s “home” is this very universe, it follows necessarily from this that, as Elder David A. Bednar et al have explained, gender is an eternal characteristic of the spirit child of our Heavenly Parents.

2.  As the entire purpose of earth-life is to return to the presense of our Father in Heaven and to become like him (the fully mature form of our species), the eternal elements of the male/female relationship and their primary objectives/purpose are recreated on earth during the mortal probationary state, in imperfect form and under a variety of conditions, to further the goals and purpose of the plan of salvation: to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Human sexuality has two fundamental purposes, to bring preexistent spirits into mortality for their probationary experience, and as a emotional/psychological/spiritual bond between husband and wife in that endeavor, under optimal conditions if possible.  It is, then, both a means and the glue or bonding agent that makes family formation, child rearing, and, from this, civilization and civil society possible.

Sex, in other words, far from what most percieve it to be in our modern world, makes family both possible and viable as a form of human social organization.  It attempts the optimization of what otherwise be almost impossible – the taming/civilizing of the male psych and the controlling of female fertility to civilized, positive ends.  One of its major functions or effects today – to undo both marriage and the traditional natural family – is the result of concerted and conscious attempts to invert these features of human sexuality and turn them against the very civilzational forms they make possible.

3.  Sexual morality is nothing more or less that the integrity and ethical basis of human sexual relations.  The Law of Chastity prescribes normative boundaries, thresholds, and parameters within which sexual expression is morally (i.e., conducive to the spiritual growth, expansion, and progression of each individual and to the cultural viability of the society in which he or she lives) justified.

It protects, when followed, both the individual, any children born from such sexual activity, and the broader society from individual and culture-wide social pathology.  From a gospel perspective, however, the view is much deeper and panoramic in nature.  Bringing spirit sons and daughters into mortality under as optimum conditions as possible makes us, not only co-creators with God, but, as Paul stated, “heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ” in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, and the purpose in his creation, “that he might have joy.”

I make a series of fundamental and absolute assumptions/extrapolations from core church teachings in adducing this argument, based upon the consistent teachings of the Lord’s modern servants:

a.  There is no confusion/distortion of sexual desire/gender roles in either the preexistence or the post-mortal sphere, at least as to the final assignment to the relative kingdom of glory in the resurrection.

b.  There is no such confusion/distortion whatsoever in the celestial kingdom.

c.  Any such confusion/distortion would render the entire meaning and purpose of the concept of exaltation (not just individual godhood, but the “continuation of the lives” or “of the seeds”) essentially moot, and plunge the very idea of exaltation into existential self-contradiction.

d.  All such confusions, distortions, and deviations from normative sexual identity and ideation are purely a function of the contact of the spirit, through the mortal body, with the telestial or fallen earth and the earthly environment in its probationary phase.  They are accretions of mortality, not innate aspects of the eternal spirit person.

Homosexuality and other sexual philias/foci:

Homosexuality (we will use it as our base here because it, among all the various sexual philias and sexual proclivities known to humankind, developed a powerful and influential political and social voice during the last third of the 20th century) is only one of a plethora of ways through which the plan of salvation is thwarted and human sexuality itself reduced to a mere cast shadow of its full import and meaning (about only “who I love”).

This shadow is cast by both the heterosexual world as well as “gay” culture, but homosexuality, beyond being a misuse and corruption of the powers of creation, renders the very concept of creation, and of, in its gospel sense, co-creation with God, irrelevant.

This is not to say that all homosexual sex is purely recreational (though a vast proportion of it, and the gay culture constructed around it, is).  It is to say, however, that homosexual sex is, at its fundamental, elemental core, futile.

It expresses, but does not and cannot create.  Its very form is static, inert, Sisyphean, and barren.  Life, posterity, eternal progression and increase are not even latent within homosexual relations.   Yin and Yin and Yang and Yang are not creative.  It is the entering into, relationship with, and dynamic interplay of the complimentary opposites that produces new phenomena, new life, and new potentialities.

Homosexuality is not a sexual orientation; it is a sexual perversion in every sense of that term, but this need not be spewed like venom at any individual homosexual.  To pervert is to corrupt, alter, and distort, but heterosexuals in vast number, during the last third of the 20th century and on into the present, have done this as well.  Premarital sex, adultery, cohabitation, the bearing of children out of wedlock, and the very concept of promiscuous sex as a form of “recreation” are all, from a gospel sense, perversions of the proper meaning and purpose of human sexuality.  The fact that the particular perversion inherent in homosexuality/bisexuality/transsexualism is more overtly and decisively inimical to the creational aspect of such relations does  not make these others any less perversions – distortions and twistings of human sexuality – but it does make them uniquely distant and alien to the implications and even symbolism inherent in other forms of heterosexual transgression of the Law of Chastity.

To be continued.