Years ago I read a book called Who Moved My Cheese. It is an allegory about accepting and dealing with change in the world. After reading it I remember thinking, “duh, isn’t this obvious?” For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why this tiny book was so popular. In hindsight I now realize I was exhibiting a false-consensus bias. I assumed everyone wasn’t afraid of change and would move on in search of new cheese once theirs had been moved. Years later after having managed a group of people everyday at work I realized the fear of change is fundamental to human nature and the reason for this allegorical teaching being so popular was because it actually dealt with a common thing in society.
Today I am beginning to draw the conclusion that some religions are an institutionalized version of fearing change. Anything that is feared is held up as doctrine declared by God and thus unchangeable. This is readily apparent in the debate over gay marriage. The fear of change along these lines runs so deep that some are moved to shouting God hates anyone that would be this way. Is it no surprise that others might even celebrate the death of a man that was so caustic towards people that didn’t agree with his idea of how it should be?
Now while I do not think the stance of my previous religion is quite as homophobic as the Westboro’s, it does fear change in much the same way. Case in point, this recent release to the church website in regards to same sex marriage.
The primary reason for denying our brothers and sisters that have slightly different DNA than ourselves the happiness of calling their bond as valid and real as any other on the planet is simple. God said so. According to the prophet seers and revelators:
“Regardless of what civil legislation may be enacted, the doctrine of the Lord regarding marriage and morality cannot be changed. Remember: sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God! While we are to emulate our Savior’s kindness and compassion, while we are to value the rights and feelings of all of God’s children, WE CANNOT CHANGE HIS DOCTRINE. IT IS NOT OURS TO CHANGE. His doctrine is ours to study, understand, and uphold.” – Elder Nelson,1
Now this certainly seems like a reasonable argument doesn’t it? After all these guys are called of God, heck2 they can even marry you forever, so they ought to be the foremost authority on marriage right? But here’s the rub. You see this isn’t the first time church leaders have declared God’s word in regards to marriage. In fact not that long ago God decreed via his prophets, seers and revelators that marriage between a white person and a black person was not a good thing:
“Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species…” – Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. 3
“Your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and white races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs until now…. there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.” – LDS First Presidency (George Albert Smith), 4
“We must not inter-marry with the Negro. Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there?” – Apostle Mark E. Peterson 5
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” -Brigham Young6
One can easily imagine a person 50 or 100 years ago referring to statements like those above and condemning a young white girl for marrying a black man. Of course now all those attitudes of the past have been disavowed as if they never occurred and most certainly weren’t considered unchangeable doctrine, because here in the future we now know when Brigham said “…this will always be so” he was just making shit up. You know mingling his man philosophy with scripture n’ all. The reason? Well like the rest of society he feared change and was a product of that day and age.
I have noticed that I am often accused of twisting words and facts7 to prove my point. But aren’t the facts themselves twisted? I mean which is right? The leader now that assures us this type of marriage is condemned or the leader in the past that assured us a different type of marriage was condemned but now it’s ok? How do we know the guy speaking right now isn’t making it up like we are told the guy in the past was? What is the difference?
It certainly all becomes very twisted and confusing when you start comparing one written thing to another. Maybe that is why upper tier church leaders like Hans Mattsson has mentioned are being told to not keep journals. Can’t have any contradictory evidence floating around out there to suggest all the leaders of the church might not be united in what they think is the right thing. I will say this, if you don’t want to lose your testimony, don’t cross reference the new essays of the church at all. For you will see more of this twisting of the truth their than any other place if you start fact checking it. Consider the essay on DNA asserts a migration of people 10,000 years ago mixed up the data and makes it hard to detect any of that in the blood of the Lamanites today. If you don’t want to lose faith in the honesty of the church don’t compare that to the new essay on Noah. Where we learn that the flood about 4000 years ago was global and wiped out all but 8 people on the planet because you know, God needed to start with a clean slate. Don’t look at these things closely if you want to keep your testimony because it is really hard to figure out how DNA from 10,000 years ago was completely wiped out 4000 years ago and yet somehow managed to spoof all the DNA evidence that would otherwise prove the Book of Mormon to be absolutely true. So for the sake of belief, its better to just not go there. 8
But I digress, the topic is marriage, gayness, and learning to accept change. An important one I think if our goal is to save lives. Far too many gay youth and adults die because they feel like they will never fit in. And the only reason people are telling them they don’t fit in is because they fear change. Sure religion is used to justify that fear, God said so is the refrain. But before you totally accept the idea that is it wrong today because God said so, look at the past and consider what God said was wrong then. Maybe, just maybe these guys are as wrong about what God wants today as they were in the past. They certainly missed the boat on interracial marriage, seems possible that they are a product of their generation now just like we are told today earlier leaders were of theirs. If you consider the idea that these guys could be wrong, then hopefully you might open up to a different way of looking at things and then accept that change isn’t always bad, even if your first inclination says otherwise. Then you might also see the writing on the wall.
“When you move beyond fear you feel free”
- General Conference in October 2013 as quoted by this guy, I think the capital letters are his ↩
- Yeah I know, I still can’t swear like a proper apostate, but old habits die hard! ↩
- January 2, 1845, History of the Church, v. 5, pp. 21-218 ↩
- letter to Virgil H. Sponberg (critic of the anti-black ban), May 5, 1947, quoted in Lester E. Bush, Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview, p. 42 ↩
- “Race Problems – As They Effect the Church,” Address given at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, delivered at BYU, August 27, 1954 ↩
- Journal of Discourses, 10:110 ↩
- This comment actually inspired this article, so thank you random stranger and your ad hominem attack for making me think about this topic! 🙂 ↩
- You see Apolgetics answer only one particular point at a time, that way they can be faith promoting! They were never designed to allow comparison across apologetic topics, that is why they never make sense if you do that, so don’t even try! ↩