The Fall of Churches

Doctrine and Covenants 10:67-68 – “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.”

It is easier to prove from the Bible that Christ established the kingdom of God than to prove that he founded a church.

Same with the LDS church. Nowhere do you find in revelations. prior to the actual legal organization of the church that God commanded JS to organize the church as a legal entity, but God does acknowledge it after the fact.

Now my own experience. In the 80’s a group of gay excommunicated Mormons decided to start meeting together in homes and partaking of the Sacrament. While we were praying for directions from the Lord, he instructed us by revelation to organize ourselves into a Priesthood body. He mentioned NOTHING about a church, only the Priesthood. And, the revelations came not just to one of us, but two. There was a true second witness. Sometimes the revelations came to us simultaneously, even though we were in different physical locations. I take all of this to mean that the Lord was serious about us knowing that he approved of what we were doing.

As we grew larger, and into multiple locations, we organized ourselves into families. The impression came to me that since we had, in many cases, been disenfranchised from our biological families and couldn’t marry at the time, we should gather into de facto families and seek out committed relationships.

But, somewhere along the line, we stopped listening to the Lord and started imitating the LDS church. We sought legal recognition, organized a “First Presidency”, and formed branches. One revelation warned us that we had “followed the arm of flesh in organizing branches”.

The group ceased to grow, and more and more internal strife ensued. Certain individuals began seeking for power and position and staged a political coup, ousting the original leadership. After the takeover, the group began to take on more and more of the LDS characteristics and become a closed organization.

By this time, I was out of the group and pondered for years where we went wrong, with a group of friends, turning out to be enemies. I came to the conclusion that the exact point where we went astray was when we switched focus from being a group of families, united by the Priesthood, and turned into a group of branches, organized into a church.

There was a church founded in 1985, called The Church of Jesus Christ of ALL Latter-day Saints. It wasn’t a break-off. It was founded by revelation and a new dispensation of priesthood. We received all the keys, the same as Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

The LDS church sued us over the name, so we changed it to The Restoration Church of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t just a church for gays and lesbians, but was intended to be a home for all those thinkers, activists, dissidents, feminists, intellectuals, etc. We ordained women. We conducted temple ordinances. We married couples for time and eternity. And, all of this, with keys and authorization from God.

But, just stop and think about this for a minute. God loves and values all of us so much and doesn’t want any of us to miss out on the blessings that flow through the Priesthood. There were people who loved God and wanted to serve Him, but the church, supposedly set up in His name, prevented them from doing so. Therefore, God had to make an end run.

We followed the open model of common consent used by the Community of Christ, which meant that in Conference, any member could discuss and disagree with any proposed revelation of leadership change, without consequences. After a couple of years, the entire presidency was voted out, and the church was reorganized after more traditional LDS lines, so that such a leadership coup could never happen again. Following that, the church limped along and eventually lost most of its members, finally disbanding in 2011, after a 25-year run.

If necessary, and if and only if directed by God, I could re-establish such a group, but I feel no need for it, no demand for it, and most of all, no direction from God to do so. In fact, I am under the same direction as Joseph Smith when God told him: “Join none of them!”

The idea of churches and organized religion is a failed model, and is failing us as an institution. I am praying that God will reveal something better, going forward, and frankly, I don’t care whether direction come through me or through somebody else. But, I don’t see anything like that happening until more people are sick and tired of tolerating and denying failure, and trying to fix what isn’t working, and are hungering and thirsting after something better.

In the meantime, there are many enlightened and motivated individuals, each following their conscience and working to achieve progress on many different fronts. I consider these my co-workers, though I have to keep reminding myself that, even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye, each of us is following his or her highest light.

Confronting Choice

We have all read the news, and hopefully by now, those who were in denial have now read the writing on their Facebook wall from sources they trust. There will continue to be angst, wailing and gnashing of teeth, scripture quoting, statements from groups attempting to build bridges, calls for suicide prevention, etc.

But the question is this: given that the Church is answerable only to itself, and you have no input or recourse, what are you going to do?

Spend the rest of your life whining and complaining, or look for something better?

Is your loyalty to the church or to your God? Do you believe that a God who wills everybody to come to Him has not provided other ways to approach him?

Are you still under the illusion that the Church will someday moderate its policies and let you live your life, that is not really a life, but a half-life? Toward which direction are they moving? More acceptance or less? Once they have declared something “apostasy”, how can they ever back down from that stance? How can they ever come back in 1 year, 10 years, or 100 years and admit that they were wrong?

The real test in life for each of us is not what happens to us, but how we decide to deal with it. This is the stuff of life: a problem or challenge, (which is really an opportunity or blessing in disguise), and a decision that need to make. We can choose to confront the problem and solve it and gain the experience and blessing, or we can choose to whine about the problem, but refuse to confront it and just let it fester and damn ourselves in a quagmire of indecision.

We can’t see past choices we can’t understand, but to understand the choice, we first have to recognize and confront that choice. The pain and angst that I see expressed is not because of what the Church has done, but because people are being force to see a choice that we don’t want to see. If you haven’t seen it before, the choice is now placed clearly before you. It might be painful to look at that choice, but once you face that pain head-on and deal with it, you can then continue your life and that moment of pain will seem as a brief moment. You may even look back and laugh at yourself for getting to hung up on such a triviality.

So the question again: what are you going to do? I know what my husband and I are going to do, but if I told you what to do, I would be no better than these blind guides who crave your blind obedience. This is your life. This is your choice.

Where are the Oracles

When the Holy Ghost leaves, it simply leaves without fanfare or flurry. There is no pronouncement. No drama. The still small voice just goes silent.
 
However, for those with ears to hear and the humility to receive, The Holy Ghost rushes in.
 
God pouring down knowledge upon the heads of the saints has been compared to the mighty rushing waters of the Missouri. But, times have changed since then. Man can attempt to dam the waters for a time, but the relentless waters will find a way to break through somewhere else. And, when men attempt to dam up the living waters, they only damn themselves.
 
In 1960, a group of saints who dared to refuse to follow the leadership of Brigham Young, reorganized themselves, sustained a prophet, and in the intervening time has received nearly a hundred oracles in their D&C, including instructions regarding the proper duty of evangelists, women being called to positions which require priesthood authority, and gay men and women being accepted as equals within the body of Christ.
 
In 1985, a group of gay men and women in Los Angeles dared risk excommunication from the church and ostracism from the the gay Mormon group Affirmation, and dared to ask God for further light and knowledge concerning teaching the Gospel to Gays and Lesbians. What followed was a complete dispensation of Priesthood and dozens of revelations concerning how the Gospel functions in a same-sex environment.
 
Revelation isn’t dead. Not as long as there is at least one Priesthood holder left on earth.

Forgiveness

I think it’s time for people who feel they have been harmed by the church, to just let it go and move on, rather than to continually wallow in their grief and publicly revel in their sorrow by staging yet another media spectacle.

If you have forgiven somebody, then just forgive them and get on with your life. If a specific individual has harmed you, then settle it alone between you and them, if that is possible.

You have been hurt. Acknowledge that. Also acknowledge that this is what religions do: they set up little circles of inclusion and exclusion. If you were once in the circle, they have the power to enforce conformance in thought and action, and if you don’t comply, they ostracize you. So what? If you happen to be an atheist or somebody who never believed in the doctrine anyway, what do you care? Good riddance.

But, if somebody was a member of any church and harbored a feigned allegiance or born a false testimony, then it is they who have sinned against the church, and not the other way around. The church needs to forgive you, and not the other way around.

How many of these people are still connected with the church in some way? Have they actually been officially excommunicated, or simply sent a letter of resignation. Have they made a clean break, or are they still connected in some way? Love and Hatred and both forms of connection. The difference is only in degree.

Marriage and the Church

We stand of the verge of achieving full marriage equality for all people in all 50 states. The LDS church has no business excommunicating people who are simply engaging in legal activity. The only possible objection that the church could and should have is fornication or adultery.

In response to this post”

“Here is an essay that rationally speaks to the dilemma of what to do with the future of inclusion of LGBT people in the LDS church. It suggests a middle road of non-prosecution and acceptance, which I wholeheartedly agree with.”

The Church and Same Sex Marriage: The Pastoral Question

This is my response:

I agree, “we should not throw anybody away”, but to characterize gays as “sick” and afford them second-class membership is insidious and wrong.

The choices the author poses are only “hard” because they are rationalizations, and rationalizations are always hard. Doing the right thing is easy, and it has never been easier and more clear cut than over this issue.

When all is said and done, the true test of our righteousness is whether we quality ourselves to move ahead to the next kingdom. The temple teaches us this. The temple also teaches us that if you are not true and faithful to the covenants we take upon ourselves, of our own free will and choice, we will remain in Satan’s power.

There you have it. The choice couldn’t be more clear. Progress, or remain condemned. What you hear over the pulpit doesn’t matter. It’s in the temple, where the real covenants are taught and made, that the rubber hits the road.

So, what exactly is this particular covenant that we take upon ourselves. It is called the Law of Chastity, and in the 1990 Endowment Ceremony, it reads as follows:

“… the Law of Chastity, and to put them under covenant to obey this law, which is, that the daughters of Eve, and the sons of Adam shall have no sexual relations except with their husbands or wives to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded, …”

It doesn’t say the sons of Adam must be married to the daughters of Eve. It specifies only the role of “husband” or “wife”, which are or can-be gender-neutral roles.

What? You never heard this before? How many times have you been to the temple and watched the drama? Seen the actors playing roles? Did it ever occur to you that everybody in the endowment is playing a role. At one point you are to vicariously play the role of Adam or Eve, and at another point you are to take upon yourself the Name of mission of Christ.

The actors are playing roles; they are acting in various offices. Art imitates life.

There’s your doctrinal exposition. Straight out of the temple endowment you have been sleeping through all these years.

Sometimes revelation does not involves something new and unheard of coming down out of heaven. Sometimes revelation means pointing out something that has always been there — right in front of you.

The truth you need to know is often in plain sight.

The Rational (and Revealed) Basis for Same-sex Marriage in the Church

In response to this post:

“Here is an essay that rationally speaks to the dilemma of what to do with the future of inclusion of LGBT people in the LDS church. It suggests a middle road of non-prosecution and acceptance, which I wholeheartedly agree with.”

The Church and Same Sex Marriage: The Pastoral Question

This is my response:

I agree, “we should not throw anybody away”, but to characterize gays as “sick” and afford them second-class membership is insidious and wrong.

The choices the author poses are only “hard” because they are rationalizations, and rationalizations are always hard. Doing the right thing is easy, and it has never been easier and more clear cut than over this issue.

When all is said and done, the true test of our righteousness is whether we quality ourselves to move ahead to the next kingdom. The temple teaches us this. The temple also teaches us that if you are not true and faithful to the covenants we take upon ourselves, of our own free will and choice, we will remain in Satan’s power.

There you have it. The choice couldn’t be more clear. Progress, or remain condemned. What you hear over the pulpit doesn’t matter. It’s in the temple, where the real covenants are taught and made, that the rubber hits the road.

So, what exactly is this particular covenant that we take upon ourselves. It is called the Law of Chastity, and in the 1990 Endowment Ceremony, it reads as follows:

“… the Law of Chastity, and to put them under covenant to obey this law, which is, that the daughters of Eve, and the sons of Adam shall have no sexual relations except with their husbands or wives to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded, …”

It doesn’t say the sons of Adam must be married to the daughters of Eve. It specifies only the role of “husband” or “wife”, which are or can-be gender-neutral roles.

What? You never heard this before? How many times have you been to the temple and watched the drama? Seen the actors playing roles? Did it ever occur to you that everybody in the endowment is playing a role. At one point you are to vicariously play the role of Adam or Eve, and at another point you are to take upon yourself the Name of mission of Christ.

The actors are playing roles; they are acting in various offices. Art imitates life.

There’s your doctrinal exposition. Straight out of the temple endowment you have been sleeping through all these years.

Sometimes revelation does not involves something new and unheard of coming down out of heaven. Sometimes revelation means pointing out something that has always been there — right in front of you.

The truth you need to know is often in plain sight.

A Missed Opportunity

Gay people on the Internet have often expressed the wish and hope that someday the LDS church will not only recognize same-sex marriage, but seal eternal unions in the temple.

Such union are not possible, nor are they expected to be in the near future. But, if God deaf to these cries? No!

The operative principle here is when a people want to be obedient to the commandments of God, and thereby receive his blessings, but are prevented from doing so by church authorities, God will open another way.

Guess what? God has extended his authority and his permission for people of all orientations to be sealed for time and all eternity. The problem is that people rejected these prophets because they were once part of the LDS church, but were members no longer.

So, until God decides to stretch forth His arm once again, and there are seeking people who once again will reach for it, that opportunity will have to wait for a future time.