Thanks to Dave for this news: The Church has updated its scripture mastery scriptures for 2015's Old Testament curriculum. These are the specific Old Testament scriptures that are taught to LDS youth, ages 14-19.
Some of the new scriptures:
- NEW: Genesis 2:24 - Husbands and wives should love and be faithful to one another.
- NEW: Psalms 119:105 - God's word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.
- NEW: Isaiah 58:6-7 - Fasting loosens the bands of wickedness and relieves heavy burdens.
- NEW: Isaiah 58:13-14 - The Sabbath day of the Lord is a holy day of delight.
- NEW: Jeremiah 1:4-5 - God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb.
See more, including dropped scriptures (though not dropped from LDS canon, of course), at Dave's Mormon Inquiry.
“12 Steps to Change” is a 12-part video series that follows real people fighting to overcome addictions of all kinds. Experience their stories of hope as they take steps to change their lives.
Very powerful videos, from what I've seen so far. This program has been in place where I live for a while now, and the results are impressive.
The full series of videos is now available at http://www.mormonchannel.org/12steps
"We're providing a two-month supply of basically everything a person needs to live — food, hygiene items, cleaning supplies," said Orlando attorney Rulon Munns, a high-ranking elder for the Mormon church and a member of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. "A lot of what we do flies under the radar, but we wanted to show we don't just help our own; we also help our community."
I understand his sentiment. Looks like a pretty significant effort, and for a worthy cause.
From the article (link to writeup at Reuters):
"The Utah Pride Center describes itself as a nonprofit community organization serving the gay, bisexual and transsexual community in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area."
"The Church wrote in a letter to the center that it was 'grateful to be able to serve your efforts in this worthy project.'"
"Dabakis said that while the Church and the gay, bisexual and transsexual community 'do not agree on everything, this is yet another link in a continuing relationship of respect and civility.'"
Yep. This feels really good. To me, the Church has handled the entire LGBT issue extremely well, all things considered.
Some LDS church members may read what critics of the Church say about LDS church finances and apostle pay, and become frustrated by a lack of transparency. They think, "hey, somebody said our apostles are living a lavish life, making a lot of money, and this caught me off guard! It's surprising, and now I'm frustrated that I was never told this!"
Certainly no one is asking you not to educate yourself. So let's continue with that line of thought.
Remember that you can take up questions like this and run with them if you feel like doing so. Just remember to rely on objective, first-hand data. The web is full of people who are in posession of partial information, zero objectivity, and often, in fact, an agenda. Using Google to dig deep on any Mormon church-related subject can be like visiting a Toyota car dealership and asking what the deal is with Hondas.
If you really want to get to the bottom of this, if you want God to deliver your answer, please do some objective research! Googling around to see what other people think is just asking to be buried in subjectivity.
"Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask [Google]."
--Not an actual quote from Doctrine and Covenants 9:7
I have included some possible questions as starting points below.
In my experience, once I answered a more objective set of questions, my curiosity was satisfied. In fact, based on what I've seen, the idea that anything lavish is going on is absurd. I refuse to entertain "anecdata" that suggests otherwise, especially now that I've read so much of it from every angle. From true believers to critics, everyone has their story.
Please take a minute and watch this Bob Marley interview clip:
In fact, by all accounts Bob Marley made quite a bit of money by the end of his life, even millions.
But who really remembers Bob Marley as leading a lavish lifestyle? Those who paid attention to him did not see a love of money in his actions. They saw his emphasis on important values. They saw in his example something worth following.
So let's continue! I've included some of my own thought processes below, numbered so they're a bit easier to follow.
Exploring the question: Are Mormon Apostles living a lavish lifestyle?
- As Mormons, we believe that we should be living "in the world, but not of the world." Because we live in the world, there are legitimate expenses to cover.
- Are we OK with the church covering living expenses? To include any expense incidental to the lifestyle of someone in a leadership position? (Many feel that the tradeoff, to engage someone who serves the body of the church 365 days a year, is worth it.)
- Still, this should not allow for a lavish lifestyle. Are Mormon apostles living lavish lives?
- What is an objective standard for the term "lavish"? Does that mean a milliion dollars spent on living expenses per year, per apostle family? More than that?
- Where might we find an objective standard for lavishness?
- What evidence can be gathered to support the proposition that the standard of lavish living is met by one or more apostles?
- What evidence is there against that proposition?
- Reviewing the evidence, is the evidence anecdotal, or is it first-hand, from the original source?
- If you cannot find source evidence, or decide not to research further, which side will you tend to land on: Lavish lifestyles, or not? And what factors influence your choice? Do you decide to err on the side of extreme caution, and quit the LDS church just in case? Do you decide to think about it longer, and give yourself more time to watch the future unfold? Or do you just have a trusted gut feeling that things are on the level? (In my opinion, these are worth asking!)
The Greater Principles: Do you detect a love of money in the LDS church?
- What are the physical signs that the love of money is present in the high leadership positions of the LDS church? (For example, elaborate mansions, car collections, yachts, ever-increasing spending on things without lasting value)
- What are the spiritual signs that the love of money is present? (Lack of regard for spiritual truths, lack of spiritual depth, lack of sacrifice, lack of humility, deception, hypocrisy)
- If either one of these signs indicate a love of money, we should see these values ripple through the organization.
- The presence of these values in the organization should lead to an objectively measurable standard.
- By what measurable standard is there a love of money present in the LDS church? (Remember, having money is not the same as loving money.)
- By what measurable standard is any deception happening? Is that the same as a lack of transparency?
- How do we tell if any lack of transparency is deception, as opposed to e.g. advice from an ambitious legal team to minimize legal risk?
Has the love of money caught ahold of you, as someone who lives the LDS value system?
If you are a member of the Mormon church, you should be able to answer the following:
- Have you been taught by the church to love money? What evidence makes you feel like you were or were not?
- Have you discovered hypocrisy in those who taught you about money? Were they lavishing themselves with gifts, for example, instead of giving to the poor? If so, what kind of gifts? Did you ask them why they were doing that, or can you find out more about the situation now, through additional research?
- What life goals have you created for yourself, based on what you've learned as a church member? Do any of them suggest a love of money? Hypocrisy?
- If you loved money before you joined the church, how did that change after you joined?
- What are you taught about money in general, in the church?
I don't know about you, but as a lifelong Mormon, I'm happy with my answers to those questions. I certainly do not lust after a lavish lifestyle. I try to live within my means and make the best use of my time. The church has taught me to share what I have with others, and to teach others how to lead a reasonable life without coveting what their neighbor has.
While there are certainly people of all faiths who believe in their own "prosperity gospel," they have their own reasons. I have never seen anything but warnings about the love of money in the LDS church's annual and semi-annual general conferences. There are no split-off sessions on how to maximize profit or care for investment portfolios. Instead there is sound advice: Be careful with debt. Save a reasonable amount of money. Beware of speculation.
In my opinion, the question of LDS apostles leading lavish lifestyles or performing their services because of money has already been answered by a wide body of evidence.
...and for anyone else interested in the topic of Gays and the LDS Church
[Are you homosexual, and an active member of the LDS Church? I would like to hear about your experience. I'm also interested in discovering additional resources to add to this page. Please email me: email@example.com.]
- Mormons and Gays (Official LDS resource)
- Joshua Johanson's FAIR address - on homosexuality in the LDS church
- Northstar - A faith-affirming source and online community for gay LDS church members.
- A North and South Heart by Tom Christofferson, brother of D. Todd Christofferson
- LDS Voices of Hope - Includes over 70 video interviews with gay LDS men and women
- Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction by Jeffrey R. Holland
- LDS LGBT Resources
- Voice of Hope by Ty Mansfield
- My Son Is Gay: An LDS Father's Journey Into Love and Faith by Tony Clarke
- Understanding Same-Sex Attraction by Various
- Resolving Homosexual Problems: A Guide for LDS Men by Jason Park
- Helping LDS Men Resolve Homosexual Problems: A Guide for Family, Friends, and Church Leaders by Jason Park
- No More Goodbyes by Carol Lynn Pearson
Special thanks to thatmormonboy for passing along many of the resources listed above.
A Note About Criticisms
Please note that Youtube video publishers have the option to allow public commentary on their videos. I found that some of the public comments contain factual inaccuracies, such as "35% of Mormon men commit suicide." While that statistic is obviously false, you may come across information or other statistics that interest you.
If you'd like to conduct deeper research on information you've found about the LDS church and gays, I recommend going to as many objective sources as possible, in or outside of the LDS church. Feel free to email me directly if you have specific questions (contact information below).
Unfortunately fake statistics are sometimes put into circulation by some critics of the LDS church, though this is not true of all critics.
I've added a new missionary interview to the Interviews section: Elder Mallory.
I really enjoyed this brief podcast interview with LDS teenagers who are sharing their beliefs online as "digital missionaries." And that's actually the title of the responsibility they were given by their local congregation. Their blog is called Small & Simple Truths.
In my experience, sharing and writing about what you believe is really rewarding. Here on my own website, lots of visitors are curious about specific aspects of the Mormon church, but they stick around to read a variety of topics. People ask me where I get all the answers I write here, as if there is some master reference. There's not, really. There are always a variety of sources, and I reference them where possible--for example, scriptures, church websites, etc. But writing about religious topics with a combination of passion and empathy is a long-term mission for me, and I look at it like any other skill: It takes time to develop.
Big props to these teens for embracing their mission and learning how they can use their gifts to make the world a more loving and understanding place.
I've started a new Interviews section by posting an interview with Elder Cullimore. He dumped his girlfriend to come to California, where people occasionally throw things at him. But it still seems like he's having a good time. :-) Enjoy!
I previously wrote about my favorite parts of being a member of the LDS faith. So what's not to like? Is there anything that creeps me out?
[Note: I'm biased. I've been a Mormon for a long time! So, "caveat brainwash-tor" because I can only write what I know.]
I've found that most of the Mormon things that some people think are creepy are either not actually official Mormon beliefs, or they balance on so many subjective interpretations that they wouldn't survive a Religion 101 course.
The stuff that is creepy to me is mostly based in my daily life as a Mormon. These are creepy things that, far from being ruminations or mental scenarios that I fear will come true, have actually come true and probably will again.
Number 1: You will be mine, valentine
The number one creepy thing to me is when somebody joins the Mormon church with ulterior motives. For example, this could be someone who thinks they have a non-spiritual benefit to gain by being a member, like finding a cute Mormon girlfriend. Admittedly, this doesn't happen very often. But to me, it's manipulative AND creepy! I'm all for those with hungry hearts finding a way to forge great relationships, but sometimes people are less than truthful in their pursuit of what they want. Please, don't get baptized because you have a crush on somebody.
Number 2: Election time
The second creepiest thing to me is when somebody in the church convinces themselves that all church members are supposed to be part of some non-Church effort. For example: "Mormons should support the Republican party!" (I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat, either. And nope, not a Libertarian!). But what can you say about people like that? Every organization has its share of people who need to educate themselves a bit more. And there are always going to be people who kind of lose their focus from time to time. Maybe they don't spend much time at church compared to the hours they spend in front of TV news watching politics play out. I don't think it's a huge deal, and it doesn't exactly make my skin crawl, but it moves my creepy meter a bit. I seem to stumble into "deep sigh" situations like this every couple of years.
Number 3: Behold my beautiful speaking voice
The third creepiest thing to me is when someone gets really preachy. I personally cannot stand preachy stuff, and it raises my creep-o-meter. In my opinion, an effective speaker or teacher avoids that kind of lecturing, sticks to the topic, and generally establishes an environment where people are basically doing self-study as they listen and think about what they are hearing. Thankfully, we have quite a few really effective public speakers in the church.
So those are my creepy things. The hollywood-style creepy stuff like perfect-looking Mormon Bishops secretly practicing satan-worship or running a drug ring is fortunately not something that's common enough to make my creepy list. I've heard of some pretty bad stuff happening, and I thought I would share a current example, but I just went over to Google News and went through four pages of search results for "Mormon bishop" without finding a single negative article about a Mormon bishop. Holy smokes!!!
But seriously, nobody, and I do mean nobody, is perfect. If you're not a Mormon and are thinking of becoming one, definitely don't assume that we're all perfect, OK? We just try to live as well as we can. I keep going to church because I believe in Christ, not because of the people I worship with, as swell a group as they are.