Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The War (Against Gays) Goes On

Whenever the LDS Church tries to send signals it's becoming more open-minded about gay people, it sends louder signals it is not. The November 2015 policy against children of gay parents is the most problematic of the past few years. Now comes an Ensign article by Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy, doubling-down against gay relationships.

The headline is "The War Goes On," about the war between good and evil. It starts with the War in Heaven in the pre-existence, it continues with Satan's war against all people on Earth, and it will continue until the Second Coming.

Buried deep in the article:
Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing. They cannot bring lasting happiness. God warned us about counterfeits in the Doctrine and Covenants. He said, “That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness” (D&C 50:23).
The conclusion he's asking you to draw is that gay marriage is of darkness.

But what really struck me is how he's couching this entire argument about the power of Satan. Many Church leaders give waaaaaay too much credit to Satan.  Here are some excerpts from the same article:
"The devil is brazen when it comes to putting wicked ideas into our minds. The Book of Mormon teaches that Satan whispers unclean and unkind thoughts and sows thoughts of doubt. He nags us to act on addictive urges and to entertain selfishness and greed...
Any bad thought or negative mood you've ever had, you can blame on Satan.
"The devil has been called “the great deceiver.” He attempts to counterfeit every true principle the Lord presents. Remember, counterfeits are not the same as opposites. The opposite of white is black, but a counterfeit for white might be off-white or gray. Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good, and just like counterfeit money, they are worthless...
The setup for calling gay marriage counterfeit and worthless.
"Ever since he convinced Cain to kill Abel, Satan has influenced siblings to quarrel. He also stirs up problems in marriages, among ward members, and between missionary companions. He delights in seeing good people argue. He tries to start family arguments right before church on Sunday, right before family home evening on Monday night, and whenever a couple plans to attend a temple session. His timing is predictable...
Man, Satan is powerful. He's with you more than the Holy Ghost, whom we are taught will withdraw at the slightest offense.
"Satan loves to spread contention in the Church. He specializes in pointing out the faults of Church leaders. Joseph Smith warned the Saints that the beginning step to apostasy is to lose confidence in the leaders of the Church.  Almost all anti-Mormon literature is based on lies about the character of Joseph Smith. The enemy works hard to discredit Joseph because the message of the Restoration hangs on the Prophet’s account of what happened in the Sacred Grove. The devil is working harder today than ever before to make members question their testimonies of the Restoration...
Emphasis mine. I grew up believing that anti-Mormon stuff was just that. Anti-Mormon lies. And since the first two anti-Mormon books I ever read were nasty pieces of work trying to convince its Christian readers that Mormons really worship Satan, well it was easy to dismiss them. Later in life, I learned that there was a lot more truth to "anti-Mormon lies" than I'd originally believed.

But I also look at how losing confidence in church leaders is one of the first signs of Satan working on you. Was it Satan who agitated members in Joseph's time who had a problem with him marrying other men's wives? Was it Satan who agitated members in Brigham's time when he was calling for blood atonement? Was it Satan who agitated members when church leaders taught for over a century that black people could not hold the priesthood or be sealed in temples?

These scare tactics of blaming everything on Satan need to stop. And if church leaders today recognize mistakes of the past, I would pray they also stop to ponder if they're making any in the present.

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