About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

Supporting the Brethren on the issues of refugees and immigration

As most readers know, M* supports the Church and its leaders. This means that most readers and commenters are what we will call (for lack of a better term) “conservative Mormons.”

On many issues like same-sex marriage or abortion, this does not create much stress for conservative Mormons because the Church seems to support our views.

But what about the issue of the Syrian refugees? And what about immigration?

The Church issued a letter two weeks ago asking members to assist the refugees. How did you respond to that letter? Did you contribute other offerings? Did you participate in local relief projects?

Here is what the Church said:

It is with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships,” states the letter.

The letter explains the Church is assisting migrants and refugees in several countries “thanks to the generous help of our members.”

Mormons have been providing aid to refugees in the Middle East for more than a decade, providing hundreds of thousands of blankets, clothes, emergency medical supplies, food and other resources to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria.

In response to the recent crisis in Europe, the Church made an additional commitment in September of $5 million to help displaced families.

The letter continues, “Members may contribute to the Church Humanitarian Fund using the Tithing and Other Offerings donation slip. We also invite Church units, families, and individuals to participate in local relief projects, where practical.”

“May the Lord bless you as you render Christlike service to those in need,” the letter concludes.

Let me state quickly that this is not a post intended to scold anybody. I want us to “reason together.” I don’t have all the answers, and I think people of good will can disagree. But if we support the Brethren, shouldn’t we support humanitarian efforts to help the refugees?

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Church clarifies Handbook changes on SSM and children

Please read this information just released from the First Presidency.

I think these are the key points:

Revealed doctrine is clear that families are eternal in nature and purpose. We are obligated to act with that perspective for the welfare of both adults and children. The newly added Handbook provisions affirm that adults who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council.

Our concern with respect to children is their current and future well-being and the harmony of their home environment. The provisions of Handbook 1, Section 16.13, that restrict priesthood ordinances for minors, apply only to those children whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship. As always, local leaders may request further guidance in particular instances when they have questions.

When a child living with such a same-gender couple has already been baptized and is actively participating in the Church, provisions of Section 16.13 do not require that his or her membership activities or priesthood privileges be curtailed or that further ordinances be withheld. Decisions about any future ordinances for such children should be made by local leaders with their prime consideration being the preparation and best interests of the child.

Also, please read this article that provides further information:

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/commentary-understanding-the-handbook

About that claim of mass resignations from the LDS Church

You may have seen stories like this one that claim more than 1000 people will resign from the Church. An ex-Mormon lawyer is offering to help people leave the Church and is planning a rally on Saturday.

There is one important detail to consider: an on-line poll on its own Facebook site shows that a tiny percentage of the people resigning are active members of the Church. In fact, as of Thursday afternoon, here were the numbers:

*Considered “Inactive”: 340 people

*Resigned (Apostate): 104 people

*Non-Member: 43 people

*I don’t attend, but my children do: 17 people

*Attend Weekly: 16 people

*Attend Monthly: 6 people.

So, of the 526 people who responded to the poll, only 22, or about 4 percent, are actually going to Church regularly today. I am not convinced that 22 active churchgoers resigning is a “mass resignation.”

Now let me stipulate that even one person is a tragedy in the eyes of the Lord. We don’t want to lose members. Ever. And yes it is true that inactive members could in theory be activated at some point.

But have we considered that perhaps the Church may gain many more members than it loses by having a clear cut policy on moral issues? Most of the people who read this blog are in the United States or Canada. The rising acceptance of same-sex marriage in those countries is a phenomenon of a relatively small part of the world’s population. Most people in Latin America, Africa and Asia (which by the way are the areas where the Church is growing rapidly) do not share the enthusiasm for same-sex marriage.

Even in the U.S., relatively conservative churches (Mormon, evangelical Christian, Orthodox Jew, Muslim) are growing while liberal churches that accept same-sex marriages are in a precipitous membership free-fall.

So, here is what we know: the “mass resignation” isn’t really a mass resignation. Membership is growing quickly in countries with traditional values on marriage. And conservative churches are growing while liberal churches are in decline.

Don’t reject current prophets in favor of dead prophets

Some people concerned about the Church’s policies on same-sex marriage have dug up a quotation from more than a century ago that seems to them to contradict the Church’s current policies.

I will not detail that quotation here because it is irrelevant. Why is it irrelevant?

As President of the Twelve Apostles, Ezra Taft Benson warned: “Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.” (Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, 1980)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained further: “…the most important difference between dead prophets and living ones is that those who are dead are not here to receive and declare the Lord’s latest words to his people. If they were, there would be no differences among the messages of the prophets.” (Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall, 1992)

The two above quotations were taken from an excellent post by M*’s own Jon Max Wilson on his personal blog. Go read it for further clarification.

In the meantime, don’t let yourself be led astray by people who reject today’s prophets. Today’s prophets are the only ones authorized to declare the word of God to you in 2015.

Evil speaking

When pondering the Church’s recent handbook changes on same-sex marriage, the thing that has made me most distraught has been the public reaction of so many of our brothers and sisters. Modern-day prophets have outlined in hundreds of recent talks how the primary test of our generation will be whether people can follow Church leadership even when it is difficult. How quickly people seem to forget!

Elder Christofferson has made it abundantly clear that the Church’s recent changes in the handbook of instructions are inspired Church policy and in line with the Savior’s teachings.

Regarding the issue of same-sex relationships, Elder Christofferson said:

We’re not going to yield on our efforts to help people find what brings happiness, but we know sin does not. And so we’re going to stand firm there because we don’t want to mislead people. There’s no kindness in misdirecting people and leading them into any misunderstanding about what is true, what is right, what is wrong, what leads to Christ and what leads away from Christ.

If you read many Mormon blogs and other comments on social media these days, it is clear that many people are very quick to question the prophets. In fact, I have read a lot of unfortunate criticism of the prophets from people who should know better. Many of these people have gone through the endowment ceremony and made a covenant to avoid “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed.” I daresay some of these people are breaking their covenant. I would like to bring to their attention a talk from Elder Oaks that directly addresses this issue. There have been many attempts to prooftext the meaning of the phrase “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed.” These attempts to minimize the importance of this covenant get it exactly wrong. Elder Oaks makes is clear:

“Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947,

“‘When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.’ (In Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 24.)” (Address to Church Educational System teachers, Aug. 16, 1985.)

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