Divine Doctrines and Policies

As I’ve listened to conversations regarding the latest church policy regarding SSM, I have been increasingly frustrated by discussions over the distinction between doctrine and policy. Some members seem to use this distinction as a cudgel in order to claim that they sustain prophetic leadership without actually agreeing with Church policy. In this mindset, doctrine’s come from God, but policies are purely man made or arbitrary. But this is a gross distortion of reality.

I believe that an accurate conception of church policy is essential in order to truly remain rooted in the Gospel while living in a society which is deeply opposed to church doctrine and policy. Church policy can best be understood as a divinely inspired, and at times commanded, application of the Doctrines and Principles of the Gospel. Continue reading

Reluctant Polygamist: Advanced Review Copy available Cyber Monday

JosephFor over a year, there have been those requesting a copy of my Faithful Joseph series in book form.

On November 30, the advanced review copy (ARC) will be available. ARCs are usually extremely close to final form. In this case, I invite critical and substantive review and will make modifications to the final version where warranted. A dedicated website has been created to foster open discussion of any critiques.

The ARC will be available in at least three formats: Paperback, Kindle book, and pdf file.

Copies of the ARC will be available at cost through the end of January. Reviewers will have through the end of March to make comments they wish to see addressed in the final version. The release date for the final version will be announced the first week of April.

Why the new title? Why bother with an ARC? How is this different from the Faithful Joseph posts? Continue reading

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:


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.