Money v. Diamond (Nurture v. Nature): As Nature Made Him (2000)

Shortly after I was born, a Canadian doctor accidentally burned the penis of an identical twin, setting in motion a series of events that has had tragic consequences for innumerable individuals.

As Nature Made Him is my book group’s selection for August, hence why I am telling you in 2018 about a book published in 2000. But the book is germane to events occurring now.

I strongly recommend this book, if you have not yet read it. The rest of the review contains spoilers.

Money

Bruce, the baby boy so tragically burned, eventually came under the medical supervision of gender identity pioneer, Dr. John Money.

Money believed that individuals are born without a fixed gender identity and that a genetic male could be successfully raised as a female without any negative repercussions, so long as the shift to female occurred before age two. Money’s Harvard doctoral dissertation showed no negative outcome for intersex individuals (individuals whose genetic gender is improperly expressed in their genital configuration). Yet soon thereafter, Money began advocating for infant surgery to transform babies with odd genitals into seeming girls (it being easier to cut things off than add things, in the 1950s).

Money was a pioneer in what many would consider the worst of the sexual revolution. He advocated pederasty (so long as the child involved “consented”), fascination with feces and urine in sexuality, and thought it was recommended and proper for young children to be exposed to naked adults and pictures/movies of sexual activity. In Money’s lexicon, sex was nothing more than a physical act to gratify the physical senses.

Bruce was castrated and transformed into “Brenda.” In the annual follow-ups with Money, Brenda and her twin, Brian, were shown explicit sexual material, grilled about what sexuality would manifest for them (this when they were not yet old enough to attend school), and forced to take sexual positions with one another. “Brenda” and Brian did not realize their parents were unaware of this “therapy.”

“Brenda” was never comfortable with being a girl, continually acting in ways consistent with birth gender. The terrible resistance to the “therapeutic” gender increased as high school coincided with pressure to complete the surgical transition to put in place a vagina. Money was held in such high world-wide regard that it took years before anyone was willing to consider that maybe, just maybe, the child was right.

When told he’d been born a boy, the former Bruce rejected his birth name (too nerdy) and gave his parents his choices: “Joe” or “David.” They chose David.

David wondered why a loving God would allow him to suffer so. David had no idea that his “successful” transition from intact male to little girl had formed the basis for an entire industry that surgically cut thousands of boys with damaged or small penises to turn them into little girls. As of 2000, that industry was still healthy and “preferred.”

Diamond

At the same time Dr. Money was promulgating the pre-eminent importance of nurture in “gender,” Dr. Mickey Diamond was experimenting with rodents who had been exposed to testosterone in utero. The genetically female rodents presented as male, eschewing typical behavior of female rodents and mounting the control female rodents. Based on this, Dr. Diamond was promulgating the theory that gender is formed in utero, informed by the hormonal makeup to which the growing fetus is exposed.

In the vast majority of cases, the hormones to which a fetus is exposed as early as mere days after conception is controlled by the genetic markers (XX for females, XY for males). But Dr. Diamond was a relatively junior researcher at a university far less prestigious than The Johns Hopkins University, where Dr. Money had his practice.

Dr. Diamond followed Dr. Money’s pronouncements about the “highly successful” transformation of the un-named male twin who had been castrated and raised as a girl. But then the updates ceased. Dr. Money blamed the cessation of updates on invasion of privacy endured by the family due to journalists, an outrage for which Money blamed Diamond.

Both curious about the outcome of the case and wishing to clear his name of calumny, Dr. Diamond attempted to locate the twin. By this time David had been living as a man for years but infant “gender reassignment” surgery was taking place across the world as though the transformation of the twin had been fully successful.

An initial medical journal article was rejected multiple times over the years, only being published in 1997. In that same year John Colapinto (a writer for Rolling Stone) was the journalist selected to write up the story (David liked rock and roll). Colapinto asked David to eschew the anonymity that had cloaked the case heretofore and allow a book treatment that included real names and actual places. David agreed. Colapinto makes it clear that every scene and quote in the book comes from actual interviews and recorded transcripts.

Aftermath

David became moderately wealthy from the settlement for his botched infant surgery and his share of proceeds from the book. At the time the book was written, David was married and raising his wife’s three children from prior relationships. David’s twin, Brian, had been married and was father to children as well.

Where David had been the more obvious victim of the botched circumcision and subsequent gender manipulation, Brian had developed his own series of issues arising from the terrible stressors on the family, including criminal behavior, substance abuse, and violence. In 2002 Brian died of a lethal combination of alcohol and drugs.

The warehouse where David had worked had closed shortly before the book was published. David had attempted to parley his riches into investments, but misfortune and a con artist took the riches without leaving a residue, the more painful as David had refused to give Brian requested financial assistance prior to Brian’s death.

Without work to distract him and believing that his wife’s exercise and part time job meant she would leave, David committed suicide in 2004.

Implications in 2018

Some of you may be like me, unaware of the Money v. Diamond debate and how Dr. Money fundamentally created the current gender confusion with which we and so many loved ones are dealing.

The case of the twin named David made it clear the intense pain an individual could suffer, forced to grow up gendered in a manner antithetical to their essence. There are now unknown thousands of individuals who were improperly cut as infants and forced to grow up as girls. Some of these are seeking to “come out” as a different gender from what the world has known them by.

But in all this shifting and changing, there are also those who were raised in accordance with their genetic gender. It is not knowable if they suffered an atypical hornomal cocktail during gestation (a factor correlated with homosexual behavior in rodents). In 2018 the world is anxious to ensure that no one is “forced” into a gender with which they are not comfortable. This reflects a strange admixture of the old tenets advocated by Dr. Money and the compassion that rightly should prevail for those from whom a normal childhood was stolen.

LDS-Specific Insights

Some wonder why the LDS Church’s 1995 Proclamation on the Family mentions that gender is an eternal attribute. As the facts of David’s failed gender reassignment were not yet public, the world was embroiled in Dr. Money’s certainty that gender was easily switchable years after birth. Even gender “reassignment” on the part of adults was relatively recent – the book mentions a highly publicized case in 1952. Prior to 1950, the idea that there even was a question regarding gender would have seemed ludicrous. The ability to switch gender was a factor that had not been present during any prior era when scripture was being written. There had never previously been a need to assert that gender ought not be switched at birth or soon thereafter.

Personal Thoughts

My mother used to tell me she suspected I had been subjected to too much pre-natal testosterone. I had no idea what that meant, happy to be a girl and excel at math. It always seems fatuous to claim I am better at math than at writing, since any such declaration must be conveyed in writing. But it’s true.

I am clearly a woman, as my five pregnancies and existence of a biological grandchild attest. Yet I have been able to excel in a male-dominated career, happy to let my children wear whatever they might wish and play with whatever they might wish.

I remember a time when my husband’s friends came to visit, with their several boys. As the kids headed to my daughter’s room, the parents tutted that their very boyish boys probably wouldn’t find anything to play with. A moment later they erupted from the bedroom, hands full of guns and trucks and other male-typical toys that my daughter had gathered to herself (she also had dolls and tea sets).

It occurs to me that there are three factors:

  1. Nurture is the factor that Dr. Money proponed as pre-eminent. He suggested surgery be performed as early as possible so that nurture would not be contradicted by incomplete physical genital presentation.
  2. Nature is the factor that Dr. Diamond felt should also be considered, suggesting that no invasive surgery be performed on ambiguous or damaged persons until the individual was old enough to make their own decision.
  3. Modeling explains as neither Nature or Nurture can the current rash of gender confusion. The world is flooded with media celebrating gender and sexual choices previously relegated to those exposed to abnormal hormones during gestation, as can occur when the mother gestating the child is under undue stress. Humans excel because of how well they copy what they perceive to be the prevailing folkways (a feature that is broken in autistic individuals). Like lemmings headed toward an uncertain horizon, those wishing to be part of the modern “moment” are adopting choices that would never have been possible in a prior age.

I am so glad that my children have never felt trapped as “female,” as has occurred for various of their friends and relatives. We watch with compassion as our friends grapple with those “coming out,” typically children thrilled to wear boy clothes and so forth.

At the end of the day, each individual, no matter what they wear or how they act, is either possessed of a Y chromosome or not. Therefore they are either genetically male or they are genetically female. They can wear gendered clothing and take hormones and engage in sexual activity and get surgical attachments all they want. But at the end of the day, their chromosomes are set, and were set at conception.

Whether we were gendered as spirits, Mormon belief is that we chose the body we inhabit in life. Since chromosomal gender is set at conception, it would seem Mormon belief is consistent with our spiritual self being content with our body’s chromosomal gender, no matter what else occurs thereafter.

This entry was posted in General by Meg Stout. Bookmark the permalink.

About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

32 thoughts on “Money v. Diamond (Nurture v. Nature): As Nature Made Him (2000)

  1. ” Mormon belief is that we chose the body we inhabit in life.”

    I think: “God assigns individual spirits to specific bodies.” would be a much more accurate statement of “Mormon belief”.

    In any event genetics sometimes (thankfully very rarely) does odd things. See: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-mixed-sex-biology/ (When a Person Is Neither XX nor XY: A Q&A with Geneticist Eric Vilain)

    But I agree with (what I think is) your point that fads and trends mean people today are responding in ways that never would have been considered (or been possible) in the past. And that some (many?) of those involved are likely causing many more problems than they are “solving”.

  2. Mormons believe that we choose whether or not to come into mortality, with the decision of entering mortality primarily focused on whether we have accepted Christ to save us from the consequence of mortality.

    I don’t see any particular reason for asserting a “God told me to” model over a “God let me” model for association of individual spirits with particular bodies. When my son’s heart defect was diagnosed in utero, I certainly felt it appropriate to consider that his spirit had agreed to and possibly even chosen that challenge and associated mission.

    There are those who are neither strict XX or XY, with extra Xs and Ys cluttering up the genetics (or missing, as when someone only has X). But it still comes down to either there is at least one Y, which points the fetus down the testis route, or there is not a Y, which leads to development of the ovarian set of equipment. Then there are other sex-related genetic factors, but they do not have power to override the fundamental presence (or absence) of at least one Y chromosome.

  3. Fascinating stuff. I’m glad you did a review as I totally want to read this now.

    RadioLab recently did a series of podcasts on conception/gender science. The science got a bit over my head, but I walked away with a lot to think about. You might specifically be interested in the segments on how XX & XY determining sex are not nearly as straight forward as we tend to think, getting into the specifics of the other genetics that come into play (called ‘XY’ in case my links don’t work): https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/gonads-xy

    Then there is one about a female athlete from India and her struggles when she ends up being labelled male by international athletic rules because she is someone with high testosterone and the mess of confusion there is about high testosterone females. (Dutee): https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/dutee

    And one that is kind of the opposite of the book you read where someone that was born intersex was assigned male (somewhat correctly), but never told what had happened and the struggle to then figure out what exactly he was (Dana). I’ll have to go back and re-listen to this one to see if either of the doctors you referred to were involved in this case: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/dana

    I think one of these has a content warning for language (can’t remember which), but RadioLab is always good about saying so at the beginning of the podcast for those that don’t prefer profanity.

  4. Like I think I’ve related here, my husband and I discussed the possibility of an intersex child (what we would do) when we married in 1993. Then the thing we ended up having to deal with was a heart defect (ultimately fatal).

    All kinds of things can happen that are different from normal. And when it comes to things like sports, it is useful to pull in testosterone measurements, since some folks get a benefit that is only available to others if they engage in doping. It sucks, because such an individual would be really good at their sport, but then be disqualified or shunted into a different competitive realm because of a freakishness that is similar to an artificial advantage.

    It isn’t as simple as XX versus XY, but as I said above, it is as simple as “is there at least one Y?” versus “is there a complete absence of Y?”

    As the book details, Dr. Money had his tentacles in a lot of places, even if he wasn’t the main doctor mentioned at first blush. And because of his screaming, cursing, physically abusive arrogance, he mostly cowed others to follow his lead. He also routinely exposed his students and patients to what most would consider porn (even icky porn) as well as swear words.

  5. Your statement that everyone has either XX or XY chromosomes is incorrect, as is your apparent belief that the sex chromosomes are the sole determinants of sex phenotype or gender.

  6. People can’t read – I said either one has a Y (or more than one Y) or not. That doesn’t equate to everyone being either XX or XY…

  7. Perhaps, then, it is possible for spirits to agree beforehand to be given the (massive) trial of being trans/having gender dysphoria/whatever you prefer to call it. I know lots of people reply “Well, God wouldn’t do/allow that.” As far as I can tell God does/allows a lot of things I wouldn’t expect Him to, many of which I don’t understand or enjoy.

  8. I am persuaded that all our human conditions seem less problematic outside of mortality, whether seen from before our own mortality or following our exit from mortality. This forms part of my hope that the world after mortality will admit more love and forgiveness than we might imagine based on what we see in life.

  9. Actually, gender is eternal and we did not choose our gender. From the Proclamation on the Family: Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
    I personally don’t think we chose much of this life, because how could we possibly have made an informed choice? What could a spirit know what having a body is like? I just don’t believe Heavenly Father would ask his children to make a choice with eternal significance like that with no understanding.

  10. I wonder why you think chromosomal gender is so important? Your post implies that it is the standard by which gender should be determined. The AMA and WHO reject this view for good reason. Take for example, someone with complete androgen insensitivity syndrom who you would call a “chromosomal male” but would have all the parts and pieces of a woman. Is that person a male or female? What about someone with partial androgen insesitivity? Is that person a male or female? Of course there are many more scenarios that could be considered. Clearly gender is a far more complex issue than ‘do you have a Y chromosome’.

    Herein lies the problem with the family proclamation (when it comes to gender). It lumps everyone into one of two genders without defining how those genders should be identified. Anyone who deviates from what the church says is sexually appropriate for their imputed gender is a sinner a liable for excommunication. Biology (and life) is more complicated than the family proclamation allows.

    Dr. Money forced someone to take on a gender identity that they did not want. It ended in tragedy. Dr. Diamond’s research showed that gender (and sexual impulses) can’t be determined simply by looking at ones genetics. The lesson here should be that gender identity should be left up to the individual. Doing so would prevent a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. The family proclamation does not allow for this and I think that’s a problem.

    One more thing. Meg wrote “Like lemmings headed toward an uncertain horizon, those wishing to be part of the modern “moment” are adopting choices that would never have been possible in a prior age.” I assure you, the majority people who chose a gender against societal norms are not doing so simply to be part of a moment. A lemming would stick with societal expectations. People kill themselves over this stuff. It is serious. Being able to make choices that weren’t possible in prior ages is a good thing. Like being able to chose your own religion.

  11. Hi Jane and Miles,

    These days babies (in the US, at least), are subjected to DNA testing. This is not primarily to determine chromosomal gender, but to determine if there is a problem which would benefit from early detection, such as cystic fibrosis.

    But it certainly will be possible, as genetic science is refined, to learn early on of any unique genetic conditions that influence the expression of gender. Perhaps we will someday see scans that can detect anomalous brain development that is correlated with atypical conditions such as autism (correlated with unusually large head size at one year despite normal head size at birth) and same gender attraction (correlated with unusual size of a certain brain structure in genetic males).

    For Miles, I think you missed that I did not insist that genetic gender be the only factor influencing what a person feels. As for all the discussion of despair, such despair can be (unfortunately) faddish. I do not take suicidal ideation lightly when I learn of it, but neither do I allow suicidal ideation to be seen as the only factor in a situation. For better or worse, gender dysphasia is not the only thing in life that leads to suicidal ideation.

    To Jane, I can see why you desire to know that the loving God you worship was the primary agent in determining your fate. I don’t deny His overarchingly important role. I just like to think I agreed, that maybe I was even eager to take on the challenge my loving Father suggested I was meet to take on.

    Along that line, it is not infrequent for me to experience deja by, where I have dreamed a dream that later comes true. Until such time as this is explained to me, I like to think that I adored the story of the life that would be mine, that these instances of deja vu were like pages in that pre-mortal book of my life that I dog-eared from frequent reading. Like how excited I was to imagine running a marathon, even though the actual experience was harder than my dreams of the event had suggested.

    I look forward to the time when we may know as we are known by that God who is parent to us all. And I expect in that day we will see each other’s points and find ourselves in agreement.

  12. It’s one thing when the device auto-corrupts spoken dictation. It’s really irritating when you take the time to type things and the system second guesses you…

  13. My cousin has decided he wants to live as a woman and has changed his name and dresses accordingly. It’s his right to do so, of course, but I don’t think of him as a woman and I probably never will. I honestly pity him since he will never be what he wants so desperately to be.

  14. I think many of us have someone in our extended circle who is considering shifting gender, if not already firmly embarked on the surgical and hormonal route to change.

  15. Re: family proclamation not covering exceptions.

    Like all prophetic pronouncements, it’s the rule, not a list of exceptions. Elder Nelson and Elder Oaks explained:

    Elder Russell M. Nelson, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
    CES Fireside for Young Adults, February 6, 2005. Brigham Young University

    “Through the years you will note that apostles and prophets teach the rule. We don’t teach exceptions to the rule. Exceptions are left to individual agency and accountability. The Lord knows we live in an imperfect world. He knows it is ‘ripening in iniquity’ (D&C 18:6). His judgments will be fair, just, and merciful.”

    Elder Oaks explained the same principle in a talk given May 1, 2005, at a CES broadcast, and reprinted in the June 2006 Ensign.

    “The explanation I gave that man is the same explanation I give to you if you feel you are an exception to what I have said. As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. For example, we believe the commandment is not violated by killing pursuant to a lawful order in an armed conflict. But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.”

  16. What is the path for exceptions though? Within my own family, that it hasn’t been addressed has led to a belief that there are no exceptions. The rule applies to everyone (linking back specifically to the topic of gender, that biological gender exceptions (or sexual gender for that matter) are learned/a choice/irrelevant). Then that belief has led to a whole lot of conflict within the family, and according to directly effected individuals, a great deal of personal struggle, depression, anxiety etc. I’m personally stuck at that if there are exceptions to the rule, then God must have a path of happiness for the exceptions. But what is it?

  17. Well, when the person claiming themselves an exception to the rule begins to attack the Church, that’s not typically taken well. That’s the situation my family has seen among friends and relatives. Folks we know have arrogated to themselves the right to break covenants and cast off any authority on the part of Church leaders to righteously warn them of consequences.

    We continue to love these individuals and associate with them. When they have requested we address them using alternate names and gender pronouns, we express our feelings but treat them like adults. And if/when we slip, they love us in turn.

    Now there are times when those who have cast off covenants wish to demand that we similarly cast off covenants, as a show that we truly do love them. But that is similarly unreasonable and unrighteousness to the coercion they claim to have suffered.

    It’s worth listening to Dr Amador’s TEDx talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXxytf6kfPM&app=desktop

    This is not to suggest that anyone necessarily is ill to reject their former covenants. But the model Dr. Amador propones is a way to maintain our relationships when that is possible.

  18. Lehcarjt,

    last I checked/heard, trans people ( m to f, or f to m) can still get baptized, but can’t be ordained to the priesthood. There may be gender specific callings not available, but lots of men and women in the church never have had gender specific callings beyond HT/VT. Temple ordinances might not be available, but then see below.

    One over-arching principle, that is usually taught to single adults, and to persons with whatever handicap, is that no blessings will be denied to worthy people _in the eternities_ if they missed out on things in this life through no fault of their own. That’s the whole deal with proxy ordinances.

    Listen especially to Elder Ballard’s talks to older singles. That principle he teaches covers the exceptions. Live righteously, do what you can, endure to the end, etc.

    Most of humanity has missed out on the priesthood and temple blessings in their mortal life. A large portion, I don’t know the estimate, of humanity has even died before the chance to just get married.

    So if someone misses out on whatever family or church blessing due to genetic mixups, or whatever mental or physical handicap or anomaly, call it what you will, we already have a doctrine that covers it. Just live the best life you know how, follow the commandments the best you can, counsel in private with local leaders to find where you fit best. And remember that Local decisions can easily be appealed up to Area Authority level: bishop, to Stake Pres, to A.A. There is a lot of revelation and gifts of discernment among those guys.

    Millions of unmarried adults live happy lives as singles in the church, not having a temple marriage, not being married at all, yet keeping the law of chastity. Same-sex attracted, and trans-gender/non-binary folk are not expected to do anything different than those millions of single, heterosexal and gender-normative folk. I’ve heard the rejoinders, and they just sound like whining to me. Yes, celibacy/singleness is tough. Yes, it is a heavy cross to bear. But if we can do it, they can do it.

    ELder Oaks’ above talk mentioning rules and exceptions is in the Ensign and easy to look up. I lost the link to Elder Nelson’s talk when LDS.org was redone, but I suppose it can still be found with the right search, since I give the date and audience.

  19. FWIW, the number of humans over time is estimated at at 60 billion.

    I think historically the number of individuals who die in their youth appears to have been between 25% and 50%.

    These kinds of numbers are part of why I find the restored gospel to answer the question of how a loving God could sent us here under such circumstances.

  20. I just now remembered Ardis Parshal’s humorous take on the “you won’t be denied any blessings in the eternities” line often told to singles. She reworded it: “You’ll be better off when you’re dead.” But then, so will all the righteous.

  21. What I hear you saying is the same arguements used by my extended family- That the requirements are the same for everyone(so suck it up, buttercup. It will be better once you are dead. ).

    It seems like that argument is based on there not really being any exceptions. So then to what exceptions was E. Oaks referring?

  22. The general policy is for married couples to stay married. Yet I had an experience that led me to be certain God wished me to leave my first husband. I refused this advice for a period of time, but eventually agreed with God that I needed to get out of that relationship.

    The book relates a case where a Hmong individual who had been raised female felt strongly that they were supposed to be male. A DNA test showed that the individual was, in fact, genetically male. I doubt the Hmong individual was LDS, but if they had been, it might have been a situation where challenging the gender the individual had been raised to embrace would not have seem “right” according to local leaders.

    Nephi was clearly chose to relate that he was an exception to the general rule “do not kill” with respect to taking those steps necessary to obtain the record he’d been commanded to obtain. Daniel was an exception to the general rule “Don’t flout legal statutes” when he prayed and was punished by being thrown into the lion’s den. Ruth went in and shared a bed with a man to whom she was not yet married (sleeping at his feet, that is).

    So there are all kinds of biblical and scriptural examples of folks who acted contrary to what modern LDS might suppose are the general rules.

    But I would advise people not to be like John Smith, who claimed the book of commandments couldn’t be scripture because they said if a man committed adultery he would lose the spirit. John Smith proclaimed that he had committed adultery yet retained the spirit of God, thus proving scripture false.

  23. “So then to what exceptions was E. Oaks referring?”

    The rule is to get married. But many hetero/gender-normative people don’t for quite a few legitimate reasons. I know lots of temple-recommend holding singles. SSA and non-normative-gender folks have legitimate reasons to stay single too.

    The rule is for the mother to stay at home, and the father to be the provider.
    But I know a few who reverse that. They hold temple recommends too.

    The rule is to not work on Sunday. But a member of our bishopric often has to work on Sunday.

    The rule is to attend sacrament meeting. But lots of people with health problems rarely attend, and still have temple recommends.

    The rule is to pay tithing. But some people with no income don’t quite understand the concept of zero, and don’t realize that they can still go to the temple. 10% of zero is zero. They can still qualify for a temple-recommend if they have zero income.

    The rule is to not get divorced. But we see exceptions to that in the church all the time.

    The rule is to have weekly family home evening, daily family prayer, etc. Lot of people claim exceptions there.

    Very few exceptions to the Law of Chastity. Looking with lust is committing adultery. But how many go to the bishop and turn in their temple recommend for that one?

    The rule is to go on a mission. Lots of exceptions have been formalized since the raising of the bar in 2002. And lots of people still claim their own non-formalized exceptions.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness. But we often tell polite lies to avoid hurt feelings. Or hide the truth in fine print, or use “sales-puffery.”

    Most of us live some kind of exception every day.

  24. What I take your list to be is all the ways that most of us fail (one way or the other) at the keeping the laws and how desperately we need the atonement.

    But is failing to keep the law the same thing as being an exception from the law?

    My example would be the 30-something-year-old disabled son of a ward member. The son is blind/deaf/non-verbal. The family (who speaks openly about this very regularly in their testimonies) has been promised from GAs on down via priesthood blessings that their son will never need to be baptized, never need the temple endowment nor temple sealing (outside BIC, which he already has.) He does not have accountability. He falls in with the children who die under 8 years old, who have all that is needed to enter the Celestial Kingdom. So he’s an exception to a whole ton of laws rather than someone who fails the laws. I hope that makes sense.

  25. L: my point is we all most often make excuses when we break the rules. THe crux of it being a legitimate exception is if it is a legitimate excuse or a selfish/unrighteous excuse/reason.

    Most often, church leaders leave that up to the individual. But we know, and the Lord also knows our heart better than we do.

    There are a hierarchy of laws and rules in the church.
    Break some, and nothing happens in rhe short term.
    Break some, and you’re not supposed to take the sacrament.
    Break some, and you lose your temple rec., calling, etc.
    Break some, and you lose your membership.

    Repentance, the Atonement, and restoration apply to all those.

    in my opinion, it looks like the Lord tries to make as few “laws” as possible. But there are plenty of “rules” and policies given for our benefit.

    I suppose you’re a lot younger than I am. And you’ve been taught the difference between absolute laws, like LoC, and lesser or “optional” “rules” like Family Home Evening, family prayer, Seminary, etc. Maybe you think of “have to do’s” versus “optional”. But they are all rules, and have consequences. Don’t do FHE, daily family prayer, kids-in-seminary, and your kids won’t stay in the church when they turn 18. Not the same “punishment” as losing your temple rec or membership, but still pretty devastating.

    I fall waaaay short myself. But I have come to learn that it’s MUCH better in the long run to take as “law” all those “optional” and “rule” things repeatedly presented over the pulpit at Gen Conf. People who focus on just doing the “legal minimum” for membership and a temple rec generally lose their kids to the world, and often lose their own way too.

    Also remember that laws, rules, and commandments don’t have to be in canonized scriptures or in the temple recommend questions to be the will of the Lord. What the first presidency _says_ over the pulpit is pretty much binding on us. But again, exceptions are left to the individual.

    However, we also need to keep in mind that if our excuses are not legitimate, we’re going to reap the consequences of breaking rules or commandments.

    And if we think our excuse is legitimate, but really isn’t, then we’re likely not realizing the need for repentance.

    I think that’s another crucial point. People who realize they fail, and repent, or at least try to repent, are not excusing sin. People who excuse themselves, where it’s not a legitimate excuse, are in essence saying sin is not a sin. In most cases, as Elder Nelson and Elder Oaks said, it’s left up to the individual. But the Lord knows our hearts, and if we are just being ignorant/stupid, or selfishly or malignantly sinning. Plus, WE will eventually judge ourselves too. It will all come back to us at a future time.

  26. Hmmm… I’ll let things end here as I think you and I are not on the same wave-length in terms of what I’m interested in discussing.

    And I’m not sure if I should be flattered or insulted that you think you are older (thus wiser?) than I am, which I say with smile.

  27. L, yeah, I picked that up too, that we are mentally picturing different things in regards to the same words. You also appear to be seeking black/white definitions, which is more common among the younger than among the older.

    It took me a long time to figure out some of the over-arching principles of the gospel as opposed to strict black-and-white thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots.

    Also, overly scrupulous/overly strict parents can _sometimes_ raise children who have a _too_ black/white or too naive picture of the gospel. Not saying saying that applies to you.

  28. I was trying to avoid saying this, but in the name of self-defense (aka, my own ego)… I’m a 46 y/o, BIC, RM, CM, long-term GD teacher, and previous seminary teacher with a career I am quite proud of. I couldn’t be more opposite of a black-&-white thinker. I’m a huge Adam Miller fan, if that helps. Anyone who knows me in person would die laughing at the word ‘naive’ being applied to me. I have had other church members say I am too secular and I show a lack of faith by asking too many questions.

    What interests me in this string of comments is exploring what an exception to the rule of gender (not someone validating behavior by claiming an exception just because they want to do as they please – which I agree happens based on some pretty basic functioning of our brains) looks like both in the here-and-now and the hereafter. What is the plan if gender is eternal and someone is two gendered, mixed gendered, etc.? I see this as a huge gray area.

  29. I’m not sure what CM stands for.

    There was the story of a man who had lost his leg. Allegedly, Brigham(?) told the fellow that it would be better to go through mortality with one leg than eternity with three legs.

    The point of the book is that borderline individuals have been manipulated into a gender that is not the one they would have identified with, had they been given the chance to choose later in life.

    According to the ISNA, approximately one in 100 individuals is not standard male-female at birth. However many of the conditions that constitute this atypical gender alignment are not visible at birth. Other conditions simply amount to a malformation of the genitals.

    As mentioned in earlier comments, there is a vast population of individuals who never got to the age where their gender made a functional difference. Historically half of all individuals born subsequently died before adulthood. Of those who achieved adulthood, fewer than 100% lived lives where their gender made a difference from the standpoint of procreation.

    Now if there is an individual who is capable of engendering children as well as conceiving children and who has actually fulfilled both reproductive roles, we have a conundrum. Otherwise, there is no real eternal conundrum.

  30. My book group met this past week.

    I brought up the point of folks being either of the sort who conceive or of the sort who engender pregnancies (or of the sort who are incapable of either). To this a couple of the ladies recounted stories of men giving birth. When I challenged them, they googled the stories in question. In each such case researched, the “pregnant man” was born a woman and therefore had female equipment suited to conception.

    This is why it is important to read beyond the headline (or tweet) to the text, and even to peruse the footnotes.

Comments are closed.