A few weeks ago Millennial Star contributor Tom S. wrote an essay titled, “The Meaning of the Gay Dating Fiasco at BYU”. This prompted some good discussion among our readers, some of which didn’t believe that there are people who work for and teach at BYU that don’t fully support the church. Tom’s essay was published right about the time a new group called Keeping Faith at BYU was organized. You might have read more about the group over on My Life by GoGoGoff. So far their work has prompted a lot of discussion in the affirmative and in the negative online. But it’s a discussion we need to have about BYU.
As our own J Max Wilson shared on twitter a few days ago, “I had chosen to major in English with my eyes wide open about what I was going to encounter. But I felt bad about the students who were not expecting or prepared for their faith to be attacked at BYU. I came to BYU knowing that there would be apostate professors and students. My father had been at BYU more than a decade beforehand working on his PhD and had often told us about his apostate professors. When my own daughter was accepted to BYU last year we had a good talk about the fact that she could not assume that either her professors or her fellow students would be faithful members of the church. She started BYU knowing that some of her professors and the other students might push apostate ideas and reject the teachings and directions of the prophets and apostles.”
In February, news media reported that BYU had dropped its blanket prohibition on homosexual behavior and would no longer discipline students for same-sex dating, hand-holding or kissing. USA Todayran the headline “BYU removes ‘homosexual behavior’ ban from honor code, reflecting Mormon church stance”, suggesting that the church’s doctrine had itself softened.
Two weeks later, the change in BYU policy would be reversed, and it would become clear that the church never had any intention of allowing gay dating at its schools. But the narrative had already taken on a life of its own. It culminated, on March 6, in an unprecedented protest at church headquarters by a group of dissenting BYU students and supporters.
The skirmish over gay dating crystallized tensions that had been building up at BYU and other church institutions for years. A faction of dissenting progressives, hostile to church teachings on sex and marriage and heterodox on core doctrine, has quietly formed within the North American church over the last few decades. Unable to acquire formal, ecclesiastical authority in the church, this faction has operated by gaining influence in non-ecclesiastical church institutions and shaping conversations about the church in online spaces and news media.
It is worth examining the events of the gay dating fiasco at BYU, which make for an illustration of these tactics and give insight into inevitable future conflicts.
Last week the Church updated the General Handbook and released it to the membership at large. In conjunction with this BYU released some chances to its Honor Code which have caused a lot of confusion and have given BYU more press than it probably should have (seriously, we should all be talking about the Basketball game against Gonzaga instead of this).
Today BYU Women’s Conference starts (YAY! I wish I was there!). The Friday opening and closing general sessions will be live streamed on some of the Church’s media channels. The Thursday general sessions are not being live streamed, however, they will be online for on-demand viewing a few weeks after Women’s Conference. I will let everyone know when they are available.
This year’s theme is based on Ether 12:41, “And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.” This is one of my favorite scriptures, and I am so glad that this is the theme of the Conference this year.
Here is the information for viewing:
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Sister Joy D. Jones with Sheri Dew as moderator May 3, 2019
9:00–10:15 a.m. – Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Sister Kathy Christofferson May 3, 2019
3:45–5:00 pm – Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
Spanish: On the Facebook page for Sister Cristina B. Franco, Second Counselor of the Primary General Presidency, as well as the Facebook page for Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor of the Relief Society General Presidency.
Sorry for the last minute notice for our readers. BYU Women’s Conference starts today — YAY! The closing sessions today and tomorrow begin at 3:45 MDT, and will be live streamed on LDS.org. Today we will hear from the Relief Society General Presidency. and tomorrow the speakers will be Elder Garret W. Gong and his wife Susan Gong. Both days should be a spiritual feast!
To follow the Conference on social media, use the hashtags: #BYUWC #BYUWomensConference.
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