The meaning of the gay dating fiasco at BYU

BYU students and others protesting at church headquarters on March 6, 2020.

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 Today ran 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.


In February, the Church Educational System approved a new Honor Code for all church colleges and universities, made up of eight principles of conduct, replacing a previous, similar, Honor Code Statement the schools had shared but adding new language about vaping, among other tweaks. This move standardized the form of the Honor Code across schools: previously, BYU had included school-specific policies in the text of its Honor Code along with the Statement (following the change, these policies were moved to another webpage).

On February 19, the same day an updated church General Handbook was released, BYU and other schools announced the new CES Honor Code to students and faculty. Within hours, journalists and students noticed another change: the “Honor Code Related Policies” on BYU’s website, the BYU-specific policies which expounded on the eight Honor Code principles and which had previously been included in the text of BYU’s Honor Code, did not include previous language explicitly forbidding “homosexual behavior”. Some speculated that the change meant same-sex dating, hand-holding and kissing would now be permitted at BYU.

That afternoon, a group of jubilant students posted selfies taken with BYU Honor Code Office employees on Twitter, saying staff had confirmed students would no longer be disciplined for same-sex dating. Photos of gay couples kissing in front of the school’s statue of Brigham Young were widely shared on social media and published by news outlets that evening. Employees had also told students these changes reflected not just BYU policy, but church teaching. The law of chastity, they said, only dealt with sex, not with other romantic behavior.

The same day, BYU communications released a statement saying that while the text of the Honor Code policies had changed, the principles of the Honor Code had not. But the final tweet in the statement said that discipline would be “case-by-case” and that dating “means different things to different people”. The question of whether same-sex dating was permitted by BYU, or even by church teaching, was left up in the air. At the same time, there were reports from BYU-Idaho that gay dating was still prohibited there—BYU-I’s Honor Code policies had never included explicit language about homosexual behavior, apparently seeing it as superfluous.

Over the next week, the BYU HCO continued to tell students and faculty that same-sex dating and kissing would not be disciplined. A video of a finance professor celebrating the change went viral online. The professor told his students the policy change was a “massive watershed” and suggested those unhappy with the change didn’t have a testimony. He repeated a statement reportedly from the HCO to the effect that anyone who made negative comments about same-sex relationships would themselves be subject to Honor Code discipline.

A clip from Prof. Jim Brau’s lecture where he discussed the changes to the Honor Code policies.

There was widespread confusion as students and members wondered whether the church had changed its teaching, or if perhaps the law of chastity had somehow always allowed same-sex dating. On social media, the belief that church teaching permitted homosexual dating was becoming entrenched, even among many faithful members, who were accustomed to assuming that any statement from BYU represents the views of the church.

Relatively few members expressed skepticism that the church had really intended to allow same-sex dating at BYU, and those who did (correctly, as it turned out) were often chided by progressive dissenters and ordinary members alike.

The confusion wasn’t resolved until March 4, when Elder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of the Church Educational System (CES), sent a letter to students and faculty explaining that the principles of the Honor Code had not changed and that same-sex dating is not permitted because, unlike opposite-sex dating, it cannot lead to marriage.

While the CES letter resolved the confusion, it incensed progressive students, who began protesting outside the Honor Code Office with posters, chants, and a “die-in” (where protesters lie on the ground). These campus protests quickly fell flat, as it was clear the HCO agreed with the protesters.

The protest was then taken to the church itself, at its headquarters in Salt Lake City, two days after the CES letter. A large crowd of protesters called for gay dating to be permitted at BYU and for the church to change its teachings on sexuality. A spokesman for the church gave a characteristically mild response, reiterating church teaching and requesting mutual kindness and respect. Within days, everyone’s attention turned toward the novel coronavirus, and the matter was put out of mind for several months.


Both the letter from Elder Johnson and the protest at church headquarters were unusual. The church has only very rarely issued public corrections of church institutions. What happened? One possibility is a rift between the church and BYU administration, as asserted by two people who claim to have been in contact with administrators.

A March 4 tweet from Shayla Frandsen, whose husband is a BYU faculty member, claimed a member of the BYU administration told her that the CES letter from Elder Johnson “seriously blindsided” most of the administration and that there was likely “tension between BYU & CES/Salt Lake”. Calvin Burke, a high-profile BYU student who has often claimed to know “upper-level admin” well, replied to confirm the report and suggested separately in other tweets that BYU administration agrees with his progressive, dissenting view on church teachings on sexuality. One of the tweets, suggesting a rift between admin and the Board of Trustees over the gay dating affair, is still up.

Church leaders may have appealed to BYU in February to correct the HCO policy on gay dating, only to be rebuffed by bureaucrats who assumed the church, averse to conflict, would not publicly force the issue. This would explain the two-week delay before a correction was made, but would represent a significant escalation in the conflict between the church and its progressive faction.

The protest in Salt Lake City was also unusual: while it is commonplace to see anti-Mormon fanatics distributing literature or organizing small demonstrations near the temple in Salt Lake City, protests against the church by apparently observant members, such as BYU students, are rare. The protest was even more striking for the fact that some employees of BYU, if not in attendance, appeared to be on the side of the protesters.

While BYU students have protested BYU policies before, they have always done so on campus, directing their frustration at administrators. The March protest appears to have been the first where dissenters did not seem to believe that BYU and the church were on the same side.


Latter-day Saints are known for their loyalty to the church and its leadership, believing that only the church president and apostles have the authority to receive divine revelation pertaining to church affairs. There have always been progressive dissenters in the church, but during the twentieth century they were a fringe. In the worldwide church this is still true. Virtually no Latter-day Saints in the Philippines, Ecuador or Cote d’Ivoire, for example, are asking to join the sexual revolution.

In the North American church, however, progressive dissenters (distinct from political liberals who are faithful to church teachings) have grown in numbers and visibility, especially online. Most Latter-day Saint blogs are run by progressive dissenters, who spend much of their time critiquing their religion from a liberal perspective. Many English-language Facebook groups and online spaces for members are dominated by people with liberal views of church teachings—hence the ease with which the far-fetched idea that the church permitted gay dating became conventional wisdom online.

But the influence of these progressive dissenters goes beyond online spaces. Virtually always white, upper middle class and college-educated, the dissenters are also over-represented at the church’s non-ecclesiastical institutions in the US. At BYU alone, the HCO, university administration, several academic departments and schools and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies, formerly a home for apologetics, have proven vulnerable to infiltration by progressives who reject church teachings.

It is the combination of their control of online narratives with their expanding institutional power that progressives use to great effect in their efforts to change the church. The story of the February-March Honor Code affair is a story of progressives in the BYU Honor Code Office and administration cooperating with Utah and national news media, a minority of students and faculty, and a chorus of heretics on social media to spin up a narrative of changing church teachings on sexuality, that, absent public correction from the church’s ecclesiastical leaders, would have become the de facto reality through sheer manipulation. Nothing prevents similar scenarios from playing out in the future—recently, American progressives have threatened to publicly press for Brigham Young’s name to be removed from the name of the university.


The danger the progressive faction presents to the church is not so much that it will succeed in changing it, but that Latter-day Saints will not see dissenters and rogues for what they are. There were at least two groups of members left confused and disillusioned by the February-March Honor Code drama at BYU. On the one hand, there were ordinary members of the church disoriented by what appeared to them to be a shift in church teaching not communicated by ecclesiastical leaders. On the other, many liberal members of the church were susceptible, thanks to a popular online narrative that the church is perpetually on the verge of changing its teachings, to the false messaging that the church now permitted same-sex dating. They were left disappointed and, in some cases, disaffected when they realized there had been no such change.

Many ordinary church members have a tendency to place too much trust in non-ecclesiastical church institutions, rather than the church itself, and run the risk of not noticing wolves amid the flock. Many liberals still hold out hope, reinforced by endless progressive propaganda, that the church will soon assimilate to contemporary secular views on sexuality. Some make their faith conditional on this hope. Both groups make the mistake of confusing a growing progressive faction in the North American church with the church itself. Until this perception is corrected, future ruses by progressive dissenters will lead, like the HCO fiasco, to confusion, disappointment and disillusionment.

55 thoughts on “The meaning of the gay dating fiasco at BYU

  1. Thank you for this analysis. I wonder if the Bishops or Stake Presidents of these dissenting students and faculty are aware of their members actions. As a Bishop, I would want to know so I could deal with it accordingly.

  2. There are, unfortunately, a lot of BYU bishops and stake presidents that turn a blind eye to this stuff. They don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so they hurt their souls and salvation instead.

  3. Thanks so much for articulating so well what has bothered many of us concerning how this all went down.

  4. When I do an ecclesiastical endorsement interview, I make it clear to the candidate their are dozens of eagar individuals in line behind them who would love to attend but will not be able. I tell them I will not hesitate to revoke an endorsement if I see any evidence of honor code violation or behavior that demonstrates rebellion against the Church. I’m sad to hear there are leaders who shrug that off. I hope they are a minority.

  5. Thank you for this analysis.
    we dont want sodom and gomorah in our good church.
    from Africa-Kenya

  6. Your labeling of other opinions and viewpoints as ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’, in a perjorative and attempted protective-of-the-church tone is neither loving nor respectful. Name-calling is not a church doctrine, policy, or practice.
    Your attempt to portray what you think is the position of the church is mistaken.
    The ‘dating’ remark by a leader of CES was ridiculous… ‘dating’ is not solely for seeking a marriage partner… At 16 the church sanctions dating. Do you honestly think each date is intended to seek a mate?
    There are numerous sociological and psychological and personal needs and benefits to dating. Besides, isn’t meeting a person at a time and place a ‘date’? But then so frequently a boy and a girl, or any age man and woman, specifying claim and explicitly state that a pre-agreed meeting at a time and place is NOT A DATE!!
    Policing behavior is a ill-advised practice in the church historically… I recall the 4inch police trying to keep us apart while dancing at church dances when I was a teen ager.
    We preach free agency as the building block of eternal existence, then we so often try to override it to orchestrate others’ behaviors that we disapprove of. Rock and roll music, in and of itself, is not the ‘evil scourge’ it was portrayed as by leaders back in the 50-60-70’s. Probably over 95% of professed LDS people have listened to, liked, and danced to rock and roll in the past – including the vast majority of their current leadership.
    Gayness, homosexuality, is a practice or self description by less than 3% of the population. It is not an ‘evil scourge’. It has been around since most of recorded history. It has not taken over the world by overpowering our collective and individual free agencies. It never will.
    Why do we focus on a 3%, not one of whom has ever attempted to force me into their ranks – or 99.999% of the rest of you either?
    Don’t we have bigger and better things to worry about… Real dangerous temptations and evils and sins? Ones that go after all 100% of us?
    Didn’t that amazing Jesus guy tell us to worry about our own behavior and not about regulating the behavior of others?
    Just a note for you name-callers : Church great John A Widstoe calls the LDS Religion a “Liberal Religion” in ‘Evidences and Reconciliations’. And Joseph Smith was considered a ‘Progressive’. So we can be in great church leaders’ company if we are labeled as ‘liberals’ and/or ‘progressives’… You’ll also need to include that Jesus guy, also, I’m afraid!

  7. The leaders of the Church prefer its members to, as Joseph Smith stated, learn correct principles and then govern themselves. For decades no statement was made about caffeinated beverages, for example, until confusion and internal conflict raised to a level where the leadership was compelled to clarify.

    I think the same thing can be said for this HCO update situation. Unfortunately, with the pervasiveness of social media and dissent organization, the necessity of a more timely statement of clarification was necessary.

  8. Outstanding. Thank you for compiling this succinct and accurate overview. I will share it with other members who care about these issues.

  9. Rick, dating as a young adult is for the purpose of finding a spouse. Church leaders have been very clear on that over the years. Yes, it’s a way, perhaps make some good friends, but in the end, it’s about finding a person to go to the temple with and make covenants that last for eternity. Making covenants is part of the Plan of Salvation, those covenants and how well we keep them bring us back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If we are not helping young adults focus on that, we are doing them a disservice.

    And while homosexuals might only make up 3% of the population, the LGBT agenda is much bigger than 3% eg: movies, media, television, music, school curriculum. The “love is love” narrative goes against the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it teaches that you can be saved IN your sins, not FROM your sins. Sadly many members of the church in their pursuit of loving, actually end up enabling bad behavior. I have seen that in my own family with a same-sex attracted sibling who has been told that love is love and everything they are doing is ok, as long as it feels good and right. The Family Proclamation, the scriptures and the leaders of the church have been very clear about chastity, marriage, gender, relationships etc There is not going to be a change from those eternal doctrines.

    Finally the terms “liberal” and “progressive” are understood and used very differently today than they were in Joseph Smith and Elder Widsoe’s day. I’m certain that neither of them would be ok with any of the liberal/progressive agenda that’s out in the world today.

  10. Rick, good try trying to claim past church leaders are liberals and/or progressives. These words had very different meanings during the lives of Joseph Smith and Elder Widstoe. There has never been a member of the First Presidency of the Church who has ever publicly supported: 1)homosexual dating 2)homosexual sexual activity 3)government welfare of any kind 4)abortion and 5)anything but the traditional view of marriage and gender, as expressed in the Proclamation on the Family. So, no, the Church is not about your favorite causes, and it never will be.

  11. Rick F: do you believe that Joseph Smith Jr. was an actual, real, and authorized prophet of God?

    Do you believe that all the LDS church presidents from Brigham Young through Russell Nelson have also been real and authorized prophets of God and legitimate successors to JS Jr.?

  12. I am a loyal member of the Faith. I have followed this matter of chatter, but still feel aghast at it. The most deplorable facet is the apparent fact that the Church has tolerated the disease of Liberalism (intellectual, not political) within its perimeter. Books are marketed at Deseret Book that feed the Saints fad/false philosophies and laud the value of doubt in the form of Mason/Miller/Ostler/Givenspeak. One of the scholars involved in the Joseph Smith Papers project “Revelations and Translations, Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts,” Brian Hauglid, has openly declared his opposition to our Church scholars for defending the Book of Abraham. His partner in the Vol. 4 project, Robin Jensen of the Church History Dept, incredibly stands by him. Unbelievably, Jensen has stated that he and Hauglid [arbitrarily] decided their JS Papers volume would *not* be done from a believer’s standpoint, but rather from a secular one. I repeat, Robin Jensen works in the Church History Department, and receives his living there.

    And the Church has tolerated other soul rot: In 2012, Secularist-Liberals at BYU succeeded in hijacking a faithful Institute, the Maxwell Institute. They fired its faithful, hard-working scholars and rewrote it mission statement to cancel its founding purpose of defending the faith, and to give it a new, self-serving secularist mission. The takeover represented a whole new Liberal tactical endeavor: take over a faithful institution, gut it, give it a new selfish agenda, and use slick deceiving descriptors as facade.

    Neither Deseret Book nor Church departments respond to input. They have *volunteers* that reply to email or mail from Church members. The volunteers have only vague, distant access to actual decision makers and those who execute direction and policy. To deal with these volunteers is maddening; they merely try to kindly numb your concerns and inject you with anesthesia. Bless their hearts, that’s all they *can* do. I’ve written to Deseret Book president Sheri Dew twice, but never received even the courtesy of an email reply.

    Liberal scholar-deities like Leonard Arrington and Richard Bushman have used the ‘Mormon History Association’ to showcase their Liberal colors. The MHA gave their best book award to Dan Vogel’s book whose thesis is that Joseph Smith was a pious fraud. Standing proudly onstage, Bushman bestowed that association’s highest achievement award on apostate Mike Quinn. Later, Richard told a home fireside group who sat worshipfully at his feet that the Church’s “narrative is not true; it cannot be sustained.” His like-minded’s who support him tout his church resume.

    My point is this: There are watchmen on the towers who have failed the Faith. They were either inept or slept. They either forsook or shook (feared man more than loved God). Either way it is unforgivable betrayal.

  13. @ Rick
    I see your claim that Elder Widstoe called the Church a “liberal religion” in “Evidences and Reconciliations” and raise you a quote of his from the same publication:

    “The self-called liberal is usually one who has broken with the fundamental principles or guiding philosophy of the group to which he belongs…. He claims membership in an organization but does not believe in its basic concepts; and sets out to reform it by changing its foundations….

    “It is folly to speak of a liberal religion, if that religion claims that it rests upon unchanging truth.

    “It is well to beware of people who go about proclaiming that they are or their churches are liberal. The probabilities are that the structure of their faith is built on sand and will not withstand the storms of truth.”

    I expect most people appreciate when others are more liberal in showing kindness and mercy to them, more open-minded in considering new ideas. Joseph Smith exemplified those traits well.

    But, as Elder Widstoe said, “It is folly to speak of a liberal religion, if that religion claims that it rests upon unchanging truth.” One of those unchanging truths is chastity: no sexual relations outside of a legal and lawful marriage relationship. (I don’t see “legal and lawful” as a rhetorical flourish; to me “legal” refers to civic standards, which are set by mortal humans, while “lawful” refers to the Lord’s standards, which are set by Him.)

    One thing the above account didn’t mention was President Ballard’s visit to BYU for a devotional address on March 3rd. My impression of the talk, as I heard it, was that of a slow boil in which he repeatedly emphasized how much God loves His children, leading up to a firm but gentle reminder to keep God’s commandments and remember our covenants, while also noting that he was not unaware of what had been going on down there.

    While mention was made of confusion on the part of Church members, the only thing that confused this BYU alumnus was how anyone at BYU (or anywhere else) could assume that BYU has any authority in changing gospel standards. It doesn’t. And assuming that a standard has changed just because the honor code doesn’t explicitly spell it out anymore is a basic Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-29 violation, as far as I’m concerned.

  14. Glen,

    You might be interested in an April 1989 General Conference address by Elder Oaks on alternate voices.

    An extract:
    “My remarks will refer to those voices that speak of God, of his commandments, and of the doctrines, ordinances, and practices of his church. Some of those who speak on these subjects have been called and given divine authority to do so. Others, whom I choose to call alternate voices, speak on these subjects without calling or authority.”

  15. Great post, Tom. Hope those with the power to make changes at Church HQ read this.

  16. Thanks Mike. I’m familiar with Smoot’s article and with the context of Bushman’s irresponsible blanket statement. I think the context does not clarify much; that is why his friends had to do it for him.
    God bless. 🙂

  17. Glen, you must have worked with the army, that is clear, concise, and makes no sense whatsoever. What does any of that have to do with gay dating at BYU? how can you say you’re a “loyal member of the church ” and yet accuse the leadership of being inept and/or asleep? A house divided against itself cannot stand. No one is forcing you to buy books……

  18. I disagree a wee, Whizz. My post speaks to the issue of administrators who fail the Faith—such as the ones who fomented the confusion at BYU, and also a failing Church culture which allows the inane uprisings of budding adults who don’t have a clue about revealed truth and fundamental reality. Read carefully: I did not fault Church ‘leadership,’ but rather Church *administrators.*

    Suggest think more carefully, be circumspect, look at the whole picture. Now go out and play but stay out of trouble, friend of rend.

  19. Glen Danielsen: That’s a most uncharitable way of looking at the situation. I hope you never find yourself misquoted and your words twisted to mean something you didn’t believe or intend.

  20. It’s been interesting reading the accounts in the Book of Mormon regarding various dissident groups, from Nehor to Alma the Younger (pre-conversion) to Amalickiah and the stunning letter from Giddianhi demanding the Nephites surrender to the Gadianton robbers.

    Humans tend to like to conform to the community with which they associate, whether they conform due to explicit oath and legal stricture or because of mere suasion. As we’ve seen with COVID response, the communities with which folks find allegiance are not aligned.

    In Italy warring city states would besiege one another, catapulting diseased animal corpses within the walls attempting to protect the opponent. Thus they expected to produce sufficient disease to weaken their opponent and force capitulation. No doubt those manning the catapults and trebuchets felt they were honorable.

    Feeling justified in what you are doing is not the metric for judging whether you are right. For those who claim to adhere to belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a better metric is ability to rejoice in the fullness of the teachings of leaders given during General Conference. As we begin to reject and revile these teachings, whether because we identify with “progressive” or “conservative” communities, we risk damaging our faith.

    My mother is dying. Part of her death process recently has been inability to partake of food or even ice chips. In similar fashion, I suggest that as we die to the gospel, we find ourselves increasingly unable to tolerate counsel from leaders.

    It is not that food, water, and the counsel of leaders is bad. But as we approach death (physical or spiritual), that which is sweet to the living becomes unbearable to us.

  21. Glen, you never said “administrators” you said “watchmen on the towers”, which in the context of what sells at deseretbook and the CHL, I assumed the General authorities of the church, it didn’t cross my mind you meant BYU leadership. So, you were talking about books and history but not really and we are at fault for not reading your mind to know what you were really talking about? Which is BYU? You also fault a church culture, but not the leadership, somehow of said church culture, but the administrators. Answer me this, what is the difference between a leader and an administrator?

  22. I’ll let you think more about some of those things and figure it out for yourself. You can think and pray.
    But regarding administrators: they would be the president of Deseret Book, president of BYU and department heads at the school, head of Church History Department, etc.

    I will be making a YouTube video for an upcoming channel I am launching. In it, I will be suggesting that the Church use Called & Ordained Special Witness such as General Authority Seventies to oversee Deseret Book, Brigham Young University, the Church History Department, etc. Marvelous General Auxiliary Leaders could also be placed in those positions. I would be thrilled at the idea.
    The Church already does this with Church Magazines. As a result, those magazines are, beautifully faithful, consistently reliable, full of light and truth. There is no thought-chaos in them, no fad philosophy nor soul-rot.

    Regarding Church culture: Culture in the Faith is the result of actions, inactions, attitudes, quirks, and idiosyncrasies of its rank & file members.

    God bless you. Enjoy some joy today!

  23. Just another comment about gays and gay marriage – and the paucity of their numbers and their supposed threat. Again I mention that there are less than 3% gays in our society. And less than 1% who want or have sought to be ‘married’ under the laws of the land. I consider gays to be no threat whatsoever to my marriage, no threat to the marriage of any member of my family, no threat to any of my grandchildren. As I previously stated, there have been gays for 6000 years.
    And why our Church and other Churches throw so many millions of $$$, in addition to thousands of man hours, against the gays and gay marriage is crazy. Simply stop giving attention – they are not THE threat.
    I will tell you what THE REAL threat is = cohabitation. Sexual sin is listed in the BofM as the number 3 most serious sin. Has that changed? I don’t think so.
    3% gays and less than 1% wanting to marry – heck, at least they want to marry – and make commitments to each other, and live under the laws of the land regarding marriage = contrast that to cohabitation. Here there may be some commitment, but not like legal commitments, and cohabitants are outside the marriage laws of the land – especially the millions of children born to cohabitants.
    3% pales in comparison to the 70% of the population today who are or will cohabit with a partner of the opposite sex in their lifetime. At least 44% will cohabit with 2 or more different partners. Of those being born today, it is estimated that 80% will cohabit in their lifetime. 64.5% of those 18-44 today have cohabited outside of marriage. One study states that: “Cohabitation is common and there is little stigma associated with it”; and: ‘Cohabitation is now normative behavior.’
    Elder Holland even stated that ‘being gay’ itself is not a sin. However, no general authority has ever stated that cohabitation is not a sin.
    This sin is #3 on the big sin list, and yet we hear almost nothing about it. 3% versus 70% — soon to be 80%.
    You tell me which is a real threat to marriage – a few hundred thousand gay couples or 100 million cohabitants???
    I do consider cohabitation a real and tangible threat to all marriages and to those not yet married.

  24. I live in Canada, when gay marriage became legal the Church said nothing. I don’t recall a word from HQ about it. No statements were over read over the pulpit, nothing. When gay marriage became legal in the States, you’d think all hell had broken loose.

  25. Rick, I am going to ask you and all commenters to keep on-topic. The topic of this post is the gay dating fiasco at BYU, not the general state of gay marriage and/or co-habitation, or whether gay marriage is a threat, which has been argued and re-argued on this site and other LDS sites approximately 8 million times in the last decade or so.

  26. This author seems intent on holding to the status quo of the church and BYU that homosexuality is not permissible, and I know he’ll find plenty of church leaders and sources to back him up. As with law, though it exists now, it was written at a point, and the same is true of church doctrine. The question to me is not whether church members can uphold the doctrine as it stands now, without question, but if they can decide for themselves whether it is moral and loving. Culturally, many are widening their idea of acceptability to include LGBTQ people, which I’m glad for, because we are people who deserve human rights like anyone else. The church, and BYU by extension, risks once again being left behind in its inability to acknowledge change for human rights, just as they were when black people could not hold the priesthood or participate in temple sealing.

  27. I also apologize, Geoff. My post became kind-of broad.
    Yet still germane I think, because it addressed the root problem (as I see it). That is, that the chaos of confusion and protests are, I think, a result of a slipping of Church culture, careless administration, and failed loyalty to our mission as devoted Latter-day Saints who need to be lit with the Fire of the Covenant.
    Cheers, site watchman! 🙂

  28. Hello, Teague! May I suggest a few specks of thought!
    Really, the concerns that burns can be calmed by keeping to a simple reality: The Church has standards of *behavior.* There is much tumult about LGBT issues. BYU, I think, must never be moved or concerned with staying abreast of society’s ebbs and flows. The Faith is not a mirror, but a lighthouse, and will never seek approval from anyone for its standards. BYU’s trouble has come from seeking such inane approvals. Doctrines will not change nor adapt to public opinion. BYU doesn’t risk being ‘left behind’; it is the world that risks that.

    God bless you, traveler on rough road! Be blessed today. 🙂

  29. @Glen,
    Though I understand the church posits its doctrines as eternal and everlasting, it’s observably a religion carried out by men and both responsive culture and adaptive to changing ways of thinking. I would recommend you examine how the church has changed in response to cultural shifts many times, and thereafter enshrined those changes as doctrine (start with polygamy practices, or of course, black people receiving the priesthood). Like I mentioned in my first post, since one can clearly see the church responds and adapts over time, the question now is not whether members should hold to practices as they were written once, but if those practices still serve the idea of a loving community. I hope you, and other members in your line of thinking, will ask yourself what you gain from thinking that homophobic practices carry wait as eternal doctrine. Are the people leaving the church finding communities that truly practice godly care and love? I hope they are, as the church is proving at this time that it is not capable of meeting this cultural shift to greater human rights.

  30. Teague wrote: “This author seems intent on holding to the status quo of the church and BYU that homosexuality is not permissible, ”

    I wanted to assume that you were un-intentionally vague and misleading with your first sentence.

    If you have been paying close attention to the church, you know that the leaders (The First Presidency and the 12, a.k.a. “the Brethren”) have taken pains for many years now to differentiate between same-sex attraction (SSA) and same-sex sex.

    (Granted, over 30 years ago, church leaders also used the “homosexuality” short-cut word. But in their defense, that was before sexual-orientation was used as an “identity” and no one was considered to be gay unless they did gay.)

    They have repeated said that SSA is not a sin, and people with SSA can fully participate, including in the temple. They also have said same-sex sex is a violation of the Law of Chastity, as is heterosexual sex outside of marriage.

    This distinction is now in common parlance in most all Christian religious circles in North America…. SSA is not considered a sin.

    But in the minds of most of the “unchurched” general public, it is assumed that everyone has sex, including those with SSA having same-sex sex.

    In my observations of public discussions and the media, it appears to me that it is those who consider SSA or homosexual orientation to be a defining _identity_ (as opposed to a temporal characteristic of a person), who incorrectly make that forced connection (between SSA and behavior) and who also intentionally attempt to prevent others from making a distinction between SSA (orientation) and _behavior_.

    You may reject the distinction (between orientation and behavior) that Christians make, but you need to acknowledge the existance of that stance/viewpoint, as it is in the foundation of what most Christians believe about proper sexual relations, and what is sin/not-sin.

    To tie it to the O.P., the Byu HC affair was not about “homosexuality”, (where the use of the word conflates and confuses SSA/behavior) but totally about behavior.

    The “added dimension” of the BYU honor code matter of 1st Qtr 2020, is “what exactly constitutes homosexual behavior?”

    I think it fair to say that the change in the “specificity” of the HC wording led to confusion about the “in between” behavior that is not sexual in nature, but may appear to be homosexually oriented, such as holding hands.

    As part of the confusion is that different cultures have different traditions of acceptable public affection between same-sex individuals. European men embrace and kiss more than North American men. Same-sex hand-holding is not an indicator of same-sex orientation in many cultures.

    I can see a couple reasons why CES (not BYU) took out some specificity (about public behavior, or PDA) from the Honor Code.

    And… they did give one reason: they want to be free to handle things on an individual basis, presumably to be able to take context and intent into account.

    The eyebrow-raising aspect of the HC change is that some people in the BYU administration (I’m still not clear who) read more into the “less specificity” and extrapolated it out to more than what CES (CES is over BYU) intended.

    So…. It seems that now there is this third thing/category we need to be clear about in our discussions about BYU: We now need to understand the church’s stance on “homosexual PDA” (public display of affection), in addition to SSA versus same-sex sex.

    Net: In future comments, you will be better understood if you separate the three, or at least the latter two.

  31. Hey Bookslinger, I’ve heard these distinctions and I understand the church has a law of chastity no matter what. Like you said, this need to now even classify same sex PDA as potentially inappropriate comes across as odd back-bending to classify homophobia. I think you would do well to ask yourself if such labels as SSA are not themselves still rooted in homophobia, or in other words, a want to appear not homophobic while upholding many homophobic policies and viewpoints.

  32. Bookslinger – I guess I’m saying your long post about classifications of “same-sex” behaviors and orientations is a straw man. Ultimately, both the church and BYU do not accept LGBTQ people, whether this is over hand holding or right to self determination. You cannot accept someone without accepting their behavior, and BYU does not hold the same standards for straight students as it does for its queer students.

  33. Teague, another extremely common point of confusion is the misnomer “homophobia.” The term denotes *fear* of homosexuality. I think in most part, that is a fallacy, a fantasy. I think very few are afraid of gays and their offshoot identity constructs. A term that would hugely better describe feelings and attitudes of the rank and file in society toward gay behavior is disgust. They are not afraid; rather, they feel a healthy, natural contempt toward a people and movement that makes needless, self-obsessed, inane demands on a society that had been willing to let them live & breath & cohabitate to their hearts’ content all along anyway. The distaste and contempt toward gays *is earned* because of the vortex of confused, monumentally invalid tantrum-talk that now characterizes them and their activism. You will respond right here with it; it will be immediate case-in-point.

  34. Hi Glen – there’s a lot in your argument that seems meant to insult. Rather than respond to you’re statements, I’m gonna leave you to your “well-earned disgust” and enjoy my time. All the best to you.

  35. Teague: I respect that you have given good indication that you understand that the church’s position (or at least what I perceive the church’s position to be) is based on separating orientation from behavior. (there are several other principles involved, but that’s one of them.)

    And I see that you disagree with the “lens” that sees orientation as separate (or “should be separate”) from behavior.

    This “lens”, vis-a-vis the opposing lens that you use (which makes orientation, identity, and behavior all one), I think, is at the heart of
    the BYU controversy,

    But I want Geoff B (one of the moderators here) to confirm if continuing this line of discussion would be on topic or not.

    (By the way, look up “strawman”. I think you used it incorrectly.)

  36. Glen surely knows how disgusted Brigham Young was with interracial marriage. And I’m sure he’s glad that is no longer acceptable among LDS leadership.

  37. This post is very informative and so are the comments. It reaffirms my desire to follow the prophets that God has called to lead us.

    Also, Meg, thank you for your sad but beautiful and instructive comment. I think you are absolutely right about “dying” to the gospel. I will remember that for a long time; I think it will help me when I find myself not wanting to do the simple things that keep me close to God.

  38. Let’s keep on topic people. A lot of commenters here appear to be new, so I am letting this go. Glen, I understand the point of your comment, and I agree that the movement is problematic, but no reason to use inflammatory language to make your point. Let’s be nicer. You don’t see the Brethren use that kind of language, and that is what we should model. On the other hand, this is not a site where people can use words like “homophobia,” (which is a ridiculous word to use in this day and age) without being challenged. The phobias are all gone these days — what is relevant is policy, and this is a post about gay dating policy at BYU, not a general discussion of homophobia, gay marriage or anything else. Please stay on point. Last warning before comments start getting deleted.

  39. No, actually I only stated a paragraph of truth that many, many will see and sigh and appreciate, seeing someone finally uttering good sense against the din of PC nonsense. Sometimes plain speaking is dearly needed.

    A footnote: Why is PDA even on the gay whine list? I have recently been on a Southern California university campus nearly every day. I nearly *never* saw public displays of affection there—kissing, hand-holding, or otherwise. For whatever reason, students just didn’t do it—even laying on the grass in our expansive broad quad. Now, why is this then such a hot, fiery demand by gay students at the campus at BYU? A church university no less! This is not to insult nor to argue, (at 64, I am not into drama anymore).

    You see, there is an explosion of societal insanity that has so much inertia that it is completely unchecked now by people of sense, good judgment, values, and God.

  40. Bookslinger – “ A straw man is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, meanwhile the proper idea of argument under discussion was not addressed or properly refuted.” – meaning you brought into the picture how BYU classifies LGBTQ students and their behavior, but not why these classifications are or are not moral, per my many previous comments about this exact question.

  41. T: you got it backwards. you were the one not addressing the underlying principle of separation of orientation and behavior.

    “Disagreement” is not a strawman. “failing to support/explain”… well, we haven’t gotten that deep yet.

    In essence, a strawman argument is assigning a position or belief to one’s opponent, that they don’t actually have, or materially misrepresenting a position they do have, and then arguing against the “strawman” (false opponent) that has been set up.

    Have I made any incorrect assumptions or charges in regards to you?

    ( I thought I acknowledged that you consider orientation and behavior to be necessarily integrated.)

    The strawman you erected was the unsupported accusation of homophobia.

    I have correctly identified, at least I think, that you combine orientation and behavior. and the subject is at the crux of the BYU HC affair. If you beleive it is not a legitimate “lens,” especially in a private religious setting (BYU), then _you_ need to explain why, not just throw out words like immoral and homophobic.

    Morally speaking, behavior is at the core of BIblical morality. We all are tempted to sin. We have a lot of inclination to sin, as in the “natural man” which we need to overcome. But being tempted, or even inclined, is separate from the actual commission (behavior) of sin.

    And Byu being owned by a church that claims to be the religion of the Bible, biblical principles cannot be removed from the discussion.

    Keeping in mind the church’s right of freedom of religion, especially at their own _private_ university, please explain how the Trustees’ exercise of biblical principles, in regards to students who sign contracts (as do all students of all universities, in order to be admitted) to follow the uni’s rules, is immoral?

    I’ve read where people say the Bible is wrong, or that others interpret the Bible incorrectly. Are you arguing one of those or something else?

    You have not given arguments against the principle that orientation is separate from behavior. you have merely dismissed it as homophobic and immoral. So far, most of your comments are ‘standard boiler-plate’, ie, word-salad and well-worn bromides. (we are an older group here, so we’ve seen and read a lot.)

    How does “love the sinner, hate the sin” go against the Bible?

    How does the Bible not apply to a church-owned Uni ? Or how is the church using the Bible incorrectly?

    BTW, “homophobia” is generally used now-a-days as a code-word for hate. (Geoff is right, it’s too shop-worn. ) Did you mean it as “fear” (phobia) or did you mean it in the sense of “hate” ?

    If you honestly think Bible-believing Christians fear or hate you, please say so outright. (I don’t even think Glenn hates you , he’s just “grumpy.” 😉

    One rejoinder might be this: Bible-believing Christians don’t hate/fear _you_, at worst they might hate/fear what you _do_ if your actions violates principles of Biblical morality and good societal order.

    To accuse someone of hating/fearing _you_personally_, when they only hate/fear/dislike what you _do_ outwardly, now that is a classic straw-man.

  42. Hold on there, Book, I’m not “grumpy,” just being thumpy. And please spell name right, or you’ll be thumpy’d too.

    And see, Teague? Bookslinger spanked you even harder than I did!

    My golly you guys, let’s all meet and have lunch. Let us mend, not rend.

  43. Glen – no matter if you disagree or agree with Teague, it’s uncalled for to characterize someone’s response as a spanking. Veers towards joking about sexual harassment.

  44. Some thoughts I had when this all first came to light feel like they would be appropriate to share here:

    “My social media feed has been filled with calls to “mourn with those who morn” about this change. They say that even if I am not personally impacted by their grief at what they saw as a sudden acceptance of their desired lifestyle and then reversal, that I should feel their pain.

    And they are right, I do feel their pain and morn for them. But I can not mourn with them in all honesty for two reasons.

    First, because their sorrow is not to repentance. Mormon 2:11-14 reads:
    “Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi. And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people. But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin. And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die.”

    The sorrow we see is “because the Lord would not…suffer them to take happiness in sin.”

    The second reason I cannot feel sorrow for this decision is because this policy has blessed my life personally. When I was a little boy I was molested by a gay teenagers living next door. He told me because of what he did to me that I must be gay too. For years I kept that inside and felt intense shame. And, weather as a result of this abuse or from other factors, I did experience same sex attraction that waxed and waned over time. At one particular time when I was at BYU-Idaho I had just broken up with a girlfriend, and was feeling really low. I had a friend who confessed to me that he was gay, and I told him that I too felt attracted to guys. He tried to talk me into “doing stuff with him, but not anything I wouldn’t do with a girl and still keep my temple recommend”. He said that the only way to resolve my same sex attraction was to experiment and see if I was gay, bi or straight. He said that is why my relationships with girls had never worked out, because I had this thought hanging over my head. And on and on. He had me almost convinced, except for one thing – the Honor Code rule against homosexual behavior. So I turned him down eventually. Later I got professional counseling for the abuse that I had suffered years before, met and married a wonderful woman, and permanently gave up using pornography, and now I rarely ever feel any attraction towards men. To the world I am probably just a repressed bisexual, but I know that I am a beloved son of God, and I am grateful for the attraction he has given me for my wife and for the eternal family we are creating.

    So, I have been directly blessed by this policy. I have a hard won testimony of the sacred nature of marriage according to God’s laws, and I really believe that I wouldn’t have these blessings if I had gone down the different path my friend suggested, and I may have followed him out of the church if nothing else.

    And I want to add, what about my pain? And the pain of others who see sacred doctrines and holy covenants and tender testimonies mocked, derided and held up for scorn. I too am mourning, but I wonder who will mourn with me?”

  45. Good comment Tim. Strange that nobody seems to care about your pain, and your point about mourning with those who are repentant (rather than those who are unrepentant) seems appropriate.

  46. Tim, thank you for your comment. It was edifying to me, and I wish you and your family the very best.

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