Sunday, April 14, 2013

Something gays all have heard and something we haven’t

Continuing the discussion from the last essay on tolerance as spoken by President Boyd K Packer in General Conference

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
we first endure, then pity, then embrace”  - Alexander Pope

Dude, you're old!  And we don't like your style!
I have always taken this to mean (or mien…ha, ha, ha) that if I see the monster, get cozy with the monster and let the monster hang with me, it will someday cuddle up to me and bite my head off.
I think that is the first meaning of this poem is thus:

Becoming accustom to something, doing it regularly, makes a hard task easier over time. (Think exercising or lifting weights, or running a mile) However, I am seeing another meaning in my old age.

Becoming accustom to something, doing it regularly makes a hard task easier over time. Only this is more of the frog in the pot of increasingly warming water variety -- be careful of what you think you are getting used to, especially if you are a frog, or a lobster.

Reminds me of…“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased." - R.W. Emerson, as quoted by Heber J Grant.

Tolerating, vs. building up tolerance. Words, words, words. I do not presume to translate for an apostle of the lord. As a writer on LDS and homosexual issues, I will try to make gospel sense of it from a practicing Mormon/gay viewpoint.

Yes, at first hearing, what was said by President Packer was abrupt. President Packer is often abrupt. I lower the font size to suggest that I am presenting information here that is not really the focus of my writing, but something I feel I should share.

I saw a facebook entry that suggested that 87 year old Brother Packer is old and cantankerous, that there are those in the hierarchy of the church who find him a bit exasperating. I have never really thought about it. I suppose in many regards they are like other men. So, I was not surprised when, just after President Packers remarks, a member of the quorum of the twelve stated (concerning the poem that Elder Packer had just read to the congregation at General Conference), “I look forward to the 88th version of that poem.”

Yes, Elder Packer is old. (May I remind us that Lehi was spoken off this way). He may be a bit cantankerous at times. Our job may be to find the truth in what he, and all the general authorities, say when they speak for the Lord, and then to live by what we know -- regardless of the likability factor of our leaders. But I tried to not to simply dismiss the discourse, as we remember that groups of people in the B of M dismissed the warnings of the prophets, most to disastrous effect. I looked for the truth in it.)

Was President Packer suggesting that we should diminish our capacity to endure hardship or pain? That long suffering and forbearance is not all it’s cracked up to be. Endurance, after all, is one meaning of the word tolerance. 

Perhaps he was insinuating that our minds are becoming less and less responsive to a physiological insult, or that our bodies respond less to substances with continued or repeated exposure? These are meanings of the word tolerate after all.But none of these connect dots. None of these explanations ring true.

I believe President Packer used the word tolerance as a “permitted deviation from the standard“. The dictionary suggests this form of tolerance is “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.

At least, etymologically speaking, that makes sense. I think a prophet warning his people to have a solid core, to be centered, to know -- possibly by experience and personal revelation -- what is right for us in our life, is more than acceptable.

So, what would it mean to have to excessively indulge someone’s belief or practice that is different than our own?

My bishop has neighbors next door that are known drug dealers. He is friendly, but he doesn’t have them over for brunch. It would be too dangerous for his family. That monster could eat them alive.

So, am I saying that we shouldn’t have gay friends over for brunch? It’s an imperfect metaphor and I can’t come up with a better one.

If we believe that moral cleanliness is crucial to living the life God the father would have us live, then becoming casual with anything that goes against that is not wise.

Certainly, we are not including the people who live a gay lifestyle, or those who are outright gay. I can’t imagine God’s son saying, no, you are gay so I am not going to hang around you.

Caution and prudence should be used in all things. We like so that the spirit of discernment can assist us, and we should follow the promptings of the spirit in all things - even having your gay neighbors over.

I am gay. I would want to be invited over to your house. I will not convert any of your kids. I may, however, admire your china.

So, wrapping up…
We should understand that the water in certain situations may be getting hotter than we are aware. There is truth in warnings from the church leaders, though occasionally we have to do our homework and look for it.

There should not be limits to our tolerance, our giving nature, our ability to forgive, the kindness that we share with others - even others who live different lifestyles.

I’ll say it again. when do we reach our limits of love, or of allowing others the same agency we fought over? I don’t do math well, but I heard something like 7 times seventy. And finely:

If you are on a diet, stay out of the donut shop.


  1. Just a random note... President Packer is older than 77. He is 88. Great blog, though!

  2. Thank you for the correction. I will fix it!