Monday, August 1, 2011

There Is Room in the LDS Church for Those with Differing Opinions: The Priesthood Ban

I usually don't highlight "current" posts here - preferring to link to posts throughout the Bloggernacle that might have faded from the memories of those who read them when they first were published or missed by those who do not read as many blogs as I do.  I am making an exception today, since there were two very different posts written last week about the Priesthood ban policy. 

As those know who have read my blog over time, that policy (and all race-related policies and actions) are near and dear to my heart.  Rather than add extensive commentary here in the actual post, I simply am going to provide links to two posts with very different outlooks regarding the ban - then add a short postscript comment here. 

First, Margaret Blair Young has worked extensively with Darius Gray, the founding president of the Genesis Group - an officially sanctioned support group for African-American LDS members.  She wrote three posts for By Common Consent, the third of which I am linking here.  (To read the previous two, simply scroll down the home page at BCC and read them there.) 

"All God's Critters: Some Thoughts on the Priesthood Restriction and Differing Opinions"

Next, R.Gary wrote a response to Margaret's post(s). 

"LDS Prophets Tag-Teamed at BCC about the Pre-1978 Priesthood restriction"

I don't want to try to summarize either post.  I much prefer to let them speak for themselves.  I only want to make one point here:

It is wrong - dead wrong - to characterize those who believe the Priesthood ban policy was not ordained but rather was allowed by God as apostate, faithless, unbelieving, etc.  (To be clear, R.Gary did not do so in his post; it was stated in a few comments in the thread that followed.)  Those who believe so are no less dedicated to the Restored Gospel and the LDS Church than those who believe the ban was God's will. 

It boggles my mind (and I mean, literally, that it is incomprehensible to me) that anyone would view Darius Gray (by association with their condemnation of Margaret's posts) as anything less than one of the most obvious examples of faith and endurance and Christ-like love we have in the LDS Church - now or in any other time of its modern existence.  Disagreeing with the origin of the ban is one thing; citing Margaret Blair Young, J. Stapley, Darius Gray or anyone else who sees this issue as we do and questioning why we bother to identify as LDS is quite another thing. 

I find it instructive that Margaret, in her post, mentions someone who disagrees with her about this issue - and speaks of him as a wonderful, faithful, loved brother in Christ.  I obviously disagree with R.Gary with regard to the question of the ban's origin, but I do believe he is a faithful member of the LDS Church.  I don't doubt that - not at all.  I respect him greatly, even as I don't agree with his view on this issue.  I appreciate that he did not question the "LDS-ness" of Margaret, J, Darius and others.

I write this post simply to show two very different ways faithful LDS members can view the ban - and to beg anyone who reads this post to refrain from the disdain and judgment that easily clouds our discussion of sensitive issues like this. 


SilverRain said...

But if we don't judge and condemn others, what fun is there in life?

Seriously, Ray.

FelixAndAva said...

Typically for the Bloggernacle, there is apparently no room for those of us who actually BELIEVE that Christ leads this Church.

Which is why I've unfollowed. I can get more spiritual uplift from the openly anti-Mormon sites around than from sites that wallow in "well, yeah, but God's wrong about this, this, and this" while falsely professing to be run by believing members.

Papa D said...

FelixandAva, I believe passionately that Christ leads this Church - and your second paragraph is deeply, deeply disturbing and badly mis-characterizes sites like BCC and people like Margaret Young, J. Stapley, Darius Gray, etc.

I would love to have you continue to read this blog, but there is no way I am going to agree with such sweeping condemnation of very good, very dedicated, very faithful Mormons. I have no doubt that describes you, but I truly am saddened by how you describe those I mentioned above.

ji said...

1. I can understand why FelixAndAva writes as he or she does.

2. If there are two sides to the priesthood ban discussion, they are both speculative and based on personal rationalizations. No one on the earth today knows the truth. So for me, I wonder why do we argue. In my mind, the past is the past, and there is no need for me to articulate and then defend a philosophy or explanation for why things were the way they were. For me, it is sufficient to know that the priesthood is available to all of God's sons in the Church -- that is the message we should be celebrating.

Even if I did take the time to articulate and then defend a philosophy or explanation for why things were the way they were, my explanation would likely change over time as I learned more. Which, then, would be "true"? The former or the later explanation?

I think that what we are seeing in the explanations people offer are really masks. Some believe passionately in priesthood infallibility, so to speak, so they fight against any notion that Brigham Young might have made an error. Some believe passionately in fairness and equality, so to speak, so they argue that President Young must have been in error. The arguments and justifications on both sides are largely masks made to defend more deeply help feelings.

Actual, honest truth in this matter can only come from he Holy Ghost. And sometimes such truth comes a little at a time, here a little and there a little.

I guess my main point is that for me, it isn't necessary to explain or justify the past -- and most especially, since any explanations or justifications must necessarily be imperfect, it isn't worth arguing about.

I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1980, while still a teenager. I celebrate the 1978 declaration for what it is and for what it allows.

Papa D said...

ji, I actually agree with much of what you say in your comment - especially the following:

"I celebrate the 1978 declaration for what it is and for what it allows."

The only thing I will add is that I just don't accept leadership infallibility - especially since we have all kinds of references in our scriptures (particularly in the Doctrine & Covenants) of instances where Joseph screwed up and had to be reprimanded or corrected by the Lord. Therefore, I have no problem at all believing that the ban could have been allowed but not approved by the Lord - that it could have been caused by "blind spots" and "incorrect traditions of our fathers". There is ample scriptural precedence for that, and it isn't a condemnation of anyone to see it that way.

Therefore, when I look at the evidence available to us now, I reach the most reasonable conclusion to me - particularly since that conclusion doesn't lessen my belief in and acceptance of our LDS Prophets and apostles one bit.

Papa D said...

To summarize:

I can't sit back and let deeply believing, faithful members be slurred horribly - and that is exactly what questioning why they bother to identify as LDS and separating them from the group of "those of us who actually BELIEVE that Christ leads this Church" does. It is unfathomable to me that anyone who knows much about Darius Gray, Margaret Young, J. Stapley and, by participation extension, me could question our faithfulness and claim we don't believe Christ leas this Church. We do, and it is wrong to insist otherwise simply because we don't accept mortal leaders as infallible.

I have to assume that the initial reason FelixandAva followed this blog is because what I write is, in fact, faithful and believing. I often write about some difficult topics - topics about which members of the Church sometimes disagree. That is the heart of this post - that faithful members of the LDS Church CAN disagree about some things without being told they might as well leave. That conclusion is appalling to me, since it goes directly against the heart of Elder Wirhtlin's WONDERFUL talk, "Concern for the One".

ji said...

The Lord tells us in D&C 121, "Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly..."

Yes, let us all be full of charity to others in the household of faith.

There must be room in the LDS church for persons with differing opinions and differing levels of learning on almost every principle. I often think on Romans chapter 14 -- very powerful and very instructive.

Firebyrd said...

Wow. I am aghast at the slurs written by FelixAndAva against people whose love of Christ and the Gospel shines through in everything they write. I'll definitely take the gentle, kind, uplifting posts from people like Ray and Margaret Blair Young over people who post libel and accusations. By their fruits indeed.

John Pack Lambert said...

Darius Gray was not the founding president of the Genesis Group. He was a counselor in the group's presidency when it was founded. The founding president was Ruffin Bridgeforth who was later the first man of African descent ordained a high priest. The ordination was performed by Boyd K. Packer.

Papa D said...

JPL, thanks for that information. I knew that once and had forgotten it completely. I appreciate it.