13 thoughts on “FAIR Examination 1b: Why would a gay man with AIDS join the Church?

  1. Robert

    God bless the brother. I have SSA and could relate with him. By the grace of our Heavenly Father, I have been free from the addiction for several years.

  2. Theodore Brandley

    Excellent! Excellent!

    Congratulations to Steven Wilson for overcoming his addictions. Steven’s testimony of his recovery is powerful evidence that homosexual behavior is an addiction, and that one can recover from it if they “choose to change” and enlist the assistance of God. All sin is addictive, and addictions are the chains with which Satan keeps us in bondage to him. It is almost impossible to break addictions without the help of God to counteract the power of Satan (from one who has recovered from many addictions, with the help of God.)

    Good interview, Steve Densley Jr.!

  3. Terry

    inspirational story. His understanding of the issue of SSA supports what I learned through prayer a few years back. Personal stuff, I know, but I feel an affinity with this brother as we have both learned from the same source of truth. My revelation, if that’s what you call it, was timely, because a few months later my temple married daughter told me she had become a practicing lesbian. I don’t worry about it, as I was told to deal with my own challenges and leave the judging of how people with SSA live their lives to the Lord. I was also told that people like Steven, will be blessed abundantly for living the higher law of chastity.

  4. Ty Mansfield

    This was a great interview. Thanks to both Steven and FAIR. Steven talks about his relationship with former-gay-partner-now-best-friend-and-brother, Kenneth. Kenneth shares this story from his perspective in an essay included in ‘Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction–An Anthology of Gospel Teachings and Personal Essays’ (http://deseretbook.com/Voices-Hope-Ty-Mansfield/i/5062130), titled “‘Thy Will Be Done': Living with HIV/AIDS in Faith and Brotherhood,” recently published by Deseret Book. The submitted manuscript also had an essay included from Steven’s perspective (soon to be published online separately on North Star’s website (http://northstarlds.org) but had to be cut due to length constraints.

  5. Ness Anon

    I am happy for Steven. I am happy that he has found a safe and supportive emotional and spiritual home and that his Christ-like love nourishes relationships that transcend sexuality. I honor his position that his sexual behavior is a matter of choice. Christians have a long tradition of choosing celibacy, beginning at least with Paul (1 Corinthian 7:36-38).

    I also respect his personal assessment that his SSA is related to dysfunctional and harmful relationships early in his life.

    And yet, I would hope that we would all be open to the fact that his experience should be weighed against hundreds and thousands of others, as well as very strong scientific evidence, that show that social environment does not cause SSA or homosexuality.

    Please consider the following excerpts:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/01/homosexuality-genetics-usa

    “While sexual behaviour may be chosen, the preponderance of researchers say attraction is dictated by biology, with no demonstrated contribution from social factors such as parenting or other factors after birth.

    Long discredited are theories that parenting – that boys raised by a domineering mother with a distant father were more likely to be gay – has anything to do with sexual orientation.

    Evidence of that, said Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois, comes from studies of genetically male infants born with malformed or ambiguous genitals. In many such cases, surgeons would construct a vagina, and instruct parents to raise the child as a girl, with no knowledge of his medical history.

    As adults, those prenatally male/postnatally female people were virtually all attracted to women, Bailey said.

    “If you can’t make a male attracted to other males by cutting off his penis, castrating him and rearing him as a girl, then how likely is any social explanation of male homosexuality?” he said.”

    Please. It is simply not necessary to promulgate self-serving myths to justify Church doctrine. If this is revelation, that should be enough. Our faith should be strong enough live not fully understanding “why God would do that” without insisting, as Elder Packer first said (and retracted), that “God would not do that.”

  6. Ness Anon

    I just want to clarify Elder Packer’s quote for accuracy.

    From the pulpit he said:

    “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what
    they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the
    unnatural … Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that
    to anyone?”

    Clearly the “Not so!” and the rhetorical question have as their plainest interpretation that God does not create people with “impure and unnatural” tendencies.

    I am not sure how replacing the rhetorical question with the redaction, “Remember, God is our Heavenly Father,” alters this plain reading. He is still calling SSA “unnatural” and not “preset” by biology.

    If someone can help me understand what the redaction means, or changes the meaning, I would appreciate it.

    If I was on the “redaction committee” I would have changed Elder Packard’s this line to:

    “Some suppose that they cannot overcome what they experience as tendencies toward the impure. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.”

    This change would then be consistent with the scriptures he cited immediately after:

    “Paul promised that “God … will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

    This, it seems to me, would keep everything in the realm of faith and out of the realm of biology and psychology.

  7. Ness Anon

    Steve,

    I read the FAIR Wiki and reviewed  Elder Packer’s talk.  I do not think the argument made at the FAIR Wiki is either fair or complete.  In fact, it seems to me either a wishful narrow interpretation (at best) and a legalistic dissembling at worst.  Here is why.

    Elder Packer makes a discernible topic shift right before the “impure and unnatural” reference.  That is, he wraps up his discussion of pornography within the “family circle” and moves on to “substitutes and counterfeits for marriage.” After the brief digression about resisting temptation, he returns to is this theme with the joke about voting on the gender of the “kitty.”  His point is clear.  He is relating this voting on a kitten’s gender to voting to change laws at would “legalize immorality.”  That this is a reference to same sex marriage and Prop 8 is clear.  In fact, his silly joke and failure to be direct is what made it so offensiveness.  So when the FAIR Wiki says “President Packer never mentioned homosexuality or same-sex attraction even once during the entire talk” they join him in what felt to many (justifiably I believe) in a legalistic condemnation that offers a level of plausible deniability, if only to themselves.

    Elder Packer goes further down this road when he discusses immorality in terms of laws of nature (God’s laws) that cannot be overturned by ballot any more than gravity can be turned off.  This is consistent with his altered words about “tendencies to the impure and unnatural.”  It is obvious why so many people heard this as referring to homosexuality. This is the traditional religious framing of homosexuality, that it is goes against nature. Clearly this is not how heterosexual transgression is framed.

    Again, the FAIR Wiki overlooks these important portions of Elder Packer’s talk.  Yes, he was speaking about many forms do sexual immorality.  But to suggest that Elder Packard was not giving pointed attention to same sex attraction and marriage, even as he avoided using direct terms, is a stretch.  I think it is a mark of insensitive defensiveness for FAIR Wiki writers not to “get this” and show more understanding.  Going on and on with so many past references to “make the case” is also strikingly legalistic.  

    Why not a bit more Christian charity?  Why not take a moment to consider that most of those “critics” who interpreted these things into his talk genuinely felt demeaned and hurt?  Why so quickly accuse them of disingenuously playing politics?  You all out to check in with the Holy Spirit before building cases.  Perhaps you ought to let the Apostles do their own talking, revising, and, maybe, if needed, apologizing.

  8. SteveDensleyJr Post author

    Ness Anon,

    The wiki article does not deny that homosexuality is included in President Packer’s talk (although it is not named specifically). The point was the President Packer’s talk was not SOLEY about homosexuality. He was speaking more broadly in a way that included a broad range of sexual sins, which would include sinful conduct by heterosexuals as well.

  9. JT

    Dear Ness Anon,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment and the link to the Guardian article.

    I found the following line both to this discussion and to the recent two-part FAIR Conversations episode with Dr. Steven Peck on the topic of evolution.

    “Sven Bocklandt, a geneticist at the David Geffen school of medicine at
    UCLA, is bewildered by the argument that people choose their sexual
    attraction. He said that virtually every animal species that has been
    studied – from sheep to fruit flies – has a small minority of individuals
    who demonstrate homosexual activity.”

    It seems to me that if we accept evolution, it is at least reasonable to suppose that a small stable percentage of humans would be homosexual, just like every other species, since we are all “cousins.”

    Of course that does not mean that God could not have “endowed” humans with some additional element (spirit) that – perhaps starting with Adam -turned what is natural for human precursors into “unnatural” for humans. But this is a theological solution that’s as easy to propose as it is impossible to disprove. Which means it is a matter of faith.

    And this places Boyd Packer’s rhetorical question in the broader context the evolution debate. In this broader context the question might be:

    “Why Would Heavenly Father make his creation look so much like evolution by natural selection – a multibillion year process that calls for no supernatural intervention?”

    Dr. Peck and others are currently working toward a theological solution to this question.

    FYI, Dr.William Bradshaw a Professor of Biology at BYU has a son who is gay. You will find a very thoughtful scientific and personal presentation on the issue homosexuality, including the current scientific understanding of its biological basis, at:

    http://mormonstories.org/?p=1158

    and

    http://mormonstories.org/?p=1336

  10. Joshua Johanson

    Ness Anon,

    I agree with much of what you said. Of course, Christian charity is always good. And I agree with SteveDensleyJr that FAIR is not trying to say same-sex relationships were unrelated to Elder Packer’s talk. If it came across that way, then that just shows there is room for improvement.

    I make a very strong internal distinction when I hear people talking about overcoming inclinations towards same-sex relationships versus telling someone they have to change their sexual orientation. I understand other people do not make that same distinction.

    I have changed the article to acknowledge that same-sex relationships were an important part of his talk, and try to make it clearer that not all critics had malicious intentions.

    While there may be many areas of contention on this topic, I think there are many areas of agreement. If you could help us keep our tone more civil, respectful and loving towards those with same-sex attractions, then I think all will benefit.

    At the top of each wiki article, there is a link for questions or feedback. Feel free to provide feedback if you feel any of our articles are not written with the highest standard Christian charity.

  11. sally webb

    Many comments have already been left on Part 1 and Part 2. I just want to say that Steven is my brother, I have a very close connection with him and many, many times the Holy Spirit has borne witness to me of Steven’s testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have experienced in my own life and also in the lives of my children the Atonement of our Saviour work it’s miracle of pure love on our hearts. As has Steven. God bless you, my brother Steven, for your honest heart.

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