Sep 23, 2009

Why I'm Not Bothered By The Bruce C. Hafen Talk

The Bloggernacle is abuzz this week about a controversial speech that Bruce C. Hafen recently gave at the Evergreen International annual conference about same sex attraction.

There have been different reactions to the talk, such as here and here.

Certain statements from the speech, such as the following, could certainly be upsetting:
"Having same-gender attraction is NOT in your DNA"

"If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then—you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex. Some of you may wonder if that doctrine is too good to be true."

"Find a therapist who can help you identify the unmet emotional needs that you are tempted to satisfy in false sexual ways."

"In 1973, in response to increasing disruptions and protests by gay activists, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations removed homosexuality from their official lists of disorders."

"Evidence that people have indeed changed threatens the political agenda of the activists, because actual change disproves their claim that homosexuality is a fixed condition that deserves the same legal protections as those fixed conditions like race and gender."

“The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair.”
I should be upset, but strangely enough, I'm not. Maybe I'm just a little too optimistic, but I'm just waiting to someday hear something like the following, perhaps even by Bruce C. Hafen himself:

"There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that homosexuality was a psychological disorder that could be cured by therapy. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, "You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?" All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Thomas S. Monson or Boyd K. Packer or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about same sex attraction before now. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."

Sound familiar?

So, I look forward to the day when that statement is released from some high-ranking Church official, coming like a bolt of lightning to those who couldn't see it coming before. In the mean time, I'll just shake my head and let it go.

Either that's another glimpse into Stage 5, or apathy has set in.


Mark said...

I like the way you think.

ECS said...

I like this post and admire your ability to not to let obviously uneducated opinions bother you. And I think you're right about Church leaders either officially or unofficially repudiating remarks like Elder Hafen's in the future. The problem is that the Elder Hafens are doing a lot of damage now that can't be undone.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I think my not being bothered by it has more with "being bothered by stuff" fatigue these past few weeks, than that I'm somehow strong enough to let things slide off me so easily. But you're right, ECS, the fact that words like his are hurting some people so deeply is, in itself, enough to make it bother me. I guess I'm just trying to put all my chips into believing that this talk will go down in history the way the "negro" sections of Mormon Doctrine have. A few years from now, future generations will be embarrassed by it and try to shrug it off as a time where we were less enlightened than they will someday be. Just like we're doing today with much of what Brighan Young, Bruce R. McConkie, and others said.

SUNN(0)))ofaB.C.Rich said...

looks like you have more faith in the APA than your religion.

Anonymous said...

There is a growing number of saints who, on this particular issue, have more faith in the APA than the church.

In case you're not old enough to realize it, this isn't the first time it's happened. In 1978 the church caught up with the American civil rights movement about a decade after the rest of the country. The same will happen in the case of gay saints. The question is not will it but how many lives will be hurt and destroyed between now and then and how much damage the church will inflict on itself in the intervening time.

Anonymous said...

Be grateful for your apathy ;) This stuff puts me into a flame of fury.

Papa D said...

Charity is long-suffering and is kind. Pots and kettles are interesting things.

That's worth considering.

Thanks for this post.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I save flames of fury for Church-sponsored hunting preserves. :D

No, but really, jokes aside, I totally get why people were upset by this.

Anonymous said...

You may not have been upset but over at Mormon Matters it has really struck a nerve.

There is one discussion of it now that has been active for days but a few days ago there was a satirical entry about it that had people telling the author to "scr**" herself and otherwise calling the wrath of HF down on MM until MM took it down entirely.

Censorship rears it's head again because it's so much better than people actually disagreeing, speaking their minds or regarding their gay brothers and sisters as entitled to the say sense of peace or belonging... =o

SUNN(0)))ofaB.C.Rich said...

I don't know why you would be upset by a statement to the effect that being homosexual is not in your DNA, because a statement saying homosexuality IS in your DNA is equally "unproven" probably not the "cool" thing to say but it's true.

Anonymous said... are Evergreen's methods. And their "success" rate doesn't suggest even anecdotally that they've got a clue.

SUNN(0)))ofaB.C.Rich said...

another example of politics over-riding science. It's not politically correct to say "I don't believe people are born gay" But scientifically that is fine because it has not been proven either way. I don't know if you read that declaration or whatever but the APA doesn't have a clue either.

Gwennaƫlle said...

I am not discuss whether having same sex attraction is something you can change through your wil or not because just the way this is issue is put into words is stupid to me.

I don't remember to have ever commented on this blog although I think I have come here a few times but never felt like leaving a comment really probably because I had nothing to say.

What disturbs me in Elder Haffen talk is not so much the fact that he believes that homosexuality is a psychological disorder. We have no prove in one way or another or I should say we have many evidence pointing each direction.
What disturbs me is this: "The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair."
Just this shows that he has not understood the plan of salvation and maybe hurtfull for a few members.

Let me make myself clear because I know I may be shocking some of you when saying that he has not understood the plan of salvation.

Let's go along with his idea that same sex attraction IS in DNA.
How in the world would it take away the responsibility to still live the law of chastity as Elder Haffen sees it should be lived?
Is elder Haffen saying that if it is in our DNA then we don't have to fight it?
Then let's replace "it" referring to same sex attraction in this case by alcohol dependcy for example.
Does it mean that people who have it should be less acountable because it is in their DNA?

No. It makes it harder, just the same way some things are much harder for me than for others.

I am sadden at the talks I have read and heard from our GAs concerning the matter not because they go against the church doctrine but because they clearly show a lack of humility when facing their lack of knowledge and understanding. They fill their ignorance on the matter with hard religious position instead of acknowledging their limits.
I am NOT saying that the church position should be changed on the matter. I am saying that I am sorry by the way they deal with this issue (that they can of fed actually to beciome this huge monster and spot in the church history for the future).

Gwennaƫlle said...

I read what I have written and I realized that it may sound a little hard and I am not sure I am making myself clear.
My oppinion on the subject is that there are commandments. Let's do our best to follow them with humility no matter what kind of explanation we can come up with and let's God tell things appart.
He is the one who set all this up and nobody can tell at this time of human history what is what and this is what the plan of salvation is about: they are rules we have accepted to follow and if no then fine but let's do all this with humilty trying not to judge and apply behaviors on things about which we just don't know a thing just because WE ARE NOT GOD.

Anonymous said...


But isn't it precisely the problem to figure out which is the command of God and which the "mistakes of men" when two "commandments" appear to contradict each other?


Kaylanamars said...

This really bothered me, well, everything is kind of bothering me right now, but the statement was just so insensitive to those faithful gay members who are trying to do their best to be happy and keep the commandments. It just sounds like if you are still struggling with these feelings then you are not faithful enough, even though that's not exactly what he said, but it still feels that way to me, anyway. It also gives the idea that those who admit to being gay/having SSA are deviant and therefore more people in the church are likely to ostracize them and judge.

In Sunday school last week in our Marriage class they talked about teaching our children morals and one group talked about making sure our children knew that homosexuality was wrong/sinful, but that not to judge them if there are those who choose to live that lifestyle. So once again the idea is reinforced that those who struggle with SSA are more unfaithful or deviant. It just gets me all fired up!

Anonymous said...

This issue is going to come to a head in my denomination before it does in yours.

Our World Conferences are more legislatively oriented than yours, although we hold them only once every 3 years. Legislation may be brought to the floor by the Presidency, by the leading quorums, by general quorums (e.g., the High Priests or the Seventies), by committees established by previous conference action, or by action of "lower" jurisdictional conferences.

Eastern Canada (primarily Ontario) has sent to the April, 2010 World Conference what would be a non-binding "sense of the church" resolution that would request the Presidency to interpret church policy to grant our ministers authorized to perform legal marriages to perform same-sex marriages in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do so.

It is simultaneously ILLEGAL for church leaders to even discuss such issues in some of the nation-states in which our denomination exists, let alone implement such a policy, and the Presidency does not wish to bring persecution down on our people there.

Even if the resolution never makes it to a vote, the fact that the resolution was not voted on will send a clear message to advocates that their church can not stand with them because of concerns about other groups within the church. What the next move will be is anybody's guess.