20 September 2009

Shaking My Head In Disappointment and Disbelief


Well, two steps forward, one step back as they say. But this time it seems more like a huge leap backward. Bruce Hafen's speech at the Evergreen Conference (posted to the Newsroom at www.lds.org if you really want to read it) is the most concentrated mishmash of misconceptions, proof-texting, selective (and erroneous) conclusions, reliance on discredited "experts", illogic (same-sex marriage will overtake and destroy traditional marriage and prevent children from being raised in two-parent households) and fundamental ignorance (being gay means men want to be women) that I have seen in a long time, not just from an LDS source but from any source. So much for all the rhetoric about love and acceptance. I am beyond disappointed. I am profoundly shocked that this level of ignorance and guilt-laden veiled hostility still prevails within LDS leadership.

The fundamental premise of Hafen's address is that God's gay children are--they must be--flawed. Crippled, broken, stunted, staggering as they crawl forward under this nightmarishly heavy "burden," this "challenge" which those not so afflicted cannot comprehend (well, that last part's true, anyway). Their lives are miserable crap because they "struggle with the affliction of same gender attraction." In Hafen's mind all of this must be true if LDS theology as currently understood is also true. Ruled out a priori as unworthy even of mention is the possibility that God may have a purpose for His gay children and a place in His kingdom for them which that theology--by its own definition incomplete and subject to change--may simply not yet recognize. Or which may currently be withheld because prejudices like Hafen's prevent its willing reception and acceptance.

He repeats as doctrinally guaranteed the latest popular myth that resurrection will instantly confer on all such poor pitiful souls all the wonderful wholesome heterosexual desires they allegedly longed for in mortality but never achieved. Apparently it is simply incomprehensible and therefore not to be discussed that somebody might actually like being gay, might find great joy and fulfillment that way. His source? Dallin Oaks, of course. Dallin Oaks' source? Ah, well, that's a bit unclear as yet. Certainly not the LDS Scriptures or any binding prophetic announcement though.

I'll leave to others the time and tasks of refuting all of Hafen's misconceptions and false conclusions. Some have already started and I look forward to reading their efforts.

I will say as a lawyer that this speech would not pass muster if I were the senior partner in a law firm and Bruce Hafen turned it in to me as a memo or a brief. Perhaps that's the nature of his audience and the function of this speech, and I understand that. But his was not an intellectually honest approach. He's been a law school dean, for heaven's sake. He must be capable of better. Or else he believes his job requires him to set objectivity aside and advocate only the Church's position. If he truly does speak for the Church, then that's all the more reason to be disappointed.

As a lawyer himself, Hafen should know that an honest examination of any issue demands a full look at evidence for both sides. The evidence against what Hafen says is strong and growing stronger. He ignores it all and presents only a select handful of items that support his perspective. Sadly, his speech confirms that LDS leadership continues to be ill-informed and mistaken about a host of issues involving gender and sexuality, and that from such a position they continue to make policy and puport to announce new "doctrine" that will affect the lives and potentially the eternal destinies of countless numbers of God's gay children. It is speeches like this that have robbed me of all trust in LDS leadership about this issue.

And with that, I'm going to try my best to be cheerful today, anticipate the skillful refutations of Hafen's remarks which are sure to emerge, and with my enthusiastic children I'm going to go enjoy the local LGBT Center's Family Picnic Day.

11 comments:

Grant Haws said...

I felt like this way a huge leap back for the Church. I can only imagine the pain it is causing in the Church right now among gay members.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I couldn't even get through the whole talk. It was making me mad how ill-informed and biased it was. I just worry when these kinds of expectations are presented to a group of people who think they can change by someone who doesn't even know what he's talking about, how will they feel when those expectations can't be met?

Chino Blanco said...

On some level, it feels like progress to see Hafen's ignorance and speculation on full display at the LDS Newsroom (rather than tucked away in the archives of anti-gay outfits like the World Congress of Families), and I hope this marks the beginning of a new policy for LDS Public Affairs.

Madam Curie said...

I finished the talk, but have had a hard time going back and analyzing it. Having homophobic, hatred-focused crap like that posted on the Church website makes me want to throw up.

santorio said...

i impressed with the patience of any one who will read these diatribes. i would no more read them then listen to glen beck. imagine beck giving a sacrament meeting talk on family values.

Trevor said...

I can't even find the article on the church website. Either I'm looking in the wrong place or they took it down.

Good to be Free said...

Trevor
Look under the newsroom blog. http://newsroom.lds.org/blog/

I think they put it there so that it goes into the realm of semi-official, but if you ask us, not official church doctrine.

Larry Richman said...

Hafen's talk isn't posted on the blog. It's right on the Newsroom site > Public Issues > Same-gender Attraction, then click on the headline on the right side.

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/elder-bruce-c-hafen-speaks-on-same-sex-attraction

Larry Richman said...

Hafen's talk isn't posted on the blog. It's right on the Newsroom site > Public Issues > Same-gender Attraction, then click on the headline on the right side.

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/elder-bruce-c-hafen-speaks-on-same-sex-attraction

Benjamin said...

People need to send a copy of Hafen's talk to Wayne Besen at Anythingbutstraight.com He is extremely meticulous in his research and is one of the leading men in exposing this lunacy. Hafen is just preaching to the heterosexuals who want to see their kids be straight (which is giving them false hope) but many of those gay folks there at the meeting are likely going to either be more confused and upset with the conflict between reality and Hafen's universe of denial; or they will accept it as fact and continue to delude themselves into thinking change is possible. It's heartbreaking to see the kinds of half-truths and outrageous statements Hafen makes in his talk with his cherry picking and twisting the evidence to support his agenda. I'm praying that the general Church membership will eventually reject his talk as they see the tremendous contrast between what he said and the experiences of those in the real world. As Terry Tempest Williams (the great naturalist and environmental writer) wrote "what happens when our institutions no longer serve us, no longer reflect the truth of our experience. What we hear is not what we know." Hafen's talk is most definitely a major leap backwards.

Nils Lindstrom said...

Hafen's talk is a presented as a clear, cool glass of water to the wearyfaithful who are parched and tired from walking through a desert of distorted deceptive dogma about homosexuality. Unfortunately, when that mirage evaporates the faithful must blame themselves for their lack of faith, not Elder Hafen. He has carried the faithful right back to that desert and left them with nothing but Wishful Thinking to drink. It's like promising a cancer patient that she will be cured if she is faithful. . because it has happened to others. That's just gross spiritual malpractice.