20 September 2009
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.
Posted by Rob at 8:38 AM