One of the things that sets The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints apart from other Christian churches is the belief in modern day revelation. This belief is uniquely Mormon, at least in the concept conceived by the church. While all other major churches say the heavens closed at the conclusion of the Bible, mormons, which includes me, believe the heavens have not stopped.
Along with personal revelation, we also believe in group revelation. As Latter-Day Saints, we believe a Relief Society President can receive revelation, as it pertains to her calling, to help those in her steward. We believe that a Deacon's Quorum President can be inspired with revelation, as it pertains to his calling, to help one of his fellow deacons.
We also, as a church, believe the leaders of the church receive modern day revelation. The Doctrine and Covenants are evidence of this. President Thomas S. Monson, the first presidency and all leaders at the helm of the church receive revelation on how to direct the church.
Now let me back up a little bit to personal revelation. We are taught from a very young age, that we receive revelation line upon line, precept upon precept. Milk before the meat. Step by step. I cannot ask God to give me answers for a test I didn't study for. Right? All of this coming back from seminary yet?
A Relief Society President cannot be set apart one day and the next receive all the answers for the next five years pertaining to her sisters. She must learn things through trial and error. She must go back to prayer again and again. And sometimes she will need to step into the dark unknown for there to be illumination. Revelation, while given in God's time and way, is usually little bits here and there.
The church and it's leadership receive revelation the same way. While it is entirely possible for God to give President Monson all the answers right now and be done I believe that rarely, if ever, happens. I also believe that what God's chosen leaders say today, can sometimes be wrong and God will make his will known in the future. What makes me so sure? History.
I hope we have all read the about the process of the revelation in which blacks received the Priesthood. The leaders of the church, even President David O McKay, went to the Lord and asked what should be done. President Kimball was the prohpet finally allowed to give the priesthood to all.
"President Kimball has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation, which came to him after extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple" – Official Declaration 2
Please read this next quote in full. It is so important and powerful.
"There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. 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?” And all I can say to that 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 Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever 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.
We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more... It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. 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." – Bruce R. McConkie (August 18, 1978)
The church's article on, Race and the Priesthood, is quite a interesting read in regards to a change in doctrine. Including disavowing past statements from numerous prophets and leaders.
McConkie's quote struck me a significant. If the brethren change a policy or doctrine, then we are to repent and get in line with the new doctrine.
Is it any wonder that so many, like myself, believe that one day the opposition to gays and gay marriage will be changed by a modern revelation to the then president of the church? Previously, gay attraction was a sin, according to church policy. Today gay attraction is not a sin, but the action is.
Have I made my point? Even the church is guided by the modern revelation that is given at a slow pace, step by step.
So now to the press conference this past week.
I felt like nothing new was said, though church support for a state and federal LGBT non-discrimination act is good and important. Then Elder Oaks and Christofferson held a Q&A with a Salt Lake Tribune reporter the day after the press conference. This Q&A is far more important and progressive for the church. I hope you all watch it in its entirety.
(A question I asked the reporter on twitter was asked. Shortly after the 15:30 mark. My question is from my @INSIDEgayMormon twitter account about a 5th Sunday lesson on the www.MormonsandGays.org website).
I feel like Elder Oaks and Christofferson offered some fresh perspective. They had affirming attitudes towards the conflict in church member's lives towards their gay loved ones. Progress was even promised by their own acknowledgment of the work still needing to be done for gays and transgenders.
Where am I going with this? The church, prophet and apostles are still guided by modern revelation. Line upon line, precept upon precept, milk before the meant, step by step. Do I wish it was quicker? Hell yes! I have been effected by their lack of knowledge on gay issues and members, others affected far worse than I. Is this an excuse for hurtful policies in the past? No.
What I am trying to say, is that they are still learning of God's plan and love for His gay children. I don't believe we are anywhere done with the church's relationship with its gay member's and LGBT people at large. I can hear McConkie's concession in 1978 with a modern twist. One day an apostle or prophet may say,
"It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the LGBT and gay marriage matter before the first day of Feburary of this year. 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."
– President Uchtdorf (just because this is my blog and I said so).
I hold out hope. I believe in modern day revelation. I place a substantial amount of faith in the 9th Article of Faith. And I believe God's love and plan for his LGBT children are one of the "great and important things".
"We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." – 9th Article of Faith