Elder Oaks gave a talk this past week that raises for me several questions. Here are the things he seemed to have said and my questions that follow. Remember it is Elder Oaks himself who stated that “Questions are honored” and so I hope you will do just that by taking them seriously. Also, Elder Ballard said gone are the days when we bear testimony or say don’t worry about it as a way to avoid serious concerns. So I am hopeful you will either address my questions or if you are unable, that you will see that they are forwarded up the ecclesiastical ladder until someone is willing to honor my questions. I also hope you will sense that if these questions can not be addressed that it is possible there is something illogical about the teaching being imposed. I am open to having misunderstood Elder Oaks and I am open to gospel answers that are backed by scriptural principles and doctrine.
He seems to have taught
1.) It is our doctrine that a man married to a woman legally and lawfully is the only appropriate marriage in the gospel
– How do we reconcile that concept with the fact that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff were all illegally and unlawfully wedded to their wives?
2.) That for thousands of years marriage has been between a man and a woman.
– How can we take seriously such a definition when the Church itself broke the traditional definition of marriage but instructing people to enter polygamy and going so far as to impose that only by disobeying the world and its laws and entering polygamy may one achieve salvation.
3.) Elder Oaks seemed to impose that Gender being eternal is doctrine.
– How do we explain Intersex people with both sets of genitalia, How do we explain androgen sensitivity syndrome which has a human with the DNA of a man (XY chromosomes) while at the same time the fetus inability to process androgen appropriately has the person presenting physically as a female and in some cases even able to give birth?, How do we explain transgender? Was an intersex person both male and female in the premortal life? will they have both genitalia in the post-mortal life? will a xy chromosome man who presents as a female be a man or a woman in the hereafter?
4.) Elder Oaks seemed to impose the Proclamation as Doctrine to which a latter-day saints faithfulness will be gauged.
– There seems to be a process to put forth the mind and will of God in a way that Latter Day Saints are bound to it and for us to see the ideas as doctrine. That is to put forth the teaching for a vote of common consent before the membership and then to canonize it. A Latter Day Saint can not be held to every statement a leader makes nor can a person have any teaching imposed on him as a litmus test of faith without that teaching being presented for common consent. For example Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual ” Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints”. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” has never be presented for common consent nor has it been canonized. Any unique teaching in it not corroborated by canonized scripture accepted by Common consent can not be used as a litmus test to decide faithfulness. Notice the Church itself only a few years ago did not like this kind of imposition and even altered a leaders words to prevent it.
In October 2010 general conference President Packer stated the following
” Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It qualifies according to the definition as a revelation and would do well that members of the church to read and follow it.”
The published version now says:
“Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and to follow.”
Also consider ““All that we teach in this Church ought to be couched in the scriptures. It ought to be found in the scriptures. We ought to choose our texts from the scriptures. If we want to measure truth, we should measure it by the four standard works, regardless of who writes it. If it is not in the standard works, we may well assume that it is speculation, man’s own personal opinion; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, it is not true. This is the standard by which we measure all truth” (“Using the Scriptures in Our Church Assignments,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1969, 13).”
Also consider “In the Church, canon refers to the authoritative collection of sacred books of scripture, known as the standard works, formally adopted and accepted by the Church and considered binding upon members in matters of faith and doctrine.”
5.) Elder Oaks seemed to impose that a marriage vows must be honored with complete fidelity.
– Can we address how that plays out in Joseph’s relationship with Emma. He lied to her about polygamy, he had relationships with women without telling Emma, and some of these relationships were sexual. How do we contrast Joseph behavior with the imposition that one’s marriage should be honored with complete fidelity? If we are going to hold people accountable should we not be willing to discuss the prophet Joseph’s behavior? (Even the LDS.ORG essay says “Emma likely did not know about all of Joseph’s sealings.” – is that fidelity to Emma?)
6.) Elder Oaks seemed to impose that the Church seeks to protect the sanctity of marriage by upholding the traditional definition and that we are at odds with a world that seeks to change the traditional definition.
– In light of our early practice of polygamy where the world was trying to uphold the traditional definition of marriage and it was us as a faith that was seeking to amend and alter that definition is such an argument rooted in hypocrisy?
7.) Elder Oaks seemed to impose that the doctrine is that marriage is for “multiplying and replenishing the earth”.
– How do we contrast that with the Church teaching in the LDS.ORG essay “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo” that “Sealings for time and eternity included commitments and relationships during this life, generally including the possibility of sexual relations.”? Which means some marriages were likely not intended to be sexual hence Joseph wasn’t marrying for the doctrine to multiply and replenish the earth with some of his wives. So how do we reconcile that?
Am I bound to what a single leader teaches if it is not in the standard works? Am I bound to see the proclamation as a guide or is it now an un-canonized doctrine that was never put forth for common consent?