From Bill Reel’s Facebook page, 2018-09-19. I’ve made a couple of minor corrections and alterations in spelling and punctuation.
Here are the five Questions to my stake president for which we unitedly agreed to pass up the chain and for which they sent back down to him and said these should be answered by him to me and not answered by them. And for which he responded by admitting he is unable to answer them but is stuck not able to get answers from up the chain.
1. If Homosexual members of the church didn’t choose their homosexuality as the Church now acknowledges at least in the case of most homosexual members, is it realistic to expect them to be celibate their entire lives? Before answering please consider the following. It is simply human to be connected intimately with another human being. It is “not good for man to be alone”. Even our Church leaders in the case of when their first wife dies, most of them soon marry again. There is a recognition that being alone is not desirable and even prophets and apostles after having checked all the boxes of the gospel plan still find themselves not wanting to be lonely and marry again for the sake of of not being alone. And yet we ask our gay brothers and sisters to be alone. To intentionally not date, not hold hands, not kiss, not marry, not have companionship. Can you help me understand why the very people who no longer need to check any box in the gospel plan and yet are uncomfortable with their loneliness that they again seek to enter into a new relationship, how these same folks who think our homosexual brothers and sisters should confidently be able to go their entire lives being void of the very thing Church leaders could not be without? Is it in fact possible our homophobia is getting in the way of seeing these folks as Jesus would see them?
2. By what source do Church leaders know that the past doctrines of race (such as those of color being less valiant, or having a curse, or that interracial marriage was sin) are false theories? In other words past leaders confidently taught such theories as Doctrine (see the 1947 correspondence with Dr. Lowry Nelson & 1949 First Presidency Letter). By what source did current leaders received word that those past doctrines are false? It seems confusing that if we claim the Holy Ghost or god as the source, is it not the Holy Ghost that confirmed those past false theories taught as doctrine to those past leaders? In other words is not both sides claiming spiritual certainty? Did not those past leaders speak by the spirit? Did they not also have confidence from God when they stated such things? And if we are sure they were wrong, could not we in the exact same way be wrong about the things we impose about Homosexuality? Could not our current leaders interpret their bigotry and bias as from God just as past leaders did?
3. We now know that Joseph Smith’s 5 translation productions contain direct borrowing from sources not within things the Nephites and Lamanites had access to. The Book of Mormon has too much 19th century material, phrases, and theology that even our scholars say we need to re-frame how we see that book. The Book of Moses borrows so heavily from the New Testament Books of Mathew and Luke (written long after Moses). The Book of Abraham certainly was not translated from the Egyptian papyri and also has source concerns, the Inspired Translation of the Bible borrowed heavily from a contemporary source, Clarke’s commentary, and the Kinderhook plates were a fraud to trick Joseph. Is the Church prepared to honor the data and make space for people to be both not convinced by historicity and also to be fully seen as faithful and fully participating? Or at the least to be open to completely reframing the narrative of what these “translations” are and how they came about?
4. Joseph Smith had a relationship with Fanny Alger, a maid in the Smith household, 2 years before sealing keys were restored. Joseph Smith proposed to 16 year old Lucy Walker after sending her father on a mission and essentially adopting her and a few of her siblings as his children. There are other cases of young people as well including telling 9 year old Mary Elizabeth Rolling Lightner that some day she would be his wife. Today we recognize how vulnerable young children are. Their minds not fully developed. We grasp how easily a child can be coerced. Can we acknowledge or at least make space that Joseph Smith may have operated in ways with young girls that is understood as unhealthy, predatory behavior, and that these young girls were in a vulnerable state and that pressure of one kind or another used on young people when they are vulnerable and susceptible to coercion is not appropriate or healthy. In light of the data of such can we make space for Joseph Smith to be have at times possibly acted in ways unbecoming of a priesthood holder and unethical behavior towards children? Or is he untouchable even when the data points to deep unhealthiness and unethical behavior?
5. There seems to be a tension in Mormonism for how a member can express serious concerns of unhealthiness in the Church. The acceptable method seems to be to talk to your file leader and if he takes the concern seriously, to pass it up the chain. The flaw in this system is the pressure through things said and unsaid for those leaders up the chain to be loyal and it becomes easy for those higher to make the messenger passing the concern to feel shame and guilt for doing so. Elder Packer for instance stated “”Either you represent the teachers and students and champion their causes or you represent the Brethren who appointed you.” Such teachings make it difficult for serious concerns of systemic issues to be heard and validated and addressed. So with that said, could you lay out an effective way for serious concerns to be heard, validated, and addressed?