1978 Response to an Editorial by Mark E. Petersen
Here is the full text of 1978 editorial by Elder Mark E. Petersen,
followed by a very well-written response by
Rev. Robert M. Waldrop, pastor of Salt Lake City's Metropolitan Community
Church. Mark E. Petersen never acknowledged his authorship of the egregious,
homophobic attacks he made in editorials for the Church News
from July 1977 to July 1979, when he was the editor-in-chief of the
Calling the kettle clean
Church News, March 18, 1978, p. 16
Every right-thinking person should wholeheartedly battle the tendency to make unclean things and habits appear to be clean and respectable.
The furore now arising over the homosexual issue is but one example. Legislators, like everyone else, must recognize that the unclean is unclean regardless of the attire in which it appears.
Some say that this evil is no longer evil. But who has the right or the ability to change its basic definition? It was the Almighty Himself who laid down the law on this practice. He condemned it and classed it as a capital crime.
If Americans will believe the Bible, they will know what the divine rules are on this subject. If they repudiate the word of God do they not also repudiate God? And who--in this or any other county--dares to do that?
Then on what basis do the adherents to this practice demand special privilege? Who are they that they should parade their debauchery and call it clean? They even form their own churches and profess to worship the very God who denounces their behavior--and they do not repent.
They form their own political groups and seek to compel the public to respect them. Do other violators of the law of God receive special consideration? Do the robbers, the thieves, the adulterers? Any reader of Leviticus (Chapters 18 and 20) knows the answer.
The Book of Mormon says: "The kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God." (1 Ne. 15:34).
An Open Response to a Nameless General Authority Who Wants to Call Some Kettles Clean
Salt Lake Open Door, April 1978, p. 20.
A week ago Saturday, an editorial appeared in the Church Section of
the Deseret News entitled "Calling the Kettle Clean." I agree
that perhaps it is time to start doing just that, but not perhaps in
the way the article meant for it to be. As the saying goes, a rose by
any other name would smell as sweet. The gay community is really beginning
to wonder about some of those who continually cast stones our way. We
listen to their high-sounding, moralistic words, and then see their
dishonest, unethical means of getting their ideas across. Presumably,
these people also believe lying to be immoral; if so, one then wonders
about their tactics.
This editorial is a good example of this type of tactic: if it was written in ignorance of the true facts, then the author should listen a little, and learn a bit about the truth.
First, to the best of my knowledge, (and I consider myself well-informed about the gay community, both here in Utah and nationwide), no one in our community, left or right, conservative or radical, has ever requested any sort of special privilege from anyone, unless you consider the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness a special privilege. All we have ever asked for is the right to live, love, work and contribute to society without harassment. If that request has become a request for 'special privilege' then the United States of America has indeed undergone some radical change.
Second this is the second Church News article to connect homosexuality
with the death penalty. Yet, the writers of these editorials neglect
(on purpose?) the fact that one of the plainest teachings of the New
Testament is that in Christ, the law of Moses (which demanded that penalty)
was fulfilled and abolished. Conveniently forgotten also are the facts
that the law of Moses also demands the death penalty for (1) children
who curse at parents, and (2) all juvenile delinquents in general. The
Book of Leviticus also states that a person who eats pork, shellfish
or who touches a woman during her menstrual period also becomes 'unclean.'
A basic and cardinal rule of Biblical interpretation is that you must be consistent in your interpretations. To say that two verses of Leviticus apply to us today, while the rest of it has no bearing is to border on the ridiculous and at best takes the rest of us for a bunch of fools. Paul taught plainly in the New Testament that if we are to put ourselves under the obligation of obeying one part of the Law, we are under the obligation of obeying all the laws of Moses. On that basis, very few Mormons would ever see the Kingdom of God.
One also wonders about the continue connection being made between capital punishment and homosexuality. Is the hidden desire of the LDS leadership one of seeing this put back into law? If not, then why is the connection continually made? In recent times, Hitler made the connection and gassed 350,000 European homosexuals, along with the Jews.
The gist of Christ's teaching was to separate the enforcement of power of civil government from that of religious organizations. The civil government has no business enforcing the religious and moral interpretations of a particular sect or denomination, at least under the US Constitution and the teachings of Christ. A religion that is secure in its faith and practice has no need for the enforcing power of civil government. Yet, whenever a religion starts feeling insecure, particularly one that is centralized and autocratic, its leaders almost always turn to the enforcing power [of] civil government to prop up its waning power. This is what has produced the religious persecutions of previous times, including the ones that drove the Mormons to Utah. It is a sad comment today to note that the descendants of those pioneers now are turning that action to civil government to prop up its beliefs and practices, even when that action is in direct contradiction of the 'divinely inspired' Constitution of the United States.
I am pastor of one of those churches condemned in that editorial. Yet, to my knowledge, no leader of the LDS Church has ever contacted us to find out what we do believe, teach and practice. One of our teachings is that before you go out and condemn someone or some thing, you had best make an effort to find out what you are condemning. People seem much more interested in condemnation than in understanding. To talk and understand involves thinking, which is sometimes very dangerous.
We are then classed in the editorial with thieves and robbers. A thief is someone who seeks to deprive another person of property and/or livelihood. A gay person is someone whose nature is to love and form relationships with someone of the same sex. Because of that fact, many people seek to deprive us of livelihood, property, credit, employment, etc. Now, you tell me, who are the real thieves and robbers today?
As a Christian, who also happens to be a gay human being, I am content to render an account of my actions to God. Although the author of this LDS editorial may have lacked the courage to sign his words, he may rest assured that his authorship has been recorded in heaven and that one day he will have to answer for the lies therein.
I would like to reiterate our long-standing offer to discuss this issue by challenging the author of this editorial, or any other responsible leader of the LDS church, to a public debate on the issues raised here. The truth has nothing to fear from a free and open discussion; it is only falsehood and slander that cowers before debate. Secure in our faith, beliefs and life-style, we are willing to talk and discuss and dialogue. It remains to be seen, however, if the other side is similarly secure.
Rev. Robert M. Waldrop, pastor
Metropolitan Community Church