LDS Rhetoric on Homosexuality
Packer Fears 'Invasion' of Gays, Feminists, Scholars
Boyd K. Packer
Affinity 15:7 [August 1993]
In a May 18 address to an All-Church Coordinating Council Meeting, apostle Boyd Packer identified "three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away." Those areas, according to Packer are "the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, and . . . the so-called scholars or intellectuals."
Fourth from the Presidency of the Church, Packer has earned the appellation of "the angry apostle" because of his severe demeanor. His intolerance and judgmental attitudes, especially toward gay and lesbian church members, are legendary. In a BYU devotional address he once denied the existence of "homosexuals," claiming that the word was only an adjective describing a temporary condition. In that talk, which was later circulated as a pamphlet entitled "To the One," Packer declined to say "homosexual" more than once, fearing that saying it might promote it.
In his most recent disdainful diatribe, the "special witness of Jesus Christ" claimed that homosexuals, as well as feminists and scholars, "have made major invasions into the membership of the Church." Packer's choice of the word "invasions" implies that dangerous outsiders are infiltrating the Church of Jesus Christ. It says nothing however, of the hundreds of thousands of gays, lesbians, feminists and scholars who are lifelong church members.
Not content to disparage just the "movements" he referred to, Packer made examples of individual church members by quoting from their personal letters to him. He explained that church leaders should not "sympathize with their complaints against the Church." The General Authority warned his audience, "When members are hurting, it is so easy to convince ourselves that we are justified, even duty bound, to use . . . our calling to somehow represent them." With apparent indifference to the parable of the lost sheep, Packer lamented, "In our efforts to comfort them, we lose our bearings and leave that segment of the line to which we are assigned unprotected." The message is clear: Don't leave the 99 to comfort the "one."
Among the private correspondence which Packer divulged was a letter from an abused woman who said she was "upset that I was always advised to go back and try harder only to get abused more. I need some comfort, I need solace, need hope . . . Help me?" This letter was cited as evidence of the "feminist invasion."
Under the heading of "The Gay/Lesbian Challenge," the apostle quoted a letter "from a young man, possibly a gay rights activist." The gay man said, "So in a spirit of friendship I offer that which I have to give–the life experience of a gay Mormon . . . . I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the issues facing gay Latter-day Saints and the Church. The purpose is not to debate, or to presumptively call you to repentance, or to be called to repentance myself for being gay. The point is to meet together and share what we have for the good of The Kingdom." Does Mr. Packer think these sound like the words of an "invader"?
A third letter from a "scholar" who offered to help reconcile his peers with Church leaders was similarly cited to represent the "intellectual invasion." After citing these letters, Packer turned his focus to the issue of "working mothers, to illustrate principles which apply to all of these problems."
Acknowledging the difficulties of some mothers who must work, Packer warned, "We cannot, however, because of their discomfort over their plight, abandon a position that has been taught by the prophets from the beginning of this dispensation."
He cautioned, "If we are not careful, we will think we are giving comfort to those few who are justified and actually we will be giving license to the many who are not. The process of correlation is designed to keep us from making mistakes . . . ."
Perhaps Mr. Packer worries needlessly; maybe that "license" is not his to give or to revoke. Joseph Smith uttered one of this dipensation's most profound doctrines when he said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." No license needed. The Doctrine & Covenants tells us "For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as they do good they shall in nowise lose their reward." (D&C 58:28) No correlation needed. And since when is a Christian's duty to "give solace" restricted to only the "justified"? The Savior says "For inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me." (D&C 42:38) He also says in Matthew 25:45, "Inasmuch as ye did it not unto the least of these, ye did it not unto me." (emphasis added)
Packer reveals his ignorance on the subject of homosexuality when he concludes, "That young man with gender disorientation [a misapplied term] needs to know that gender was not assigned at mortal birth, that we were sons and daughters of God in the premortal state." Of the abused woman he says, "The woman pleading for help needs to see the eternal nature of things and to know that her trials–however hard to bear–in the eternal scheme of things may be compared to a very, very bad experience in the second semester of the first grade. She will find no enduring peace in the feminist movement If she knows the plan of redemption, she can be filled with hope."
It seems that Mr. Packer's message can be summed up as follows:
Let 'em suffer–it's part of the plan. Don't comfort them publicly, for that will be seen as weakness and give others free license. Above all, don't let their suffering distract you; they are part of an evil invasion which threatens the Church. In what could be a chapter out of a Marxist/Leninist text, Packer clearly conveys that the rights of the individual must be sacrificed for the good of the institution; and that the end justifies the means.