Gender and Intersexuals

By: Mormon Heretic
May 7, 2012

Mormonism is a unique religion in it’s belief about gender.  The Proclamation on the Family states that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”  But what happens when gender isn’t so clear cut?

MSNBC has an interesting article about Intersexuals: people in which the “exact gender of the child cannot be determined”.  The story says that

“It is estimated that in Germany alone approximately 80,000 people are intersexual, so-called hermaphrodites, who have physical features – such as chromosomes, hormones, gonads and outer sexual organs – which cannot be unambiguously attributed to just one gender.”

Huh?  I have a hard time believing that the number is that high.  Regardless, the story of one individual is startling.  The child was born with ambiguous genitalia.  Raised as a boy because the midwife “supposedly mistook her enlarged clitoris for a penis.”

it was later diagnosed that her indeterminate external genitalia were the result of a rare genetic disorder of the adrenal gland, the so-called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH.

“My childhood and teenage development was often agonizing because I did not really know what was wrong with me and where I belonged,” Voelling said in a recent interview with NBC News.

If you thought the story was strange already, it gets worse.

After being admitted to a local hospital for an appendix surgery, doctors diagnosed that their patient had mixed male-female genitals and an atrophied reproductive system.

But, when the young adult landed on the operating table, the surgeon found a full set of female reproductive organs, including an intact womb and ovaries.

Without consent from the patient, the organs were removed.

“I never received a truthful explanation of my condition and after the operation I felt a lot of physical and emotional pain for many years,”  Voelling said.

“Some 95 percent of all intersexuals systematically undergo genital surgery and other interventions without medical informed consent and without clear scientific proof,” said Lucie Veith, the head of Intersexuelle Menschen eV in Hamburg, a group that represents hermaphrodites in Germany.

Gratification after legal battle
Only a couple of years later, Voelling also started receiving the regular administration of testosterone, or steroid male hormones.

“For 27 years, I was more or less exposed to severe doping,” Voelling said.

“At age 47, when I felt more like a woman than a man anyway, I said enough is enough,”

In 2008, Voelling decided to take her case to court and sued the doctor that had removed her female reproduction organs over unlawful intervention.

In its verdict, the court ordered the surgeon to pay 100,000 euro, (approximately $133,000)  in compensation for performing an operation converting a hermaphrodite into a man without consent.

“I felt very relieved and it was really more of a moral reparation than anything else, but it unfortunately did not have consequences for the legal rights of intersexuals,” said Voelling.  She officially changed her gender from male to female, as well as her name from Thomas to Christiane, in a long bureaucratic process that same year.

How does the Proclamation fit in this situation?

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42 Responses to Gender and Intersexuals

  1. Andrew S on May 7, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    I think the one thing that intrigued me about intersex was the mention on a recent Mormon Matters podcast (the one about whether Mormon theology can accept homosexual relationships) was Kristine’s comment that intersex is more common than Down’s Syndrome.

    From checking out the Intersex Society of North America, I quickly discovered that even though I *knew* that intersex is a lot more expansive than what people think it is, I had a lingering stereotype that thought “Intersex = hermaphrodite”, when really, it’s a lot more than that.

    For a long time, I have believed that transgender issues offer a more salient critique of the Proclamation on the Family…but really, that’s not quite the case. Transgender issues really can fit in well with *certain* understandings of the Proclamation…i.e., you can hold that one’s gender is eternal, but that it may differ from an individual’s body. If one believes that gender is eternal but that fallen bodies may be in error, then one could adopt a quite pro-transgender doctrine. It hasn’t happened for the church, but it could.

    Intersex issues muddy the water a whole lot more. I think intersex issues are what will allow us to say that we really DON’T have a concrete way of defining what a man is vs. a woman. Intersex isn’t “the exception that defines the rule” — precisely because of its commonplace nature. Rather, I think that with various groups trying to find a clear-cut way to gender or sex-police (e.g., international sports committees trying to insure that men don’t compete in women’s events), we’ll increasingly come to find out that any method will produce rather counterintuitive results.

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  2. Bob on May 7, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    #1: Andrew,
    I seem to agree with you that hermaphrodite does not necessarily mean you have gender issues in your mind. Or that having gender issues in you mind can only happen because you have hermaphrodite. Or, even gender issues are limited to sexual issues.

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  3. alice on May 7, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Certainly part of the question must be how can what is treated as an inspired document be so lacking in this area while having the ambition on resolving gender issues? People and even human prophets may not know what medical and emotional issues the people in question may, understandably, keep to themselves but Heavenly Father certainly does know. So what got left out of the PoF and why? And what does that mean about applying the PoF to circumstances and biology and complex personalities we don’t completely understand?

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  4. Jenn on May 7, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this too, lately- I agree that if you translate the proclamation to mean “gender is eternal, and not necessarily tied to your mortal body” then it can work, but I don’t think you’ll find many mormons or authorities that agree with that stance. And if that’s a legitimate interpretation, than any argument we have with homosexuality goes out the window.
    Personally, I think the fact that people are born with no clear gender role- even just one or two people- greatly weakens any belief that homosexuality is only a choice or that gender roles are something we can prescribe across the board.

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  5. BeansDude on May 7, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    I wish this topic was discussed more often – thanks for bringing up the subject. Andrew’s comment is spot-on. Chances are most of us have known or at least interacted with someone who has experienced this issue, but since it’s not the kind of thing that many people would be quick to share I think most of us assume it’s very rare.

    In fact, I’ll bet that many LDS people have never even considered the reality of Intersex/transgender issues. Like Homosexuality, we don’t currently have a good explanation for how it fits into the ‘Plan’ so it’s much easier to simply ignore it, or to label them as some kind of sexual deviant and move along.

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  6. hawkgrrrl on May 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    I think this is one reason (only one of several) why the PoF has not been canonized. God has to know how many intersex people there are, even if imperfect men do not. This is a real issue, and society at large hasn’t figured it out, let alone the church. The church has wanted to discourage voluntary sex change (as well as voluntary homosexuality, whatever that is!) without acknowledging that it is not an elective surgery like getting a tattoo, and often these “choices” have been made for a person at a very young age without their knowledge and certainly not their consent.

    But I think many people in their 80s are still reeling so much from the sexual revolution (when they were mostly parents) that they don’t want to budge an inch for fear people will take a mile.

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  7. Cowboy on May 7, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    The plain answer is that the proclomation didn’t even have this in mind when it was drafted. Not to beat an old horse, but a few conferences ago, Elder Packer was debating the authenticity of same-sex-attraction. He rhetorically asked “why would a loving God do that to someone”, implying of course that God wouldn’t. Yet, certainly I would think that if a loving God would not be willing to give a person conflicting attraction(s), he would shudder to give them conflicting genitalia. Yet, regardless of what the actual ratios are, from time to time it does happen. Furthermore, even if we place some doctrinal duct-tape on the issue by suggesting that every person has a true “spirit gender”, what are we to do about that in mortality? How do we make sure that we get it right, so as not to inadvertently cross the Proclomations warnings? Perhaps the Stake Patriarch can take on one more task, they can declare both a person’s convenant lineage and their spirit gender!

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  8. Mormon Heretic on May 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    When the Proclamation first came out, I was a fan. But like Cowboy said, this issue wasn’t even on the radar. I’m certainly less strident in my beliefs than I used to be. I don’t know how this person fits within the Proclamation.

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  9. Troth Everyman on May 7, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    As a therapist I have worked with several trans-gender individuals. For some, taking hormone treatment has seemed to be appropriate in helping to solidify the gender identity the individual has chosen. For others, it has led to increased anger,increased self-identity issues, and pain. This is particularly true for individuals who are being raised as a gender opposite from what they envision themselves being.

    If we accept that individuals have an eternal spiritual gender then how do we know which gender is the appropriate one? Is it based on which gender the individual feels most comfortable with? If so, it undermines arguments against homosexuality. In addition, what about bisexual individuals? Or trans-gendered individuals who feel comfortable as both, or neither, gender?

    It seems to me that the dichotomized idea of gender (male and female) may start to collapse once you start to try to determine what an individuals spiritual gender might be based on earthly indicators.

    This may be partly why church officials are so reluctant to budge, if they give an inch the whole philosophical house may come down.

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  10. Nick Literski on May 7, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    The Proclamation Against Certain Families was never intended to address the issue of intersex individuals. It was prompted by the possibility of legal marriage equality in Hawaii. Its wording reflected a gross misconception among 70-90 year old LDS leaders who operated from a 1950s-era understanding, thinking that homosexuality was a result of “gender confusion.” These ignorant, misinformed men likewise encouraged (and continue to financially sponsor!) so-called “reparative therapy,” which attempted to “cure” homosexuality by teaching men and women to engage in accordance with 1950s-era traditional gender roles. (Seriously–these programs teach men to play basketball, and give women fashion/makeup advice, in order to make them “heterosexual.”) These so-called “prophets, seers, and revelators” evidently never conceived that many gays and lesbians are quite conforming (sometimes to the point of exagerration) to traditional gender norms.

    The fact that the Proclamation Against Certain Families (a) displays a demonstrably false understanding of homosexuality, and (b) creates an unintentional mess on the issue of intersex persons, is ample evidence of its distinctly non-divine origin.

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  11. Mike S on May 7, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    In engineering or computer programming, I spent a lot of time dealing with boundary conditions. For each “normal” step of a problem, it is pretty easy: just multiply the previous answer times 2 or something. That was easy to program or solve. But I would spend more time dealing with exceptions and boundaries. Where does the series start? What do you do at the beginning? What if the number gets too big? What if something doesn’t fit the parameters? Etc. Subroutines had to be written for each of these, otherwise the program failed and crashed.

    The LDS Church is very good at the step-wise progression, but very bad at the boundary conditions. It is all well and good if you fit the mold – no pre-marital relations, go on a mission, married to a single person of the opposite sex at the appropriate time, 3-4-5-6 children appropriately spaced, read scriptures each day, have a knowledge that JS is a prophet and TSM is a prophet, etc.

    The problem is that the Church doesn’t have a good answer for someone who doesn’t fit this perfect mold. What if you are intersex? What if you are attracted to someone of the same gender? What if you don’t want children for a few years? What if you haven’t found a spouse? What if you’ve prayed about JS and have never received the ability to say “I Know…”?

    For the leaders, they are unable or unwilling to accept these as possibilities. BKP flippantly asks “Why would God make someone…”. They don’t appreciate that someone may sincerely pray about the BofM and feel an honest answer that it’s not right for them. And so on. These things are not compatible with their world-view, and so the mental subroutines to handle these “boundary conditions” simply do not exist, as they are threats to the main function.

    If it were truly possible for someone to feel that Mormonism was wrong for them, and that being a Catholic was right, what would that mean to a leader? If it were truly possible that someone was born gay and always will be, what would that mean? These are unacceptable solutions, so instead of coming up with an answer, they simply pretend that they are not possible.

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  12. Jenn on May 7, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    “If it were truly possible for someone to feel that Mormonism was wrong for them, and that being a Catholic was right, what would that mean to a leader? … These are unacceptable solutions, so instead of coming up with an answer, they simply pretend that they are not possible.”
    Yup, it’s simply not a valid option. My poor bishop told me that my lack of spiritual witness FOR the church (and the “spiritual warm fuzzies” I’ve gotten about the path of doubt and exploration I’m on) is because “satan has me firmly in his grasp and has deceived me completely”. When I asked how that could happen to someone who has the gift of the holy ghost who is doing everything right (standard sunday school answers) he had no response.

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  13. dude on May 7, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Unfortunately, boundary conditions or exceptions to general rules only get addressed when they become politically charged. If people that find themselves in those zones have patience with human beings that run the Church, they will see that the end product of things will be fair to all, to everyone’s satisfaction. I think that some people have a lack of patience when it comes to issues that especially effect them personally, and they lose sight of human frailties.

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  14. Andrew S on May 7, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    re 9,


    While I get most of what you’re saying, and agree with it, I’m kinda lost here:

    If we accept that individuals have an eternal spiritual gender then how do we know which gender is the appropriate one? Is it based on which gender the individual feels most comfortable with? If so, it undermines arguments against homosexuality.

    I think that gender, sex, gender roles, and sexuality are interconnected, but different issues. So, I don’t get the connection between basing gender on which gender an individual feels comfortable with and undermining arguments against homosexuality.

    Being attracted to dudes doesn’t mean that I don’t feel comfortable with being/identifying as a dude.

    I think what’s more accurate to say is that you can’t associate gender with a particular sexuality. In other words, there’s nothing that says that someone who feels comfortable with the identity/gender of “maleness” must, as a part of that maleness, be attracted to women or femaleness. (This cuts through the transgender issues as well…from knowing that someone is a transwoman, that doesn’t tell me whether she is attracted to guys or girls. A gay man isn’t a straight transwoman just waiting to transition.)

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  15. KT on May 7, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    What I find interesting about the Proclamation is that I have heard so many LDS spout to me that one of the reasons for the truthfulness of the LDS Church versus other Churches is the Nicene Creed/council that took place with other faiths. How it was not at all about spirituality, but rather about logical decisions, etc. When, in reality, the Proclomation, among other things in the Church is very similar to the Nicene Creed situation. Unfortunately, it is not treated as such.
    For this reason, I think it is difficult for the Church to change or retract things like the Proclamation. I think issues such as this have caused problems for the Church. On the other hand, if as a Church, you are going to make all these truth claims about the LDS Church alone, then I suppose most things like the Proclamation need to be advertised as “inspired” versus anything else. I suppose also it’s easier to be backed up by God, than the minds of men.

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  16. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 7, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Troth — Your first two paragraphs make an excellent point.

    Andrew — you seem to be exploring boundary issues with him.

    Dude — the church has been dealing with the boundaries of the issue since at least the 1970s when a transgender Brazialian was approved for ordination to the priesthood.

    Nick, I have to disagree.

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  17. Martin on May 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    A close relative of mine had to deal with a case like this while serving as stake president. A bishop called up saying a man wanted to get re-baptized — he’d be ex’ed for a “sex change” operation. Apparently this person had been labelled female at birth, grew up in the church, in YW, and even married in the temple. However, very shortly after getting married, she decided she was actually a he (and her husband agreed), and the wedding was annulled against the counsel of the local priesthood authorities. She, or he, then underwent so surgery to make things more clear and ended up getting ex’ed over it.

    Embittered, he’d gone on with his life, gotten married, and fathered a couple kids. His wife had somehow investigated the church and had gotten baptized, and now he wanted to be re-baptized and eventually sealed to her.

    Fortunately, fathering children pretty much got people to stop asking questions and allowed the SP to expedite things. Might have been tricky otherwise.

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  18. alice on May 7, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    But I think many people in their 80s are still reeling so much from the sexual revolution (when they were mostly parents) that they don’t want to budge an inch for fear people will take a mile.

    hawkgrrrl, are you referring to the average saint or the anointed Brethren who have the counsel of Heavenly Father? Of course, in either case, a degree of discomfort wouldn’t be justification for the lives that are wrecked and lost over gender issues in this church. But one would certainly hope the anointed would put it aside and welcome the complete truth as part of their responsibility to guide us righteously in their roles of seers looking beyond human understanding.

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  19. Nick Literski on May 7, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Stephen, what do you “have to disagree” with? For that matter, since you “have to disagree,” do you genuinely disagree at all, or are you just fulfilling some sort of undefined obligation in doing so? ;-)

    Seriously though, are you disagreeing with:
    (a) the abundantly-evident falsehood of LDS leaders’ “gender confusion” explanation for homosexuality;
    (b) my characterization of the practices of so-called “reparative therapists;” or,
    (c) my point that falsehoods embraced by a document argue against claims of that document’s supposed divine origin?

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  20. FireTag on May 7, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    By now, most of you know that as a physicist I take the concept of parallel universes pretty seriously in my theology. I believe each of us has one personal spirit associated with an astronomical number of physical “me’s”, some of which will experience whatever genetic, environmental, and/or psychological causes are eventually shown to produce the less common gender identities. It is at points like this that one’s understanding of the PoF has real impact on human lives.

    What if our eternal families and communities in the spiritual realm are being forged by the relationships all of our copies and variants are building (or marginalizing!) in their physical lives — and that is the only way the Heavenly Father has decreed they can be formed?

    What if it is only the loving, Christ-like quality of the relationships in the physical realm and not the cultural forms (marital status, gender, cultural restrictions on priesthood, etc.) that seal our relationships in heaven? What if rites are only present helps and not substitutes for forming those quality relationships on earth?

    What if we’ve marginalized or rejected members of our eternal family because of cultural norms we only thought were Divinely-inspired, because we’ve put together the relationship between spirit and element incorrectly, separating in our practices and thoughts things that truly are inseparably connected?

    I don’t expect even the Community of Christ to adopt the idea of one-spirit-many-bodies-per-soul that I have, but I’m certainly glad that they are adopting a more modern understanding of the complexity of sexual and gender issues as they consider those issues in relation to sacraments and family life.

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  21. Will on May 7, 2012 at 4:45 PM


    I always like your responses, but again disagree. I think the church and the canonized scriptures do have a response for these conditions. Quite simply, all of us are broken in some manner. All of us have some deviant behavior – or a propensity for a deviant behavior. This does not change what is right or God’s expectations for each of us. See Ether 12:27.

    Within this scripture, how or why we have the weakness is not the relevant issue, but how we reconcile the weakness we struggle with will determine or destiny. Whether we are broken genetically, emotionally, mentally or physically we are still expected to turn our lives over to God and do all we can to live up to his expectations. Change is not a one-time confessional, but a life time process. Such a process can and sometimes will take a lifetime of commitment – a commitment that will extend into the eternities; thus, the term eternal progression. We are only damned when we quit or give into to the natural man.

    Just because we are born broken, does not mean we should stay broken. After all, this is Jesus is affectionately and appropriately referred to as the Savior.

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  22. Andrew S on May 7, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    re 21,


    But how do you reconcile that with the fact of people who don’t feel broken? In fact, but for the society around them that can’t figure out what to do with them, they would never think to use the term “broken” at all.

    In other words, are they just supposed to take your word for it that they are broken in the manner you think they are?

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  23. Jenn on May 7, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    To me, likening it to a deviant behavior looks at one small part of the issue. Sure I can have a propensity to become addicted to certain things, a propensity to sex addiction, or some other genetic predisposition to sin. If I abstain from those, then I can still live a fulfilling life, achieving the goals of the gospel: creating an eternal family and going through the refiner’s fire of marriage and parenthood that is such a wonderful opportunity to learn to be christlike. Abstaining from sin leaves me many options.
    For a homosexual, abstaining from sin doesn’t fix anything. By telling them to “abstain from their predisposition for evil” we are telling them also to abstain from all the things we hold dear in the gospel: love and family.

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  24. Will on May 7, 2012 at 5:24 PM


    Just because someone doesn’t feel broken, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. For example, Anders Behring didn’t feel broken committing mass slaughter. Nor did Hitler feel he was broken. Rather, both of them felt purpose and justification for their actions. Both of them were clearly broken and just because they didn’t recognize it, doesn’t mean they weren’t.

    Again, all of us are broken in some way. It is up to us to find our weakness and humble ourselves before god to escape the natural man.

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  25. anon today on May 7, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Will, I have a friend who is lesbian, does not self-identify as such, and does NOT feel broken. She wonders about the eternities, because she does not want to be “changed” into something that is reprehensible to her now. She is chaste, she doesn’t discuss it, and she often says, “I’m not even in the Proclamation!” I feel for her because it’s a complex issue. In her case, she was likely deeply effected by traumatic events in her childhood, but that doesn’t change the fact that at her present stage of life, a sudden change of “heart” is not appealing. I am a fan of the Proclamation, but I acknowledge that it doesn’t “fix” everything in our doctrine.

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  26. Cowboy on May 7, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    It’s hard to reconcile the “broken” argument, in the context of a person who comes to earth intersexed. Furthermore, how do they “overcome” that. What is the appropriate gender, for example?

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  27. Stephen Marsh on May 7, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    Nick, other than the “so-called” and similar begging the question a priori statements and the strawmen part of what you are doing?


    I think you missed the


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  28. Will on May 7, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Anon Today,

    I have enough of my own ‘broken’ tendencies and habits to point the finger at anyone specifically. All I know is recognition is the first sign of change. If you don’t recognize something as problematic then you won’t feel the need to change.


    I am not suggesting anything about intersex persons and how they go about change; rather, I am defending the approach of the brethren. I was challenging Mike’s analysis. In my opinion, they are idealists and their job is to present the ideal. It is our job in communion with God to reconcile the ideal.

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  29. hawkgrrrl on May 7, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    The brethren are anointed and so are all of us who have been endowed. Anointed doesn’t equal infallible. These issues are very thorny. Do we just accept full on self-identification? Maybe it’s best, but it also feels really open for society to work that way. We all want roles and stability to some extent.

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  30. Badger on May 7, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    The MSNBC article is misleading in equating “intersexual” and “so-called hermaphrodite”. Admitting that I have only an amateur interest in this subject and no direct personal knowledge, my understanding of some of the terms that have occurred in the discussion is:

    Intersex(ual). Anatomically or genetically different from the “standard” male or female.

    Hermaphrodite. An obsolete term with no precise up-to-date definition, implying the presence, in some sense, of both male and female reproductive organs (hence a poorly defined subset of intersex). MH’s incredulity at the figure of 80,000 is perhaps a reflection of the article’s incoherency; 80,000 German intersexuals is quite reasonable but different from 80,000 “hermaphrodites”, strictly defined.

    Transsexual. Refers to a mismatch between a person’s perception of their gender with the one assigned to them, typically at birth. This may or may not involve a perceptible intersex condition, but if it does, the assigned gender may have been somewhat arbitrary.

    It is not the case that every person has an identifiable “true biological sex”. The process by which a fertilized egg develops into a baby is intricate. There are several processes involved in sexual differentiation, and although they usually all go in the same direction, this is not always so.

    A few rare individuals have bodies that consist of a mixture of male (XY) and female (XX) cells. This can arise when two fertilized eggs or blastocysts that would otherwise develop into opposite-sex fraternal twins fuse together, giving rise to a single embryo and later a single individual.

    Human embryos are female “by default”; male development requires expression of genes on the Y chromosome to activate a hormonal apparatus. In rare cases the hormonal mechanism fails, leading to clearly female babies who are genetically male (XY) (such children do have anatomical abnormalities, and will be infertile).

    Some individuals have both ovarian and testicular tissue, either in separate organs or occurring together in a single gland called an ovotestis.

    These are all among the rarer intersex conditions; again, I mention them to show that it is not justifiable to assume that biology (ovary or testis, XX or XY, etc) determines a “true” sex for every individual. The more common intersex conditions like Klinefelter’s symdrome (XXY genotype) often fit more comfortably into the Male/Female dichotomy, but individuals with these conditions experience differences in sexual development compared to the “standard” male or female.

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  31. Nick Literski on May 8, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Stephen, no legitimate professional places any confidence whatsoever in what anti-gay conservatives term “reparative therapy.” It’s based on a whole litany of falsehoods, and is anything but reparative. In fact, the APA and other legitimate professional organizations have condemned “reparative therapy” as both ineffective and potentially destructive. It’s entirely appropriate, therefore, to preface “reparative therapy” with “so-called,” as an indicator of misnomer.

    I find it utterly perplexing, Stephen, that you would term my arguments “a priori.” I rendered an opinion that the “gender” teachings contained in the Proclamation were false, and thus evidence against a divine origin. The falsity of those teachings is readily demonstrated by actual observation and experience of gay men and lesbians.

    For you to term this experience and observation based data “a priori” and a “strawman,” I can only suppose that you dispute the simple, factual statements I’ve made with regard to so-called “reparative therapy” and its “traditional gender-role” based approach. The trouble with this supposition is that I’ve never found you to be (a) grossly misinformed, (b) outright stupid, nor (c) intentionally obtuse. You’ll simply need to do much better, and in particular demonstrate where my statements were not provable or disprovable by experience/evidence.

    As for your “boycotting Starbucks for endorsing marriage equality will get Starbucks’ foreign employees kidnapped into slavery” post, I’m not sure what you think that has to do with this discussion. I highly doubt that LDS leaders embrace blatant falsehoods about homosexuality as a calculated means of protecting their membership against the international slave trade.

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  32. Mike S on May 8, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    #21 Will: Quite simply, all of us are broken in some manner. All of us have some deviant behavior – or a propensity for a deviant behavior.

    I think the biggest issue is defining what “broken” means. Does it mean “someone who doesn’t think like me”? A devout Mormon might consider a Muslim “broken” to some degree – otherwise what is the point of the missionary program. But a devout Muslim might also consider a Mormon “broken”.

    Extend this to just about anything you want. According to Joseph F Smith, any endowed saint whose knees or elbows are uncovered is “broken” and in violation of temple covenants. People who drink wine are “broken”, except when it’s Christ or Joseph Smith. And so on for millions of examples.

    So, what is “broken”, and is being “broken” equal a propensity for deviant behavior? Your comment sounds good, but I don’t really understand it.

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  33. Will on May 8, 2012 at 1:34 PM


    Broken simply means you are unlike the Savior in some form — thought, word or deed.

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  34. wreddyornot on May 8, 2012 at 11:07 PM


    Say I’m female. I think/speak/do generally like a female thinks/speaks/does, as distinguished from generally how a male thinks/speaks/does (e.g. as set forth in the book MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS). The Savior is a male. Am I therefor broken?

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  35. Stephen Marsh on May 9, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    Nick, I’m not supporting “reparative therapy” – - in fact, I rather find the remnants of it as corrosive.

    We are talking past each other, evident by what appears to be confusion in what you are concluding from what I had to say and it appears what I may have concluded about what I thought you meant.

    I think I will move on to the next post.

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  36. Geoff-A on May 9, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    The proclamation says marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. At present gays are not asking their civil marriage to be “ordained of God”, just recognised by the law.
    When the time comes it would be very easy to add “as are gay marriages” after God.

    Mike S Could you considder doing a blog on the succession of the prophet and whether Apostles could be retired like 70s can. I was impressed at the frailty of some of the Apostles at conference. Out of kindness, if nothing else, shouldn’t there be discussion of letting these brethren retire in peace. My father is 87 and can only manage part of a 3 hour block, and not much else during the week.

    The church could have more vibrant leadership and some of these issues would go away if, for example, we had Uchtdorf as Pres within a year ot 2. Is there anything except tradition to prevent it?

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  37. Stephen Marsh on May 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Would make a good link for the post above.

    Geoff-A — interesting thoughts.

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  38. Glass Ceiling on May 19, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    The real difficulty is that it really IS a choice for some people whether or not to be gay, and for others it really IS NOT a choice. To treat both conditions as merely sinful cheats those who really have no alternative. To treat both conditions as victims of genetics (therefore allow them to marry receive the same blessings as traditional married folks do) is to frustrate the idea of many things…not the least of which, free agency.

    I feel for the Brethren and I feel for GLBTs. No wond that it appears that Church leadership has taken a mathematical approach to the solution, and chosen to be stoic about it all. Make the least amount of changes and continue to maintain the stance that being gay is merely a choice.

    I see no solutions other than supporting people’s “choices. ” After all, short of delivering a truth serum in the Bishop’s office when someone swears they have been gay their whole life, what else can be done but believe them …or not?

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  39. Glass Ceiling on May 19, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I will add that intersexuality PROVES that God allows for such things not being a choice on a physical level. So why not mental/emotional?

    BTW, I don’t know where I read it (hopefully not above, LOL), but supposedly there are as many intersexuals as there are redheads in this world.

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  40. Andrew S on May 19, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    re 38,

    Glass Ceiling,

    OTOH, I think that the origins of homosexuality truly is a smokescreen, because of some of the deeper issues. Gay people shouldn’t receive the same blessings of traditional married folks if or because they are “victims of genetics.” They should receive the blessings of traditional married folks if or because the value of their committed monogamous relationships is worth as much as the value of committed monogamous relationships for straight folks.

    That value exists regardless of how someone ends up being gay.

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  41. Glass Ceiling on May 20, 2012 at 9:48 PM


    I don’t know what to say. I value your point. All human commitments deserve respect. Still, I doubt that gays will get temple marriage.

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  42. Andrew S on May 20, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    I think that we are notoriously poor at predicting “black swan events.” that doesn’t prevent them from happening.

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