Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and Racism

When the Tea Party movement was in full swing, my general feeling was that these were people with a lot of very valid concerns and a few ridiculous demands. I pretty much feel the same way about the Occupy Wall Street movement. One large difference is that it has proven more difficult to gather any succinct, intelligible demands from Occupy protestors. However, these people are all similar in that they are protesting two sides of the same coin: corruption in the centralized powers of Washington and corruption in the centralized powers of Wall Street.

However, something interesting that I have observed is the completely different way in which big media portrays the Occupy Wall Street protestors versus the Tea Party protestors. The main issue of incongruity has been a tendency to focus specifically on racist elements of the Tea Party movement while ignoring the blatantly racist elements of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Some will say: “There is no racist trend in Occupy Wall Street! I have seen no such things on CNN.” Well, a quick YouTube search gives me a number of interesting results:








You would normally think that the words “The Zionist Jews…need to be run out of this country” – spoken by someone who is evidently educated, clearly identified, and not immediately involved in a riot – would be enough for big media to label a movement as being racist. But that will not happen when those words are coming from a black liberal woman, because everyone knows that black liberal women cannot possibly be racist. Right? Conversely, everyone knows that conservatives – especially “crazy wingnut conservatives” like the Tea Party people – are categorically racists. Even if being involved with the Tea Party does not necessarily make one racist, there is a very strong correlation. Right? I mean, everyone knows that, right? They’re a bunch of hateful white hillbillies who despise black people and beat their wives.

And yet, while the “establishment” conservatives are being represented by guys like Perry, Romney, and Huntsman, who are the Tea Party favorites vying for the opportunity to take down the black man in the Oval Office?

The very black Herman Cain and the very female Michele Bachmann, that’s who.

No, I do not think that the Occupy Wall Street movement is an intrinsically racist movement, and I’m not even going to cite a few YouTube videos as evidence of a “strong correlation” for the sake of political convenience. There are haters everywhere, and it is cheap and stupid to cite a few instances of racism within a particular movement or group for the purpose of dismissing it entirely. Just as I do not make any general assumptions of racism based on these examples, I ask liberals to get a grip and stop being hypocrites when they view these two movements. Tea Party protestors are no more racist than Occupy Wall Street protestors.

As a final note, no, I am not campaigning for Hermain Cain. There are things I still don’t like about him. For instance, his 9-9-9 plan may not be the best thing for this country, and someone as paranoid about Muslims as he is would not serve well as our frontman for foreign policy. However, in a way, I would still like to see him get elected just for the sake of watching conservatives do as Jimmy Carter and countless other liberals have done. That is, I want to see them say: “All criticism of Herman Cain is based in racism.” He is even blacker than Obama, after all.

Immigration: Contradictions, Conundrums…and a Solution

The issue of illegal immigration has become one of the biggest talking points in U.S. politics of late. It is a complicated and serious problem, and most of the people who get all worked up about it ignore key aspects of the debate while contradicting themselves. This is true for members of all major political parties. Let’s break things down into a basic representation of current conceptions:

  • The left view: This is the United States of America – a nation built by immigrants. We cannot, in good conscience, construct walls and turn people away.
  • The right view: This nation is in constant danger from terrorist attack. We have a huge border with Mexico that we are doing a poor job at securing; enemies can enter the United States from Mexico at any moment. Also, among the millions of workers who (illegally) cross the border simply to search for jobs, many cross the border specifically for the purpose of committing crimes.

Obviously, these views I have constructed are not representative of every single politician in office according to party, but pretty close. That said, let’s look at the two major parties’ avowed economic sympathies:

  • Democrats claim to be the champions of American industry. They frequently support tariffs, import limitations, and other such measures to protect domestic companies from foreign competition. They also strive to help “the little man” by fighting for higher wages and benefits for low-level earners.
  • Republicans claim to be the champions of free enterprise. They tend to support an easing of trade limitations and the free flow of goods and services over borders. They argue that artificial ceilings or floors for prices or wages kill economic growth and cause shortages.

The problem here is that these general economic sympathies fundamentally contradict the economic philosophies to which they tend to be attached. For instance:

  • Democrats frequently rant and rave about how Republicans outsource U.S. jobs to China. However, why is it evil to give U.S. jobs to Chinese but good to give U.S. jobs to Mexicans? If they really cared about protecting U.S. jobs, the first thing they would do would be to end the employment of illegal immigrants once and for all.
  • Democrats claim to champion the interests of the poor and downtrodden – regardless of nationality. They often back this up by supporting efforts to send aid to ailing economies. But why is it good to give other countries free money and bad to engage in free trade with those countries? Both result in better foreign relations, but only one delivers a direct payback (in the form of lower prices for goods).
  • Democrats want to maintain high minimum wage levels and high government benefits, but if we simply open the gates and let anyone come here who wants to, the low-level workers already here will face massive competition for the existing jobs, and it will become impossible to continue our current government benefit programs. (For instance, $600 per month from SSI may not sound like much to you, but that would sound glorious for millions of people in other countries.)
  • Republicans claim to support the free market, but if they do not promote free international trade, they do not support the free market. Mexicans (and folks from other countries) are coming here by the millions – some of them risking their lives – for the opportunity to earn $8.00 per hour. Do you think there just might be an unmet demand for low-level labor in the U.S.? This is true even when unemployment rates are high. Farmers in the U.S. frequently make listings looking for workers and find that U.S. citizens just do not want to bend over all day in the sun – even for more than minimum wage. Mexicans and Nicaraguans, however, will. If they want the jobs we don’t want, let them have those jobs!
  • Republicans claim to champion the American Dream and the idea of working hard to earn an honest living and move up in the world. Well, that is exactly what these people want to do. They want it more than most of the people already living here. Let them come.

In case you have not guessed it, here is the basic type of system that I am in favor of:

  • Easy entry and registration for any non-criminal (or non-suspect) who wants to come here and work.
  • A gradual, reasonable pathway to citizenship conditional upon proof of economic responsibility.
  • An effective system of identification on the federal level, incorporating a picture ID card tied to an electronic database of fingerprints.
  • A system of fines for employing unregistered workers and rewards for reporting such violations.

I know that a lot of conservatives and libertarians would be outraged at the idea of having a federally mandated ID. However, the reality is that we will not solve the immigration problem so long as we rely on a piece of cardboard with a number on it. It’s time to get into the 21st century, deal with this problem, and stop harboring ideological contradictions. Giving you the ability to prove that you are who you say you are and minimizing criminals’ ability to steal your identity is exactly the kind of thing the government is there for. (Such an ID system would also minimize voter fraud and put us on the level of more technological nations like Brazil.)

Wading into the Self-Publishing Waters

After years of intending to do so, I have finally published my first book on Amazon. It’s called Trashland and Other Stories, and it’s a collection of science fiction and realistic fiction short stories from the mind of yours truly. It contains a total of eleven stories, three of which have never been previously published in any form.

At present, only the Kindle version is available, but I will have a hard copy version of it available soon. (If you want the digital version but do not own a Kindle, Amazon has an application you can download to read Kindle books on your computer.)

You can also just download a free PDF of it here: trashland pdf

No, Ron Paul: The Gold Standard Is NOT the Answer

A number of people in the United States with libertarian tendencies follow the example of Ron Paul in proclaiming a gospel of gold. Like the Populists of old with their silver (not ruby) slippers, these folks believe that fundamentally changing U.S. monetary policy is an essential aspect of reversing the problems in this country and in the world, and that departing from the gold standard was one of the worst mistakes in U.S. history. They also argue that the current system of fiat money places way too much power in the hands of the government. For those who do not understand the difference between the gold standard and fiat money, here is a brief explanation:

  • Commodity money is a type of currency that has an intrinsic value in and of itself. For instance, in many prisons, cigarettes have become a form of commodity money because they represent a generally accepted medium of economic exchange and denominate the prices of products and services within that microcosm. The value of such money is independent of any central governing authority. While the U.S. dollar was still just a piece of paper under the gold standard, it was backed by a specific amount of gold, so its value was directly tied to the market value of gold.
  • Fiat money is a type of currency that is only valuable because people agree that it is valuable. While paper-form commodity money is backed by the value of a certain commodity – such as gold or silver – fiat money is backed by the legitimacy of the institution that issues it – such as the U.S. federal government.

After that explanation, you can see why a gold-based monetary system seems more appealing to many people. Governments can rise and fall, but humanity has almost always placed a high value on gold regardless of whose face or which country’s name is stamped on it. However, the matter is much more complex than just that. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and we need to understand a few more basic economic concepts before we can pass judgment.

Inflation vs. Deflation
In our current society, everyone knows what inflation is: it’s that annoying tendency that money has to gradually lose value over time. The price of a 32-ounce Coca-Cola continues to rise year after year, while the money our employers pay us strangely tends to resist change. To understand inflation, we have to understand exactly what money is in an economy. In any economy, money represents a certain amount of wealth. As a simple example, in an economy of $1,000,000, every dollar represents one-millionth of the total wealth of that economy, with each dollar serving as a tiny slice of the pie.

Slices of Wealth

However, if you print more money – as often happens in a fiat system – that pie is suddenly being sliced into a larger number of pieces.Post-inflation The total amount of wealth that each dollar represents is therefore less. This is inflation.

However, there is something else that happens in economies: deflation. Most people in the United States do not know what deflation is because we have not seen it in some time. Deflation is when the economy grows – thus increasing the total amount of wealth – while the amount of money in the economy stays the same. And what is the result of this? The result is a bigger pie with the same number of slices – which means that each dollar is now worth more than it was worth before.

Post-deflation

A common tendency people have is to assume that this is good. Doesn’t it sound good to watch your savings gain in value when you have not done anything at all to risk it? Well, it is actually terrible for economies – worse than inflation. The reason is that, if you know that the economy is probably going to undergo 20% deflation, you are probably not going to bother with starting that company you were thinking of starting or investing money into the stock market. Instead, you are just going to keep all of your money in the bank and watch as you become richer and richer with minimal effort or risk. The result of this scenario is that people stop spending money and all of the wealth in the economy ends up going to the people who can afford to save. Meanwhile, various industries will take a nosedive because, suddenly, no one is spending money unless absolutely necessary. Also, no one is innovating or investing in technology or new companies because, again, if you can gain wealth by risking nothing and doing nothing, why invest?

Why is all of this important when it comes to commodity vs. fiat money? It is important because having a fiat system gives a nation much more ability to control both inflation and deflation. The reason no one knows what deflation is anymore is because, due to our fiat system, we can control inflation and deflation by printing money whenever we need to. As an economy grows, the only way to ensure that price levels – and the value of the currency – stay the same is by printing more money at the same rate at which economic growth occurs. The reason inflation still occurs is because it is impossible to know exactly how much money we should print with absolute certainty. For this reason, we must choose to err either on the side of inflation or deflation. Since deflation tends to be more disruptive to an economy than inflation, we choose to err on the side of inflation, maintaining a constant inflation level of 1-5%.

While a fiat system allows the government to keep price levels relatively constant by giving it the ability to print money (and get it back by selling bonds), a commodity system does not allow the government to do this. For currency growth to occur in a system that abides by a gold standard, the government has to find more gold – on public land. Otherwise, as long as the economy continues to grow, either a trend of deflation will occur forever without limit or the government will have to pay money for the gold that it intends to use as money.

In short, the reason we have a fiat money system is because we have realized that limited inflation is way better than unlimited deflation.

Counterarguments and Misconceptions
Despite all of this, some people – such as Ron Paul – still contend that a commodity money system is better than a fiat money system. Their arguments come in various forms:

“The Federal Reserve is causing hyperinflation!”
In 2008, I was watching Glenn Beck, and I saw him talking about the Federal Reserve’s decision to print a large amount of money. He ranted and raved about how much money the Fed was printing, giving detailed illustrations to show how many crates of hundred-dollar bills it takes to account for that much money, etc. Angry and outraged, he shouted: “Stop printing so much money!” He then talked about how we would soon need a wheelbarrow full of money to buy bread at the 7-Eleven. Well, guess what! That hyperinflation he was warning about? Yeah, it never happened. This is because the Fed was printing so much money expressly because the market was exhibiting a massive trend toward deflation. The end result was a wash and a slight bit of inflation for the year. Remember folks: Glenn Beck attended college for a single semester, and he certainly never studied economics to any depth.

“The federal government should not have so much power.”
Those who advocate a return to the gold standard do so largely because they think that the Federal Reserve is an evil institution bent on the destruction of the United States as we know it. They talk about how the Federal Reserve, in one fell swoop, could suddenly print so much money that whatever money we hold will suddenly become virtually worthless, and this move will somehow pave the way for a New World Order takeover. However, let me point out that the federal government is and always will be in charge of the U.S. Armed Forces. In a totalitarian takeover scenario, compared to the power held by our military, the power of the Federal Reserve is trivial. Many would argue that “Commanding the military is something natural for the federal government to do.” Well, maintaining price stability is also something that naturally falls within the realm of government. It is intrinsically impossible for the private sector to do so – especially when operating on the gold standard.

“The Federal Reserve is as ‘federal’ as Federal Express!”
This is actually the strongest argument that these folks have: that the Federal Reserve is an institution with huge power that is not led by elected officials. The logic behind the fact that Federal Reserve officers are appointed rather than elected is the same as the logic behind why Supreme Court justices are appointed rather than elected. I would be open to the idea of requiring the Chairman of the Federal Reserve to be elected. However, we need to realize that this would make monetary policy as susceptible to political vacillations as our fiscal policy is. Also remember that we could have elected leaders in charge of the Fed without going to the gold standard. These are two separate issues.

“Our currency is backed by the federal government. If the federal government collapses, my money will be worth nothing.”
Those who make this argument do not realize the potential gravity of a total collapse of the U.S. federal government. If the federal government collapses, your car, computer, iPhone, stocks, and bonds will all equally become virtually worthless, regardless of monetary policy. Such a collapse would lead to a worldwide economic catastrophe second only to what a nuclear holocaust would cause. Pretty much your only possessions that would be of any value at that point would be your house and any food or weapons you own. Remember: gold is even less edible than paper. And even if it were edible, the gold standard would not put gold in your pocket anyway. Rather, it would put paper in your pocket and back that paper with gold somewhere far away – guarded by federal employees. With no more federal government, would those federal employees continue protecting your wealth? Um…no.

“It is ridiculous to assume that people will stop investing and starting companies just because their money is appreciating in value. The natural thing for people to do is build, create, and take risks.”
It’s very ironic that libertarians and conservatives use this argument to try to show that deflation is actually good for an economy – because Marxists make the same argument to promote Marxism. The whole problem with Marxism is that it removes the reward someone can collect from taking a risk or bringing about an innovation, thus causing people to not take risks or make innovations. Libertarians and conservatives know this and make it a point to remind Marxists of it whenever they can. However, as soon as we’re talking about monetary policy, these guys suddenly want to make economic decisions based on a general assumption of human altruism, which is fundamentally opposed to free market theory. One may say that altruism is not the assumption, as one can conceivably profit much more from starting a business than from leaving his money in the bank to appreciate in value due to deflation. However, potential return is not the only factor here: there is also the matter of risk. Faced with a choice of a 10% profit that is a sure thing or an 80% profit that comes only after much toil, headache, and risk, what would you do? Many people would take the 10%. Thus, we can see the intrinsic problem of a protracted state of deflation. The libertarian/conservative assumption that everyone will opt for the risky 80% over the safe 10% is as baseless as the Marxist assumption that we will all work as hard as we can and do as much as we can regardless of the payoff.

“The officers of the Fed use their position to influence the money market and profit from the fluctuations that they know are about to occur.”
I cannot be 100% sure that this is not happening. In fact, it may be happening. However, it cannot be happening to any high degree because, if their goal were to simply increase their personal wealth by tampering with the market, what we would be seeing would be massive fluctuations in the value of currency. That’s because the way you make money in speculation is by buying when prices are at rock-bottom and selling just before the bubble bursts. For this reason, speculators love volatility. On the contrary, the Federal Reserve does its job more effectively than virtually any other part of the federal government: it constantly keeps inflation rates at low levels and does not allow deflation to occur at all. The fluctuations in currency value that we see now are actually much less volatile than what occurred under the gold standard.

“The Founding Fathers saw fit to enact a commodity-based monetary policy, so that is what we should have.”
George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson knew virtually nothing about fiat money as we have it today. They did not weigh two options and pick the one that God told them to pick: they simply continued with a monetary policy similar to what they had experienced under the British Empire.

Science and Religion
Do not let yourself get manipulated or misled. While our fiat monetary system has its disadvantages, it is a much better system than Ron Paul and Glenn Beck would lead you to believe. Unless we can somehow find gold at a rate that exactly matches economic growth and then make gold disappear when there is an economic contraction, our fiat system is much better than the gold standard. We simply have to make sure that we elect wise politicians who would never appoint crazies to take the reins of the Federal Reserve. In discussing this issue with people who have actually studied economics, I have found that those who say we should return to the gold standard reject all economic data and base their arguments on pure ideology rather than fact because the verifiable facts undermine their position. Like Marxists, they turn economic theory into an unyielding religion rather than a continually developing science.

*Final Note: I just realized that the pie charts do not view correctly in some browsers.

Mormons and Homosexuality: What Does the Future Bring?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, is an institution unlike any other religious organization in the world for one reason: prophets. Mainline Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, the Baha’i Faith, and a number of other sects are all similar in that they believe that prophets talked to God and wrote scripture a long time ago – but that such prophets do not exist in our time. Some small sects do profess to believe that various individuals do stand as authoritative representatives of God in this world as the prophets of old did, but over the last thousand years or so, the general trend has been for such sects to arise under the leadership of this “prophet” and then fizzle out as soon as he is gone. Additionally, the adherents of such sects tend to prove unable to function as contributing members of society. Indeed, their leaders often command them to completely cut themselves off from society. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, is special in that it is a large, mature faith – with over 14 million adherents and nearly 200 years of history – that has managed to maintain a trend of solid growth even after the death of Joseph Smith. While the adherents of the faith believe that they follow a divinely inspired leader of a caliber comparable to Moses, Isaiah, or John the Revelator, their apparent weirdness does not extend far beyond a hokey sub-pop-culture and innovative Jell-O recipes.

So what does this have to do with homosexuality and similar gender and family issues? In simple terms, an understanding of the Latter-day Saint view of revelation is absolutely vital in that it shows that the doctrines of the Church are not and cannot be decided according to shifting social preferences. The Church claims that both its interpretation of ancient scripture and additional scripture introduced by Joseph Smith and others come from God, and not from mere scholars or believers who do the best they can due to a presumed state of heavenly silence. Thus, for the doctrines of the Church to suddenly undergo a fundamental change, the entirety of its message would prove illegitimate. For instance, while Southern Baptists believe that the will of God is expressed through their democratic system of ecumenical governance, this belief is a very loose one: since it is obvious that Baptist doctrine is defined by what Baptists think rather than by what God thinks, if that doctrine were to change, there would be nothing particularly earthshaking about such a development. Southern Baptists do not even claim to have the same authority as Peter or Ezekiel, so any claim to prove that point would be of little use. However, Latter-day Saints do believe that their interpretations of scripture come from God in a very real sense, and any discussion of Latter-day Saint doctrine must occur with that understanding in mind.

In recent decades, emboldened by slackening sympathies from society in general, a growing number of Latter-day Saints have started to “come out,” describing themselves as “Gay Mormons” or “Homosexual Mormons.” Some, particularly those who hardly ever actually attend services or read their scriptures, seem to believe that the Church’s doctrines do not conflict with the homosexual lifestyle in any way. Others, correctly realizing that the homosexual lifestyle is absolutely incompatible with current doctrines, often develop a hope that doctrines will change in the future, allowing two men or two women to go to the temple and get married for time and all eternity in the same way that a man and a woman can. However, the assumptions that these people make as a result of these hopes are all baseless. Here are a few:

“If we just remain faithful to the Church’s doctrines in every other way and exert soft force on its leaders, they will eventually come around.”
The Kingdom of God is just that: a kingdom. God is the boss, and He does not take suggestions. If God needs suggestions, God is not God. Those who assume that God is not actually the source of the Church’s doctrines – those who believe that our leaders do not really receive revelation – should not want to be members of the Church to begin with. If you honestly believe that a man has been appointed by God to lead you in moral issues, you should never want him to “come around” about any such issues.

“Jesus Christ dined with sinners, so the Church should stop being so judgmental.”
The irony in this argument lies in the fact that it implies that homosexuals are, in fact, sinners. Aside from that, though, the other implications here make no sense. Yes, Christ dined with sinners and preached a gospel of love – but He also publicly chastised sinners and even beat them with whips. The difference between these two groups of sinners was that the first came to Him specifically for the purpose of forsaking their sins, while the second came to Him to make themselves feel better by telling Him that He was wrong. Into which group do these people fall when they come to the Lord’s anointed and try to convince them to change doctrines to make the Church more palatable to society?

“Homosexual marriage is compatible with the LDS doctrine of eternal marriage.”
Gender identity is a fundamental doctrine of the Restored Gospel. We believe that there is more to gender than sex: those who are male in this world were male before they received bodies and will continue to be male after they die. The same goes for females. Our gender is an inexorable aspect of our identity, and God is no idiot: He does not match male bodies with female spirits or vice versa. Arguments challenging Latter-day Saint beliefs regarding homosexuality are largely rooted in a feeling that sexuality is not something that Mormons concern themselves with. However, the contrary is actually true: sexuality is something extremely sacred to us. It is for this reason that we must be unyielding when it comes to homosexuality, as it is a perversion of something most sacred. Sexual deviants often talk about how their love transcends meaningless physical things such as an incompatibility of sex organs. However, in doing so, rather than elevating sex to the spiritual level, they turn it into something purely temporal: they imply that one’s identity as a male or female is meaningless on the spiritual level, and that all spirits are neuter. The Latter-day Saint belief in eternal marriage, however, comes forth as a result of an understanding that gender is something applicable to all levels of existence, and that only by joining male and female energies can we progress together to the point that God wants us to reach.

“We have the right to disagree with the Prophet.”
Of course you do. However, you do not have the right to belong to this Church when you believe that its doctrines are false and tell others to do the same.

“The Church has changed its doctrines in the past.”
No, it has not. The application of doctrines changes, but the actual doctrines do not. Those who expect the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to warm up to homosexuality tend to respond to this assertion by claiming that the Church has, in fact, changed its doctrines in two areas: polygamy and priesthood. However, this is not true in either case. Regarding polygamy, anyone who assumes that the Church’s doctrine is or ever was either strict monogamy or strict polygamy does not understand the Church’s doctrine or its history. The Church’s doctrine regarding polygamy is clearly shown in the Book of Mormon:

Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (Jacob 2:27-30)

The doctrine according to Jacob is very clear here: The general rule is and always has been strict monogamy. However, in cases in which the population is skewed, having more eligible women than men, it makes sense to practice polygamy for one or two generations until that imbalance has abated. Only the Lord can say when it is necessary to practice polygamy, though. Unless the Lord specifically commands us to practice polygamy, we must practice strict monogamy. This was the doctrine of the Church in the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and it continues to be the doctrine of the Church today. No doctrinal change has occurred: the temporary need to practice polygamy has simply subsided. Those who refuse to see the simple truth of this do so as a matter of personal convenience rather than rational truth-seeking.

As for the matter of priesthood, I do not intend to address that in-depth here. However, I think it is sufficient to say that, from Genesis to the Doctrine and Covenants, we have seen a continuing trend in the Lord’s issuance of priesthood authority, and that this trend has continued up into modern times. What was once given only from father to eldest son in a very limited patriarch-to-patriarch model has gradually broadened over the millennia, becoming available to a larger and larger group of people as time passed. The fact that a particular group had to be last should not be any great trial of faith for us, and the extension of priesthood authority to that group is evidence of a continuity of doctrine rather than a revocation of it. Some might say that, according to this logic, the scope of priesthood authority may continue to expand, allowing women to hold the priesthood – and then homosexuals. I doubt that women will ever hold the priesthood, but if the Prophet were to issue a statement to the contrary, it would not be a trial of faith for me. However, God will never categorically extend His Holy Priesthood to people who openly and unequivocally believe that the doctrines of His Gospel are incorrect.

“We will obey doctrine as it is, but we hope it changes in the future.”
Regardless of whether doctrine changes in the future or not, this is an intrinsically sinful attitude, and it shows that you obey out of fear rather than out of a desire to obey. No one should live his life hoping that God will someday sanction his favorite sin.

“We are persecuted.”
I am truly, truly sorry for the hate that homosexuals face in society – especially when it comes from members of the Church. From a doctrinal standpoint, we should not view homosexual acts much differently from adultery or general fornication. For some reason, though, people in this church often shrug at heterosexual fornication, viewing it as something bad-but-understandable, while vehemently railing against homosexuality. This ethical imbalance is something that I hope changes in the future. However, let’s remember that no amount of undue persecution can turn a vice into a virtue.

What To Expect
Joseph Smith and others prophesied that this Church, though still small, would grow to establish a presence in every nation of the world, and that, prior to the Second Coming, we would see a time of great rebellion from within the Church, causing even those previously thought to be very faithful to deny the faith and become enemies. Judging by developments that are currently happening in the Church, I think that it is perfectly rational to assume that such issues of discord and rebellion will come largely as a result of disagreements with the Church’s doctrine of homosexuality. We may even again see a time in which Apostles deny the faith due to an inability to accept the idea that they or their family members may be sinning by rejecting the words of the prophets. Buckle up: Things are only going to get crazier.

What We Should Do:

  • Be nice. Some make the mistake of thinking that being righteous always means being nice. Jesus was not “nice” to the Pharisees and Sadducees. However, this does not give us the right to be snooty or mean. We should do whatever we can to help people feel the love of God – and realize that someone who is struggling with a particular sin may even be more righteous than us in another area.
  • Stand with homosexuals whenever possible. While the Church has been unyielding in its doctrine regarding homosexuality, the leaders of the Church have wisely done what they can to show love for homosexuals. One way of doing this has been to help them enjoy the same basic rights as other people. In the political realm, we should enact and support policies that help to ensure that homosexuals enjoy the same basic human rights as other people, such as access to health care, housing, and employment. However, this does not mean that we must allow our representative governments to openly advocate and institutionalize the homosexual lifestyle by elevating it to the same status as what a husband and wife have.
  • Believe. Maintain a testimony of the Restored Gospel: believe that God has not left us alone in the dark, but that He has sent us prophets just as He did in times of old.
  • Obey. If you experience same-gender attraction issues, deal with them. We all have tendencies toward sin, and we all have to overcome them. You can do this: many people have, my favorite example being Michael Glatze. Even if marrying someone of the opposite sex is not something you think you can do, God still requires chastity from you. No, it is not easy – but chastity is not easy for anyone.

What We Should Not Do:

  • Obsess. Every apostate I ever met became an apostate because he decided to become something else first and a Saint second. Whether it means openly accepting homosexuality or becoming violently hateful of it, obsessing over this issue and forgetting about everything else will cause you to live a very imbalanced life and lose touch with reality.
  • Ignore. This is a real problem, and it is only getting worse. The world needs the Gospel now more than ever, so be part of the solution.

An Era of Prophets
I know that I am blessed to live in an era in which prophets guide God’s people. As Brigham Young once said:

I felt in those days [before joining the Church], that if I could see the face of a prophet, such as had lived on the earth in former times, a man that had revelations, to whom the heavens were opened, who knew God and his character, I would freely circumscribe the earth on my hands and knees; I thought that there was no hardship but what I would undergo, if I could see one person that knew what God is and where he is, what was his character, and what eternity was. (DNW, 8 Oct. 1856, 3)

A prophet guides us today. As in times of old, some people oppose his message. Some of these people are outside the Church, while others are inside. Some of these people oppose the message with violent force and inflammatory rhetoric, while others use soft words and tears. The majority of the people of this world will almost always oppose the true Gospel. This is to be expected. Let’s not look back on our lives after this homecoming game is over only to realize that, when we were faced with the great challenges of our time, we stood on the wrong side of the line. I may have my moments of weakness and indiscretion, but I will stand with the Prophet of the Lord until I die. I am a Saint first and foremost – and nothing else really matters.