Will President Monson change Mormon doctrine?
The Washington Post had a mostly favorable article about President Monson the other day. Actually, compared to some that I have read lately, it was very well done. Jacqueline L. Salmon, the staff writer assigned to the story, did her research and interviewed some of the usual non-Mormon experts like Richard N. Ostling (Mormon America – 1999) and Jan Shipps (Forty Years among the Mormons – 2000).
I read Mormon America long ago and was not too pleased with the product. I always ask myself why religious writers tend to focus on the ‘secrets’ and the ‘wealth’ of the Church as opposed to the miracle of the faith and the happiness that it brings the members who live it. It seems as if they are looking for some hidden sinister agenda in the leadership of the church.
I suppose it has always been that way and always will be when outsiders write about the church. Anyway, Jacqui’s article was good, for which I am grateful. Thank you Jacqui. In it she quoted Dave Stewart, who made the news a while back when he reported on the decrease in the baptism and retention rates of new members. Yes, old news, thank you very much.
The church is continuing to do a wonderful job in making the leadership more available to the press. The newsroom resource on lds.org is worth visiting every day, especially if you are a church news junkie like me. In it, you can find the interview of President Monson in which he says that there will be ‘no abrupt change’ from the leadership of President Hinckley.
He did, however, hint that ‘practices and programs will be adjusted from time to time.’ One of those pending practices or programs is long rumored to be the suspension of Sunday School services. I have received emails from individuals who reported they were involved in a pilot program to evaluate this proposed change. From what I gather, the response was favorable.
Several people have jumped on President Monson’s comment about ‘no abrupt change.’ They have speculated that perhaps he did have some changes in mind but that he was holding off on making them until a respectable time had passed. In fact, one writer apparently did not hear President Monson say that there would be ‘no doctrinal changes – those are eternal’.
I have written previously that I watch closely the phrases that people use to come to my blog from Google. It amazes me to note the number of times the phrases ‘President Monson prophecies’ and ‘President Monson doctrine’ has been used in the past few days. I find particularly intriguing the number of searches on ‘President Monson gay issues.’
It is obvious that people outside the church do not understand that the doctrine in this area just does not change when a new president is sustained. I think this quote from President Hinckley still says it best for me, “We love them as sons and daughters of God…If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church.”
He also said, “Our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married.” I don’t think it could be any clearer, do you?