The Salt Lake Tribune noted in an online article today that there is a sense that the LDS church has taken a step “back 25 years” with the presentation of general authority Bruce Hafen’s refutation of the causes of homosexuality in last week’s Evergreen conference.
It reminds me of the former Soviet politburo’s denial or whitewashing of events under leaders who had been replaced (due to death or ‘retirement’ of their predecessors). They quickly and quietly used the official news organ Pravda (“truth”) to change history by altering photographs and steadfastly clinging to a new version of events that either removed key participants now out of favor or totally denied any previous actions or policy changes.
By tacitly ignoring recent writings and recordings of LDS leaders under former LDS leader Hinckley — which explained that they generally “don’t know” what causes homosexuality — Elder Hafen has indeed set the clock back.
His explanation that lesbians were abused as children as a cause/effect is pure bullshit. His point that homosexuality is a mental illness that can be modified with “extreme” treatment (would that include the famous BYU “reparation therapy” — that included use of electrodes attached to the genitals to “reward” or “punish” detected arousal as the patients were shown pornography — be included?) is archaic and not based on any currently-accepted psychological or medical research.
This patriarchal attitude that “we have all of the answers”, when LDS history has shown time and again that they didn’t and that they don’t, is indeed a large step backwards.
I feel a dramatic shift — perhaps driven by the fear of losing members’ minds, if not bodies (e.g. attendance and tithing) — as the leadership seeks to re-establish some control over thought and agency. I think this semi-public refutation of Hinckley, Oaks and other LDS leaders who admitted they don’t know what causes homosexuality, is a subtle way to re-establish control that the current leadership feel was lost over the last 10 or 15 years (if Boyd K. Packer doesn’t at some point support Hafen’s position — and probably in general conference next week — I will eat my temple hat).
It also reminds me of how the Bush/Cheney administration quietly sought to bring back the “imperial presidency” lost as part of the post-Watergate backlash.
It really is all about power.
By the way, were does Jesus fit into this equation?