Last week, Brigham Young University, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced they were changing their honor code policy to remove the ban on “homosexual behavior.” While the details are still being ironed out in terms of practical application, staff at the Honor Code Office stated that LGBTQ students are now permitted to date openly and will not be punished for holding hands with or kissing a person of the same sex. You can watch BYU Professor Jim Brau’s praise of the shift in policy here, starting at minute 6:00 to 15:45.
This change comes in the wake of a similar move in the LDS church which last year removed its charge of apostasy for members in same-sex “marriages.” These changes shouldn’t be shocking to LDS members as the church has had a long-standing pattern of adjusting its doctrine to fit the changing times. The new BYU policy, along with the latest change in the position of the LDS church, is consistent with past shifts in doctrine, like the 1978 church reversal on the ban on black people serving in the lay priesthood or the evolving perspective on plural marriages. For traditional students opposed to the new move, Brau reminds his class that the LDS church has always believed in ongoing, divine revelation and that students who struggle with the decision must not have a testimony of the “living apostles.” From an outsider’s perspective, it seems anything can be justified under the banner of continued revelation, especially if it’s deemed convenient in the current landscape.
Now, lest I immediately be labeled an anti-Mormon propagandist, which I know is often the charge whenever one outside the LDS church critiques its positions, let me be clear that my motivation for writing this post is one of sincere concern for my LDS friends. This news only serves as a reminder of the deep division between the LDS faith and Christianity, between a god who changes and the God who never does, between continuing revelation and a foundation built on the inerrant, inscripturated Word of God.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.Isaiah 40:8, KJV
We could spend all day (and spill a lot of ink) discussing the innumerable differences between the LDS faith and true Christianity, but the recent changes in the LDS church, and at BYU, hark back to the primary disparity between the two religions: namely, the opposing doctrines of God.
The god of the LDS church is one amongst a plurality of gods. He was once a man who, by his obedience, was exalted to godhood. As one who was once a man, he is gendered. In his progression to godhood, he has changed and grown. Therefore, he is not the same yesterday, today, and forever. The god of the LDS faith did not create all things but merely organized eternal, preexisting matter. He cannot create ex-nihilo, out of nothing. As his children, men and women can hope to ascend to godhood through obedience to the precepts of the LDS faith.
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.Isaiah 43:10, KJV
How different, then, is this god from the God of Christianity? First, Christians affirm that there is only one God. Yahweh, the only God, does not change. He has existed eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His understanding is infinite. He is a wholly unique and distinct being from ourselves. We are creatures, He the creator. His manner of existence is completely unlike ours. His nature is spiritual, unlimited by time or space which He created as He did all things. We are not gods nor can we become gods. Instead, we are fallen in Adam, completely separated from God by our sin unless we are united with Christ, the second person of the Trinity, who, being God, became flesh to die a criminal’s death on behalf of His people that we may have, through faith alone, eternal life through His righteousness and not by our own merit.
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?Numbers 23:19, KJV
There are numerous biblical references we could cite to substantiate these truths (apart from the verses quoted in this post), but the point is that it shouldn’t be surprising to a member of the LDS church to find a change in any long-held doctrine. According to LDS theology, the god of this world has not eternally been god. Throughout his journey to godhood, he has had to learn and develop. No wonder, then, that such dramatic shifts are possible. Growth implies change, and a changing god must inevitably lead to a changing religion. If continued revelation is the means by which a changing god expresses his changing desires, then it’s easy to understand how such a drastic deviation in doctrine could occur.
As an aside: I do find it strange that the LDS church, which has been so long focused on celestial marriage, would begin the move to accept lifestyles that are counter to the reproduction of spirit children, especially when the god of the LDS faith is gendered. How the change at BYU is consistent with LDS theology, I can’t imagine.
In contrast, Christianity is clear that homosexuality is a sin. It’s an affront to God who created us male and female so that there would be continued creation through the sexual union within the confines of marriage (Genesis 1:28; Mark 10:6-9). The unchanged Word of God is definitive on that truth (Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). One who would claim Christianity but falter on this point is a false teacher preaching a religion counter to that revealed in Scripture. Our God, the only God, does not change His mind. He does not change, period. He is eternal, the ultimate authority, and His mandates are true whether Christians are living in a society that accepts these truths or not. Christians have a duty to stand firm on the Word of God in a world growing increasingly more hostile to God’s truth no matter the cost, for we serve a holy God in whom there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).
If you are a member of the LDS church, I beg you to contrast the God of the Bible with the god in The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. We may use the same terms, but we clearly do not worship the same God. I hope and pray that one day you will come to know the God who does not change through the true gospel revealed in His Word (Galatians 1:1-10).
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.Matthew 24:35, KJV
Recommended Reading: Is the Mormon My Brother?: Discerning the Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity by James R. White
Until next time, salutations & selah.