In 1971, Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a talk in which he stated:
The gospel might be likened to the keyboard of a piano—a full keyboard with a selection of keys on which one who is trained can play a variety without limits; a ballad to express love, a march to rally, a melody to soothe, and a hymn to inspire; an endless variety to suit every mood and satisfy every need.
How shortsighted it is, then, to choose a single key and endlessly tap out the monotony of a single note, or even two or three notes, when the full keyboard of limitless harmony can be played. (BKP, The Only True and Living Church, Ensign, Dec 1971)
This quotation was directed toward other churches; however, over the years it came to be used as a caution to avoid “gospel hobbies.”
Tonight, as the keynote speaker at a Seminary Centennial broadcast “100 Years of Seminary,” President Packer extraneously hit the note we’ve heard all too often from his pulpit: homosexuality.
42:08 I want to speak now in the Marion G. Romney pattern of straight talk about another matter. One thing that I have learned about young people through all these years, you not only can take truth, but you want to know the truth.
We know that gender was set in the premortal world. The spirit and the body are the soul of man. The matter of gender is of great concern to the brethren, as are all matters of morality. A few of you may have felt, or have been told that you were born with troubled feelings and you’re not guilty if you act upon these temptations. Doctrinally, we know that if that were true, your agency would have been erased. And that cannot happen. You always have a choice to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and live morally pure and chaste, one filled with virtue.
President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the following in a General Conference, “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves gays or lesbians. My response is, Do we love them as sons and daughters of God? They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have temptations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as others do as members of this Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to church discipline, just as others are. We want to help strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties, but we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity. If they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make a light of a very serious and sacred foundation — God sanctioned marriage and its very purpose in rearing the families.”
President Hinckley was speaking for the Church. The first gift that Adam and Eve received was agency. Thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given thee. You have the same agency. Use it wisely. Deny acting on any impure impulse or unholy temptation that may come into your mind is a blessing. Just do not go there. If you’re already there, come back out of it. Deny yourselves of all ungodliness. Do not tamper with the life-giving powers in your body, or with members of either gender. It is a standard of the Church, and it will not change.
When President Packer spoke about gays in his sermon given at the 180th Semiannual General Conference entitled Cleansing the Inner Vessel, he stated, “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.” In response to protests, his words were edited and softened, but at the next General Conference he reiterated, “Some suppose that they were unfairly singled out for a specific temptation. This is the purpose of mortal life — to be tested. We must, and we can, resist temptations of any kind.”
Church leaders and members worldwide are concerned that President Packer continues to frame his understanding in an doctrinal manner, regardless of the concessions that have been made to modern research and understanding of the nature of homosexuality by other Apostles and by Public Affairs officials of the Church. In this latest speech, he again specifically uses the word “doctrinal” in his exposition.
As I looked around at the youth from my stake who were gathered to honor the Seminary program, I wondered how appropriate this topic was. Children as young as 12 years old had been invited to the program. President Packer warned these youth that they were growing up in enemy territory, and spoke pointedly of Satan and his influence. He admonished them to listen to the impressions of the Holy Ghost, so they would not be deceived. He mentioned pornography at least 4 times. Then it came; a full-blown rant on the gay issue from his bully pulpit. I wondered which of the youth were being more personally affected by his words, and how they were processing them.
I realize that I, and many of you who are reading my words, have sustained Boyd K. Packer as a prophet, seer, and revelator. I know we are living in troubled times, and such men are called to guide us through them. But to this audience, on this day, to commemorate and celebrate 100 years of the educational program of Seminary? How relevant were the notes from this particular piano key?