Monday, April 6, 2009

Elder Boyd K. Packer Reaffirms That Gender Identity Was Assigned During The Pre-Mortal Existence At The 179th Annual LDS General Conference

While an estimated 100,000 in live attendance and millions more worldwide derived spiritual comfort from the just-concluded 179th Annual LDS General Conference held in Salt Lake City, advocates of special rights for transgenders did not derive much comfort from the remarks of one of the General Authorities. And, quite frankly, the remarks were not intended to give them comfort.

The primary emphasis during this conference, as it usually is, was spiritual. Nearly every speaker emphasized the conviction that Jesus Christ is at the center of the LDS faith. They also spoke of the Easter season, of Christ's sacrifice for humanity, crucifixion and resurrection, his call to discipleship and his message of unconditional love. The General Authorities also spoke out on temple work, following the prophet's instructions, the importance of missionary work, and avoiding pornography. Millions more watched the proceedings via satellite in LDS chapels across the world, as well as on satellite and cable. KSL Channel 5 news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

The usual spate of callings to new positions was revealed, and can be read HERE. In addition, the latest demographic statistics on the Church was announced:

-- Members: 13,508,509
-- Missions: 348
-- Full-time Missionaries: 52,494
-- Districts: 622
-- Stakes: 2,818
-- Wards and Branches: 28,189
-- Temples: 128

But social issues were not omitted from the menu. During the Saturday evening priesthood session, Elder Boyd K. Packer, directing his remarks primarily towards Aaronic Priesthood holders aged 12-18, reminded them that they are to take care of the mortal tabernacle given to them. He counseled them to treasure and protect the masculine part of their nature, and to have respectful, protective regard for all women and girls. He also urged them to avoid pornography and narcotics, and not to decorate their bodies with tattoos or by piercing it to add jewels. He also affirmed that gender identity was assigned during the pre-mortal existence.

This will not give aid and comfort to advocates of special rights for transgenders. A tiny but growing body of public opinion now suggests the gender suddenly has become a "variable", that it is dependent upon how you "feel" rather than upon the "package" with which you're equipped. What's worse is that this extreme position is slowly but systemically being granted statutory protection. In February 2008, the Fairbanks, Alaska School Board when they voted in favor of making transgendered students a "protected class" without addressing bathroom issues. One of the board members voting in favor was Sue Hull, a Republican. Then again, I suppose the latter should be no big surprise; after all, in Michael Steele's "new" Republikwan Party, anybody and anything can be a Republican, except perhaps staunch pro-family advocates like Utah Eagle Forum's Gayle Ruzicka and State Senator Chris Buttars, who are relentlessly witch-hunted for standing tall for those traditional American cultural values which catapulted America to unprecedented power and prosperity.

But Elder Dallin Oaks put a couple of other social issues on public display as well. In this speech delivered during the Sunday afternoon session, Elder Oaks praised Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage and chastised greedy corporate executives.

"In recent elections, Latter-day Saints have united with other like-minded persons in defense of marriage efforts", Oaks said. "For some, that service has involved great sacrifice and continuing personal pain".

Oaks also condemned excess in today's economic downturn. "The effects of greed and entitlement are evident in the multimillion dollar bonuses of some corporate executives", he said. "But the effects are more widespread than that. Greed and ideas of entitlement have also fueled the widespread careless borrowing and excessive consumerism behind the financial crises that threaten to engulf the world".

But the single greatest highlight of the conference was the calling of Elder Neil L. Andersen to become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Andersen replaces Joseph Wirthlin, who passed on in December 2008. In his first address as an LDS apostle, Elder Andersen spoke respectfully of other faiths. "We are not alone in our desire to do good. We are not alone in praying and receiving answers. We are not alone in sacrificing for a greater cause. There are loyal and decent mothers and fathers in every land. We have much to learn from the good people all around us". Nonetheless, Elder Andersen also said that Mormons should not be timid in declaring the LDS Church's unique beliefs -- the Book of Mormon, prophets and priesthood of all worthy males.

More Utah media stories on the conference can be found on the KSL Conference Page and the Deseret News Conference Page. Until the LDS Church makes full transcripts of the conference speeches available on the LDS website, here are links to several summaries:

Saturday morning session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Saturday afternoon session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Saturday evening priesthood session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Sunday morning session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

Sunday afternoon session:
---- Messenger and Advocate
---- Mormon Times

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