As I’ve listened to the original talk Mr. Packer gave during the Sunday morning session of General Conference I really didn’t see anything a faithful member of the church could be opposed to, yet and the church has decided to revise his talk in the text version as to not offend some of the members and non-members of the Mormon Church.
You may have heard about some of the supposed “homophobic” comments he made during his talk. I have to come to Mr. Packer’s defense here a little when I say that his talk wasn’t strictly about homosexuality. He talked about how anyone can overcome their addictions and inclinations to pornography, same-sex attraction, or any immoral behavior through the Mormon priesthood.
Below is just one section of the talk that was changed, this one of the more controversial parts of his message.
At Conference Mr. Packer spoke these words:
“Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies towards the impure and the un-natural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father.”
However, in the text version his words are recorded much differently.
“Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.”
As you can tell from both of versions Mormons haven’t a clue about “original sin”, in fact they reject the idea. Mormonism has a very high bar of perfection and righteousness its members are expected to reach. By rejecting the doctrine of “original sin” it gives the members the mistaken belief that they are born sinless, when they aren’t. It allows the members to think they can get back to the sinless perfected state they believe they were born with.
While Mormonism teaches they can make themselves holy, righteous and morally clean all on their own, scripture teaches us this is far from the case. In Romans 3:10 we learn “there is none righteous, no not even one. “ It’s no wonder the Mormons who struggle with sin and temptations feel as though they are in a hopeless situation and look to taking their lives to end their suffering.
Instead of receiving encouragement and hope, the church sets them up to fail by telling them it’s up to them to work out their situation, and if the churches prescription for success doesn’t work for them it’s their fault. After all as the Mormons say “the (Mormon) gospel is perfect”.
Mr. Packer gives a swing and a miss when talking about how one is able to overcome their struggles and temptations. He said:
“The key is labeled “repentance.” If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter. If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop conduct that is harmful. Angels will coach you and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times.”
He was almost there, we do need to repent and ask forgiveness for our sins, but as my dad would say “close only counts in horse-shoes”. If you are dealing with temptations the last thing you want or need is the Mormon priesthood on your back. Mr. Packer need to understand we are all born with a nature to turn away from living the way God wants us to live.
Mr. Packer is missing a huge component in the repentance, forgiveness process, and that’s Jesus Christ. If you put your trust in any place or anyone other than Jesus you’re going to going to fail. Through Jesus Christ you will have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you; it’s only through Jesus working in you have the power to defeat any or all temptations Satan will throw at you, but you can’t do it on your own as Packer suggests.
The lost individual must first recognize they have sin in their lives, and upon acknowledgment of their sin, they need to repent and put their trust in the one who hung on a cross and shed his blood for their salvation.
Unless they see themselves as a sinner they will never be open to the truths the Holy Spirit can reveal to them. This is a big thing in Mormonism, nobody sees themselves as the wretched sinner they are, and instead they see themselves as righteous because they are living the Mormon gospel.
Throughout his talk Mr. Packer continued to make comments of the power of the Mormon priesthood, as he speaks of its ability and influence to help us with addictions or bad habits. I just have to ask, where does Jesus fit into this?
“The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography—and it is a plague—if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to combat evil influences.”
”Priesthood holders carry with them the antidote to remove the terrible images of pornography and to wash away guilt. The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of our habits, even to unchain from addiction, however tight the grip. It can heal over the scars of past mistakes.”
What I wish everyone could know, whether they are Mormon or non-Mormon is that Jesus Christ holds the power to protect you from succumbing to you sins, He is the antidote.
Yet there is more Mr. Packer is missing in his remedy for temptations, and struggles with sin, it’s called grace. Grace for Mr. Packer and other members of the Mormon Church is only something that comes into play after they’ve done all they can do. Their scripture tells them “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do”. They are also taught former sins return should they sin again after they’ve repented.
Doctrine and Covenants 82:7 reads –
“And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.”
It’s no wonder Mormons have a skewed view of grace, repentance and forgiveness of sin. Following a religion where forgiveness of sin and your worthiness to receive forgiveness is solely based upon your actions brings feelings of hopelessness and helplessness to the hearts of those who feel they will never be good enough, and will never measure up to the lofty goals set for them by the church.
In closing I have to wonder what this change in the wording of Mr. Packer’s talk will mean to the Mormons. As a Mormon I was always taught the words the church leaders speak over the pulpit at General Conference as well as the Conference issue of the Ensign itself are all considered scripture. In a way I can’t help but find this situation a little amusing.
You see, if a non Mormon quotes from the Journal of Discourses or another older Mormon document before modern technology came to be, Mormons will say we don’t know for sure that’s exactly what they said, because someone else was writing down what they said as they said it? Do you get why I find this slightly humorous?
One thing’s for certain if those in the Mormon community, who are struggling with the issues Packer mentions in his talk continue to be told by their church leaders they can triumph over their sins all by themselves they will never know of the pure love and freedom Jesus Christ has to offer them.
In Christ, Melissa