Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who teaches those who teach the teachers?

So (since i brought up church lesson manuals a couple posts ago) i was looking through the church’s Preach My Gospel manual.* This is an important manual—it’s the sourcebook for teaching the teachers of those entering the faith (i.e., the full-time missionaries).

Unfortunately, the teachers apparently aren’t always being taught things that are consonant with current church policy. For the specific case i noticed, a quote from p. 77 [emphasis added]:

Chastity requires faithfulness in thought and action. We must keep our thoughts clean and be modest in our dress, speech, and actions. We must avoid pornography in any form. We should treat the God-given procreative power and our bodies as sacred. Baptismal candidates are to live the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relations outside of a legal marriage between a man and a woman. They are not to participate in abortions or homosexual or lesbian relations. Those who have committed sexual sin can repent and be forgiven.

This paragraph summarizes church dogma nicely, except for the bit i bolded—the church’s policy on abortion is actually a bit more nuanced than that, holding that abortion (while always regrettable) is justifiable to the point of not being sinful in cases where the life or health of the mother is seriously jeopardized by the pregnancy, where the fetus will not survive birth, or where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.**

However, these exceptions†† aren’t mentioned anywhere in Preach My Gospel—and that’s important information for our missionaries to know! If someone asks a missionary what the Mormon church’s position on abortion is, and they base their understanding on the contents of the manual explaining what they’re to teach, our missionaries will be teaching something that doesn’t actually match our church’s policies.‡ This can’t be a good thing, can it?

* I can’t find an online version of it aside from a PDF file containing the whole thing, which seems a bit unwieldy to link to here.

** Such exceptions are one reason some of the more ardent† anti-abortion activist groups consider the Mormon church a pro-abortion group.

† Well, extreme would be a better word than ardent. Even most anti-abortion groups that think the Mormon church carves out too many exceptions generally find the church a worthwhile ally in their cause all in all, i think.

†† For one more exception, as far as i can tell (read: i may well be wrong in this, and would appreciate finding out—but i know of nothing about it either way in the church’s handbooks), a medical professional who is required to perform abortion procedures as a condition of employment has their church standing under no threat (assuming they don’t actively seek out opportunities to do so, presumably).

‡ Rather, the missionary would teach them how to be a good Roman Catholic. I’m happy that we’ve got Catholicism in our world—absolutely beautiful rites, especially if you can find a nice high mass, just nothing but beautiful—but it’s not us.


James Joseph said...

Murder is murder.

No exceptions.

To allow abortion is to allow the camel's nose under the tent.

Abortion leads to Contraception and that leads to Homosexuality. Add Divorce to the mix and it becomes an immoral free-for-all.

The official position isn't nuanced. It's cowardice in print.

David B said...

@James Joseph: “Abortion leads to contraception and that leads to homosexuality”? You know, if you’re aiming for satire, you might want to be less obvious. If you’re actually serious, you might want to try buiding your case a bit more, um, clearly.

Either way, of course, like i wrote in the original post, we’re not Roman Catholics, no matter what our manuals say.