In the October 2010 General Conference, a semi-annual world-wide meeting for Mormons, Boyd K. Packer gave a talk which generated some controversy. It has been widely reported as a talk on homosexuality, but was in reality a talk on a proclamation on families issued by the Mormons a number of years ago. In this talk, he also addressed pornography, honoring marriage vows, and chastity. He focused on the ability of people to choose repentance and then to succeed in their sincere efforts to repent and their ability to be forgiven for past sins.
In order to understand why the controversy is misguided, one must understand some important principles concerning how the Mormon Church operates. Elder Packer is an apostle. The president of the Church and the prophet are roles both filled by Thomas S. Monson. President Monson is assisted by two counselors. He and the counselors form the First Presidency of the Church. Next is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, of which Elder Packer is the president. This makes him next in line to be the prophet if he outlives President Monson. Only the current living prophet can declare official doctrine for the entire church and he cannot make doctrine simply because he wishes to. He must petition God for doctrinal changes and doctrinal changes come very seldom. (more…)