Ahh! I love talking about controversial topics! Don't you?
So if I'm going to do this right, why don't I start off with a really controversial statement?:
I believe the First Presidency was inspired by God as they ratified last November's policy changes.
Whew! Glad I got that out there! I haven't been eaten alive yet for saying that either, so life is good!
But in all seriousness, the Spirit has witnessed to me that is the case. In the months following the "scandal" the media created of the policy changes, I have read various articles presenting different viewpoints, and although my initial reaction was that of confusion, I have been blessed with understanding.
First of all, I have always understood that to adopt a lifestyle contrary to the revealed commandments as understood by every member of the Church is considered to be apostasy. Even though one might not be openly rebellious against the Church, its doctrines and teachings, broken covenants are the first evidences of apostasy, even when influenced by very powerful carnal desires. I think we would do well to disassociate the overwhelmingly negative connotation we so often associate with terms like "apostasy" or "apostate", though. It simply is what it is.
Secondly, in addition to what has been said about the new policy concerning children reared in the homes of same-sex couples, that is, that the policy protects the children from the obligation to choose between their guardians' lifestyle and the Church and the resulting dissension, I would also assert that the policy effectively makes the statement that a home of a family led by two men or of two women in any sort of sexual relationship is a place unfit for children. Considering how impressionable they are, children need both the qualities of a nurturing mother and a providing father. As sex is something God has ordained only to take place between a married man and woman, I find it unfair to expose un-consenting, innocent children to the false notion that sexual intimacy is simply a matter of preference, or a relationship that has that as one of its primary premises. This I say while fully acknowledging that, within myself someplace or another, both the idea of raising children and having such a relationship with another man each have a considerable appeal, but obviously to varying degrees.
Finally, what I love so much about the organization of the Church is that, with Christ as its chief cornerstone, the ideal that each case should be observed while following the Spirit is foremost. I say "ideal" because there obviously will be/are cases when some ecclesiastical leaders may view circumstances through the lens of their own ignorance or cultural stigmas rather than with an eye single to the Lord's will. In all due fairness, however, that is bound to happen in any group of flawed, mortal beings, no matter how good they tend to be, especially when looking at an organization as vast as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But with good judgement, proper discretion, and spiritual discernment, Church authority figures may sort out cases that may be an exception to the general rule the policy establishes.
I think, all in all, the fact that the policy was considered a necessary precaution by the inspired leaders of the Church indicates that if it is necessary now, the Church would be in dire straits in the years to come without that countermeasure.
I'm also absolutely certain, given the emotionally sensitive nature of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, that there were many tears shed, when considering the heartache that some members would experience, as well as relatives and the children who who be barred from baptism and Church participation. Without a doubt they were able to foresee the difficulties that would arise as a consequence. But, I opine that, even though there are times when the Lord has to be gruff, or policies do, it isn't due to a lack of love. Actually, very often there is an outpouring of love toward those who are reprimanded. Just as I am capable of having a very staunch, firm position on these issues, while also loving the individuals affected from the bottom of my heart and having every desire to help them in any difficulties they may face.
I want to finish my feelings here by saying that I know, just as the sun shines in the afternoon sky, that this is a Church led by a living prophet of God and other seers and revelators. Although there was no doubt in my mind about this, I had a revelatory dream a few months ago. Now, I am extremely hesitant to share something like this in a public fashion, as it is something that I regard as rare and sacred. I hope you can regard this dream in the same spirit that I have:
I immediately find myself somewhere that is very reminiscent of the Orlando Temple grounds, the most beautiful of any Temple grounds I've been on. It seems to be twilight, and there's this thickness in the air that appears to be the presence of the Spirit, but in greater abundance than I have ever felt even within the Temple walls. I have interpreted this, in hindsight, to be a representation of spirit paradise.
What is of particular interest are the people I notice about in this courtyard. Although not a large crowd, there are maybe around two dozen people, all dressed in white, most of which I do not recognize. They have this glow, the sort of white radiance I would typically associate with celestial beings.
Whereas I have not met any of the individuals round about in person, I make out the unmistakable identities of the First Presidency, who are, at the time, Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I notice at one point that they are standing in a loose semicircle, in an attitude not unlike that of a Priesthood blessing. My mind computes this as the performance of an ordinance.
Perhaps more interesting still are the images that appear behind each of the First Presidency--transparent, statuesque images of very large feet are clearly visible as a backdrop behind the three. And not just any feet; they are clearly distinguished by puncture marks that could only have been made by nails.
After some time, the small crowd disperses. I have observed all of this from a fountain nearby. And who approaches me other than Dieter F. Uchtdorf himself? This is perhaps the coolest part of my dream. I mean, who doesn't love President Uchtdorf?
He casually asks me what I have thought of this all. I remark that I had never noticed the images of the Savior's feet behind them before (as if that was something I commonly observed). His response:
"The Savior is here among us!"
There is a profoundness to his exclamation (what else have we come to expect from President Uchtdorf?) as one considers the figurative meaning behind his words. But beyond interpretation, he speaks literally as well. In my time on these hallowed grounds, I have caught glimpses of whom I have thought to be Christ Himself, but for one reason or another, I have not seen Him directly.
President Uchtdorf then asks me what I think of all these things, in a way that reminds me very powerfully of Nephi's dream. I spoke aloud the two main observations that I had made: 1) that these men were standing where the Savior had stood, and 2) that every ordinance that they performed, everything they did in virtue of their calling, was as if the Lord Jesus Christ did it Himself.
He then smiles at me, seemingly pleased with my response. And then the dream fades.
It has occurred to me during the time that I have used various gay dating apps as a platform for making friends that, for those who live lives steeped in agnosticism and skepticism, it is impossible for them to comprehend what it is like to have spiritual truth indelibly engraved upon one's soul as knowledge. As difficult as it is to grasp something that one has never experienced before, especially if that something is of a very sacred, spiritual nature, that difficulty is redoubled by apathy towards such eternal truth, either in heart or in deed. You may indeed find these things to be painful, but they are what the Spirit has manifested to me.
As for my testimony of the identity of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as prophets, seers, and revelators, my knowledge is absolute.