#8: Is BYU Gonna Make It?
BYU is easily the most confusing thing about the Church to our friends on Twitter.
The Church is one of the last organized holdouts against the ongoing Queering of the West, & there’s very little indication from the top that that is going to change - but at our most visible public institution, BYU, you will find:
Professors who warn their students that if they stand against the progressive social agenda they’ll be reported to the Honor Code Office
Official diversity trainings that use anti-Mormon propaganda to attack former leaders
The Church owns this school - the Board of Trustees is seven apostles, & various other general authorities who report to the apostles. This is nearly as confusing to the Church’s enemies as it is to us: progressives oscillate continually between gnashing their teeth at explicit prophetic counsel, & demanding strict obedience to the “penumbras & emanations” of prophetic counsel that they derive from the Church’s longstanding toleration of BYU’s progressive faculty.
(Example: “The Honor Code Office removed one explicit condemnation of homosexual behavior from the Honor Code, & the Church runs BYU, & therefore the Church no longer disapproves of sodomy, & therefore God has repealed the law of chastity, & you bigots had better learn to Follow the Prophet”.)
To be honest, I haven’t known what to make of this, either.
The people making this argument don’t believe in God at all, much less that the Church is his kingdom on the earth, or that he is involved in the administration of BYU - but I do.
BYU is not a legacy asset or a vestigial organ in the Church. It’s intended to be a sacred place, integral to the Holy City, where we learn the principles of creation as an act of worship. Historically, it has been where the young Latter-day Saint diaspora swims home to spawn, and secure their heavily (70-80%) subsidized ticket to the global upper middle class. This in turn allows us to maintain much higher rates of endogamy, & the comfortable six-figure single-income lifestyle to which we have grown accustomed.
Not all of that is eternally important, but a lot of it is, & the Brethren certainly signal that it’s important to them - so it seems certain that any big muscle movement from BYU administration is, if not approved, at least noticed. A lack of response, then, is a response.
Of course, if it were up to me, BYU would have been purged a long time ago - forget about accreditation, let alone the PAC-12. But I want to subordinate my politics to the gospel, so when I see the Lord & his Church handling things differently than I would do it, I want to meditate on that & see if I can learn something.
Well, Elder Holland spoke on the subject this week.
It has caused much rejoicing on our side & much wailing among our enemies - which is funny, considering how oblique it was. Nobody is getting fired, or expelled, or even (directly) blamed. The only specific incident he pointed to was Matt Easton coming out as gay during his convocation speech - which was not a spontaneous outburst, but apparently reviewed & pre-approved by at least the political science department.
He asked BYU President Kevin Worthen to give him “a sample of the good things that have been happening of late” (lol), got a long list of BYU’s okayest institutional achievements (“academic recognitions, scholarly rankings … athletic success … the reach of BYUtv”), & then said “But Kevin & I both know those aren’t the real success stories of BYU” (lmao).
He then recites a pretty biting letter that contrasts the spiritual ideal of BYU (a city on a hill, a temple of learning) with its current state:
“You should know,” the writer says, “that some people in the extended community are feeling abandoned and betrayed by BYU. It seems that some professors (at least the vocal ones in the media) are supporting ideas that many of us feel are contradictory to gospel principles, making it appear to be about like any other university our sons and daughters could have attended. Several parents have said they no longer want to send their children here or donate to the school.” […]
“After having served a full-time mission & marrying her husband in the temple, a friend of mine recently left the church. In her graduation statement on a social media post, she credited [such & such a BYU program & its faculty] with the radicalizing of her attitudes & the destruction of her faith.”
Fortunately, we don’t get many of those letters, but this one isn’t unique. Several of my colleagues get the same kind, with most of them ultimately being forwarded to poor President Worthen.
Again: lol. What follows is a gentle, loving admonition: BYU professors can disagree on any number of topics, but they need to “stay in harmony with the Lord’s anointed” - or else. He notes that President Nelson personally approves all major financial decisions at BYU, down to “approving a new pickup for the physical facilities staff” - & that he has previously signaled a willingness to defund BYU in the face of other priorities.
He then reminds the rebellious faculty that President Dallin H. Oaks, the ultimate source of metaphysical evil in progmo cosmology, is “only one chair — one heartbeat — away from the same position President Nelson now has”, & that the Brethren all want to see BYU’s guns pointed toward the enemy (their metaphor, not mine).
For example, we have to be careful that love and empathy do not get interpreted as condoning and advocacy, or that orthodoxy and loyalty to principle not be interpreted as unkindness or disloyalty to people. As near as I can tell, Christ never once withheld His love from anyone, but He also never once said to anyone, “Because I love you, you are exempt from keeping my commandments.”
So, what next?
Just knowing that the Brethren see the same problems at BYU that we do has been a huge relief. They are a lot more patient & evenhanded than I would be, but at least I don’t feel like I’m out here making noise (&, you know, getting fired etc.) for nothing.
But we still don’t have a compelling counter-narrative to explain how the LGBT phenomenon fits into the big picture. The Brethren refuse to endorse the mental health establishment’s interpretation, but the internal conflict in the Church is fueled by what isn’t said.
The Church is firm that “people with same-sex attraction” should not engage in homosexual behavior, but they haven’t said what they should do - they don’t advise them to get married, or to commit to lifelong celibacy. They’ve said that same-sex attraction is not a sin, & they have discouraged conversion therapy & “praying the gay away”, but there is no official position on what homosexuality is or what causes it.
So those of us who embrace the Church’s affirmative statements on the telos of the body, family, sex, etc. (basically the content of the Family Proclamation) have had to create homespun counter-narratives to fill in the lacunae - & my efforts to do this have given me a possible hint as to why the Church has been circumspect.
Psychiatry is a load-bearing structure in the Western liberal order.
There are lots of things that might fit into your model of sexuality once you’ve accepted the principles of the Family Proclamation - but the one thing it basically has to include is this: that the Western mental health establishment is extremely wrong & intellectually dishonest about sexuality. They’ve been actively & openly laundering moral/spiritual conclusions into the “scientific consensus”, with the connivance of the news media, the other “social sciences”, etc., for decades.
And once you’ve called them liars & denied their priestly jurisdiction, you open up all sorts of “settled” questions about education, institutional science, history, mass media, medicine, the legal system, etc. There’s a reason people who question this one thing tend to fall down the rabbit hole.
Sooner or later, the Church will have to confront this problem, but it will be a hell of a thing - a philosophical cleavage deeper than the 1st-century Christians’ blasphemy against Roman paganism. Our disagreements with the American Protestant consensus of the 1840s were comparatively trivial.
It will eventually be impossible to hold these views & maintain a position as a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a manager - any position of authority or responsibility in which sexuality might become relevant (i.e. all of them). We’ll lose every member who is unwilling to say “the Church is right & every other Western authority is wrong”. Not only that, but without a compelling alternative epistemology, the sudden shock of losing everything that was solid & certain about the materialist worldview will drive some of our own people out into the schizo wilderness.
Sources whom I will not cite tell me that the Church is preparing for this with great urgency.
They are disentangling themselves from gentile financial & tech infrastructure - building parallel systems & bringing functionality in-house. They’re preparing for BYU to lose its accreditation, and thus its power as an economic catapult for our cognitive elite (not that that will matter much if we’re unwelcome in elite professions anyway). They’re preparing to lose a tremendous amount of tithing income (both due to mass apostasy, & the destitution of the Saints) without interrupting the work in the temples. They’re buying lots and lots and lots of farmland.
I don’t know what they’ll do with BYU, but I hope there is still enough of value there that it would survive a good purge, & they won’t just divest it. Tanking BYU’s social cachet would simplify its mission - if they can’t get you a corporate sinecure in Babylon, they might have to confine themselves to teaching things that are true, & genuinely useful. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
The campus itself is hideous & must be immediately destroyed.