Tad R Callister – The Pharisaic Standard of Morality

Tad R Callister – The Pharisaic Standard of Morality

Tad CallisterTad R. Callister,  of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy has authored an article titled “The Lord’s Standard of Morality”  in the March 2014 issue of the Ensign which is a throwback to the staunch and upright Vaughn J Featherstone Mormon Church of the 1970s. One parent had the following comments on the article which I thought were worth posting to a wider audience:

Having read the article in question the issues are:

  1. He does explicitly state that his advice supersedes the counsel of parents.
  2. He cites examples of fornication and adultery in two instances – both by men “seduced” by evil whores (introducing the helpless man theme)
  3. He cites Packer as the end-all authority on masturbation and how bad it makes you feel (actually it is guilt induced by men such as himself that prompt the bad feelings – not necessarily the act of self gratification)
  4. He cites homosexuality as being defective and a sin in and of itself to be cured by the Atonement.
  5. He loosely defines pornography as anything and everything prompting carnal thoughts – that’s the same thinking in rape culture that allows men to demean women for men’s own thoughts
  6. In his statement on clothing he blames women for any impure thoughts a man has – with the man’s thoughts being reflections of a woman’s righteousness instead of indicative of the state of the man’s own soul
  7. He essentially restates the ridiculous “hum your favorite hymn” way of dealing with sexual attraction.
  8. He provides more excuses from rape culture by citing secluded locations, late nights, and morally loose friends as satan’s grasp (denying the all encompassing ability for anyone and everyone to be completely responsible for their own actions)
  9. He makes the false argument that love cannot exist if he says it cannot (ie disobeying him as a self proclaimed voice of God)
  10. He begins extolling the beauty of repentance and Christ’s atonement erasing any and all sins and then veers off into “but” it’s better to be perfect to begin with essentially saying Christ’s atonement is a necessary evil for all of you that can’t attain perfection like you should be (gotta sell more copies of The Not Even Once Club)
  11. He equates man-made, cultural, induced guilt with proof of God’s disapproval (making yet another implication that he is the voice of God)
  12. He falsely portrays anyone and everyone living a life different from his view of perfection as not “truly” happy
  13. He ends by invoking God’s love with a threat – that this applies to the pure (perfect in LDS lingo).

It goes without saying that leaders who for over a century trusted that institutional racism was God’s Law have shaky credentials in being considered the ultimate authority on God’s standards. It is worth re-reading Matthew 23 to see just how Jesus felt about religious leaders who focused so much on the outward appearances and in doing so neglected the weightier matters of the law.

  • http://secretsofmom.com Heather

    I’m glad that more and more people are stopping to think and say “Um, no we don’t agree with this, for several of the reasons you gave, like rape culture and homophobia.” That nonsense doesn’t line up with being kind to others.

  • Unknown

    I am so grateful for church leaders who, lovingly and kindly, state truth. It must be so difficult for them when they have only our best interests at heart, and they are attacked and misquoted. I genuinely don’t understand why your response is so unkind. If you don’t like the talk, fine. But, be a Christian in how you respond.

  • CoraJudd

    I’m just grateful that Brother Callister was honest enough help us identify his weak, prurient nature so we know to steer our daughters well clear of him.
    “Scratch the surface of the self-righteous and find the devil.” –John Money

  • Porter

    Dear Unknown commenter, what is the “truth”? How is it that when virtually all of the LDS therapists have uniformly stated that this talk is extremely hurtful and damaging to women and gay people you can just discount all of their views? Brother Callister may be well intentioned and even kind, but he is a tax lawyer and knows nothing about these things. I’m sorry but when I see people like you who just blindly follow church leaders without thinking for themselves I become very concerned about the future of this church.

    • Brian

      Wait. “Virtually all” lds therapists share this view? Doubtful. We’ve not seen that reported.

  • http://themormonion.blogspot.com the_mormonion

    While I fully agree that Brother Tad has a Puritanical view of God and a self-righteous view of his own authority, I do not care for the tone of this response, which is basically a soapbox for anti-male drivel.

    The article never uses the word “seduced,” although the writer puts it in quotation marks as though it did. Regardless of whether it was right or wrong to succumb to the temptations it mentions, any fair mind would conclude that Callister’s point is that all who have fallen–both men AND women (Callister’s words)–did so because they chose to, and can repent of what they did. I see absolutely nothing here to support a “helpless man theme.”

    I’m not sure what Packer knows about masturbation, but I’m wary to take this writer as a guide either. Especially if this “parent” is a mother–how would she know? The truth is, self-gratification is a major aspect of masturbation. To assert otherwise is ignorance. (Whether it is sinful is not my concern.)

    I see no evidence that Callister “blames women for unpure thoughts men have,” but I do see: “There is nothing wrong with noticing the pretty young lady or handsome young man as they walk by–that is normal. But if those thoughts turn to lust, then the nest is being built.” Sounds like he believes lust is an equal-opportunity employer.

    And finally, just what is “rape culture”? I see this tired, divisive phrase all the time but I’m left scratching my head about what it means. I imagine a dark cabal of perverted men who spend the day plotting their assaults and the night hiding in the shadows lying in wait to take their next victim without her consent. Does such a thing exist?

    And if rape culture is real, does the “50 Shades of Grey” phenomenon fit into it?

    • http://mefromcali.wordpress.com vikingz2000

      I am glad I was taught to be fearful of immoral practices when I was being raised in the Mormon church. While I was growing up I could see the differing effect of adhering to moral standards from those that didn’t. Hence, I also tried to instill these same teachings when raising my own children. Some of them followed after them and some didn’t, and the ones that did fared better than the ones that didn’t; end of story.

      Having said this, there are still ‘tones’ (for the lack of a better term) and other such rhetoric in a lot of LDS GA leadership talks that are discouraging and hurtful to the degree in that it gives a wayward youth the impression that they can never again be good enough in their own eyes and those of others. As a former LDS leader I saw quite a bit of this, which was very damaging to the emotional well-being of some of these youths. And this sort of GA rhetoric is then taken to even greater lengths by a lot of over-zealous local LDS leadership.

      But I don’t think this type of leadership behavior is just found the Mormon church; you can find it in a lot of other religious denominations, as well.

    • Rusty

      “Especially if this ‘parent’ is a mother-how would she know [anything about masturbation]?

      Um, dude, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Women masturbate.

      And while Callister doesn’t explicitly blame women for the impure thoughts that men have, he does write, “Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self-respect and to the moral purity of men.”

      • Rusty

        Oops, I was a little hasty.

        “The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure.”

      • http://themormonion.blogspot.com the_mormonion

        Didn’t say they didn’t. I was referring to the vague comment made for reason #3 (“it is guilt induced by men such as himself that prompt the bad feelings – not necessarily the act of self gratification”). I didn’t see how female masturbation could be “guilt induced by men.” Though perhaps I misunderstood the point.

  • http://symphonyofdissent.wordpress.com symphonyofdissent
  • nachot

    I only had to read point #1 in the list to know the direction of this post and the position of the poster.

    Tad Callister’s article does *not* state “that his advice supersedes the counsel of parents.” Quite to the contrary, Callister says that God’s law supersedes other *opinions*: “So it is with God our Father—He needs to speak only once on the issue of morality, and that one declaration trumps all the opinions…” Take a look at most parents in the world and then tell me that their opinion trumps God’s word.

    Start your post off with a misquote that intentionally misleads in an attempt to discredit an opposing view and you lose all credibility with me.

    • Thinker of Thoughts

      The quote is:

      “So it is with God our Father—He needs to speak only once on the issue of morality, and that one declaration trumps all the opinions of the lower courts, whether uttered by psychologists, counselors, politicians, friends, parents, or would-be moralists of the day.”

      The only way that members receive what “God” speaks on issues of morality is the proclamations of the men who are in the priesthood hierarchy of the church leadership (i.e. Callister). If you listen to what Dallin H Oaks says about how these leaders make decisions – they simply study it out in their mind, come to an opinion and then consider that opinion to be that of God as well – and claim it as such.

      see it here: (http://youtu.be/93XqR6IOcAw?t=3m)

      And so you see – their opinion becomes “God’s” standard of morality. the first point in the list is well made.

  • The Swede

    Are you kiddinG? The respons are not unkind! The respons is just simple to the point.

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