From Jaxon Washburn’s post on Facebook:
This video has been quickly gaining traction on social media (source: https://youtu.be/p4gTHBP-Vv4 ) in which a BYU professor confirms the following about the recent changes to the Honor Code as explained to him by the Honor Code Office:
– That per the definition of keeping the Law of Chastity as consisting of “sexual relations between a legally married man and woman” and the view by the Brethren that all members are held to that same standard, displays of romantic affection (such as holding hands, hugging, kissing, dating etc) by LGBTQ students no longer constitute violations of the Law of Chastity.
– That the Honor Code Office will no longer investigate reported cases of homosexuality but will instead work with students who independently desire to receive counseling about it.
– That students who engage in homophobic rhetoric or acts can be reported to the Honors Code Office. LGBTQ students who report discrimination or mistreatment are no longer at risk of being investigated themselves for their sexual orientation.
These changes have been eliciting some intense reactions across the spectrum, with LGBTQ couples on campus posting pictures of themselves kissing at various spots on campus to more conservative members experiencing major confusion/discomfort, seeing these changes as putting the integrity of the Law of Chastity at risk. Clearly the roll-out for these changes in relation to the recent handbook update has been very messy and has resulted in a lot of confusion. Major questions that remain to be answered include:
Do these changes to the Honor Code reflect the Brethren’s views on the Law of Chastity?
Were they the ones to personally institute them through the Board of Trustees?
Are these same standards reflective of the Church’s views as a whole?
Personally, I think that the lighting is out of the bottle. Social media was quick to be flooded with photos of same-sex couples on campus, and while I do support the changes and hope to see more, I am skeptical to believe that these impacts were intended by the Brethren. I worry that they could serve to provoke the powers-that-be and possibly incite retrenchment, which could be all too possible with a change of Church administration (surely we are not forgetting what BYU was like for LGBTQ students under President Oaks.) The issue is that, if the Church/BYU were to backtrack now, the backlash would likely far exceed the current celebrations taking place.
While I am celebrating the positive changes, we should also temper them with the fact that the Church has doubled-down on its views on transgender individuals by clarifying that both surgical and social transitions are susceptible to a formal restriction of Church privileges, given that particular ordinances (such as temple ordinances and priesthood ordination) are determined by biological sex. While lesbian, gay, and bisexual students at BYU can likely breathe a lot easier with the changes, transgender students will likely be forced further into the closest due to the Church’s prohibition of even social transitioning.
I also want to express my disagreement with the professor’s strong rhetoric that if one disagrees with the Church leaders on this change that such means they lack a testimony. Unless he’s ironically employing fundamentalist rhetoric often utilized by more conservative members, it is perpetuating the dangerous view that one’s testimony, faithfulness, or membership is contingent on their loyalty to and absolute agreement with the Brethren. We need more room for faithful disagreement so as to enrich our internal conversations, faithful disagreement which avoids the extremes of outright antagonism/apostasy and blind faith, dogmatism, and authoritarianism. It’s possible to personally disagree with Church leaders on various subjects while still sustaining, supporting, and having a testimony of their authority and offices.
Anyways, listen to the video and let me know your thoughts. I am very much inclined to believe that this will constitute a watershed moment, but to what end, I am not sure.
Update: Check out this transcribed conversation between a student (presumably conservative and experiencing massive cognitive dissonance) and an Honors Code Officer: https://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sr5blp
In speaking with Honor Code Office Director Kevin Utt this afternoon, we’ve learned that there may have been some miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes mean. Even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same.
— BYU (@BYU) February 19, 2020