Through the wonders of the Mormon blog world I came across Taylor Petrey. Taylor has recently landed a job at Harvard. It is something like a visiting professor and research associate of Women’s Studies in Religion. It really is a wonderful opportunity to have a fellow Mormon in such a position.
I would hope that someone in such a position would in many ways follow the example of one of my heroes, Truman Madsen. Brother Madsen had serious Philosophical chops, yet I never felt that Brother Madsen was trying to steer the church in some new direction. He seemed to take Mormonism as-is, and express its’ powerful ideas in positive ways. I would hope that Brother Petrey would follow in such footsteps.
Yet after reviewing a couple of recent papers by Petrey, I am afraid that this may not be the case. His articles, ‘Toward a Post Heterosexual Mormon Theology’, and ‘Rethinking Mormonism’s Heavenly Mother’ are the stuff of advocating fundamental change to Mormonism’s doctrines and teachings.
In the first article, Petrey’s basic argument is:
P1 Heavenly Father does not need to have sexual intercourse to create spirit bodies. (Edit-a way of saying spirit bodies are not offspring of eternal parents.)
P2 We already seal same-sex people together in our temples (fathers to sons for example)
P3. Gender is not an eternal purpose or characteristic
C. There is no reason we cannot seal and exalt homosexuals as homosexuals
I feel that the basic argument is unsound and invalid since I do not accept any premise, and because the conclusion is not demanded by them even if they were accepted.
The second article seems to me to not be so much of an argument, as a call to action, since previous discussion on Heavenly Mother has not been inclusive enough for feminists and the LGBT community.
In the second article, Petrey expresses a desire to further the discussion within ‘the boundaries of a generous orthodoxy’. This phrase seems to be an absurd paradox to me, and is likely the stuff of positive spin. What one calls a generous orthoxy, another may call making stuff up to advance your cause.
I am sincere when I feel like congratulating Brother Petrey on his new gig. It really is an amazing opportunity and an admirable accomplishment. I hope that we can look back someday and see that Taylor has had a positive influence on the world. But I do have a concern about what appears to me to be advocating for fundamental changes in the church, and drawing something of a following after himself. Some people would suggest a term for that type of thing, and it is not ‘generous orthodoxy’.