Principle Vs. Moral Conviction: Determining Factor for Flip-Floppers Like Senator Portman

It's all the rage, after serious consideration, of course, multiple conversations with those closest to you, extensive research on the issue, and deep personal pondering...  to  flip-flop your extremely principled, and for some a long-held religious belief to the current, and more popular position of a politically charged social issue.

Take for instance the recent example of President Obama, of which I passionately blogged, because of just such a flip-flop -- wherein during his presidential campaign he stated that the issue of marriage, in his principled opinion, should be determined at the state level. I was naively upset that he became involved because of his seemingly sound position as a former constitutional professor, leading to my great disappointment in him when he became movable to the pressures of mainstream society. Now, suddenly he decides to become involved with Prop 8 and has recommended that the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the voice of 7 million Californians, and strike down their votes, as unconstitutional. 

And this just in... the big story of conservative Senator Rob Portman's big coming out party that the liberal media can't seem to shout loud enough. I know this because I receive Google alerts for the terms "gay marriage" and "same-sex marriage" and my inbox over the last 24 hours has been blowing up with one headline after another on how Portman has flip-flopped from his solid position of being against same-sex marriage to announcing his newly discovered position of pro gay marriage! 

As I once again scratch my head reading another headline of a person who previously, publicly professed principles upon which others were requested to place their trust, I began to ponder  on why it is so difficult for people, humans, to be trustworthy and not cave to the pressures of society? I realize that we are all guilty of this tendency on different levels and in different ways, and that these men simply stand out as examples because of their public positions. Nevertheless, here they are before us, and therefore brought to our attention and the quandary worthy of consideration when a legitimate observation can be made, which I believe can be.

One is left to ask the question: Can and/or should we expect either ourselves or others to remain true to either a principle(s) and or moral convictions which they/we have professed and/or built a reputation/life/business upon -- be it religious and/or other?

Generally, I think the answer to this question is yes. We call this having integrity, or honor. It's what gives us reason to consider men, and women, honorable and worthy of our respect and trust. I do feel, however, that we are seeing some interesting trends that are outside of the normal variables to which, previously, would not have given us cause for concern.

As I continued to ponder on the matter, I began to think about covenants and what it means to make a covenant(s) with God. There is an enabling power that comes to a person who is faithful in keeping such covenants --  that goes beyond the common abilities of an individual who commits to belief in a certain principle, value or tradition is generally capable of maintaining. Covenants made with God are always based in moral righteousness, truth and virtue -- wherein we know is power, and only effective when we bind them in like manner. 

I firmly believe, that as we go through life, for those who have made covenants with God, and strive to live worthy, we can choose to use that enabling power to withstand the buffetings of the adversary and remain steadfast to the moral standards and doctrines we know to be true, regardless of societal pressures. 

My personal favorite hymn, that I often bring to mind whenever courage is required: How Firm a Foundation. The third verse has always been my favorite, because it always reminds me of the Savior's very sacred covenant relationship, with me, that began with He and His Father's -- and through my choice to be baptized, I have made the choice to enter into that Holy relationship...

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

It seems that with each passing week, it becomes more difficult to speak what we believe as members of the LDS Church, on many current issues, even among some of our own faith who do not agree, without offending. However, we need to keep standing up for what we know is right and true. 

I found myself having to say to another member, only a few days ago, who felt it time for members to stop being so vocal about certain issues  -- as they believe the debate is over and we are now on the wrong side of history -- that until I hear from our leaders to stop speaking out, rather than the media, I plan on continuing to, in essence, "follow the prophet".  I find these prophetic words spoken back in 1978, by Neal A Maxwell, an Apostle of the Lord, particularly sobering:

Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. (See 1 Kgs. 18:21.) President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ! We are now entering a time of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: We will see a maximum, if indirect, effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism which uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of western civilization to shrink freedom, even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage.

As we enter this Easter Season, I'm so thankful to pause and reflect on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and His great love for His Father, of which each one of us benefit eternally. He is my Savior and Redeemer, to Whom complete fidelity is a blessing to give back -- as I know so many of you feel the same.

Kathryn Skaggs

WBMW Latest Post:

If you think we've said everything there is to say about marriage.... we haven't, I promise. In fact, we've just begun... 


  1. Sometimes having personal experience with an issue will cause people to look inward and reassess (which seems to be the case with Portman). If we believe in personal revelation and continuing revelation, I think we have to be ready to manage the anxiety of holding paradoxical viewpoints until we work through the cognitive dissonance.

    I know that this issue is very charged for you, as it would be for any California Mormon who probably put a lot of effort, time, and money into Prop 8. But people who seek truth are sometimes going to come to come to different conclusions. It doesn't mean they are bad or untrustworthy--they are human, and being human is messy, tough business.

    1. I agree, to a point, Idahospud. On certain matters in life we most certainly should have plenty of room to grown, change, progress, and certainly in our understanding of the things that we hold most dear and most importantly 'why'?

      I say that, because my experience has been exactly 'that' in maintaining my own convictions, as that process tends to reinforce rather than unwind. But of course that only works if what you base your foundation on is founded in truth.

      And you're right about Prop 8. You say "charged", I say passionate. I am passionate about truth. Prop 8 is a vehicle to ensure that that important moral truth is maintained in the state of California, which is precisely why the Church supports it. But this is not an issue of concern for only CA. Mormons. This is an issue that should be a concern for every person who cares about what God cares about. It's that simple. Nothing messy or tough about it from my personal perspective.

      As I mentioned in the post, my thoughts here came about while pondering, and so I don't consider these thoughts necessarily complete. There is every possibility that a follow-up post is necessary. I am interested in more input. I do hold that we have every right to expect our leaders, and each other, to have honor and integrity in what we stand for and build our lives upon. Covenants are firmly in place. Following prophets, for me, is not negotiable. Those outside of the Church are not held to the same standards, so we can discuss this post on many levels...

  2. I am not a "ca Mormon"...but I have had to choose whether or not I will follow the feels like I have to choose again daily as the forces of darkness have the rest of the world in a strangle hold...they are peer pressured into a deffening silence.

    1. Such an excellent thought, Jocelyn.

      Let me share... As I was sitting in church just last Sunday, I was thinking about the ordinance of the Sacrament, and the taking of the name of Jesus Christ upon myself, and I realized that each and every time we partake, weekly, we get to conscientiously, just as on our baptism day, ponder what that means currently -- and then use our agency to choose it again.

      That was a powerful thought for me. It made receiving the ordinance seem even more powerful and the renewing of that covenant more critical to my coming week. No question I need the guidance and strength of Spirit!

  3. Well done, Kathryn. This reminds me of a conversation I just had with my young adult son who has had several friends leave the church while stating reasons such as "the church has rules that are unrealistic" or "the church is out of touch with scientific fact etc." His response while not being naive to modern social challenges was "too many people are forgetting who is at the head of the church and that the prophet is merely a messenger." I agree that it is important for me to do my own study and research but rely on the Lord for the final confirmation regarding truth and error.

    1. Thank you, Laura. As I said in another comment, I recognize that there are different layers to this post that we could discuss, but as your comment relates to members, I will respond from that perspective...

      I'm in agreement with your wise son, in that he asks the correct question to those of our faith who question what Church leaders are doing when they make a moral stand, public -- and find themselves in opposition.

      However, it is not a question that the current organization requires members to answer and yet the concern is evident in Elder Maxwell's quote of President Romney, and other similar quotes, that it has clearly been a concern of our prophets as they've looked toward our day.

      For members who accept the premise that the Church is led by a living prophet of God and that he receives revelation to direct it -- then it would follow that how the prophet counseled members would be considered truth.

      From that point, it is the member's personal responsibility to then confirm that revelation by seeking a witness of the Spirit, so that they might fully sustain the prophet and his counsel by acting on such -- and thereby be one with the body of the Saints. Ultimately this is the process of becoming a Zion people...

    2. Zion is that people will be of one heart, and one mind.

      The only way this can happen in a world where there are so many different people, is for them to accept and celebrate their differences and be okay with others existing. This is a Zion society, and it is the opposite of what you advocate.

      The Book of Mormon says that those who fight against Zion will perish. I pray that this will happen soon.

    3. jewelfox,

      I have no idea if Heidi S' comment was in anyway prompted by this comment thread, however, I feel that if I were to respond that would be sufficient.

  4. I love your blog!!
    Heavenly Father has not, nor will he ever waver concering his laws. Marriage is between a man and a woman....he dosent state anywhere in any scripture that it is ok to have same sex marriage. Our moral values as a country have dwindled away to almost nothing. I pray that the Lord will come soon...

    1. Thank you, Shalyn. And I so appreciate your strong testimony of trust in God and His laws.

  5. One heart and one mind indicates that the people are not only one with each other, but one with God. They are seeking His will and keeping His commandments.

    As of now, there are a lot of people advocating their own standards and agenda. Most are good and loving people. But we will not ever fully become a Zion people without surrendering our will to God's. That will take humility from all of us.

    It isn't a matter of proving who is right and who is wrong. It is a matter of acknowledging and accepting that God's ways are always right.

    I do think it is important to build upon what we have in common. But I, personally, can never abandon my allegience to the Lord. And while that may offend many, I prefer His favor.

    I hope that we will all be granted sufficient time to gain the understanding and commitment we need to be prepared to meet the Lord. We were saved for this day for a reason. And Satan desires to have us, but the Lord wants us more.

    1. I share your same testimony of Zion, Heidi. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I am a good and honest Priesthood holder, and I too support and sustain the Prophet and leaders of our Church.

    One of our Articles of Faith says we observe the Laws of the land. Will same sex marriage come to pass, no doubt, should we fight against it after it comes to pass, that will be the agency of each person to decide.

    I myself, rather than focus on what negative impacts might come of this love the face that the issue has been resolved for us by Christ. What is consecrated on earth, stays on earth. We have the sealing power of Eternal Marriage, for those who 'Choose' to follow the teachings of the Prophets and live worthy lives.

    Do I worry about Gay marriage, or any iteration of an earthly marriage contract? No, for my faith in Eternal marriage gives me comfort. Will I ostracize my friends who choose differently from me? No, because God Loves all His Children, and who am I to judge another?

    If we can get passed our own biases, we will see God's plan in all things, both temporal and eternal. If we have faith enough, we shall inherit our own kingdom based off our own righteousness, not our fears of what others choose.

    1. I've said nothing to suggest that people should fight against laws currently enacted by the people.

      If perhaps there are laws we disagree with, we have every right to hold a personal position that is oppositional -- particularly if the law is contrary to our moral conscience, such as in the case of abortion or same-sex marriage, etc. Such a position would not constitute a "fight", but rather a personal position/opinion, which we are free to maintain.

      If the redefining of marriage between any two consenting adults, of any gender, only affected those individuals, I would happily walk away from this issue, but it does not. You seem to understand God's plan, and yet you have no problem turning a blind eye in support of that which is oppositional. Fair enough. That is your choice -- as we each have one.

  7. Good post, Kathryn. It reminds me of a recent article by Clayton Christensen ( ), where he said that flexibility in modern churches today has actually accelerated their decline, because they stand for less and less. We need to stand up for what we believe, even among our own members.

    1. Thank you, Larry. Not sure how I missed Brother Christensen's article, but it is very insightful. Thank you for sharing it. I do believe that as morality declines and the consequences of these choices become evident in people's lives, they will begin to search for a better way, so to speak. At that time, there must remain that which is firm and true in the midst of confusion. I actually believe that even now, this is happening and so we continue to keep the lights on.

  8. For me it boils down to what side of ANY issue do I want to be on when Jesus returns; His side, or the world's side. Having said that, there needs to be compassion in all things. Those in my circle know that I stand with the prophet on this issue -- who has also called for compassion. My gay relatives and friends know that while I support marriage between one man and one woman, I also love them. I don't have to approve of everything my friends and family do; I just have to love them. That goes for many things, not just this issue. It is possible to "appreciate our differences" and still stand for truth. Kathryn Skaggs is a good example for us all in how to do that. While ever standing with the prophet, I've also seen her compassion with others via social media.

    Kathryn makes an excellent point about constantly moving opinions of our political leaders (on both sides of the isle). It is becoming extremely difficult to know which candidates to support as it is becoming increasingly acceptable to lie on the campaign trail. I've not only seen this in politics, but in the workplace, as well. Honesty and integrity have become words and values of the past. This should not be surprising to us as we near the last days, but it does make it difficult to know who to stand with, and who to have in your inner circle. Constant prayer, study, and temple worship will be key to the next generation.

    Tudie Rose

    1. Thank you, my friend.

      Jesus Christ is our great exemplar in showing us how to love, while at the same time teach truth. Sadly today, many reject that witness, claiming that He will accept them in their sins and have no need of what He taught, or why He came for them...

      You make an important point as we move forward, in that we will need to teach our youth, that more than ever, they must use the Spirit as their guide -- in all things. The choices in the secular world are not clearly marked any longer, and discerning between the better choice will be very difficult when a choice must be made.

  9. I wanted to leave this comment on your post about frozen but it was disabled. Sounds like you can dish it out but you can't handle anyone standing up for themselves against you. so I will say my piece on this one.Your name is "well behaved Mormon woman"? Seems a little "holier than thou" mentality if you ask me. What happened to the "beware of pride" motto that you all seem to preach about all the time? Don't be bashing on other views when you call yourself a good little Mormon girl. Christ would not be doing such things. Don't all religions believe in becoming more and more like Christ? Are you being a true disciple of Christ by putting up things that could offend others? The controversial things you write about gives ALL mormons a bad name. Be careful what you call yourself and what you say. You are representing your church. I know that I would never want to be part of a religion that is intolerant of homo-sexuality. I thought we were supposed to love one another? And don't say that you love them but not the sin because that is crap. Its more conditional than unconditional love which is no love at all. Get off your high horse.


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