The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Mormon denomination, has raised charges of apostasy against two prominent Mormons: Kate Kelly of Ordain Women, and John Dehlin of Mormon Stories. Although the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) is not affiliated with any of these organizations, most MTA members are also members of the LDS Church, and some MTA members have strong differing opinions about the recent events.
The MTA affirms the authority of the LDS Church to discipline LDS Church members within the constraints of local laws. It also recognizes the legitimacy of the institutionalized process by which the LDS Church resolves such conflicts, and does not wish to interfere.
All MTA members support a moral vision expressed in the Transhumanist Declaration and the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation. The Affirmation states: “We seek the spiritual and physical exaltation of individuals and their anatomies, as well as communities and their environments, according to their wills, desires and laws, to the extent they are not oppressive.” The Declaration states that policymaking within governments and other institutions “ought to be guided by responsible and inclusive moral vision, taking seriously both opportunities and risks, respecting autonomy and individual rights, and showing solidarity with and concern for the interests and dignity of all people …” and that we must “… consider our moral responsibilities towards generations that will exist in the future.”
Emerging technology is connecting us with each other in ways and to extents that are unprecedented in human history. More of us, more often, encounter minds and bodies that differ from our own. Such experiences seem likely to become increasingly pronounced going forward, presenting many social challenges even more serious than those we now face.
While there is more than one way of managing social challenges, Mormonism is nothing if not committed to the way of reconciliation and atonement, as exemplified and invited by Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 17-20). With Jesus, we would trust in, change toward, and fully immerse our bodies and minds in the role of Christ: consoling, healing, and raising each other together (Romans 8: 16-18). With Jesus, we would ask others not only to show love for us, but also to express their will so that we might know how to love them (John 14: 13-15).
The apostle Paul described the Church as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). As a body consists of parts with many different functions, so the Church consists of members with many different gifts. As a body needs all of its parts, so the Church needs all of its members. When part of a body suffers, the whole body suffers with it, working to console and heal the whole. So it should be among members of the Church, working to reconcile with each other as one Body of Christ.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, echoed Jesus and Paul when commenting on the fundamentals of our religion: “The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may. … If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way. Do you believe in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation which He revealed? So do I. Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst; and they will do it before the millennium can be ushered in and Christ takes possession of His kingdom” (History of the Church 5: 499).
Recent events present a crucial opportunity, both for the LDS Church and for Mormons who dissent from mainstream views, to reinforce precedent for reconciliation and atonement. The MTA encourages all involved in or affected by these events to think of and pray for each other, and to avoid actions that would harm each other, weaken families and friendships, or further polarize or homogenize our religion. Compassion, genuinely informed by and concerned for each other’s interests, is our best way forward.
This is an official statement of the Mormon Transhumanist Association on Wednesday 18 June 2014 in accordance with Article IV Section 9 of its Constitution by unanimous vote of its Board of Directors: