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"Delete Elder Carpenter's talk": Web Editor for Dialogue Journal Critiques General Conference on Mormon Land Podcast

Updated: Apr 12

 


Yesterday, Emily Jensen, web editor for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, joined Mormon Studies Scholar and member of the Church Patrick Mason as guests on the "Mormon Land" podcast. "Mormon Land" is a podcast produced by the Salt Lake Tribune. Jensen and Mason shared their thoughts on and critiques of the April 2024 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an episode titled "A Conversation about General Conference."


Jensen took to X (formerly Twitter) to share critiques she made during the episode. Listed as number one was, "Delete Elder Carpenter's talk. It is damaging theology regarding staying sealed to someone you divorce or you are no longer sealed to God."


Jensen appears to be referring to the following section of Elder Carpenter's conference talk: "Sometimes...a faithful spouse may want to cancel their sealing with their unfaithful spouse to get as far away as possible from them, both on earth and for eternity. If you are concerned that you will somehow be tied to an unrepentant former spouse, remember, you will not!... However, if a cancellation of sealing is desired, agency is respected... But this should not be done casually!... Once a sealing cancellation has been granted by the First Presidency, the blessings related to that sealing are no longer in force; they are canceled both laterally and vertically. It is important to understand that to receive the blessings of exaltation, we must demonstrate that we are willing to enter into and faithfully keep this new and everlasting covenant, either in this life or the next."


Jensen explained her rationale for this demand more in the "Mormon Land" episode, "he talked about the idea that if your spouse has broken their Covenant, you still need to keep the sealing. Because if you break the sealing, you break your connection with our Heavenly Father and you break the...vertical connection with your children. And that should not be done casually or lightly. And again, that seems like bringing back...a huge roadblock [referring to the phrase used in Elder Kernon's talk]. That is not what I believe our church believes....it's wrong. It needs to be deleted. It needs to be pulled."


Area seventies submit their talks weeks in advance for review, including a review of doctrinal accuracy, by the Church correlation department.


Elder Carpenter differentiated between canceling a sealing and getting divorced in his talk, "If you were sealed and later divorced, and if your sealing is not canceled, the personal blessings of that sealing remain in effect for you if you remain faithful."


Patrick Mason was asked to respond to Jensen's analysis and he shifted the conversation towards a discussion of how important covenants are to young adults and the various ways the term may be defined. Later, Mason reposted Jenson's post containing the demand to delete the talk, and responded, "It's always great to hear your perspectives, Emily!"


Jensen's analysis also included concern over the emphasis on the importance of wearing garments in talks by Dallin Oaks and Annett Dennis. "I know many people who have been garment-checked by their leaders and see that getting much worse because of these talks... from what I can see from both of these talks and from the theology of garments, it's very personal and should not extend to other people."


Jensen also expressed her belief that having only three female speakers was not enough female representation. "We need more women to speak" she concluded.


 "Although there are many instances when General Conference talks have been revised after the fact, it’s relatively rare, and usually at the request (or command) of senior church leaders." Patrick Mason shared in response to a request for comment by Ward Radio.  He continued, "It is not church doctrine that every word uttered in General Conference reflects the precise mind and will of God.

 

"I think we apply the notion of “criticizing Church leaders” a bit too broadly sometimes.  Disagreeing with something that a leader says is not necessarily criticism.  Wishing they had said something better isn’t necessarily criticism.  Honestly acknowledging mistakes, past and present, is not necessarily criticism.  I agree entirely with Emily that one of the dangers in the modern church is leader worship.  We need to constantly remember that don’t look to the prophets (and other General Authorities) for our salvation; we look with them to Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  That said, I believe we should approach church leaders – like we approach all of our fellow human beings – with humility, grace, and generosity, trying to see things through their eyes before judging them."


 

This story has been updated to include comments by Patrick Mason


Information about the submission and review of General Conference talks was taken from a private conversation between Luke Hanson and a General Authority in 2017


Ward Radio News is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) and does not officially represent the Church. The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily represent the position of Ward Radio News.

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I’m late to the game in this. I don’t follow her or the SL Tribune.

My parents divorced and my mom remarried. They worked through the next 10 years to be able to be sealed. Until that happened, they couldn’t cancel the sealing with my dad.

It was a hard, long road, as my dad was abusive towards us.

But when they finally got permission from the First Presidency, that was a joyous moment!!

I’m grateful to be sealed to my mom and stepdad.

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Great job Luke! I've enjoyed your articles. Live in SL County and one thing I know is that advise from The Tribune about LDS theology is like getting Catholic doctrine from a Evangelist.

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I've had thoughts while giving talks and have been both constrained and compelled to say both opinions I've held and had never thought of before. I have faith that the Spirit (a member of the Godhead) speaks through others called upon to give these talks. I'm more inclined to question my own understating before I question these speakers.

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When people say stuff like this. It just shows that they don’t understand what these covenants really are or how’s to live in that kind of relationship with HF. It’s basically just recycled 1800’s polygamy lies. But from within the church.

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Ethan
Ethan
Apr 12

I can get the divorce comment being taken the wrong way. Probably could have been explained better. But the garments thing is just... Well let's just say I definitely don't get it.

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