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Bruce C. Hafen

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Bruce Clark Hafen is a General Authority and member of the First Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Hafen was born on October 30, 1940, in St. George, Utah.[1]

Elder Hafen is a nationally recognized scholar on family relationships, children, and education. He graduated from Brigham Young University, earned a juris doctorate from the University of Utah in 1967, and is a former dean of Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. After practicing law four years in Salt Lake City, he became assistant to the president of Brigham Young University where he assisted in the creation of the new J. Reuben Clark Law School and was a member of that school's original faculty. As a law professor, he became an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of family law, educational law, and constitutional law, with particular interests in the legal rights and needs of children and the legal status of marriage. [1]

From 1976-78, Elder Hafen was director of evaluation and research for the Correlation Department of the Church. From 1978 to 1985, he was president of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho), always teaching one class each semester. In 1989 he became provost at BYU, the number-two administrator at the university.[2]

Bruce C. Hafen has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 1996, having served in bishoprics, stake presidencies, and recently as Area President of the Australia/New Zealand area. He also served in the Europe Central Area of the church. He served a mission in West Germany. Elder Hafen was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1996. From 1996 to 2000, he was in the Australia/New Zealand Area Presidency.

He married Marie Kartchner on 2 June 1964 in the St. George Temple, and they have seven children and 10 grandchildren (one deceased).

Elder Hafen is known to Mormon readers for his frequent Ensign articles and his bestselling trilogy on the Atonement, which includes the award-winning book The Broken Heart.


Books by Bruce C. Hafen

  • A Disciple's Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell
  • Covenant Hearts: Marriage And the Joy of Human Love
  • The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life's Experiences
  • The Belonging Heart: The Atonement and Relationships with God and Family
  • The Believing Heart: Nourishing the Seed of Faith
  • Spiritually Anchored in Unsettled Times
  • "Beauty for ashes" and The restored doctrine of the atonement (Classic talk series)
  • Law and the Ordering of Our Life Together (Encounter Series)
by Bruce C. Hafen, Thomas L. Shaffer

Quotes by Bruce C. Hafen

  • "We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more. "
  • "In the long run, our most deeply held desires will govern our choices, one by one and day by day, until our lives finally add up to what we have really wanted most--for good or otherwise. We can indeed have eternal life, if we really want it, so long as we don't want something else more."


2009 Talk on Gay Rights and Same Gender Attraction

Bruce C. Hafen gave a talk at the Evergreen International 19th Annual Conference on September 19, 2009, that has garnered much media attention. (For a complete transcript, click here.)

Some highlights of his talk follow:

  • First, Elder Hafen expressed sympathy for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. He added, "But as hard as same-gender attraction is, your feeling it does not mean that your nature is flawed. Whenever the Adversary tries to convince you that you are hopelessly 'that way,' so that acting out your feelings is inevitable, he is lying. He is the Father of Lies."
  • Elder Hafen then compared the struggle with same-sex attraction to other difficult and on-going problems, such as dealing with sexual abuse. These struggles are real, but are mostly hidden from others. They are intensely personal.
  • Elder Hafen then explained the way in which the Lord judges us. He referred to the judging of Olympic diving, wherein a diver is judged not only by his technical execution of a dive, but also on the difficulty of the dive. The Lord judges us not only on our thoughts, desires, and behaviors, but on the difficulties we face, which are unique to us; in other words, on the difficulty of the dive.
  • Elder Hafen then said that same-gender attraction is not programmed into one's DNA, but godliness is, since we are literal spirit-children of Heavenly Father. "If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then--you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex. Some of you may wonder if that doctrine is too good to be true. But Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said it MUST be true, because 'there is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband and wife, and posterity. And “men (and women) are that they might have joy'” (LDS.org Newsroom, interview transcript).
  • Elder Hafen related an old Indian legend about all men having within themselves two dogs, one evil and one good, equally powerful. The one that becomes dominant is the one you feed. Thus he counseled against doing anything that would encourage a person with same-gender attraction to act upon it. This includes pornography, enticing social situations, or feeding one's mind with defeatist ideas. Elder Hafen encouraged psychological therapy.
  • Elder Hafen encouraged those who have acted out on their orientation to repent and rely on the atonement of Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation with God: "First, Christ helps us draw on His strength to become more at-one with God even while still overcoming the attraction....As a second healing blessing, the Atonement enables the grace that assures us of this grand promise: No eternal blessing—including marriage and family life--will be withheld from those who suffer same gender attraction, if they do “all they can do” to remain faithful always.
  • Elder Hafen then examined the cultural and legal climate that make the challenge much harder than it would otherwise be. He gave historical background on family law. Though criminal laws against homosexual acts were seldom enforced, the Supreme Court considered those laws constitutional as recently as 2003. The main legal goal of gay activists then was to eliminate criminal penalties against homosexual acts, as a first step toward their goal of greater public acceptance. In the early 1970’s, the public and most lawyers, doctors, and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder. The change has mostly been political. Activists have been "trying to prove that they are a legitimate demographic category with fixed and unchangeable characteristics. They must present themselves in this way in order to justify their demand for the same legal protections now given to race and gender. Thus, they can identify themselves as normal and those who oppose them as bigoted and unreasonable." Elder Hafen quoted Dallin H. Oaks: "This is more than a social issue—ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach.”
  • Elder Hafen quoted James E. Faust: "The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair.”[3] He then discussed successful therapies that have helped with same gender attraction. These therapies have been particully successful with men whose tendencies arose in the early teenage years. Therapy does not always succeed, but it succeeds more often than it should, if these tendencies were inborn. One non-LDS therapist who has treated both men and women for many years reports that 40% of his clients find full heterosexual resolution, another 40% achieve enough resolution to control their attraction and behavior, and 20% are unsuccessful.[4]
  • Elder Hafen then discussed family and society, and the consensus against gay marriage both in the U.S. and elsewhere, citing legal actions and studies that support a heterosexual and monogamous relationship as being optimal for the well-being of children. France did not legalize gay marriage, because justifying the happiness of two adults at the sacrifice of the happiness and well being of children was not justifiable.

Sources

  1. "General Authority Sustainings," Church News Archives, April 13, 1996.
  2. "News of the Church: Elder Bruce C. Hafen...,"
  3. James E. Faust, Ensign, Sept. 1995.
  4. Jason Park, Understanding Male Homosexual Problems, p. 31.

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