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After the Reaction to Elder Holland’s BYU Speech, I Now See Why the Crowd Called for Christ’s Crucifixion

After the Reaction to Elder Holland’s BYU Speech, I Now See Why the Crowd Called for Christ’s Crucifixion

I’ve been reading the New Testament over the past month and have been pleasantly thrilled by one thing that I’d never before noticed or fully understood.

Jesus was famous. If you don’t believe me, read the gospels again.

When you read the book of Mark, especially, it is very clear that this was no ordinary man and people knew it. Crowds gathered around houses to hear him speak, the sick and lame were lined up in the streets to be healed by him, and people gathered by the thousands to hear him speak. It’s incredible to see how many times Mark described in one fashion or another how Jesus was being thronged by the multitudes.

jesus crowds

Often we speak of Jesus as an outcast who was “despised and rejected of men”, and while that was the case in some locations like his hometown and Jerusalem, in most places he went, Jesus was the star of the show.

However, Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time in Jerusalem, and that is where he was ultimately sentenced to death and accused of men. In Luke 23 we read the following account:

Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.

But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

And they were instant [urging] with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

I was thinking about “loud voices” again recently as I was blown away by some of the responses to Elder Holland’s talk at Brigham Young University. There were SO many loud voices, and they were sharing SO MANY things that Elder Holland did not say. He flat out did not say them.

Take this one for example. This is a screenshot from an Instagram story. A popular ex-Mormon Instagram account stated that Elder Holland said that “over his dead body would he let the church change to accept queer people”. Really? The thing I get a kick out of is the rhetorical question “Over YOUR dead body?” with the emphasis on “YOUR”, as if Elder Holland had actually said any of this.

crucify him crucify him

A popular exmormon Instagram account posting lies about Elder Holland’s speech.

Another lie the “loud voices” on social media have been spreading is that Elder Holland called for musket fire towards LGBTQ individuals. If you read his speech, he never said anything remotely close to that. The crowds have been massacring that metaphor and applying it to something Elder Holland never intended.

Was it the best metaphor? I don’t know. Then again, I’ve never liked violent metaphors like “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea…” but that came from Jesus himself, so who am I to correct Jesus or Elder Holland? The fact that these forceful metaphors were used speaks to the seriousness of the issues being discussed.

Fighting Against the Apostles

It dawned on me after reading many of these social media posts from the very loud crowd that so much of the noise was from people who had not actually watched or read Elder Holland’s speech at all. They heard reactions from others, perhaps saw small clips, but surely they didn’t watch the entire forty minute speech he gave, found here.

If they had watched the tears flow from Elder Holland’s eyes, they certainly wouldn’t have cast stones at that man as many have. I can’t tell you how many comments I read from people asking, “What did he say?”, then reacting emotionally after they were given an explanation from someone that was 280 characters or less. Basing your reactions on other people’s reactions without having full information is a dangerous course to take.

As I thought about this, the thought came to my mind that this was probably a very similar scenario to Christ’s presentation before Pilate.

I would bet that the majority of the people chanting “Crucify him, crucify him” to Pilate’s question, “What evil hath he done?” had never actually taken the time to honestly listen to Jesus’ full message. Their reactions and calls for death were solely because of the noise of the crowd, and this alone made them more than eager to cast stones at Jesus. 

A brother online posted a screenshot of the following scripture found in 1 Nephi 11, explaining that his wife was praying to know what to think about the Elder Holland speech and reaction and this was the scripture she opened up to:

And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.

And after he was slain I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord.

And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

elder holland byu

We are now seeing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints openly fight against an apostle of the Lamb. These are members in your neighborhoods, members in your ward, members who sit next to you in sacrament meeting. It’s incredibly sad to see.

Just as a small group of Pharisees and corrupt rulers stirred up a crowd to call for the crucifixion of Jesus, similar antics are at play with the venomous reaction to Elder Holland’s words spoken on BYU campus. 

Where Do You Stand and Who Do You Sustain

There appears to be an ever increasing divide in the church over many issues. Please ask yourself this question as you consider where you stand: If your stance is in opposition to the living prophets and apostles, can you really be on solid ground? The first section of the Doctrine and Covenants declares:

Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh;

And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.

And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;

For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;

They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth fold and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

I would invite you to follow the counsel of and sustain our living prophets and apostles. They are seers and can see what we cannot. They are witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are here to speak truth, and not pleasing words.

Please listen to the words of the prophets with a humble heart before you listen to the noise of the social media crowds – even the noise from so-called “temple-going, Relief Society President, Instagram Influencers.” Please listen to the prophets words and ask, “Lord, is it I?” Please listen to their words without expecting to have your belly rubbed and to have everything be pleasing. The truth isn’t always comfortable.

If the crowd in Jerusalem would have received the words of Christ with a humble heart, blood wouldn’t be on their hands.

The Two Most Important Paragraphs from Elder Holland’s Recent Address At Brigham Young University
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Saturday 18th of September 2021

Good article thanks


Wednesday 15th of September 2021

Thank you , Ben! :-)

Evan Smith

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

Ben, this article is disappointing to see. I know some people in your family (I served as a counselor in the Hingham stake presidency with your brother-in-law and served my mission with your brother). I also have a gay son and have written a book about that and how the church’s doctrine can change to allow for gay marriage. That book is available for free digitally at My book was reviewed by some apostles and I received feedback on it by a GA Seventy before I published it. I officiated the wedding of two gay Latter-day Saint men two months ago. I help moderate a Facebook group of thousands of LDS parents of LGBTQ children. I currently hold a temple recommend. I say all that as background, just so you understand where I’m coming from.

I’ve read and watched Elder Holland’s talk many times. He meant well, but his intent is not as important as the effect of his words. This article in LDS Living uses a prior talk by Elder Holland to show that the effect of our words is more important than their intent:

The effect of Elder Holland’s talk has been additional harm caused to LGBTQ church members. I’ve seen thousands of heart-felt comments from them to that effect since he gave his talk. Elder Holland chose to use a violent metaphor in relation to how people should engage with supporters of LGBTQ equality, even though LGBTQ people and their allies have long been the victims of violence (a lesbian couple was killed by gunfire just days before his talk). The choice to re-use the musket metaphor by Elder Holland was irresponsible.

His condemnation of the valedictorian speech by Matt Easton, simply for mentioning he was gay, was also wrong. Elder Holland would never say another student was wrong for mentioning their opposite sex spouse or girl/boyfriend in a speech. Elder Holland has mentioned his own wife in talks at BYU repeatedly. So he has “come out” as straight many times in a context and to an audience that is no different really. If the church really believes it’s okay to be gay, then gay members should be allowed to talk about being gay just as freely as straight members talk about being straight. Plus, Matt had every word of his valedictorian speech approved beforehand by BYU administration. It was un-Christlike for Elder Holland to condemn it.

As for the reaction to Elder Holland’s talk, I have seen many angry, violent-themed messages from members of the church trying to defend Elder Holland. I’ve actually seen a louder response from those defending him than from those criticizing his talk. So I think your comparison of his critics to the crowd that crucified Jesus is weird (and it’s just also woefully insensitive).

The Brethren have admitted they are fallible. They can make mistakes. I believe Elder Holland made some mistakes in his talk. When they make mistakes that hurt other people, one way of sustaining them is for us to help them see how they caused hurt by speaking up about it. Many of those pointing out where Elder Holland caused pain are also those who also love him and want to sustain him in his calling. We shouldn’t judge them so harshly as you have in this article.

True Christians follow Christ

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

Christ was crucified for SHOWING AND PREACHING LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE. Not for scolding people for showing love and acceptance, which is what Elder Holland did. Holland is not being crucified. He is being held accountable for his words and their consequences. This article gets it wrong on so many levels.

Caleb Fawson

Sunday 26th of September 2021

@Ben Arkell, what bible is you reading


Saturday 18th of September 2021

@True Christians follow Christ, no you missed the point. You’re to busy being offended by the topic and that the church cannot condone homosexuality, you entirely missed the point of being kind and loving everyone no matter their acts. Elder Holland doesn’t have an unkind bone in his body.

Ben Arkell

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

Christ was not crucified for preaching love and acceptance. He was crucified for teaching truth.

This article touches on the reactions of the crowds who never really heard the true message.

If you think Holland was scolding people for showing love, you missed the point of what he was saying.

He wants more love and more truth.

Janet Cook

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

I am not fighting against an “apostle of the Lamb.” I am stating that a true follower of Jesus Christ would not alienate others against His children. A true follower of Christ would not be so homesick for the all-white, all-straight ivory tower of his youth that he would cry out for muskets to protect it while building a wall around it to keep out aliens. There are no aliens to Christ. All are his beloved siblings and all are welcomed by him. A person speaking as a true apostle would know that.

Ben Arkell

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

Did you watch his speech? Does this sound like alienation?

"In that spirit, let me go no farther before declaring unequivocally my love and that of my Brethren for those who live with this same-sex challenge and so much complexity that goes with it. Too often the world has been unkind, in many instances crushingly cruel, to these our brothers and sisters. Like many of you, we have spent hours with them, and wept and prayed and wept again in an effort to offer love and hope while keeping the gospel strong and the obedience to commandments evident in every individual life."