Hypothetical: Which do you think would more likely occur first?

1.  Openly gay member of the Quorum of the Twelve


2. Female member of the Quorum of the Twelve

And why?

(And if you’re going to say “neither” than that doesn’t really count because this is a game of hypotheticals so…pick one…and then explain with theological/historical back-up.)

This question popped into my head when I was reading this week about the Episcopal Church’s vote in favor of same-sex marriage blessings and the Church of England’s impending vote on whether to ordain female Bishops.  Both are just progressions from the initial landmark breakthroughs of the past–the Episcopal church ordaining its first openly gay priest in 1977 (and its first gay Bishop in 2003) and the Church of England ordaining female priests since 1994.

But, inevitably, it made me wonder, if the Mormon church was to ever do either (or both), then which would come first?  Thinking from LDS perspective, I honestly couldn’t decide.

So, your bets?  Your rationale?


P.S. Also, I realize this sort of thing can tend to devolve into tangential insanity, so, just upfront, I’ll probably be heavy-handed with the moderating if we can’t stay civil and generally on topic.



  1. If he’s gay but celibate, I could see it happening in my lifetime (I’m 36). If I understand correctly, gay but celibate members are considered in full fellowship, so the only hurdles would be overcoming stereotypes

    Gay in a relationship or female I just don’t see happening because it is SO far from current doctrine.

  2. My vote is for #2. I think that in the future, the Church will both ordain women and sanction same-sex marriage; but I think the former is a prerequisite to the latter. So, I think female members of the Q12 will come first.

  3. There is already a structure in place for allowing a gay man to be ordained and hold priesthood office.
    It seems to me that the only real hurdle (other than bigotry) would be the common practice of only calling married men to bishoprics or higher. Though with that club unicorn thing that was going around recently, the idea of a happily heterosexually married openly gay man being called into major leadership positions seems far more likely than women being ordained.

  4. Oh my, that’s a tough one. Are we talking “openly gay” as in “admits he is attracted to men but doesn’t act on it” or “attends church with his partner”? If we’re talking about the first option, I’ll say a gay apostle would happen before a woman apostle. I just see so much more movement there than on the female priesthood side of things. The church is at least attempting to address the “gay” issue, but I feel like it feels that women and the priesthood is pretty well resolved by now. *sigh*

  5. Oh, good points – I guess I should clarify that my answer is based partially on the assumption that they wouldn’t call a non-married person to be in the Q12. Although, there are widowers in the Q12, so maybe that isn’t as taboo as I’m thinking…

  6. I’m with Starfoxy. A gay man in a heterosexual marriage is far more likely to become an apostle than a woman.

    I suspect most men are even less comfortable working with bright, competent women than they are with gay men.

  7. ” I suspect most men are even less comfortable working with bright, competent women than they are with gay men.”

    If a man had made that kind of comment about women, he’d have been raked over the coals. How about an openly gay female apostle? I think both choices could be satisfied at the same time.

  8. 1) Gay but married to woman, bearing testimony of how he has “overcome” his struggles
    2) Woman
    3) Gay and single

  9. Some scholars have argued that homophobia has its roots in misogyny, in that the hatred of gay men in particular stems from the perception that they are somehow “lowering themselves” by “acting like women.” This, of course, relies on an antiquated understanding of gender roles, but we ARE dealing with octagenarians choosing the potential apostle. Currently-serving apostles have already referred to homosexuality as “gender confusion,” not understanding that gender dysmorphia is an entirely separate issue. This being the case, I suspect that the LDS church would appoint a female apostle before an openly gay apostle, at least until the current generation of FP/12 die out.

    An additional factor comes into play, as well. Each member of the FP and Q12 is understood to hold all the priesthood keys, though that “fulness” is dormant other than in the current president of the LDS church. Holding those full keys depends, in part, upon having received all the ordinances, including the marriage sealing. You can have a widower apostle, but you won’t see a “never married” apostle. Short of a gay man who was married and closeted, but then came out of the closet after his wife died, you’re not going to have a gay man “qualified” to be an LDS apostle unless the LDS church previously begins sealing same-sex couples together in their temples.

  10. Gay man before woman, just because the gay guy has half of the equation right–be born with the right form of genitalia. Plus with all the teen suicides in Utah, chances are the next generation of leaders will have personal experience with how harmful the current rhetoric really is.

    But I really do think a gay teen suicide will have to occur in a temple before even the most close-minded member makes the connection.

  11. My vote:
    1) Gay but married to woman
    2) Gay and single
    3) Gay and married
    4) Woman

    Yep, I am pretty pessimistic these days about women’s place in the church. But I do think (hope) that if #3 happened, #4 would follow fairly quickly.

  12. Also, what about ambiguous genitalia, trisomy 23’s, or has undergone sexual reassignment surgery?

    And regarding homosexuality, does it count if they aren’t officially out/may not be aware, but everyone else is pretty much sure?

  13. Ben, currently anyone who has undergone sexual reassignment surgery (of any kind) is unable to receive the priesthood.

    Though the better word is “forbidden” than “unable”.

  14. I have a friend who reads social progression via Star Trek: For example, because Star Trek had a black captain before a female captain, it was clear Obama would defeat Clinton for the ’08 nomination. (i.e., accepting black people in authority roles was apparently more palatable than accepting women.)

    I’m not sure where this leaves gay people, though, since there never was a gay Star Trek captain, and Star Trek is kind of over (at least as far as I know). And I think we’re a few decades from electing a gay U.S. president. But by this barometer, I think we’d expect to see a female GA before a gay one.

    On the other hand, if we’re including closeted gay men in hetero-marriage closets, who’s to say we haven’t already had one?

  15. “…if we’re including closeted gay men in hetero-marriage closets, who’s to say we haven’t already had one?”

    Yeah, pretty sure this has already happened.

  16. From the comments, there seems to be a difference in the meaning of “openly gay”. If we’re going toward someone who believes they have been made attracted to members o fhte same gender, but that the state is temporary, there’s no reason why they couldn’t be in leadership now.
    For someone who is openly gay meaning they are in a homosexual relationship and expect that relationship to be eternal, I think that’s much less likely because of the pretty basic teacjing that gender is eternal, and that progression is only for those part of a male-female bond (even if one or the other has more than one pairing).
    To me, female ordination is most likely, as we do have practices and tenets that are open to the possibility of it in the future.

  17. @Frank: I decided to not define that particularly, just to see where that went. But, yes, I’m aware of the ambiguity.

  18. The church is at least attempting to address the “gay” issue, but I feel like it feels that women and the priesthood is pretty well resolved by now. *sigh*

    Great (if disappointing) point, Jenn. Continuing in that line of thinking, the Church has far more female members defending a male-only priesthood than it does gay members defending heterosexual-only priesthood. This might lead to an openly gay man getting to the Quorum of Twelve before a woman does.

    Or maybe a woman will get there first. [Warning: gross oversimplifications ahead.] In the US, Black people and women have had their rights advanced before gay people have. But it has taken more than one round of movements and agitation for things to move forward. First-wave feminists’ success in getting women the vote didn’t mean there wasn’t (and isn’t) a lot of work still to be done. Perhaps gay people will have a similar experience, where there is a lot of pressure to move their rights forward, and then the progress stagnates for a while. If this is so, it may be that the Church’s progress (such as it is) in accepting gays appearing to be going faster than its movement toward ordaining women is just a happenstance of the moment, and that the longer history of women’s open agitating for greater rights and acceptance will ultimately mean a woman is called first.

    On the bright side, once we’ve had an openly gay man and a woman called, it should be no trouble at all to have an openly gay woman called, right?

  19. @17 Mark Brown “Who’s to say we haven’t already had one?”
    Does Joseph F. Smith count? I’m NOT talking about EITHER of the church presidents; I’m talking about the Presiding Church Patriarch in the 1930s.

    Of course, he was excommunicated when it came to light, but it may be more likely than you think.


Comments are closed.