Zelophehad’s Daughters

The Problem of Gays in LDS Theology, Part I

Posted by Lynnette

Note: Just in case my title isn’t clear, I would like to state at the outset that I am not asking the question  of whether I personally think that gays are fully human; rather, I am looking at elements of LDS teachings which I find particularly disturbing. Please read the post before getting out your pitchfork.

The issue of same-sex marriage currently dominates much of the discussion of homosexuality, both inside and outside the Church. This makes sense, of course, given that right now, the question of SSM has become the center of gravity of the political battles over gay rights. But despite the significance of the marriage question, I think that Latter-day Saints are still struggling with a much more basic issue: are gays even people to begin with?

This might sound overly dramatic, but hear me out. I’ve run into this issue again and again in asking challenging feminist questions of LDS doctrine. Too much of our liturgy and conversation leaves the question open: are women fully human in our own right, or do we exist as appendages for men, created in order to enable them to achieve exaltation? Yes, we are valued—but are we valued as people, or because of what we can do for men? The answer remains disturbingly ambiguous.

And where do gays fit into all of this? My first instinct is to say: nowhere at all.  In the context of the Plan of Salvation, there is simply no place for gays. In a theological understanding of existence that is absolutely heteronormative, we’re an inexplicable aberration. This is why the very existence of homosexuals is particularly challenging for Latter-day Saints, and why, I think, the response of some is simply to assert that gays simply can’t exist. This is a notion which can be implicitly found in all kinds of literature encouraging gays to come back to their true heterosexual selves, and in Boyd K. Packer’s infamous—but I think, sincerely baffled—question: “Why would God do that to anyone?”1

But in recent years, one finds another narrative, one which has gained significant traction. In this paradigm, homosexuality is an affliction which may or may not be healed in this life, but will be overcome in the next if one endures to the end. This viewpoint at least acknowledges the existence of gays, and even tentatively gives us some kind of place: if nothing else, we are not without the possibility of ultimate redemption.

However, I am concerned that this narrative, in combination with other LDS teachings, describes gays in a way that questions our full humanity. There are variety of reads of what it means to be created in the image of God, but I think the general LDS take on it is something along the lines of, humans are children of God and can grow up to be like him; humans have a literally divine potential. Feminists, of course, have raised the question of whether women are truly in the image of a male God. And to that I add: are gays truly in the image of a heterosexual God?

[note: paragraph somewhat edited for clarity (I hope)]
Unfortunately, I do not think it is clear that in LDS doctrine this is the case. The radical LDS notion that humans are not qualitatively different from the divine becomes murkier when you have people who are seen as lacking something fundamental to divinity. In LDS theology, after all, it is not simply happenstance that God is heterosexual; it is core to who he is. Homosexuality, then, goes beyond being a burden to be borne in mortality, but represents an actual rift between divine and human. If what it means to be in the image of God is the ability to become like him–and in current LDS teachings, I would argue that this means being in a heterosexual relationship–then homosexuals are in the very least in an ambiguous position.

Yes, the current teaching is that this will be repaired in the hereafter. But this assertion is itself is troubling in that it arises from this view in which something very basic has gone wrong. And the doctrine of a next-life resolution to this is not without its problems. Not all gays, to say the least, are wildly enthusiastic about the possibility being “fixed” in the hereafter. One possible response, of course, is the paternalistic one: we simply don’t know what’s good for us. But I think this is especially problematic coming from an LDS perspective: first, because of the belief that  people do have some basic, innate sense of right and wrong; and second, because of the emphasis on the importance of eternal families. To tell those who have opted for familial relationships here that they will be better off in the next life not only in getting a sexual reorientation, but also in losing their family—the thought, I have to say, makes reason stare.

This could be a very good reason, of course, to encourage gays not to form such relationships in the first place—precisely because they can’t last. (Though given our belief in a relational God, I have to note that I find this inability to form lasting intimate relationships yet another strike against gays being fully human in LDS doctrine.) It is a terrible choice: you can opt to give up hope of relationship in the here and now; or you can anticipate losing your partner in eternity.

Okay, it is indeed a hard choice, some might say, but it is worth pointing out that many choices in mortality are incredibly hard. Where I see a difference with this one is in being told that what is a righteous desire for everyone else, that is in fact, the most righteous desire, is deeply wrong for you. It is not simply about opting for celibacy, in other words; it also being asked to accept a narrative in which you are broken in such a way that something so basic to being human as a longing for an intimate sexual relationship with another human being—a longing which is not only validated but celebrated for others—is not only not an option for you, but a drive you should label as evil. You are asked to live in a  state of ongoing self-alienation, to sacrifice not only relationship, but wholeness.

I would also note that a fundamental aspect of LDS teachings is that mortality matters, that we are exhorted to take it seriously. Even if all will be well in the eternities—and, I have to point out, we do not actually have a clear doctrinal basis for that assertion—the existence of second class citizens is a problem here and now. This is particularly so when it is not simply an aspect of our culture, but built into our theology.

But does the situation have to be this bleak? While I think it is important to raise hard questions about current teachings, my hope is that there are more encouraging possibilities in LDS theology.2

To be continued . . .

  1. This was originally a comment in the October 2010 General Conference, but was strikingly edited out of the written version. []
  2. In considering this question, it is definitely worth looking at Taylor Petrey’s article on a possible post-heterosexual theology. See Dialogue 44:4. []

42 Responses to “The Problem of Gays in LDS Theology, Part I”

  1. 1.

    Wow, really thought provoking post.

    I hope this isn’t too much of a tangent, but this line particularly resonated with me “Where I see a difference with this one is in being told that what is a righteous desire for everyone else, that is in fact, the most righteous desire, is deeply wrong for you……is not only not an option for you, but a drive you should label as evil.” This resonated with me as a woman who was always very interested in her education and who is career driven. I often felt that my accomplishments and my desire to contribute to the world in a professional capacity would be completely supported and lauded if I were a man, but because I am a woman, these desires are seen with some suspicion and even discouraged. I certainly don’t think these situations (being gay and being a career oriented woman) should be compared in order to judge which situation is more difficult. Rather, I simply want to point out that I have felt the tensions of deeply wanting something good, but being discouraged from pursuing it because of who I am.

  2. 2.

    Yes–and I think those kinds of tensions are especially likely to show up in gendered situations. For a related example, one way I try to explain the issue of not wanting to be ‘fixed’ in the next life is to compare it to not wanting to be ‘fixed’ into a person who embraces (for example) female subordination and polygamy.

  3. 3.

    Great thoughts, Lynnette. I particularly like your point that the “it will all be solved in the next life” response isn’t very comforting. Because we don’t know. Because unhappiness in this life counts. And because, as you and Beatrice point out, saying “you’ll *become* a person who is happy with XYZ” isn’t much comfort either. If God is just going to change us all in the next life to being happy with whatever afterlife he already cooked up that involves making the gays straight, or the straights gay, or the women subordinate and happy with it, or the left-handers to rule over everyone else and the rest of us to love kissing their feet, what’s the point of giving us this life and our agency and experience here?

  4. 4.

    I couldn’t finish reading this – I’ll come back to it later, when I’m not watching terrible TV with friends at the same time. But something about the “it’ll be fixed in the next life” made me think of physical ailments and disabilities that will be fixed, and I was horrified at the idea they’ve “potentially lost the image of god”.

    I don’t know what I think about homosexuality and cosmology – and I’m glad I don’t have to figure it out with any urgency, because I think it’s probably gonna be pretty complicated. But just because something might be alleviated or “fixed” or changed in the next life, doesn’t mean a person is any more broken than the rest of us. We are all broken. We all need redeeming.

    I’ll come back and finish it when I have time to be more reflective, and hope I don’t end up embarrassed by my visceral reaction.

  5. 5.

    Olea, I’m definitely not arguing that those with various ailments which will be healed in the next life have therefore lost the image of God in this one. (And I would personally deeply resist any comparison between homosexuality and physical ailments, though I am aware that the church frequently uses that analogy.) My question, rather, is whether gays can be said to be fully in the image of God–much like one might ask whether women are fully in the image of a male God. I hope that makes more sense.

    I agree that we’re all broken in a variety of ways. What I am disturbed by is the LDS teaching that homosexuality itself is evidence of brokenness.

  6. 6.

    Here are a few scriptures that might add to this discussion:

    If two members of the church believe the Spirit has brought them together, who are we to say otherwise? “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9).

    Those who doubt gay families will survive into the hearafter may want to review the scripture that says “that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy” (D&C 130:2).

    Anyone who thinks the Lord would never accept a gay LDS family may want to review the scripture in which He says he will “be the God of all the families of Israel” (Jer. 31:1).

    Those who say the Lord advocates celibacy for faithful gays, may never find an equivocation within the Lord’s statement that it is “not good that the man should be alone” (Moses 3:18).

  7. 7.

    Wow, sterflu, that’s got to be the most selective choice of scriptures to prove a doctrinally nonsensical point I’ve ever seen. Everything you suggest is directly contradicted by other scriptures.

  8. 8.

    What good is a pitchfork if you don’t get to use it.

    This may be a bit premature, but what place is there in the context of the Plan of Salvation for Artificial Intelligence.
    I find the celestializing of heteronormativity absurd. And not a philosophical absurd, more like, using metric wrenches on SAE bolts absurd.
    To me, potentialities and the image of God, means life is created in the image of God’s heart and mind, or empathy and intelligence.
    And we can gain intelligence and empathy by interacting with one another.
    One such way is for a person to leave their parents and cleave to another and be one flesh.
    How this will work with AI. I do not know.
    Perhaps to reconceptualize is divine.

  9. 9.

    Okay, goodbye.

  10. 10.

    It seems that in Mormon theology, a defining characteristic of Godhood is the ability to create children. I think it’s unwarranted that we make the leap in logic to assume that the process of God creating children requires a male God and a female God. Does a spirit child come from the union of a spirit egg and a spirit sperm? Nothing I’ve read in the scriptures gives any clarify — God created the animals (male, female, hermaphrodite, asexual, and fish that can change sex created he them), he created Adam, and he created Eve out of Adam’s rib.

    I recently read a blog post from one of my gay friends describing why she’s sad that she is that she’s not able to have a child with her wife. I would like to believe that in the resurrection this problem will be solved, that she and her wife will be omnipotent with the ability to have seed as innumerable as the stars.

  11. 11.

    sterflu, please stick around.

    O, I think the same could be said of lots of scripture-based arguments. We pick and choose them for support rather than actually looking to see what they generally say. Which is probably good, given how much weird stuff they say.

  12. 12.

    I agree the things you’ve mentioned are serious problems. In fact, I think the problem of gays is *the* problem in LDS theology. I spend most of my time reading, writing, and talking about the problem of women in LDS theology, but in fact the theological foundations to solve that problem are clearly there, and what I’m really worried about is why mortality is so thoroughly screwed up with respect to gender equality.

    Not so with homosexuality. The theological foundations to place gays in a position of full humanity with respect to heterosexuals are just not there, at least not as far as I can tell. I’ve been meaning to read Taylor Petrey’s article, and I’m hoping it will shed some light. But the fact of God as a heterosexual couple is a serious conundrum and it make me question why eternal gender is even necessary. Really, the rest of Christianity has it so much simpler – no eternal marriage, no eternal gender needed, no gendered God required.

    And the idea of people’s sexuality changing in the next life makes no sense coupled with the idea that whatever spirit “possesses” us in life will continue in the next life, as Ziff said. What would change, anyway, the spirit, or the body?

  13. 13.

    Lynnette: “I think, the response of some is simply to assert that gays simply can’t exist.”

    Not sure what you mean here. There is no question that here on earth, homosexual people exist. But if you mean that in LDS beliefs there is no such thing as a homosexual spirit or a homosexual resurrected person you are probably right.

    The basic assumption, as I understand it, is that same sex attraction is something that is entirely related to mortal bodies. Therefore people who are sexually attracted to their same sex here on earth were were not in the eternities leading up to this life and again won’t be after this life.

  14. 14.

    “This could be a very good reason, of course, to encourage gays not to form such relationships in the first place—precisely because they can’t last.”

    This is one area where I think there is interesting overlap between a common objection+rejoinder that was see in the political discussion of gay marriage, and a Mormon theological discussion of gay marriage. In the political area, we often hear “but [non-procreative] old people can marry!” as a reason gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry. The same thing occurs to me in regards to whether a relationship will last. Nobody would object to a widow, sealed to her late husband, getting remarried (and not sealed, which would not be allowed). We even see apostles remarrying after being widowered (though as men, they can be sealed–so they are either in a relationship that won’t last or they are polygamous). I find the idea that these relationships will be jettisoned upon death to be unsatisfying to say the least, but even if we accept this, there is nothing to support that gays and lesbians are differently situated from remarried straight counterparts.

  15. 15.

    Cynthia: “I find the idea that these relationships will be jettisoned upon death to be unsatisfying to say the least”

    Well Mormon doctrine teaches that the vast majority of heterosexual marriages will only exist until death. Even temple marriages are only sealed conditionally, based both spouses living the celestial law. So the “til death do you part” thing is certainly not specific to gay marriages.

  16. 16.

    Geoff, my personal spitballing/speculative theology is that Zion is a community and not rigid pairings, but what do I know. It just seems too complicated and too sadly exclusive to say everybody gets one spouse. What about a woman who spends 25 years each married to two different men, and deeply loves them both? How does she choose? More fundamentally, why should she have to?

  17. 17.

    Okay, so.

    Let me just begin this comment by saying that I love you, Lynette, as much as a random internet commenter can love a person whose words touch them, while knowing actually very little about that person in Real Life. (I just like to reaffirm the most important part before I get to the troubling, hope-I-don’t-hurt/offend part)

    My unstudied opinion/assumption fits the narrative of homosexuality as a thing that will be resolved in the next life. I guess without noticing, really, that it implies that gayness is brokenness and needs fixing. I guess, like I said, we’re all broken, so I don’t (didn’t?) see it as problematic. Bodies are complicated and mortal and messy and they betray us all the time.

    I was reading an article about people who have a kind of body dysmorphia and feel they need a limb to be amputated, because they don’t feel like their soul reaches every part of their body. Does how my brain mapped my body in my infancy have an effect on my resurrected self?

    There’s just so, so much that we don’t understand.

    So, while I don’t think that being homosexual is eternal, I think that love and connection is. If we expect deep friendships, and parent-child relationships, and other non-eternally-procreative pairings of spirits that we begin on earth to continue in eternity, I’m not sure we can rule out specific kinds of relationships from continuing in some form.

    And, as Cynthia said, we encourage people to be involved in loving relationships, even if we don’t expect them to continue into a God/Goddess pairing in eternity. I reject the “evil” notion, unless it’s specifically about causing another person harm.

    I think that it is a hard choice, for sure, but just as someone who’s single and needs to decide between marriage to someone not of our faith, or permanent singlehood, it’s up to each individual to navigate. I don’t think we can point to our (super limited) doctrine about eternal relationships and make that decision for everyone.

    Is that coherent? And on-topic?

  18. 18.

    Lynnette, I’ve been thinking a lot about your post since it went up, and the comments that have followed, and my biggest take away is that this idea of being “fixed” in the next life is indicative of one of my biggest struggles with religion (especially Mormonism) right now. I understand that the idea of being “fixed” is a great comfort to people with circumstances much, much more trying than my own. But I worry that this focus on what comes next basically gives us permission to not do the work we need to do in the life we have now: love, accept, learn. Specifically with the topic at hand here, choosing to focus on the fact that gay men and women (and presumably transgender, asexual, etc. aka everything not heteronormative) can be “fixed” later excuses us from dealing with the issues LDS doctrine is causing in the here and now. So we brush over those issues, and by effect, those individuals. I can understand completely how that would make you feel like a “non-person”. I would think that it would also make someone with a physical disability feel like a “non-person”. Or someone with a major mental disorder feel like a “non-person”. We are who we are now. And who we are now wants, and needs, to be loved and respected and treated as real. Not something to be fixed.

  19. 19.

    … choosing to focus on the fact that gay men and women (and presumably transgender, asexual, etc. aka everything not heteronormative) can be “fixed” later excuses us from dealing with the issues LDS doctrine is causing in the here and now. So we brush over those issues, and by effect, those individuals. I can understand completely how that would make you feel like a “non-person”. I would think that it would also make someone with a physical disability feel like a “non-person”. Or someone with a major mental disorder feel like a “non-person”. We are who we are now. And who we are now wants, and needs, to be loved and respected and treated as real. Not something to be fixed.

    Yes. This. Beautifully stated, Enna.

  20. 20.

    #18 Enna, there’s something about what you said that resonates with me.

    I love the movie ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ In fact, every time I’ve watched it, I’ve cried at the end, and I stand by my assertion that it is one of the most beautiful films about friendship ever made.

    My reasoning for this has to do with the way most teen-transformation movies are written: In the end, the socially awkward girl is loved for who she is, of course…but she’s still been transformed by the removal of her glasses into a sexually desirable young woman.

    Napoleon is never redeemed from his nerdiness. He is redeemed in his nerdiness. In fact, it is the same awkward, powerful passions he feels about life that make the world better. He’s not something that needs to be fixed. His nature itself is what fixes one small piece of the world.

    A too-limited focus on the afterlife can lead us to miss opportunities for atonement, right here, right now.

  21. 21.

    […] Zelophehad’s Daughters, Lynnette writes two posts (here and here) that are so thoughtful and thought-provoking that I feel bad just presenting excerpts. […]

  22. 22.

    Thanks for the comment, all. I’m still sorting out what I think about all this, so it’s helpful to hear what others are thinking.

    Emily U.,

    And the idea of people’s sexuality changing in the next life makes no sense coupled with the idea that whatever spirit “possesses” us in life will continue in the next life, as Ziff said. What would change, anyway, the spirit, or the body?

    That’s a very thought-provoking question, and one I hadn’t considered in that way—that this is also deeply tied up with whether your outlook is dualistic (Are the spirit and the body ultimately different things? What is the continuity of the self in the first place?) I wonder about that too when we say that gender is eternal. Just playing with this—does it mean that it’s an eternal way of relating to others, perhaps? Could that also be true of homosexuality? Lots to think about there.

    Geoff J., yes, that’s what I’m saying—that reducing homosexuality to being a mortal trial is saying that gays don’t theologically exist. I find that troubling.

    Cynthia L.,

    Nobody would object to a widow, sealed to her late husband, getting remarried (and not sealed, which would not be allowed). We even see apostles remarrying after being widowered (though as men, they can be sealed–so they are either in a relationship that won’t last or they are polygamous). I find the idea that these relationships will be jettisoned upon death to be unsatisfying to say the least, but even if we accept this, there is nothing to support that gays and lesbians are differently situated from remarried straight counterparts.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about eternal relationships being perhaps the greatest potential loss, and I appreciate your point that that applies to a variety of heterosexual relationships as well; that gays aren’t in a unique position in this regard. So it’s clearly a broader problem than I’m discussing here.

  23. 23.

    Olea, let me say first of all that I so much appreciate your kindness, and the honesty of your comment.

    And this issue is such a basic one. How does homosexuality compare with other aspects of mortal life which we don’t believe will last into the eternities—which, in general, we label as trials?

    That’s a really complicated question, obviously. Maybe it will help if I share my own experience. I don’t experience being gay as a trial. It’s a challenge in the sense that it’s not socially accepted in a lot of places, and it’s a huge challenge as a Mormon, of course. But on a basic level, it doesn’t feel wrong to me. It’s just part of who I am.

    I really like your point about relationships being eternal regardless. I think it’s too easy to forget that. But what I find particularly difficult is that the only way that I can have the kind of eternal relationship that a heterosexual couple can have is to turn straight in the next life. And that feels like a deep–and also rather odd–violation of who I am.

    I don’t know if that helps any. I certainly agree with your point about each individual having to navigate this. I’m very much in the middle of that!

    Hi, Enna!

    But I worry that this focus on what comes next basically gives us permission to not do the work we need to do in the life we have now: love, accept, learn. Specifically with the topic at hand here, choosing to focus on the fact that gay men and women (and presumably transgender, asexual, etc. aka everything not heteronormative) can be “fixed” later excuses us from dealing with the issues LDS doctrine is causing in the here and now.

    I very much agree that that’s a serious danger with any religion that teaches that things will be resolved in the next life–that it undermines our motivation to work for justice in this one. My hope, of course, is for something different: that our belief in the value of those things–love, acceptance, learning–will be a vision of what could be, of what ultimately matters, that will call us to work toward it, rather than being an excuse for complacency.

    But looking at your specific example–yeah. It’s a mess. I think grappling these questions is crucial for that very reason–that our current discourse simply isn’t working.

  24. 24.

    Thank you for this post and its sequel – great points made in both.

    You mention how the church’s current stance on the matter of homosexuality involves seeing it as ‘brokenness.’ Personally, I think this is an error of mislabeling which serves to relate circumstances which aren’t actually similar. For instance, what are other things that are ‘broken’ that we hope will be ‘fixed’? Some things that come to my mind are an infertile couple, numerous physical impairments, etc.

    It’s right that these things are in a sense ‘broken’ because they’re not ideal and (presumably) not characteristics of a God or perfect being. But I think a more apt descriptor would be ‘lacking’ (or not whole) – an infertile couple lacks the ability to procreate or one who suffers from physical impairments lacks a typical body.

    What do homosexuals lack? Nothing in their ability to form and maintain healthy intimate relationships, as far as I can see. This is the problem that I have with this dialogue – homosexuals don’t feel any less ‘whole’ than their heterosexual counterparts unless they’re taught or told to view themselves as such and feel shame.

    A gay or lesbian individual has no reason to feel lacking due to their sexual orientation. They are ‘whole’. ‘Broken’ in this discussion is just another way to impose one’s view of how things are supposed to be on someone else. We don’t need to be ‘fixed’ to be made like God, we simply need to acquire the traits that we lack to be exalted.

  25. 25.

    Lynnette: “gays don’t theologically exist’

    True enough. Along those lines, neither gays nor straights exist in some theological sense. Only children of God exist. None of us are eternally defined by are sexual attractions/orientations here on earth.

    One interesting Mormon theological question is if there is any sexual attraction at all among spirits. I could imagine arguments on either side of that question.

    There used to be a recurring joke in the bloggernacle about the “TK smoothie” which was short for “telestial kingdom smoothie”. The notion being that since there is no procreation among non-exalted resurrected people maybe they are resurrected with basically Ken and Barbie doll anatomies. No one was serious about that but the question of what becomes of sexual attraction after this life is a mystery for sure.

  26. 26.

    Oh, and I had another thought.

    For heterosexual people, knowledge of the Plan of Salvation is a huge boon. It provides guidance and an immense amount of hope and comfort. For homosexuals, it’s the exact opposite – uncertainty, discouragement, and despair. This is a glaring problem and makes me think that we’re not at the end of the road yet for how homosexuality intersects with the gospel.

    Elder Packer’s conference question, though he surely didn’t intend it as such, is actually good in the sense that it highlights this exact discrepancy between our current extent of knowledge of the gospel and observations of reality. But beyond that, it’s about as useful as asking something like “why did God give some people red hair?” Any answer to such a question, while interesting, won’t be very useful. The follow-up question that Elder Packer should have asked is “Why doesn’t our current understanding of the Plan of Salvation provide hope for those of us with homosexual orientation and what additional light and knowledge are we lacking?”

    To hold to the principle that male + female is the only eternal union, the church was in a safer position denying that God sent spirits to earth with a homosexual orientation at all than where we are now, since it’s only a matter of time before society realizes that homosexual individuals aren’t lacking anything due to their sexual orientation.

    To admit that people don’t simply choose to be homosexual the church has stepped onto the escalator of inevitability I think. But even though many members are worried about where this escalator is headed and are trying very hard to resist ascending on it, I think it’s actually taking us to a better place and I’m very much looking forward to it.

    Thanks again for your great posts!

  27. 27.

    Capricornus: “the church was in a safer position denying that God sent spirits to earth with a homosexual orientation at all than where we are now”

    Pretty sure the church still denies there is any such thing as a spirit with a homosexual orientation. Rather, the church assumes there are some mortal bodies with homosexual orientations.

  28. 28.

    “Why doesn’t our current understanding of the Plan of Salvation provide hope for those of us with homosexual orientation and what additional light and knowledge are we lacking?”

    Capricornus – that is perfect. That is exactly the qustion all of us, from the First Presidency to the least of the saints, should be asking. That is compassion, humility, and faith.

  29. 29.

    Lynette, thanks for your answer – I didn’t realise I was stressing about it until I checked, and I’m super glad I didn’t cause any offense/pain. To clarify, I don’t envision people who identify as gay here (mortality/earth) as being “turned straight” as much as a remembering of who we used to be, combined with all our decisions and actions and experience while here. I think if somebody is going to have a different experience of sexual attraction in the next estate, it will be linked to our first one. More of a remembering than a “turning”? Christ kept his scars, I don’t think resurrection will be done to us without our permission.

    And, pretty much as naive as it’s possible to be with zero first hand experience and a curious, thoughtful nature, my understanding of the eternal importance of sex is the creating unity part. Every account of creation by deity in the scriptures (correct me if I’m wrong) is asexual (our Mary IVF-ish implications notwithstanding). So, yeah, I have no idea what the deal will be.

    I really should stop thinking aloud at the end of your posts.

    And to clarify something else (I do like to clarify), I’m not trying to imply that you should feel this as a trial, and write yourself off in hopes of an eternal “fix”. I admire your poise, strength and thoughtfulness, and appreciate the opportunity to think about it more concretely.

  30. 30.

    Geoff G: “Along those lines, neither gays nor straights exist in some theological sense. Only children of God exist. None of us are eternally defined by are sexual attractions/orientations here on earth.”

    I am truly gobsmacked by the straight privilege of that statement. Fundamental Mormon doctrine DEFINES the purpose/future/potential/divinity of human beings through the lens of straight couplings. We teach that humans can’t reach the highest level of heaven without being in a straight (possibly polygamous but let’s shy away from that) union. It’s unbelievably blinkered to dismiss the very real fact that gays just don’t exist in our theology with the facially ridiculous assertion that straights don’t either.

    It must be nice being the unmarked case.

    (Aaaand I just realized this is a dead thread. Oops, sorry)

  31. 31.

    Heheh. Gobsmacked is a funny word.

    Having said that, I know of no evidence to suggest spirits have sex with each other. In fact I know of no evidence suggesting spirits have any sexual desires at all (especially pre-mortal spirits). Therefore, I see no reason to define our eternal spirits by the sexual attractions of these new mortal bodies we are now driving.

    Further, while Mormon doctrine does allow for the idea of sexual desire and even actual sex in the afterlife, procreation/posterity is only promised to exalted persons. So in Mormon teaching only the top third of the Celestial kingdom are reproducing. If that is the case, I don’t know why we’d assume non-exalted resurrected beings have any sexual desires at all. (See the TK Smoothie comment above.)

    So where does that leave a gay person here in the afterlife? In the same position as the other 99.9% of humans who leave earth without becoming celestial persons. Which is to say, there is likely a lot of work going on in the spirit world. And if spirits aren’t sexually attracted to each other at all then what becomes of earthly gayness or straightness? It could just a no-longer-applicable memory of our earthly lives.

    (I like that this thread has invoked these questions. I’d never specifically thought about them before.)

  32. 32.

    Geoff J–you presume that orientation is exclusively about physical attraction. It isn’t.

  33. 33.

    Can you expand on what you mean, Kristine? How does your comment apply to spirits?

  34. 34.

    Sexual orientation is not about sex. Whether or not Mormon doctrine posits sexual reproduction in the afterlife (and it certainly does posit some form of reproduction that apparently requires a man and a woman, plus a heavy emphasis on literal embodiment of god-figures, so it’s not crazy to say it implies that), Mormon doctrine definitely states that you will live eternally in companionship and partnership with your *wife.* (Or wives, cough dodge handwave.) The existence of that relationship, and it’s specific nature as a long-term romantic pairbond, is both necessary and fundamental to your divine potential and eternal future. Your nature as a male heterosexual spirit is utterly central to everythiing Mormonism teaches about the basic nature of your journey through this life and the next.

    Right now you sound like a guy with a picture of his wife on his desk at work asking why those gays insist on rubbing their sex lives in your face.

  35. 35.

    That should, of course, read “not *just* about sex.”

    But unless you’re just find and dandy with the idea of being married for eternity in a romantic pairbond and godly partnership with a man, don’t go talking about how a gay person’s orientation (and the associated family relationships and emotional commitments they make or desire to make) just become irrelevant.

    You’re erasing other people to make your supremacy more comfortable. Stop.

  36. 36.

    Thanks, Justine. I could not have said it that well.

  37. 37.

    Justine,

    Ha. I’m flattered that you think I have the power to somehow “erase” people. I’m just talking theology here.

    My question is, do spirits have any “sexual orientation” at all? I mean spirits don’t reproduce so I assume that means they don’t have sex. Therefore what would be the point of spirits having sexual orientations or attractions at all? It could be that spirits are largely asexual like Adam and Eve reportedly were before the fall.

    Sadly, this is among the many mysteries of the universe that God hasn’t revealed yet.

  38. 38.

    I’m just talking theology here.

    There’s no such thing as “just talking theology,” as if it doesn’t have real-world consequences. Our theological constructs matter. The fact that gays don’t have a place in our theological worldview matters–it makes an unhappy difference in the lives of real people.

  39. 39.

    True enough, Lynnette.

    Still, none of our discussions change any metaphysical realities. So in these theology discussions we do what we can to try to uncover those realities based on the revelations we do have.

    Someone used the term “spirits with a homosexual orientation” earlier. I highly doubt there is any such thing but I am interested in hearing arguments in favor of their existence.

  40. 40.

    I recently saw Ben Abbott’s one-man play Questions of the Heart: Gay Mormons and the Search of Identity, which is based on a number of interviews with gay Mormons of various stripes (i.e., all gay, but in various relationships to the Church). In the q-and-a afterward, someone asked about the notion that gay people will simply be made heterosexual in the next life, and how the gay Mormons Ben had interviewed responded to that idea. Ben’s answer was that all of the gays Mormons he interviewed, including those who were active in the church and in mixed-orientation marriages, found the idea unpalatable. They didn’t want to just be magically un-gayed after death; they found the idea condescending,and troubling to their sense of their own identity.

    I have no idea how we would go about proving or disproving that homosexual spirits exist. But I do think the people who might be most likely to receive a personal revelation about it would be the gay people themselves. So that’s a place to start.

  41. 41.

    Geoff J
    “So in Mormon teaching only the top third of the Celestial kingdom are reproducing.”
    So you have the 99.9 asexuals and the 0.01 exalted heterosexuals. (I guess Mitt’s exalted)
    The point is not that heterosexuals are exalted but that the ultimate reward for being good boys and girls is eternal heterosexuality.

  42. 42.

    How can you keep saying that spirits don’t have an orientation when we are explicitly taught that an eternal straight marital partnership is our ultimate goal and reward?

    Are you a married man? Do you really think your partnership with your wife is wholly and totally about sex? Do you anticipate being partnered with her for eternity but having not particular feelings of devotion, loyalty, romance, love, or connection, just because you’re not having sex?

    Sexual orientation is not just about sex. You can’t seem to actually respond to that.

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