Maybe the sea change has already happened.

It makes the most sense for Mormon theology if gay people don’t really exist. Since in Mormon belief, heterosexual marriage and child-rearing is projected into eternity, and a central element of what we’re supposed to be doing with our earthly existence is to get started on that long-term heterosexual project, then heterosexual attraction is fundamental to the mortal experience. God created us, we are told, to be physically and emotionally attracted to people of the opposite sex because having a monogamous, church-licensed sexual relationship and raising children with a person of the opposite sex is arguably the point of mortal life according to current church teachings: the ideal life that paves the way to an ideal afterlife. Why, then, indeed, would God create people who lack the fundamental heterosexual drive necessary for either a fulfilling mortal life or exaltation thereafter?[1]

So for a long time, that was our answer–there weren’t really gay people, only people suffering from certain perverted tendencies arising from dysfunctional experiences in early life, who could be “fixed” with the right therapy (or the application of the right electric shocks) (I’m talking about this in somewhat detached terms, but it’s worth remembering that it’s an ugly, violent history). For some people, this remains the most satisfying solution–that homosexual attraction is somehow not really “real”–and this position does allow the theology to remain internally coherent. It does not, however, allow the theology to accommodate what we know of reality, which makes it hard to trust as theology. Since sexual orientation has not been shown to be changeable in most cases, and  cannot be linked in any empirically regular way to childhood abuse or family dysfunction, it has become increasingly difficult to argue either that homosexuality is a choice, or that it can be, so to speak, straightened out.[2] Sometime in the 90s we quietly reversed our position–not on the licitness of homosexuality, but the naturalness of it. In 1971, homosexuality was a “hidden menace” and a “ruinous practice” fallen into through curiosity or too much masturbation, and emphatically curable; in 2015, we are reminded to treat LGBT individuals with respect and love, and homosexuality as an orientation is emphatically not a choice or a sin (although homosexual actions remain both, in the official LDS position).[3]

I think this is a much weightier shift than we generally acknowledge, in that we haven’t just shifted in how we respond to homosexuality, but in what homosexuality is. No longer understood as a disorder that obscures the natural heterosexual desires all people are assumed to have, homosexuality has become a real thing–an existential reality, a thing that some people just are. Homosexual people are not actually misguided or damaged heterosexual people, any more than tall people are actually short people who accidentally grew too much. In the last twenty years, gay people qua gay people have become real in a way that they were not, in Mormon (and much other) thinking, for most of the twentieth century.

The problem the Church is up against now is that we haven’t had the revelation that tells us how, then, homosexuality fits–or really, how homosexual people should live, especially within the Church. Given the heterosexual shape of the Plan of Salvation, Packer’s notorious question, which he clearly meant as rhetorical, becomes actually very pressing: God did create gay people, they undeniably exist in the world, but if the Celestial Kingdom is a heteros-only party, then what on earth was God up to when he made some people gay? We’ve already re-evaluated mortal reality; now we need, as a church, to pursue revelation about what this means cosmologically. Pablumy this-is-just-your-trial-in-mortality talk doesn’t  accommodate the challenge that the very existence of homosexuality makes to LDS beliefs about the purpose of mortality and its relationship to exaltation. Right now we’re in an awkward, in-between place where we’ve made this significant change in what we understand homosexuality to be, but have yet to follow through the consequences of that change. The Mormon Church has acknowledged that gay people are real and sexuality is not “curable,” but has yet to offer a tenable way for gay members to remain Mormon (or, for that matter, a reasonable public stance on what the Church imagines that non-Mormon gay people should do). Our current position is implicitly that gay people can stick around as third-class citizens, objects of suspicion and pity with limited opportunities for service and deficit social capital, and this simply cannot be sustainable–not if we want to be a church that offers everyone equal access to God and exaltation.

I’m optimistic, though, because I think the harder change is the one we’ve already made, in shifting our view of the ontological status of homosexuality. We now believe gay people are real, and I think we can sidestep the consequences of it only for so long. Telling gay people to just not act on their homosexual desire made a kind of sense as long as those people were imagined to not actually be gay–to be recoverable as straight people–but if gay people are actually really and truly gay, then this sort of policy starts to look like the whim of an arbitrary and cruel God. If we don’t believe in that God, perhaps it’s time to be praying for further light and knowledge to see our way out of this intolerable status quo..

 

[1] Recalling, of course, President Packer’s notorious question in his 2010 conference address. It’s also worth emphasizing that homosexuality poses a fundamentally different order of theological difficulty than do the existence of alcoholism, OCD, single people, and disability, all of which I have seen compared to homosexuality, in that none of these other conditions (loosely speaking) so directly subvert such a central element of what we think it means to be Mormon and a child of God with the potential for godhood.

[2] The APA‘s current language: “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation . . . Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation” ; “To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective.”

[3] For the former see the “New Horizons for Homosexuals” pamphlet written by Kimball and published by the Church in 1971, which you can read here, and of course The Miracle of Forgiveness for the masturbation claim; for the latter, see anything at mormonsandgays.org. You can also, for more detailed coverage of this history, see Kaimi’s sketch of changing LDS attitudes toward homosexuality at T&S, and Seth Anderson’s thorough timeline of significant events related to Mormons and LGBT at Rational Faiths.

 

49 thoughts on “Maybe the sea change has already happened.

  1. 1

    May I propose that the answer to our quandry is Christ. Our scriptures give the Savior the title of “Father” even though church doctrine makes it quite clear that he does not provide us with sperm, egg, dna, or other biological material traditionally associated with parenthood. If Christ can be our father, then parenthood does not depend on these things. This truth is supported by Sister Dew’s 2001 conference address “Are We Not All Mothers?” in which she forcefully states “Motherhood is more than bearing children. It is the essence of who we are as women.”

    So what is parenthood if not biological material? It is sacrifice, example, service, and literally giving of oneself to others. It is coming down to the level of another to show them a higher way. It is giving knowledge, material and foregiveness in which agency sprouts to allow a child to become something more than they ever could be on their own. It is what Christ did for us through his mortality. It is what Elohim did for us in premortal spheres (see the King Follett Discourse). It is what all good parents – gay and straight – do today. There is a no more godly work for us to engage.

  2. 2
  3. 3

    “homosexuality poses a fundamentally different order of theological difficulty”

    THIS is the conversation we need to be having. Where the majority of members of the Church probably disagree is whether or not homosexuality is an essential part of an individual’s being. My impression is that most active members would chalk “homosexual tendencies” up to another temptation of mortality (like the examples you brought up and waved away).

    For example, given the true purpose of mortality, we should be MORE likely to see a temptation like this that “so directly subvert(s) such a central element of what we think it means to be Mormon and a child of God.” It seems more in line with a mortal test as stark (and in the mortal eye, shocking) as Abraham’s.

  4. 4
  5. 5

    Amen and amen. The fix in the Proclamation is easy. Remove all gender-specific language and add a sentence that although gender may be an eternal characteristic, we don’t understand its purpose. Yet.

  6. 6

    thor, I’m always suspicious of appeals to Abrahamic tests. Even setting aside the very real moral quandaries posed by this notion, I can’t help noticing how often people extol the value of Abrahamic tests not for themselves, but for other people—often those who are already marginalized. Instead of seeking to ease the burdens of the downtrodden, we throw them under the bus, reassuring ourselves that it’s God’s will that they carry those particular burdens.

  7. 7

    Great thoughts, Melyngoch. I’ve struggled to articulate why it doesn’t work to categorize homosexuality as just-your-trial-in-mortality, and I think you’ve hit on some key theological issues. Something like mental illness, to give one comparison, is something that holds you back from being the person you could be; it’s a trial that creates obstacles to your developing your divine potential. (I realize some would say that such a trial does help you develop your divine potential in what it teaches you, but I’d say that comes from the process of grappling with it—not because it itself is inherently growth-promoting.) But when it comes to sexuality, we’re talking about desires that—far from being limiting—are in LDS theology an essential aspect of what it means to be a child of divinity. And it gets complicated to assert that those desires are acceptable only in some of God’s children.

  8. 8

    So, let’s assume that God is gay and that is the real reason we don’t know more about a heavenly mother.

    How does that fit this model and your theology?

  9. 9

    The thing that I keep thinking about…with respect to this…is that even for people who recognize/believe/concede/whatever that homosexuality is not chosen and not changeable, for many conservative Mormons, the theology is basically where it was for black people so many years ago: “you probably aren’t going to change in this life, but if you’re righteous in this life, then you will be changed in the next.”

    Like, no one would say that about black people today. But plenty of people say that about gay people and find absolutely nothing wrong with it.

  10. 10

    Melyngoch, I love how clearly you spelled this out. I agree about how momentous this doctrinal change was (not that it was ever any different in the past 🙂 ). Once we admit to the reality of gay people, it seems increasingly difficult for the Church to hang on to its current policies and teachings. Difficult, but not impossible. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I anticipate a stubborn hanging on for many years.

  11. 11

    The church may find itself becoming a little more sectarian in its globalization.

  12. 12

    Perhaps in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom are management types, preparing to create worlds. Then there are good people who are permanently creating people.

    If you believe the current version who will be permanently pregnant? So that leaves the Gay people to be the superior types, creating worlds together>

    Not a serious suggestion as I would like to think my wife will not be permanently pregnant and she certainly won’t be happy with that as heaven.

  13. 13

    I’m not sure the sea change is complete yet. Acknowledging that, through no choice of their own, people really experience same-sex attraction isn’t the same as saying that sexual orientation is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity. The church could still teach that righteous gay people will end up straight in the resurrection. That’s obviously all kinds of problematic, but it’s the kind of tortured thought process that would reconcile the belief that God wouldn’t *really* create gay people with the observation that gay people exist.

  14. 14

    I think we have already started paving the way for same sex couples whether we know it or not. The speaker on Sunday said “the family unit”. How long have we been using that term and what does that encompass? Whatever your “family” is composed of: child bearing/barren couples, widow/widower, clans, singles, married, divorced, etc. I think it will eventually include same sex couples WHEN the right leaders have been called.

  15. 15

    You have beautifully articulated what I’ve believed for a very long time, Melyngoch. Unfortunately, as I’ve had opportunity to speak in different venues about this topic, what I’ve found in later conversations with devout church members who have been in attendance at those venues is that they don’t really want revelation if it means changing the theological fundamentals they were taught as children, youth, and even adults. I’m called everything from brazen to heretical as I mention that we have an Article of Faith which states that we don’t have all knowledge and we expect more to come. They seem to believe that we have all the “really important stuff” (yes, someone really said that), and further revelations will simply be instructional tweaks, telling us how to live the basics. There is an underlying fear that new revelation challenging the integral structure of the gospel, as they understand it, might break the glass houses they’ve built for themselves, and by denying the possibility of any type of change in the hierarchy or structure of that gospel, they continue to exist in their belief that they’ve been given all the answers. Anything casting doubt on that belief, regardless of scientific proof or even just simple logic, must be ignored, denied or derided. This is, of course, generalization, but I’ve run into to it so many times that I sometimes wonder if a large percentage of church members have lost all ability to think for themselves in their fervor to “follow the prophet.” And now I will simply stop talking before this comment has becomes an unintended tirade (too late?), and just say, thank you for writing this post.

  16. 16

    “It makes the most sense for Mormon theology if gay people don’t really exist.”

    Sure, but it also makes the most sense for liberals if asexual, polyamorous, minor-attracted, sibling-attracted and zoophilic people don’t exist. Somehow only gay people get the benefit of modern sexual logic (for now).

  17. 17

    Dave K (1): I like this way of thinking about the problem very much–after all (as has been pointed out repeatedly in related discussions), it’s not like adoptive parents automatically love their children less or are less committed to them because they aren’t material products of their own bodies. I’ve always loathed that Sherri Dew talk, but I can appreciate that there’s a kernel of an idea there that’s less loathable, especially if we apply it to men, who are in their natures fathers, as well. (Also, there’s a great medieval tradition of thinking of Christ as a mother as well–St. Anselm and Julian of Norwich both address “Christ our mother,” and Anselm even calls Paul “our greatest mother.”)

    thor (3): You miss my point when you talk about “homosexual tendencies” and call this a “temptation of mortality”–in fact, you seem to be thinking in the Kimball-era, rather than the current, church paradigm about the existence of gay people. And if this is a test, it’s an enormously, capriciously unfair one that the vast majority of gay Mormons “fail,” in that most of them leave the Church. It’s like giving a test in a language that ten percent of your students don’t speak: everyone will struggle to answer different sets of questions and have a different starting level of knowledge, but for gay people, the whole framework of the test makes it inaccessible.

  18. 18

    Before the 1978 revelation, there were gradual steps such as Brazil and South Africa; they showed that the idea wasn’t practical or enforceable.

    This shift, along with the gradual changing of the discussion to focusing on families (rather than “teh gays are bad”), leave me wondering just when a real change will occur. Will it take simply Monson and Nelson going away? I know many think Oaks couldn’t go along with it, but I give props to the guy for voluntarily bringing up transsexuals and saying that we don’t really know what to do with that yet, that it is still unexplored.

    I give it 30 years tops.

  19. 19

    Thokozile (13): That’s a totally fair point–thanks for articulating it–and I’ve definitely heard that taught lots of times, that gay people will be un-gayed after death (and you see it pop up on mormonsandgays.org, although I’ve been surprised how very rarely that line of thought is appealed to.) It strikes me as a way of deferring a physical-world dilemma into the metaphysical: we can’t fix you now, but God will fix you later. But even that “solution” raises all kinds of trouble–after all, we’re a Church hugely invested in the eternal persistence of gender, gender relationships, sex, and sex relationships, though in some kind of configuration that as far as I can tell, no one in Church leadership has remotely thought through. Gender is eternal, but not sexual orientation? And you can’t say that sexual orientation is eternal if it can also be reversed between mortality and after-mortality–isn’t this life a part of eternity too?

    Even shelving those problems, though, we’re still stuck with the reality in front of us, of gay people who are capable of living perfectly functional, happy, productive lives in gay partnerships, but who have no place in the Church, and generally can’t survive as members. I think (and hope!) that the reality of gay people here and now is putting some pressure on us to re-think what homosexuality means in terms of policy and our responsibility to make the Church available to everyone. You’re probably right, though, that as long as the “mortal but not eternal characteristic” option remains, the sea change is incomplete (whatever that means– can a sea change be incomplete?) (I may have just broken my metaphor.)

  20. 20

    Franco, I have no interest in recovering the rights of pedophilic and zoophilic individuals because, unlike either hetero- or homosexuality, those are patently abusive behaviors that take advantage of power differentials to make sexual use of beings who cannot consent to it. Let’s just get those off the table right now.

    As for polyamory and asexuality, you’re right that those, too, have the potential to pose interesting problems for Mormon theology, as do singleness, infertility, hermaphroditism, transgenderism, and myriad other sexual and sexually-inflected ways of being in the world. However, I happen not to be talking about any of that in this post, which is, after all, only five paragraphs long.

  21. 21

    But Franco’s overall point (though phrased very poorly) is still one I think you have not yet fully addressed, aside from one sentence in the post. (“Pablumy this-is-just-your-trial-in-mortality talk doesn’t accommodate the challenge that the very existence of homosexuality makes to LDS beliefs about the purpose of mortality and its relationship to exaltation.”)

    Mormon theology allows for plenty of things that are this-life-only conditions. Why does homosexuality (as well as the others Franco brings up, as well as all sorts of physical variations in bodies, some of which involve ambiguous genitalia) get a free pass and is automatically excluded from the category of “this-life-only-conditions?”

    I agree with you that your average LDS hasn’t fully thought out the implications of our enormously heterosexual theology (“Truth is reason/ truth eternal/ tells me I’ve a mother there”) on homosexuals, and on importantce of the connection between this life and the eternities. I disagree that the acknowledgement of the full existence of homosexuals is the bigger of the two moves, the other being a substantial rewriting of the heterosexual cosmology implicit in Mormonism. The LDS church can, and I think has, acknowledge their existence without rewriting the entire current understanding of the Plan of Salvation. But now they chalk it up to a “mortal trial” or “mortal condition,” and you have not explained to my satisfaction why homosexuality can not ever be classified as a mortal-only condition.

  22. 22

    Why is it a problem to classify homosexuality as a this-life-only challenge? Here’s a thought experiment. What if you were told that it was unnatural to be monogamous and your desire for monogamy was an affliction with which you were burdened? In earlier days, people like you were simply forced into polygamous marriages. But now, in a more enlightened time, you’re simply told not to marry at all (monogamous marriage being against God’s will). So you get to have celibacy in this life, and in the next, your nature will be magically changed into one which desires polygamy. Would you find that a satisfactory situation? (Notably, one could make an argument for this possibility in the context of past LDS teachings.)

    Or, to put it more directly, if you’re heterosexual, can you imagine that being labeled as a burden you are to carry in this life and not express, and to be told that in the next life it would be changed? Would you be okay with the idea that your sexuality will be rewritten, or would that feel like a fundamental violation of who you are?

    We’re not talking about the kinds of trials that inherently make it more difficult for you to function. We’re talking about the desire for companionship, for partnering, for being in a relationship with someone to whom you’re sexually attracted. The church teaches that those are good desires, even essential ones. It’s one thing to be dealt the hand of various mortal challenges; it’s another to be told that in your case, such basic, positive human desires aren’t to be tolerated. When it comes to homosexuality, we’re touching on things that are believed to be eternal.

    And I think, in the end, we have to pay attention to the actual experience of gay people. And my experience is that gay people generally find greater peace when they see their sexuality as a part of who they are, even a positive part, rather than conceptualizing it as a mortal affliction. The traditional framework simply isn’t working. I suppose you can say that doesn’t matter because truth is truth, even if it’s a hard pill for those affected by it to swallow. But I think that raises the specter that Melyngoch raised above, of a God who has set up a nearly impossible test for certain children, one that most of them are failing. And I think it’s reasonable to raise questions about such a God.

  23. 23

    CC (21): It’s actually not difficult at all for me to imagine how homosexuality might be incorporated into the PoS (although I realize this might not be the feeling of the rank and file membership). There is no obvious reason that family, creation, and progression in an Eternity that we can’t remotely comprehend have to be limited to heterosexual relationships–even in our little mortal sphere we’ve seen the lie put to that, as gay people marry, have children, and create families that are not in any measurable way less functional and positive than are straight families. Really, the only specific theological shift we’d have to make is to clarify whether exalted bodies create spirit children only through heterosexual sex, and I have trouble imagining that being extremely testimony-shaking for most people. (Obviously this would have consequences for the way we understand gender as well, but that’s already so riddled with contradictions, vast shifts we pretend never happened, and variety even among current leadership, that I think we’d absorb all that just fine.)

    We can absolutely continue to just say that this is a mortality-only condition, and continue with a set of policies that effectively drive gay people out of the church in droves, often after they’ve sustained substantial psychological damage, but my point is precisely that I don’t think this is a tenable or a sustainable position. The consequences of this position are to make mortal life meaningless in essential ways for gay people–just wait till you’re dead, and then you’ll be allowed to do what God’s favorite children get to do now!–and to make the blessings we claim that the gospel has effectively unavailable to gay people. Something’s got to give. And Samantha (15) makes a great point — why are we so stunted in our hopes for further revelation? Why should it be so controversial to observe that a situation is damaging and full of things we don’t know, and ask or prophets to seek a better understanding?

  24. 24

    Also, with regard to other conditions that we don’t know much about—we obviously have theological work to do. But what’s the concern? That oops, we treated gay people as full humans before we figured out all the complexities of sexual variation? Can’t we grapple with those questions while doing our best to respect the personhood of everyone?

  25. 25

    After the letter was read in my ward, the bishop asked for questions and the crickets chirped. He then went on to add some of his own thoughts which included a strongly worded statement to the effect that God’s law is unchanging,and that the world can legislate however it wants, but we know God’s will on this matter and it is the same now and forever etc etc.

    Is this the same thing they were telling members about blacks and the priesthood? That was before my time, and since it was/is a taboo topic at church, I never gave it much thought until I became an adult – did members out there roll their eyes when suddenly God’s mind changed on that issue, especially after some of the strongly worded statements that had been made by our apostles prior? And did anyone else roll their eyes when recently lds.org quietly told us that God had nothing to do with it, and racism was a more likely culprit?

    I guess my question is how many times are we going to get told that God’s way is xyz, only to be told later that oopsie, that is not the case…and at what point does this merry go round start to seem ridiculous church members?

  26. 26

    I guess what I would ask is this: do gay people desire for the opportunity to create life together with their partner? Heterosexual sex does have a high place in our theology but it is because it is the means of creating new life. I think this is why some gay people chose to marry someone of the opposite sex–because they still want this family experience. Of course many heterosexual couple crave this experience and then face infertility and don’t receive that blessing in this life. I do think that not being able to know what to hope for in the next life is such a struggle and can lead definitely lead to lack of hope. I’ve seen it first-hand in my mother-in-law who was divorced (not really by her choice) and has never remarried after 20 years. She has expressed to me that it’s hard for her to look forward to some imaginary man that she will someday end up with. But she does have faith that God keeps his promises. Anyway, I really appreciate this article and whichever way the church ends up going on this, I believe it’s in God’s hands.

  27. 27

    “The consequences of this position are to make mortal life meaningless in essential ways for gay people–just wait till you’re dead, and then you’ll be allowed to do what God’s favorite children get to do now!–and to make the blessings we claim that the gospel has effectively unavailable to gay people. Something’s got to give.”

    What’s got to give is the assumption that life is for sex or that marriage is for sex. (I’m throwing “romance” under “sex” generally here.) Not having sex makes mortal life meaningless? Where, as a Mormon, did you get this contemptible idea? Sex is not for sex’s sake–it’s for marriage’s sake, and marriage is the eternal plan for everyone. Orientation has only ever been auxiliary to what marriage is (this is even true politically; do you think the government cares about your romantic life?). Marriage unites the two halves of humanity, leaves kids neither motherless nor fatherless, is structured around a biological reality, serves fundamental sociological purposes, and so on. Not just that, but without marriage (properly understood), there would truly be no purpose in principle to our having a sex (gender) at all! We could just as well be humans, individuals, and that’s that. If marriage is neutered, humans could just as easily be neutered from the universe’s perspective. Why we’ve got this idea that our relationships are supposed to serve our attractions is beyond me. It leads to very obviously silly conclusions (and to much too sympathetic interviews in the New Yorker with a man who regularly has sex with a horse). No, life without the spirit of God in it is meaningless “in essential ways”. Life without sex is not. It’s hard, painful, crushing, lonely (I know), but when, please tell me, were those things ever meaningless in _any_ way?

  28. 28

    Ashley: is your question serious? If so, I can give you a short and a long answer. Short answer- gay people are not aliens, we want to get married for the same reasons you do.
    Long answer- please believe that I can speak for the entire gay rights movement when I say that we were not fighting for marriage equality because of some agenda to take down the heteronormative family or simply for a tax break. We fought because it’s insane that we couldn’t get married in the first place. Just like straight people- some people want families with their partner more than anything in this world and some do not. (I think you’re off base about mixed-orientation marriages. I would hazard a guess that those who choose that path do it because they want a family, yes, but THINK they can’t have one with the person they are actually attracted to because their religion has told them so).

    Those of us who do not want families with our partners may not due to a well-documented phenomenon where marginalized/ oppressed groups will alter behavior patterns to adjust to their circumstances in order to maintain identity, sanity, and at base, survive. This phenomenon is how I would explain what many people call the “gay lifestyle”- where people think we cannot be manogamous and just like to party and have sex all the time.

    With the SCOTUS ruling and general acceptance of gay people in society, we will see an immediate uptick of gay marriage and families, followed by a slow rise over time as we culture evolves to match heteronormativity (while at the same time straight culture will be also changing to mirror queer culture, just to throw a wrench in there).

    Hope that answers your question.

  29. 29

    Franco: forgive me, but I think maybe you’ve been having the wrong kind of sex. It’s pretty life changing when it’s with the right person.

  30. 30

    Franco, homosexual people don’t just want to have meaningless sex with people, or get married just for the sex, any more than heterosexual people do. (Which is to say, some of both populations do want low-commitment sex and no marriage, but they’re not really who we’re talking about right now.) They fall in love with people of the same sex, just as I fall in love with people of the opposite sex, and they want a partnership with a person they’re in love with. This is a much larger and deeper issue than just who you sleep with.

    If heterosexual reproduction were the whole point of heterosexual marriage, I would expect to see infertile marriages invalidated and post-menopausal marriages disallowed. Since they are not, it’s clear the companionate element of marriage is more important than the reproductive potential. No one refers to Elder Oaks’s second marriage as a sham marriage or a counterfeit family, even though it did not and could not produce children. (I would in fact argue that the reason the Church is so invested in heterosexual marriage is actually about patriarchy and the extension of church hierarchy into the domestic sphere, even more than reproduction and much more than companionship, but that’s tangential.)

    Please stop comparing homosexuality to things like bestiality. Regardless of your views of gay marriage, or of the future of gays in the Church, as a rhetorical move this is unkind and unfair.

  31. 31

    Thank you for your response, Frankie. My question was serious. I think your point about gay marriages and families increasing after the ruling is possible and would be a positive consequence. I think that God would much rather see his children in loving, monogamous relationships than choosing to forego real relationships and connection for cheap sex, no matter the sexual orientation. Still, I disagree with your point about mixed-orientation marriages. Anyone can have a family–even a single person can adopt children, if they so choose–and I don’t think religions are trying to teach that they can’t. Ours, at least in my opinion, is just trying to hold to the ideal of children being created in love and raised by a mother and father who are committed to each other and to their children. Of course so many families don’t look like this, for many reasons, but I have to be honest and say that I worry about the consequences of throwing out the ideal/pattern/whatever you want to call it (ie mothers and fathers are interchangeable, etc).

    I have never understood the leap in logic that since infertile/barren heterosexual marriages are still allowed to exist that therefore procreation is not an important aspect of marriage. It has still been the main reason for its existence throughout history—to bind fathers (and mothers–but this connection has always been more self-evident since mothers carry their children and bring them into the world) to their children. Granted, patriarchy has been a part of this–and in unhealthy ways–but you can’t tell me that a society without marriage (as we are seeing more and more of) is better for women. Men can have as much casual sex as possible, without having to take responsibility for any children that may come, and women are left to pick up the pieces.

    I guess the whole point of my first comment was to say that procreation is one experience that is missing from homosexual relationships and would be missing in the eternities as well, unless as you suggest, melyngoch, spirit children can be created by means other than heterosexual sex.

  32. 32

    “They fall in love with people of the same sex, just as I fall in love with people of the opposite sex, and they want a partnership with a person they’re in love with. This is a much larger and deeper issue than just who you sleep with.”

    No one falls in love with a class of people generally! I’m “straight”, and I’ve never fallen in love. Lots to say on that question, but I won’t … yes, romance is bigger than sex, but not much bigger. Life without romance is not meaningless. Take Paul. Or even, to the best of our knowledge, our Lord himself. And don’t gloss over the difference between agape and eros with the word “love”, please.

    “If heterosexual reproduction were the whole point of heterosexual marriage, I would expect to see infertile marriages invalidated and post-menopausal marriages disallowed. Since they are not, it’s clear the companionate element of marriage is more important than the reproductive potential.”

    Be rigorous! Let’s accept your method of reasoning. If marriage is for companionship, then trios, siblings, roommates should be able to marry. If you say it’s actually for *romantic* companionship, then the government should test couples to see if they’re in love before allowing them to marry by your reasoning and cancel their marriages if they fall out of love. No! Any conceptual definition has issues with overinclusion. But marriage obviously exists for procreation’s sake. Plato and Aristotle thought so. That’s why (to name two examples out of literally dozens) marriage law does not allow annulment after consummation, and why husbands are presumed to have legitimate paternity unless proven otherwise in virtually every civilization in history. Also why it’s gendered, sexually exclusive, permanent, etc. (Marriage law must be so mysterious for people who think marriage is about romance!)

    “Please stop comparing homosexuality to things like bestiality. Regardless of your views of gay marriage, or of the future of gays in the Church, as a rhetorical move this is unkind and unfair.”

    What I said was not unfair. Some people are attracted to animals, like horses. This is just a fact. The worldview that treats attraction as sovereign (for homosexuality’s sake or not) is naturally more sympathetic to zoophilic people, whether or not it fully approves of their relationships. Also just a fact. For example, I think it’s acceptable to try to change the attractions of zoophilic and minor-attracted people (conversion therapy). You likely don’t, and would say that it is psychologically damaging and impossible.

  33. 33

    I don’t think anyone’s saying that this life is all about sex. First of all, it’s worth noting that gay people, like straight people, aren’t only attracted physically to others—they’re also attracted emotionally, socially, etc. Homosexuals get caricatured as only being interested in sex, and as indiscriminately wanting sex with everyone of their same gender. I think this is partly a result of the rhetoric on homosexuality which makes into a temptation which must be avoided, comparable to an addiction. If that’s your model, then the focus is indeed going to be entirely on sex. But the temptation that a gay person has to avoid isn’t just to have sex with people to whom they’re not married—a temptation for straight people as well—but a temptation to partner up and get married. At that point, I think the temptation model breaks down.

    I don’t want to say that life is meaningless without romantic companionship. I think that does a disservice to the many people who remain single throughout this life. We don’t have a good theology for that, either—we end up with the same solution as we give to homosexuals, which is to say that things will be better when you’re dead. I think we need to talk about the meaning of this life in ways that don’t exclude those who aren’t married.

    But at the same time, partnership in this life is something to which many if not most people aspire. In LDS theology, that desire is seen as good and important. And the fact that not everyone in this life has the opportunity for marriage and sex doesn’t justify categorically excluding a group of people from any possibility of that.

  34. 34

    Franco, there’s a reason that the slippery slope is a fallacy. The fact that marriage has been extended to homosexuals doesn’t mean that it’s inevitable that it will be open to everyone, that we won’t be able to put any limits on the term at all. The comparison is probably overused, but I do think it’s relevant—miscegenation laws were also seen as a way to protect the sanctity of marriage. If we allow marriage of people from different races, what will we allow next, one might have asked—marriage between people of different species?

    I would also note that in many traditional conceptions of marriage, women are property. You could certainly make the case that the government has an interest in preserving that, because giving women more independence and autonomy destabilizes the institution of marriage. And in fact, the advent of women’s rights did increase the divorce rate. Should we therefore go back to a time when women were property? My point is that the government interest in marriage isn’t a compelling reason to deny anyone basic human rights. And it’s worth noting that the nature of the institution has in fact changed over time, and the world hasn’t ended.

    Notably, those who argue against gay marriage are arguing for greater instability in gay families. How is that possibly beneficial for society? Would you prefer an arrangement in which there’s no (governmental) incentive for people to reject a promiscuous lifestyle? What is it exactly that you want gay families to do? I don’t want to lose track of the fact that while people argue about whether this means that people should now be allowed to marry trees, there are real families upon whom this is having real-world effects.

    In your examples of pedophilia and bestiality, you’re conveniently eliding the issue of consent. There are clear differences between two adults making an informed consent to sexual relations, and sex with animals or minors. You might see the comparison as just a logical extension of certain lines of argument, but it’s actually deeply offensive. We’re not interested in hosting that comparison on this blog. Knock it off.

  35. 35

    I don’t want to get bogged down in a marriage argument. This isn’t a slippery slope, it’s just my requiring you to apply your own logic consistently. Here are two questions for you or whoever else agrees with the author:

    1. Are gay people who are expected never to have gay sex condemned to a life without meaning in essential ways (as suggested above)?
    2. [redacted]

    3. Is it harmful and barbaric to try to change the orientation of gay people?
    4. [redacted]

    If the author only wants to make arguments that apply to homosexuals, then he should make them! He shouldn’t bring in these sweeping ideas

    “[I]f gay people are actually really and truly gay, then this sort of policy starts to look like the whim of an arbitrary and cruel God.”

    that he’s not willing to actually apply according to their literal sense! It’s his fault for making arguments that have application to any orientation. My suggestion: don’t argue from orientation at all; it’s a very naive thing to do. Argue from the structure of marriage. Explain why marriage must be neutered and restricted to two unrelated adults, and do it in terms of marriage–what it’s for, what it does, what it should look like. Be sure not to accidentally broaden it to include groups you don’t currently approve of.

    And by the way, it’s absurd to bring up “consent” as the reason we don’t believe in bestiality. If we cared about consent, we wouldn’t kill and eat animals. The real reasons for anti-bestiality are teleological.

  36. 36

    “I would in fact argue that the reason the Church is so invested in heterosexual marriage is actually about patriarchy and the extension of church hierarchy into the domestic sphere, even more than reproduction and much more than companionship.”

    That’s incredibly insightful, Melyngoch. I agree.

    Regarding the OP, I wish I shared your optimism. I agree we’ve made a hard change in recognizing homosexual people as an existential reality, but I think the theological change is just as hard if not harder, because it’s so multi-layered.

    Dave K, your description of parenthood in your first comment is beautiful. I wonder why marriage is needed for this kind of parenting – in eternities, I mean. In real life I’m very happy to not be parenting alone. I think Jesus’s words in Luke 20 about there being no marriage (though that passage is explained away by Mormons) actually makes a lot of sense. Humans crave companionship, but this seems separate from parenting to me.

  37. 37

    Franco, the topic of the post as I understand it involves the categories of sexually oriented beings of which the church specifically admits and the implications for its theology of constructing those categories. If I understand your comments right, you’re interrogating how the church logically reached the point of according to the category of “gay” a status–in the sense of some ontological persistence (it’s not clear to me that it’s understood to be a transcendent status)–that they are presumably not according to those with various other sexual proclivities, where the author of the post (Melyngoch) is observing that the church is at this point and is musing on the implications.

    One starting point for connecting these different lines of argument might be to ask whether this is an accurate observation about the church. Are pedophiles or zoophiles or asexuals currently construed in the church’s discourse in ways that parallel how gays are construed? For example, are they instructed to remain celibate in this life so they can perhaps(?) be transformed after death and *only then* be inducted into a patriarchal but adult human/divine marriage in the hereafter? Or are they still instructed, like gays so recently were, to engage in adult human heterosexual romantic relationships *in this life* in the belief that such relationships can still be fulfilling or have some utility now? I don’t know, and the answer(s) might not be uniform or correlated, but I suspect the latter—I think it’s likely the church’s discourse still constructs the zoophile as a fundamentally “anthropophilic” being whose desires have run off course, not as an altogether different category of sexual being.

    I do know there are many women who do not want to be mothers, and that this is not a legitimate category—“orientation,” if you will—in the church’s discourse: all women are expected to marry, have children, and find it meaningful regardless of personal proclivities (unless they’re lesbians, maybe?). The way the discourse is currently shaping up, gays might represent a unique theological category, and while the cosmological implications are obviously underdeveloped, I also think the church has not thought through in any robust way its position on celibacy.

  38. 38

    Franco, it’s unclear to me whether you’re deliberately and trollishly misreading here, or are just an innately poor reader. Either way, you’re (i) relentlessly constructing and attack straw men, and (ii) clearly uninterested in the topic of this post, but very excited about your own hobby horse,

    1. 1. Are gay people who are expected never to have gay sex condemned to a life without meaning in essential ways (as suggested above)?

    Absolutely not, and I have not argued that they are. However, according to the way that the Church accords significance to mortality within the scheme of eternity, gay people are told to just grit their teeth and hold out, and that all the things that make mortality meaningful will be available to them after they die. That is, I am attributing this implicit argument to Church teachings, not in any sense adopting it myself.

    3. Is it harmful and barbaric to try to change the orientation of gay people?

    Yes, I think one can easily argue this from empirical history.

    I’ve edited out the elements of your post having to do with paedophilia, because I’m simply unwilling to engage you on that topic. In bringing it up you’re both relying on a false analogy, and in turn relying on the implicit slander of that analogy to demean homosexual people in a way that you can then avoid responsibility for. It is perfectly possible to defend the legitimacy of homosexual relationships without sliding into the license of every type of non-normative sexuality. That is why Lynnette suggested, rightly, that you are getting lost on the slippery slope.

    I might take your suggestions for how I should be arguing more seriously if you showed any indication that you understood or cared about what I was arguing. And, as a final note, you might ask yourself why you assume that your interlocutor is male.

  39. 39

    Emily U — You maybe right that I’m underestimating the theological shifts necessary. But I also think that in Mormonism, theology is always secondary to local practice. I think we’re much quicker to let shifts in theology slide, than to admit the personhood of people we’ve previously found threatening. Either way, though, I’m certainly not imagining a timeline for further change, or even forecasting that it definitely will happen–just noticing that we’re put ourselves into a tense position I don’t think we can hold.

    As far parenting, that’s an interesting point. (nb: I have no kids myself, so everything I’m about to can safely be ignored. 🙂 ) The hand-wringing about kids needing a mother and a father always strikes me as a little specious, since there are plenty of kids who don’t have that anyway, but I do see the point that kids could maybe use a variety of parents. And it seems sort of grinding and exhausting for primary caretakers who stay home with their kids in isolation from all other adults. Maybe we can translate our concerns about gay parenthood to think more carefully about the whole post-industrial-revolution model of parenting, and whether an exhausted primary and an exhausted-for-different-reasons secondary caretaker is the best model, either.

  40. 40

    Okay. So. First of all- where is this empirical proof that a father and a mother is an ideal situation for raising children? SCOTUS ruled only a couple of weeks ago, so all things held equal (including parenting rights that are still being ironed out legally), we won’t know for many many years how us gays measure up in terms of providing an ideal family life for children. I don’t personally think we even need the data to tell us that it’s really going to come down to sociological demographics like education/income and the stabilitiy of the parents’ relationship and shared value system/religion rather than their given genders. I’m not sure why that would be mind-blowing information.

    Ashley, I really, truly believe your belief in father/mother combo above all else is doing a great disservice to the (theoretical) children in a mixed-orientation marriage. It’s incredibly sad to me to even consider the idea that my dad could NOT be in love with or attracted to my mom. I CANT consider it, because their marriage is solid, and that is based on their orientation. Otherwise, as has been discussed here already, we would marry friends, siblings, mentors, etc. There has to be a connection between partners that makes the relationship separate from all others, and if you don’t have that at a minimum then you have no way of teaching your children how to operate in a romantic relationship. I think that’s irresponsible.

    I understand that there is much more to arrogate than sex, attraction, and romantic love. Believe me. I was married to my best friend, someone whom I still love and will always think is the best person I have ever met. We almost destroyed each other because we had no physical chemistry and rarely had sex. I came out after we divorced and it was like a huge weight lifted from both our shoulders because we knew we hadn’t “failed” and neither of us was at fault.
    If there had been ANY chance that we could have made things work, I’d still be in that marriage and probably wouldn’t even know I’m gay. Yes, we would (and do) love each other. Yes, we would make terrible parents, because we would be father and mother but not husband and wife.

    Side note: what’s crazy to me about Mormon doctrine is this belief that all ailments from infertility to a quadriplegic will be “perfected” in heaven- meaning those people will be able to have kids (I guess? We keep having kids in heaven?) so if you die at 95 you can still have kids in heaven. None of those things are remotely possible on earth. If we ever did that (“95 y.o. gives birth, modern scientists play God”) people would freak out. Yet, noooooo wayyyyyy homos having kids in heaven…..why? I’ve read at least ten articles about how, theoretically, you could create an egg from a man’s skin cells, fertilize in vireo with another man’s, get a surrogate- then voila! Children. God’s probably even smarter than that once we get to heaven.

    Other side note: The absolute worst, though, is when I’m told about how being perfected means I’ll be heterosexual in heaven. I have to hold my tongue every time to keep myself from asking how the person would feel if I told them that, don’t worry, they will be gay and suddenly not attracted to their spouse in heaven. Nothing sounds more like hell then waking up and no longer loving my partner, and feeling that same “love but not in-love” that I had for 5 years with my ex husband.

  41. 41

    Also also also: I know I shouldn’t even entertain you, Franco, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Leaving “minor-attracted” aside, since that is not a legitimate sexuality (unless you want to go ahead and advocate for “non-consent-attracted”, a word I just made up for people who just love to rape and want rights too!!!), I think you CAN make a case for all other identities. Some of them have nothing to so with Mormonism (I imagine Mormons aren’t specifically against sibling relations, that is cultural), some aren’t being discriminated against at all (asexual- just because you are asexual doesn’t mean you a aromantic, and even if you were you aren’t being prohibited from marrying, nor are you being forced to if you don’t want to), and some are against the law (beastiality, though personally I couldn’t care less- animals suffer far worse fates every second and no one cares- if you want health insurance that badly for your dog then have at that whole marriage thing). Polyamory isn’t against doctrine, right? Didn’t Mormons pretty much invent it? Okay maybe not how people practice it now, since poly folks are usually consenting adults all in equitable relations with each other. Anyway, again, that’s also against the law. I’ve never come across a poly person clamping to be Mormon, but you never know.

    To some of your other points:
    1- theoretically the government Does ALREADY want you to prove you love your spouse. That’s why there’s a whole branch of Feds who investigate marriages to immigrants- my best friend had to provide years of physical evidence of her love to her French wife when she got married last year.

    2- I agree that there are many many fulfilling parts about life other than romantic love. Like you, I had never been in love before meeting my current partner (but had obviously been attracted in past relationships). There’s a huge difference between not BEING in love and being DENIED the romantic love. Things change in your brain’s chemistry when you fall in love (literally, it’s similar to cocaine). I would die for this person. If we never have children (I hope we do) I will have still lived fully because I have loved fully.

  42. 42

    Melyngoch – I completely agree the Church has put itself in a tense position. I’m afraid they’ll find a way to hold it for a good long time. And I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to wait for them to sort themselves out.

  43. 43

    Also, FWIW, Boyd K. Packer was accurate when he said the greatest threat to X is intellectuals, feminists, and homosexuality. He just didn’t properly describe X. X is patriarchy, not the gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, the LDS Church is an amalgamation of patriarchy and the teachings of Jesus. It breaks my heart.

  44. 44

    One thing I have been wondering, and the comments on “this-life-only conditions” brought it to the forefront: how does Alma 41 relate? For example, verse 3: “And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.” So… If the real desire of one’s heart is to be in a homosexual relationship, even if he/she abstain from acting on that desire – will he/she really be “fixed” i.e. made heterosexual? One reading seems to imply that merely abstaining from acting on homosexual desires is not enough; one must truly change that desire completely. If people are born with homosexual desires, are they left out of this calculation, or are they expected to overcome an innate part of themselves? Which begs the question, where do these innate attributes come from? Does God have a hand in it, are they products of decisions we have made in the pre-earth life, are they conscious choices, or are they more fundamental?

    I think understand overcoming pride, jealousy, addiction, or many other propensities or desires (or at least it is easy to say so…) , but can the gender of who we are attracted to really be changed in the same manner? I am a straight man and am trying to imagine making myself be attracted to men, and, no offense intended, I doubt I could do it. In fact, I can’t even imagine what kind of effort and discipline that takes, if it is even possible. It seems to be an order of magnitude greater than overcoming some of the other items. Is it fair to put them in the same category?

    I may be starting to ramble, but my point is to raise some questions about “this-life-only conditions” and what that really means. In short, what makes us who we are here in this life, and what will make us who we are in the next? What attributes, qualities, traits, etc. are eternal, or at least what came with us from the pre-earth life and what will go with us when we move on to the next? Are we all going to wear white robes, have bushy white beards, speak in the same manner, agree on every point, laugh at High Priest jokes, and spend our time testing/progressing/exalting intelligences? Will there be some variety thrown in the mix?

  45. 45

    Mark- your point is exactly why I don’t worry too much about the afterlife. My understanding of Mormon doctrine is that you’ll go where you are comfortable- and I’m comfortable with variety. Maybe most mormons aren’t really comfortable with queerness and confusing gender-presenting folks like me (I’ll tell you one thing, most cis straight men here definitely ARE NOT. It makes them ANGRY)- so I’m probably not going to be around them anyway. Oh well.

  46. 46

    Thanks for your responses, Lynette and Melyngoch. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

    Lynette, I do recognize that as a heterosexual that I am speaking from a place of extreme privilege in such discussions, but while I can see that these hypotheticals about my future (resurrected?) sexuality, or polygamy, or whatever, being changed against my will being possibly horrifying, there is still some notion in my mind that there are mortal trials that can, and will be, no more in the afterlife. I do find some comfort in the fact that we will all have bodies (whatever that means) coupled with eternal glory (whatever that means), and I believe that all will be “repaired” and “fixed.”

    I suppose all I have to offer is this: I believe strongly enough in our teachings about family in the afterlife, that I would be willing to place my sexuality on the altar in this life. I recognize that I speak from a place of privilege here, but it’s all I have. I’m sorry if it’s not enough.

    While I recognize the heartbreak the law of chastity as currently taught causes our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, I’m still unconvinced that it can NOT be a mortal trial. There are males born without genitalia, and therefore will never have sex (or at least, wouldn’t have sex before we came up with clever surgeries that we can do now). They will therefore never have children, possibly never a family, etc. Nobody argues that they have a problem, they clearly do. So the question is: is homosexuality (and related issues) a difference of degree (my argument) or mortal trial, or of type (yours). I have a very close gay relative who has found peace with my argument, which he completely agrees with. We should not deny him his experience either.

    This gets into the question of the Problem of Evil, and smarter people than you or I have spilled oceans of ink on that very subject. I remain unconvinced that homosexuality is a mortal trial that is of a different type, as opposed to a trial of degree. (Perhaps that’s a false dichotomy anyway, but I don’t want to parse it out too much.)

    Melyngoch, I disagree that mortal life is “meaningless” for those who don’t marry in this life. It’s not like we don’t have the most robust theology in the entire monotheistic world about the afterlife and the work that can be done there.

    I do agree that all we have to do theologically is assert that immortal resurrected bodies don’t reproduce the same way we do here, and then gay marriage would be acceptable. However, I’m reluctant to assert that because I believe in a Mother in Heaven. If we really do believe the same sociality exists here and will exist there, coupled with eternal glory (whatever that means), and that we have Heavenly Parents, then I think that pretty well instantiates heteronormativity into our theology. Forever.

    If we assert your idea, that resurrected bodies can reproduce no matter their gender (if their bodies are even used at all, this is obviously an area of rampant speculation and little firm revelation), then we must be open to the idea that God does not have a female counterpart. Maybe He is a single parent. Maybe he has a male counterpart. I am not willing to abandon the idea of a Heavenly Mother, so here I stand.

    In short, to respond in one sentence to both of you: the idea of homosexuality as a this-life-only condition does less reworking of our current understanding of the plan of salvation than gay marriage does (and certainly less than gay sealings), and hence I think is the theological move I am more comfortable making. It also seems to accord with what the brethren are unitedly saying, and I am very reluctant to go against their united voice. (But I’m not trying to pull a “follow the brethren card,” just asserting the variables that go into my thoughts on this matter.)

    I welcome further responses. Sorry for the delay in mine, you two.

  47. 47

    CC, thanks for such a thoughtful response. I’ve been mulling it over, and here are some of my thoughts in return.

    You say that you would be willing to place your sexuality on the altar in this life if necessary to further the importance of the doctrine of eternal families. I respect that, and I don’t doubt your sincerity. I do see a difference between that, however, and a requirement that others do so. I guess my point is that you’re not just saying that you would put your own sexuality on the altar—unless I’m misreading you, you’re saying that you would do that for everyone’s sexuality (at least, everyone who’s presumed to need their sexuality fixed). That’s a big move to make.

    Also, it’s not just sexuality that’s being sacrificed. For those who’ve opted to be in committed, loving relationships with those of the same sex, they’re going to lose those relationships. That’s pretty harsh. The church’s argument of course is that that’s exactly the reason why they shouldn’t have gotten into those relationships in the first place. But I still have questions about the fairness of that requirement. I recognize that there are those for whom such relationships aren’t possible, and I don’t think life is meaningless without them. But I also don’t see that as an adequate reason for denying such relationships to people who are perfectly capable of having them, and for whom they would add greatly to the richness of their lives. In addition, those for whom church teachings are even an issue consists of a tiny minority of homosexuals who grace the planet. Those who enter into gay marriages innocently, so to speak—or those who find that church teachings simply don’t make sense in their actual lives—are going to have those relationships ripped apart in the name of eternal families. That troubles me.

    I’ve been thinking more about why I find the idea that people will have their sexuality fixed so objectionable, and I have another possible analogy, which may get at it better (or not!). I believe very strongly in the full personhood of women, that our eternal nature isn’t to be second-class citizens. Let’s say I make it to the next life and find out that I was wrong. But that that was okay, because my personality and values were altered such that I didn’t mind such a situation. I can’t imagine being comfortable with that sort of violation.

    I do think you’re right that our basic disagreement is about whether the situation of homosexuality is a difference of degree from other mortal challenges, or a difference of kind. Based on my own experience, I’m inclined to believe the latter. But I do respect that there are gay people out there, like your relative, whose experience has been different.

    And I get the Heavenly Mother issue. I really do. I have a strong belief in Heavenly Mother, in fact. Does that commit me to a universe of heteronormativity? The problem is that I also have a deep belief that our heavenly parents didn’t create flawed children when they created gay people. You can rightly accuse me of living in some sort of contradiction there.

    Thanks again for your willingness to discuss this in such a calm and civil way.

  48. 48

    Lynette–The question that first rocked my testimony (that you reference above) when it came to the church’s teachings on homosexuality was, “What about people who are raised, out of our church, to be completely unashamed of their homosexuality and who then go on to marry someone of the same gender and even have kids, perhaps? What does the gospel offer them?” It seemed to me, not much. And we believe that the gospel is for everybody! Anyway, I have struggled with that question for years now and have made some peace with it, although I wouldn’t say I’m past it at all. One thing that I know for sure is that “where there is no law given there is no punishment” (2 Nephi 9:25). I also personally don’t feel that people’s loving relationships will be taken away from them. As our doctrine stands now, they may look different after this life, but one of the purposes of this life is to love, serve, and sacrifice of ourselves for the benefit of our families and all our brothers and sisters on the earth. Those who have done that–truly sought to give of themselves to others, instead of retreating inside of themselves in selfishness, will be rewarded with the rich relationships that come as a result. Reading the book, “The God Who Weeps” by the Givens’, helped me to see more clearly that our Heavenly Parents invest their time and energy in relationships, even/especially when it is painful and hard. I believe that those who do this are becoming more like them. And, don’t we believe, as Mormons, that God has the power to exalt all of his children, except those who are truly resistant and unwilling? Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts.

    And Frankie, I certainly am not trying to advocate for mixed-orientation marriages in which the partners are not in love or attracted to each other. I guess maybe we disagree on whether or not those things are possible? I have read experiences of those who say that it is possible and I tend to believe them (although certainly not for everyone!). A husband and wife must definitely be committed to each other, above all else. Also, I am not trying to say that gay couples can’t be wonderful parents–of course they can. Many give loving homes to needy children who might not have found a stable home otherwise. But, like you say that you believe it is important that parents are teaching their children by example “how to operate in a romantic relationship”, I personally feel it’s also important that children have a male and female parent helping them to know how to be a man or a woman. In cases where this isn’t possible, parents do the best they can, but I still feel that this should be the standard. Now that our law has gone away from this standard, I worry about the potential effects on children. This line definitely struck me, though: “Nothing sounds more like hell then waking up and no longer loving my partner..” I can see what you’re saying there. I believe God knows our hearts and will give us the desires of our hearts if we work for them.

  49. 49

    Great post, Melyngoch.

    You are absolutely right that the church’s 180 degree change regarding whether being gay is a choice or not is HUGE.

    This was the sea change. Once the church admitted it wasn’t a choice, then it opens the questions: why would god do this? There is not a good answer. Which is why, eventually, the church will fully embrace gay marriage. You will be able to be sealed to your gay partner, eventually. For those who gasp and say, NO WAY, well, that’s what people said when anyone suggested blacks would receive the priesthood before 1978. The societal pressure will build and build and the church will eventually embrace gay marriage.

    And it will be the right thing to do. Other than simply surviving, what is the most common and strongest desire we (generally) have as humans? TO CONNECT WITH THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE, SEX, COMPANIONSHIP, ROMANCE, LIFE PARTNER, KIDS, GROW OLD TOGETHER. To tell someone NOT to pursue this endeavor in this life, our greatest desire, is the most cruel thing I can imagine.

    For those who think we should advise gay people to live celibate lives:

    No offense, but what if the church is wrong on this issue? There are lot of active temple going Mormons who believe polygamy was not ordained of god. Many temple going Mormons believe that the priesthood ban for blacks was a mistake. Many temple going Mormons believe the church is wrong about gay marriage. What if the church okays sealings of gays in 10 or 20 years? Will you have wished you encouraged a gay person to find love instead of avoid it? I think there is enough uncertainty on whether God really is against gay marriage, the nature of the afterlife, and the track record of prophets that it would not be wrong to encourage a gay person to seek the man/woman of their dreams and live happily ever after.

    It’s just not that complicated to me. What is more loving? To suggest celibacy in the hope of love in the next life? Or to accept that we don’t know all and encourage one to find love? I would rather encourage my son to find love and be wrong and explain to God that I did the most loving thing I could based on the circumstances, than encourage my son to be celibate and if I’m wrong I would know my son missed out on love and romance his whole life because of me. If that is wrong, well, God should make it more clear. Since he hasn’t, we should do the loving thing.

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