The Real Issue

April 14, 2004 | 145 comments
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What follows is a post on homosexuality. I am deeply sorry about this, because by and large I think that this is a very stale topic. Accordingly, I hope that any discussion that follows this post will focus on the particular questions that I pose, rather than spinning off into another SSM free for all.

Ignore politics. Ignore law. Ignore the social implications of same sex marriage. Let’s ask the question of whether same sex marriage can be reconciled with LDS theology. Imagine, for example, that next conference the Prophet were to announce that the Church was dropping its opposition to same sex marriage and would begin solemnizing gay unions. What impact would this have on Mormon theology? Ignore the political and legal arguments and think about it in terms of our theology.

Affirmation, which is an un-sponsored group for gay Mormons and post-Mormons seems largely committed to the position that the Church should sanction gay unions. Their site has an essay by H. Wayne Schow that purports to provide a theological reconciliation of Mormon doctrine and gay unions. In my mind, Schow’s essay completely misses the point.

Schow central purpose in the essay is to reconcile same sex unions with the scriptures. He does this in a couple of ways. First, he historicizes the scriptures, noting that we must necessarily acknowledge that they represent at least in part the norms and ideas of an ancient society and that hence we cannot take them literally. Writing in the same vein he argues that the scriptures themselves are contradictory on the issue of sexuality, contrasting Paul’s pro-celibacy stance with the Genesis story. His second line of argument is to reduce the issue to one of ethics, claim that ethics are a matter of social consequences, and then argue that same sex unions are unlikely to have negative social consequences. Third, he makes the Christian move of exalting the “weightier matters of the law” – love and service – over the outward performances. One may affirm same sex unions without denigrating love and service, ergo same sex marriage is consistent with Christianity. Finally, he notes the Mormons believe in continuing revelation, which ought to allow them to accommodate changes in practice.

All of this is fine, as far as it goes. I do not have a problem with historicizing the scriptures at some level. I am not persuaded that same sex unions will cause the breakdown of society. I am in favor of the “weightier matters of the law.” My problem is that Schow has simply shown that same sex marriage is compatible with some version of liberal Christianity. He has not really – aside from the bromides about continuing revelation – interacted with Mormon theology.

It seems to me that any Mormon discussion of same-sex unions should quit mucking around with Sodom and Gomorrah, the Mosiac law, or the New Testament. The real issue is what does one do with sections 131 and 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. These are the sections that link the concept of exaltation with the concept of marriage. Here we learn that in order to reach the highest order of the celestial kingdom, a man must be married, for without marriage there can be no “increase.” It is here that we learn that marriage is the pathway to exaltation and glory,”which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of their seeds forever and ever.” (132:19) I take these passages to link marriage with exaltation and exaltation with divine fecundity. Furthermore, the fecundity seems to be explicitly tied to the fecundity of heterosexual union. These are the doctrines that Schow and others interested in offering a reconciliation of between Mormon doctrine and same sex unions must address. Otherwise, it seems that we are left with little more than liberal Protestantism with a thin veneer of Mormonism. Schow has arguments showing how an Episcopalians could support same sex unions. He has yet to really engage Mormonism.

Of course, there is one obvious response to the claim that I am making, but it is less compelling than it seems. That response is to point out that the passages that I quote from were originally given in the context of polygamy. The new and everlasting covenant of marriage meant plural marriage. Mormonism has abandoned plural marriage without necessarily rejecting the ideas of celestial marriage and exaltation, why couldn’t it do the same thing with same sex unions? To put the argument in its strongest form, let us concede that plural marriage really has been renounced; it is not some hovering requirement held in abeyance to be reimposed in the hereafter. (As it happens this is also what I personally believe.) In my mind the problem for Mormon advocates of same-sex unions remains. The reason I don’t think that the abandonment of plural marriage eases the row that theological advocates must hoe is that one can jettison the sexually asymmetric hyper-fecundity of plural marriage without necessarily jettisoning the idea of exaltation as (at least in necessary part) sexual fecundity.

Return to my hypothetical Prophetic announcement. What would be the theological significance of the unions thus solemnized? It seems to me that by virtue of the hermeneutic offered Schow we could sanction such unions as chaste. We could perhaps even sanction them as eternal – perhaps same sex couples would become ministering angels. The real question, however is whether they could be sanctioned as exalting. Until the would-be Mormon partisans of same sex unions can provide an answer to that question, it seems to me that their argument is tantamount to claim that Mormons must reject the uniqueness of their soteriology in order to accommodate same sex unions. Stripped of that soteriology, however, we might as well become Episcopalians.

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145 Responses to The Real Issue

  1. Matt Evans on April 14, 2004 at 11:13 am

    Nice post, Nate.

    Schow notes that God gave us “the complex gift of sexuality — and it’s accompanying responsibility” and then completely ignores any purpose sex has beyond offering opportunities to express trust and vulnerability. The purpose of sex, according to Schow, has nothing to do with reproduction at all.

    He also fails to address the countless statements of modern prophets against homosexuality. He had to ignore them because the principle he lays out of prophetic revelation being for particular times, rather than for all times, when he dismisses the biblical statements opposing homosexual acts, shows the importance our giving heed to the statements of the living prophets now, rather than rely solely on the bible.

    Finally, it’s obvious that Schow does not yet grasp that the natural man is an enemy to God and that it is the moral duty of each of us to overcome our natures through God’s grace.

  2. Gary Cooper on April 14, 2004 at 11:21 am

    Nate,

    Nothing to add here to what you have posed, I just want to say that you have hit the nail on the head. Ultimately, exaltation is the rock upon which the idea of a Mormon acceptance of homosexuality is broken. Christ’s Atonement can overcome all obstacles that block us from exaltation, if we have faith and follow Him, but those obstacles MUST be overcome for exaltation to happen, and for some this means, in mortality, a denial of their own current sexuality. The Savior said, in reference to dealing with those things that might keep us from following Him, that it would be better to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand, if that’s what it takes. I think all of us have to face such choices at some point in our spiritual walk, though it may not seem as stark a choice as it does for homosexuals. Still, if we want EXALTATION, then we must observe, among other things, the law of chastity, and means we cannot even entertain deliberate sexual thoughts about having sex with someone. How can this be “got around”? It can’t be.

  3. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 11:22 am

    But Nate, we perform lots of marriages that aren’t potentially exalting–member to non-member, wife to a second husband after divorce or death. We might have to say that gay unions are for time only, or that they can’t be performed in the temple, but I’m not sure that we have to be exclusive about the kinds of marriages we sanction. And I think frankly people wouldn’t be all that excited about a public defense of marriage based on sections 131 and 132–there are those thorny bits about how many virgins it’s good to marry…

  4. Gary Cooper on April 14, 2004 at 11:31 am

    But Kristine, Nate isn’t addressing a “public” defense of homosexual marriage, but a “Mormon” one. For “Mormons”, how can be D&C 131 and 132 be overcome on this issue? Also, the fact that the church solemnizes marriages between member and non-member, or between members outside of the temple, does NOT mean we think those marriages are all “peachy”—the fact that I have friends that are homosexuals and may invite them to dine with my family or may accept their invitation for my family to dine at their homes does NOT mean I accept their homosexuality, and analogy I think is apt.

  5. Joseph N on April 14, 2004 at 11:38 am

    Slippery slope:

    If homosexual marriages are recognized by the church, then gays are temple worthy (legally and lawfully married now). At that point, why not be sealed with a same-sex partner?

  6. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 11:41 am

    Gary, even within the church, a defense of marriage that is explicit about the possibility of future polygamy would be touchy. You may have noticed that discussions of Sections 131 and 132 tend to skirt some major issues.

    And it is true that we regard some marriages as second-class, but we do nonetheless allow and even perform them.

    Whether or not you have gay friends is irrelevant.

  7. Charles on April 14, 2004 at 11:52 am

    When Schow discusses ethics as a matter of social mores, this is the terrible argument of cultural reletavism. CR argues that anything is ethical if accpeted by the society in which it is performed. It essentially fails to recognize any higher ethical virtue. It’s a slippery slope that can lead to many more grievous sins.

    When we discuss revelation for our time and the change of practice we need to look carefully. Many of the things I’ve noticed about revelation changing practice does not change the morality of events. A practice does not become more or less moral by revelation, rather practices are changed.

    Priesthood restored to all ethnicities is one example I think of. It may have been wrong at one time to give (insert favorite politically correct term here) the priesthood, but it was never a question of morality. Likewise, pornography is and always has been immoral. It would take a very strong act of God to convince a prophet that something that was once immoral, and condemned in the bible as well as throughout time, is now amoral or acceptable.

    If this happened I’m sure we would all be very concerned and there would probably be a very large falling out in the church. But if this did happen it would jepardize the church’s uniqueness in the world it would also create some hypocricy as we have often believed that God does not change his church for man.

  8. Gary Cooper on April 14, 2004 at 11:56 am

    Kristine,

    I was just using the analogy of having homosexual friends as a way of explaining why the church might solemnoze marriages it doesn’t necessarily approve of. Perhaps it wasn’t a very good analogy. Still, while a Church discussion of D&C 131 and 132 would have to admit that revelation has (at the very least) suspended polygamy, this in and of itself begs the question: “Is the Church led by revelation or not?” Can we have faith that the CURRENT leadership of the Church know what the doctrine is and needs to be, that they know what each of use needs to do and know to receive exaltation, and that they know what we must avoid and overcome to get there? I think we can, and must, if we have a testimony. Nate is correct that Mormon defenses, including the one he links to above, tend to skirt this issue. One of the problems they have, in relying on the “principle” of “progressive revelation”, is that THEY are the ones making the decision on whether the Church’s doctrine is wrong or needs tom be changed, rather than the one God has appointed, the president of the Church. I’m not able to accept the doctrine of Nehor, that our priests and teachers “ought to become popular”, giving the membership whatn the membership decides as right, rather than the other way around. Nate is right that accepting the Mormon “pro-gay marriage” arguments, at least as they have been presented so far, would seem to say that we might as well become protestants. I grew up as a Southern Baptist, had enough of that cuisine, thank you, and prefer to dine at the Lord’s table, where I amy not be able to choose the menu, but at least I know what I’m eating is good for me.

  9. D. Fletcher on April 14, 2004 at 11:57 am

    From your post: In order to reach the highest order of the celestial kingdom, a man must be married, for without marriage there can be no “increase.” It is here that we learn that marriage is the pathway to exaltation and glory,”which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of their seeds forever and ever.” (132:19) I take these passages to link marriage with exaltation and exaltation with divine fecundity. Furthermore, the fecundity seems to be explicitly tied to the fecundity of heterosexual union.

    I believe the secret to the entire issue of same-sex marriage lies in our approach to that word, “increase.” The purpose of our life here on earth, biologically, is to “increase,” to spread the genes. Our theology reflects this with conviction. We are the one Christian faith which flouted authority and altered traditional sociological conventions, so that we could spread our genes more widely and efficiently without impunity.

    In addition to this, we adhere to a doctrine of a giant eternal database, a vast hierarchy of parents and children and parents of parents and children of children, all permanently sealed to each other in an unbroken line extending through history and beyond. Most of those spirits in a single, sealed line will have sprung up from your term “divine fecundity,” meaning, they will have been born to earthly, married parents.

    But some will be sealed into the line, having been born of other earthly parents who were not “exalted.” In other words, these children were adopted.

    If “increase” is the only reason for marriage, then why would God allow biology to prevent increase for many heterosexual couples? And if adoption is a perfectly acceptable tool for sealing and exalting non-biological “increase,” then why must the parents be heterosexual partners?

    I think our theology provides a more profound support for same-sex unions than other, standard Protestant groups, in that these couples would presumably become eternal parents in the same way that their heterosexual counterparts can be eternal parents of adopted offspring. Once parents, the children may have their own, biological children, and then the line continues unbroken, for eternity.

    Truthfully, I can’t imagine our Church ever proclaiming same-sex unions valid, even if legalized, but it isn’t because there isn’t a proper theological foundation which would support them. It is because our Church doesn’t exist in a sociological vacuum — we are subject to the same biases and prejudices, biologically-based or not, that the rest of the world feels and argues about every day. Same-sex unions, same-sex parents, *seems* wrong, though we can’t logically say why. Curiously, I think our Church has had to deal with the very real fact of polygamy, even though to most people, this lifestyle *seems* wrong, too. Wrong to everybody who hasn’t practiced it, raised children in it, etc.

    I made my point already, but I should add, I believe same-sex unions should be legalized, because it only adds value to “marriage,” and shows an evolving society can universally put aside its biases for a central purpose, giving equal rights and responsibilities to everyone.

  10. Matt Evans on April 14, 2004 at 12:08 pm

    Mr. Fletcher,

    Adoption is only necessary because of death and sin. Once death and sin are no more, there will be no adoption. And if your definition of ‘eternal increase’ were correct, then marriage wouldn’t be necessary to eternal increase at all — each individual would just need to beget or adopt a child who can reproduce.

  11. Ryan Bell on April 14, 2004 at 12:09 pm

    First of all, let’s stop all this theological chatter and discuss whether gay marriage should be legal and what effects it would have on society. . .

    Just kidding.

    Nate, I agree completely. Succeeding in getting same-sex unions approved by the church would be at best a pyrrhic victory for homosexuals, who would gain acceptance in the church but find themselves unable to progress in post-earth life.

    However, I wonder if many same-sex attracted individuals wouldn’t jump at the chance anyway. First off, we must remember that such people would not end up any lower in the cosmic pecking order than would your average, righteous but single person. Each of these people is capable of attaining some degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom, just not the highest level which allows for infinite increase. Therefore, if I’m a same-sex attracted man, I’d weigh my options in this way: A. I can try to change my sexual orientation and enter a heterosexual eternal marriage on earth. B. I can live a single life and either hope to conquer my orientation in the next life and be sealed there, or fail to do so in the next life and live out eternity single, attaining only the intermediate celestial glory. C. I can enter a homosexual marriage here on earth, and maintain the exact same options in the afterlife as option B allows me.

    So for any same-sex attracted person not willing or able to go with option A, option C is at least as good as option B, with the added benefit of getting to at least live a happy married life on earth. Because the homosexual marriage would not be for eternity (at least based on the assumptions of your hypothetical, I think), the marriage would be dissolved at death, allowing the former homosexual spouses to either pursue heterosexual marriages for eternity, or settle for a degree of glory in the celestial kingdom, which is all they could have gotten if they’d remained single and celibate.

  12. John H on April 14, 2004 at 12:11 pm

    Good post, Nate. And I entirely agree. I believe in gay rights and even in the rights of gays to marry. But I think Mormonism would lose a great of what it is if it began solomizing gay unions for time AND all eternity. As you said, forget legal and social arguments, etc. – the Church would be forever changed – perhaps to the point of being almost indistinguishable from other progressive Protestant religions.

  13. D. Fletcher on April 14, 2004 at 12:15 pm

    I don’t know, where does it say that same-sex unions couldn’t actually reproduce in the next life? Some same-sex unions (lesbians) in this life are able to reproduce their own genes.

    I, for one, would be happy to spend life as a ministering angel, if that’s all I could get.

    :)

  14. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 12:25 pm

    I kind of think it’s my job to point out gross sexism on the site, so Ryan, I have to say that your option A above is a little alarming. Don’t you think there might be some penalty for using a woman as a prop to gain exaltation, even if you knew you couldn’t properly love her as a wife? (!)

  15. Charles on April 14, 2004 at 12:29 pm

    The discussion of the revelation to prohibit polygamy has struck a curious cord with me. Polygamy as a practice is simply that, a practice, right? Is there anything inherrent about polygamy that makes it moral or immoral?

    The revelation to retract polygamy was done to remove the practice. But if the practice was neither moral or immoral but only a vehicle to promote mariage how does this revelation impact same sex mariage.

    The mariage part of same sex mariage might be legal in a few years, we may have to deal with it. However, the underlying issue is the immorality of the same sex relationship. If homosexuality is a sin and immoral then it will never matter that the practice of same sex mariage is legal or not.

    Revelation to change practice, for example changing tithing from 10 to 20 percent, or changing the endowment or garment design would be a matter of practice. The underlying reasons of why we participate in these practices does not change.

  16. Paul on April 14, 2004 at 12:36 pm

    I don’t see any problem with Ryan’s analogy. In fact, what Ryan suggests is probably encouraged by church leaders. Do the best you can with the challenges given. Who says love has to be about pure sexual attraction anyway. Now, I would also add to option A, letting your potential wife know of your struggles. Furthermore, eventually, if the person in option A lives a “worthy” life, the atonement would help him to overcome his “problem” and thus he’d live in exaltation with his wife for overcoming his challenges in the best way he knew how.

  17. Ryan Bell on April 14, 2004 at 12:37 pm

    Lol. I kind of think it’s my job to defend myself from accusations that I’m a gross sexist on this site, so: Kristine, I don’t understand your accusation. I agree that it would be wrong for anyone to marry anyone else as a ticket to heaven while simultaneously recognizing that he would be unable to commit to her. Why that is sexist, I do not know, but that it is wrong, I agree.

    However, it’s obvious that option A is a real choice faced by many homosexuals in the church, perhaps more in the past than presently. I do not condone the choosing of that option, nor do I have any experience with people who have taken it. Still, I imagine that if I were homosexual, option A would have to be considered. And further, it could be considered without any betrayal or deceit. That is to say, people truly do conquer their same-sex attraction and enter healthy heterosexual relationships. To the extent that you read option A as a cynical way to get to heaven without denying the inner homosexual tendencies, you misinterpreted my meaning. I only mean to say that any righteous LDS person who deals with same-sex attraction will certainly wish for the ability to overcome those tendencies and marry happily to a member of the opposite sex.

  18. D. Fletcher on April 14, 2004 at 12:38 pm

    I think the Church could have some real problems in not validating same-sex marriage, if it was legalized. As it stands now, the Church recognizes legal marriages as valid, for time. OK, those marriages are heterosexual, but still… if the Church excommunicated some same-sex couple with a marriage license, I see a major public-relations disaster. Come to think of it, maybe this is why the Church is so opposed — they see disaster ahead.

  19. Thom on April 14, 2004 at 12:38 pm

    Kristine – Why do you consider Ryan’s example “gross sexism?” The example seems equally applicable to a female homosexual as to a male homosexual. Would you make the same criticism if the eternal “prop” as you say were a man who could not be properly loved by an exaltation seeking homosexual wife?

    Besides, I don’t think Ryan was implying that homosexual orientation would of necessity continue throughout eternity. If it is in fact something to be healed of, it makes sense that it can be recovered from on the other side of the veil. Therefore, a homosexual of either gender could have the expectation of being able to truly and faithfully love their new eternal spouse. No?

  20. jeremobi on April 14, 2004 at 12:39 pm

    Great post, Nate. Reframing the issue this way offers a ‘third way’ of sorts for those of us uncomfortable with the Manichean frame presented by the activists on either side of the public issue.

    Matt: “Adoption is only necessary because of death and sin. Once death and sin are no more, there will be no adoption.”

    Adoption may be necessary because of death, but is it necessary, here and now, because of sin?

    My biological grandmother and grandfather may have sinned, but it was not technically necessary 1) for them to choose to offer their child for adoption; or 2) for my cultural (and now eternal) grandparents to adopt my father.

    My bias is obvious. The blessing of adoption is available, not necessary, sometimes because of sin and death.

    It’s a clear counterfactual that without adoption I would not physically exist. So I guess I’m grateful for the sin that produced my father and the choice after the fact that eventually led him to my mother.

  21. wendy on April 14, 2004 at 12:49 pm

    Charles said: Is there anything inherrent about polygamy that makes it moral or immoral?

    Yes. If my husband has sex with anyone but me, it is adultery. Case closed!

    Isn’t having sex with me one night, and someone else the next night, immoral? Put aside what the D&C says — doesn’t it just sound about as immoral as possible??

  22. Frank McIntyre on April 14, 2004 at 12:50 pm

    A couple ideas:

    Some posts seems to want to posit homosexual tendencies as an essential part of one’s existence. This is pulled from nowhere. It is like arguing that someone with alcoholic or suicidal compulsions, or with mental retardation, or a gift for engineering, or beautiful hair have these as part of their very essence.

    Our essence is our desire to do what is right and to follow truth, and, according the the Proclamation, gender. Since we know that no one will be denied blessings they have lived worthy of, it seems bizarre to posit as LDS doctrine that opposition to same-sex marriage implies proclaiming that those individuals simply can never be exalted. Surely the more sane position is that opposition to same-sex marriage implies that homosexual tendencies are not a part of one’s essence.

    Second: If the prophet were to declare same-sex eternal unions a part of the doctrine of the Church, I don’t think it would be as hard to reconcile as Nate maintains. I do not envision such a revelation happening. I don’t see any compelling reason to think that the current Church position is wrong. Homosexuality has been repeatedly condemned by authorized servants of the Lord in this dispensation and others. When prophets and scripture are in complete unison on an issue, it seems likely that dissenters are wrong, not the prophets and scriptures, current fads notwithstanding.

    But suppose such a revelation occurred authorizing same-sex celestial marriage. Well, 132 is clearly about heterosexual union. But it doesn’t really talk about same-gender unions, because nobody was really looking to go down that road. Frankly, Joseph seems to have gotten more than he asked for when he asked God to help him understand the polygamy of the ancient Patriarchs. There is, in the gospel, this wonderful doctrine of divine increase and eternal families, but I don’t know that we have a particularly good idea of exactly how divine fecundity works (nor do I wish to engage the subject now). So if God issued a Declaration that proclaimed that increase is possible within one gender, who could really argue? We would certainly get a better idea of what divine fecundity means.

    Since homosexuality was never really on the table in the past, except as a sin, a lot of these things have never been the subject of scripture. What scripture we do have seems to be in the Bible and roundly condemns the practice. A new revelation would have major implications for our theology and would require reassessment of many beliefs, but the concept of eternal life and increase would still hold, albeit seen in a different light.

    I think a much more likely road would be for God to have us canonize the Proclamation, indoctrinating that gender is essential and eternal, and at the essence of what divine increase means.

  23. Thom on April 14, 2004 at 12:53 pm

    Wendy,

    No, to me it does not sound immoral, if the plural marriage is legal and sanctioned by God. It certainly sounds alot more moral than sex outside of marriage, as common as that is today.

  24. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 12:53 pm

    Ryan, NO ONE–not Evergreen, not Nicolosi, not Robert Spitzer–has any good evidence that overcoming homosexuality and becoming heterosexually attracted is a significant possibility for anyone in this life. Thus by marrying, a homosexual is asking his wife (or her husband, Thom) to commit to a marriage with some really huge issues. They might wish that change were possible, but it would be irresponsible and unkind to ask another person to sacrifice his/her life on the altar of that wish. Moreover, I don’t think there’s any clear revelation that says homosexuality will disappear in the resurrection. GAs differ about its causality and possibilities for cure.

    It’s not that I think Ryan is sexist, but I start the discussion a little prickly because I think Sections 131 and 132 are more than a little skewed towards valuing males’ exaltation as the primary goal of marriage. (Not that one can’t adduce some caveats and some rephrasing and interpretation to ameliorate this some, but the language as it stands is a bit troublesome). So, sorry Ryan–your argument was not so much sexist as it was instrumentalist, suggesting that one person could be used as instrument of another’s progression, rather than being an equally valuable subject.

    And this is tangential to Nate’s more interesting argument, so I propose that we drop it. Sorry for bringing it up.

  25. lyle on April 14, 2004 at 12:59 pm

    Nate: Great post. I appreciate Bro. Fletcher’s comments also.

    In the struggle to sort out the wheat (traditions of God) from the chaff (traditions of the fathers – bad), why are folks so eager to fight for the adoption of a social policy that the living prophets have argued against?

    I think Nate has the right argument for Mormons, regardless of PR disasters. Surely God knew that polygamy would be a PR disaster (as it was & for some unknown reason continues to both folks today), but that didn’t stop him from imposing it.

    If the living prophets have spoken against allowing same sex couples to obtain civil marriage…there is no way in heaven that it can be supported by the Theology & Restored Gospel that God teaches us through them.

  26. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 1:10 pm

    OK, another tangent: Frank, do you have any speculation as to why the Proclamation has not yet been canonized?

  27. lyle on April 14, 2004 at 1:14 pm

    Um…since when is a signed statement which was the subject of much prayer & study & pondering…written by the First Presidency & The Council of the Apostles not canonical? I think you have the causal ordering reversed Kristine.

  28. Ryan Bell on April 14, 2004 at 1:15 pm

    Kristine,

    The consensus view in the church is that homosexuality is simply wrong. Prophets and scriptures agree that it is a perversion and against the will of God. From this follows two conclusions: First, that there is some way for those who suffer from same-sex attraction to be rid of it. Second, that in the resurrection, when we are given perfect bodies and our spirits (at least those of the righteous) are cleansed by the atonement, this temptation will no longer exist. I have no idea how to reach any other conclusion.

    I agree that this is all tangential. To go back to my original point (which I think is just an extension of your first post on this thread about non-eternal marriages in the church), I think gay marriages could fit into the theology as a non-eternal category of marriage, and would actually be a better way for gay LDS to live their earthly lives, since that lifestyle would have no adverse affects on the gay man or woman who would otherwise have only chosen option B.

    **I still hold that option A, while not as encouraged as it once was, is entirely feasible, as we have all heard of at least a few people who have taken that path. (I personally know at least one). The fact that this is not supported in research is wholly unconvincing to me. I need only know a single person who took option A to disprove your entire argument, correct?)

  29. John David Payne on April 14, 2004 at 1:21 pm

    Kristine says:

    “Moreover, I don’t think there’s any clear revelation that says homosexuality will disappear in the resurrection. GAs differ about its causality and possibilities for cure.”

    Well, is there any clear revelation that any sort of sinful desire will disappear in the resurrection? There are plenty of other sinful desires that seem hardwired and impossible to overcome in this life. Pedophilia, for instance, appears to be incurable. It can be (arguably) supressed and controlled, but the desire is never eliminated. Ditto alcoholism, not to mention a wide variety of psychoses, etc.

    I believe that these people in this life must do the best they can and lean on the Lord. Through the atonement of Christ, these sinful desires can be taken from them– if not in this life, then in the next.

    I believe homosexuality is wrong. Let’s assume it is, as you imply, physiologically hardwired and impossible to cure. So what? If all these other wrong desires can be taken away, then why not homosexuality? And if these other wrong desires can not be taken away, then what’s the point of the atonement? Are we to be saved in our sins, and not FROM our sins?

  30. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 1:26 pm

    Lyle, there’s a process in the church for adding things to the canon. The Proclamation on the Family hasn’t yet gone through this process, as Frank noted.

  31. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    Ryan, I agree with you about the second option. Let’s leave it at that.

    John, you and I can have that argument over dinner sometime, as Nate wanted to try to narrow the scope of this discussion.

  32. lyle on April 14, 2004 at 1:30 pm

    What is the process? & what practical effect does it have? I vaguely recall something about a vote of support at General Conference? However, while that seems initially problematic…when the 15 speak as one…

  33. Frank McIntyre on April 14, 2004 at 1:38 pm

    Lyle, by canonized I mean the part where it is taken before the body of the Church and added to the Quad. like what happened with the last Official Declaration. Canon is separate from revelation or inspiration.

    Kristine: We don’t actually have much experience with canonization, so it is hard to speak about what the typical process might be. Perhaps the proclamation serves its purpose without being in the standard works. Maybe the Brethren are still pondering and thinking about it, since we know God will sometimes let us think things through for quite a while before he steps in. Maybe it is to get people familiar with it so that when it is canonized people understand what is being brought in. Certainly the Articles of Faith floated around for quite a while before they were adopted as part of the standard works.

    In case it wasn’t clear, I am not suggesting I know what God wants to do about canonizing the Proclamation. I am perfectly happy to leave that up to the Brethren. But as long as we were talking about hypothetical new revelation, I wanted to emphasize that a course correction towards same-sex marriage seemed an unlikely thing to occcur, or at least less so than canonizing the Proclamation. The reasons for that are laid out pretty well across this thread.

  34. lyle on April 14, 2004 at 1:41 pm

    Frank, thanks for the answer! That seems to be what I remember, which leaves unanswered the question:

    If we only follow Canonized revelation…
    of what use is General Conference?

  35. Nate Oman on April 14, 2004 at 1:47 pm

    D.: Thanks for your comments. I am glad that you found the blog! It seems to me that you are on to a much better line of argument than the traditional, Mormons-are-being-pharisetical line of argument. One way of imagining the possibility that you talking about might be to look at the pre-Woodruff law of adoption, where — contrary to Matt’s claims — adoptive sealings were not confined to cases of sin or death. However, I think that the point about sealings for the barren is either a red herring or a category mistake. Marriages for the barren may (or may not) be a valid argument against the claim that secular marriage rests on some procreative policy, but in the context of Mormon theology, I don’t think it is as important as you suggest. One can still hold out the hope of procreation in the resurrection without abandoning the a model of divine fecundity based on heterosexual union. Also, I think that your projected PR “disaster” is a bit far fetched. As I understand it, proponents of legalizing gay marriage insist that they would still allow religious institutions to draw their own distinctions. This is a peripheral issue to this thread, however, so I apologize for addressing it.

    Kristine: I think that you are missing the point of my question. I agree that one could provide some sort of earthly solemnization for gay marriages without necessarily changing the heterosexual structure of Mormon soteriology, a point that I tried to make explicit in my post. The problem is that such unions would still occupy a kind of “second class” status in Mormon theology, which means that they will not necessarily be responsive to demands for full spiritual equality for homosexual unions. (Again, I am NOT talking about the legal or political issue. I am talking about the theological issue.)

    Frank: I am not arguing that the Brethren are mistaken, etc. I am simply trying to imagine the possibilities of Mormon theology. Both the revelations ending polygamy and the revelation ending the bans on blacks and the priesthood required — in some sense — a rewriting of how we understood the mythos of the plan of salvation. I would submitt, however, that these “rewritings” did not require jettisoning its fundamental structure. It is not clear to me that a revelation on same sex unions could be so easily accomodated. I have yet to a well articulated Mormon argument for same sex unions that even seems to be aware of this issue. (Of course, there is lots of stuff out there that I haven’t read.) I actually think that while there are lots of discontinuities in the revelatory history of our theology (see, e.g., Tom Alexander’s “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine”), revelations still seem to hang onto a central plot line. To borrow a favorite analogy from legal philosophy, in some ways that growth of our theology is like a serial novel. Each new installment must some how fit in with prior installments and must in some sense preserve the basic integrity of the plot. This is the theological problem that those who imagine a revelation on same-sex unions don’t seem to have come to grips with.

  36. Frank McIntyre on April 14, 2004 at 1:51 pm

    We don’t _only_ follow canonized revelation. We don’t actually manage to follow what is canonized (you know, because we sin and stuff). But whenever you hear a speaker talking about the importance of studying the Standard Works, it is because those Works occupy a special position in our doctrine.

    We are to study the current words of the prophets, but adding something to the standard works elevates it as being more important and as an official doctrine of the Church. Although one could find exceptions to this in parts of the Bible we think have been messed with or are incomplete, it is safe to say that anything we canonize _now_ is both very important and official doctrine of the Church.

  37. lyle on April 14, 2004 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks Frank! If something were canonized in today’s church, which seems to have largely left behind the concept of canonization, then it would def. be like putting it in _all caps_. :)

  38. Frank McIntyre on April 14, 2004 at 2:03 pm

    Nate: I understand your point and agree with it. I agree that we’d have some rethinking to do about many things should such a revelation occur. I think that such a revelation would be very disjointed from our past understanding of the way things work. Hence I find it implausible that it would occur.

    _If_ such a change did occur, then it came from God, so _if_ we keep the assumption that the Church is true, these premises lead to the conclusion that it would be possible to reinterpret the doctrine to accord with the new revelation. Of course, this assumes what you may wish to test…

  39. Brent on April 14, 2004 at 2:41 pm

    “I think the Church could have some real problems in not validating same-sex marriage, if it was legalized. As it stands now, the Church recognizes legal marriages as valid, for time. OK, those marriages are heterosexual, but still… if the Church excommunicated some same-sex couple with a marriage license, I see a major public-relations disaster. Come to think of it, maybe this is why the Church is so opposed — they see disaster ahead.”

    I don’t think the Church’s position is based in any way on any concern about a potential public relations disaster. In fact, it has suffered in the public relations arena because of its staunch opposition, thus undercutting your claim. If you read everything the Church leaders have said about this issue, it is based on our doctrine.

  40. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 3:01 pm

    “Kristine, I think you are missing the point of my question.”

    Sorry–at least you’re used to it by now. I guess I’m too hung up in the practical. If in fact LDS theology could tolerate some sort of second-class homosexual marriage, why the opposition to making them legal?

    I think you’re right as to the main point, which is that it’s virtually impossible to imagine a scenario in which homosexual marriages have the potential to be exalted/ing. Although the adoption question offers REALLY interesting possibilities–could children of abusive heterosexual couples, for instance, be adopted by loving homosexual parents in the millenium, allowing those children a shot at healthy psychological development and giving the gay couple the chance to learn the salvific lessons of parenthood? Biological lineage seems to be secondary to spiritual lineage in Mormon theology–whole branches of the house of Israel being grafted in by adoption doesn’t seem to be a problem, so perhaps the lack of earthly biological offspring might not be an impediment to the kind of eternal fecundity you’re getting at. But, in any case, we sure can’t get there from Section 131 & 132 without a great deal of further revelation. On the other hand, we can’t *easily* get to eternal monogamy from there, either…

  41. Connie on April 14, 2004 at 3:01 pm

    First of all, let me just say how REFRESHING it is to read such a well thought out & researched thread on this topic. On the other blogs I read, it’s simply “You’re wrong” without much thought to the content or attempt at pursuasion. Your bloggers and visitors have left me stunned and teary-eyed.

    As a non-mormon in a very mormon state, it has been my priviledge and burden to address this issue with those who are against gay marriage simply because of the Declaration of Marriage – without any reading or investigating on their own. I call them the “sheep” who do not question anything or research anything on their own accord and follow blindly. (Personally, I think the Lord loves it when He challenges us and we rise to the occassion) Others, like yourselves, pray about it and really take it into their hearts to try and find what the Lord wants us to do about this very difficult topic.

    I will also have to dig out my copy of the D&C to reference what you are saying. I know I have it somewhere around here…

    I have recified my sexuality with the knowledge that the Lord created us exactly the way he intended to. I am the product of His will, whether it be by intent or by genetics. The Holy Spirit has guided me to be true to myself, and true to God, by following the words of Jesus Christ, who Himself never said anything against homosexuality (that I can find – please correct me). Jesus Christ took comfort in his followers who were not all sinless, mind you, and routinely obliterated Jewish law. That, for me, is good enough reason to discount many of the “fire and brimstone” arguments of the Old Testament.

    I also wanted you to know that A: I will now visit your site daily to expand my LDS knowledge and B: I will be sending this thread to the father of a former partner, who I was with for seven years, and for all intents and purposes, was the cause of my broken relationship. I hope this touches his heart and helps him to seek and reconcile his feelings of his daughter’s sexuality, and the hope that with revelation, she may join him, even as an angel, in the Celestial Kingdom.

    I am blessed to have found this thread. Thank you.

  42. D. Fletcher on April 14, 2004 at 3:04 pm

    One of our canonical scriptures is the 12th article of faith, which says, unobliquely, we believe in upholding and sustaining the law.

    It’s scripture, and doctrine.

    This same-sex marriage issue might be the first time the Church would need to re-examine its doctrine on two conflicting points.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I can certainly see the lawyer’s viewpoint represented in this blog, and in this thread in particular. Just like the U.S., our Church has an original, ancient canon like the Constitution, and we believe the rules can change through revelation, just like amendments to the Constitution. Some people will interpret the scripture literally, and I readily agree, Joseph Smith would never have even considered same-sex marriage as a possibility, nor ever have referred to it at all. But others of us see, built in to theological “constitution,” the possibility of changing rules, based on a changing society. It’s a liberal point of view, valid for both the government and the Church. Such a change would require a revelation, of course, but stranger things have happened.

    As to the public-relations “disaster,” I perhaps overstated the case. But if same-sex marriage is legalized, and the Church excommunicated some couple on the basis of their legalized same-sex marriage, which could be seen as a flouting of repentence, I do think there would be public repercussions, things we have never considered before.

  43. Dave on April 14, 2004 at 3:18 pm

    Nice post, Nate. Haven’t read the Schow essay yet, but I’ll bet your summary is better than his essay.

    Theology? What Mormon theology? I don’t see D&C 132 as a “Mormon soteriology.” Salvation through plural marriage isn’t what we’re about. If plural marriage were central to the Mormon doctrine of salvation, it would be preached by missionaries and over the pulpit, wouldn’t it? Are you suggesting the present public doctrine of the Church regarding salvation is just a sham? We gave up that kind of dishonest doubletalk a hundred years ago, didn’t we?

    I know there are some people who *think* that plural marriage is central to the Mormon view of salvation and exaltation. Those who put that belief into practice are excommunicated–hint, hint. Those who quietly harbor the idea without putting it into practice (“closet polygamists” in my scheme of things) are, I think, wrong in their view of what Mormon doctrine is. But that’s the problem–there really is no definitive statement of what Mormon doctrine is. It’s too malleable. But better wrong ideas than wrong actions–there’s nothing personal in disagreeing with another’s view of doctrine. And we’re all fallible–I could be wrong in my view of things as easily as anyone else. You don’t have to be perfect to get to heaven. But I dont’ think you have to be a polygamist either.

    But I like your Episcopalian idea. This should be explored further.

  44. Ethesis on April 14, 2004 at 3:24 pm

    I had to run home and take care of something else, and had fifteen minutes to eat some yogurt and read T&S …

    Aside from the three levels of glory within the Celestial Kingdom having only two defined (the ministering angels and the married folk) … there is a lot more to the discussion than most people go into.

    I was thinking about a longer post earlier, and may do one, but I thought I’d talk about smoking and the word of wisdom.

    I taught some investigators on my mission who wondered how they would deal with smoking. They knew the Church position and were dreading when we would teach them about it, having tried to quit many times. When we did, something unique happened. They lost the desire to smoke. They then concluded that God must do that for everyone who takes the discussions.

    Obviously not (I don’t know of that sort of thing being common).

    I’d have found a regular miracle in that area neat. A lack of any miracle ok. But, the rare and not able to be predicted sort of miracle, that is unsettling.

    Anyway, later, I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll have to post without duplicating what I’ve just said.

  45. Nate Oman on April 14, 2004 at 3:38 pm

    Dave: On the question of whether or not we have a theology, I have blogged at length about this. I don’t think that I anywhere in my post made the claim that plural marriage was necessary for salvation, indeed I explicitly rejected the idea. However, I don’t see that there is anything particularlly controversial about the claim that current Mormon doctrine espouses two claims: 1. heterosexual marriage is necessary for exaltation; and, 2. the concept of exaltation is tied up with some notion of heterosexual fecundity. Consider the following passage from the final chapter of THE GOSPEL PRINCIPLES manual available on the Church’s website:

    Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, “All things are theirs” (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:

    1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76).

    2. They will become gods.

    3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.

    4. They will receive a fulness of joy.

    5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to his commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

  46. Lyle on April 14, 2004 at 3:56 pm

    re: “the possibility of changing rules, based on a changing society”

    Not. The LDS Church doesn’t believe in changing rules based on a changing society. The leaders of the LDS church have consistently rejected the idea that the Church & its members should change their beliefs & practices as society does. Sadly, too few seem to have ears to hear.

  47. jeremobi on April 14, 2004 at 4:23 pm

    “The LDS Church doesn’t believe in changing rules based on a changing society. The leaders of the LDS church have consistently rejected the idea that the Church & its members should change their beliefs & practices as society does.”

    Perhaps this is a question to ask of Armand Mauss? My understanding, and I could be totally off base here, is that his studies show fairly conclusively that the Church does this all the time. And how could the Church and individuals not change beliefs and practices? We don’t exist in a vacuum.

  48. Adam Greenwood on April 14, 2004 at 5:09 pm

    Refusing to recognize gay marriages would no more be in conflict with the law than, say, refusing to permit sodomy though the polity permits it.

    As for the arguments that people get adopted anyway and we recognize civil marriages anyway, even solemnize them, and that some people are single and some couples infertile, the simple answer is that all of these relationships are potentially god-like. The civilly married couple can be sealed, the single will be married, the barren womb will bear fruit.

    In any case, even given Nate’s scenario of solemnizing irremediably civil relationships, I think that the Church would be asking something that most gays wouldn’t like and that seems contrary to the whole idea of being gay. As I understand it, ministering angels do not have sexual relations, and I presumably do not even have desire. So you’re asking people to enter a relationship that logically entails the destruction of the reason for the relationship.

  49. Connie on April 14, 2004 at 5:35 pm

    “So you’re asking people to enter a relationship that logically entails the destruction of the reason for the relationship.”

    Whoa…

    I entered into my relationship with my partner not because of my sexual needs. I entered into the relationship because she is the one I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with, build a home with, raise a child with, and be my life long companion. Sex is not the whole purpose of entering into a union.

    There are many people who marry those who they are unable to have sexual intimacy with due to physical retraints. Does this negate the purpose and intent of the marriage?

    Marriage/Unions are not about sex. It is a beautiful way of expressing love for one another and a way for couples to procreate, but it is not the be all end all reason for marriage.

    I apologize now if that sounds defensive, as I do not mean it to be, but that has been a pressure point in similar discussions.

  50. Grasshopper on April 14, 2004 at 5:44 pm

    Connie,

    I completely agree with you that marriage is not solely about sex. (In fact, I think this is one of the mistaken assumptions frequently made in analyses of Mormon polygamy.) But certainly sex is (usually?) one of the reasons for marriage.

    In a heavenly context, what is the difference between a celibate marriage and friendship?

  51. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks, Connie, I was about to say the same thing.

  52. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 5:49 pm

    well, not exactly the same thing, since I couldn’t use such a personal example. Only to say that suggesting homosexuality is a huge oversimplification, and an unfair, unkind one at that.

  53. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 5:53 pm

    Surely the third time will be charmed and I will say what I mean (good grief!):

    Suggesting that homosexuality is only about sex…

  54. ed on April 14, 2004 at 6:00 pm

    Two points:

    1) There are already many open questions and loose ends regarding eternal marriage in the afterlife. Many people never mary. Some eternal marriages turn out to be terribly unhappy. An eternal marriage might end with the death of a spouse, and a subsequent marriage might be longer, happier, and produce more children. I believe the church now allows a woman to be sealed to more than one man. Questions raised by these issues are often answered by a vague assurance that everything will somehow be fixed up in the afterlife. Perhaps this vague assurance could be extended to gay marriage (i.e. “we don’t know what will happen to your marriage, but just try to live a good life and let God sort it out.”)

    2) Although the proclamation states that gender is an eternal characteristic, the existence of hermaphrodites proves that there is not perfect one-to-one correspondence between the gender of an eternal soul and our perception of a person’s gender. In other words, there are some people who’s gender we cannot be sure of. Maybe we can’t be 100% sure about anyone’s gender. So making arbitrary rules based on gender might not make sense, and we could instead decide let people do what they feel is right, and hope that everything will get fixed up in the afterlife somehow.

  55. Nate Oman on April 14, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    “we could instead decide let people do what they feel is right, and hope that everything will get fixed up in the afterlife somehow.”

    Now there is an moral and theological theory to go to the barricades for! ;->

  56. Connie on April 14, 2004 at 6:10 pm

    “In a heavenly context, what is the difference between a celibate marriage and friendship?”

    That is an incredibly insightful question. One, I cannot answer due to my lack of LDS theology.

    For me, I have many friends, but none of them I would consider to be my lifelong companion, as I do my partner. She is my rock, my strength and my purpose and I truly believe we were created for one another.

    What other reasons exist which are more compelling?

  57. ed on April 14, 2004 at 6:18 pm

    “we could instead decide let people do what they feel is right, and hope that everything will get fixed up in the afterlife somehow.”

    OK Nate, you’re right that that sounds like all doctrine has been abandoned, which is not what I meant. So ignore that sentence.

    My point is, we are already sanctioning marriages that don’t fit the theological prototype. If a woman is sealed (or not) to her second husband, we just shrug our shoulders and say “live a good life and everything will work out.”

  58. Paul on April 14, 2004 at 6:25 pm

    Ed,
    A woman cannot be sealed to more than one spouse, although she can be married in the temple for time…just not and all eternity.

  59. jeremobi on April 14, 2004 at 6:55 pm

    Paul:”A woman cannot be sealed to more than one spouse, although she can be married in the temple for time…just not and all eternity.”

    Has this always been the case?

    I’ve heard apocryphal stories about sealings for the dead when family members have sealed deceased women to more than one husband she may have had in her life.

    What is the current practice anyway? Can children who are the product of a woman’s second (for time, not eternity) marriage have their parents sealed for eternity after her death?

  60. Paul on April 14, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    jeremobi,

    I’m not sure about past practices, I just know that the current policy is that woman can only be sealed to one man. With respect to their kids, I’m not sure. I’d probably give one of those it will all work out in the end. Presumably both spouses are already sealed and so the children will be born from parents who are both sealed and in the covenant…for whatever that’s worth.

  61. jeremobi on April 14, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    Paul:

    “Presumably both spouses are already sealed and so the children will be born from parents who are both sealed and in the covenant…for whatever that’s worth.”

    But this isn’t the case if the the second husband has only entered into one marriage–to a woman previously sealed to another man, right?

    To the extent that we claim there are definite blessings for those who are sealed in marriage, what are we to make of the entitlement to blessings, or lack thereof, for men married, for their first time, to women previously sealed to another?

  62. wendy on April 14, 2004 at 7:26 pm

    From the church handbook (as found on the internet): “A living woman may be sealed to only one husband. If she is sealed to a husband and later divorced, she must receive a cancellation of that sealing from the First Presidency before she may be sealed to another man in her lifetime.

    A deceased woman may be sealed to all men to whom she was legally married during her life. However, if she was sealed to a husband during her life, all her husbands must be deceased before she can be sealed to a husband to whom she was not sealed during life.”

    I thought I had heard that per a recent policy change living women could also be sealed to multiple husbands; either I had heard wrong or this version of the handbook is outdated.

    So if you die and your wife remarries, after she and the second husband have both died she can be sealed to him as well. Does she get to choose, or keep both?

  63. Kristine on April 14, 2004 at 7:31 pm

    Wendy, I’m thinking I’ve heard of that change too. Anybody got documentation??

  64. jeremobi on April 14, 2004 at 7:42 pm

    Wendy and Kristine:

    Thanks for the update. The policy you outline was my understanding as well, but I don’t currently have a handbook and thought Paul might.

    Now, can anyone explain to me possible reasons behind the double standard? Why might it be alright for a man to be sealed to more than one woman in life or death, while a woman must wait until she and all husbands are deceased?

  65. Kaimi on April 14, 2004 at 7:53 pm

    Weren’t some of the early polygamous / polyandrous women sealed to more than one man at the same time? Zina Huntington, perhaps?

  66. Julie in Austin on April 14, 2004 at 7:55 pm

    I think Nate has presented us with an interesting ‘thought experiment.’ I don’t think this change will (or should) occur, but I think there is merit in considering the question. (When I teach, I often ask my students something like, ‘If everything else was exactly the same, but we didn’t have the sacrament, how would your life be different?’ because I think it allows you to tease out the implications of a doctrine or practice.)

    At any rate, I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned the changes that would have to occur in our perception of heterosexual couples. If the church legitimates marriages with two men or women, how could we keep preaching about the distinct roles of men and women?

    I think most people read the sentence, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” as having primarily to do with the roles of men and women in heterosexual marriage. I think the statement was primarily meant to preempt any justification for SSM.

    How could we claim that mothers should be home with children when we have couples with no mother? How could the father be the presiding one in the home if we have families with two fathers?

    Maybe the church’s opposition to SSM is only marginally related to homosexuals and more focused on what legitimating SSM would do to our beliefs about the roles in hetero. marriages.

    Just thinking out loud here.

  67. Nate Oman on April 14, 2004 at 7:59 pm

    Did I miss something, it seems to me that the quoted language allows multiple sealings by a woman. Here is how I understand the rules:

    1. A marriage disolved by divorce must have its sealing cancelled before another sealing is performed.
    2. In the case of a previous marriage “disolved” by death, a woman may have a second sealing performed without having the previous sealing cancelled.
    3. Post humous sealings are not allowed if there is a living spouse.

    It seems to me that the ratio descendi of the policy is something like this: In the case of a series of monogramous sealings we let the sealings stand and leave it to God to sort out; however, we do not allow anything that looks like a posthumous attempt at polyandrous marriage.

    The only way this rule would be asymetrical with the male rule would be if (1) Men were allowed to enter into second sealings without cancelling the sealings from a prior marriage ended by divorce; or, (2) Men were allowed to perform posthumous polygynist sealings.

    My understanding is that (1) is not the current policy. I don’t know about (2), but I would be surprised if it were allowed. It is not clear to me that there is any double standard her at all, unless you are referring to the past practice of polygamy (or more precisely inter vivos polygyny).

  68. wendy on April 14, 2004 at 8:10 pm

    From the handbook re: living men: “If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may have another woman sealed to him if she is not already sealed. If a husband and wife have been sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance from the First Presidency before another woman may be sealed to him.”

    Dallin Oaks’ first wife died; he has referred to his second wife in conference talks as his “eternal companion”.

  69. jeremobi on April 14, 2004 at 8:24 pm

    Nate:

    Here’s the standard for women: “A living woman may be sealed to only one husband.”

    Am I confused? Can’t a living man be sealed to more than one wife (e.g. one or more deceased and one living)?

    This is asymmetrical, no?

  70. Ethesis on April 14, 2004 at 8:35 pm

    hmm, the following:

    quote//
    1. A marriage disolved by divorce must have its sealing cancelled before another sealing is performed.
    2. In the case of a previous marriage “disolved” by death, a woman may have a second sealing performed without having the previous sealing cancelled.
    3. Post humous sealings are not allowed if there is a living spouse.
    //end quote

    That was what I understood the policy to be the last time I looked at it. I’ve known people in that situation (marriage, death, sealed, new marriage, sealed again).

    Some policies move around, and I don’t know the story why. Just wait a while ….

    I need Julie in California here (Pistas3 from FAIR). She used to keep track of that sort of thing.

  71. lyle on April 14, 2004 at 8:50 pm

    re: “If a husband and wife have been sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance from the First Presidency before another woman may be sealed to him.”

    Not to promote asymmetry or anything; but…my branch president, stake president & the DC Temple Presidency don’t seem to have gotten this part of the update. I was told that I wouldn’t have to get a clearance if I chose to remarry & be sealed in the Temple [My former spouse left & divorced me].

  72. Mardell on April 14, 2004 at 9:25 pm

    That policy went into effect in 1993. I remember my aunt almost had to postpone her wedding because her soon to be husband now had to get clearence to get married.(he had been divorced a few years earlier) Luckly he had some connections so they got clearance in a couple of days and the wedding went as scheduled.

  73. Adam Greenwood on April 14, 2004 at 11:58 pm

    I think Julie is on to something. Opposition to gay marriage, morally speaking and not politically, is part and parcel of our belief that men and women are different, so that the union of a man and a woman is qualitatively different from a deep friendship between persons of the same sex.

    Also, marriage is of course not just about sex, but Nate’s original point is that our eternal marriage leading to divinity contains sex as an irreducible element.

  74. Grasshopper on April 15, 2004 at 12:08 am

    Kaimi asked: “Weren’t some of the early polygamous / polyandrous women sealed to more than one man at the same time? Zina Huntington, perhaps?”

    No (with one possible exception). Todd Compton’s excellent “In Sacred Loneliness” notes that there are no conclusive cases of a woman ever being sealed to both Joseph Smith and another husband. If I recall correctly, there is one possible case where, after Joseph’s death, one of his wives was sealed to another man, but it is questionable.

  75. Ethesis on April 15, 2004 at 12:53 am

    Posting as the devil’s advocate, and returning to the original post …

    The biggest problem most people have who place things in a historical context is that they don’t know enough history or enough context. I’m reminded of the German scholars who discovered that some of the hymns to God were similar to hymns to Ba’l and immediately drew the conclusion that the Jews were just a bunch of weak derivative copycats … missing the way the Jewish hymns play off of themes (for those of you who have been misled by reading the Bible dictionary we got from the Anglicans, and failed to update the Ba’l entry past the 1890s … Ba’l is a storm god. He rides on the clouds, he has two hammers, thunder and lightning, his enemy is drought, the pretender to his throne in his absence is the god of irrigation, etc. Puts the entire Elijah episode into context) of how God never fails, etc.

    In the proper context in the O.T., what are the trends?

    First, smaller population centers. That is very significant for any deviancy (using it in the statistical sense, not the moral one). Various sexual disorders happen at about one in 20,000 (the hermaphrodites, etc.). In a population of 200 million you can actually have communities of such groups. In a population of cities of 2000 or less, you aren’t going to have the same sort of flexibility.

    Second, bad habits of the natives. The child sacrifice, child sexual exploitation, the eunuch male prostitutes, etc. (BTW, the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality to strangers, it was the tribe of Benjamin who had the other issue).

    Third, the need for population growth. The entire cleanliness of women issue all revolves around fertility cycles (looking a it from a functional standpoint, skipping all the theological overlays).

    Fourth, and very controversial, the assertion by some evolutionary biologists that some sexuality issues are a disease process that has increased numbers over time and with better nutrition. Somewhat like Polio became a real threat with better cleanliness (polio is fairly harmless to children under two years of age and used to be endemic with all human populations. Cleaner water resulted in the population getting older than two and not being inoculated by exposure). Or asthma is today (a combination of lack of exposure to dirt [as in earth type dirt] and exposure to rat urine and cockroach spores seems to do greatly increase asthma). Do I believe? Well, if you’ve seen my posts on LDSLaw, you know I don’t believe in any of the statistical studies on homosexuality due to the corruption in the data sets introduced by the bias of the persons in the studies. But if true, it is an interesting thought.

    Fifth, the pattern of transitory homosexual activity associated with militaries (and in modern jails). Documented in some early studies of mafia in jail, but pretty much generalized to everyone in jail, huge cross-sections of society become homosexual when deprived of heterosexual activity. They revert to heterosexual activity upon release from jail today or upon return from the military in ancient times. The big issue was the amount of same sex rape that went on. One of the things you will read about in an accurate book (such as Manila Galleon) but probably not see in Master and Commander (which my wife and I just caught at the dollar theater).

    That is a bit of historic context. Someone ought to discuss that, no one seems to.

  76. Brent on April 15, 2004 at 1:19 am

    As in many comment threads, we have deviated from the original question–that is whether same-sex marriage can be reconciled with Mormon theology. It appears that some may have given non-mormon visitors to the cite the incorrect impression that it could. That is simply not true. The only part of Nate’s hypothetical that might give some room is his “what if the Prophet announced that God had revealed . . .” Because we believe in a Prophet who can speak for God, we would have to reconcile thing, but only then. What would present real difficulties, however, is the fact that sexual morality has, since the beginning been pretty much limited to the marital relationship and only to hetersexual couples. That is the theology. A prophet pronouncement contrary to that would likely be met with some real soul searching as one tries to square prior prophetic pronouncements with the new teaching.

    If you add the historical judeo-christian views of sexual morality to which we Mormons have subscribed with our beliefs in celestial marriage, the first commandments to Adam and Eve (multiply and replenish the earth), our belief that Adam and Eve were married in the garden exemplifying the importance of marriage, other biblical, Book of Mormon, and modern day scriptures on marriage and sexual morality, and the words of living prophets, and the answer to Nate’s original question is that there is no way, absolutely no way, to reconcile same-sex marriage with Mormon theology. Get rid of hypotheticals and look at what President Hinckley, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, all prophets, seers and revelators, have said about our theology and the answer is also clear. There really shouldn’t be any confusion about these matters, and we do a great disservice by implying that there is either some confusion about what our doctrine is, or that our doctrine and theology do not sustain and uphold sexual morality and marriage between men and women.

  77. Ethesis on April 15, 2004 at 1:20 am

    Well, lets move on to Paul, in historical context.

    Paul was dealing with Greek and Roman birth control methods, which included eunuch slaves (btw, someone who is merely neutered, but not completely clipped, can function and we know from Roman sources that rich women would purchase such men in order to take care of their needs without risk of pregnancy), and a number of other practices. Paul doesn’t address the eunuchs, but he does go over a number of other practices.

    Hmm, do we get into a discussion of birth control now? Probably not. Anyway. Men having their father’s wives (and other women who were past menopause), “working unseemly” and so forth, all of which are discussed in the New Testament and roundly condemned, along with other sexual infidelity. He addresses the trendy habit of taking the dominant position (often in intracural activity), the generally despised habit of being subservient, and a number of other practices.

    But he is condemning three things actively. First, he is condemning infidelity. Second, he is preaching against heterosexuals engaging in homosexual and other activities for birth control purposes. Third, he objects to the Hellenizing of the Church in promiscuous ways.

    If I were to attempt a theological harmonization (and I address this purely because so many down right incompetent ones have been done) I would stress those themes and approach the question “what about homosexuals married to each other who are not promiscuous, not Hellenic and not heterosexuals engaging in diversions for the sake of lust?”

    I’d also discuss the fact that infertile heterosexual couples can have eternal increase. Then I would cite to the transgendered Brazilian who was ordained (after clearance from Salt Lake, back in the 70s). How does a gay couple differ from an infertile hetero couple? How much of sex roles have to do with the fact that society needs roles and other functional issues?

    I could harmonize the theology.

    The next question would go to the externalities. The Church in Africa and other places where the “gay clergy” Church (the Anglicans) are taking a beating from the Moslems and losing ground.

    In addition, the issue of how important is sexual fulfillment? I’ve dealt with men who left their wives because they felt that having sex with a big breasted blond was too important to stay married (true story of one guy who left his wife and five kids for a fake blond with implants) or that a red headed wife just wouldn’t do, or … well, you get the picture. How does leaving wife (or husband) and children for a lover differ if the lover is blond or same sex? (It was important to the guy with the red hair, he had some sort of dysfunction issue that meant his wife had to either dye or hair or he had to keep his eyes closed).

    I’m not trying to trivialize what is a serious issue, I’m trying to illustrate the analogs.

    Which leads to the final question, in harmonizing the theology. What is the metaphor? Remember my caveat about deviancy above (statistical, not behavioral). Ok, give me a metaphor that works, that has a natural and attractive feel to it, and that harmonizes. (And save me from bad metaphors, like “Deaf People are Children of a Lesser God” – powerful metaphor, but it does nothing positive for the way hearing people deal with the deaf).

    And protect me from bad research and bad theology. No more “almost all cowboys were gay” and “all the early brethren had constant gay encounter” type essays or books. No more “Paul just said that effeminate men were in trouble, not necessarily gay ones” (when the text actually uses a Greek term for submissive catamites).

    Is it necessarily good theology to assert that gay marriage can be harmonized with the scriptural record? I’m not saying so, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here to indicate that at least a better job can be done than we are currently seeing.

    And, to comment that there are other issues, often ignored, in the larger world that may call for self sacrifice and patience with God.

  78. Ethesis on April 15, 2004 at 1:30 am

    Brent.

    You finally cut to the chase with:

    “Get rid of hypotheticals and look at what President Hinckley, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, all prophets, seers and revelators, have said about our theology and the answer is also clear. There really shouldn’t be any confusion about these matters, and we do a great disservice by implying that there is either some confusion about what our doctrine is, or that our doctrine and theology do not sustain and uphold sexual morality and marriage between men and women.”

    I have to say you are right. I’m speaking purely in a critique of the terrible job the current gays do and whether or not if we had an earth shaking pronouncement, there could be a harmonization.

    I think so.

    Do I think we will, or should get one?

    Now that is an entirely different point. Completely different. And my answer is leave that to God and his Prophet.

    Until then, I follow and obey and hold to the iron rod when I’m confused.

    It is the members of the Church who have seen the vision of the tree of life who need the iron rod to hold to. That tells me a lot about things when I think I may be confused (or that someone else is confused).

    Until the day I am perfect, I will remember that there are mists of darkness and that the only safety is holding to the rod, obeying, and keeping the faith.

    Thanks for the reminder, though some times it is fun to just engage in intellectual exercise.

    I’m so tired of the same old bad arguments, I thought (that after seeing the same stuff for almost twenty years) I’d correct them and at least try to move the discourse forward.

    And express my belief that God can and will surprise us, while revealing harmonies that we never thought possible. Will it be this one, well, don’t hold your breath, Blacks getting the priesthood is more likely.

    (Hmm, I’m tired, I can tell because I’m reaching for bad irony and humor in a post to finish it).

  79. Ethesis on April 15, 2004 at 1:44 am

    Speaking of Blacks and the Priesthood, I need to post about Richard Oteno, some time. I still wonder where he is today, haven’t seen him since my mission, circa 1975 or so in Niagra Falls.

  80. Ethesis on April 15, 2004 at 1:45 am

    Speaking of Blacks and the Priesthood, I need to post about Richard Otieno, some time. I still wonder where he is today, haven’t seen him since my mission, circa 1975 or so in Niagra Falls.

  81. greenfrog on April 15, 2004 at 2:25 am

    Ok, let’s exercise some creative thinking to see whether there could be a way of reconciling LDS theology and same sex relationships.

    On such an errand, one might start with the basic foundation that procreation within stable nuclear families is the prime function of divine recognition and approbation of marriage.

    Add to that the joining of two (or more, as in the case of polygamy) people in a covenant-oriented relationship with its highest priority the pursuit of a community known as Zion.

    Add to that the effect of continuing that relationship beyond death and mortality in perpetuity, working, living, loving, and acting together, in concert and in contrast.

    Those, for me, are the fundamentals of the LDS view of families.

    Now homosexual unions? My reconciliation of the two might go something like this:

    First, I’d note that we are on the cusp of vast changes to procreation of all kinds, including human. As our ability to manage, manipulate, and modify genetic structures increases, we can and should expect shortly to arrive at a day when human procreation will not require sperm and egg contributions from males and females. It already does not require sex of any particular form or preference.

    With that as the first step, the rest is easy. The revelations pertaining to homosexuality of prior times made sense for such times because same-sex unions could not offer procreation and perpetuation. With the change in technology, families, stable and procreative, can now (soon) be created that fulfill the divine instruction to replenish the earth. So there is no reason to deny those blessings and opportunities to persons who are attracted to the same gender.

    As to eternal procreation, I should think that the Church could reasonably and confidently state that if humans have figured out how to reproduce in a physical realm without the need for male-female copulation, surely God (whether absolutely omniscient or asymptotically approaching omniscience, whatever one’s view of LDS theology) can figure out ways to manage the same thing in spiritual form for same-sex couples. We can’t be better scientists than God, right?

    That doesn’t seem terribly hard to me.

    I think the harder question will be how the Church, whether it chooses to recognize same-sex marriages or not, will respond to the changes in life (and understandings of life) that will result from current genetic research. And my question is not pertaining to how the Church will respond initially. That’s a pretty easy question for such a conservative organization.

    The harder one will come fifty years after society has adapted to the idea that we can modify human genomes by addition of non-human DNA. What is the product?

    Do we only baptize perfectly “human” creations without regard to their sentience? Do we do a DNA check along with a baptismal interview Who knows? But I suspect that if it can open a front door and listen to missionaries, we’ll find a way to accomodate baptizing it, if it wishes to join with us, no matter what its DNA. Indeed, I suspect our theology would nearly dictact such an approach.

    At that point, traditional concepts of sexuality may seem quite remote and quaint. I imagine that some will respond that God will never allow humans to do such a thing as tamper with DNA. But so far, at least, the evidence doesn’t seem to lead in that direction.

    I believe that we really, truly, are not far from that future. Gay marriage looks pretty easy in that context.

    If nothing else, it will surely be interesting.

  82. Clark Goble on April 15, 2004 at 3:59 am

    “GreenFrog”, why do you think that relevant? Isn’t the point from an LDS point of view the nature of the spirit and not the body? BTW – I think there are sufficient genetic abnormalities normally that even human monkeying around won’t be that different.

  83. Ivan Wolfe on April 15, 2004 at 9:08 am

    Ethesis – Paul is not preaching against hetereosexuals engaging in homosexual diversions.

    This article at FAIR spells it out very well (this is one of the top 5 articles FAIR has ever produced:)

    http://www.fairlds.com/pubs/BiblicalHomosexuality.pdf

  84. Kristine on April 15, 2004 at 9:25 am

    Ivan, “top 5″ in terms of popularity or quality?

  85. Adam Greenwood on April 15, 2004 at 10:00 am

    I don’t at all see why test-tube babies here means that God can make test-tube spirits. If that’s the case, why have marriages at all, or sexes?

  86. greenfrog on April 15, 2004 at 11:34 am

    “why do you think that relevant? Isn’t the point from an LDS point of view the nature of the spirit and not the body?”

    I don’t believe so, no. I believe the LDS point of view is the combination of spirit and physical body, hence, the teaching regarding physical resurrection.

    “BTW – I think there are sufficient genetic abnormalities normally that even human monkeying around won’t be that different.”

    Don’t limit your thinking to tinkering.

    We can assert today that there is a standard human form that allows reproduction. And we can (and do) assert that God bears that same form. Hence, “genetic abnormalities” you refer to can be seen as “defects” in the design. What happens when the standard design is no longer “standard”?

    “I don’t at all see why test-tube babies here means that God can make test-tube spirits.”

    It doesn’t. It means that it seems unwise to presume that God cannot. Does our theology depend upon a Heavenly Mother who is perpetually pregnant? I don’t think that there is any basis, other than folk doctrine, to even begin to suggest such things. Hence, were Church leaders to disclose a revelation relating to same-sex relationships, I can’t imagine that such speculations would stand in the way of it.

    “If that’s the case, why have marriages at all, or sexes?”

    Why have marriages? Sounds like a good topic for a new discussion. I think that we can all think of lots of reasons.

    Why have sexes? Another good topic for discussion. I think evolution explains how sexes exist, even if I’ve never heard a good explanation of why, in the abstract, bisexual reproduction was evolutionarily preferred to asexual reproduction (at least in those species where asexual reproduction does not occur). Perhaps those with a better foundation in evolutionary theory can fill in my blanks on that question.

  87. Adam Greenwood on April 15, 2004 at 11:38 am

    That’s my point, Greenfrog. You’re reduced to saying that sexes are a sort of evolutionary accident, not fundamental to the plan, in the same post that you refer to Heavenly Mother.

  88. greenfrog on April 15, 2004 at 11:59 am

    No, I think I am saying that, in our world and over the next interval of years, sexes may become irrelevant.

    As to what is “fundamental to the plan,” that seems to depend nearly entirely on what one thinks the plan is. I’ve proposed that I don’t think LDS theology is so rigid that it couldn’t accomodate such a development. I can’t think of a reason to suppose that such a Plan requires a Heavenly Mother of Perpetual Pregnancy.

  89. greenfrog on April 15, 2004 at 12:13 pm

    When I suggest that sexes may become irrelevant, I meant irrelevant to reproduction and procreation.

  90. Bob Caswell on April 15, 2004 at 12:13 pm

    So greenfrog, with all your genetic/technology talk, are you suggesting that the idea of Heavenly Father will not be needed any more? As the world figures out more ways to muck things up even more, we’ll just start praying to a Heavenly Being because “Father” would be a misnomer? Are you just relying on some sort of “but we don’t really know” argument?

    I think LDS theology may be slightly more rigid than you think.

  91. Adam Greenwood on April 15, 2004 at 12:44 pm

    I agree with Bob (nooooo!). Technology may well make sex appear to be irrelevant, but it won’t be irrelevant at all if it is celestially relevant.

    Please feel free to mock my position, but consider not involving Heavenly Mother or pregnancy as your instruments.

  92. D. Fletcher on April 15, 2004 at 12:46 pm

    I find this whole discussion about non-gendered reproduction to be fascinating! I wish I could contribute…

    But I read the scriptures as emphasizing parenting over partnering. Children are born, yes, but they must be taught righteousness in order to obtain exaltation. “How” they are born seems less material than how they are developed into Gods.

    Robert Wright calls it investment, adult supervision over the children to help them survive.

    If parenting is more important than partnering, does the gender of the parents really matter?

  93. greenfrog on April 15, 2004 at 12:52 pm

    Adam,

    Thanks for the note. The mockery was unnecessary to my point, and while it was intended to be funny, a second look and your comment suggests irreverence that was inappropriate.

    greenfrog

  94. Bob Caswell on April 15, 2004 at 12:57 pm

    D. Fletcher, I’m not sure why parenting somehow being more important than partnering makes gender less relevant.

    I’m not sure I like to think of one as *more* important than the other, but even if you convinced me, then what? Explain why, all of a sudden, gender is less relevant.

  95. Bob Caswell on April 15, 2004 at 1:01 pm

    I agree with Adam (yeesss!). I’ve always wanted to…

  96. Charles on April 15, 2004 at 1:09 pm

    “I’ve proposed that I don’t think LDS theology is so rigid that it couldn’t accomodate such a development. I can’t think of a reason to suppose that such a Plan requires a Heavenly Mother of Perpetual Pregnancy.”

    LDS theology is probably more ridgid than you may be considering. If theology was created by man then it certainly can be modified by man to meet his needs for this time period. However, If the LDS theology is based on God’s will then it doesn’t matter what convienences we humans make for ourselves. (I don’t want to be tied down to a husband or wife, but I want kids. Let’s get technology to help us, kind of thing)

    Only God can make changes to his plan. As for Heavenly Mother and her role. It would be presumtuous for me to assume that perpetual pregnancy is part of the plan. I don’t know what her specific role is and anything else is speculation.

    “If parenting is more important than partnering, does the gender of the parents really matter?”

    I find this interesting. I think that gender will matter. Without rehashing the old argument of homosexuality’s right or wrongness, let’s think of it this way.

    If we accept that LDS theology is to say that homosexuality is wrong, then it follows that same sex mariages will demonstrate to the children involved in those families that it is okay, when it is not. This is certainly not the only principle to be learned in the family but it is a substantial part of learning right from wrong. Also if families are to be together forever and the parents are sinning in such a way that they do not want to repent of it (remember repenting is forsaking the sin and not committing it anymore) then the parents will not be able to move forward with their children if the children are able to move past the less than desirerable examples of the parents.

    As for the mocking I say, Job 21:3.

  97. Grasshopper on April 15, 2004 at 1:17 pm

    How about this for a takeoff of greenfrog’s questions/comments:

    Imagine a planet (like Octavia Butler has) where there is intelligent life (intelligence at the same level as ours or greater). The reproductive process for these intelligent beings requires the involvement of three beings of three different genders.

    What would be the implications for Mormon theology if we were to discover such a planet (or they discover us)?

    (Or imagine intelligent beings that manifest only a single gender and are only capable of asexual reproduction.)

    Now extend this from life on other planets to life on this earth. Suppose that, 200 years from now, we are able to use genetic technologies to develop animals with human-level intelligence. How would the plan of salvation apply to them? Suppose that we are able to use genetic technologies to comine DNA from three human beings (or a single human being) to create a new human body? How would this be different from the first example I asked about above (regarding beings on other planets)?

  98. Gary Cooper on April 15, 2004 at 1:22 pm

    This thread has now taken a very interesting turn. Hugh Nibley published an article years ago that touched on precisely the issues which greenfrog brings up. I must say it was one of the most disturbing pieces Nibley ever wrote. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it, so perhaps someone else here can help us out. The subject was the condition of the earth and of mankind right before the Great Flood. It may have been called “And there were giants,”, I think. Nibley quoted extensively from apocryphal and pseudopigraphical writing and other commentaries to make the point that God did not want to destroy His children with the Flood, but He had no other choice, because if He didn’t Man had reached a point of development in TECHNOLOGY and WICKEDNESS combined, that if left unchecked Man would destroy the whole earth. Some of the texts Nibley cites even say Man would have destroyed the universe itself. Specifically, Nibley cites the texts’ accusation that ante-Diluvian men were tampering with the fountain of life itself, in an attempt to create their own race in opposition to Adam’s lineage, and that Satan taught them how to do this, and this was how we got the “giants” that the Bible refers to. Really interesting, and frightening.

    What happens when our science reaches a point where humans can be created “artificially”? Worse, what happens when the State can create it’s own policeman and soldiers, drones without a conscience, wholly subservient to the State? What happens when resentment builds between the “real” people and the “New Man”, and the latter is the group holding weapons? What made good science fiction a few years ago can now be reasonably predicted as future reality. (In this regard, is anyone disturbed by how flippantly every LDS congressman and senator in Washington has jumped on the “fetal tissue research” bandwagon? I really was uncomfortable with Orrin Hatch and others testifying to Congress about “LDS” doctrine, seemingly implying that human life isn’t life unless it’s in a mother’s womb. We don’t KNOW that, and the Church hasn’t made it clear, but there Hatch et al. were, flapping their big mouths…) My point here is that we may be reaching a point where the Church finds itself “standing in the way of human progress”, and hence may increasingly be seen not only as “archaic”, but even as an enemy. What happens when the Church tells the members to abstain from certain kinds of medical research and fertility procedures, or begins to speak out about the increasing “de-humanization” of Man? What if we refuse to solemnize marriages between not only homosexuals and lesbians, but between trans-sex clones from the same DNA, or between clones with BOTH genders, or no gender at all? What happens when, through economic pressure and/or government edict, LDS couples find themselves barred from having children “normally”, and forced, if they want children, to adopt government-made clones? At some point, if the Scriptures are to be believed, there will arrive a scenario in which the Church CANNOT compromise any longer, and we stand squarely against a world that, for all of its technology, will have gone mad. The debate of SSM is just the cusp of this, but I expect it to get worse. We argue now over what sexuality and gender mean; tomorrow we could be argue over what being human means, and who deserves to live or die.

  99. D. Fletcher on April 15, 2004 at 1:31 pm

    Bob,

    I was just asking the question.

    Opposite-gendered partnering does seem to be God’s way of procreation, though it isn’t really mentioned this way in the scriptures previously quoted. It does say in Genesis that He created them, male and female.

    I don’t include the Proclamation, because this was clearly meant to counteract alternative lifestyles in this country and at this time.

    But I still think the emphasis of the Gospel is on teaching.

    Perhaps God considers the “qualities” of teaching different for the different genders, and this is why both are needed. One aspect of the Proclamation that we haven’t explored here is the mention of single parents. Single parenting seems to be very frowned upon by the Brethren, unless out of necessity.

    So, one could conclude, both genders are necessary for the growth of a spiritual being to full Godhood.

    P.S. How about this: a gay couple, legally married, raise their adopted children in the Church, even though the couple themselves are denied full blessings. Possible? Will the children really respond to the teachings of the Church? As we know, it’s difficult enough as it is to keep the family active.

  100. lyle on April 15, 2004 at 1:45 pm

    “And if God created Woman & Man after the image of the office of God”? i.e. Exalted Woman & Exalted Man in partnership with each other?

  101. Bob Caswell on April 15, 2004 at 2:26 pm

    The science fiction aspect of this thread has my head spinning. I love science fiction but hope for it to stay as fiction. I may be thinking out loud in a very idealistic fashion, but I’ve always thought (or have wanted to think) the second coming would come before technology/genetics became a real issue. But this thread is bursting my idealistic, naive bubble…

  102. Gary Cooper on April 15, 2004 at 2:42 pm

    Bob Caswell,

    I understand how you feel. I can see few other issues more likely to fulfill the apocalyptic aspects of “last days” prophecy in the Scriptures than the whole technolgy/genetics/science run amok scenario. The statement about men being “without natural affection”, and the one about “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” seems surprisingly vivid to me when I think about the possibilities I described in my last thread. Zion WILL be a refuge from the storm, and perhaps this could include providing good and decent people in the world with the only place where they can find true identity as “humans”, “men”, “women”, “husbands”, “wives”,”fathers”, “mothers”, etc.

  103. Grasshopper on April 15, 2004 at 3:00 pm

    Gary,

    You seem to be saying that any scenarios such as those I imagined in my post (asexual human reproduction, “non-human” beings with human-level intelligence) would *necessarily* be a bad thing. Is that what you are saying? If so, why?

  104. Thom on April 15, 2004 at 3:31 pm

    I realize the post has moved well past this subissue now, but just for the record I would like to indicate that a woman who is sealed to a first husband and becomes widowed, cannot then be sealed to a second husband unless she has the original sealing nullified. The second marriage can be in the temple for time only, but not for time and eternity. Any children born to the woman and her second husband are born in the covenant and are therefore sealed to their mother and her first husband, rather than their biological father. If the second husband was never previously married, he goes through life unsealed to anyone but his parents and siblings, with the hope that the Lord will work it all out to everyone’s satisfaction in the next life.

    I have this on very good authority, if you consider the mouth of Elder Faust good authority, since I am the second husband in the aforementioned scenario.

  105. Kristine on April 15, 2004 at 3:44 pm

    Thom, no wonder people think Mormons are crazy :>) !!

  106. Adam Greenwood on April 15, 2004 at 4:07 pm

    Kudos to greenfrog.

  107. Gary Cooper on April 15, 2004 at 4:48 pm

    Grasshopper,

    I have no quarrel with such things if God wants to create such, since He is God and I trust His judgement. But, as has been pointed out by others, the idea of deliberately “creating” human beings outside of families, either for the “harvesting” of the their vital parts, or to “program” them to serve the state, kill, serve as slaves, etc., I cannot fathom or accept, and it is these very ethical issues which may end up springing upon us sooner than any one wants. Developing humans with four arms, animal/human hybrids, etc., would appear to be abominations, rather than something God would have us “accomodate”. My point is that it may very well be possible for human kind to “tap in” to powers similar to some of the powers God has with regard to creating life—but that does not make it desirable, especially given Man’s tendency towards evil.

  108. Grasshopper on April 15, 2004 at 7:02 pm

    What if scientific truths are revealed by God? What if man is God’s way of creating such things? Right now, man and woman are God’s way of creating human bodies, despite the array of ethical problems presented by such creative activity. Of course there are ethical problems surrounding creation, but the mere existence of ethical problems doesn’t invalidate the process itself.

  109. Jordan on April 15, 2004 at 9:31 pm

    Thom,

    My mother-in-law is also in that category (sealed to first husband in temple for eternity, husband died, now she is remarried). BUT- she got special permission from the first presidency to be sealed for all eternity with a second husband. I do not know what this does to the first relationship or what the implications are, BUT I know that it happened because my wife attended the sealing (it was before I was married to her).

  110. Jordan on April 15, 2004 at 9:34 pm

    Thom-

    I just re-read your post on the topic, and now that I think about it, my mother-in-law may have had to nullify her sealing to her first husband first in order to be sealed to the second.

    Which seems a horrible prospect for me and all men if I happen to die early- will my sealing to my sweetheart just be unilaterally nullifiable if she meets someone even more charming than me? A scary prospect…

    Anyway- that would mean that you are correct, if she did in fact have to nullify the first sealing before proceeding to the second.

  111. jeremobi on April 15, 2004 at 10:47 pm

    Thom:

    “I realize the post has moved well past this subissue now, but just for the record I would like to indicate that a woman who is sealed to a first husband and becomes widowed, cannot then be sealed to a second husband unless she has the original sealing nullified. The second marriage can be in the temple for time only, but not for time and eternity. Any children born to the woman and her second husband are born in the covenant and are therefore sealed to their mother and her first husband, rather than their biological father. If the second husband was never previously married, he goes through life unsealed to anyone but his parents and siblings, with the hope that the Lord will work it all out to everyone’s satisfaction in the next life.”

    Did Elder Faust explain why this must be so? That is, why can a man be sealed to more than one woman in his life, but a living woman can be sealed to only one man?

    Do you have children and are they likely to have you and your wife sealed after you both pass on?

  112. Connie on April 16, 2004 at 3:48 pm

    Jumping back to the issue of children produced in scientific ways rather than man-woman… I personally believe that God has bestowed upon us the knowledge he wishes us to use – it is up to us to use it for good or for “evil”. I believe that if a couple wish to have a test-tube baby, or to be artificially inseminated, or any other choice of conceiving, I believe that God has already known that life will be created and has planned for that conception from before the technology was created (I believe that is the concept in Mormonism of the pre-existant family? The family as a whole before coming to this Earth? Please correct…)

    I believe the method is trivial. God ultimately creates life, not us.

    As far as gender roles (What a FABULOUS topic, btw) in a Gay relationship… I can speak from experience when I say that the male role models in our family provide a great reference for our daughter (grandfathers, uncles), but her biological mother (my partner) handles a lot of the “typical” male roles in our family (discipline, etc). When she was a single mother, she took on both roles (due to the natural fathers absence and abandonment).

    My daughter is well aware of the traditionally “feminine” roles and, in fact, plans to carry on a great many of these roles as an adult. However, she seems to have a broader perspective of who should minister the tasks. A man staying home with the children while the wife earns the family’s income, I believe, will become more prevalent in our modern society as gender roles are blurred. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for men willing to do so to have an extraordinary bond with their children that had previously been ridiculed. I don’t believe a woman can rear a child better than a man anymore than I believe a man can be a better role model for a hard-working employed parent.

    Do I feel a woman has a certain nurturing side to her that is Divine? Absolutely. Do I think God bestows that same attribute to men who need it (as in the case of my friend whose wife died in childbirth)? Absolutely.

    Our Lord knows what strengths we need and when we need them. I believe he provides the inner core of who we are and the strength we need to pull from to handle anything that comes our way.

    I am grateful for my upbringing in a traditional way, with a mother at home and a father who worked very hard to provide. However, I wish I had the same relationship with my father that I do with my mother. I am only now, in my 30′s, realizing what an extraordinary man he is. I missed out on a lot.

    I think what is truly missing is the desire for same sex couples to provide *TWO* loving parents to a child. I do not believe the gender matters. If you put any two men and any two women side by side, each one of them will have a different capacity for nurtuing, or strength of work ethic, or higher education, or domestic skills. Two parents, regardless of gender, offer two different perspectives, personalities, experiences, and if a couple is willing to commit to one another, and commit to the child, then that child is luckier than a lot of children in the world right now.

    My 2 cents! :)

  113. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 4:03 pm

    I guess that’s where we disagree, Connie. We’re arguing that gender must matter, that some roles can only be imperfectly mimicked, or else why did God give us genders in the first place? In fact, we’d go a step farther and argue that God didn’t even create genders, exactly, but that they’re an inherent part of one’s being.

    As for the test-tube baby thing, I wouldn’t dispute that the technology is itself neutral. The whole question is whether using it to create children for an otherwise categorically sterile homosexual relationship is a good use or an evil one. Some technologies, of course, are such that the use of them could be inherently evil, like the possible technology to create animal-man hybrids that we’ve discussed further in the thread.

  114. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 4:26 pm

    Jeremobi and Jordan,

    When I spoke to Elder Faust it was in the context of a Q&A session during a priesthood leadership meeting, so I really did not have the opportunity to ask about the reasons for the policy, even if I had been motivated to ask. I simply asked what he thought the result would be for me as the dad of our kids. He did seem to ponder an answer, and then gave up and said thathis faith just leads him to believe that the Lord will work it all out in the end.

    My wife and I do have three kids now, and frankly they are still young enough that they have no idea that their Mom was married before and that she and I are not sealed to each other. I therefore have no way of knowing whether or not the kids may try to have us sealed to each other after my wife and I die.

    The eldest knows we were married in the temple, and we are hoping that this knowledge will tide his curiosity over long enough for us to figure out how to tell him he is sealed to a “Dad” he has never known in this life. We have no idea at what age this info will be manageable to them and not freak them out completely.

    While my feelings on being an active, temple-going member of the church who is unable to be sealed to his wife and children do tend to be quite tender, especially during temple sealings for my wife’ siblings, this scenario is hard on my wife as well. While I am a great guy that she loves and she hates that I have to go through life unsealed to my kids, her deceased first husband was literally her childhood sweetheart to whom she had been married for a little more than a year when he was killed. She doesn’t feel like it is fair for her to have to make an eternal choice between us, and she’s right. So it looks like we will just have to wait to have it all sorted out in the next life.

    Its a bummer, but I chose it knowingly when we got married. I guess before I had kids I just didn’t understand how much I would crave that connection to my children. It makes me sad, but I do have faith that it will all work out someday.

  115. Steve Evans on April 16, 2004 at 4:36 pm

    Adam, don’t get me going about them animal-man hybrids! That thread brings back such fond memories…

  116. Connie on April 16, 2004 at 4:47 pm

    “I guess before I had kids I just didn’t understand how much I would crave that connection to my children.”

    Succinctly put, Thom. That’s *exactly* how I feel about not being recognized as my daughters “other” parent legally in the State of Utah. I guess the difference is that your children are obviously biologically related to you and mine is not.

    To address the gender role issue: I believe God created us all with the capacity to expand into whatever role we are called to undertake and they are not necessarily inheritant to one’s gender. I know of men who are heterosexual who have chosen to be primary care givers. I had some young friends who were female heterosexual who never had any desire to play with a Barbie. This does not make them any less a man or a woman.

    Male and female is simply biology. God gave us our “sex” in order to naturally procreate. Nurturing and work ethic are Human and can be emulated by a person of any gender.

    Our gender roles are largely influenced on our societies interpretation of what they should be – not God’s. Although, I believe in your faith, you believe that God does set these gender roles, correct?

  117. greenfrog on April 16, 2004 at 4:55 pm

    “We’re arguing that gender must matter, that some roles can only be imperfectly mimicked, or else why did God give us genders in the first place? ”

    I’m not arguing that, but I suspect Adam wasn’t using “we” to include my views. Adam’s question presupposes gender to be a product of divine origin and divine intention. Perhaps it was intended to be rhetorical, rather than inquiring. I shouldn’t think that it was intended as an inquiry, since the same question could be asked about polio viruses in children, rye ergot fungi, and dandelions in bluegrass lawns. I’m guessing that we shouldn’t divert this discussion down such a path, so I’ll stop with the point that this is not a universally held belief, even among members of the Church.

    “In fact, we’d go a step farther and argue that God didn’t even create genders, exactly, but that they’re an inherent part of one’s being.”

    What does it mean for “gender” to be “an inherent part of one’s being”? I truly don’t understand this phrase, nor it’s counterpart in the Proclamation on the Family. When my spouse and I are compared, it is clear to both of us that, on balance, she has more “masculine” personality characteristics than I, and I have more “feminine” characteristics than she. Should we conclude that we are, respectively, gender-bending moral offenses to God? Or should we thank God for bringing us together and jointly seek to build Zion?

    “Some technologies, of course, are such that the use of them could be inherently evil, like the possible technology to create animal-man hybrids that we’ve discussed further in the thread.”

    I don’t think anyone has presented even the beginning of an argument that creation of hybrids is inherently evil. Even if it were, once the sentient hybrid exists, should we deem it irremediably damned, or a brother or sister?

  118. Kaimi on April 21, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    The “finality” of church statements about homosexuals seems a little less final when one examines similarly definite-sounding statements about Blacks.

    Aaron has just posted a 1949 statement about Blacks and the Priesthood over at BCC. See http://rameumptom.blogspot.com/2004_04_18_rameumptom_archive.html#108257804760619870 .

    That statement also seemed very final — Blacks would just have to wait until the resurrection. And that position changed.

    Given our experience with at least one major change in position, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to think that the church’s position on gays might also change in the future.

    (After all, isn’t that the idea behind living prophets — to allow us to change our policies, as directed by the Lord?)

  119. lyle on April 21, 2004 at 5:43 pm

    Our Heavenly Parents created Man & Woman in their image. Gender isn’t just biology…it is divine.

  120. Adam Greenwood on April 21, 2004 at 5:45 pm

    Connie,
    The Proclamation on the Family carries more weight than the commenters here would have you think. The mainstream Mormon belief is that gender is inherent, which obviously influences much of our beliefs on other things.

  121. Adam Greenwood on April 21, 2004 at 5:48 pm

    I am generally uncomfortable with the argument that church doctrines have evolved in the past and that we can therefore ignore the ones in the present. Nor do I think that we can rightfully reject doctrines because they are superficially contradicted by one sample of anecdotal evidence.

  122. lyle on April 21, 2004 at 5:54 pm

    Kaimi:

    You have a great point…except that with Blacks & the priesthood:
    1. Blacks, along with all other worthy males, were originally able to have the Priesthood. This was only changed latter as the Saints were unable to deal with their prejudices.
    2. Homosexual conduct has never ever been sanctioned, approved or tolerated by the Lord.
    3. The Priesthood is a blessing…the ban on homosexuality is a commandemtn of God, i.e. sinful to break it. God can give/take blessings…but changing commandments?

    While you are correct re: the magnitude of the change it would require (except that changing a sin to a non-sin would be greater than expanding the franchise of a pre-existing blessing) even a greater magnitude of change.

  123. clarkgoble on April 21, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    Lyle, I’m not sure I buy (1). It seems that even acknowledging that many of the traditions were incorrect that (1) doesn’t follow. Not that I want to turn this into a blacks and the priesthood thread.

    Kaimi, while I agree that for a long time most Mormons believed blacks wouldn’t receive the priesthood until the resurrection, technically that letter doesn’t. It is the old question of groups versus individuals. It may well be that the blacks were the last *group* to receive it for unknown reasons. About the only real problematic part of the letter (beyond the tone) is the acceptance of the Book of Abraham as talking about the origin of all skins of darkness. (Or perhaps Moses — its hard to tell)

  124. Kaimi on April 21, 2004 at 6:16 pm

    Clark,

    I’ll grant that the letter isn’t a complete endorsement of the Resurrection idea, though it seems pretty close.

    Lyle, etc.,

    As a general matter, however, my point is that when the Lord chooses to change the policies of the church, He may do so, and all of our logic or rhetoric or discussion will mean nothing.

    There were a lot of members who could marshall arguments about Blacks and the priesthood — citing to Abraham, to the Old Testament racial scriptures, and so forth. All of those arguments (which were apologetics) had zero weight when the prophet announce the new policy. (Though I understand that many members left the church because of it).

    Similarly, we can cite to Paul and Leviticus all we want, but if the church changes its policy, all of those arguments will mean nothing. And who are we to presume that the Lord cannot, or will not, change His policy in this area?

    We think that “gender is eternal” or other assertions, but the fact is that we don’t know what is eternal. The Lord can change this.

    All of this is not to say that he _will_ change it — just that it is very presumptuous of us as mortals to presume to tell Him what is and is not eternal, and how He may or may not change the operation of His church.

  125. jeremobi on April 21, 2004 at 6:22 pm

    “Sex” is used with reference to biology. “Gender” refers to cultural categories, which explains why gender roles are never fixed and vary from time to time and place to place. As the “divine” is revealed to us, our understanding of genders may change. Sex roles are hard wired and thus more difficult to alter.

    Lyle: I’m not disagreeing that the policy on the Priesthood was changed because the saints “were unable to deal with their prejudices.” But this sounds very different from the rational found in the 1949 statement.

    Are you suggesting that the Brethren could not recognize their own prejudices and fabricated elaborate theories to rationalize their bigotry? If so, could that also be the case with historical and contemporary positions regarding homosexuality?

  126. clark on April 21, 2004 at 7:11 pm

    “Are you suggesting that the Brethren could not recognize their own prejudices”

    I think that is always true. Heavens, I tend to be very self-examining but I’m sure there are lots of hidden assumptions and prejudices I have that I’m not aware of. The issue isn’t whether this could be true, but how we judge this. I think there are huge differences in how prejudice could play in viewing blacks and viewing homosexuals, given the theology of marriage.

    Kaimi, I don’t think the issue is *us* telling *him* what is or isn’t eternal but understanding what he *has* told us. I think everyone agrees that we shouldn’t impose our understanding on the Lord. But that doesn’t somehow mean we shoudln’t seek to understand. We may always be wrong, but we have different levels of confidence based upon reasoning and evidence.

  127. Julie in Austin on April 21, 2004 at 7:27 pm

    I hate to interrupt such a serious conversation with silliness, but a sociologist friend of mine said that the only reason the word ‘gender’ instead of ‘sex’ is used in official church discourse is that if someone said ‘sex is eternal’ over the pulpit, the deacons might rupture an internal organ trying not to laugh.

  128. Nate Oman on April 21, 2004 at 7:40 pm

    Kaimi: Given the possibility of a change in church policy, how do you imagine that it would actually work in practice? In other words, what is your answer to the question that posed oh those many comments ago in my original post, namely how one might understand sanctified same sex unions in the context of a Mormon concept of exaltation that revolves around heterosexual union?

  129. Kristine on April 21, 2004 at 7:44 pm

    Julie–of course it says “gender” to avoid saying “sex.” The word “gender” was sort of re-invented precisely to refer to the kinds of distinctions that are not biological (i.e. sex), but socially constructed. Thus “gender” is by definition not eternal, though one might argue that sex is eternal.

  130. Jim F. on April 21, 2004 at 7:46 pm

    Julie, that reminded me of an off-topic experience from my distant past. I was the 1st counselor in the district mission presidency, and the mission president and I were asked to speak in a branch a long way from our ward in the days before the consolidated schedule, making for a VERY long day.

    I was asked to speak on the Gospel teachings for which I am thankful. Among other things, I said that I am grateful for the Church’s teachings about sex because I like sex. As soon as I said it I realized that wasn’t the right place to have done so, but it was too late to do anything about it. So I continued on. No one said anything, but I got a letter from the Branch President later that week dressing me down and, at almost exactly the same time, a phone call came from the mission president (Hugh Pinnock) suggesting that an apology was in order. Of course I apologized. I wonder what those deacons did, but I didn’t notice them giggling, probably because I was too self-conscious at the moment.

  131. Nate Oman on April 21, 2004 at 7:54 pm

    Kristine: I have seen this argument before in reading the P. on the F., and while I understand the importance of the sex/gender distinction in the various iterrations of feminist theory, I don’t necessarily see why we should think that the P. on the F. is making the same distinction.

    First, given the possibility of eternal societies in Mormon theology, there doesn’t seem to be any necessary inconsistency between “eternal” and “socially constructed.”

    Second, it seems a bit silly to assume on the basis of the way that the term “gender” is used in a particular corner of the academy that it is always used in that way. Lots of folks use the word gender as a synonmy for sex. If I buy a puppy and ask the breeder “What gender is it?” the breader is not going to give me a look of incomprehension and then launch into a discourse on the canine application of Simone De Beauvoir.

  132. Lyle on April 21, 2004 at 8:07 pm

    Let’s play “name that revelation” and then answer the question re: whether or not God is going to “change” an eternal, imutable, & ‘essential’ characteristic. And feel free to apply what we’ve been discussing recently re: the meaning of words, how they are used, attention to detail…etc, etc, etc. Maybe even dictionary definitions or how they are used in LDS discourse? I’m sure this would only replicate a past thread, but maybe I’m wrong.

    “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
    P on the F.
    http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,161-1-11-1,00.html

  133. Kristine on April 21, 2004 at 8:21 pm

    “If I buy a puppy and ask the breeder “What gender is it?” the breader is not going to give me a look of incomprehension and then launch into a discourse on the canine application of Simone De Beauvoir.”

    Well, probably not, but a girl can dream!

    Sometimes (in moments of weakness) I can be persuaded that common usage is as legitimate a way to “define” words as any appeal to etymology and the OED. However, in this case, the usage of “gender” as in “gender roles” really does originate in the academy, and fairly recently, at that. The fact that it has made its way into sloppy common usage is an interesting story, but not a reason to abandon the useful distinction the term was meant to make. In the case of the P o t F, the sloppy usage makes it difficult to discern what is really meant–is biological sex eternal? That fits with what we know about resurrected bodies, and reinforces received Mormon doctrine about God’s relationship to matter. However, the Proclamation may also be read to suggest that gender roles (esp. those that were normalized in middle-class post-WWII U.S. families) are eternal, and that is a very different–and, I think, less defensible–proposition. I agree with you that it’s entirely possible that there will be “socially constructed” roles in the eternities. I just think that the Proclamation is needlessly confusing because it fails to clearly delineate between biological and social constructions of maleness and femaleness.

    Then again, perhaps the language is deliberately vague so that it can be elastic.

  134. Lyle on April 21, 2004 at 8:28 pm

    Then again, perhaps the language is deliberately precise & used by the 15 & GAs exclusively in a deliberate & precise way so that i can be so definitive (unless you are an academic of course).

  135. Lyle on April 21, 2004 at 8:31 pm

    [chagrin] that “i” is supposed to be an ‘it’.

  136. Kaimi on April 21, 2004 at 8:40 pm

    Lyle,

    Accepting all of that, it seems that future change is always possible in a revelation-believing church such as ours. God’s future statements will override what will then be past statements.

    Or, as Elder McConkie said regarding Blacks:

    “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    “We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter
    any more.

    “It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year.”

    (Greg has the full statement on the BCC comments, at http://www.haloscan.com/comments.php?user=rameumptom&comment=108257804760619870#26071 ).

  137. Lyle on April 21, 2004 at 8:48 pm

    Kaimi: Hey…I’m open to change. I’m just trying to point out that, IMO, this would be like God ceasing to be God. I can’t remember where…but in the D&C there is verse (re: God keeps his promises) that talks about how God can’t/won’t go back on his promises. While gender doesn’t seem to be a promise…it does seem to be something just a tad more fundamental, and thus, perhaps less likely to change.

    There is something about words like “premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” that indicate a status that isn’t subject to mortal, or immortal, change.

  138. ed on April 21, 2004 at 10:46 pm

    Nate asks: “how one might understand sanctified same sex unions in the context of a Mormon concept of exaltation that revolves around heterosexual union? ”

    My answer is, we might understand them the same way we undestand a woman being “sealed” to two men, or Thom’s kids being “sealed” to another man….in other words, we wouldn’t need to understand them, we’d just have faith in God’s benevolence.

    (I put “sealed” in quotes, because I think our theology is vague about just what the actual ramifications of sealing are supposed to be, especially sealing of parents to children.)

  139. Adam Greenwood on April 22, 2004 at 8:30 am

    Kaimi,
    I think Lyle’s point is that while we will always accept what God says in the future, perhaps we should start by accepting what’s been said in the present.

  140. Lyle on April 22, 2004 at 3:46 pm

    :)

  141. Mark on July 11, 2004 at 4:01 am

    >>D. Fletcher: I don’t know, where does it say that same-sex unions couldn’t actually reproduce in the next life?

    It seems to me that when the Church backed away from Brigham Young’s “Adam-God” theology, they lost the clearest statement as to why homosexuality doesn’t lead to exaltation. According to Brother Brigham, the first thing an exalted couple does in the hereafter is create a bunch of spiritual offspring, and then go down to a new earth themselves in order to become mortal (albeit temporarily) in order to start the process of physical generation of lives all over again. There seems to be a requirement for an Adam and and Eve, and not an Adam and a Steve (to resurrect the old chestnut). In short, unless a homosexual couple is capable of ensuring a “continuation of the lives” in a fallen, mortal condition, then only heterosexuality is a fit within the puzzle of what celestial beings do for the rest of eternity.

  142. Let Us Reason on May 5, 2004 at 12:17 am

    Evolution: The Real Issue Revisited
    What has not been addressed well at all, to my knowledge, is how human evolution seems to challenge uniquely Mormon doctrines. At Times & Seasons, Nate Oman correctly pointed out that the pinnacle of Mormon salvation is divine fecundity. Exaltation i…

  143. Adam Greenwood on November 11, 2004 at 5:11 pm

    A good point, Mark.
    But I still believe that our belief that God is *literally* our Father requires something more than his ability to create or manufacture human spirits the way he did with physical creation. Some, dare I say ‘essential’, features of spirit biology seem to be indicated.

  144. Larry on November 11, 2004 at 11:49 pm

    Adam,

    Just for fun. It may not be “spirit” biology that is required. Since we create what flows through our veins, we know that our”spirit” children will not be mortal. What will flow through our veins is light, ergo what will be created are beings of light.
    I could give scripture links for this but it would be more fun to see a discussion on this.

  145. Larry on November 12, 2004 at 3:06 am

    Nate,
    Re: #35
    If same sex marriage is legalized why would the Church have to recognize it? Common-law marriages are now legal and I don’t see recognition of them as being part of the Proclamation on Marriage. The reasons for living in a common-law relationship are every bit as valid as establishing a homosexual relationship if we are to use purely existential logic.
    A larger question becomes, what are to do do with the term “virtue”? We have a basic idea of what constitutes virtue in the Church and the moral values associated with it.
    Since societal values can be defined by what any vocal group demands at any given point how does one build a foundation on which to base behaviour. At what point are we able to say “this far and no further”? Once we rationalize a previously held bad behaviour what makes any behaviour bad?
    When we no longer can identify bad behaviour then how do we know if we are exhibiting good behaviour?
    The value of moral absolutes either implicitly or explicitly defined is they provide a foundation. They are a measuring stick. This doesn’t make those who break those absolutes evil – it simply provides evidence that a bad behaviour (or a sin, if you will) was committed. From there remedial action can take place. If we take away those absolutes, for whatever reason, then everything becomes fair game over time and we are left with no recourse for reconciliation or at-one-ment.

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