From the Archives: The Real Issue

March 28, 2006 | 148 comments
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In light of the recent publicity surrouding the Buckley Jeppson case, I thought that some readers might be interested in this post from a couple of years ago. It goes, I think, to the question of the significance of the Canadian-sanctioned marriage of Jeppson and his partner. I am not offering this post as a theological gotcha to homosexual-rights activists. I am well-aware of the pain and difficulty caused by the current stance of the Church toward homosexuality. I would like to see a better resolution than the one that we currently have. However, it seems to me that any such alternative has to begin by taking the doctrines of the Restoration seriously.

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 lawâ€? — 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.â€? 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 or woman 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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148 Responses to From the Archives: The Real Issue

  1. ed on March 28, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    “It seems to me that by virtue of the hermeneutic offered Schow we could sanction such unions as chaste.”

    So do I understand correctly that you aren’t ruling out gay marriage, but only gay sealing?

    “The real question, however is whether they could be sanctioned as exalting.”

    Why is that the real question? I understand that the church no longer counsels homosexual men to marry women. So there would be no exaltation opportunity-cost in letting them marry other men civilly, since they wouldn’t have access to the exalting ordinance anyway (at least not in this life).

  2. Mark IV on March 28, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    Nate,

    Thoise are all good points, but I don’t think divine fecundity is as strong an agrument as you seem to.

    We allow marriage, even marriage in the temple, to couples who have neither the intention nor the ability to have children. A man and a woman who have been previously sealed to deceased spouses are allowed to marry, and, given their ages, the command to multiply and replenish seems misplaced.

  3. Nate Oman on March 28, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    Ed: It is the real question because so long as one remains committed to a soteriology based on heterosexual union, there is no way of accomodating homosexual unions that does not leave them in a second-class position. Hence, I think that you could explicitly accomodate homosexual unions but only by explicitly affirming their inferior status. This, in turn, would run counter to the ambition of Schow and others that homosexual unions be fully normalized within the Church.

  4. Nate Oman on March 28, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    Mark IV: Isn’t the point of divine fecundity, however, that it extends into the hereafter where the sorts of difficulties that you point out no longer obtain. Furthermore, it is not the sealing itself that bestows exaltation. To the extent that exaltation means “increase” — I think that this is what the D&C says — then a couple that is sealed but chooses to have no children seems not have access to the full promises of the sealing. One other point: I am not claiming that the notion of eternal increase can be reduced to heterosexual fecundity. Rather, I am claiming that heterosexual fecundity is a necessary part of the the concept. This is the nub of the theological difficulty.

  5. Hellmut Lotz on March 28, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    If section 132 determines the parameters of salvation then we all need to become polygamists.

    Obviously, we have redefined the meaning of 132, at least in practice. In light of polygamist realities, it is difficult to defend it as a divine institution. We are much better off with a more inclusive understanding of marriage.

    The fact is that homosexuals are part and parcel of God’s creation. That can be reconciled within a family oriented theology. Section 132 is not insuperable obstacle. It has already been reinterpreted.

  6. Jeremy on March 28, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    I seem to recall, vaguely, some gay-mormon-advocacy site or article invoking some concept of “ministering angels” as an accepted cosmological goal. In other words, a kind of acceptance of the “second tier” of the celestial kingdom, rather than the reportedly more fecund (and presumably heterosexual) “first tier,” as a worthy goal. Don’t know what I think of that; seems like it could potentially offend just about everybody.

  7. Nate Oman on March 28, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    Hellmut: This is a bald assertion on your part. Let’s see the argument. The problem is that the idea of heterosexual fecundity offered in section 132 as part of the theology of polygamous marriage can be reconciled with the theology of monogamous heterosexual marriage, which seems to be how section 131 is interpreted. The question is whether or not homosexual marriage is one reinterpretation too far. As I see it the conceptual problem is that critics of the Church’s current stance have offered an ethical critique of its practice, but have not seriously engaged in the hermeneutic problem. Their are exceptions — Schow being one of them — but so far as I have seen NO critic of the Church’s current stance has tried to make sense of the ideas of exaltation contained in sections 131 and 132. I am more than willing to admit that we could do more to accomodate homosexuality within the context of our current theology. My question is at what point does an imagined theological accomodation rip the conceptual guts out of the Restoration.

  8. Nate Oman on March 28, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    “In other words, a kind of acceptance of the “second tierâ€? of the celestial kingdom, rather than the reportedly more fecund (and presumably heterosexual) “first tier,â€? as a worthy goal. Don’t know what I think of that; seems like it could potentially offend just about everybody.”

    Exactly…

  9. tracy m on March 28, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    “The real question, however is whether they could be sanctioned as exalting.â€?

    Hmmm… very interesting point. If gay men cannot receive exaltation anyway, becasue they do not marry a woman, what have they got to loose… Very interesting. My theology background is nowhere deep enough to try and answer that question. However as someone with gay family members, and an active, RM friend who took his (chaste) life because he was gay, it might bear more investigation.

  10. J. Stapley on March 28, 2006 at 6:41 pm

    The one presumption that is required in your analysis, Nate, is that eternal fecundity requires a physical sexual union. While I do think it requires a man and woman, I don’t think this procreation is physiological in nature (I know that this is a minority view), opting for a view that spirits are eternal and uncreated. While, the scriptures are quite explicit that exaltation requires a man and woman, I think that a non physiological union is a lower hurdle for those arguing for homosexual accomodation. It is still a hurdle, though.

  11. Nate Oman on March 28, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    J: You may be right. There is certainly a fundamental tension between the idea of eternal increase as sexual fecundity and the idea of uncreated intelligences.

  12. Clark on March 28, 2006 at 7:17 pm

    Nate, one alternative (not one I espouse I hasten to add) is the idea of polyandry. Yes it’s not mentioned in D&C 132 but it was definitely practiced in Nauvoo. This would enable gays to marry. After all presumably lesbians would have no trouble abiding the conditions of D&C 132 in a polygamous society. Then in the hereafter when whatever cognitive structures provided the lesbianism could be changed without changing the underlying relationship. Apply the principle to polyandry and there you go.

    Of course this does raise all sorts of other issues. And I don’t expect the church to do this in the least. I just don’t see the church re-instating polygamy. But already there is a de-facto polygamy due to allowing males to remarry serially after the death of the first spouse. There isn’t legitimated polyandry. Even the polyandry of the 19th century had only one male actually sealed to the woman. So it’s perhaps harder to invoke theologically. Yet as I understand right now there is almost a de-facto polyandry in work for the dead due to the tendency to just seal everyone who looks married and let the Lord work it out. Admittedly it is due more to a practical matter than a theological matter.

    None of this deals with the underlying issue of sexuality, of course. Just the issue of sealings. And (once again I hasten to add) I doubt the Church would (or should) do any of this. I’m just pointing out the possibilities theologically.

    The problem with sexuality in these matters was raised by the Manti apostates back in the 1990′s. As I recall there was a big split over whether a man could sleep with two wives at once. On faction said this was lesbianism and thought it horrid. The other seemed more open to menage a tois. Yet such a relationship pretty much is the theological endorsement of lesbianism. (And of course lesbianism has always been more tolerated societal-wise than male homosexuality – it’s even basically tolerated by many Jewish medieval rabbis) Of course the activities of such apostates doesn’t necessarily have bearing on us. (Especially given their massively abusive use of the Manti temple – that still angers me) The point is that these issues naturally arise once polygamy is legitimized, even if only in an odd hereafter sort of way as is common in the current modern church.

  13. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 7:37 pm

    “Furthermore, the fecundity seems to be explicitly tied to the fecundity of heterosexual union.”

    This is stretching the original scripture, which mentions marriage, but is not specific to gender. We got all the way to 1994 before genders became essential.

    As to same-sex marriage, as I’ve said before, Joseph Smith’s theological foundation for polygamy almost insists that some men will be left out of the salvation equation, since some men will have several wives (here, or in the hereafter) and some will have none. Those men without wives should in fact have the possibility of exaltation, and marriage to each other offers that. In this way, one could say Mormon theology actually promotes same-sex marriage more than other, perhaps more liberal Protestant sects.

  14. queuno on March 28, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    I almost hate to bring up this other point, because similar arguments on other boards have been dismissed as reductive and antagonist, but, at some point …

    If you’re interested in the opinions of prophets on the matter, don’t you have to take into account the Proclamation? Obviously, any subsequent prophet can override the teachings/proclamations/revelations of a previous prophet, so it seems that if we’re debating the nuances of certain statements from the past, if we profess to believe that modern prophesy has *any* place, than we can’t ignore the Proclamation.

    Then again, maybe it is reductive, but how do you argue it away without arguing away modern revelation?

  15. queuno on March 28, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    [I should add ... insofar as the Proclamation has any relevant scope. Yes, it says nothing about non-marriage unions, but at least on the issue of marriage, it seems relevant.]

  16. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    Queuno, I’m not sure the Proclamation can be called revelation or prophecy, though I don’t know that it isn’t revelation, either. It was written by lawyers of the Church, edited by Dallin Oaks, who then presented it to the Brethren. It wasn’t originally meant to be anything but legalese, providing written evidence of the doctrine which might oppose same-sex marriage, something that hadn’t been written before.

  17. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 28, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    A few thoughts:
    1. I have never understood Doctrine and Covenants 132 to only be about polygamous marriage. The new and everlasting covenant refers to a marriage sealed by priesthood power. We are told Adam entered into this covenant. It has existed since the beginning, but polygamy was not part of that all of the time. Even in the day when polygamy was a law for some, not all sealed marriages were polygamous. I have always understood D&C 132 as talking about *both* the concept of eternal sealings and the concept of the law of polygamy.
    2. The other row to hoe re: homosexuality vs. polygamy is that polygamy was divinely commanded, and has ancient roots/divine validation as well. Homosexual unions have neither element.
    3. J. Stapley, since there are teachings to refute your opinion, on what do you base such opinion that eternal procreation isn’t physiological in some way? Why would male and female be necessary if some sort of physiological union wasn’t part of the equation? If we are created after the image of God, it makes no sense to me to think procreation could be much different than it is in mortality (well, at least at one level).
    4. In our theology, how could homosexuality ever be considered chaste, if the definition of chastity is inextricably tied to heterosexual marital relationships?
    5. There is no doctrine that says that gay people can’t receive exaltation. ANYONE who obeys the commandments can receive exaltation. I know this is tender and difficult, but in a bottom-line kind of way, homosexuals are not excluded from the blessings of exaltation anymore than anyone else. The qualifications are really the same for everyone, although elements of those qualifications are inherently more difficult for homosexuals.
    6. I don’t think our theology allows for same-sex unions to be eternal…my understanding is that anyone not exalted will be alone. I don’t think ministering angels won’t have partners of any sort.

  18. Howie on March 28, 2006 at 8:00 pm

    “It was written by lawyers of the Church, edited by Dallin Oaks, who then presented it to the Brethren. It wasn’t originally meant to be anything but legalese, providing written evidence of the doctrine which might oppose same-sex marriage, something that hadn’t been written before.”

    Source please? Evidence? Is this a rumor or do you have something more than so-and-so told me so?

  19. hurricane on March 28, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    As a gay Mormon, I am of two minds.

    One the one hand, I find myself persuaded by this summation that Nate offers: 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.

    Mormon doctrine, as I understand it, could allow for gay unions, but not gay sealings–at least not as we currently understand doctrines associated with the sealing power and exaltation.

    On the other hand, I find myself wondering if collectively, as a church, we simply have not applied enough creative energy and prayerful humility into looking for other answers. The heterosexual bias runs understandably deep. Where might it take us if our leaders could step out of that bias?

    I don’t expect the lot of gay Mormons to change anytime soon. As for me, my reality cannot seem to find a joyful and fulfilling place in Mormon theology, which has led me to question and doubt its validity. And that, in turn, is leading me out of the Church.

  20. J. Stapley on March 28, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    m&m, to answer your first question, the early polygamist leaders of the church taught that there was polygamy in those cases (including our great exemplar). I don’t particularly agree with it, but it was standard 19th century belief. You also said that there are teachings that refute my opinion. Indeed, people have taught many things. However, there is no scripture or revelation to controvert the position and Joseph’s teachings supports it.

  21. Bill on March 28, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    I think it is dangerous to try to bend of re-interprete Church Scriptures and Church teachings to suit the needs of groups within or outside the Church, who can make a lot of noise, and negative PR. Just becasue a bunch of homosexuals have started making some noise doesnt mean that we have to try to appease them. I think the Church higher-ups in SLC ought to stand firm, and reject the likes of Bradley Jepperson

  22. Clark on March 28, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    “We got all the way to 1994 before genders became essential.”

    It’s pretty well entailed by most 19th century Utah theology though – especially their notion of a spirit birth.

  23. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    But we don’t have any idea of the procedure of spirit birth. Spirits might as well spring forth from the mind of their parents, in which case, it could conceivably do so from parents of the same gender.

    I’m not suggesting that heterosexual fecundity isn’t deeply ingrained in our theology, but it isn’t elaborated as such in the scriptures. If any theology provides reason for two men or two women to find each, ours does: plural marriage assumes many will not be able to marry the opposite sex.

  24. A Nonny Mouse on March 28, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    I’m not suggesting that heterosexual fecundity isn’t deeply ingrained in our theology, but it isn’t elaborated as such in the scriptures. If any theology provides reason for two men or two women to find each, ours does: plural marriage assumes many will not be able to marry the opposite sex.

    Except that Nate’s whole point, and it’s a valid one based on any reasonable reading of the scripture he cited about about “their seed continuing forever”, is that heterosexual fecundity is deeply ingrained in the theology precisely because of the scriptures. The passages in Section 132 a man and a woman to make any sense at all, and any other reading of them really lacks traction. That’s, as I understand it, Nate’s point. You have to somehow nullify the clearly intended heterosexual nature of the marriage relationship as clearly spelled out in excruciating detail in section 132 in order to make homosexual unions equivalent in terms of exaltation. And that seems hard to do given those scriptural passages.

  25. Hellmut Lotz on March 28, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    Nate, actually my argument is quite limited. Section 132 is not the final word. Otherwise we would need to be polygamists.

    There seems to be some flexibility. Whether that includes gay marriage is another question. But a narrow interpretation of 132 cannot make sense of contemporary practice. Hence section 132 should not be presumed to be the ultimate version of LDS soteriology.

    I elaborate the argument on my own blog.

  26. Mark IV on March 28, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    Nate, Mouse,

    I’m still not happy with the idea of divine fecundity being a necessary part of our doctrine of exaltation. While the scripture appears to be straightforward enough, I believe there is room in our doctrine for childless couples in the CK.

  27. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    Additionally, our theology, and as far as I know, *no* other existing Christ-based theology, allows for alteration by revelation. Before 1978, our theology forbad people of color from receiving the priesthood; that “deeply ingrained” doctrine with scriptural support has been completely obliterated from our theology and our culture. Whether God provided that revelation because of social or cultural pressure is not for me to say, but the change did happen, and provides precedent for other changes that might be called for in a modern world. In fact, perhaps the most centrally-defining aspect of LDS theology is that it is alterable in the present, and to refute that is tantamount to reducing us to the level of belief of Episcopalians.

  28. S. on March 28, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Nate writes “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. ”

    This is an easy question. The answer is yes, and easily, the church leadership says so. If Hinckley said tomorrow, “Married gay couples [or couples with transgender members, etc.] can be exalted and enjoy the same benefits [including procreation] as married heterosexual couples,” then we’d all say, “Oh…. that’s a big surprise…. hmm… I wonder why we worked so hard fighting this issue before….”

    But it wouldn’t be a theological crisis. Our current theological understanding of exaltation is far too limited for that. We might say, “I thought gender was an eternal attribute,” and Hinckley might say, “Yes it is. I said that gays would be exalted, not that gender wasn’t eternal,” and we’d say “Oh.”

  29. J. Stapley on March 28, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    Mark IV, there is plenty of evidence to support the childless in the Celestial Kingdom. Exaltation, however, is something else.

  30. S. on March 28, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    Previous post should read “The answer is yes, and easily, IF the church leadership says so.”

  31. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 28, 2006 at 9:30 pm

    Hurricane (#19)
    In spite of all our discussion elsewhere, I want you to know I am sorry to know of your pain. I wish there were easy answers. I know the “it can all work out in the next life” doesn’t offer much when you don’t feel a place now. I felt the same kind of pain from my unmarried relative who wept about not having posterity in this life. Perhaps there is nothing I can say that really can change that pain, although I do believe in the “next life” blessings. I just know that doesn’t help a lot in the here and now. I guess what I am trying to say is that my heart goes out to you, even if it may not always appear that way with my strong feelings on this topic.
    M&M

  32. Mark IV on March 28, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    J. Stapley,

    Well, now I’m stumped. I think if we go down the road that ties exaltation to childbearing, we also have to bring in the idea that the size of our posterity determines the degree of our exaltation. Am I wrong?

  33. Kimball Hunt on March 28, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    In practice it seems the principle of continuous revelation works sometimes something like this:

    (A) Numerous Church apostles of a somewhat earlier age would re-relate the even-earlier Church pronouncements and patriachal blessings to the effect that the lost Ten Tribes would return en mass from a land to the north and that Jesus would appear in His Second Coming from the east. And in particular elder James Talmage would state there to be individuals in the tabernacle hearing his voice who would live to experience such events (and he died in 1933). (B) But subsequent general authorities tend to merely preach for the Saints’ to live as though the Lord’s earthly reign were imminent without their being as precise in their measurements of these endtimes.

    (A) Earlier general authorities emphasized the necessary, doctrinal importance to polygamous sealings. (B) But many contemporary Saints will comfortably concede, along with Nate, “that plural marriage really has been renounced; it is not some hovering requirement held in abeyance to be reimposed in the hereafter.”

    (A) Recent general authorities make pronouncements warning that certain aspects of the dreams of being career women is antithetical to the Church’s position on the family. (B) But the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley extols the career choices of a nurse professional he meets as exemplary.

    So–although it’s unecessary for me to reiterate here the Church’s “A” position with regard to homosexuality–I’d imagine there will have to be just a whole lot of gay-but-otherwise-faithful “Don’t ask don’t tell” Saints before some future prophet formally or informally delivers whatever the Church’s “B” position might be.

  34. Edje on March 28, 2006 at 9:39 pm

    D. Fletcher (22): “If any theology provides reason for two men or two women to find each, ours does: plural marriage assumes many will not be able to marry the opposite sex.” and (13): “…some men will be left out of the salvation equation, since some men will have several wives (here, or in the hereafter) and some will have none.

    Besides AN Mouse’s critique in 23, which I find compelling, these assertions require the assumptions that the gender ratio of individuals otherwise eligible for exaltation is inadequate to provide spouses for all. As far as I know we are not privy to that sort of quantitative information. I’ll grant that the ratio might not be 1:1–i.e., that there might be polygamous relations in the hereafter–but beyond that I am doubtful of any claims of spousal scarcity in the eternities.

  35. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    “So–although it’s unecessary for me to reiterate here the Church’s “Aâ€? position with regard to homosexuality–I’d imagine there will have to be just a whole lot of gay-but-otherwise-faithful “Don’t ask don’t tellâ€? Saints before some future prophet formally or informally delivers whatever the Church’s “Bâ€? position might be.”

    Yes! Let’s hope you’re right.

  36. Edje on March 28, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Mark IV (25): I’m not following you well. Then J. Stapley seemed to address your concern (28, 31) and now I’m even more confused. Are you arquing against the idea…

    (1) That folks who had no children in mortality but not by their own (direct) choice cannot be exalted?

    (2) That folks who chose not to have children in mortality cannot be exalted?

    (3) That every exalted couple will have (post-mortal) posterity, i.e., that there will be no couples–otherwise on par with folks doing the “worlds without number” thing–that will choose to not have posterity and I dunno… just hold hands and watch galaxies go by? (not that I really know what the other exalted folks will be doing)? That is, that the “eternal increase” part of exaltation is something that can be interpreted other than having eternal posterity?

    (4) Something else that I’m missing in my denseness? (density?)

  37. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    Edje, is there some doubt that there will be polygamous relations in the hereafter? My great-grandfather was Heber J. Grant, who had 3 wives, and as far as I know, this plural marriage will continue to exist for eternity. I was also told by a former Seventy, S. Dilworth Young (he’s deceased) that he continued to practice polygamy, but in a serial way: his first wife died, and he remarried a second for eternity. So, presumably he’ll have 2.

    As to more earthly subjects, there’s a definite social problem with a number of teenage boys being raised in polygamous communities — there aren’t enough girls to go around. Many of the teenage girls (at the same age as the boys in question) are already married or betrothed to older men. It’s just natural to question a practice that doesn’t provide the same option to everyone, but polygamy leaves a number of men… dangling, as it were.

    Polygamy, as a social practice, left the world at the same time as democracy entered it. One man, one vote, one (potential) wife. A wife for all, but only one. It was men who outlawed polygamy, not women.

  38. Mark IV on March 28, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    Edje, sorry for not being more clear.

    My understanding (for now) is that our exaltation depends upon our personal righteousness. It isn’t at all clear to me that childbearing is a prerequisite to exaltation.

  39. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 28, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    Spirits might as well spring forth from the mind of their parents
    That wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as procreation is now. Why would we go backward? ;)

  40. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    I don’t know, m&m, different strokes for different folks.

  41. TrailerTrash on March 28, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    Nate,
    You have put your finger (again) on the real issue. As yet, LDS theological reflection has not yet fully explored this issue. I hope to some day tackle it more fully, but for now let me offer some very few thoughts on the subject. I think that the best place to start is not just with liberal ideas about homosexuality, but with the more well-theorized arguments of queer theology and queer theory. Perhaps I am too optimistic, but I actually think that there might be something there worth thinking about in terms of Mormon theology, though neither comes out unscathed.

    1. The LDS doctrine of eternal marriage needs to reexamine the gender binary of heterosexuality on which it is built. It assumes that there are two stable sexes (not just genders). However, there aren’t two biological sexes. As many as 2-3% of children born are born intersexed. This has to be taken seriously theologically. Only recently have we as a church (and society) begun to think about this problem. If biological sex is not dual, but multiple, we need to rethink how marriage reflects this fact.

    2. We also need to rethink eternal fecundity. What relationship does this have to biological sex and procreation? Is there a gestation period for spirit children? Eternal sex sounds great, but we need to think long and hard about eternal procreation and the precise form it will take, if at all. There is a long strand of Mormon thought that insists that spirit children are not begotten, but eternal. Divine parentage takes on a different significance in this theory that does not require procreation.

    3. How does divine biology relate to mortal biology? We tend to think in potentialities about sex. If a woman or man cannot sexually reproduce in this life, they will be able to in the next. If this couple cannot reproduce in this life, they are not seen as punished or deficient. Why couldn’t the same thing be true for same-sex couples?

    4. I think that polygamy might be an option here theologically as well. If we are committed to females being a class of heavenly reproducers (despite my arguments above), then we might be able to imagine a multiplicity of relationships between men and women. Queer theologians frequently point to the Trinity as model of male-male relationships, but this works even better for Mormons since we see the godhead as separate beings. As long as eternal procreation occurs, why not other forms of sexual relationships? We have decided already that sex is not restricted only to procreation. Why would the eternal realm be any different?

    As I said, this is probably a bit jumbled since I am writing it before I go to bed. Just some thoughts about some directions that we could take.

  42. Robert C. on March 28, 2006 at 10:14 pm

    Kimball (#32) and others, it seems you’re ignoring one of Nate’s main points, that homosexuality is different than these other issues you mention because none of them were reversals of canonized scriptural passages, only reversals of church policies or general authority speculative statements/interpretations of certain passages. There seems a lot less room for interpretations of D&C 132 that would allow heterosexual unions, and there is no precedent for such a direct reversal of modern scripture. (Polygamy being a possible exception, but I don’t see any canonized scriptures saying that polygamy is required, only that it is allowed in certain circumstances.)

  43. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    What’s the reversal of modern scripture?

  44. Robert C. on March 28, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    For starters, D&C 132:18: “And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word . . . they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.”

    I’m not saying there aren’t ways to interpret this scripture otherwise, I’m saying (actually I’m saying that Nate is saying) that it would require an interpretation of modern canonized scripture that strains a natural reading of the text to an unprecedented degree….

  45. Robert C. on March 28, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    Sorry, I realize D&C 132:16 also needs to be taken into account to make the case:

    “Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.”

  46. D. Fletcher on March 28, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    Yes, I see. But the key idea here is that the marriage itself be approved of God. As far as we know now, God doesn’t approve other than heterosexual unions. But there’s nothing in our theology (or that scripture) that suggests he *cannot* approve other kinds of unions.

    But Nate’s argument really rests on the idea of eternal fecundity, which he assumes means heterosexual fecundity, since that’s the only kind we logically know about in this life. And yet, many, many couples end up childless. Our theology even provides for this! We have sealings which may be performed for adopted children, insuring the exaltation of the family. Guess what? Gay couples may not be able to raise offspring in this life, but they can adopt.

    I honestly think a case could be made, right from our scriptures, that our Church provides more theological grounds for same-sex marriage than other, more traditional Christian churches.

  47. Robert C. on March 28, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Interesting point about sealings for adopted children (#44). I’m not sure I fully appreciate or see scriptural support for Nate’s fecundity argument (though I haven’t looked closely). At the least, I’m sympathetic to the views expressed here that (1) childless couples will be able to have increase in the next life, which seems sufficient fulfillment of the promise/requirement, (2) I don’t see heterosexual procreation being listed as the only way to obtain increase, which relates to the “reversal of scripture” issue:

    I reread D&C 131 and 132 more carefully and agree that there is no explicit statement about only male and females marriages being worthy of exaltation. Only male and female unions are stated as being so worthy, but I don’t see any statement that only male and female unions are approved. (Thanks D. Fletcher for spurring me to look at this more closely; now I think it would “only” require a reversal of the Proclamation on the Family and an addendum, albeit a somewhat dramatic one, to current canonized scripture to allow for homosexual unions to be sealed….)

  48. hurricane on March 28, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    mullingandmusing (30)-

    Thanks for that. I appreciate it very much.

  49. Julie M. Smith on March 28, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    Re #12: “There isn’t legitimated polyandry.”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but if a deceased woman was married to >1 man in her life, she can be sealed to them all with the assumption that “it’ll all get worked out eventually”, no? We usually assume that the working out means that she’ll pick one, but is it not theoretically possible that she could pick >1? It seems to me that allowing a woman to be sealed to >1 man opens the door, at least a crack, to polyandry.

    Re D. Fletcher: Please tell me that the horrid pun in #22 was an accident.

  50. Clark on March 28, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    Julie (#47), unless the policy has changed recently (and I’ll admit my ignorance) that can’t be done. Indeed I know for a while this caused quite a bit of consternation among some. I’ll admit that from a purely logical perspective it would solve a lot of thorny problems (such as the obvious population problems with polygamy that have been often discussed)

    Robert (#45), it is a common belief that creation in heaven is sexual in some sense. There are allusions to it in the scriptures but also good reasons to disagree with it. Indeed it’s one of the big issues that LDS theologians some accuse of adopting a more Protestant theology embrace. i.e. the denial of spirit birth in place of a more neutral organization of spirit matter or even spirits and intelligences being the synonymous. As I said, there are textual arguments for this. Blake Ostler in particular has some writings on the spirit/intelligent debate. But it’s also clear that in 19th century Utah the spirit procreation was taught as formal doctrine.

    While in some ways the Church has moved away from Brigham Young’s theology, in other ways (such as the proclamation on the family on gender) it has moved back towards his views.

    Robert (#40) that’s a very good point if we stick to canonized scripture. Move beyond that into claims purporting to be directly from God and things get a bit stickier. One of those things I’m glad I don’t have to figure out in this life.

    Kimball (#32) doesn’t your position end up just being the old skeptical challenge? We’re sometimes wrong so why believe anything? As I’ve mentioned in other threads, in one sense there’s no possible logical reply to that if people embrace fallibilism. (Which I think Mormonism entails given our rejection of inerrancy) But of course the skeptic always forgets about the burden of proof, which is I think Nate’s point. In this case the burden is most explicitly on those arguing for legitimate homosexual relationships.

  51. Stephen M (Ethesis) on March 28, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong, but if a deceased woman was married to >1 man in her life, she can be sealed to them all with the assumption that “it’ll all get worked out eventually�, no? We usually assume that the working out means that she’ll pick one, but is it not theoretically possible that she could pick >1? It seems to me that allowing a woman to be sealed to >1 man opens the door, at least a crack, to polyandry.

    Indeed it does, and they do.

    We’ll eventually learn the details.

  52. Clark on March 28, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    Whoops. Misread you Julie (#47). I thought you mean a living woman. (That’ll teach me to read quickly to catch up) Yes, you’re right. In genealogical work there is a tendency to seal them all and let the Lord fix it up. I have this horrible feeling that most of the work of the millennium will be fixing screwed up genealogy. (grin)

  53. Edje on March 28, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    In the “Supporting the Family” broadcast last month, Elder Bednar posited that the (mortal and post-mortal) personal development required for exaltation is only available in heterosexual marriage; he did so without referencing fecundity (mortal or post-mortal; he talks about children as a separate doctrine):

    “The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation. …”

    “By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fulness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other. …”

    “As we look beyond mortality and into eternity, it is easy to discern that the counterfeit alternatives the adversary advocates can never lead to the completeness that is made possible through the sealing together of a man and a woman, to the happiness of righteous marriage, to the joy of posterity, or to the blessing of eternal progression.”

    I can think of two ways to read him: (1) Heterosexual marriage is a means to an end, or (2) Heterosexual marriage is the end itself, that is, the definition of exaltation requires the gendered relationship. If we go with (1) we might suppose that there are other means to the same end (and that Elder Bednar is wrong about the “no other way” business; I am rather uncomfortable with this–I don’t mind apostles being wrong, but I’ll wait until another apostle corrects him before I start supposing it). If we go with (2), which seems to me the more natural reading, I don’t see any way to reconcile homosexual marriage and exaltation.

  54. Brad Kramer on March 28, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    Just want to say that the discussants here deserve some real credit. I’ve participated in forums on this topic (along with many here) on other sites, and those discussions have been considerably less substantive and much more argumentative (in the negative sense), to the point that people have basically been shouting (typing) over each other’s heads. Nice work, Nate.

    My experience with the discussions on other sites has brought to my attention another significant question, only hinted at here. I get the sense that what many gay Mormons are really asking for is not that their same-sex relationships be sealed in the temple as much as they simply want to be able to marry their partners, legally and lawfully (under the assumption that laws everywhere re SSM will continue to liberalize, including in the US — an assumption I share) and have fellowship in the Church. I have a good friend, RM, strong testimony, reads his scriptures, etc, and he is gay. Out of the closet, totally embraced it. He lives in NYC. He is currently not sexually active, although he is extremely active in the gay community — more so than he is in the Church. He plans on continuing to abstain from sexual relations, meeting someone who shares his values (another gay, believing Mormon), marrying said someone, and raising a family together, hopefully in the Church.

    I think an important question for us to answer is whether or not even this is possible. In other words, could legally married gay couples be considered as complying with the cannonized definition of the law of chastity? Could they be granted fellowship, encouraged to adopt and raise children in the church, even given certain callings, individual temple recommends — basically everything short of sealing their marriage, and simply tell them that God will sort out the details later (like we do on a number of other sticky situations)?

    I think that part of the question here rests on the definition of sin and two very broad categories of sin: actions that are inherently sinful versus actions that are sinful only here and now, given the present circumstances. And there can be actions which are sinful under present circumstances but not inherently sinful. Polygamy, for example. Polygamous relationships are currently cause for excommunication, yet no believing Mormon could argue with a straight face that they are inherently sinful (maybe I’m presuming too much here). I think it’s pretty clear that our current leaders consider homosexual relations to be sinful. The question is “what do you mean by sinful?” Is homosexual sex inherently sinful — i.e. inimical to the plan of salvation — or is it sinful because for most, if not all, of human history it has necessarily, based on societal constraints, been relegated to the realm outside of marriage? Elder Oaks gave an intervies to CBS several years back in which he seemed to suggest that it was, in fact, the latter (I’m too lazy to furnish a link, but it’s posted on one of the Jeppson threads at LDSLF). Would granting fellowship to gay couples that abstained from sexual relations outside of legal marriage and remained faithful to their partners within marriage require a change in doctrine, or merely a change in policy?

    I came into this discussion (again, on other sites) with certain assumptions regarding this question (inherently or circumstantially sinful). But the discussion has caused my views to evolve and I am by no means certain where I stand. It seems that if exaltation requires gender polarity (as has been suggested on various grounds here, as well as by the Proclamation) then it makes sense to say that homosexual relations are inherently sinful in that they are, by definition, an obstacle to that exaltation.

    Also, it’s not as simple as stating that a revelation can change everything. Sure, we are a Church and a religious tradition that prizes the principle of continued revelation. But that does not mean that any revelation, composed of any doctrinal or policy content, is possible. Here are some examples of revelations that, I think most will agree, we will NEVER see:

    There is no God (Duh)
    There is no more need for revelation.
    Jesus is not the Messiah/Savior.
    Joseph Smith was a false prophet.
    Priesthood is no longer necessary.

    Etc, etc. Now, I’m not saying that I know one way or another; but does removing gender from the equation of celestial marriage/fullness of exaltation belong on that list? Again, I’m only asking because I really don’t know.

    PS Nate. I’d love to learn more about the history of the POTF. What’s your source?

  55. Edje on March 28, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    Oops. I botched the link to Elder Bednar’s talk and sent you to the footnotes. Sorry.

  56. Gilgamesh on March 28, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    Mark IV :”My understanding (for now) is that our exaltation depends upon our personal righteousness. It isn’t at all clear to me that childbearing is a prerequisite to exaltation.”

    You are correct about our being granted to exaltation is based onn righteousness. But our progression hence continuous exaltation, will be contingent on our entering the creative process. i.e bringing spirit children to earth’s such as our own. That is God’s work and glory – bringing to pass our immortality. Our work and glory will be the same for our own spiritual offspring. I would figure that those who choose childlessness in the NEXT life will not continue in their progression and creative beings. That is NOT contingent on childlessness in THIS life.

  57. Gilgamesh on March 28, 2006 at 11:41 pm

    Sorry for so many typos.

  58. S. on March 28, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Read the Proclamation on the Family.

    It says children are entitled to be reared by a mother and a father.

    It says that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation be employed only between married men and women.

    It doesn’t talk about how procreation will work in the next life. It doesn’t say that there won’t be exalted same-gender couples. I haven’t found anything in any church statement (certainly not in Section 132 or in the proclamation) that even comes close to addressing the issue of whether there will be exalted same-gender couples (or if not, what will become of righteous gays in the next life, e.g., will they be resurrected straight?)

    Anyone who claims that this is a settled point in Mormon theology must accept the burden of proving that this is the case. I haven’t seen anybody rise to that challenge so far.

  59. Edje on March 29, 2006 at 12:02 am

    D. Fletcher (36): I agree with you on the polygamy in the hereafter: as I understand it there will be some polygamous exaltations, for the reasons you cite. However, “as I understand it” is a big qualifier; some folks disagree and since I could make my point without asserting its necessity, I expressed it as “might…” to avoid giving unnecessary offense.

    I also agree with you on the problems for young males in closed, polygamous societies. My point, however, deals with post-mortality. I assert that once everyone who has ever lived on earth has been given a “fair shake” the gender ratios will probably be adequate, given the enormous numbers involved and the omniscience of God. I can’t say that for sure because we don’t know the numbers; we–and this was my original point–can’t make the opposite statement for the same reason and therefore your claim that “some men will be left out of the salvation equation” falls flat. (I am sure Father will provide adequately for all His children; I just can’t say how with the same level of surety.)

  60. Matt T. on March 29, 2006 at 2:30 am

    Thank you, D. Fletcher (#27), a voice of reason.

    Watching Nate and everyone else here bend over backwards to justify our continued institutional prejudice against homosexuality (or the opposite, justify homosexuality) based on scripture makes me crazy. How about this: the scriptures are wrong. Or incomplete. Or being misinterpreted. D. Fletcher is right — Blacks and the Priesthood is precedent enough. Before 1978, we watched everyone bend over backwards trying to justify the institutional racism of God’s only true Church. To whit:

    BRM: “It (denying Blacks the Priesthood) is the Lord’s doing, is based an his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of Spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate.”

    BRM: “Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.”

    Mark E. Peterson: “”If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse.”

    Brigham Young: “I am as much oposed to the principle of slavery as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term, it is abused. I am opposed to abuseing that which God has decreed, to take a blessing, and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants,…Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall came in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the preisthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to desstruction,– we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the priesthood untill that curse be removed.”

    Frankly, the examples, the justifications (no different that what I am seeing here regarding SSA) related to the Black/Priesthood issue are legion.

    And then what happened in 1978? BRM says it best: “”Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsover 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.”

    Just like that. Poof. It all went away.

    Why is it so hard to believe or accept that everything we believe is wrong regarding same sex attraction? D&C 131 and 132? Divine fecundity? Are these rules so hard and fast that a new revelation couldn’t effectively wipe these suppossed sacred cows away?

    The solution is simple: new “revelation”. Quit bending over backwards trying to justify your prejudices based on your “limited understanding”.

    Hurricane (#19): My heart goes out to you. My advice: Hold fast to that (within Mormonism) which is good, and run for the hills! Find a soulmate. Love him. Do some good in the world. Your Heavenly Father loves you and will one day welcome you Home with open arms. Don’t wait around for us to figure it all out. As you can see, we’re a highly conflicted bunch. Hopefully we figure it out during your lifetime; if not, see you in the next…

  61. MikeInWeHo on March 29, 2006 at 2:59 am

    It’s ironic that a theological system which provides a three-tiered afterlife, post-mortum opportunities for redemption, and continuing revelation leading to profound changes in doctrine-based practice (e.g., polygamy, the priesthood ban)….somehow leads to a religious culture which cannot accomodate a married gay man like Jeppson who just wants to be left alone.

    By and large, gay Mormons are not asking for theological revision anyway. Demonizing us by referencing extreme-left thinking is unfair and grossly inaccurate.

    The Brethren could say: “Stay in the Church. Live the Law of Chastity to the best of your ability. We cannot seal your relationship in the temple because that is not how we understand eternal marriage, but we support monogamy. You can contribute to the growth of the Kingdom. Only The Lord knows the intentions of our hearts.” Or something along those lines.

    Compared to past theological change, such a statement seems minor. Yet its impact on the day-to-day life of many families would be profound indeed.

  62. Steven B on March 29, 2006 at 3:06 am

    As I see it, there are two possibilities about the nature of homosexuality (not a threadjack): a) Homosexuals are mortal defects, the natural results of a fallen creation, and will be changed to heterosexuals in the hereafter when God makes everything right, b) Homosexual people are inherently different, reflecting the diversity of divine creation and will remain homosexual throughout eternity.

    As it relates to Mormon soteriology, I see four possibilities, should the First Presidency make the hypothetical announcement:

    1. Heterosexual fecundity remains an essential requirement for exaltation. Gay people, who are broken specimens of humanity, are permitted to form legal unions so that they may find some measure of happiness in the mortal sphere. Temple sealings are not performed because God will change them into heterosexuals in the “next life.”

    2. Homosexuals are considered “eternally gay” and are permitted to form legal same-sex unions, consistent with their nature, but because Mormon doctrine holds that exaltation requires a heterosexual union, temple sealings are not permitted. God will sort it all out in the hearafter.

    3. Church leaders reinterpret Mormon exaltation doctrine to be inclusive of gay people. This requires that homosexuals be seen as eternally gay. Temple sealings would naturally follow.

    4. A new revelation proclaims that same-sex unions may be eternal and are part of God’s Plan of Happiness for his creation. Exaltation is available to all who come unto Christ and are perfected in him (not just heterosexuals). Temple sealings follow.

  63. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 29, 2006 at 3:10 am

    “It doesn’t say that there won’t be exalted same-gender couples. I haven’t found anything in any church statement (certainly not in Section 132 or in the proclamation) that even comes close to addressing the issue of whether there will be exalted same-gender couples….”

    I think if you read any of the many, many talks and comments on marriage and exaltation, it is beyond clear that *only* marriage between a man and woman is a qualifier for exaltation. There are no loopholes on this point. I am not sure what you expect to hear to be convinced of this, but a sample of quotes from throughout church history are below. I could send many more, but this gives the idea.

    Pres. Packer: “Some things cannot be changed. Doctrine cannot be changed. ‘Principles which have been revealed,’ President Wilford Woodruff said, ‘for the salvation and exaltation of the children of men … are principles you cannot annihilate. They are principles that no combination of men [or women] can destroy. They are principles that can never die. … They are beyond the reach of man to handle or to destroy. … It is not in the power of the whole world put together to destroy those principles. … Not one jot or tittle of these principles will ever be destroyed.’”

    Robert D. Hales: “The proclamation also reiterates to the world that ‘marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is *central* to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children’â€?
    Robert D. Hales, “The Eternal Family,� Ensign, Nov. 1996, 64, emphasis added

    “Baptism is the gate to the celestial kingdom; celestial marriage is the gate to an exaltation in the highest heaven within the celestial world.”
    Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.117 CELESTIAL MARRIAGE

    “No one who rejects the covenant of celestial marriage can reach exaltation in the eternal kingdom of God….But remember this: exaltation is available only to those who become righteous members of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, only to those who obtain their endowments and are sealed for eternity as well as time, and who then continue to live righteously. This is not man’s interpretation. This is the program of our Heavenly Father and is made clear by the scriptures….The Lord’s program is unchangeable. His laws are immutable. They will not be modified. Your opinions or mine do not make any difference and do not alter the laws. Many of the world think that eventually the Lord will be merciful and give to them unearned blessings. ”
    Spencer W. Kimball, “The Importance of Celestial Marriage,� Ensign, Oct. 1979, 3

    “When we as Latter-day Saints talk about marriage, we are talking about a holy, celestial order…. We are talking about creating a family unit that has the potential of being everlasting and eternal, a family unit where a man and a wife can go on in that relationship to all eternity, and where mother and daughter and father and son are bound by eternal ties that will never be severed. We are talking about creating a unit more important than the Church, more important than any organization that exists on earth or in heaven, a unit out of which exaltation and eternal life grow; and when we talk about eternal life, we are talking about the kind of life that God our Heavenly Father lives….The Prophet Joseph Smith tells us that God himself, finding that he was in the midst of spirits and glory, ordained laws whereby they might advance and progress and become like him. Those laws included…the opportunity to enter into a marriage relationship [this was before the need to clarify what "marriage" means...obviously he is referring to a union of man and woman] that has the potential of being eternal. We started out on this course in the premortal life. Now we are down here taking the final examination for all the life that we lived back then, which also is the entrance examination for the realms and kingdoms that are ahead….Everything that we do in the Church is connected and associated with and tied into the eternal order of matrimony that God has ordained.”
    Bruce R. McConkie, “Celestial Marriage,� New Era, June 1978, 12

    John A. Widtsoe
    To enter the highest of these degrees in the celestial kingdom is to be exalted in the kingdom of God. Such exaltation comes to those who receive the higher ordinances of the Church, such as the temple endowment, and afterwards are sealed in marriage for time and eternity, whether on earth or in the hereafter. Those who are so sealed continue the family relationship eternally. Spiritual children are begotten by them.

    Rudger Clawson, Conference Report, April 1939, p.119
    “Before we can enter into full and complete exaltation and glory and receive a fulness of joy we must take into account the sublime doctrine of marriage. It is necessary to our final exaltation.”

    “We, as a people, believe in marriage. It is with us a religious principle. Indeed, we believe in marriages such as the Lord has revealed; that we should be sealed, for time and eternity, by those having the sealing power. We are informed that such marriages as are performed in our temples are necessary for men and women to obtain a fulness of glory and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Father in Heaven; for those who attain to that glory are to have a continuation of the seeds, forever, an eternal increase.”
    George F. Richards, Conference Report, April 1924, p.31

    As for what will happen in the next life, the prophets teach that everyone who obeys the commandments, if unable to receive the blessings of marriage and family in this life, will receive ALL blessings God has to offer. To me, that DOES say what will happen to righteous homosexuals. Homosexuals are certainly not the only ones who have to hold tight to this doctrine. See my comment above about my physically handicapped and yet amazing family member who still weeps, a half century after becoming handicapped, that no posterity will be part of earthly life. And yet, those promises of all blessings in the next life give a great deal of hope. I know it’s that much harder for homosexuals, but the promises ARE there. I know I don’t understand how hard that is to accept, but I believe it’s true.

  64. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 29, 2006 at 3:26 am

    The Brethren could say: “Stay in the Church. Live the Law of Chastity to the best of your ability. We cannot seal your relationship in the temple because that is not how we understand eternal marriage, but we support monogamy. You can contribute to the growth of the Kingdom. Only The Lord knows the intentions of our hearts.� Or something along those lines.

    I have thought about this point the past few days. On one hand, I see that monogamy in a homosexual relationship is something noteworthy (much better than promiscuity), if one is determined not to remain celibate. But how can the Church condone this, when it is still a blatant violation of the law of chastity? I see no way that that could be sidestepped. This is where my heart goes out to those who want to be in a committed relationship, and yet, I see no way that such a union could ever be blessed by the Church because the law of chastity is fundamental to the plan of salvation and the eternal nature of marriage and the family. It’s just all interconnected, and I don’t think you can ignore any part of it and still be true to the plan. This is a plan that was established long before the earth was even formed; we can’t just think it will change because society is changing. If so, why do we need prophets if society can dictate how things can or should be?

    All of this said, the Church may not be able to make allowances, but I also know that none of us can know how judgment will play out. The Lord knows hearts, and that will come into play to be sure. But with how important the law of chastity is in the scheme of things (and in severity relative to other laws) I guess I’m of the opinion that, if the whole eternal thing matters to someone, it’s imperative to subscribe to the laws established for this life. Ah, again, I know that is so much easier said that done. I really do. It’s perhaps one of the hardest tests of faith there is. Sigh…I know I’m probably offending someone, and I’m not meaning to….

  65. Tatiana on March 29, 2006 at 8:22 am

    There has always been a gaping hole in the Mormon theology of gender where hermaphroditic and uncertainly-gendered humans are concerned. There exist small but significant numbers of people who are physically not either male or female, in any defineable sense. When I asked the question “what about them?” as an investigator, I was told by my friend that it’s between them and God, and not for me to ask.

    But tenatively in my mind there has come a feeling that there is a chance at the celestial kingdom for everyone, no matter the details of physical bodies on earth. I don’t believe homosexuality is a choice, any more than gender-ambiguity. I think we grow up and begin to realize to whom we are attracted, we don’t decide. I never chose to like guys, or even the individual guys for whom I have fallen in my life. I just discovered that I was attracted to them.

    One possible theological solution I see is that physical gender and spiritual gender may not always the same. There are other possible solutions, and I fully expect we will one day receive revelation that makes the celestial kingdom accessible to gay people as well as straight.

  66. TrailerTrash on March 29, 2006 at 8:51 am

    Thanks Tatiana- I brought the question of intersexed persons up in #40. People keep talking as if there are men and women, as if this is some objective fact. It is not the case for a number of God’s children. It is also a modern, western idea.
    Anne Fausto Sterling’s book Sexing the Body is a great place to start.
    If we begin to say that these people will be “fixed” in the resurrection, then why not other genetic rarities like red hair?
    The idea of hetero- and homosexuality are based on a sexual and gender binary which doesn’t correspond to reality. It is a construction. The whole notion of sex, gender, and sexuality as it is currently imagined in the church has been seriously critiqued, and we cannot just continue to assert these “truths” with our heads in the sand.

  67. Nate Oman on March 29, 2006 at 8:53 am

    Matt T.: I am not trying to bend over backwards to justify current church practice. I actually think that a significant amount of current church practice with regard to homosexuality could be changed without radical shifts in doctrine or theology. Rather, I am trying to flag what I see as an important theological issue that has been ignored by would-be Mormon theologians of homosexuality. D. Fletcher gets full marks for taking the issue seriously, and trying to offer an interpretation of Restoration revelations on marriage, rather than simply labelling LDS ambivalence about homosexuality and hostility to gay marriage as phariseeism. I actually think that the law of adoption as it was practiced prior to the presidence of Wilford Woodruff may offer the best hope for what a (at this point imaginary) theology of gay marriage might look like. Briefly stated, the law of adoption seemed to identify eternal increase less with divine fecundity than with the multiplication of sealing ordinances themselves, including adoptive sealings between adult men. (Although these were always one man being adopted as another man’s son. There are, however, deep affinities between marriage and adoption. Indeed, the Romans has a special kind of marriage — marriage in manus — that was essentially the adoption of a wife by her husband.) My main interest here is to raise what I think is a real question, and a difficult one that anyone imagining what a more homosexual-friendly Church would look like must grapple with.

    Mark IV and others: It is nice to imagine that everything can be changed immediately by the addition of new revelation. In a sense, I absolutely agree. However, I think that it would be a mistake to think that everything and anything can be immediately rewritten in Mormon theology. I have posted previously on what I see as the problems of imagining continuing revelation as an easy change-course-immediately button. (See A Tale of Two Revelations)

  68. TrailerTrash on March 29, 2006 at 9:00 am

    I am including the link to Amazon’s excerpt section on “Dualing Dualisms” to Fausto-Sterling’s book. It is excellent.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0465077145/ref=sib_fs_top/103-7290585-6428650?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S00G&checkSum=wSry1TFxR3v3mL5LsK9%2BPvvUBUZlzFjDdZzIONRJsSw%3D#reader-page

  69. Hellmut Lotz on March 29, 2006 at 9:19 am

    m&m, the creation is the ultimate revelation of the creator. Hence doctrine has to accomodate the creation or the nature of things.

    The scientific consensus has determined that homosexuality is a created fact. So are hermaphrodites and barren humans.

    Theology that does not reflect these manifestations fails to account for the creation and thus undermines itself.

    When it became clear that naturalism contradicted racism, dogmatic insistence to the contrary crippled Mormon theology, corrupted the hearts of our children and damaged the Church as an organization. I hope that does not happen with sexism.

  70. TrailerTrash on March 29, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Hellmut, I am a little concerned with the “natural theology” that you have espoused, precisely because it was “scientific” discourse which produced all of the problems you cited in the first place. I am less trusting that we can rely on a “pure” science as a source of Truth. Rather, I think that we need to consider how science is always already locked into ideologies.

  71. hurricane on March 29, 2006 at 10:34 am

    Matt T (60)-

    Thanks, Matt.

    I find no joy in walking away from the LDS Church–I’ve given a considerable portion of my life to it. In this, I don’t think I am alone. Some of the best, most faithful Mormons I have known have turned out to be gay men. But since I choose to no longer think of myself as emotionally, spiritually or psychologically defective, it’s hard to remain in a Church that in it’s best moments can tell me that my sexual orientation is a cross to bear and a burden to be endured.

    I’m with Hellmut on this point: Theology that does not reflect these manifestations fails to account for the creation and thus undermines itself. LDS theology has shown itself to be adaptive. And though I agree with Nate’s essential point about the gaps in the case for full inclusion of homosexals in Mormon theology, I also believe that in time the Church will find a way to accomodate and even embrace sexual minorities. But I’m not going to wait around for that to happen. There’s too much living to do.

  72. Christian Y. Cardall on March 29, 2006 at 10:42 am

    I am mystified by D. Fletcher’s assertion (#13) that there is no reference to gender in “the original scripture,” since D&C 132:15-19 for example clearly refer to men and women, and v. 63 ties this to both mortal and eternal procreation.

  73. drex davis on March 29, 2006 at 11:57 am

    This topic is new to me. I normally just tune SSM out . . .

    But some of the arguments I’ve seen in this thread and justification for SSM seem to me to not hold water.

    This seems to be the structure.

    1. I desire X
    2. God created me to desire X
    3. God’s creations are good
    4. Therefore, my desire for X is good
    5. (Therefore, any theology that does not account for my “good� desire is not commensurate with God’s will)

    In practice:

    1. I am attracted (sexually or otherwise) to members of my same sex.
    2. I am a creation of God.
    3. Therefore, God created me to be attracted to members of my same sex.
    4. God’s creations are good
    5. Marriage is good.
    6. I desire to be married to a member of my own sex (a desire which God gave me when he created me)
    7. Therefore, it is good for me to be married to a member of the same sex.
    8. (Therefore, any theology that does not account for the way God created me and the desires he gave me is not commensurate with God’s will.)

    But couldn’t the same argument be made for the adulterer or polygamist? (after all, if one argues that homosexual attraction is a “hard-wiring� in the brain, one couldn’t possibly dispute that sexual attraction towards more than one female isn’t “hard-wired� for most men’s brains).

    So here’s how I can justify my polygamous (and/or adulterous) desires to my wife.

    1. I am attracted (sexually or otherwise) to many members of the female sex.
    2. I am a creation of God.
    3. Therefore, God created me to be attracted to many members of the female sex.
    4. God’s creations are good
    5. Marriage is good.
    6. I desire to be married to a many members of the female sex (a desire which God gave me when he created me)
    7. Therefore, it is good for me to be married to more than one member of the female sex.
    8. (Therefore, any theology that does not account for the way God created me and the desires he gave me is not commensurate with God’s will.)

    Or, how about animals?

    1. I am attracted (sexually or otherwise) to sheep.
    2. I am a creation of God.
    3. Therefore, God created me to be attracted to sheep.
    4. God’s creations are good
    5. Marriage is good.
    6. I desire to be married to sheep (a desire which God gave me when he created me)
    7. Therefore, it is good for me to be married to sheep.
    8. (Therefore, any theology that does not account for the way God created me and the desires he gave me is not commensurate with God’s will.)

    Ok, so maybe that last one is a stretch. But imputing the responsibility for all desire/attraction to God, you leave the door open for just about any argument that follows the structure.

    That’s the way I see this line of reasoning. I’m not unsympatheic to SSM claims or issues. Only that I don’t think this is the way to go about persuading for it . . .

  74. Clark on March 29, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    And as predicted, the endlessly repetitive arguments from LDSLF get moved here. It’s unfortunate that Nate’s attempts at narrowing the topic failed.

  75. drex davis on March 29, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    Actually, it’s vital to the discussion.

    Any attempt to talk about the SSM and theology inevitably is bound up with the theological imputations made about the nature of God and his creation. Theological claims about what God is, what his responsibility is for his creations and what the creations’ responsibilites are, hugely impacts the rest of the discussion.

    This goes back to theological claims about what God is and what his will is for his creation . . . and many weighing in here seem to have take for granted some of those claims. Is creation inherently good? Does God create our desire, or does he create us with the capacity to have desire?

    I think it goes to the heart of Nate’s question:

    NATE: “What would be the theological significance of the unions thus solemnized?”

    The theological significance is unions thus soemnized says a lot about what we believe is the nature of God and his relation to his creation, his aspirations for his creation, etc.

  76. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    I honestly believe that recognition of same-sex marriages in our Church will be as simple as categorizing the same-sex couples like we categorize infertile couples, couples unable to reproduce in this life. Heterosexual couples who can’t reproduce in this life are not denied the blessings of exaltation; they can adopt children and be sealed to them, and the children may/will reproduce, thereby setting up genelogical lines representing eternal fecundity, even though the original parents were infertile. And gay couples could be welcomed in exactly the same way.

    I have sensed some resistance to this, because many people foolishly think that gay couples are going to raise gay children, so gay couples naturally will have no eternal fecundity. It isn’t true.

    But even if our Church approved same-sex marriage from a theological standpoint, there is still a hurdle, perhaps more difficult: same-sex couples share a single gender. Except for the Proclamation, there isn’t much in the traditional scriptures that suggests that both genders are essential for parenting, but there is a cultural sense that this is true, and it’s going to take a lot of convincing of Church members and leaders that same-sex couples be *allowed* to have divine, eternal fecundity.

  77. rd on March 29, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Haven’t read all of the comments. But aren’t temple covenants requisite for salvation as defined by Mormon Doctrine. Isn’t chastity one of those covenants? Isn’t chastity defined as exclusive relations between married men and women?

    I think the possibility of future change is very shaky ground to try and justify current behavior.

  78. MikeInWeHo on March 29, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    Drex,

    I think it’s great that you use polygamy as one of your examples, although one suspects you may be undermining your own case a bit…..

    Additionally, your post reduces gay people to nothing more than sexual attraction which suggests you probably don’t have any close gay friends or personal familiarity with the gay community. If you did, I suspect you’d have a harder time lumping us in with the Adulterers and Sheep Lovers.

    While your line of reasoning certainly resonates with many people, experience suggests it quickly dissipates when people actually interact with their gay and lesbian neighbors. And for what it’s worth, it’s quite offensive to gay people. I’m not sure how the Muttonphile community feels, but perhaps one of them can comment here.

  79. drex davis on March 29, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    “I have all the respect in the world to them.”

    That should have read “I have all the respect in the world _for_ them.”

    I do not know if I have their respect. I do know I have their friendship.

  80. A Nonny Mouse on March 29, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    D. Fletcher: I honestly believe that recognition of same-sex marriages in our Church will be as simple as categorizing the same-sex couples like we categorize infertile couples, couples unable to reproduce in this life.
    Heterosexual couples who can’t reproduce in this life are not denied the blessings of exaltation; they can adopt children and be sealed to them, and the children may/will reproduce, thereby setting up genelogical lines representing eternal fecundity, even though the original parents were infertile. And gay couples could be welcomed in exactly the same way.

    The only problem I have with this scenario is that gay couples are capable of reproducing. (Silus Grok’s Marriage is for Breeders seems tangentially relevant to the argument at hand.) Nobody assumes that infertile couples are inelligible of exaltation because the tacit assumption is that they would reproduce if they were biologically capable. Each partner in a gay couple, however, is individually biologically capable of reproduction, but chooses to live in a gender-homogenous relationship which prevents them from using their biological abilities to reproduce.

    From a doctrinal point of view, how would you reconcile the choice to not use one’s ability to reproduce with the giving somebody an earthly increase via sealing?

  81. Space Chick on March 29, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    rd,

    I think your last sentence is one of the more productive statements in this discussion. We don’t know what the future holds as far as additional revelation–everything could change regarding SSA/SSM. But choosing to operate outside the currently established boundaries in the hopes that the lines will eventually move is a risk. Everyone is free to take that risk, but that also includes the danger that institutions you value will not reward (and may punish) your risk-taking behavior. Unless there’s a higher authority that an institution is answerable to, attempting to force them to change their standards only gets you shut out. In the case of blacks in the military (and possibly blacks in the churh, or polygamous marriage) that higher authority was the federal government, pushing the military to integrate. In the case of LDS doctrine, the ultimate authority is Heavenly Father. So if we want to see change, maybe we need to petition him directly in hopes of top-down change, instead of attempting to drive policy from the bottom.

  82. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    A. Nonny,

    Most childless couples choose to live together, despite one or both’s inability to reproduce. They choose to stay together, though the Church and the culture could insist that if reproduction were possible for one of them, that person should go find another partner that can reproduce with them.

    In other words, the Church could break up childless couples, and the fact that it doesn’t do this lends credence to the possibility of same-sex couples who are choosing their partners despite the ability to reproduce with them.

    I can’t really find doctrinal approval of same-sex couples, or couples *choosing* not to reproduce — these doctrines don’t exist. But similarly, I don’t see doctrines specifying that such couples should be broken up, or not sealed.

  83. rd on March 29, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    SC,

    I agree with your sentiments. I would, however, take it one step further to say that adulterous relationships, although natural (clearly–if statistics say anything) and any other number of behaviors are very attractive to very many members of the church. But, we have to, are commanded to, sacrifice, those tendencies.

    I know the argument may be tired, but where does it fall apart? I sacrifice certain tendencies that plague me in mortality, and others are required to sacrifice others. It’s very hard. I guess one problem I have is that certain communities seem willing to join together and celebrate their problems, demanding change, and ignoring the sin, and many many other members of the church plod along without those communities fighting hard against their demons.

    Christ, then, becomes the answer. And not the philosophies of men.

  84. drex davis on March 29, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    D. Flether -
    “I don’t see doctrines specifying that such couples should be broken up, or not sealed.”

    It is an intersting point. It would be interesting, and, I think related to Nate’s original point, to ask:

    What does in mean to say (theologically) that a same-sex couple would be sealed for the eternities? How would such a sealing and relationship differ from, or be the same as, a male-female sealing for eternity?

    If there is an eternal work that is done by sealed couples, what are the theoligical implications of saying that that work might be done by same-sex couples?

    I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    It would seem to say that, given what we seem to know of God and our eternal destiny as his children (which is really very little relative to how much could potentially be known), and the fact that being eternally sealed to another being appears to be one necessary step toward the highest levels of exaltation, does it then thrown into question what God’s relationships with other co-eternal beings may currently be?

    That would be quite a revelation.

  85. A Nonny Mouse on March 29, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    D. Fletcher: Most childless couples choose to live together, despite one or both’s inability to reproduce. They choose to stay together, though the Church and the culture could insist that if reproduction were possible for one of them, that person should go find another partner that can reproduce with them.

    Once again, though, the tacit assumption is that the biological abilities that they’re lacking now will be given to them in the hereafter. Additionally, most of these couples don’t know whether or not they’ll be able to reproduce until they get married and give it a shot. In a homosexual marriage, that’s not the case. There are no delusions that the relationship is about reproduction: it’s not.

  86. hurricane on March 29, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    rd (83)-

    I know the argument may be tired, but where does it fall apart?

    Because your spouse and your adulterous attractions are oriented around the opposite sex–the sex to which you are naturally attracted to. You curb your adulterous impulse because, presumably, you receive some measure of natural emotional and sexual fulfillment and satisfaction in your sanctioned relationship.

    Imagine that the world is homosexual instead of heterosexual. You are expected to marry someone of the same sex rather than the opposite. You are in the tiny minority of people who is attracted to the opposite sex. At every turn you are reminded that your natural sexual attractions are wrong and that you should be oriented differently. You have no sanctioned outlet for that attraction. You cannot give or receive love in its complete expression–ever.

    Do you really think the two are qualitatively the same?

  87. TrailerTrash on March 29, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    ANM,
    Are you saying that in the CK, there is sperm, egg, 9 month gestation, monthly periods, and involuntary erections? If your argument that potentiality to reproduce is the prerequisite for divine married couples, are you committed to knowing the biology of resurrected beings?

  88. rd on March 29, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Hurricane,

    I see your point, but I think the gospel promise is that you can “give or receive love in its full expression” at some point in the future, if you sacrifice what are tendencies that the church currently declares to be detrimental to one’s salvation.

    Understand, though, that I do not understand completely and I really do sympathize. But I also know that there are other tendencies, be they in the form of physical intimacy, or others, that are susceptible to being given a very high value by anyone that can lead a person to feel that without satisfaction of that tendency, they cannot be truly happy. I’m not trying to say that tendencies toward SSA are not more significant than others, I have no doubt that they are, but at some point don’t we have to put it all on the altar, both you and me, and proceed with faith, albeit very painful at times? Church institutions aside, I am confident that Jesus, somehow, understands your plight and mine. And would do anything help us through it.

    But if a belief in the restored gospel has value to those with SSA, it seems that faith in a living prophet and his current counsel fits right in with that.

  89. Clark on March 29, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    To be committed to sexuality in heaven related to reproduction does not entail knowing the biology of such. But clearly LDS theology – formal theology – entails sexual differentiation in both pre-mortal life and in resurrected life. It seems to me that this carries with it strong implications that may be problematic to SSM proponents.

  90. A Nonny Mouse on March 29, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    Are you saying that in the CK, there is sperm, egg, 9 month gestation, monthly periods, and involuntary erections? If your argument that potentiality to reproduce is the prerequisite for divine married couples, are you committed to knowing the biology of resurrected beings?

    No, I’m not saying that. :)

  91. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    “Once again, though, the tacit assumption is that the biological abilities that they’re lacking now will be given to them in the hereafter.”

    Your word “tacit” means to me, there is little or no scriptural foundation for this. It may be something you’ve heard in General Conference, and it may be a real doctrine, but I’ve tried to follow Nate’s original proposition, that we stick to the hard written words of our canonized scriptures.

    I don’t see any support in the scriptures for same-sex marriages, because such a thing wasn’t even considered in Joseph Smith’s time. But I also don’t read any scripture which censures non-reproducing couples, or suggests something different than all righteous people can find exaltation by coupling according to God’s approval. If God approves polygamous families, as he did in the 19th century, then those families that lived in polygamy will be exalted. If God chooses to rescind polygamy in the 20th century, then those families going against His words by continuing in polygamy, will not be exalted. It is not inconceivable to me that God will want to bless those with same-sex attraction, by giving them a path to exaltation, and that that path might include literal offspring in the next life, and adopted/sealed offspring in this one.

  92. hurricane on March 29, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    rd (88)-

    But I also know that there are other tendencies, be they in the form of physical intimacy, or others, that are susceptible to being given a very high value by anyone that can lead a person to feel that without satisfaction of that tendency, they cannot be truly happy.

    Examples?

    …but at some point don’t we have to put it all on the altar, both you and me, and proceed with faith, albeit very painful at times?

    Have you been asked to put your natural inclination to love on the altar? Should anyone be asked to put that on the altar? Isn’t giving and receiving love and bonding and partnering with someone you care about deeply and passionately one of the very purposes of existence?

    Church institutions aside, I am confident that Jesus, somehow, understands your plight and mine. And would do anything help us through it.

    I am similarly confident and am more at peace about my sexuality now than I ever have been before in my life. Part of that peace comes from concluding for myself that on this issue, this defining characteristic of my being, the Church is simply wrong in its understanding.

  93. Brad Kramer on March 29, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    I think several points are being missed (or avoided) here. In the first place, none of the arguments against church-sainctioned SSM or sealings for gay couples has addressed the question (raised several times here) of gender ambiguity (hermaphrodites, etc) — of the relationship between physical gender (even when such is clearly defined) and gender identity, and between gender identity and eternal gender.

    In addition, the arguments that stress procreation miss an incredibly important point. It isn’t about procreation/reproduction per se. It’s about raising children, spiritual and physical. Children who are adopted into LDS families and sealed to their parents are no less a part of that eternal family than they would be had the parents actually (pro)created them. They literally become the seed of their parents (and of Abraham), forever under the covenant. What is most important is not your ability, as parents, to conceive and birth children. It is your ability to raise them in righteousness, unto the Lord. To argue that gay couples are not capable of doing that is substantively different from arguing that gay couples will not be capable of celestial procreation and that, in itself, is the crux of the matter.

    Family sealings are a much more mysterious and complex process, and, in my experience, questions related to family sealings elicit the response “God will work that out later” more often than all other questions combined. A close personal friend of mine divorced her first husband — to whom she had been sealed. Later, she conceieved a child out of wedlock, was disfellowshipped, but told that her child (with another man) was born under the covenant, sealed to her then inactive ex husband. Later still, she married the child’s father, they were sealed together (as spouses), but told that an ordinance sealing their daughter to them (to her true father, the man who sired and raised her) was completely unnecessary, since she was already sealed to my friend’s first husband (who was still inactive, wanted nothing to do with her, and did not consider her as having any relationship to him whatsoever.)

    These sticky doctrinal questions are not inseparable from everyday, pragmatic ones. Take the question of gay adoption, for example. I don’t think it at all inconsistent with LDS family values to support gay couples adopting children, because I find it impossible to argue that children are better off being raised by the state (orphanages, foster care, etc) than they are being raised by committed, gay couples. I have another good friend, LDS, RM, strong testimony, and openly gay. He currently lives in NYC. He is sexually inactive, but plans on trying to find someone who shares his values (another gay, believing LDS man), getting married, and settling down to raise a family. Should he succeed at fulfilling his life plan, should the stance of the Church really be to discourage them (or policies that would enable them) from trying to adopt children?

    If they should be encouraged to adopt (surely if gay couples should adopt, then Mormon gay couples should all the more), then shouldn’t they have the opportunity to have their children sealed to them? Should such children really be relegated to eternal limbo, or should they be sealed to their sealed parents, under the assumption that, as in so many other instances, God will sort it out later?

  94. rd on March 29, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    hurricane,

    In response to your question about what I have or haven’t been asked to put on the altar, that’s the point. No matter what I have had to put on the altar (or am trying desperately to get there) it just cannot compare to what you have to give up. Not that my sacrifices are inherently less, but they are likely intensely different–beyond compare.

    Any examples of the natural man that I give you would, on the internet, be quickly dismissed as completely different from your challenges. But I really think that they are not so different when dealing with individual, personal, commitment and struggle. I in no way mean to downplay your struggles here–but I do mean to enlighten the silent, very real, struggles of so many who do not have communities that have “decided the church is wrong” on its stance with their issues.

    And I wonder if I can decide if the church is wrong an issue and still believe in the restoration. It just seems to risky.

  95. Melinda on March 29, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    “Once again, though, the tacit assumption is that the biological abilities that they’re lacking now will be given to them in the hereafter.�

    I would posit that the tacit assumption is given in scriptures such as this one: “The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame” (Alma 11:43).

    My understanding is that physical defects will be healed in the resurrection. The lame will walk, the blind will see. The infertile will be able to bear children because the physical defect that caused their infertility will be healed in a perfect body. A homosexual does not need his reproductive organs healed from a defect.

  96. A Nonny Mouse on March 29, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    But I also don’t read any scripture which censures non-reproducing couples, or suggests something different than all righteous people can find exaltation by coupling according to God’s approval.

    Right. Tacit means exactly what it means :) What I was trying to do was point out that your exception to the rule (couples who are not capable of reproducing) is just that: an exception to the rule. I don’t believe that you can carve a theologically viable space for homosexual couples by tieing them to couples who aren’t capable of reproducing because homosexual couples are biologically capable of reproducing but choose not to live in a relationship which allows the use of those powers. I was trying to point out what I viewed as a fundamental flaw in that line of analogical reasoning: that there is no real analogy that can be drawn between the two because one set is biologically incapable and the other isn’t, and I believe that’s the fundamental difference.

    And, realistically, that’s kind of what Nate’s whole originally point hinges on: “It is here that we learn that marriage is the pathway to exaltation and glory,â€?which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of their seeds forever and ever.â€? (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.”

    The reason that a non-fecund heterosexual couple could still qualify for exaltation under this argument is the tacit assumption of the King Mosiah doctrine: I can’t fulfill the letter of the law because I’m physically not able to. The atonement and the gospel don’t punish me for things I can’t do if there’s no physically possible way of accomplishing them. Now, that’s not something I heard in general conference, that’s a core foundation of our belief (eg proxy temple work, etc.): if a blessing was not physically offered to me on earth, I’m not punished for it.

  97. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    It’s all pretty much conjecture, eh, Melinda? What will the perfect body be? Will I be younger? Taller? Shorter? Maybe my perfect body will be much handsomer, rather than what it is now, the perfect amalgam of my earthly parents.

    Maybe, in the afterlife, same-sex couples will reproduce, not sexually, but spiritually, which I guess is a hard concept for many to grasp.

    Maybe, there’s no knowing, and it’s not very productive to deny blessings to people in this life based upon what we know or don’t know about the next life.

  98. drex davis on March 29, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    D Fletcher: “It is not inconceivable to me that God will want to bless those with same-sex attraction, by giving them a path to exaltation, and that that path might include literal offspring in the next life, and adopted/sealed offspring in this one.”

    Thus, enjoying the same existence that God currently experiences.

    This, of course, leaves the door open as to what our own creator’s “creative partnerships” may currently be.

    The implications of that conclusion are astounding.

  99. hurricane on March 29, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    rd (94)-

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. A couple of responses –

    I do mean to enlighten the silent, very real, struggles of so many who do not have communities that have “decided the church is wrong� on its stance with their issues.

    And I support you and join with you in doing this. I certainly wouldn’t suggest that gays are the only ones who have issues that the Church seems to struggle to address or that individuals struggle to reconcile with church teachings.

    And I wonder if I can decide if the church is wrong an issue and still believe in the restoration. It just seems to risky.

    If believing in the restoration requires one to believe that the church is never wrong on any issue, then you probably can’t. It probably is too risky.

    Before I dealt with and openly acknowledged my sexuality, I thought the Church was–or at least had been–wrong on a few issues. I still believed in the restoration. Since dealing with this issue that touched my core in a way that those others had not, however, my faith in the restoration has slipped. Or, perhaps more accurately, my faith in the current heirs of the restoration has slipped.

  100. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    But A.N.Mouse, your logic is flawed too. Both the infertile couple and the same-sex couple are choosing not to reproduce, and that’s why I link them. Your logic only holds true for an infertile couple who are *both* incapable of reproducing, and the odds of this happening are very slim indeed. Otherwise, the infertile couple are choosing to stay a couple despite the possibility of reproducing, exactly the same as the same-sex couple.

    As to the King Mosiah doctine you’ve stated, “The atonement and the gospel don’t punish me for things I can’t do if there’s no physically possible way of accomplishing them.” Sadly, this isn’t really true, either, at least, in the context of sin. A homosexual paraplegic man who is incapable of consummating his love, will still be excommunicated like Buckley Jeppson if he legally weds another man. Homosexual love… is sinful, even without the specific sexual behavior.

  101. drex davis on March 29, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    “Both the infertile couple and the same-sex couple are choosing not to reproduce,”

    Infertile couples aren’t _choosing_ to not reproduce. They _cannot_ choose to reproduce, by the very fact that they are infertile.

    Did you mean to day that “the non-breeding-but-fertile-couple and the same sex couple are choosing not to reproduce?”

  102. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 29, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    D. Fletcher,
    All of your comments ignore the law of chastity, which IS in the scriptures, is consistently taught by prophets, and puts absolute bounds on God-approved sexual relationships, which are only heterosexual.

    Hellmut and others:
    “m&m, the creation is the ultimate revelation of the creator. Hence doctrine has to accomodate the creation or the nature of things.”
    God’s creation includes opposition. Just because something is part of creation does not make it inherently good or eternal. God’s creation and His plan also include opposition. I have tendencies in my biology (my nature of things) toward certain behaviors, but they are not within God’s laws, so I have to work to overcome them. The “natural man” is part of creation, but we are here to overcome the natural man. God’s laws help define the parameters of that effort. Even IF homosexuality turns out to be 100% biological 100% of the time (which I doubt could ever be true because culture and other factors do come into play in many cases), that does not make it lawful in God’s eyes. We are all challenged by our biology, by the way God created us. The journey here is to learn to submit to God’s will to overcome the creation and be true to who we REALLY are…and the prophets help us understand who we really are. Even with biological sex issues, we have to consider (and, IMO, assume) that such exceptions are strictly mortal challenges, and not reflective of eternal identity and purpose and destiny. This is why the Proclamation and words of the prophets become so important. I know this still leaves the issue of homosexuals not feeling they have a place now, and I would like to reiterate that I am not insensitive to this, but really, at some point, each one of us has to decide if we want to choose what we want now or what we want eternally. And we have to do that within the confines of current doctrine, as has been mentioned. It’s dangerous ground to make decisions based on what we “hope” might happen doctrinally.

    An important question in all of this is, do we subjugate prophets to science and/or current cultural trends or the other way around? What I find funny about using science or culture as a basis for understanding all of this is that they change more often than some people claim prophetic guidance changes (which I don’t think happens in the way people want to say it does…I think such “changes” are way overstated, esp. with regard to marriage, chastity, and exaltation. Some doctrines are just doctrines and they don’t change. Even D&C 132 is pretty clear that marriage and exaltation are dependent on a marriage relationship between a man and woman, sealed and continually righteous. I don’t see how we can think there is a potential loophole there and say there is room in scripture for same-sex marriage.)

  103. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    No, Drex, try reading my post again. An infertile couple is usually, a married couple who have discovered that one of them cannot have children. One of them. And yet, they choose to remain together, despite the fact that they will not reproduce. The Church could have some doctrine insisting that they break up, that the one who is reproductively capable go find another partner and reproduce. But the Church doesn’t do this. Why? Because there’s something to marriage, some important eternal point, beyond the simple need to reproduce. Marriage is commitment, it’s love, it’s wisdom and maturity. Marriage, particularly if it’s long-lasting, is a miracle. Same-sex couples should be blessed with marriages.

  104. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 29, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Homosexual love… is sinful, even without the specific sexual behavior.
    Your example still includes actions that are not sanctioned by gospel doctrine, including marriage and, assuredly, physical intimacy at some level. Both are still sinful in the doctrine. Homosexual feelings are allowed. Behavior that acts on those feelings is not.

  105. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 29, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    Marriage is commitment, it’s love, it’s wisdom and maturity. And it’s heterosexual by definition. I’m not trying to be flippant, but these posts miss the point. What God has defined, cannot be redefined.

  106. drex davis on March 29, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    The couple, qua couple, is infertile. The _couple_ is not “choosing to not reproduce”. One member in the couple is choosing to not reproduce by remaining in the marriage. Only one member is choosing to not reproduce. The other is incapable.

    You are correct in that marriage is more than reproduction. But must one say that a marriage begun with the possibility of reproduction (setting aside for a moment a marriage wherein the couple knows that one of the other is infertile before marrying) is no different than a “marriage” begun with no possibility of reproduction?

    Is there no difference in the way a man loves another man, and the way a man loves a woman? Or vice-versa?

    And might not that difference, whether it involves reproduction or not, be fundamental to God’s purposes?

  107. hurricane on March 29, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    Homosexual feelings are allowed. Behavior that acts on those feelings is not.

    Which is to say *no* outward expression of those feelings. Harsh. Even chaste straight people get to hold hands, kiss, cuddle, etc. with each other.

  108. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    I have no answers beyond what I’ve already stated. Nate asked if we could find some sort of same-sex marriage doctrinal foundation in Sections 131-132 of the D&C. There’s no foundation for it there, but my logic (which is different from legal precedent kind of logic, I admit) suggests to me that it isn’t specifically *forbidden* in those scripture passages, either, which led the Church to create the Proclamation, much more specific about genders within marriage.

  109. D. Fletcher on March 29, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    “Is there no difference in the way a man loves another man, and the way a man loves a woman? Or vice-versa?”

    I believe love is love, regardless of the gender of the lover and the person being loved. Heterosexual love that is real, is no more or less rich or God-like than homosexual love that is real. There are plenty of homosexual hookups masquerading as love. And guess what? There’re even more heterosexual hookups masquerading as love. Marriage, as an alternative to those wishing to seal their love with a vow of commitment, should be available to homosexuals just as it is to heterosexuals.

  110. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 29, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Which is to say *no* outward expression of those feelings. Harsh. Even chaste straight people get to hold hands, kiss, cuddle, etc. with each other.

    I know, Hurricane, and I’m sorry. I hope you can keep my previous comment in mind. I am not heartless — I really am sympathetic at one level — but I don’t make up the rules.

  111. Brad Kramer on March 29, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    M&M,

    You’ll have to show some evidence for your claims that the scriptures clearly define the law of chastity as requiring heterosexuality or that valid marriage must be heterosexual. Of course, when the scriptures speak of marriage or sanctioned sexual activity, heterosexuality is implied or taken as a given, and often use the terms man and woman or refer to individuals who are of opposite gender. But that is not the same as stating specifically or unequivicolly that said relationships MUST be heterosexual. Indeed, it is difficult to argue that the language is not simply reflective of commonly held cultural beliefs about the nature of marriage in the same way that passages that implicitly sanction human slavery or treating wives and daughters as the brokerable private property of men. To my knowledge, the only authoritative or quasi-scriptural source that specifically and deliberately ties heterosexuality to sanctioned marital relationships is the Proclamation on the Family.

    Strongly worded, unambiguous (mostly), important document for Mormons; but not really (cannonized) scripture (yet…). We’ll see what the future holds. Elder Oaks has a pretty good chance of becoming Church President, so I assume there will be more said on the subject.

    Also, are none of the iron-rodders here really willing to take on the question of gender ambiguity (post 65)? I don’t think you can sustain a firm, orthodox position on the questions raised here without addressing this admitedly terribly problematic question.

  112. Brad Kramer on March 29, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    On gender ambiguity, see also post #41.

  113. MikeInWeHo on March 29, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    What’s fascinating about this string, really, is seeing how “commonly held cultural beliefs” about gays in the Church are currently in flux. There’s quite a broad range of opinion and disagreement.

    This is similar to what’s happening with the Catholics and Evangelicals, btw. The doctrine remains strict and similar to the LDS position, but the membership is all over the place. Those two faith communities feel less of a need to paper it all over in public and pretend all is well, however. I think the last sentence in post #94 explains the difference.

    That sentiment is like painting yourself into a theological corner. It seems to me that there’s MORE risk in holding the belief that if the Church is/was wrong about anything (significant), one cannot believe in the Restoration. Such all-or-nothing thinking may well account for the high rates of inactivity, poor retention of converts, etc, that are being observed. It’s absolutely the reason why I am no longer active.

    I suppose that’s for another string though.

  114. rd on March 29, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    re: 113: I highly doubt that this thread is reflective of church membership on the whole.

    And my statement about the risks of deciding that the church is wrong being risky is being taken to an extreme that I didn’t intend. I certainly do not believe that the institution of the church is infallible. And I concede that there have been mistakes made by the church in the past. But, I think we have to ask ourselves, if we believe in prophets, at what point are we going to act on faith and follow their counsel, no matter how contrary to our natural instincts?

    The danger is not in acknowledging potential flaws in the church institution. The danger, in my mind, is trying–ever-so-persuasively in some instances–to conform God’s thinking to my thinking rather than the other away around. But we come at this from different premises. I absolutely believe that President Hinckley is God’s mouthpiece on the earth. So I follow his counsel (or try to) regardless of its implications on my personal life.

    I just don’t see how SSA is immune from this necessary sacrifice. But if one doesn’t believe in a prophet, then the arguments takes a dramatic turn and we begin to talk past each other.

  115. hurricane on March 29, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    rd–

    What happens when you take it to the Lord and he give you a different answer than the one you are hearing from the prophet?

    That’s where I found myself over the past year. I did what the Church taught me to do–I went to God in prayer and asked him to help me understand. And I’m more interested in following God than I am in following President Hinckley.

  116. rd on March 29, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve not had that experience–so I can’t say.

    But I do think it means that we’re talking past each other. I could, for instance, say that President Hinckley has answered the question for you and that whatever answer you think you received was actually not from God because it contravenes the Prophet’s counsel. But if you believe, and I’m not even saying it’s a question of if, then we are at impasse. And there are instances in the scriptures where written commandments are excepted, but in my mind they are excepted for only a temporary period and for a specific purpose–not generally or for lifestyle reasons.

    It’s like when I was a missionary and people said they had answers to their prayers that the Book of Mormon is not true. Okay. Fine. But that makes the discussion very difficult.

    I think I’ve made it clear that these decisions, all of life’s decisions, are intensely personal. I do believe in a God of mercy and an infinite atonement. And I believe that there are express statements made by those called of God to guide us to a full enjoyment of the blessings of the atonement. We will all, though, take a very personal path to that point.

    My honest belief is that our natural instincts, or temptations, will be moot when we receive all that Father hath and that our desires will be one with his. I hope that’s not offensive–it’s just what I believe.

  117. hurricane on March 29, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    “lifestyle reasons”

    You’re right. We are talking past each other.

  118. MikeInWeHo on March 30, 2006 at 12:28 am

    re: 114 I agree 100%, but there IS diversity of opinion and even practice in the Church today. Is anybody familiar with some of the singles wards in the Northern California area, for example? Gayer than pink snow, and the leadership looks the other way. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” already exists in some of the Stakes. Poor Jeppson had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he’ll soon be out. But who knows what diversity of opinion really exists? There’s no way to tell. Wouldn’t an anonymous survey of all active members of the Church be interesting?!

    Driving out all the gays who don’t tow the current line is a really, really bad idea, imo. Even the Evangelicals and Catholics generally only ex-communicate those who actively teach against/fight their beliefs. Moral enforcement doesn’t make the Church holier. It makes it hypocritical. And smaller.

    My impression is that the vast majority of gay mormons are not demanding SSM in the temple, or any change in doctrine whatsoever. They just want to stop being forced to choose between leaving, lying, or living without hope of companionship in this life.

  119. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 30, 2006 at 3:03 am

    And guess what? There’re even more heterosexual hookups masquerading as love.
    You are absolutely right. If you look at the Proclamation, there is an awful lot addressing this very concern, really — talking of the obligation husband and wife have to love and care for each other and their children. I think it’s important to remember the Proclamation is about a lot more than just the issues discussed here.

  120. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 30, 2006 at 3:34 am

    You’ll have to show some evidence for your claims that the scriptures clearly define the law of chastity as requiring heterosexuality or that valid marriage must be heterosexual.

    In LDS doctrine, repeated prophetic teachings are as good as scripture, so I don’t understand why you insist on having to have explicit scriptural statements that marriage cannot be homosexual. As you said, the hundreds of scriptures talking about or referring to marriage refer to a relationship between a male and a female. Even the first marriage is pretty clear about what a marriage is — which really establishes the foundation for what chastity is.

    Genesis 2:24
    24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

    Although the “one flesh” commandment is certainly not only physical, it’s partly that. So, what’s the commandment? A man marries a woman. They become one in every way, including physical. If that is marriage, which it IS, then what is adultery? ANY sexual relatioship outside of said divinely-appointed marriage. What is fornication? ANY sexual relationship not sanctioned by said divinely-appointed and mandated marriage. What more do you really need? Add latter-day prophetic statements and it’s abundantly clear.

    I have heard the argument that homosexuality has been around for a long time. If homosexual marriage was ever OK, don’t you think it would show up somewhere in the scriptures or in prophetic words? On the contrary. It doesn’t. It makes no sense that something that never shows up in scripture (ancient or modern-day) could be thought of as possible, especially all that IS given about marriage — explicitly and implicitly.

    Besides, if you expect only to rely on “canonized” scriptures for validation or clarification of doctrine, then, at some level, you really deny a huge part of the Restoration. One of the main purposes of latter-day prophets is to teach and clarify doctrine and to interpret scripture. Every prophet has talked about marriage in terms of a heterosexual relationship — and in the past decade or so, our prophets are even more specific given our culture and society. It fees almost like an insult to our intelligence that you think God should have to be as explicit as you are demanding. I think He’s made the doctrine extremely clear. I don’t understand what more you would expect than what we have been given.

  121. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 30, 2006 at 4:37 am

    Hurricane (#115),
    I’ve been thinking about this comment (which you have made elsewhere). I have a question. I sense that you have (or have had) two important needs (which are think are pretty common). 1. companionship/love/relationship as feels right and natural to you and 2. faith. You feel you have received answers to prayers that have allowed you to accept your sexuality and all that entails. But, but doing so, you are talking about walking away from your faith. So, in the end, you fill one need but now the other is lacking. If you stay with your faith, your need for an intimate, loving relationship is left unmet. I guess what I’m wondering is, will you really be happy either way? If your faith promises companionship, love and those needs hereafter if you stay true to your faith, isn’t that worth something? I guess I wonder what you will do with that need if you walk away. I guess that depends on how much it meant to you in the first place, but I’ve sensed it meant something. Does my question make sense? I really want to understand. Your answer seems incomplete to me — you get one need filled but lose something else that is also significant. If this is too personal, forgive me. I ask out of concern…wondering if this path will truly make you happy and complete.

  122. hurricane on March 30, 2006 at 6:24 am

    m&m (121)-

    Leaving the LDS Church does not mean that I have abandoned my faith in God. Quite the contrary. I feel more connected to God than I ever have in my life now.

    Thanks for the question.

  123. MikeInWeHo on March 30, 2006 at 10:43 am

    Good point. Like the active member above said: Run for the hills, Hurricane! You’ll always be a little sad to have lost the fellowship of people you care about, but there are many, many spiritual people out there who would be thrilled to have you in their midst. You can continue to grow in your relationship with God. You’ll be fine, and happier than ever. The LDS Church is a remarkable, compelling organizing and we’ll both probably always feel a connection to it. But at the end of the day: The church does not want us. It does not want Jeppson. All the bloggernacle dissembling in the world doesn’t change the fact that the current doctrine is what it is. Are you going to go inactive, resign, or take a stand and get ex-d?

  124. hurricane on March 30, 2006 at 10:59 am

    MikeInWeHo,

    For now, I’ve simply stopped attending and I’ve told my bishop why. I see that as a temporary step though. At some point, I will take a formal step–I don’t know yet what form that will take, though. We’ll see how it all plays out.

    It has been helpful that even though we are separating, my wife has been very supportive and accepting and is also heading for the hills, for this and her own reasons. As more families are faced with situations like mine–and I am convinced that the number of gay Mormons, married and single, who are willing to come out of the closet is growing–I think the Church will lose not only many of its gay sons and daughters, but some of the family of these gay members as well. In my case, it’s not just me–it’s four people (including our two children).

    All of this to say, the Church is going to have to recognize at some point that the answers it offers on homosexuality are not only insufficient for many gay people, but for many of the people who love their gay family members as well.

  125. A sympathizer on March 30, 2006 at 11:05 am

    The Church will also lose friends of gay members and other arbiters of social justice. If the Kingdom of God on Earth and the Kingdom of God in Heaven both have no use for gay members–in actuality or in theory, I’d rather not be part of it.

  126. Space Chick on March 30, 2006 at 11:46 am

    Brad Kramer, no-one is addressing your topic because it’s a red herring which won’t help clarify the situation. If we can’t decide how to resolve something where gender is clear but attraction is not, we can’t very well enter much murkier areas where even gender is unclear. If you are asking because it applies to you personally, maybe T&S will let you guest post on it. If you are bringing it up just to throw a wrench into an already wobbly discussion, I think you are off-topic and need to give it a rest.

  127. drex davis on March 30, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    “All of this to say, the Church is going to have to recognize at some point that the answers it offers on homosexuality are not only insufficient for many gay people, but for many of the people who love their gay family members as well.”

    I think the church recognizes that many of its answers are difficult for gay people and, for that reason, it may be the case that “he Church will lose not only many of its gay sons and daughters, but some of the family of these gay members as well.” It’s unfortunate that this may be the case.

    I don’t believe the church wants to lose anyone. At the same time, the church will give members and prospective members the opportunity to use their agency and “vote with their feet” if it becomes impossible for people to reconcile their feelings with current church doctrine/practice.

  128. D. Fletcher on March 30, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    I agree with some former posters who suggested that homosexuals would be happy enough in a smaller role with less blessings, and would stay in the Church (or return to it, as my father says, in “droves.”)

    In other words, if the Church recognized homosexuality as a non-sinful, but non-exalting lifestyle. No one wants to be thrown out of their own tribe.

    Though I agree with Nate and most everyone else, the chance that the Church will make a positive statement regarding homosexuality is slim to none.

    Hurricane’s situation and mine are different, in that I wish to remain in the Church despite gnawing feelings that it will end badly, for me. Still, I continue to attend and serve, perhaps a good example of faithfulness to some, but to others, a source of frustration, a pain in their side.

  129. hurricane on March 30, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    D. Fletcher, whom I know, is just one example of a gay man who is a great asset to the LDS Church and I am glad that he continues to not only find a spiritual home with the saints, but make it his home, even when doing so can be personally uncomfortable. I have the greatest respect for him.

    And I’m probably one of those homosexuals who would come back if the Church were to recognize homosexuality as non-sinful, even if it were still categorized as less than ideal. I think.

  130. bbell on March 30, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    Hey guys.

    I normally stay away from these fruitless discussions these days.

    I do think that the LDS church is intentionally setting itself up as one of the last really toe the line on moral issues churches in America. (The others being Catholics and SBaps) The timing of the proclamation (which I believe came from God, look out for a canonization) was no accident. Many LDS myself included are proud that we have not gone soft or squishy on sexual issues.

    Some of the gay LDS commentators have said that they think that lots of people have left and will continue to leave the church over this issue.

    My feeling is that the Church is actually betting the opposite will occur over time. One evidence of this is the decline of some of the mainstream US Churches esp the Episcopalians

    Also if you want anecdotes like the ones above I have two families who have been baptized in my ward in the last 3 years who came to us from mainline backgrounds and have told me personally is that one of the things that attracted them to the LDS faith is the fact that we “toe the line on moral issues” and their denominations were getting “soft” esp on homosexuality

    Time will tell of course.

  131. Kimball Hunt on March 30, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Hiya B-Bell!

    So yeah I guess there’s some kind of principle wherein certain factors tend to lead to religious istitutions’ becoming more liberal over time–and then there’s another where the more orthodox a religion is the more attractive it is for those looking for a religious anchor in the face of modernity or something. For sure. And so I guess the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) tends to avoid the first principle in some way through its mechanism of appointing brethren to inclusion in the Quorum of the Twelve–and guess the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention have their own mechanisms that ensure more conservative of elements tends to populate their governing bodies.

    And, well, bully for all three groups and their future sociological successes! However (and I suppose this supports the observations above), even though we’re hetero, inactive and more just cultural Mo-mo’s like me prefer the almost Unitarian Universalist “atmosphere of inclusion” that seems prevalant within the “culture of the bloggernacle” (if there is such a thing).

  132. Steven B on March 30, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    The “real issue” is whether exaltation is available to all, or only to unions of heterosexuals. Forget about the law of chastity. Forget about homosexual activity being viewed as sinful. Two questions must be answered: 1) are homosexuals eternally gay? 2) can eternally gay people be exalted? I think both questions relate to the subject of this thread–the LDS concept of exaltation and eternal increase via the fecundity of heterosexual union. If there is no room in LDS theology for the ultimate salvation of homosexuals, then 5-10% of mankind should have been tossed out during the war in heaven and spared the charade of mortality.

  133. Kimball Hunt on March 30, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    I too rarely pre-edit bifur I hit “send” but it dawns on me (Which, here in New Joisey, is pronounced “dwaned”–just like the coffee I don’t drink is pronounced “cwa-fee.” Which I wouldn’t even have noticed except that people inexplicably don’t understand me at first when I say dahn (for, of course, dawn) or cah-fee!) . . . that my tongue also doesn’t wanna wrap around a claim to be someone who’s more cultured but rather that I’m a Mormon who’s more merely cultural.

  134. MikeInWeHo on March 30, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    #129: That’s a very good point, bbell, and I suspect that the leadership is indeed thinking along those lines. Of course, given the fact that real Church growth has virtually ground to a halt in the U.S. (sorry, don’t know how to put the links in here), one could argue that the present course is not working for the LDS.

    Here’s a question I’ve wondered about: Does anybody know where the Community of Christ (or as I like to call it: The Church Formerly Known as RLDS) stands on gay issues?

  135. rd on March 30, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    re 131:

    I think that Mormons and their leaders (and God?) would declare that the answer to number one is no, obviating number two, and allowing for ultimate salvation for all.

    But to overcome natural tendencies, I think we must sacrifice them, with the overwhelming assistance of God, his son, and the eternal atonement.

  136. drex davis on March 30, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    “If there is no room in LDS theology for the ultimate salvation of homosexuals, then 5-10% of mankind should have been tossed out during the war in heaven and spared the charade of mortality.”

    This is a red herring.

    There already is room in the theology for the ultimate salvation of _everyone_. As I understand it, only “sons of perdition” will not be “saved”. Murders, witches, the honorable people of the earth, and the saints. All will be saved.

    I don’t think there’s any question about salvation. I think the question here is about degree of glory (exaltation) and whether or not there is room for exaltation of homosexuals. I think that’s what Nate is getting at.

  137. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 30, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    #125 I don’t know where my recent post on this ended up, but I actually did touch on this in #102. In my mind, it’s easily explained by saying that there is much about biology and other elements of the fallen world that don’t necessarily jibe now with all that can and will be eternally. Eternal identity and purpose is about who we are spiritually, not about what who we are physically. Think of those who are handicapped mentally or physically or emotionally — those handicaps don’t define who the ARE, they just shape what their mortal journey — their test — is like. Actually, we are all less than what we ARE because of our mortality. The trick is to seek to become as close to who we really can be in spite of the elements of the fallen world that seem to work against the plan…because, in fact, they are PART of the plan.

  138. bbell on March 30, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    I would have to argue that exhaltation for Homosexuals is possible and (this is a faith based point) about 100% guaranteed that there will be people that id’ed themselves as homosexuals on this earth exalted based on repentance, faith, baptism etc.

    I just have to believe its possible thru the atonement for somebody to overcome their tendencies towards this sin and be exalted thru Jesus and overcoming sin thru his redeeming power.

    BBEll Covers his head and whimpers with fear for the response.

  139. D. Fletcher on March 30, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    Why worry, BBell? You haven’t said anything I haven’t heard a million times before. Repent. It’s all I need for exaltation. But repent of what? I haven’t done anything but felt love for someone else. And it’s pretty sad to me that in the next life, the love I feel will presumably be… corrected.

  140. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 30, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    #131 -
    I went back last nite to see how far we had come from Nate’s original post, and I guess this ended up being what he didn’t want it to be. Sorry, Nate. But here’s the thing…I don’t see how you can just focus on the issue of eternal increase when exaltation is about obedience to commandments, which includes the law of chastity and heterosexual marriage. The blessings of exaltation are promised to ALL who are obedient and faithful — if we want a doctrine of inclusion, THAT is it. There is no exclusion for homosexuals who are faithful, or couples who can’t have children, or people who don’t get married through no fault of their own…. THAT to me is the key — faithfulness and obedience to commandments as they have been given. IMO, all the other discussion becomes pointless to a degree (I realize I have engaged in such supposedly pointless discussion, but that’s just because I like to discuss). :)

  141. rd on March 30, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    Is it possible that God defines/characterizes/declares certain behaviors as sin that the natural man cannot comprehend and that require real, sometimes excrutiatingly painful, faith to overcome?

    Again, I don’t mean to downplay the heightened nature of this challenge for SSA relative to other temptations, but I think that many many people have to give up very much, even what they might view as everything, in order to achieve exaltation. With those efforts I, on some level empathize, but do truly sympathize.

    I.e. D. Fletcher, it seems that your efforts to retain good standing in the church are the result of a conscious decision that the gospel is true. If so, is there a chance that God (or His prophet) is correct on SSA and that it, too, must be placed on the altar? Is that a bad thing? Or is it just very difficult (I know it’s much deeper than “very difficult”)? I don’t claim to understand your challenges or the challenges of many who are very close to me. But someone does.

  142. hurricane on March 30, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    MikeInWeHo (133)-

    The RLDS/CofC are moving steadily toward greater inclusion of gay people and theological acceptance of homosexuality. Here are two relatively recent statements from the CofC leadership:

    http://www.cofchrist.org/news/oct02/WCLC
    http://www.cofchrist.org/seek/qanda/sexuality.asp

    The former CofC president, Grant McMurray, addressed the issue directly in a sermon from 2002:

    (Here’s the link: http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/sermons/Grant2002.asp)

    So now let me speak to one such issue that threatens to divide us. In the past few weeks I have been the recipient of scores of letters, e-mails, and phone calls generated by the resolutions before our Conference dealing with homosexuality. Some have been thoughtful and reasoned, but many have been desperate and angry, sometimes accompanied by symbolically crumpled paper or copies of offending text besmirched with bold, black lines. And this weekend we have been faced with pickets proclaiming a hateful God I do not recognize and describing good people in vile and contemptible terms.

    To all of this, I say to you, “No, no, no.” We must not succumb to our fears nor fail to respect those who disagree with us. We must instead be voices of reconciliation and ministers of healing. In the midst of our differences, there just has to be a better way. There is no issue that divides churches around the world in our time like the issue of homosexuality. It is for us to decide whether we will be rendered asunder by it, or whether we have the spiritual courage to face it together.

    Tonight I am going to take a risk. What I am about to say is my personal statement to you on this issue, joined in by Ken and Peter, my colleagues in the First Presidency, after many hours of conversing together. I have not consulted with other church officers or asked for their consent. What I say does not change church policy. It does not require action or agreement. It simply describes the present situation openly and honestly, expresses our own thoughts after prayerful and extensive reflection, and points to what we believe is possible for us to do as a diverse community of God’s people.

    Gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are walking with us on the path of the disciple. They have chosen to be there because they feel God’s call to them. Some have struggled throughout their lives with questions and uncertainties about their identity, their acceptability, their status as children of God. Some have dared to tell their story, resulting at times in warm acceptance and other times in cold rejection. Some have come to understand that God loves them unconditionally and embraces them as valued members of the human family; others are not so sure.

    Our church, like all churches, has struggled with how to be inclusive, agreeing that God’s love comes to all persons, but differing on what behaviors and lifestyles are deemed acceptable. Because there is no social consensus, no moral agreement, no definitive psychological explanation, we have all cast about in search of answers. For some, that answer is provided in one of the seven biblical passages that seem to condemn homosexuality as a sin. For others, the answer is in compassion upon seeing the face of a man or woman who simply says “this is my story.” For our brothers and sisters in some cultures of the world, it is not something to be discussed nor is it thought by them to exist in that culture to any appreciable degree. For families and friends the answer comes only in the call to love a loved one, which has precedence over virtually every other call.

    Because of these many differences, our church stands in the midst of much ambiguity and inconsistency. We have a twenty-year-old statement from the Standing High Council that serves as official guidance, but has not been universally adhered to throughout the church. I will be totally honest and acknowledge that I have myself participated in situations where its provisions were not honored. I have been present in conferences where persons I knew to be in long-term, committed homosexual relationships were approved for priesthood in jurisdictions where their lifestyle was known and their ministry was accepted. The conflict within me was between lawgiver and pastor. To enforce the policy would have required me to intervene and prevent the ordination of someone whose call to ministry I could not deny. This I could not do. This I will not do.

    In fairness, you should know the hearts of those of us you uphold in leadership. I read scripture contextually. I believe that scripture carries a powerful witness of the love of God but that it has to be read in its totality and not in phrases and fragments here and there. When it comes to people and our many differences, I will always choose to love rather than to judge. My instincts are toward inclusion and not exclusion

    At the same time, I am fully supportive of our historic polity of theocratic democracy, which balances the priestly witness with the consent of the people. Ministry is not just about calling. It is also about acceptance of that calling by those who will receive the ministry. Therefore, it is not just my views but all of our views that must be weighed as we make decisions together.

    The word “catechesis” is defined as “a dialogue between believers” (Westminster Dictionary of Theology). Hear the distinction. This is not a dialogue between faithful and unfaithful people. It is not a dialogue between saints and sinners. It is a dialogue between believers, between disciples, over differences that are real and honorable. I ask us, as members of the Community of Christ, to be willing to share with each other in that exploration.

    I am not in the habit of telling our delegates how they should vote, but I am about to make an exception. I request the delegates to this World Conference to table or refer all pending legislation on homosexuality so that we can avoid actions that will be divisive and shape a process by which a broader understanding and consensus can be built. I will ask the Standing High Council to participate with others in looking anew at this matter, seeking issues on which we can surely agree (God’s love of all people, fidelity, the value of family, the sacredness of sexuality as part of creation) and shaping dialogue in areas where we do not agree (the blessing of same-sex relationships, standards for ordination, the interpretation and authority of scripture).

    In the meantime, I ask the Community of Christ to be willing to live with us on the boundary for a while. To do this means that we may not have a policy that guides every decision, but we will have to trust the Holy Spirit to accompany us in our choices. It means that some parts of the church may function differently from other parts of the church and there will be distinctions that are occasionally unsettling but representative of the diversity of our body, both in terms of viewpoints and cultures. We recognize that certain national governments have requirements that our local church leaders in those nations will need to respect and interpret in accordance with their own cultural understandings.

    And this from 2004: http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2004/legislation/H-9.asp

  143. hurricane on March 30, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    rd (141)-

    Is it possible that God defines/characterizes/declares certain behaviors as sin that the natural man cannot comprehend and that require real, sometimes excrutiatingly painful, faith to overcome?

    At the risk of being presumptuous, I’m willing to bet that there isn’t a gay Mormon alive who takes his/her faith seriously who hasn’t pondered this question at length.

  144. D. Fletcher on March 30, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Is it possible that God defines/characterizes/declares certain behaviors as sin that the natural man cannot comprehend and that require real, sometimes excrutiatingly painful, faith to overcome?

    I’m not sure there’s another sin like this (the homosexual impulse) that seems so natural to some, so abominable to others. And the sin is all wrapped up in love, something we are taught to seek, and to give, to everyone.

  145. rd on March 30, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    D. Fletcher,

    That may very well be. For all I know, it’s the hardest, most testing, least understood, sin to sacrifice.

    But, if God says no, does that make it right?

    Let me be frank in saying that discussions like this are difficult because on the one hand, I am sympathetic to the reality that these issues are much more serious, significant, real, than I can treat them over the internet. On the other I have strong feelings on the topic. I hope that a discussion of SSA in the abstract does not demean one who deals with it. If so, and you can say so, I will stop right now and leave it alone.

  146. bbell on March 30, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    The COC statements do not surprise me in the least.

    They are turning into a liberal protestant denominations gradually over time with the same type of membership issues/demographics of that group of churches.

    Based on his comments expect that the COC leadership will eventually OK Homosexuality with all the fireworks that usually comes along with it.

  147. hurricane on March 30, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    rd (145)-

    That may very well be. For all I know, it’s the hardest, most testing, least understood, sin to sacrifice.

    Wait, I thought the impulse/attraction/orientation wasn’t a sin…

    I hope that a discussion of SSA in the abstract does not demean one who deals with it. If so, and you can say so, I will stop right now and leave it alone.

    I know you are addressing D. Fletcher, but I’m gay, and it doesn’t bother me. On a completely petty note though, I wish we would throw the euphemistic term “SSA” in the trash.

  148. hurricane on March 30, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    bbell (146)-

    Based on his comments expect that the COC leadership will eventually OK Homosexuality with all the fireworks that usually comes along with it.

    The CofC already went through the ringer when they ordained women. The body of the church that exists today is theologically liberal–they’ve had their schisms over women’s issues. I suspect as the RLDS move toward full inclusion of homosexuals they will do so quietly and without much fuss at all.