I live in a State where gay marriage was legal before the Supreme Court ruled on the matter. My day-to-day Mormonism did not change when my State adopted it, and I don’t think that it will change now. With the national attention, however, I did start thinking about some of the eventual issues that the church will need to adjudicate. Naturally I thought of matters liturgical.
I don’t expect giant conflicts over Bishops being forced to perform same sex weddings. Instead the most interesting questions will arise in the decades to come as a natural extension of our regular practice. In a few decades, we will have converts who are the children of same sex married parents. If those parents do not join the church before death, their child will inevitably be drawn to the temple to participate in our proxy liturgies for our beloved dead. It is our mandate.
The question will be, to whom shall our convert be sealed to as a child? Child-to-parent sealings are only performed to parents who are sealed in marriage. While it will be interesting to see if FamilySearch eventually allows users to input same-sex parents, more interesting, and more vital to the soul of our convert will be how he or she connects to the broader network of eternal kin.
There may be a precedent that the church looks to from the nineteenth century. Before 1894, one could not be sealed to parents who had not accepted the gospel in mortality, or to parents who had left the church in mortality. The solution back then was to be sealed to other faithful members of the church or in the case where a parent or parents left the church, but grandparents were members, one could be sealed to their grandparents. This practice was called adoption.
Wilford Woodruff had a revelation that transformed our temple liturgy, and enjoined the Saints to seek out their relatives, and not just baptize them for the dead, but seal them in marriage and then connect the generations by sealing. For the most part, “adoption” was over. “There will be few if any” Woodruff declared, who will not accept the gospel in the next life. Any mistakes in the sealing chain would be healed by a God. A loving God would figure it all out in the end.
I suspect that the drive to be connected to our ancestors will be a sufficient enough impetus for church leaders to get creative. I would not be surprised if Church leaders looked at these older practices and found a solution for our convert. In such a case he or she could seal a set of grandparents and be sealed to them, while also sealing their same sex parent to them. Multigenerational same sex unions become more complicated. Regardless, it will be fascinating to watch it unfold.