Same sex sealings, God’s law, and Volition

I’ve been thinking about a discussion several weeks ago, about the fate of  marital relationships after death. Some people are (quite understandably) worried that the current system of temple sealings means post-mortal polygamy, despite a lack of real teachings around the matter. My answer, which I admit is a bit of a cop-out, was that I cannot conceive of a God or a heaven in which people are plunged into polygamous relationships against their will. It would not be just for God to condition heaven on such an involuntary family bond. In other words, volition matters.

I think volition matters a lot in the gospel plan. It matters, I think, in matters of human sexuality as well.

My basic thought (and it is pretty basic) goes like this: sin requires choice. No choice = no sin. I don’t feel a need to quote a lot of Scripture around that point, but moral agency and accompanying consequences are a linchpin of creation and cannot be ignored. In matters of sexual orientation, the science is not settled. It seems (at least anecdotally) that sexuality is fluid and a matter of context & choice for some people, but for others they feel “born this way.”

Let’s take such people at their word. If someone is born gay or lesbian or transgender or… then what are the consequences for sexuality for those people?

I suppose the argument goes that “having those feelings is not a sin, but acting on them is”. That line of argument tends to equate sexual identity with temptation. Sexuality is not a simple matter of impulse control. Yes, we are made from our choices but we are also made from our genetics and our eternal spirits. If the Proclamation is correct that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose”, then we should take things more seriously and not compare homosexuality to say pyromania or the munchies. Indeed, if someone truly is “born that way” and gender is part of eternal identity, then we need to consider the possibility that people are queer eternally. To say to those people that they must never exercise that aspect of their existence is really tough.

But further than this, our approach on homosexuality also removes queer members from the eternal chain connecting us all together. They cannot be sealed – except, of course, in sham marriages which condemn both parties to a horrible isolation. It is one thing to tell someone to never exercise their sexual nature. It is another to essentially foreclose people from eternal marriage. This is serious business. And to be clear, I am not advocating for gay temple marriages. Rather, I am advocating for some real compassion and understanding about what our policies are asking of LGBT members.

We need to seriously confront the possibility that homosexuality is not a choice, and that therefore it is not a sin. We need to seriously consider what we can offer gay members if we are cutting them off from the fulness of the gospel, the new and everlasting covenant. And we need to be prepared for Jesus to hold us accountable for making an idol of marriage at the cost of those who cannot obtain it.

I recognize that this is a huge question. I also recognize that we already do a swell job of marginalizing others who don’t fit the ideal mold, whether it’s singles or others. This post doesn’t offer answers for any group at all. I suppose if anything, I’m trying to say that it’s not enough to feign compassion for gays while withholding full fellowship. We need to do better.

Comments

  1. Maybe that’s the real power of this FP letter. A chance to really “seriously consider what we can offer gay members if we are cutting them off from the fulness of the gospel, the new and everlasting covenant.” To have this conversation in wards and branches. To not shy away.

    That’s why it’s supposed to be a discussion. From the reports I’m reading, many bishoprics are treating it as an edict to be read, with no questions, no conversations, no open doors for future dialogue. Not everywhere, but in many places this is how it was treated. It’s seems too scary, too hard to actually wrestle with what we do going forward.

    We can do better. We must.

  2. I’m willing to give local leaders a lot of credit here – this is not easy stuff and from what I’ve heard, they’re by and large trying really hard to do the right thing with their congregations.

  3. Mike Harris says:

    The effects of poor choices and the effects of the Fall can be both unfair and excruciating.
    Thank heaven for the promise of Ezekiel 47:8-9,12 and Revelation 22:1-3.

  4. Mmmmkay.

  5. Pete Busche says:

    Interesting (depressing?) idea that was recently made clear to me: the Church will never have a large feminist population. It will never have a large portion LGBT-Right activists, or an even large minority (something like 30-40%) of members advocated for Gay Temple Marriage. Many born-under-the-covenant members will self-select and leave the Church, and so the balance will ALWAYS heavily favor strict conservative assumptions as these doctrines. Glad we have this forum to ponder on such important matters (Eternal Families and Salvation is pretty dang important, even for gay people!), because I think this is far beyond the realm of Official thought for quite some time.

  6. Pete, I don’t know if that last part is true. Certainly some of the Brethren think on this topic and take it quite seriously and compassionately; Elder Christofferson is an example. But yes, we’re not a religion of activists (is there one?). That might actually be ok.

  7. Lady Kerri says:

    This. I’m all in.
    During the 2008 Anti-Marriage Equality campaign (which I was for…then. I have completely changed my views.), essentially the same thing occurred to me–if we say “gay is not a choice” (which many church members will do, right before they fling the quote about being vs.acting upon), we need to consider where this positions us. We say, “okay, you were born this way. But you can’t ACT this way.” This is coupled with the teachings that the penultimate purpose, the “Best”, of our being is marriage and families. But we then tell gay people that they arent allowed to fulfill this purpose of being in a way that they are wired for. How can we expect that to be anything less than utterly devastating?

    We will never regret loving “too much”. Jesus kind of expects it of us.

  8. That’s definitely true: Thoughts are definitely taking place. Hard to say what will/could be said/done. It seems like it needs serious revelation, it’s completely new ground.

  9. Yes. Definitely so, Pete. That is part of why this religion holds promise. Hope.

  10. I think all I ask for (and maybe this is too much) is humility. I’m the first to say: I don’t have things figured out, I’ll agitate and criticize too often, most of the time without offering suggestions. But there’s still lots of good and optimism there, as long as hard lines aren’t drawn. The TribTalk where Elder Oaks mentioned the Brethren are having discussions about trans-gendered persons was so huge. I think it’s a hard selling-point though: “We’re not a perfect Church that has all the answers, but we’re trying to head in that direction.” But I think it’s the right one.

  11. The draw of the Celestial Kingdom is eternal increase. Friends can hang out and socialize in the other kingdoms, but the Celestial Kingdom is where the promise of eternal increase is realized. It would seem then, that a homosexual couple would find no special draw to be there as opposed to another location. Or is the inability of homosexual couples to reproduce a mortal trial that will be rectified in the eternities?

  12. I’m sure that there are some who are in mixed orientation marriages who would disagree with you that they live in a sham marriage which condemns them to isolation. This language is presumptuous an unfeeling toward people’s choices. Like all covenants, the Lord sets the terms and allows us to choose to accept or reject the covenant. Thus, in the New and Everlasting Covenant, the Lord sets the terms and we are allowed to accept or reject it – coming to terms with whatever necessary to follow His teachings. In this, the Church does not foreclose individuals from eternal marriage.

    In this article you’re conflating gender and sexual orientation. They’re not the same thing. Another trap you’ve fallen into is equating marriage with sexual relations and love with sexual relations. By this reasoning, marriage = sex, and love = sex. Thus, if you love someone, you marry them and have sex with them. Limiting the purpose of marriage to sexual relations completely misses the point of marriage! Yes, sexual intimacy CAN be an important part of marriage (it becomes increasingly more important as society continues to emphasize it) and the other parts are are equally as important. Motherhood, Fatherhood, learning how to love (in all senses and uses of the word) your husband/wife unconditionally, to love (in all senses and uses of the word) your children unconditionally and teach them to Gospel of Jesus Christ, to learn to become like our Heavenly Father/Mother, to help build a society where goodness and kindness will flourish. Marriage is so much more than sexual relations.

    “We need to seriously confront the possibility that homosexuality is not a choice, and that therefore it is not a sin.” This statement is false. By this reasoning, anyone who feels that they were born a certain way, or with certain desires, can do whatever they want and not be held accountable. Do you not remember, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (Mosiah 3:19). No matter what our natural or in-born desires, if they do not conform to God’s will then we must not give heed to them. By your reasoning, I should be able to have sex with any woman who I find to be sexually attractive, and because I was born this way it cannot be a sin.

    “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” That is the norm. That is the commandment. That is the standard. Gay, straight, or otherwise.

  13. Thor, that offspring is the sole purpose of heaven is not entirely doctrinal.

  14. Steve, I like your conclusion that “it’s not enough to feign compassion for gays while withholding full fellowship.”

    I feel like some church members’ compassion for gays is really just sorrow that the person is gay, rather than genuine sympathy for the challenges that gays face in our culture (let alone a desire to help lessen those challenges).

  15. Thank you, Reese, for largely proving my point. I’ll address the statement you consider to be false. Your reply states that my logic means you should be able to have sex with any woman you want. Of course, that would be a sin. But your reply ignores that there is no permissible way to engage in homosexual activities, ever. I didn’t bother stating that because it seemed pretty obvious. So you’re essentially telling gay people to fight their natural desires, though you have means to exercise your own.

    As for conflating gender and sexual orientation, yes I suppose I am making that conflation but it’s not at all clear that makes a difference for my overall point here.

    As for “sham” – yes, a poor choice of words on my part, but it is a sham with respect to sexuality.

    You also spend a lot of time talking about all the super important non-sex stuff in marriage. Thor, just above, goes on to say that’s the big purpose of heaven. So who’s right?

  16. CE, we’re gonna see lots of “compassion” for gays in this thread. We’ve seen some already. Grab the popcorn.

  17. Here’s a question to start the conversation: Why can’t we humble ourselves and accept that His ways are not ours and that there are mysteries our mortal brains will never comprehend? I accept that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” I just don’t know (yet) what role gender plays in eternity. I’m not required to believe that my mortal plumbing has anything to do with eternal increase. In our most important (symbolic) creation stories, there may have been no woman involved in creating the first human. Some power was used by gods to command elements to come together. Life was breathed into that lump of soil. A completely different (asexual) process was used to bring into mortality the most important human ever born – a process that we don’t understand resulted in a virgin being impregnated.

    (Go easy – this is my first post ever, but I can’t understand why we limit ourselves so. My testimony is based on wonder, hope and unanswered questions.)

  18. Chad, humility and am acknowledgment of our own limits is a great place to start. But meanwhile we’re being mean to gay people.

  19. Rachael says:

    Reese, I’m having a hard time with your logic regarding sex and marriage. How can we, as a religion, perpetuate that sexual immorality as being the most grievous abomination without equally holding it up as being an important, nay essential, aspect in marriage?

  20. LikesToLearn says:

    Just a clarification: “our approach on homosexuality also removes queer members from the eternal chain connecting us all together. They cannot be sealed – except, of course, in sham marriages which condemn both parties to a horrible isolation.”

    The sealing in the human chain happens through the sealing of child to parents. Though “sealing” is used almost universally by members of the Church to refer to a temple marriage, no sealing to each other or to the chain is mentioned in that ceremony as reported by Orson Pratt in 1852 in The Seer. The couple is married for time and eternity and blessings are “sealed” upon them according to their righteousness and obedience.

  21. Ok.

  22. Can I just point out that sexual intimacy is a hugely important part of my marriage, and with respect to people for whom that isn’t the case, attempts to minimize that are just weird.

  23. High risk thoughts. Having been down this road some 20 years ago, I found that my indwelling universalism, the Church’s “one and only” stance and current (and “unchangeable”) position regarding same-sex relationships, and sexual orientation as an essential characteristic, could not all three co-exist. Something had to give. I’m not going to suggest or recommend my own path through the thicket. Rather, I will observe that “We need to do better” is a laudable call, but last Sunday’s reinforced retrenchment is a challenge.

  24. Steve, I agree whole-heartedly. The root of our “meanness” is an unjustified certainty about the roles of gender in eternity. If conversations about the FP letter could begin with concessions that there are way too many unanswered questions (even unasked questions) for us to draw conclusions about eternity. My problem with the letter is that its language (and the discussions of that language) just darkens the line between “us” and “them” instead of beginning to erase the line.

  25. Angela C says:

    “But yes, we’re not a religion of activists (is there one?). That might actually be ok.” I’m thinking Unitarians are fairly activist as are some mainstream liberal protestants. Not our usual strange bedfellows, though.

    Some very good thoughts here. Let the train wreck ensue.

  26. This is to me the lynch pin of this article, and informs my own views on this issue: “we need to be prepared for Jesus to hold us accountable for making an idol of marriage at the cost of those who cannot obtain it.”

    I simply cannot reconcile my views about a loving heavenly father — one who loves all of his children not just the straight ones — with the church’s oft-stated position on same sex marriage. I know that heavenly father wants us to be happy, to have joy in this life, and nobody has been able to explain to me how it is possible for my active LDS gay friends to find joy in a life without sexual intimacy and love. Its far too easy for some to blithely state that the gays just need to “suck it up” and obey god’s laws, and then go home to their spouse for a little heterosexual lovin’. I couldn’t do it, and I cannot imagine that a compassionate loving god would expect that of anyone.

    Thank you Steve for your eloquent post, this discussion needs to take place somewhere. Heaven know its not happening at church. I have taken a lot of flack from church members in the last few months for speaking out against bigoted statements made in church meetings. It seems people do not want to be called out in church, oops. Hopefully church members and the church itself will eventually come around on this issue, like they did on interracial marriage in the 1960s.

  27. Steve, I didn’t feel that I ignored that there is no permissible way to engage in homosexual activities. I addressed it by stating that the only way anyone is allowed to have sexual relations is within the bonds of man-woman marriage. We ALL have to fight our natural desires. Just because a man and woman are married does not mean that either, or both, will be able to fulfill all of their sexual desires. To say so is ludicrous. Men and women abstain from sexual activity for various reasons, including age, illness, physical capability, and more. Whose to say that straight married people do not fight physical desire?

    There is a lot of assumption and presupposition in this article. You’re claiming that a person who experiences same-sex attraction cannot marry someone of the opposite sex and have an enjoyable sex life. Sexual activity encompasses more than physical desire. To deny that is silly and to use physical desire as the basis for sexual intimacy is limiting.

    Rachael, sex within marriage is essential to marriage, as it is a commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, not to consume it upon our lusts. It may seem like I’m trying to split hairs, and I feel that the distinction is important.

    Casey, I apologize that what I wrote came across as me trying to minimize the importance of sexual intimacy within marriage. To be sure, my wife and I have a fulfilling sex life. I didn’t expressly say and was pointing to the reason behind the sexual intimacy is what matters most. Just because I have a desire doesn’t mean that I will get to indulge that desire. Over time, I’ve learned that sex is more than physical desire. Thus, making marriage all about fulfilling sexual desire is minimizing the other important aspects of sex within marriage.

  28. This whole issue leaves me so conflicted. I want to sustain the prophet and have faith that he is speaking for the Lord, but on the other hand, I just can’t see how God would ask of gays to not have a loving, intimate relationship with someone. It seems like the right thing to do to allow gay marriage and let it work itself out in the eternities. But since I can’t determine policy for the church, I sincerely ask, what can I do as an individual to support and show love to those with SSA?

  29. As a gay, former Mormon who was in a MOM (mixed-orientation marriage) I feel like I have a lot to say about this subject. And I’ll speak in the Mormon Paradigm (about God, eternity, heaven, etc.) even though I am still exploring what I feel about the veracity of those topics.

    Number one: I am Gay. I always have been. And I always will be. And if I have a soul or a spirit, I 100% believe he is gay too. If I got to heaven and God said “Wasn’t that an amazing trial! Shazam, you’re straight now!” I’d be pissed and I would turn around and walk away. I don’t want to be straight. For me, being gay is so much more that who I want to have sex with. It is just as much a part of my identity as heterosexuality is for other people. Would you want to get to heaven and hear God say “Surprise! You’re gay now!” Probably not. And not just because you wouldn’t want to have sex with someone of the same gender, but because being heterosexual is a large part of your identity.

    Number two: the idea that gay people just have to “resist their urges” and be celibate is crap. Because when we (as Mormons) say “celibate,” what we are thinking is “abstinent.” All single people are asked to be abstinent. But they are free and encouraged to date, hold hands, snuggle, make-out, fall in love, fall out of love, etc until they find someone who they want to marry and then they are encouraged to have all the sex they want. Yes, you need to hold off, but someday you’re gonna be married and in love and happy. What we want LGBT people to do is give up ALL THAT HOPE. They can’t date. They can’t hold hands and kiss and cuddle and make out. They can’t long for the day that they find love and companionship. We are telling them to give that all up. Forever. For their whole life. And then maybe, just maybe, in heaven it will all make sense and they’ll get partnered up with a cute straight person and they’ll be so happy. The thought of that sounds so bleak and depressing to me.

    Number three: I don’t know what any of this means for eternity. Again, I don’t know what I even believe about eternity. But if there is an eternity, we need to stop trying to understand it with a mortal brain. I don’t think we can comprehend what my role will be there. I guess if the church is right, I’ll be cast down to hell for sinning by wanting to love the people that God built me to love. But that feels wrong in my gut, in my soul, in my spirit. I can’t imagine that Love, which we are taught is the greatest of all gifts, would be the thing that would damn me to Hell for eternity. I just don’t buy it.

  30. Pete Busche says:

    Just putting this out there: I saw someone on Facebook post something about the Church’s FAP pamphlet (First A? Presidency?) (Family A Proclamation?). Also, I want a second witness on Reese’s sex life-wife of Reese can you confirm this?

  31. winifred says:

    Josh
    Same sex attraction was not present in the pre-existence and will not be present after this life.

  32. Winifred: respectfully, you don’t know that. And I think you are wrong.

  33. Pete Busche says:

    Crap I don’t know why that posted 3 times. Just ignore me. Listen to Josh

  34. I few thoughts that have very little closure:

    -There are two equations that I’m not totally comfortable with:
    1: feeling like I don’t have a choice = I don’t have a choice.
    2: not having a choice = perfectly acceptable

    -Christ did curse a fig tree for not blooming out of season. It didn’t have any choice, and thus did not sin, but was cursed all the same.

    -I think most members are perfectly willing to accept that many LGBT feel like they don’t have a choice and are willing to have compassion on them for just this reason. The problem is that many LGBT staunchly refuse such compassion, since it implies that their lifestyle isn’t perfectly acceptable.

    -It’s strange for political leftists to take almost everything to be socially constructed and thus the product of contingent choice *except* SSA.

  35. I don’t know that it’s any less fair for someone to be born gay but then told to keep the law of chastity than other serious hardships, say: A friend of mine worked with a girl who had serious medical needs, would never live a normal day, and probably won’t live past elementary school. Not only does this little girl not get to have a family in this life, she doesn’t even get to HAVE a life. She won’t grow up or have friends or have a job. And if death were the end it would be incredibly unfair. But being a Latter-day Saint means you believe that God will make things right in the eternities, and more than make up for all the hardship that came in this tiny mortal speck of time. He’s got this.

  36. Pete Busche says:

    Jenny I pray you realize one day how terribly awful your line of thinking is. It is depressing, damning, and inaccurate. Read Josh’s REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE with being gay before comparing homosexuality with a terminal disease.

  37. Pete, I think she’s just trying to say “life’s unfair”, which is true but not very useful when we’re talking about disparate treatment.

  38. Jeff G, good thoughts (though I am not sure I understand your last one. Lots of things aren’t socially constructed).

  39. Pete, they were probably talking about the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) booklet made especially for Mormons: http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/publications. It is a staple for LDS kids coming out to their families.

    As a gay Mormon, I’d just like to say thank you all for caring. Even the ones who are totally clueless ;) it’s kind of cute.

  40. Confused at the Grace says:

    Just a couple thoughts:

    I tend to agree with Reese regarding the notion that, regardless of the genesis of one’s sexual orientation, one ultimately has control over their sexual actions. As human beings, we’re so much more than sexual creatures, and to define ourselves solely by the type of sex we engage in is unfortunate. Heterosexual sex is available to all sorts of folks who choose to forego it for a number of reasons. We don’t absolve our heterosexual youth of the responsibility to abstain from sex simply because they naturally feel the desire to take action on their feelings.

    Regarding your statement “it’s not enough to feign compassion for gays while withholding full fellowship”, can you clarify whose compassion, an individual’s or the institutional church’s? I ask simply because it seems like you may be conflating two separate concepts – personal interaction and institutional treatment. Contrary to some comments in the thread, I see many members doing their honest best to understand the perspective of gay individuals. I see people trying to empathize and engage with gay folks in a way that goes well beyond feeling sorry for their “sinful behavior”. That, however, is distinct from church doctrine that prohibits sexually active gay members from participating in church at a certain level. To me, those concepts are perfectly compatible.

    My church experience teaches me that most members really don’t care what your “thing” is: gay, WoW, divorced, single, no temple recommend, BYU fan, etc. Most members simply want to follow the Savior and treat others with love and compassion regardless of the “rightness/wrongness” of your thing. Afterall, we all have a thing. We may have all sorts of opinions on stuff, but when the rubber meets the road, we generally act with solid intentions. I think most of this mormon minimalizing is largely a social crutch exacerbated by the poor behavior of some vocal folks on Facebook; it doesn’t represent the actual goodheartedness of your average member.

  41. Jeff, if some of the comments here (or over at Christian’s post at Wheat and Tares) are meant to be compassionate, then it’s the most backhanded brand of compassion I could possibly imagine. Small wonder if LGBT folks reject it!

  42. Melissa says:

    Well, the creation of the earth and putting man on the earth was accomplished with two males who held the priesthood, no women were present according to temple teachings at least… I think that teaches us that it doesn’t have to be one man and one woman to create life. So much we learn in the temple! Just gotta read between the lines :-)

  43. Casey,

    You’ve got a fair point on that one!

    Steve,

    I was merely remarking on the strangeness of progressive appeals to biological innateness when similar findings from sociobiology/evolutionary psychology have been totally dismissed and even silenced as racist, sexist, etc. when they don’t go in their favor.

    To expand on my earlier points: I think the weakest point has to do with the claim that the church’s treatment of SSA is a punishment for some choice that they were supposed to have made. In the Bible God punished both a person and their descendants for several generations for choices that the latter obviously did not make. By my lights, choice and punishment simply aren’t that connected in the Bible. I also don’t think that God ought to accept everything that is not the product of some choice by some person. God’s disapproval is not necessarily the same as His punishment.

  44. I want to make a couple of clarifying points, and then i will likely bow out of the discussion, because reading comments where a bunch of straight people who have never lived the life I live tell me to “make a better choice” doesn’t make me feel good. I tried to be straight for 37 years and ended up with a destroyed marriage, a depressed sense of self worth, and a whole bunch of other social and emotional issues that I am going to be working through over the next several years. (And of course I am not saying I am the only one with problems – I know everyone has issues. But mine largely stem from being gay and fighting against it for my whole life.)

    First of all, it is true that sexuality isn’t JUST about sex. Yes, I want to have sex with men. But I also want a companion who is a man. I want to come home at the end of the night and share my crappy day with a man. I want a man to rub my shoulders and tell me it’s going to be OK when things are tough. I want a man to hold my hand and walk down the street on a sunny afternoon. And I know a lot of straight people want that too and never get it or find it. But they can be members of the church and still pursue that desire. If I wanted to be a member of the church in good standing, I would have to abandon all hope of ever having that.

    Second of all, can we just stop with the argument that being gay is a choice? Is it still 1972? I challenge anyone who thinks being gay is a choice to go ahead and choose to be gay for 1 year. See how well it goes. I tried for 37 years to choose not to be gay and again, it didn’t work.

    Also, I know that a lot of members in the church “don’t care” or are accepting and loving. It’s been heartening to hear how many people support me. When I was at SLC Pride this year, I had to look away when Mormon’s Building Bridges walked by because I was so emotional seeing that outpouring of love and support from a community I feel so rejected by that I literally couldn’t hold it together. But when you are a gay person and you hear over and over and over again from the pulpit at General Conference that your family is counterfeit, and no matter what society says the Church will not and cannot accept your desire to be married and have love in this life, and that the way you want to love people (that again has been in me all of my life) is a sin and evil and wicked, it get’s really hard to want to stick around and listen to that message anymore. And I know that my experience is my own and there are gay people who find ways to stay in the church, or be in MOMs and be happy. But for me, it simply didn’t work. I was living all the commandments, had a temple recommend, and was serving as the ward clerk and the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS made me miserable and sad and stressed and unhappy. So I decided that I needed to choose happiness over guilt. Courage over embarrassment. Pride over shame. And I haven’t regretted it for one minute.

  45. “We need to seriously confront the possibility that homosexuality is not a choice, and that therefore it is not a sin. We need to seriously consider what we can offer gay members if we are cutting them off from the fullness of the gospel, the new and everlasting covenant. And we need to be prepared for Jesus to hold us accountable for making an idol of marriage at the cost of those who cannot obtain it.”

    The best paragraph I have yet read on the issue of homosexuality and the Church –

  46. liz johnson says:

    I would like to think that our theology is actually expansive enough to someday allow for homosexual couples being sealed in the temple and in full fellowship in our wards and communities. Why do we assume that we have to be in straight marriages in the eternities? Like many have said before, no woman was there when Adam was “created,” and to suggest that the mechanics for spirit birth are the same as physical birth seems like a big assumption to me. I love the idea of us all being sealed together in a large web of love, and lifted up together as a Zion people. And I don’t think we need to be in heterosexual couplings (or groupings?) for that to happen.

    Bottom line, I think we think we know more than we probably do. And in absence of sure knowledge, there should be great love. Why can’t we be more proactive in reaching out to families with gay parents and welcoming them into our communities? And maybe we could just table the fact that same-sex marriage freaks some of us out and just pray to know more?

  47. Angela C says:

    “I saw someone on Facebook post something about the Church’s FAP pamphlet” Worst name ever for a church pamphlet. Epic fail.

    For those who are straight who really seek empathy with the plight of gay Mormons, imagine that our doctrine states that the only way to participate and make it to the celestial kingdom is either 1) marry someone of your same sex and have a “regular,” monogamous sex life with them despite your straight orientation for the rest of your life, or 2) remain abstinent until death, living on hope that at some point your “defect” (that feels like an innate part of your identity to you) will be fixed and you will magically feel attraction for someone of your same sex and desire to be with that person for eternity.

  48. Leonard R says:

    Steve – well said; a lot of important thoughts there.

    And Josh – thanks for both of your longer statements. The first was eloquently stated in good Mormon lingo, tthe second an emotionally honest assessment of your situation. At a minimum I think that is what sateve was getting at – to humbly listen to our Gay brothers and sisters – to listen to their lives with the gospel, and perhaps be willing to admit that there are things we don’t know, and that being faithful doesn’t have to mean that we can’t faithful hope for greater light and truth.

  49. Leonard – Thanks and well said. It would never be my intention to to tell someone in the church that they were fooled or ignorant. I think we are all here just trying to do the best with what we’ve got. And I have so much respect for my Mormon brothers and sisters who stay in the church despite frustration with current policies and practices and fight the good fight from within. It is a fight that is worth fighting so that gay, bi and trans young men and women around the church can sit through meetings without being denigrated. Can’t we all just get along and recognize that membership in the church isn’t a one-size fits all solution? If it works for you and makes you happier, that’s fantastic. If someone ever tries to take away your rights to worship the way that you want then I will be on the front line of that battle fighting for your rights to live your religion. But please stop trying to take my rights away because you don’t agree with them. (Not you, Leonard. I’m talking to the haters.) I promise I have no desire to come and gay marry any of you. Sometimes it seems like Mormons forget that the very core of the gospel is agency. And we don’t need to fight to stop other people from using their agency. Let’s fight poverty and racism and education inequality and income inequality and domestic violence and ignorance and battles worth fighting. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” There are so many things in the world that need the might and power and focus of the LDS church. Just put the gay marriage drum away and quit beating it. It’s over.

  50. The notion of gender/sexual identity existing before birth has been a nonscriptural but commonly held belief among many church leaders for some time. https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/055-38-41.pdf If the Proclamation were ever canonized, then there would be a scriptural basis for the idea. I can accept the idea that gender/sexual identity exisred before birth if it were accepted that, as in the physical world, gender/sexual identity is not always binary. It is instructive to me that Elder Oaks acknowledged that the Brethren are still studying and doing their homework about transgender individuals. It is a commonly held belief (and was taught by Presidents Kimball and Packer) that there was never a mismatch or error by God in matching gender/sexual identity at birth. If so, that must mean there are spirits of indeterminate gender-sexual identity because some are born with both types of sexual organs, some are born genetically of one sex but with the body parts of the other. If the eternal gender/sexual identity of some individuals is therefore something other than male/female, it does not seem like a stretch to believe that the eternal sexual identity of some is lgbt. Regardless of whether that is so, the fact of the matter is that a substantial portion of my brothers and sisters are not attracted to pair with the opposite sex, and many are emotionally and sexually incapable of forming a stable heterosexual pair bond. But many of my beloved lgbt brothers and sisters can form a stable lasting loving and satisfying lgbt pair bond. I have too many relatives and close friends who are in such relationships (most of whom are now married) to accept the theory that such relationships are inherently inferior or unstable or “counterfeit”. While some stakes and wards are making a point to welcome lgbt members (whether or not in relationships) to church (without threat of excommunication), that is not true across the church, and my church remains (correctly, I regret to say) perceived as an unsafe religious community for my lgbt brothers and sisters who are not willing to sacrifice forever the hope of a stable union during mortality with another human being. And thus, my religious community has lost, for an indefinite but long period of time, the participation and support of many of God’s beloved lgbt children. Not to mention the sizeable number of lgbt Mormon allies who, in many places in the church, are also made to feel unwelcome and who also choose to drop out. As Peter pointed out, this leaves the active membership relatively bereft of lgbt allies, and our church community will continue to be perceived (correctly so, I regret to say) as having more negative attitudes toward the lbgt community than any other church except one or two other outliers. I hope I am wrong. I stay in part because I believe that just as God didn’t didn’t give up on the church while its members and leaders struggled to be open to God’s guidance about race, God will help the LDS church get things right about lgbt issues. I don’t believe we have it right. I have my own ideas about where the church should go, but I don’t pretend to know how or when additional light and truth will come to the leaders and members at large–or exactly what that guidance will say. I do hope it comes soon. And I do hope that one day our church will be a safe community for all lgbt as well a straight members.

  51. Jeff G: “In the Bible God punished both a person and their descendants for several generations for choices that the latter obviously did not make. By my lights, choice and punishment simply aren’t that connected in the Bible.”

    Jeff, I don’t believe in those parts of the Bible, and I believe that teaching is contrary to both Mormonism and basic ethics. So, yeah. I do believe choice and punishment are connected and must be if God is just.

  52. Terrance says:

    A question for you: Of all the answers about the 2d Coming Jesus could have given, why did he choose the following answer when asked about the last days?

    JS_M 4 And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the Jews; and what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked, which is the end of the world?

    5 And Jesus answered, and said unto them: Take heed that no man deceive you;

    6 For many shall come in my name, saying—I am Christ—and shall deceive many;

    Why deception? Is being deceived and believing false doctrines and ideas a problem in the last days that the Savior foresaw? What about Church members, even those participating in the higher ordinances of the Gospel? Will any of them be sucked into politically correct ideas that are contrary to the plan of salvation. Please read Vs. 22 next:

    22 For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.

    A comment Concerning “forced polygamy”. Agency is something we all fought for before we came to this earth for our final exam. All of us voted for it and treasured it. Its a very big deal and essential to our mortal and eternal progression. No one will ever be forced into a relationship they don’t want on the other side. Details? We don’t have all the details but we will see things far more clearly on the other side of the veil and will always have agency.

  53. Geoff - Aus says:

    In 1969 the First Presidency put out a document defending racism in the church. It used similar language; that Gods laws were not affected by Man made laws, and claiming that racism was Gods law, and so we have to accept it.
    Within 10 years it was done away with, and in 35 years we have the explanation that it never was Gods law, just the culture of the leaders.
    Hope it takes even less for this to be replaced with Love for all men, and we can get onto getting rid of patriarchy, and all be equal, as in “all are alike unto God black and white, bond and free, male and female, gay and straight.”

  54. Steve,

    I agree that the disconnect seems off to us, especially as it’s found in the OT. But I don’t think such disconnects between choice and suffering/punishment are as peripheral to the gospel as you think.

    We all suffer the consequences of Adam and Eve’s choices and Christ was specifically punished for bad choices that he didn’t make. At the very least, these cases suggest that the connection isn’t as tight as we often assume.

  55. Reese thanks for pointing to what is an ongoing conflation of the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ in discussions like this. It would be useful if the distinctions were observed and better still, defined by the OP.

  56. I believe that Heavenly Father’s plan for our salvation and greatest happiness, and the power of the infinite Atonement, will provide every person the opportunity to inherit every one of God’s blessings for eternity, even when those opportunities may not be available in mortality. We know God loves us, but we also know that there are many, many difficult circumstances where a person, for the temporary duration of mortality, is not able to fulfill their divine potential for reasons that are not doctrinal problems.

    Through no choice or fault of his own, my nephew is autistic to a degree that severely affects his behavior and limits opportunities for him in mortality: he will never marry in or outside of the temple; he will never have children; he will never have the ability to bless the sacrament as a priest, notwithstanding his worthiness to do so; he will never be able to communicate to his parents the way I can his love and appreciation for them; he will not likely be able to change physical impulses that, at times, could be described as violent towards the ones who, in his soul, he loves the very most. He has little if any choice in these matters. There is no church doctrine that could be changed or reinterpreted that would change these limitations for him.

    I do not know fully what his soul perceives about these experiences. It is evident that his limitations and struggles to communicate are very frustrating to him at times. He is an eternal being, a son of God, created to have all knowledge and power, and yet even as we eternal souls often feel frustrations with our mortal limitations, his seem to be so much harder than most. These limitations, at least to our mortal perception, seem to deny him his full physical and spiritual potential during his time on Earth.

    Still, I have no doubt that God loves him deeply, and that “neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him,” John 9:3. I do not pretend to know why he is autistic or what the “works of God” are to be manifest, although I suspect he will learn and feel things in mortality that will be good for him eternally that most others will not ever experience, but I cannot appreciate what they might be. I do not believe that his mortal limitations will continue beyond his resurrection, made possible by our Savior.

    I love my nephew unconditionally. He helps me to feel and express greater compassion. for others, and to love unconditionally. I want him to have all of the eternal opportunities and blessings that God can offer him and believe that he will. That does not mean that I love him less now–if anything, I love him more. I have great admiration for him to go through mortality with the experiences he faces.

    Perhaps there are some useful analogies here, although there are no perfect ones. I hope I have not offended anyone with this post. My main point is that despite truly difficult experiences and limitations in mortality, I believe, even if I cannot explain, that Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, and the Resurrection and Atonement of Jesus Christ, have contemplated them all and those who trust in the Savior will find complete, eternal joy and fulfillment.

  57. Natural consequences aren’t punishment, Jeff. And as for Christ, he is the exception to everything, isn’t he?

  58. Mike, you should’ve stuck with just the last paragraph. Comparing homosexuality to autism is a non-starter.

  59. winifred says:

    Josh
    dont take that chance and commit major transgression.

  60. Mike, being homosexual is not a limitation, a struggle, or a difficulty. It is a holy gift and wonderful way to experience the world. It gives me unique ability to perceive grace and to connect with people in ways others cannot. It gives me insight into what it means to be divine. It harmonizes with my spirit. It reveals the goodness in things and in God and in me. It is expansive and not constrictive, uplifting and not burdensome. This may conflict with what you perceive and even what you hear from other gay Mormons, but IMO it is because they have been convinced they are limited and burdened.

  61. Kristine says:

    Jeff G–“We all suffer the consequences of Adam and Eve’s choices”?

    Huh? 2nd Article of Faith much?

  62. The consequences of the fall, and being punished for our own sins, are two distinct issues. Gospel Principles manual and True to the Faith cover these concepts quite well.

  63. Kristine says:

    I don’t really buy post-1960 Mormon neo-orthodoxy, so you’ll have to come up with some more interesting sources than Gospel Principles. But not today. /threadjack

  64. JA – Yaaaaaassss!!! 100%. Mic drop.

  65. The Other Clark says:

    Man, this went a totally different direction from what I expected. I was thinking, based on the title, that is was going to be an explanation of the 19th Century practice of the Law of Adoption, and explain same-sex sealings occurred regularly in the 1800s, and how that Law could be modernized to justify SSM. Because the New Era cover and all that.

  66. Clark Goble says:

    I’d brought that up Other Clark over at M* a few weeks back. The counter argument is that women are sealed to their husband but not each other at the time. Which is true but a difference without much difference IMO.

    Kristine, I always just found the whole notion of a single neo-orthodoxy that somehow was what very diverse people like Nibley, Riddle, McConkie, Benson, and others believed to be dubious. i.e. the whole category seemed problematic.

    Steve, I think the issue is that there are a wide range of types of cognition. We treat autism differently (when I think we really shouldn’t) due to our biases. Yes extreme cases of autism render people unable to engage in common behavior. But the typically use of the category of autism is infamously a spectrum with many people on it. Indeed probably a significant number of academic sorts are on the spectrum in some sense or an other.

    The problem religiously is that of course a lot of folk traditions of responsibility come out a tradition where the brain wasn’t seen as so constitutive of who we are. Yet clearly we know we mostly are our brains which has lots of troubling religious implications. While the whole gay or transgender issue is one manifestation of this, really that’s the tip of the iceberg. Most human behaviour should ultimately be seen in terms of the brain. That has troubling theological implications that by and large most have avoided (or as often is the case with critiques of innate homosexuality, merely denied). Since so much of our personality is the biology (genetics + expression in terms of environment) exactly how to deal with responsibility is far from clear.

  67. Clark Goble says:

    DavidH, while premortal gender isn’t clearly given in scripture, places like Ether 3 make it a straightforward inference. However gender clearly is more than appearance so exactly what to make of sexual difference of spirits is completely unclear. Sex is usually seen in evolutionary/biological terms which seem completely inappropriate to apply to eternal spirits. So even if gender is in some sense there, exactly what it means is completely unclear.

    There’s lots of speculation going on, most of it completely ungrounded IMO.

    As for appeals to “well some people have a tough life therefore we can discount others who have a tough life” that’s not terribly persuasive. It might well be true. But it tells us little about how to respond to people nor does it tell them how to behave. At best it just raises the problem of evil (why do some people have these types of oppressive experiences?) and poses a bigger problem for religion.

    I’m not saying there aren’t some general approaches to the problem of evil, but the real question is why we don’t have solutions when it seems like there are things people could do to make the world a better place. The answer ultimately is we haven’t a clue. And this isn’t just an issue of sexual politics, how to deal with people who don’t behave in a socially normative way, or so forth. Rather it goes well beyond into asking why God didn’t reveal a bit of science along with his revelations. Let’s be honest, revealing the printing press, the germ theory of disease, basic disinfection practices, and sewage would have helped far more people as a practical matter than what’s in our scriptures. But God didn’t choose to do that. One assumes there’s a good reason for that. We just don’t have a clue what it is.

  68. pconnornc says:

    Geoff – I have just re-read the 1969 1st Presidency statement – http://www.blacklds.org/1969-first-presidency-statement

    Rather than dig in and retrench on the Church’s position with scriptures/doctrine, the 1969 statement point (beyond fairness to all) seems to be that the Church is dependent on revelation and until the revelation is clear, things will stay the same. It does offer this from the living prophet of the day: “Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood.” That would have seemed optimistic to me.

    There are similarities in both statements calling upon constitutional rights, but our most recent statement seems to “restate and reaffirm” the doctrinal/scriptural reinforcement of why the “policy” is what it is, while offering no such optimism.

    The quote from the 1969 statement applicable to our times/issue that I like is: “We recognize that those who do not accept the principle of modern revelation may oppose our point of view. We repeat that such would not wish for membership in the Church, and therefore the question of priesthood should hold no interest for them.”

  69. MikeInWeHo says:

    This is such a nice conversation. I wish every member would really ponder the testimony of people like Josh and Ja, above. My experience echos theirs. Being gay is the greatest gift God gave to me. It is not a burden, it is not a disability, it is not one of my weaknesses (which are many!). The people who know and love me would all agree with this.

    I had to leave the LDS church long ago to accept myself. Someday the Church will change on the issue of homosexuality just as it did on race. If I am still around then, I will probably come back.

    So it’s really very simple. Either people like Josh, Ja and myself are utterly deceived, or Mormonism is simply wrong in asserting that the Plan of Happiness provides no room for homosexual relationships.

  70. Leonard R says:

    Jeff G – in addition to Kristine’s flagging of the second article of faith, and Steve’s mention that consequence are not always the same as punishment, it’s important to recall that all of us made Eve and Adam’s choice.

    Each of us chose to leave God’s presence; each of us chose to leave the garden and come into mortality.

    We’re not here in a mortal, fallen world because of Adam and Eve’s choice. We’re here in a mortal, fallen world because that was the plan that God presented, and we chose to come.

  71. Leonard R says:

    And Alma 34:11-14, covers your other example.

    The law won’t punish one man for another’s murder. That is why the eternal and infinite atonement must be God.

    Or, as Steve put it, Christ is the exception that proves the rule.

  72. We deal with the consequences of the Fall based on living in survival of the fittest circumstances precipitated by the Fall, exposing us to danger, sickness, weakness, biological diversity including all of the myriad problems that arise from that in a state of chaos, suffering occasioned by chaos and human self interest and cruelty. In facing such things in our fallen world, we suffer because of the Fall. I think that’s all that Jeff meant.

  73. I haven’t read any comments, so maybe someone addressed this, but here are my thoughts and a question for Steve Evans: Your equation of No choice = no sin is right, so why can’t we work your equation the other direction? Because GOD does know all, and He has called homosexuality a sin, doesn’t that mean that homosexuality = a choice !?

    You use lots of questioning language… “it seems” “perhaps” “we need to consider” But why don’t we trust the word of the person who doesn’t need to guess, who does know, and who really sets the definitions?

  74. Leonard R says:

    Perhaps, except that’s not why he raised the Fall. He brought it up as an example of God punishing people (us) for something others did.

    And I thought it important to flag that not only does God does not punish us for Adam’s transgression (AoF 2), but even the consequences of the Fall are not because of Adam and Eve’s choice. We suffer the consequences of mortality because we chose to come here (and which choice was based on God’s plan). The fallen world is not an accident of Adam and Eve’s making.

  75. Clark Goble says:

    Leonard while I agree with the thrust of your point it does seem Adam and Eve’s descendants are fallen because of their choice. We become Adam and Eve’s descendants because we chose to be. A subtle but important distinction. My rejoinder to Jeff on this point is simply that the fall is a curse that is a blessing. We come to this cursed place to progress. I don’t know if all these evils are designed for us individually or just inherent to a world that would let us get the choices we want. Ultimately it doesn’t matter since, as you noted, we chose to come.

    Jeff is correct though that God didn’t reverse the fall for Adam’s children in a robust fashion. Instead he reversed it by providing a savior in the future and a spirit world where Adam’s children would await judgment and resurrection.

    What this points out of course is that punishment and reward are very much context dependent. What from one view is a punishment from an other is a reward. So I don’t think punishment is as universal a category as some want to maintain.

  76. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that the concept of LGBT is a type of false conscientiousness, in which children of God are unwittingly denying their eternal identity. The concept of sexuality as vaguely described in this post, and described by everyone I know discussing SSA issues is entirely a social construct.

    You can choose to accept “the world’s” (bad bad boogeyman that it is) construct which inexorably leads to relativist outcomes such as those hinted at in this post, or you can accept the construct of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that we are children of God, with an eternal destiny to become like our Father in Heaven, made possible by the Atonement of His Son Jesus Christ.

    I prefer the hope of the latter, rather than the endless pass of classification-ism, excuse-ism, exception-ism, and essentially another form of ite-isms that plagued the Book of Mormon.

  77. “We need to seriously confront the possibility that homosexuality is not a choice, and that therefore it is not a sin. We need to seriously consider what we can offer gay members if we are cutting them off from the fulness of the gospel, the new and everlasting covenant. And we need to be prepared for Jesus to hold us accountable for making an idol of marriage at the cost of those who cannot obtain it.”

    Steve, in a church based on revelation of prophets old as well as new, why do you feel the need to admonish us to overturn what God has said? Not only can you find scripture that is quite explicit about its position, but the teachings by modern prophets has been consistent. On top of that, they have given an explanation as to why it is this way–teaching that marriage and creating family relates directly to the plan of salvation. Until a revelation is received that completely turns this on its head, why “consider the possibility?” Your threat of us being held accountable for upholding the teachings of God on moral matters is completely inappropriate as well. If God intends these relationships to be equal to a man-woman relationship, he might have mentioned it previously or may do so now. Until then, all of the reasoning and wanting doesn’t make it so.

    Eternal marriage is an intrinsic attribute of exaltation. We don’t teach marriage to spite other people, but because God has revealed the place that marriage between man and woman has in the eternal scheme of things. I’m sorry you somehow consider this a spiteful teaching. Nevertheless, we won’t be held “accountable” (punished) for teaching marriage for what it truly is. How you can flip flop that is beyond me, but arguments based more on emotion tends to lead to that.

  78. Kristine says:

    Pierce–do you care to explain the Church’s complete flip flop on whether or not orientation is chosen? Pretty much everyone has changed their minds on these questions in one way or another.

  79. I completely reject the “I was born this way” story, even when coming from a gay person. Why? Because I’ve never heard of a single child born with sexual attraction to anyone. Children don’t want sex and have no sexual attraction at all. I wasn’t born attracted to women, that developed over time and with maturity. Why would anyone ever believe it is a “born with” trait?

  80. pconnornc says:

    Pierce – I agree in substance with your comments and assess that the recent statement only reinforces the doctrine and position of the church, offering none of the optimism in the 1969 statement on race.

    I do believe that we will be held harshly accountable though for a Pharisaical approach to this (and other matters). The Pharisees weren’t condemned for their striving to be obedient, but rather for their missing of the important parts of the law, their pride and their judgement of others.

  81. Kristine says:

    Wow–I actually thought I had heard all of the stupidest possible assertions about homosexuality, but Jax’s comment proves there is new dumb under the sun. Amazing.

  82. Amy Bingham says:

    I think Josh has stated very well what it means to grow up as a gay (please let’s stop using SSA as a real thing) man in the church. As his wife in a mixed-orientation marriage for 12 years, I will just say what I know with a 100% certainty, by stating my “testimony” that I believe just as strongly as you do yours.

    Josh and I did EVERYTHING right according to the “plan” of eternal marriage. We were both worthy returned missionaries who followed the principles of the gospel. We married not because we were young and dumb, but because we truly knew there was no other person we wanted be joined with in eternal life. By all accounts, according to the plan of salvation which we’d been striving to follow our entire lives, this SHOULD’VE WORKED. But the plain and simple truth is, it simply doesn’t. For some people it doesn’t. The way that it is laid out now and taught within our churches and general conference, there are people who will never be able to attain salvation, no matter how hard they try or how worthy they are. Because Josh is gay. He always has been and always will be. The true, authentic Josh, who was supposedly created by his loving Heavenly father, did not have any chance of being married to a woman for eternity. Trust me when I say, if he ever stood a chance of this, it WOULD’VE WORKED with us. Which is where my problem lies. Mercy, grace, agency, a plan that is available to all. . .none of this works within the context of an eternal marriage between a man and a woman being a necessary component to eternal salvation. He is a contradictory, hypocritical God the way that His plan is being explained in reference to our LGBTQ+ members.

    Please stop comparing homosexuality to a disease, to autism, to drug addiction, to all of the many “temptations” or “disabilities” that supposedly put us ALL on an equal playing field. It’s such extremely faulty logic and it’s terribly offensive, and I’d continue to talk about it, but it’s been refuted very well in this thread by those who are much more, well, intelligent and informed. The bottom line is, just love people. Think about your intentions behind your actions. Maybe you think you’re 100% right in your views. If the purpose of our life here on earth is to help our brothers and sisters make it back to Heavenly Father for eternity, this kind of “fighting” for truth and righteousness is the wrong way to go about it. It hurts my heart. And this kind of article soothes it for a moment. Thank you for your words.

  83. Kristine,

    I’ll take a crack at it. I think there is a clear difference between understanding what homosexuality is and the revelations and reasons that we have been given to avoid the practice. Whether or not orientation is chosen is not based in scripture. It’s a subjective view that science/the world has flip flopped on for years. Previous iterations of the DSM even supported the view that it was a mental disorder, so I don’t think it is to be unexpected that LDS understanding would follow scientific evidences or reasoning regarding the “how.” It’s like evolution showing us that the earth wasn’t created in 7 literal days. It didn’t change the doctrine that God created the earth. Revelation, after all, very seldom addresses the “how.” I imagine that we will all continue to flip flop as science progresses. I’m definitely comfortable with that.

    What hasn’t changed, however–from the beginning to now– is the moral charge to not participate in it. Our charge to live a certain way is not limited by our understanding of it. That is why I find Steve’s charge to be inappropriate. It’s one thing to adopt a more secular view of homosexuality, which many LDS progressives do–and that works ok in terms of secular legislation. But if you’re going to bring the judgement of Christ into this, then secularist doctrine is going to fall flat on its face, and really has no place in the realm of authority and revelation. In that case, you need to refer to what God’s position has been and still seems to be, even if that doesn’t work for personal philosophies.

  84. I thoroughly enjoy all of the personal attacks coming from the more progressive members of this forum who preach tolerance, love, and acceptance. Makes me feel all warm inside.

  85. pconnornc,

    I agree with that, but I don’t necessarily see things like the new statement as being Pharisaical in any way. You’d have to explain why that is. Take a look at the LDS commentors on this blog post. A majority of them seem to have adopted a secular view of what marriage is rather than what God has said it is (and why). It’s no surprise to me leadership, once again, reaffirming a position that many LDS people are moving away from. I’m sure people found Noah tedious as well. I find their announcements and teachings to be very loving and understanding, while still accepting their responsibility to teach the gospel. To me, the biggest takeaway I am seeing from SS advocates/sympathizers is that they just don’t want to hear it– so their accusations of Pharisee or insensitive or uneducated or ‘be more loving’ are hard to fully embrace. The Pharisees weren’t condemned for being ‘insensitive’ either. I’m not saying there aren’t pharisees in this, or that we are treating this dilemma perfectly or even ideally, but the author of this article is seeking more for acceptance than respect and attempts to supplant revelation for his own ideas.

    In short, I see a huge effort by members and leadership to be loving while still upholding revealed doctrine. My opinion is that many people seem to think that both can’t happen at once, and thus feel they have some sort of moral high ground in calling for repentance of believers.

  86. Reese, perhaps you’re overlooking the personal attacks on me from the more conservative members of this forum? Life is tough, and Mormons are jerks.

  87. Reese, perhaps you’re overlooking the personal attacks on me from the more conservative members of this forum? Life is tough, and Mormons are jerks.

  88. pconnornc says:

    My comments were not directed personally – just a cautious reminder to stand for principle without creating resentment ;-). On this topic, in these times, and especially in these forums, it is easy to carelessly or accidentally do so! in all seriousness, I have great empathy for the tender feelings being expressed here, and I can only imagine the heartache and struggle this issue brings up within and without the church. We all have our own burdens and scars, but we all have a Savior to Lift and heal too.

  89. Leonard, we made the choice to come experience mortality but not necessarily to a fallen world. We don’t know what other way might have been possible or planned by God if Adam and Eve had chosen not to “eat” the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil but instead had waited on further instruction from God. In LDS teachings, it was Lucifer who claims “there is no other way” except deviating from God’s counsel and partaking of the fruit. I think it is advisable to take anything voiced by Lucifer in LDS teachings as a half truth at best or, more likely, an outright falsehood.

    So, in a sense, Jeff is right that we are all “punished” in a manner of speaking for Adam and Eve’s choice because it made it so that our experience in mortality would be in a fallen world instead of in whatever state God had prepared. The fallen world is a world of chaos in which we are born into physical bodies that are created through organic biological processes subject to the chaos inherent in such a system. We might be born into a body that suffers from a genetic malfunction or disease, whether mental or physical, that severely limits our possibilities during this life. None of that is necessarily “specifically” God’s will; rather, it is God’s will in general that we have the mortal experience and that we allow his counsel and teachings through commandments and revelations to enrich that experience. We just have to do it in a fallen world thanks to Adam and Eve.

  90. Left Field says:

    Jax makes good sense. The color and texture of my beard cannot result from genetic traits that I was born with because I wasn’t born with a beard. Nobody is born with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer because no one is born with breasts.

  91. Steve,

    You said that “comparing homosexuality to autism is a nonstarter”, and yet Mike wasn’t comparing the two. Instead he was pointing out that some people are dealt difficult hands in life that limit their ability to do common things that bring happiness. Your response seems to be the latest liberal trope for responding to the obvious point that there are a lot of people who have more severe and greater limitations on happiness than not being able to have sex and romance with the gender they want.

  92. At least I’m keeping with the latest liberal tropes! Thanks Trevor for the reading comprehension advice.

  93. The next time a non-member friend asks me what Mormons are really like, I think I’ll point him or her to this thread.

  94. Steve, either this thread or that Daily Universe roundtable with Christian Harrison. That one really shows some true colors coming through.

  95. A number of people in this thread have mentioned the distinction between the “secularist view of marriage” and “God’s view of marriage.” I wonder — are we absolutely certain we understand God’s view of marriage? Because on an issue like this, getting it wrong can cause millions of people all sorts of heartache and sorrow in this life and as they reflect on the life to come. To be sure, I realize that one of the blessings of having prophetic revelation is insight into God’s plans and designs. But it seems to me that as a church, in assessing the meaning of “doctrine,” it would be desirable to take into account the magnitude of the practical effects of the policy at issue on people’s lives and the certainty with which we think that the doctrine accurately reflects God’s plans and designs. If the magnitude of the practical effects is high, then we should be pretty certain that we are right before announcing (or regarding) that policy as “doctrine” — maybe there was a specific revelation, the heaven’s opened up, an angel appeared, something along those lines. If the magnitude is fairly low, then the epistemic bar is lower: some scriptural prooftexting and warm feelings are maybe enough. On the priesthood ban, I think we assumed that we were in the former bucket until Lester Bush demonstrated that we were really in the latter, and President Kimball did the right thing by retiring that “doctrine.” For me personally, the church’s position on gay marriage (and frankly it’s doctrine of the family more generally) looks a lot like the priesthood ban: it scores high on the magnitude dimension and very low on the epistemic one: I see some Old Testament scriptures scattered among other bizarre Israelite purity laws that even the most orthodox church members recoil at in horror and Paul’s famous discourses, which also manage to discount heterosexual marriage. And then there’s a proclamation that was originally developed as a litigating position (without input from diverse perspectives, including the female leaders) in order to preserve the church’s free exercise claims by being able to point to established “doctrine” on the subject. Now, I’m not suggesting that individual members should be able to reject or accept certain doctrines in light of the underlying reasons (or context) given for the doctrine, although I’m also not suggesting that this shouldn’t be the case. However, to be frank, if I’m going to go against my own strong feelings and reasoned position on gay marriage and accept the church’s “revelation” on the subject, I want that revelation to actually look like revelation, not just some questionable scriptural exegesis mixed with bureaucratic decision-making. At the very least, I hope that there is some serious thinking going on among church leaders about the role of epistemic humility in our Mormon notion of revelation.

  96. “Mormons are jerks”
    “…What Mormons are really like”

    I’m astonished that this has become the response from the author at a blog for ‘intellectuals.’

  97. Pierce, it doesn’t take an intellectual to come to those conclusions. All it takes is interacting with people such as yourself! :)

  98. ZJG, very well said.

  99. ” However, to be frank, if I’m going to go against my own strong feelings and reasoned position on gay marriage and accept the church’s “revelation” on the subject, I want that revelation to actually look like revelation, not just some questionable scriptural exegesis mixed with bureaucratic decision-making. At the very least, I hope that there is some serious thinking going on among church leaders about the role of epistemic humility in our Mormon notion of revelation.”

    Ay, there’s the rub. If only the men who bear the responsibility for speaking for God to the entire world were only as capable as we are of serious thinking, or even humility. Then maybe they could come up with a “reasoned position”–or at the very least, a position that agreed with yours.

    It really must be hell to have to live on this earth among a bunch of people who sadly haven’t achieved your advanced state.

  100. Yikes, Mark B. That’s a bit harsh, no? I admit that upon re-reading that paragraph that I tossed off hurriedly before running off to meet my wife and kids for lunch comes off as smug. That wasn’t my intention. I acknowledge the prophetic mantle and the importance of modern revelation to the restored church. But I also take seriously, as I imagine you do as well, the charge that we seek a spiritual confirmation through the use of our hearts and minds. And that process can be difficult, especially when our hearts and minds as individual members of the church point in different directions from those of the prophets and apostles. Add to that the fact that we don’t have a real clear view in the church of what constitutes doctrine and a history where certain doctrines that were unchangeable in one period were changed in the next, and you end up with some messiness that one must work through. (To be clear, I don’t think messiness is a bad thing. To the contrary.) What you lambasted above was my attempt at working through some of that messiness. Clearly it was ill advised to attempt this in a blog comment (I don’t usually participate in such things, only very recently). Anyway, I don’t think I know you, but I’d be pleased to sit down and have a milkshake sometime. Maybe I could convince you that I don’t think that I’m living in an advanced state or in hell or anywhere else but the United States in the 21st century. And that I like my church and my fellow church members. Cheers.

  101. Hey ZJG, I thought it was a nice comment. When Mark bothers to argue with you, that’s when you know you’ve arrived.

  102. The underlying debate is really about whether church doctrine is well-established and clearly understood, or whether our understanding of God’s will is evolving, messy, and seen through a glass darkly. It’s hard for people with different views on the nature of revelation and doctrine to see eye to eye.

  103. Cody Hatch says:

    As usual, I’m late the party but appreciate the article and the thoughtfulness it shows on a difficult topic. Ditto the comments, which have been great.

    Perhaps I am a bit simplistic, but the 1st century church debate on circumcision and the requirements of the Law for Gentile converts seems applicable to me. First, we have Jesus, as far as we know, not saying anything related to the upcoming controversy. In addition, Jesus apparently didn’t take the time to address the coming controversy during his 40-day ministry following his resurrection. We then have silence on the issue when Peter receives the revelation to begin the ministry to the Gentiles. Clearly it wasn’t important enough of an issue for God to have addressed it with some preemptive instruction.

    Then, as told in Acts 15, the controversy comes to a head with a council called to address the issue. Again, we see no evidence of direct intervention by God. Clearly this was an important issue for Jewish members because the importance of the Law, and especially circumcision as a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, had always been God’s will, a requirement to enter the kingdom, and a requirement to become a member of Israel. In other words, who were they to change what God had commanded? Clearly Jesus had not addressed the issue or there would have been no controversy, so, importantly, Jesus had not declared either the requirements of the Law to be void or circumcision to be an expired requirement. God had commanded both, Jesus had not countermanded that requirement, so thus God’s will was still in effect, right?

    We know the outcome of that council but an important insight is made by Peter in verses 7-11. Absent any revelation on the matter or explicit teaching from God, Peter defaulted to something that was made very explicit by Jesus: The requirement of us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    I don’t know what God’s will is on the matter, and I respectfully submit that we (as a church) should be a bit more humble in declaring what we _know_ to be God’s will, especially when so much is at stake. I believe Peter’s excellent example might be of benefit to us in this situation.

  104. great comment, example, and perspective, Cody! Thank you!

  105. I think the (relatively new) underlying debate is whether being gay is a feature or a bug. Is it an aberration? I’m hearing gays themselves say absolutely not. Others have no doubt that it is. Maybe it all goes back to volition and we’ll get to choose. Maybe God is *that* serious about agency.

    I’m a woman, so does that mean I will never get to become like Heavenly Father and Jesus?Maybe in other worlds Adam was the first to eat the fruit, so men became lesser (or pedestal), bearers of children. Or maybe Adam & Eve is a myth — a non-literal narrative trying to convey some meaning about who we are in relation to one another and God – written by white men, so of course they are the protagonists here, and there. (?)

    Who really knows how much our evolutionary, earthly biology will be manifest in the afterlife, post-resurrection? If gender is a spectrum, maybe there won’t be any lines drawn at all. Perhaps there are multiple mortalities and we’ll get to experience it all before becoming Gods ourselves – male, female, black, white, bond, free, gay, straight… That makes as much sense to me as anything else, if we’re going for broke, questioning all our assumptions.

    I’m still waiting for full-on, 100% ‘no respecter of persons’. We’re far, far from that. It gets us down to some deep, bedrock questions about what constitutes a soul. Thanks for the thought-experiment, Steve.

  106. Thanks Jen. It’s a tough thought experiment, but more than this, we need to remember that there are real people affected by these ideas.

  107. Mormons are jerks? Hey, I resemble that comment.

  108. I think Reese (early in this conversation) started down the thought path that seems most interesting to me. Reese started talking about the relationship between marriage and sex and love. According to the CHI (as quoted in the supplementary material to the letter to be read in church, homosexual behavior violates the commandments, violates the purposes of human sexuality, and deprives people of family and priesthood ordinances. I think I would understand the Church’s position better if I understood these principles. In particular I wonder what the purposes of human sexuality are, from which would flow a better understanding of why homosexual behavior violates those purposes.

    The obvious answer is regarding the reproductive purpose of sexual behavior. Clearly homosexual behavior cannot fill a reproductive purpose. However, with modern birth control methods (which we embrace somewhat willingly), It could be argued that most heterosexual behavior is not reproductive in nature, either.

    What are the other purposes of human sexuality? How does homosexual behavior violate those purposes? Or is it all about the reproductive purpose? If it is, will our position on homosexuality evolve, like our attitudes towards birth control?

  109. DMV

    I think it it one part of a whole. It is an integral part of what the Lord established with Adam and Eve–become one flesh, multiply and replenish, be exalted together.

  110. Pierce: If those are the three-fold purposes of sexuality, then why are we so opposed to homosexual marriage? It seems to me that only the “multiply and replenish” cannot strictly be obtained in a homosexual marriage. Even that, though, can be arranged through adoption and other means. They can grow together in unity just like heterosexual couples, emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically. The only reason to believe that they cannot be exalted together is because our prophets and apostles have said that they can’t. If our prophets and apostles are fallible, is it possible they are wrong on this point?

  111. Steve S says:

    “They can grow together in unity just like heterosexual couples, emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically.”

    That is one massive assumption. How do you figure? Given millions if not billions of years of evolution based around the pairing of male and female, assuming that a male-male or female-female companionship could combine in unity on a physical/emotional level (including the brain, etc.) in the same way or to the same degree as a male-female pairing is hardly a given in my mind, and I believe far from the intuitive hypothesis. And then to go so far as to assume this could/would be also true on a spiritual level seems like nothing more than wild speculation to my ears.

  112. Fallibility does not equate to new revelation. Unless one throws out the concept of Deity speaking to these prophets completely, one is beholden to the revelations and teachings that have been given. It seems evident to me that the doctrine of “neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord” is as old as First Man. It has never been otherwise since the beginning, so I don’t have reason to just assume differently based solely on my own beliefs or desires. Unless God does say something different, I believe we are beholden to what has been taught, as difficult as some doctrines are to different people.

  113. Steve S. You are correct, that is an assumption on my part. My rationale is that, after years in a sexless marriage, I feel like sexuality seems to be more about division and frustration and not much about unification and “becoming one flesh”. Since sex is a divisive issue for many (sometimes seems like most) heterosexual couples, you may be right that it will also not contribute to the unity of homosexual couples as well. This is probably most of why I find these statements so interesting, because I obviously have much to learn about the purposes of human sexuality, since I am likely only living up to one of three (my wife and I have “replaced ourselves” already, so to speak). I see very little dialog around the spiritual and eternal ramifications of sexless marriages (if any). Since I have failed at this purpose of my sexuality, and I am still allowed to be married (if not encouraged to stay married and not seek separation and divorce), I guess I’m not sure why homosexuals should be denied the opportunity to try to “become one flesh” with someone of their own choosing.

    Pierce, I can see your point. We believe that past revelation (like Paul’s statement in Hebrews that you mention) promoting heterosexual marriage has a somewhat implied prohibition against homosexual marriages. If that is our starting point, it would take a “special” revelation to overturn that.

  114. “I guess I’m not sure why homosexuals should be denied the opportunity to try to “become one flesh” with someone of their own choosing.”

    Because God said so. Why is that hard to understand?

  115. Jax, perhaps I’m missing that scriptural citation. Where, exactly, did God say that?

  116. The growing permissiveness in modern society gravely concerns us. Certainly our Heavenly Father is distressed with the increasing inroads among his children of such insidious sins as adultery and fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, abortions, pornography, population control, alcoholism, cruelty expressed in wife-beating and child-abuse, dishonesty, vandalism, violence, and crime generally, including the sin of living together without marriage.

    We call upon our Church members everywhere to renew their efforts to strengthen the home and to honor their parents, and to build better communications between parent and child.

    Important as it is, building stronger homes is not enough in the fight against rising permissiveness. We therefore urge Church members as citizens to lift their voices, to join others in unceasingly combatting, in their communities and beyond, the inroads of pornography and the general flaunting of permissiveness. Let us vigorously oppose the shocking developments which encourage the old sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, and which defile the human body as the temple of God.

    -Spencer W. Kimball 1977

    whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

  117. Nice try.

  118. Steve,

    References for the unification of man and woman in the scriptures are plentiful and clear, while none exist for any other kinds of relationship (in fact, opposite conclusions can be drawn). You don’t need others to do your research for you. You know they are there. And if you’re going to talk about this within the realm of Mormonism you cannot so casually brush off consistent teachings of modern apostles. But here is the reference, in case you hadn’t read it before:

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

  119. Pierce, I believe in that scripture for sure. Jax, however, offered up that God himself had pronounced on the topic of gay marriage. It’s clear that He hasn’t, although latter day prophets have.

  120. PS, Pierce – I respect the position that you view the entire matter as closed and subject to the immutable law of God. I would ask that you try to understand that others may disagree.

    And more than that – please try to be nicer. Jesus said love your enemies. We’re not even your enemies, and you can barely stand to be nice on this thread. Consider it a challenge! It’s clear you’re trying to do what’s right – afford the same presumption to others, please.

  121. All the church doctrine can offer to a gay person, male or female is repentance. You see, societies in past history, (such as are found in biblical text), have already answered
    Quite clearly the question you pose. For example, just because a person may prostitute
    Themselves for money, does not change the
    Nature of the sin. Therefore, they must repent.
    If you decide to make your own rules that are not in line with the plan of god, then you must
    Pay the consequense of your choice.
    Each of us were born with a gender. Period.

  122. Thanks Jack! Move along. Nothing to see here.

  123. Steve come on dude. You called me a jerk out of no where and you don’t like me just speaking plainly?

    I believe in an open canon, which means that I believe God could give us new doctrine if He was inclined to do so. It has nothing to do with what I think or want. It’s fine with me that people have other views. What I can’t abide are those who try attribute their personal philosophy (which philosophy runs contrary to scripture and apostles) to God and then call believers to repentance for it. Then to ridicule and be insolent towards visitors who are merely upholding the position of the church. And I know that some people are thick about this but you don’t seem to differentiate a valid point from an obtuse one.

    I’m definitely ok with being cordial in the future and I don’t consider you an enemy. But your post has some serious problems in my view, and you are welcome to respond to my critiques to better expand your reader’s view or to better defend your claims.

  124. So, I guess that’s a “no”. Let me take a minute to reply to you, not in terms of addressing any of your concerns with the post (sorry!) but to put on my admin hat and deliver the sort of community message that periodically gets delivered.

    Of course my post has serious problems! It was dashed off from a cell phone in the space of about twenty minutes. There are loads of definitional issues as well as poor choices of words. There even grammar problems. But let’s look at your latest comment, in which you:

    1. State that my post runs contrary to Scripture
    2. State that I am trying to attribute my personal philosophies to God
    3. State that I’m “insolent”

    Try being a nicer person, please. Imagine we’re discussing this in real life at a cocktail party to which you’ve been invited. How do you expect people to respond, even if you’re right? How did you expect me to respond to any of your prior comments, really, when they seem to me to be as much about registering indignation and making points as seeking to understand someone else?

    Do you really think that I am ignorant of the points you’ve raised previously, that somehow I evaded hearing those messages repeated during conferences and campaigns over the last decade? Every member of the Church is familiar with what you or Jax or others are saying in defense of what you view as the Church’s position. We all hear it every week. Every week. Your role as defender and explicator of the faith is unnecessary here.

    I definitely owe everyone a better explanation of the brief thoughts above. I would point out that most of the post is a series of thought questions, meant more to engender a little self-reflection than to establish doctrine. Some of the comments on this thread show that at least some people welcome that sort of exercise. You clearly don’t. That’s fine. From your comments, you seem to have all the answers you want, and you want to argue (in the intellectual sense, not necessarily the combative one). That’s fine, too. But this thread is not going to give you what you want. It’s not that sort of discussion right now. Right now it’s a great time to say something like, “I know this church is hard for gay people. I’m interested in helping” or “the Church’s teachings on gay marriage are very clear, and in my mind that includes loving everyone as brothers and sisters.”

    Stuff like that. I can understand if that sort of response doesn’t interest you. I promise that you will soon have the opportunity to have an intellectually rigorous and dispassionate discussion about homosexuality in Mormonism. But this isn’t it. This thread is an exercise in compassion. Start there.

  125. And lastly, let me apologize for calling you out earlier. That was unnecessary of me. I’m interested in facilitating a more earnest discussion on this topic.

  126. Steve,

    Thank you for clarifying what your goal in this was. In a very non-confrontational way, may I point out to you that statements such as these go beyond a dialogue about showing compassion towards gays:

    ” we need to be prepared for Jesus to hold us accountable for making an idol of marriage at the cost of those who cannot obtain it.”
    “We need to seriously confront the possibility that homosexuality…is not a sin.”

    It is inevitable that you will meet the resistance you invited by mixing controversial statements into your message of compassion. These may not be the thrust of your message, but you’ll have to be patient with me when I assume that you included them (among others–including your comments) for a reason. Perhaps you’d like to explain them further or retract them? They’re rather bold claims after all.

  127. I’ll explain them further in another post. Frankly, I don’t think they’re all that bold.

  128. The atonement is predicated upon the ability for Christ to change our very natures. This includes sexuality. Thus atonement has the power to change a gay person into a straight person. This is required for existence within the celestial kingdom, as it seems the entire point of life in this kingdom revolves heavily around procreation and experiencing joy in your posterity. In other words, one’s children are potentially the ultimate source of joy that can be experienced; the celestial kingdom is where the inhabitants have a “fullness of joy”. This should be obvious to those that have been to the temple. Also consider that one of the most fundamental covenants in scripture, the Abrahamic covenant, is basically that Abraham is promised that he will have a lot of children.

    In that context, homosexuality within the celestial kingdom simply doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe anyone is punished for being gay; I have no idea who, if anyone, gets punished (as in the spirit prison/hell) for homosexual behavior. But I’m certain that any homosexual that desires entrance into the celestial kingdom must have their natures changed through the atonement of Christ.

  129. Sigh

  130. “I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: “You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.” When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, “Brother Brigham I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the written oracles and the written word of God.” Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day.” “And now,” said he, “when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.” ‘ – Wilford Woodruff

    Now as I’ve listened to the last few General Conferences I think the brethren have made it abundantly clear that SSM is not approved of, is something we should stand against. But maybe that isn’t even recent enough for you. So just last week we had a statement given reaffirming the standards of conduct the Lord expects us to live by. This shouldn’t be so confusing for you Steve. At this point I think that D&C 121:38 describes your demeanor quite well.

  131. Steve, I appreciate what you were trying to do. Thanks. You don’t need defenders (you manage just fine for yourself), so let me stop with gratitude.
    I do have further thoughts and comments, but this thread has long since lost its appeal.

  132. Pokemom says:

    I also appreciated this post. I did not take it in any way as something more than an opportunity to discuss an issue that is troubling to many. By exploring things with faith, thought, and respect for all, we can usually come out the other side with greater understanding, even if that understanding is just that there are complex questions that we must always work through as faithful followers of Christ. I am deeply upset that Jax would equate Steve’s post and comments with D&C 121:38, because discussing ideas is not apostasy. I was not going to comment on this thread at all, but that level of nastiness and self righteousness needs to be called out.

    I also have some more thoughts on these questions, but do not want to share them in a confrontational environment.

  133. Jax, you’re invited to leave now.

  134. Leonard R says:

    A little late to thank Cody and Jen for their excellent comments above. And thanks again, Steve, for a great thread, which I think reflects both the faithfulness you’ve always manifest here at BCC, and a practical example of President Uchtdorf’s discourse on the ongoing restoration. That, and a call for active engagement and compassionate thought.

  135. Would love to hear comments on how a LGBT person born that way is not unlike individuals born with mental or physical disabilities that prevent them from marriage and forming a traditional family here? My faith tells me no one will be denied these blessings in the eternities. Our God is kind and generous and will not allow trials to last forever.

  136. Sb, I agree with the conclusion, but the idea that homosexuality is like a disability – that’s likely to be deeply insulting to LGBT people.

  137. I, for one, am tired of hearing the same unkind comments ad nauseam. Tone matters. Kindness matters.

  138. Steve: Many individuals with mental illness are insulted when the issue is raised that they may need help. Whether or not they choose to accept the reality of their limitations is up to them.

  139. I would amend the above by saying there should be NO shame in this. The stigma surrounding these issues is the problem.

  140. Questions for any of us to ponder:

    1. How many of our ideas about homosexuality come from what we’ve learned from our personal experiences, or from talking with family, friends, and acquaintances who are out of the closet?

    2. How many of our ideas about homosexuality come from what we’ve heard in Church settings?

    3. For those who have #2 > #1, would it be possible that we are not seeing the whole picture?

    4. For those who have #1 > #2, would it be Christlike to tell our family, friends, and acquaintances to their faces that they should not practice sexuality as they choose and/or they should not marry someone of the same sex?

  141. Steve S says:

    Layne #4.

    I don’t think it’s right to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do without specific authority granted within a system of law that governs and has been accepted by that individual (and even then it would be in terms of here is the law, here are the consequences, you have your agency to choose, etc.). That said, I think it is appropriate to share a belief you hold with someone, and to invite them to consider it and abide by that belief if you sincerely believe it is in their best interest. I find such an invitation to be very Christlike, in whatever revealed spiritual law that might be and that one holds as true.

  142. trevorprice924 says:

    A few points:

    1) Good post, Steve. These are very important questions.
    2) I’m not the Trevor above.
    3) As usual, one’s views on this matter seem largely colored by whether they believe in the infallibility of church leaders.

  143. Reverting back to the original post, if your spouse dies and you remarry, it isn’t adultery, even if the relationship is intentionally temporary. If that is the case, then all sorts of other things become fair game.

  144. sb,
    Steve made it sound like the main problem with equating homosexuality with disability or mental illness is tone. I don’t think that’s true at all.

    The real problem with this comparison is that mental illness limits one’s ability to function and be happy in life. By contrast, LGBT people don’t need treatment to make them straight. They live happy, fulfilling lives the same way the rest of us do, when we let them.

    That’s why telling an LGBT person that God will eventually “cure” them is nothing like telling a person struggling with depression that they can be healed. You’re telling them that an essential attribute of themselves–one that they probably associate with some of their most profound experiences with life and love–is going away. How are they supposed to imagine, much less want, such an existence?

    It’s hard to think of a handicap that meets this crucial point of your thoughtless comparison and that’s why the comparison fails. If we are going to insist upon it in our doctrine, let’s be clear: we are effectively closing the doors of the gospel to a great many people.

  145. Kenzo, I wasn’t referring to tone. You’ve got it right.

  146. Kenzo: I think my view is more long term. My view is based on achieving the desired goal of fulfillment once this experience is over. You are assuming that you are correct in stating that an LGBT orientation is an essential part of the LGBT experience and is therefore an eternal part of their nature. So, is the same true for people with physical disabilities? Will that essential part of their experience here remain with them once mortality is over? I think you are assuming you are correct about what you believe. So I submit to you once again, I believe my comparison is worth a second thought.

  147. Sb, I appreciate your stick-to-it attitude! But seriously, I’d give up on the comparison. The only applicable point of comparison is the same you could make between all human beings, namely, that God is just and will sort things out when we die. To make that point, you don’t need to imply by comparison that homosexuality is like a disability. And you shouldn’t.

  148. I am just sharing a point of view. I am not telling you what to believe. I thought this was an open forum.

  149. No need to get defensive. If you disagree and would like to continue with your point of view, by all means continue.

  150. Just sharing a differing view is all…not trying to convert anyone here. Discussions are always more interesting if everyone chimes in with differing views. No problem. I didn’t mean to offend. I just wanted to throw an idea out there to see what people thought.

  151. sb, here is the thing. For something to be a disability, you have to show how it negatively affects the life of the people who share that trait. Aside from not wanting to have sex with or fall in love with the opposite sex, homosexuals experience no inherent problems. And as I have no desire to have sex with or fall in love with the same sex, I can hardly see have a sexual orientation/preference as a disability unless I want to consider everyone as having a disability. If the only negative affect is that that being gay makes some other people unhappy, then it isn’t a disability.

  152. OK, so I’ve been reading this thread. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about it. I’ve spent several days thinking about this thread. The latest comments have made me need to comment.

    I am mentally ill. My first diagnosis came with the first time I tried to commit suicide, when I was 14. I’m now 43. In 30 years I’ve worked hard to come to the right diagnosis and get the appropriate treatment. I finally got what I needed and live a life that is set to my normal. I have bipolar II, borderline personality disorder, and sociopathic leanings. This is a disability.

    I know disability. I’ve fought with one for years. I will never be able tobe fully functional in normal society. It has significant effects on my life. I am not “normal”.

    I say all this so that you know that I know what I am saying when I say that sexuality is not a disability. People who identify as LGBTQ+ are not disabled They are not abnormal. They are people who are able to function within the rules of society. If there is anyone who is causing them to have any kind of disability it is those people in society who refuse to see our brothers and sisters as functional people who have the right to be happy,who have the right to be who they are, and who have the right to marry the people they love.

    We are commanded to love our brothers and sisters, even as we love ourselves. It is the second greatest commandment, from the mouth of the Lord Himself. Judging our brothers and sisters who identify as LGBTQ+ and telling them they are wrong isn’t loving them as you love yourself.

  153. This rationale could be used in so many other areas. Are we willing to justify an individual who says that because they were born addicted to drugs (‘born that way’) they should be allowed to use drugs throughout their life? Or to the individual who was born with major birth defects who has no desire to grow and improve so we let them do, say, take etc anything they desire? These examples are not considered religious issues by most people yet they are recognized as unacceptable.
    We are all born with strengths and weaknesses whether inherited or environmental. Choice does equal sin. However, there is ALWAYS choice involved… be it ‘born that way’ or not!

  154. it's a series of tubes says:

    those who try attribute their personal philosophy (which philosophy runs contrary to scripture and apostles) to God and then call believers to repentance for it. Then to ridicule and be insolent towards visitors who are merely upholding the position of the church.

    BCC does a lot of things right, but when it loses its way, it’s generally along the lines of what Pierce identifies here.

  155. Uh, thanks?

  156. I think every wrong thing that can be said on this topic now has been said, so let’s close this down.