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.