“as all the ordinances of the gospel Administered by the world since the Aposticy of the Church was illegal, in like manner was the marriage Cerimony illegal and all the world who had been begotton through the illegal marriage were Bastards not sons”
-Orson Pratt, quoted in Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:260.*
Hold that quote in your head. We’ll be coming back to it.
Here’s the key excerpt for the purposes of this post:
The devil has been called “the great deceiver.” He attempts to counterfeit every true principle the Lord presents.
Remember, counterfeits are not the same as opposites. The opposite of white is black, but a counterfeit for white might be off-white or gray. Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good, and just like counterfeit money, they are worthless. Let me illustrate.
One of Satan’s counterfeits for faith is superstition. His counterfeit for love is lust. He counterfeits the priesthood by introducing priestcraft, and he imitates God’s miracles by means of sorcery.
Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing. They cannot bring lasting happiness.
God warned us about counterfeits in the Doctrine and Covenants. He said, “That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness” (D&C 50:23).
Take something good and twist it
I started with the Orson Pratt quote because the two passages seem related. “All human relationships are fake and illegal except temple ones,” is what Elder Pratt seems to be saying. Note that he’s not saying there’s a higher order of marriage, he’s saying there’s one marriage and Mormons have the market cornered. Everything else is illegal, and thus presumably sinful.
The idea that ALL relationships are “counterfeit” is both better and worse than what Elder Lawrence is saying. Elder Pratt’s quote shows that tone-deafness is not a new trait for us, and he stakes out the logical extremes of our sealing doctrine. Elder Lawrence shows that we’re more targeted with our tone-deafness now. I suppose it’s progress that we no longer call every non-Mormon in the world a bastard and their marriage illegal, but directing that same kind of language toward a smaller subset of people doesn’t make it any more appropriate for the Church of Christ.
In other words, I’m reading Elder Lawrence in the same way that I’m reading Elder Pratt, and arriving at the same conclusion for both passages: They took something good and gave it a little twist.
What does a non-counterfeit relationship look like, anyway?
The other problem with this line of thinking is a simpler one: What paths to an honest, loving relationship are available for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters? Let’s review the options:
- Marry a straight person and pretend to be straight
- Live in sin or be promiscuous
- Never have any intimate relationships and pretend that this is OK
- Live in a relationship with somebody to whom you have made the same legal and social commitments that other people make when they marry
Many of us probably know gay Latter-day Saints who’ve chosen each of those four options as the best path forward. Which of these options is best labeled counterfeit? Which would Elder Lawrence recommend for our gay brothers and sisters? Because the one he’s calling fake seems to be the one that involves the least amount of denial.
OK, get to commenting. Respectfully please, and with love in your heart for your brothers and sisters.
*Pratt made similar remarks decades later in Utah. Orson Pratt, October 7, 1873, Journal of Discourses, 16:257–58