Colorful Socks

socks 2

JD is a gay man in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and he still attends!  
He could still really use a friend there.  His colorful church socks get lonely too. This piece is a follow up to a previous one  Part 1.

Last month, I wrote about my struggles as a gay man in the Church.  There, like everywhere, my LGBTQ friends and I have received numerous pieces of repetitive advice.  As we approach the end of Pride, I want to provide my reactions to some common themes.

Until we consider the real implications of our statements, actions, and policies, we are not prepared to minister to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.  

“Please stay and worship with us”

Many of my friends and I desperately want to worship with our Mormon brothers and sisters because we love the gospel. But an invitation to worship rings hollow when our “core characteristic” [1] has been officially labeled a “satanic perversion” [2] and desires “counterfeit.”  It is spoken from the pulpit often.   For example: Recently during sacrament meeting I invited a non-member gay friend to church. A Utah mission president was giving a talk.  In it, he declared that the election of a non-member lesbian mayor of Salt Lake City was an example of “secret and abominable things happening in the very heart of Zion.”[3]  Do you think that my friend ever wanted to come back?

This negative messaging happens regularly to our LGBTQ youth both in church and in seminary.  “You can certainly come on the youth trip – if you sleep in a tent all by yourself.” [4] “The brethren have definitively declared that ‘same-gender attraction’ is not biological in origin.” [5]  “We can’t invite your son to that activity – how can we protect our kids from getting attacked?” [4] Of course they stop attending before adulthood. It’s why even apostles admit that this church may not be safe. [6]  

“Your situation is no different than the singles within the church.”

A friend stated succinctly: “Single people may pray every night to find someone to love.  Celibate gay people pray every night NOT to find love.” Imagine that every time in your life you had a childhood crush, an innocent teenage flirtation, or even any desire to have a fulfilling relationship as an adult, you had to bury it down with feelings of shame and disgust.  

There is a world of difference between not having a partner now, and being told that you are fundamentally flawed and broken because even your inherent desire to ever have a partner is evil.[7]  To stay fully within the church, I must voluntarily turn down honorable individuals who would be good companions – so that I can eat dinner alone for the rest of my life.  I have been explicitly told by a general authority that “If I keep my covenants, that on the morning of the first resurrection I will fall deeply in love with the first single sister that I see.”  I’m essentially told I’m a replaceable variable in an eternal equation, acceptable just as long as the parts fit together in officially sanctioned ways.  

That can’t be true, can it? Does earnest love, commitment, service, devotion, and fidelity truly not sanctify when between two individuals with Y chromosomes?  Are gay dudes just shellfish while God observes kosher? “Thou shalt not partake” even when they look really good coming out of the ocean? [8]  

“Follow Elder Oaks’s counsel- stop considering your ‘attraction’ to be the defining fact of your existence.”[1]

The Proclamation on the Family is central to Mormon discourse.  Families in mortality and eternity are defined as the reason for our heterosexual existence.  Homes and workplaces and churches are filled with pictures and conversations and lessons about families.   How can I NOT persistently ponder my status? Until leaders and members conceptualize “same-gender attraction” in the same terms as their own feelings towards spouses and family, there will be a continual disconnect.

“Increase your testimony, stop thinking about it and just follow your leaders.“

Local and general authorities are earnest.  But on LGBTQ issues, they have explicitly and continually taught the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.  They solemnly proclaim each iteration to be the word of the Lord and encourage strict obedience.  But quietly, they admit they simply don’t know what to do and concede there is very little hope. [6] Each “prophetic” statement implying knowledge and direction on God’s LGBTQ children cedes credibility and lessens trust.  All this tells me is that our leaders are operating under lesser light and knowledge and true revelation is needed.

President Spencer W Kimball movingly described the process of seeking needed revelation.  ”Revelations will probably never come unless they are desired…most revelations come when a man is on his tiptoes, reaching as high as he can for something which he knows he needs, and then there burst upon him the answer to his problems.” [9]  On answers to LGBTQ questions, is the Church reaching upwards or fearfully grasping backwards?  

The disconnected between current Church position and the lived LGTBQ experience reminds me of Captain Moroni and Pahoran.  Captain Moroni was a righteous leader, a “strong and a mighty man…a man of a perfect understanding.” [10] During a time of devastating wars (Alma 59-61), Moroni condemns the governor Pahoran and forcefully calls him to repentance.  In his response, Pahoran kindly corrects Moroni, who, while exceptionally righteous and had the spirit of revelation and prophecy (3 Ne 3:19), was far removed and speaking from emotional prejudice based on limited knowledge.  Moroni did not receive truth until he actively (albeit inadvertently) sought it directly from the source, then listened and changed.

We need to ask more questions.  How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?…if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit.” [11]

My Testimony: I will go and do

As a gay man in the Church, I hold on to what I DO know. [12] During my missionary service and beyond, I saw that obedience to inherently good principles brought practical benefits.  I know that a marital relationship in earnest is one of the great, if not greatest, mechanisms of love and learning in this life.  I know that honest love and “concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion” is sanctifying and decreases the selfish impulses of the natural man. [13] [14]   I know that I will eventually have to stand before God and explain the actions of my life based on what I know, and that I won’t be able to outsource my conscience or choices to a conference talk, Ensign article, or policy.  I will be directly asked “With what you knew, what did you do to help others?”

While writing this piece, a insistent impression has filled my mind, giving new meaning to a well-known exhortation:  “You cannot rely on the testimony of others.” While difficult, and sometimes terrifying, I must seek for further light and knowledge in humility…and individually.  

I am doing my  best to follow this testimony and align myself with the will of the Lord. Right now, operating from love includes being open to an honorable male partner in my life.  I will fill my life with fellowship and service to those around me. I will try to emulate Pahoran’s example to not operate from frustration, fear, or anger, but as President Uchtdorf encouraged, to operate from love. [15]   

I will battle the persistent thoughts that a plan of happiness in mortality that by design doesn’t include “the least of these” is no plan at all.  I will fight the feelings of cognitive dissonance after temple worship. I will fight the desire to die and achieve a terminal resolution. President Hugh B Brown consistently felt that “religion should help us here and now; that we should not have to wait until after we are dead to get any benefits.” [16] I will continue to daily seek for the voice of the Lord in the scriptures, to search, ponder, and pray.  I will highlight the best of the church while kindly correcting instances of limited understanding and prejudice.   And I will continue to attend church, wearing my colorful socks.

Footnotes

[1] Church Public Affairs Interview with Dallin H Oaks and Lance B Wickman, August 2006

[2] Spencer W Kimball, Acting Presiding Apostle “New Horizons for Homosexuals”, church-published pamphlet, 1971

[3] April 30, 2017, 11:45 AM.  YSA Ward in Salt Lake City. Mission President name withheld.  

[4] Conversations with many parents of LGBTQ teens.  One example of many. This still happens currently, and directly relates to pervasive misconceptions as well as ineffective (or non-existent) top-down leadership directives on LGTBQ youth.  

[5] My CES full-time seminary teacher AND my CES full-time institute director at a university- just a few years ago AND personal priesthood leaders, even today.  There is a larger discussion here relating to current CES messaging that is often contrary to the official positions of the church.

[6] Mormon Stories, Interview with parents Meg and Jake Abhau, April 25, 2017.

[7]You Knew What I Was.” By Common Consent.  Comments by Kristine, 9:45 am, and Rexicorn, 9:56 am, April 16, 2018

[8] Very much yes.  If you like James Bond.  Or British blondes. Or Freedom.  

[9] Spencer W Kimball, Letter to Edward L Kimball, March 11, 1963, quoted in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball.  Edward L Kimball.  Deseret Book. Salt Lake City.  2005.

[10] Captain Moroni should get tons of royalties….

[11] Dieter F Uchtdorf “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” Leadership Training Broadcast. February 11, 2012.  

[12] Jeffrey R Holland “Lord, I Believe” General Conference Sunday Afternoon Session April 2013

[13] Gordon B Hinckley “What God Hath Joined Together” General Conference Sunday Morning Session April 1991

[14] Ezra Taft Benson “Fundamentals of Enduring Family Relationships” General Conference Sunday Morning Session October 1982

[15] Dieter F Uchtdorf “Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear” General Conference Sunday Morning Session, April 2017

[16] Hugh B Brown An Abundant Life. 2nd Ed. Signature Books.  Salt Lake City, 1999. P 136.

Comments

  1. Some extra thoughts that didn’t fit within the post…

    We need to ask more questions.While belief that we already know the answers and thus don’t need more information is comfortable, the challenge is to actually allow ourselves the possibility of “the many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.” [13] Would the Brother of Jared have ever come up with an answer to his pressing need for light had he not stretched his mind to include a solution beyond the world he thought he already knew? Would Peter have understood his expansive vision regarding the Gentiles had not the gentile Cornelius previously bravely followed his own independent divinely directed unorthodox journey? Where would we be today had Joseph Smith obediently accepted the view of his own church authority that revelation ceased with the apostles? “How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?…if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit.” [14]

  2. In the words of one of the most poignant posts here on the subject of arriving at truth, “Our religious certainties ought to be troubled by our encounters with our fellow human beings; no theological abstraction should matter to us more than the pains and joys of our brothers and sisters…If we are to arrive at truth-we must allow our encounters…to shake us from our comfortable beliefs and throw us to our knees to beg for wisdom and understanding.” [12]

  3. President Hinckley provided a succinct caveat to President Brown’s comments. “A religion that will not help us in this life will hardly be expected to help us in the one to come. ” (Paraphrased, from his talk regarding the Perpetual Education Fund, quoting Joseph F Smith)
    Because so many times, friends, family, leaders and other general authorities repeatedly tell me “If you
    just keep your covenants, God will fulfill all His promises in the next life.”
    In my darkest hours, I often feel that “A God that will not keep His promises in this life will hardly be expected to to keep them in the life to come.”

  4. *”keep His explicit promises regarding this life…”
    (to be more clear. )

  5. To the vast majority of Saints homosexuality is mysterious as the moons of Saturn. It just doesn’t fit anywhere. The only enlargement upon this subject will come not via theology but science (and even then no guarantees as far as the Hierarchy is concerned). Can you wait that long?

  6. I could simply applaud, but I would underline this point:
    “Until leaders and members conceptualize “same-gender attraction” in the same terms as their own feelings towards spouses and family, there will be a continual disconnect.”

    (As I have written elsewhere) I believe there is a fundamental disconnect. At the most senior levels there seems to be an ongoing determination to think of anything other than cis-gendered being as if it were an add-on, a choice, a counterfeit, a temporary state, a disability. Not as essential, unchanging, eternal (?–a provocative question for Mormon theology).

    I do think this dis-ability to understand or empathize is generational and in the process of changing (but slower than my remaining lifetime), Until it does, I highly doubt the right questions will be asked with the necessary urgency.

  7. I give ample credit to the bravery entailed in putting something so personal to words in a public forum. And good words, too – this post (and its predecessor) was intimate without being emotionally inappropriate (ie, overshare). Your experience and ability to articulate it is an invaluable contribution to the Mormon faith community. Socks and all.

    In these posts and their attendant comments, there is often a plea for the leadership to ask the right questions. For once they do, of *course* the answers they receive will be what *we* knew all along, amirite?! Do we sincerely entertain the possibility, though, that *we* are the ones who need to change and update our questions? Not to put too fine a point on it, but

    @christiankimball – why do you feel you’ve arrived at a point of light-and-truth that the leadership is blinded to? That is, your wording suggests you’ve asked the *right* questions already and have received the *right* answers, and now it’s time for the hierarchy to plod along until they reach your state of enlightenment, bless their antiquated souls. If the “right” questions get asked (or have already been asked) and the prophets/seers/apostles disagree with your conclusions, will you adjust your thinking?

  8. Bensen,

    I am going to try and be real careful here. In short “Yes”. Our church is based on asking questions and getting answers. WoW comes to mind. Polygamy. Priesthood. Plenty of times “the question” came back with a different answer. Some took years. Others not so much. I also believe “the question” gets asked when pressure outside our faith circle leaves us in the dust.

    I am with christiankimball on this.

  9. jaxjensen says:

    I”m with Bensen. It seems these posts (and subsequent comments) always ‘know’ what the ‘correct’ answers are, and suggest that Church leadership is just too old/stubborn/old-fashioned/??? to ask the questions to get those answers. It mostly seems that people stubbornly refuse to accept current church policy/teachings because it seems mean/uncaring/etc. They WANT it to be different, so surely it must be a problem with leadership that the gospel doesn’t teach what they want. If only they could pick their own leaders then they’d be able to hear preaching that is more pleasing to them…

    Every time this topic comes up, that is what the posts and comments reflect.

  10. Angela C says:

    I’m not Christian Kimball, but I’ll answer your question: “why do you feel you’ve arrived at a point of light-and-truth that the leadership is blinded to?” I feel confident about this when leaders make statements that are contradicted by 1) current, reputable science, and 2) the lived experience of the individuals in question. Leaders don’t always do this, not all of them, and I think they try to be as accurate in understanding the issues as they can be, but the simple fact is that on LGBT issues, they frequently misrepresent the lived experience of gay people and the current, reputable scientific knowledge about sexual orientation (and gender dynamics in general), preferring some of the pseudo-science favored by opponents of what they see as a “gay agenda.”

  11. I felt a guidance to read this and I’m glad I did. There is the occasional written word that causes me to pause and to exclaim, “The Spirit is strong, my body is weak” please help my un-Christ-like tendency to part the water for the Spirit to enter in and visit with me for a while. JD, the guest writer, feels the need to not share his name for some reason. Oh how I would love to meet JD and tell him, “Good Brother, my Brother that shares our Common Heavenly Parents in Spirit, we have all come here to grow and learn. I would be proud to sit by you and share this thing we call Worship, in our LDS Chapel, and never, ever judge you for what you consider your trials. For I have enough of my own that will keep me from those Heavenly gates into Celestial Glory. If I stop for 1 second, focusing on you I may miss the whole “Mark”, the whole point, the “absit iniuria”, so that I may truly enter into those gates with you by my side. Is that not the “summa totalis” of what our Savior asks of us, did He not show us plainly? I love how his heart is open and bare here. I often wonder if we ever consider how much Love that John, The Beloved, had for our Savior; an emotion that the Lord seems to share. Everything is this mortal probation is centered around our sense of feel, touch, smell, taste, see, hear and we look at same-gender attraction from these senses. Why does everything have to be judged by an appendage (or absent one) and not from the heart. Surely we are casting the first stone by doing so. Thank you JD for helping me to come to a better understanding, something I hopefully will seek always.

  12. @p 7:50pm
    Thank you for your comment. I generally agree that “the gay” is so foreign to many people within the church. I find that two things often strongly contribute to this lack of understanding:
    1) Like me, they likely grew up with it presented as a sexual “boogeyman,” consequences of this deviant choice including promiscuity, drugs, dancing in short shorts with sparkles….and a horrifying obsession with Barbra Streisand.
    2) Many individuals, particularly older men, deep down, fundamentally, can absolutely NOT comprehend a guy finding another man attractive- sexually, spiritually, socially, intellectually, etc.

    Because of that, it has been a terrific feat to encourage individuals to comprehend it in any other way. Along those lines, I deeply love and appreciate Dr. Bill Bradshaw and those like him who present summaries of research on the biologic basis of homosexuality. Dr. Bradshaw has lectured several times at different organizations, including Encircle House in Provo. While i fully recognize that the continually growing scientific findings won’t sway individuals creating moral policy, each step helps enlarge their world, increasing their empathy towards something so fundamentally “other” to them. My scientific education and background thoroughly helped me when I was coming out – i was able to ponder and pray about statements by past and current general authorities and realize that while earnest, often their statements were like Captain Moroni – impassioned and earnest, but based on prejudice and lack of understanding. .

    (Fortunately, I’m a Celine Dion man myself, so I’ve avoided the drugs, promiscuity, and short shorts.)

  13. @christiankimball 7:59pm
    Thank you for your comment. I find that question to be terribly provocative in Mormon theology. In the Plan of Happiness, what about “the other”? Through the years, we had adamantly denied that God would create anyone without the ability to fulfill the “Plan of Happiness.” Historically and still presently, this included the strong belief that “the gay” was a choice. Now I feel that the pendulum is swinging towards “disability”- even though most won’t mention that very loudly, likely aware of how offensive that sounds to anyone but the most myopic of individuals. Like i mentioned above, I hope and pray that each step brings individuals closer to understanding. Regarding Mormon Theology, I find the ideas presented in Taylor Petrey’s “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology” to be interesting. If we actually believe all the things we SAY we believe about God the Father, then we know that HE isn’t surprised by his LGBT children. It’s only been us, (and the general authorities), who have. As a practicalist, i fully believe that I have a place in The Plan in THIS life – and not simply as a supporting character in someone else’s story. I strive daily to figure out how all that works.

  14. To the question why do I think what I do and what will I think when there is a (next) answer:

    I am judging from a >60 year lifetime (that includes pre- and post-1978, for what that’s worth) of observation and attention to how things work, what is said, how the Brethren talk to each other as much as to us, what has changed, what has changed repeatedly, and what younger (40s and 50s) apparently devout men and women report they are feeling and believing. And even so, it’s all opinion and guesswork.

    And when the next pronouncement comes, I will listen and assess and test against my heart, and we’ll see. Recognizing that my standard for modern day prophets is “better than 50% right and that’s a good score—enough to pay close attention, not enough to follow blindly.”

  15. @Bensen June 29, 2018 at 8:47 pm
    Thank you for your comment and compliments. Vulnerability is tempered by my (somewhat) anonymity.

    Regarding your first paragraph, my response would be twofold. First, i would never claim to suggest direction for the body of the church. That is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to work out the practical implications of the gospel in my life. As such, like i stated in my previous post, i repeatedly and continually applied the methods that I have been taught all my life to use to approach problems and concerns – to wrestle with them before the Lord. We pretty strongly believe in an individual’s ability to apply James 1:5.
    Second, If you don’t think we as a church need further light and knowledge on this issue, then you haven’t been paying attention. (Intended tone of this sentence is light, even though it probably sounds like a verbal spanking. I’m not into spanking, not even verbal ones. There’s my overshare! I knew i could fit it in somewhere) Even though I continue to feel the same impressions and thoughts as I mentioned in my first post, i don’t claim that the church will (or should) automatically receive similar. To directly answer your question – yes, I always reserve the right to be wrong on this. A few percentage points of humility keep me searching, keep me questioning. The main consistent question continues to be “What do i practically do in this life?” We have over a century of evidence that the General Authorities, just like Captain Moroni, were earnest and valiant, but like all of us, suffered from prejudice and ignorance on this issue. Their statements show that they historically did not know and still admit today that they do not know what to practically do on this. The phrase “We really don’t know what to do on this” from several general authorities suggests at the very least, that we need to ask more questions.

  16. @jaxjensen 9:13 pm

    Thank you for your comment. You represent a significant cohort of individuals within the church. In my posts, i repeatedly stated the impressions that I have felt in study, prayer, and in temple worship. I repeatedly expressed my confusion on the consistency of my feelings and the lack of concordance with church policy.

    I in no way “always know what the ‘correct’ answers are” and i do not dictate policy to church leadership. All i know are the impressions I’ve consistently felt while in scripture study, in service, in church, in temple worship. All i know is the over a century of prophetic pronouncements on this, the vast majority of which are demonstrably false. All i know is the admissions of the general authorities who “do not know how to handle this.” All I know are the untenable options available within the church, all statistically shown to be very bad.

    Like the Brother of Jared, the church has presented several “answers” to this historically, all of them disastrous and dark. Is it wrong to hope and pray that the right questions and answers will provide light sufficient to move forward?

  17. I have come to believe that when we should see bright caution lights flashing when we hear comments to the effect that we will be rewarded or fixed or made whole in the resurrection. This idea can be dangerous.

    First, I must say that this teaching has indispensable value. There are great mysteries in life–most especially the mysteries surrounding death–that have no good answers in our experience. For such questions the best answers involve, to some degree, the hope of something better in the eternities.

    But. There are a lot of hard problems that are not impenetrable mysteries. Poverty, loneliness, prejudice, greed and inequality are some very hard problems, but we know something about how to solve them. Throwing up our hands and saying “Let’s wait till we’re dead!” just won’t do. These problems, hard as they are, are what we are here to work on. It feels offensive and sinful to try to kick these problems into God’s lap. It’s a dodge, a cop-out.

    The positive way of seeing this is that the line about waiting for the resurrection can be a guide to some of our greatest opportunities as a people. This line gets trotted out all too often in response to faithful, committed people among us, our sisters and brothers within the body of the church, who are desperate for succor. Yes, I’m thinking of gay people and queer people, but I’m also thinking of unmarried or divorced people, people of color, and anyone whose authentic, lived experience is not fully accounted for in our cultural and doctrinal imagination. Until we have found a nurturing, empowered place for such people in the body of Christ, we have not done enough.

  18. @Loursat 11:29 pm
    Beautiful, simply beautiful.
    Just like we cannot absolve ourselves and outsource our conscience to the General Authorities, we cannot outsource many of today’s very hard problems to the Atonement.
    I have appreciated your thoughtful comments many many times. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Tiberius says:

    “they frequently misrepresent the lived experience of gay people and the current, reputable scientific knowledge about sexual orientation (and gender dynamics in general), preferring some of the pseudo-science favored by opponents of what they see as a “gay agenda.”

    With the exception of President Packer’s talk, I’m curious about what has been said through official channels in the past year that misrepresents “scientific knowledge about sexual orientation.” You might be thinking about what gender studies has said, but that’s a seminary for a particular worldview and is not a hard science. In terms of the actual biology the Church statements have been pretty accurate, notwithstanding the zombie claim (never dying, but inaccurate) by some members (e.g. Greg Prince) that the Church doesn’t believe in the biological etiology of homosexuality.

  20. @Tiberius 6:06 am
    Thank you for your comment. I won’t answer directly for Loursat, but within the last two years, a very big example I found was Pres. Oaks using an article entitled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences” (The New Atlantis, Aug 2016). After the use, LDS Family Services included that article in their list of resources for sexuality and gender.
    Pres Oaks has also cited Dr. Mark Regnerus when discussing gay parenting “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?” (July, 2012).
    One thing that I DO appreciate from leadership is that the conflation between “gender confusion” and homosexuality has significantly decreased in the recent years.
    Along those lines, the official position of the church (as far as they put official positions on anything) is that they HAVE no position on the biologic basis of homosexuality. In fact, aside from E Oaks saying that “the gay” may be a “core characteristic” of a person (Aug 2006), I don’t currently know of any statements from general authorities that state that they accept that there IS a biological etiology of homosexuality. Can you help me out in listing them?

  21. @Tiberius 6:06 am
    Correction: I won’t answer directly for *Angela C.

  22. @callingmichael2050 9:22 pm
    Thank you – I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. :)

  23. The Right Trousers says:

    JD, your words are beautiful, your thoughts are beautiful, and you are beautiful. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with the rest of us.

    Now, regarding your future plans, I want to point out that, in a sense, you’re already married. Your spouse denies the reality of your lived experience, and is unlikely to take kindly to your standing *beside* it to approach God. I hope things go well for you in spite of this.

  24. Tiberius says:

    PUBLIC AFFAIRS: You’re saying the Church doesn’t necessarily have a position on ‘nurture or nature’
    ELDER OAKS: That’s where our doctrine comes into play. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.

    https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/interview-oaks-wickman-same-gender-attraction

    We can also go the rounds on what constitutes “pseudo-science” or why there is a massive double standard with the methodological weaknesses in studies that support the conservative perspective as opposed to the methodological weaknesses that support the liberal perspective, suffice it to say that it implies that you’re putting Regnerus or basically anybody else who doesn’t agree with the consensus in the same boat as UFO-ologists. Yes, Mormon leaders occasionally draw on conservative scholars just as they occasionally cite the New York Times, but the idea that the Church position is based on the social science or biology of sexuality equivalent of thinking that the earth is 10,000 years old is tiresome and unfounded.

  25. Honestly, Tiberius. As if one statement from one apostle in one obscure interview is going to change the policies and practices and carefully-crafted prejudices of so many in the leadership and membership of the Church. A missionary I know recently mentioned being approached multiple times during his mission by gay people wanting to be taught, and while he was astounded and wondering why this was even a question and trying to figure out what to say, his companions told the seeking people that the missionaries could not teach them because they were gay. Multiple times. Multiple companions. Why did multiple young missionaries think it was Church policy that gays cannot be members of the Church or even taught the gospel?

  26. @Tiberius 8:37 am
    Thank you for your response. Like i said, the church officially has no position on the biologic etiology of homosexuality, thank you for simply repeating what I made clear. Because of that, AND the fact that there are no statements by General Authorities that state that they DO believe in a biologic basis, AND the fact that there are numerous statements over many decades that state that homosexuality categorically CANNOT be biologic in origin, based on their understanding of the plan of salvation, which way do you think the position lies, both within the general authorities and within the general membership of the church? I myself wouldn’t attempt to guess individual positions of leadership, but i would eagerly submit that a significant portion of the body of the church:
    1) Doesn’t believe that the gay is biologic in origin
    2) Believes that the general authorities collectively also do not believe that the gay is biologic in origin

    Like with the concept of evolution, the church has no official position on evolution, and has held that position officially for OVER A CENTURY (Juvenile Instructor, 46 (4):208-209, Apr 1911) This fact has not diminished the fact that the average member:
    1) Doesn’t believe in organic evolution (the main theory of which is proposed by Darwin)
    2) Believes that the general authorities collectively also do not believe in organic evolution.
    (I base this on information from the Pew Research Center “Views about human evolution among Mormons by religious denomination (2014)”)

    Now I appreciate your discussion of the definition of “pseudoscience.” In my area, i deal with research papers all the time with unfounded conclusions. The Regnerus study is an example of an unfounded conclusion, and then further, the usage by media and the church exemplify a problematic area of scientific conclusions being misinterpreted by the press and in the general population. (I can directly address the fundamental problems of the Regnerus conclusions if you’d like – it isn’t based on “conservative vs liberal” interpretation)
    The church sadly got on this sloppy bandwagon of misusing a scientific paper during 2014, when filing a legal brief supporting bans on same-sex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma. They cited a 2002 study in their brief. The authors of the study quickly strongly objected to that use, stating that “it is inaccurate to make conclusions about the well-being of children being raised in same-sex households based on our study of heterosexual households.”
    Good science and research is precise and careful to make conclusions ONLY based on what was studied. The Regnerus study conclusion (and the broader use by other organizations) fails in that precision.

    Now I will STRONGLY push back at your assertion that I lump all “unfounded conclusions” in the same boat as UFO-ologists. Please retract that immediately. It is completely inappropriate and similar to the discussion at hand, an unfounded conclusion about me based on your severely limited data.

    I will reiterate. Just like Captain Moroni, no matter how righteous, impassioned, or earnest an individual may be, they can still potentially get things to fantastically wrong when they are operating under lesser light and knowledge. Several comments (and my posts, and many other posts before me) have presented nearly a century of evidence of lesser light and knowledge masquerading as the proclamations of the Lord. I fully admit that things are getting better, step by step. But current data on LGBT population within the church and continued admissions of the Brethren that “we really just don’t know how to handle this” continually proclaim that we aren’t where we need to be.

  27. pconnornc says:

    JD, Benson & jaxjenson – I really appreciate the respectful discussion. Just when I thought BCC had become another pulpit where dissenting opinions, thoughts or experiences were bullied, I sense divergence of ideas, but openness to talk candidly about sensitive and important items! Hopefully I don’t jinx the discussion ;-)

  28. Paul Ritchey says:

    Why is it the most articulate, charitable, faithful, reasonable, yet incisive person I’ve seen write on this blog is merely a guest?

    I’m with pconnornc: this post and thread are hopeful. BCC would do well to recruit more like JD into its ranks permanently. I fear that increasing polarization threatens even those who share a faith with the real risk of losing the ability meaningfully to communicate.

    Thank you, JD, for your post. It is teaching me.

  29. James Stone says:

    Now do polygamy.

  30. @pconnornc @Paul Ritchey
    Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your kindness – although I will fully confess that I am not always measured, particularly internally. There are many things that I want to say that I haven’t..yet. Since this is my life we’re talking about, it is one thing to discuss things intellectually and philosophically, and another when practical choices must be made that affect real people.
    People are passionate. I’m passionate.
    One thing that this whole being gay thing has repeatedly forced me to learn/encounter is a continual reminder to “consider the other.” As a kid, before I knew anything about myself, I never considered the possibility that what i was taught in church (about the gay) + my very small lived experience could be anything but the absolute truth and complete entire experience of everyone. Since I had the truth, I absolutely could not be wrong.
    Much of the frustration that I feel personally is my perception that others still have an inability to consider that they may be wrong, an inability for others to keep asking questions. I know that still, i reserve the right to be wrong on this. I wrestle these issues before the Lord daily. All I can do is keep moving forward, keep asking questions, based on the light and knowledge that I have. Since this issue affects me so deeply, i desperately want to feel that others in the church are doing the same.

  31. I really enjoyed reading your blog. Although I am not attracted to women, I am waiting for God to reveal His side with wisdom. I feel neutrally about gay marriage.

    Right and wrong are matters of ego that God, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not subject to. The Holy Ghost has never whispered, “You are wrong,” for example. That would be too primitive. The Godhead speaks with consciousness (awareness) rather than by conscienceness (a sense of right and wrong).

    There is a book I read called In His Arms by Denise Mendenhall that was enlightening. The little girl had died and met the Father and bore testimony that we have a Heavenly Mother and that between the Mother and the Father is a golden bond. When we marry we have different colors depending on where the relationship is to God. There are a total of 12 colors. Gold is God and silver is eternity. If a couple is married for just this life, the color is black and there will be no connection after this life. When a couple is sealed by God, they can start with a maroon color symbolizing life, one step above black, and then they can work their way up. Denise also says people were sealed in their pre-earth life by God, so I have faith that people can be sealed by Him after, and I also have faith in Him to seal you to someone you can have an eternal bond with that is not based on the ego (conscienceness) that we employ but with His consciousness (awareness) that man is not yet ready to accept. He will never whisper to you that you are wrong or that you must look like Him. I encourage you to seek His permission to court before you turn to Him to bless you with an eternal bond. That would win you favor. I plan to do the same although I am straight.

    I would like for you to join my Facebook group LDS: The Great Debates very, very, very much, as well as anyone else who has a stance for what they believe in.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1746227195422284/

  32. I detect inner hostility and resentment toward the leadership of the church. Your plight is a difficult one, nobody can argue that, at the same time the piece reads like someone desperately wanting to self-justify the course they have decided to pursue. I agree with your position that ultimately you are responsible for you, and your revelation trumps everyone else for your own life, and yet the subtle undermining and condescending outlook to the collective leadership in my mind seriously undermines your claim and intended tone of a faithful perspective. It feels off to me, it doesn’t come across as someone coming from a place of full integrity. And I am not basing that on your conclusion, I can disagree with that all day long and yet see that a person genuinely believes what they are saying/doing, and I can respect that. But the overly pleasant tones mixed with subtle jabs shows me something different.

    If your motive is to get other people to applaud and offer self-righteous pats on the back to go around, to validate you in your decision, it is clear from the comments you will get it. But the validation seeking, which I think is there, to me suggests you are not truly reconciled within yourself.

  33. jaxjensen says:

    JD… your comment to me said you don’t dictate doctrinal positions on the church, and that you don’t know what the correct answers are. I wasn’t going to respond, but just accept your statement a true, given how little I know of you. But then your comment at 10:17 @ Tiberius disproves your claims. In that comment you lay our precisely what you think the church position is, given its past statements and lack of contradictory current ones; then you suggest leadership has all the wrong answers, is using bad science and is operating with “lesser light and knowledge.”

    I have no problem if you think those things. As my first post pointed out, almost every OP and comment about this issue does the same dance of accusing the church of not living up to THEIR knowledge of the “correct answers.” Doing so puts in the BCC majority. There was no reason to push back on my suggestion. But you did, you denied it. But to deny it, then come out and prove that your denial was false… well, if the show fits, where it.

    ” It seems these posts (and subsequent comments) always ‘know’ what the ‘correct’ answers are, and suggest that Church leadership is just too old/stubborn/old-fashioned/??? to ask the questions to get those answers. It mostly seems that people stubbornly refuse to accept current church policy/teachings because it seems mean/uncaring/etc. They WANT it to be different, so surely it must be a problem with leadership that the gospel doesn’t teach what they want. If only they could pick their own leaders then they’d be able to hear preaching that is more pleasing to them… ?

  34. @ Steve LHJ 4:09 pm
    Thank you for your comment. While you may certainly feel any emotions based on your reading of this post, your interpretation of my motivations won’t necessarily be correct.
    While validation always feels nice, I am not seeking it with these posts. I honestly want for people to “consider the other” and to empathize with individuals who are may have a vastly different life experience, and to try to think what practical actions one may take. Honestly, i would consider it a success if an individual read this post, at the end still felt that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but felt “wow, these are all things that are sincerely difficult in this church. I hadn’t really considered/thought about all of these things for someone growing up or being in this situation. I hope that i can now work on ministering better.”
    Your comment that “it doesn’t come across as someone coming from a place of full integrity” is your pure conjecture and mildly insulting. I have been clear that I am not 100% sure about things. Do you mean to say that someone who isn’t completely sure about things is coming from a place without integrity? That’s what I’m reading from your comment. I DON’T know everything. All I know is what I’ve persistently felt while studying scriptures, in church, and in temple worship. Please explain, because to imply that i’m someone not coming from a place of full integrity is not okay.

  35. @ jaxjensen 4:10
    Thank you for your comment. Let me be clear. I don’t feel that my impressions should be policy for the whole church. In my first post, I explicitly expressed confusion why I continually felt the way i did, knowing the policy of the church. I still don’t fully understand that contrast.
    I will repeat. i don’t KNOW what the correct answers are. All I know is what I’ve persistently felt. I can’t be more clear than that, both in the language of my posts and my repeated comments.
    Let me give you an example. i have a dear friend. She and I have had many conversations about the gay and the church. She is fully active and still strongly believes that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and that is God’s eternal plan for all of us. YET, even with that, after having discussed with her many of the points that I’ve related in this and the previous post, she learned many things she didn’t know before, empathized that being in my position would be difficult, recognized the frustration of having decades of “the philosophies of men mingled with scripture” taught from the pulpit on this topic, and realized that we definitely need more light and knowledge on this.
    That, jaxjensen, is the crux of my post. I know what I feel. I don’t equate my feelings to what church policy SHOULD be, i have explicitly and repeatedly said such. (You are inferring that connection) I know that because of decades of lack of knowledge (and continual lack of knowledge), we as a church need more light and knowledge on this. I don’t know what that will be, but it is obvious that we need more information.

  36. Sure. And you’re right that I could be wrong, but it is what I’m seeing in your words. No, I don’t believe it takes 100% confidence in what you’re doing to have full integrity, otherwise none of us could act with full integrity. What I’m saying is that given your words, which is all I have to go off of, you sound more like someone trying to justify your chosen path than someone who truly believes they are doing the right thing. The subtle digs are I think the most obvious, I actually have no problems with the criticism, but it wouldn’t need to be covert nor patronizing if you were totally genuine in your motives. It shows a need to feel above another, to feel justified. A person who is secure in their position can still hold genuine respect and not need to condescend. But I see hostility and condescension bleeding through your words. That’s my honest opinion, feel free to take it for what it’s worth.

  37. Steve, I’m not sure anyone else sees what you see in his posts. I sure don’t.

  38. @ Steve LHJ 5:25 pm
    Thanks for your honesty. I’m not trying to justify my path. I’m going to push back on your inferences a little though. Where you read “subtle digs” and “covert and patronizing” is frustration and dark humor, not intended to be patronizing. I DO have frustration, i clearly admit it. I’m both frustrated with leadership as well as with God. Wrestling with these issues before the Lord is terrifically frustrating.

  39. Kristine says:

    ” In that comment you lay our precisely what you think the church position is, given its past statements and lack of contradictory current ones; then you suggest leadership has all the wrong answers, is using bad science and is operating with “lesser light and knowledge.” ”

    The church’s position is a moving target. That’s not JD’s fault. And the fact that they are using bad science is simple to demonstrate; it’s not a matter of opinion. Church leaders are authorized to make doctrine and policy, as JD acknowledges. That doesn’t mean they are doing so from a position that is informed by the best available science or extensive testimony from gay people about their experience. It’s not a criticism of leadership to speak plainly about the obvious background and implications of their statements.

  40. @JD
    I can only imagine the level of frustration you would feel, and that is of course only imagining and not actually living it. I am with you in hoping for further light and knowledge to come to the church on this subject, and agree there needs to be some. I really hope you can find relief, I’m sorry for your pain.

  41. @ Steve LHJ 6:30 pm
    Thank you for that, truly.

  42. Catching up on the discussion, it seemed like this post was demonstrating the isolation in which many LGBT+ members of the Church labor through concerns and personal attacks, but then Kristine weighed in. Thank you to JD for working patiently through so many concerns, and thank you Kristine for stepping in to help. The families and both young and old people in the Church need help and love and kindness as we work through this difficult chapter in our history. With you in spirit, JD, and love to you and all the members of the Church trying to figure this out, also some extra prayers tomorrow on Fast Sunday.

  43. @Kristine 6:28 pm
    Thank you Kristine. You said it much better than I could.

  44. @A#4 7:04 pm
    Thank you. I need all the prayers I can get.

  45. jaxjensen says:

    “A person who is secure in their position can still hold genuine respect and not need to condescend. But I see hostility and condescension bleeding through your words.” Are any of us secure in our position? You aren’t, I’m not, the church doesn’t seem to be… So none of us ought to be acting very secure at all, no? I don’t have any hostility, though a bit on condescension when you say you aren’t doing something that you posts/comments sure seem to do. Because of what you have felt, you think the church position should change to be more like you believe. All of us do that, so no need to try to hide it. It comes across as such in messages, but you tried to claim otherwise.

  46. I’ve found this thread enlightening, though for reasons I’m now finding difficult to explain. Here’s an attempt at some additional thoughts:

    (1) This particular audience is (presumably) approaching the topic at hand with a belief in the existence of eternal truth. Broadly speaking, could we acknowledge that our goal as people of faith is to identify eternal truths and live by them so as to increase our proximity to all-loving, all-knowing God?

    Under this assumption, I’m surprised by the number of comments (in this thread and in similar posts) that believe our moral positions as a church – our Law of Chastity – should evolve dependent on the latest scientific thinking. That, to me, points squarely towards moral relativism, something Christ’s Gospel does not embrace. Surely there is room for a Liahona approach to our discipleship, where we take unsuspected avenues towards redemption. Can there not be equal room for the iron rod? Those fixed and immutable truths which lead to the tree of life / the Light of the World? “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” Acquiring spiritual light seems to me a worthy use of time – an endeavor, though, that will be hindered and stunted if we keep seeking to counsel God on direction / commandments he’s already given. [Elders Scott and Uchtdorf, incidentally, gave some excellent GC discourses on that topic.]

    To that point, I would suggest that the Church’s stance on morality is *not* a moving target, contrary to Kristine’s earlier assertion. Rather, what shifts and changes are the leadership’s attempts to explain the “why” of the moral stance. In this, I feel the leadership evidences their humanity. “As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.” (Elder Holland, 2013 GC) Our doctrine is that the Law of Chastity is set, designed by a loving God to be of spiritual and eternal benefit to His children. As JD rightfully points out, the existence of LGBT humans is not a surprise to God – yet God gave his commandments on morality all the same. Waiting / hoping / praying for God to update the Law of Chastity seems like missing the mark.

    (2) I detect an admirable persistence in seeking for understanding, both from the OP and many of the commenters. This strikes me as divine, and I often wish I had more of that godly attribute myself. I don’t believe the Law of Chastity has to be rewritten to make the LGBT community feel welcome in our congregations. Discussions like this one (hopefully) increase mutual respect and understanding, which will then continue to permeate our wards and stakes. Thanks for originating and moderating a thoughtful and hopeful discussion, JD.

  47. @jaxjensen
    You’re quoting me, but I’m not sure if you were thinking that comment was directed toward you? That was a portion of my conversation with JD, I now see the wisdom in writing the persons name before the comment :).

  48. jaxjensen says:

    Steve… yep… mixed up the authors… my bad. I read them one after the other and my brain didn’t connect a new author.

  49. Geoff - Aus says:

    Steve, I don’t see the subtle digs or superiority you see. What I do see is you attacking the integrity of someone else on the basis of your prejudice, not pretty.
    I have been a member for 60+ years, and have seen many examples of the leadership of the church being way behind the ball on social issues. I thing this is another example, as is equality for women. In each case there have been some urging change, and others defending the existing position, and then falling into line when the leadership eventually see the light/have further light and knowledge/cave in to pressure.
    Where I live it is as popular to be homophobic (treat gay people as less) as it is to be racist. It is only a question of time before change will be required.
    I personally believe it is what God wants, “all are alike unto God, black and white, bond and free male and female, gay and straight”. If we are to love as God does we can not discriminate against anyone. Change will come, how soon will determine how relavent the church remains. All the claims of Christlike love from the leaders are not credible while they continue to discriminate.
    We are associating ourselves with small extreme, conservative groups, which is a very small and unpleasant group for our missionaries to recruit from, and in the mean time we loose existing members over these issues.

  50. @Geoff – Aus: assuming you had excellent and not malicious intentions, I wish to push back on some of your assertions. While common, I believe they are absolutely false and unhelpful in fostering productive discussions.

    1) Disagreeing with pursuing a homosexual lifestyle = homophobic. It’s the common cry of progressive movements the world over – but just because I disagree with a thing doesn’t mean I’m somehow irrationally afraid of it.

    2) You preach that true, Christian love has no boundaries, but Christ himself told the adulteress that while he didn’t condemn her, she should “go, and sin no more.” Sin exists. Identifying sin and warning against it is itself an act of true love. We are taught in Alma 38 that if we want to be filled with love, we have to *bridle* our passions, not give in to any and every feeling. Real love has boundaries and restrictions.

    3) The homosexual question is fundamentally different than equality for women or priesthood for all worthy males. It’s a false equivalency to basket them all together. If God’s plan really is for us to marry and have children for eternity, how could a homosexual union ever fulfill that plan? Eternal adoption from celestialized heterosexual couples?

    Also: the scripture you quote is phrased the way it is for a reason – probably several reasons. Adapting it to squeeze into your personal beliefs seems to qualify as “wresting” the scriptures.

  51. Walter Eddy says:

    Bensen. Homophobic: “having or showing a dislike of *or* prejudice against homosexual people”. (From “Ask Bing” — I added the emphasis to “or”,) For the Church and some of its members to say that homosexuals can’t, for instance, have a loving relationship like heterosexual people do *is* prejudice. The situation of Christ with the adulteress is a lot different than, for instance, a homosexual marriage, especially when sex within a legal marriage doesn’t meet the common definition of adultery. “Bridle”, in your example, relates to adultery, not to marital sex. We don’t need a “basket” to show empathy and love. God, who are often described as all powerful, can figure out how to make babies within various configurations. Also, plenty of heterosexual marriages in mortality are childless. Why should you be any more qualified to determine the use of “wresting” in the scriptures than anyone else is?

    Just wondering.

  52. “I’m surprised by the number of comments (in this thread and in similar posts) that believe our moral positions as a church – our Law of Chastity – should evolve dependent on the latest scientific thinking. That, to me, points squarely towards moral relativism, something Christ’s Gospel does not embrace.”

    Equating adherence to science with moral relativism is inaccurate on a broad scale. This statement appears to assume that “latest scientific thinking” is unlikely to uncover genuine truth compatible with God’s laws. In some cases, the latest science is not true, full stop – science is an endeavor to understand true things with imperfect tools, and therefore at least some breakthroughs will always be inaccurate. However, it seems to me that a) science is capable of getting the laws of nature right, and b) where it does, it cannot be at odds with a broader concept of theological truth.

    Given that, how could adherence to genuine truth uncovered by science be considered a path to moral relativism? We may not be able to tell what is true from what is false as science progresses, but I think a wholesale dismissal of attentiveness to new science as “point[ing] squarely towards moral relativism” rests on a grievous misunderstanding of the very way science is intended to (and generally does) function.

    Just for fun, I will point out that the Church could never have forbidden its members from using birth control if the Law of Chastity had not evolved according to the latest science. Even more entertainingly, the Church appears to have evolved further still on this point.

    Scientific breakthroughs and the Church should be compatible if both contain truth, and the Church can and does evolve on what it teaches its members. Maybe you think the Church shouldn’t do so (in which case you are guilty of what many are accusing the OP of, which is knowing better than Church leaders do), but let’s at least acknowledge that it has happened before.

  53. God bless you.

  54. MrShorty says:

    quoting Bensen: “If God’s plan really is for us to marry and have children for eternity, how could a homosexual union ever fulfill that plan? Eternal adoption from celestialized heterosexual couples? ”

    A couple of thoughts on this. One, it assumes that the process and mechanics for creating children in the eternities are the same, sexual processes that we experience in mortality. I am not certain that the Church has settled that question definitively. There have certainly been some in the Church who have made that assumption, but it doesn’t seem that any of it has been accepted as eternal truth.

    Even if the processes of creating spirit children are the same, sexual processes that we currently understand “as through a glass darkly”, I see no reason why an omniscient, omnipotent homosexual couple should be unable to have spirit children. What are the basic parts of sexual reproduction? It seems to me that it could easily be reduced to meiosis to make gametes, fusion of those gametes to make a zygote, and gestation of the zygote to grow a new individual. This Wikipedia article mentions at least the conceptual possibility of making gametes through other pathways that could conceivably allow same sex couples to bear offspring https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamete#Artificial_gametes Other than some kind of eternal moral/ethical code that prohibits using such knowledge/technology in this way, what would stop an omniscient/omnipotent same sex couple from using their knowledge of biology to create gametes, fuse those gametes, and gestate the embryos to spiritual personhood?

  55. Walter Eddy – ““Bridle”, in your example, relates to adultery, not to marital sex. ” This is the same sentiment that believes marital rape is acceptable.

    KLN – you’re going to be hard pressed to prove that science brings “truth”. It brings facts, of which can be derived what people believe to be truth. It’s not been very long ago that science produced facts about human races that were used to be the “truth” of racial superiority.

    To the OP – thank you for the heartfelt post. Especially thanks for working to placate the “don’t tell the church what to do” crowd. Not necessary, but thanks for making the effort anyway.

    I’m still working on how I feel about it all. The theologies of afterlife and dual/complimentary gender makes for a good bit of confusion on not only how it will shake out in the next life, but how to manage it in this life. Being transgender female, I have no idea how my marriage to my wife will continue in the afterlife. For just this life, I can’t even say for a surety that the “truth” I’ve arrived as matches reality, that my gender and attractions are eternally what I believe them to be or if I’ve just worked myself into believing it. I kind of envy people who have been able to have lives where they have never had the slightest concern that they might not be who they thought they had been.

  56. Walter Eddy says:

    Point taken, Frank. I don’t countenance marital rape or marital abuse of any kind. I try to appreciate colorful socks both as a fashion statement and as a metaphor.

  57. JD – my complements on such a reasoned discussion. If anything is going to change it must begin with discussions like these. However, I fear that so many that are capable of doing this are leaving before hearts and minds can be changed. Not that I blame them. I also don’t believe our common Father blames them either.

    While the discussion has be pretty enlightening it still seems to have covered so much similar ground and, in fact, not even dealt (too much) with the original topic.

    What can be said?

    My best words (at this moment – and I’m always hoping for better) would be to “Believe in God, believe that He is and that He loves you, learn to know Him. His plan for you is the same for me: to come to earth to learn from our own experience, to find joy, to love your God and your fellowman, and to “lift where your stand” (i.e. multiply and replenish in YOUR element). Beyond that I am not sure I know anything else for certain. I’ll walk with you and sit with you and be with you on your journey. And I would ask the same of you. I sure hope to learn from you because you can clearly teach and strengthen me.”

  58. @Walter Eddy: I don’t believe the Church claims that homosexuals can’t have a loving relationship; just that it can’t, by its very design, be an eternal union, as it lacks the proper priesthood sealing authority and doesn’t work to fulfill God’s purposes for His children. The legality of homosexual marriage does nothing to support or hinder the morality of it. The use of the word “bridle” in my example (from Alma 38) does NOT relate to adultery, but to all of our passions. I never claimed that we *shouldn’t* show empathy and love to the LGBT community; in fact, I think that’s precisely and exactly what we should do. “Childless hetero couples” is a strawman – a fully functioning male and female union can produce a human child, a feat that cannot be performed any other way. A feat, say the scriptures and prophets, that is one of the foundational purposes of creation.

    @KLN: methinks you extrapolated my argument waaaay to far. I never said science was bad or wrong. I said updating the Law of Chastity based on some scientific studies or current philosophies was inappropriate, as the Law of Chastity – per our doctrine – is an eternal truth. Or as Elder Bednar described it in 2013, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan…. [They] are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.”

    @DB: great words. I agree with them. I find too often that I’m judging my own spiritual success by earthly metrics. Heaven’s yardstick – the one which says the mites of a widow, given in sacrifice, is superior to the rest given in abundance – might find us successful way more often than we expect, even if to our eyes it might look like failure.

  59. God invites you to receive all he has by becoming like him.

    He, like father Adam and mother Eve, is joined in an eternal companionship with our Heavenly Mother.

    These are eternal truths which inform the distant past reaching back eternally and can shape our eternal destiny stretching into the future.

    We not only see, but reenact the drama of this in the temple as both man and woman each become Adam and Eve.

    I have no doubt that some very articulate and persuasive arguments can be made to support seeking after your feelings, as well as those feelings that are heavily shaped by a hegemonic culture calling for approval of homosexuality. Yes, our feelings and desires are both biological and heavily shaped by both
    lived experiences (good and pad) and cultural ones (good and bad). To say nothing of environmental factors. This is equally true of a man’s desire for a certain kind of woman and likewise for a man’s desire for a man.

    However, it’s also not a trivial point that you must acknowledge the very same persuasive arguments and calls to science are literally being mustered against all kinds of relationships and personally destructive behaviors on all fronts. So we can’t just say science and love is right and the brethren just need to get with the program.

    But the key point to make here is that as children of heavenly parents with a divine destiny, we have an obligation to support, promote, teach that every child is entitled to a mother and father. We can’t not escape that biological reality and we are most certainly experiencing the social problems associated with trying to do so.

    It’s the height of hubris to assume that generations will not be severely damaged as mother father relationships are seen not as the only way to raise a family, but as just one way that’s increasingly old fashioned, or was never really practiced all that ideally anyway.

    I strongly believe that many good people can turn away from this truth and still live a caring life, as they benefit from the blessing of their social moral inheritance, so to speak. But the thing about an inheritance is that if it’s not added to, eventually it runs out.

    Generations have been damaged as we’ve used up that social capital inheritance already and will continue to be even more so.

    This is a lot of weight to hang on someone just wanting to be in a relationship and make a home. But we’re having a hard conversation that deserves more than just basic answers if you want to summon your intellect. Otherwise, let’s just keep it at follow the prophet, he knows the way. I’m happy with either, but I sense people here generally want more.

    The reality of family is and has always involved much sacrifice for the successive generations. We’ve done so much of this throughout history without really acknowledging it in our day to day decisions. Our culture has literally helped shape and benefit us even when our actions haven’t lived up to our ideals. And proponents of traditional morality have a lot to answer for there as well. Blood and sins of this generation and all that.

    Embracing a social construct view of gender identity, or expansion of appropriate sexuality beyond husband and wife relationship, servers the ultimate blessing that the gospel is there for.

    The goal of trying to be like Jesus and putting off the natural man is expressly to become as our Father is. At this point I hear and have some sympathy for our Sisters who say, where is our model, as men have a Father to point to consistently. Well, for one, he’s all of our Fathers, and we shouldn’t diminish that by nature of his gender. And she is all of our Mothers, so likewise we’re all in the dark until revealed otherwise. Man equally lacks revelation on that until qualified to receive it.

    For many latter day saints, an understanding of Heavenly Mother has come through study of the prophets, scriptures, temple worship, Christ like service and personal virtue, and magnifying our callings. That’s how she was revealed to me and how the prophets came to know her.

    All of this is relevant because it speaks to the most basic question of who are we and what is our future. You can only get to that understanding through doing exactly those things the prophets and apostles teach us. So ultimately, follow the prophet. He knows the way.

    I truly wish I could explain it with words as I’m doing here, but it’s clear my long comment will be viewed as inadequate, and dismissed by some.

    But when I read posts like this and the subsequent comments the answers your looking for are outside the rigid framework of the intellectual building you’ve created. I realize the goal is for people like me to just get with the program and have the scales fall from our eyes, from the perspective of some. But the other side of that argument is that many here are very much not only moving away from the iron rod that leads to the tree is eternal life, but actively building a spacious building that lacks a foundation and floats above the air. No doubt it’s beautiful, and provides wonderful utility, else why go unto it. But the framework for this building is not to be found in the iron rod or from angelic ministerations.

    The knowledge you’re looking for can only come from the source. That source is not just looking for God to sanction gay marriage. But it’s found in you coming to know God through his son, Jesus Christ.

    When go down these strange paths (surely no prophet in history would regard gay marriage as anything other than a strange path), we are limiting the light we can receive as we otherwise do so many of those things that put on a Christ like character.

    Surely not the answer that many are looking for. But it’s true nonetheless.

  60. Frank: You and I are using truth and facts a little differently, and thus are talking past one another. “you’re going to be hard pressed to prove that science brings “truth”. It brings facts, of which can be derived what people believe to be truth.”
    As I consider facts to be true, I was using the two interchangeably.
    ‘It’s not been very long ago that science produced facts about human races that were used to be the “truth” of racial superiority.’
    This, in my opinion, is a major issue that people have with “science” – people tend to conflate interpretation/extrapolation with the bare facts observed. I was just talking about the facts. My use of the words “true” and “truth” were insufficient to communicate that framing.

    Bensen: “I never said science was bad or wrong.” I know you didn’t. You said it led to moral relativism. You are incorrect, and I told you why I take that position.

  61. @ Frank Pellett 10:39 am
    Thank you for your comments. I still am working on how i feel about it all as well. To be honest, we SAY we know a lot more about postmortal theology than we actually DO know. Much of it, while logical and rational based on what information we DO have, is still earnest conjecture. There are numerous examples of circular logic within our theological history, and I hesitate to embrace similar self-reinforcing positions today.

  62. @ DB 1:36 pm
    Thank you for your thoughts. Can I reveal something? I have had many friends who have gone to church with me through the years – and then slowly attrition happens. I confess that at those moments, my prayers are filled with profanity against the Lord for another person “lost”. Between the creative swearing (much of which I heard on my mission, used against us) i usually spit out the phrase “Look now who you have lost!!!” Calmly, quietly, the answer has consistently and gently floated down “They are not lost.”
    Now i don’t know if this is an example of a sense Buddhist acceptance, or if the Lord is trying to bolster my faith in His own plan for them, but either way, I appreciate it. Part of my anger is admittedly selfish. Losing peers at church definitely hurts. I like having a guy sitting next to me, who knows much of what I’m going through – because HE goes through much of it as well.

    Thank you for your words – I definitely need reminders that God loves me, and that all we can ultimately do is to “lift where [we] stand.” I’ll save a seat for you next to mine. You’ll know me by my socks.

  63. @ UC 3:45
    I will practice active listening with your comment, and I will try to summarize your words into one sentence. Even though, you shared a lot of thoughts, which i appreciate, would your end thought still be “Follow the prophet, he knows the way?” I will focus and address that thought, because I am a practicalist, and “Follow the prophet” necessarily entails practical actions after commitment.

    On this issue, the problem with the statement “Follow the prophet, he knows the way” is…that he doesn’t. On this issue, we have explicit admissions from the general authorities that they don’t know how to handle this. We have a century of evidence that they haven’t known how to handle this, and thus they substituted the philosophies of men mingled with scripture for the wisdom of the Lord, because all they had was lesser light and knowledge.

    I would be perfectly comfortable to sanguinely follow what the brethren are asking
    1) if they had a much better track record on this issue. Even awareness and humility regarding historical demonstrably damaging missteps goes a long way with me in believing in the earnestness of them today, rather than them simply following of precedence. We have a very pertinent example of the problems in doctrine when the general authorities simply follow precedence.
    2) If I, in my years and years and years of searching, pondering, praying, missionary service, scripture study, deep conversations with bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents, and temple worship with the above…ever received one confirmation that the path they ask of me is the correct one for me in the eyes of the Lord.
    Obviously, #2 is the most important and truly only one i would need. It wouldn’t make it easy, but it would make it earnest on my behalf.
    In my first piece, you will find that I noted that I persistently feel the opposite when bringing these problems and concerns to the Lord. I have tried to follow the patter of the Brother of Jared, to present the available options, and celibacy and a marriage to a woman were consistently felt to be the wrong paths for me.

    I will push back a little – while I fully recognize the call to follow the prophet, (I sang it with gusto plenty of times in primary after all), in this situation, that to me sounds like someone asking you to invest with Bernie Madoff. The levels of disaster are about the same – the financial destruction after investment of one, and the destroyed families and suicides after reparative therapy and marital therapy and celibacy after the other. All of the latter were explicitly stated as the Lord’s plan, from bishops to stake presidents to the apostles and the prophets themselves.

    Are you saying that celibacy was the right plan for his gay sons and daughters all along? That the brethren were previously hindered by their prejudice that celibacy was not the plan of the Lord, when they prescribed marriage as what gay individuals needed to do to follow the prophet? Are you saying that the brethren were previously hindered by their prejudice that homosexuality couldn’t be biologic in origin, when they prescribed that reparative therapy was the plan of the Lord, and that was what they needed do to follow the prophet? (See Pres. Kimball, 1964, Pres. Packer, 1976, and Pres. Faust, 1995 “Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil” and many other statements)

    (Warning, the next statement is harsh.)
    Now if you (or anyone) can tell me the date at which these earnest and spiritually dedicated men stopped teaching the philosophies of men mingled with scripture as the Lord’s plan to handle the gay, and started listening to the Lord, I would be happy to follow along.
    I know the above statement may sound harsh, but I cannot express strongly enough the practical realities of this situation. Saying “Follow the prophet” means that you either recommend celibacy or marriage to a woman (or still reparative therapy in some wards and stakes sadly).
    Since I feel that you are earnest in your words, I earnestly ask you to recommend one of those paths for me.

  64. Geoff - Aus says:

    UC, Benson etc. From where I stand you are bending your religious beliefs to defend your political beliefs, as I am mine.
    I obviously have no idea where you live. In my part of the world less than 20% of people hold your position, which is seen as pretty extreme. The people who are homophobic are usually anti muslem, and racist, though many of them redefine racism and homophobia to not include their beliefs.
    This position is becoming less justifiable as the world progresses. As I said earlier, if the church maintains its position on gays and women, it looses credibility, and missionary work fails..
    You may be aware of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who is in her 30s and was raised a member but left over the churchs treatment of gays and women. A public example.
    We each have a world view, which we can support with our religious understanding. Because of our world views, the others interpretation of scripture has little power. I am not impressed by yours and the only point to me expressing mine is to counter the being led by the world argument.
    I could say we are left with Christs teachings about love for others, but I have met conservative members who think Christ taught obedience. “Obedience is the first law of heaven.”
    The judgement will be interesting. Will Christ say he never knew, those who believe we are here to love or those who are for obedience to the prophet and their political world view?

  65. pconnornc says:

    JD – a couple of thoughts, not to debate your frustration, but possibly to provide a perspective as to why things are not connecting (leaving the door open that there is plenty that I could be wrong on too…)

    I think the “prophets” would claim an excellent track record on the issue of morality and God’s will regarding it. They haven’t wavered. The expositions on science may be lacking and shifting, but on morality they have stayed the course.

    It is also possible that the reason you are not receiving an answer you’re looking for is that the Lord thinks He has already made it clear. I think this is perhaps different than, for example the priesthood restriction. If you looked for justification in the scriptures, it was not clearly there for that restriction. Yet on issues of morality, there are plenty of scriptures that make the Lord’s stance clear and not many that offer hope. I could be reading them wrong, and will 100% sustain the prophet if they are directed to make that call.

    As far as the remedy that has been consistent, it has always been obedience. When we are counseled to “pay it first” to be obedient for tithing, or to “whistle a hymn” to keep pure thoughts, or “put a picture of Christ in our home” to think of him more, those are not doctrine or commandments – the doctrine is being obedient to the commandment, the rest are suggestions.

    Perhaps the parallel is that prophets through the centuries have consistently taught the doctrine that God created the universe and us w/ a purpose. But they have been all over the map on the timing and mechanism around it. It doesn’t make them less truthful prophets.

  66. Kristine says:

    “JD – a couple of thoughts, not to debate your frustration, but possibly to provide a perspective as to why things are not connecting (leaving the door open that there is plenty that I could be wrong on too…)”

    Seriously?? You have a better perspective on an experience you’ve never had?

    What is wrong with us?

    Also, “on morality they have stayed the course” is an utterly ridiculous thing to say in the context of a discussion of homosexuality. In my lifetime (and I’m not *that* old), we’ve gone from “masturbation leads to the wicked choice of homosexuality and probably thence to bestiality” to “we don’t understand why some people are called to live with this trial in mortality; we love and welcome you and affirm your civil rights except for marriage.” It’s maybe not night and day, but it’s night and maybe-almost-dawn…

  67. pconcornc. I’m quite certain–though he can jump in–that JD is not talking about the track record on ‘morality,’ but the track record on nearly anything having to do with homosexuality. That track record is very, very dirty. You may not know it, but what they have recommended in the past for ‘treatment’ is too unpleasant for me to write here.

  68. @pconnornc 6:40 pm
    Thank you for your thoughts. That is a very rational approach, which I appreciate. One thing that I must say is that the regarding the gay historically (and currently even) bishops and stake presidents and apostles and prophets have not historically separated morality/doctrines from execution of that doctrine.
    Marriage WAS the morality/doctrine AND execution of that doctrine. Choosing not to marry WAS choosing not to follow the Lord and His prophets.
    Reparative therapy WAS the Lord’s plan to address the gay. Choosing not to engage in reparative therapy was choosing willful disobedience and choosing not to follow the Lord and His prophets.
    I recognize that you make the distinction between the doctrine and suggestions on how to follow that doctrine, but specifically regarding this issue – there was never that distinction. The suggestions and the doctrine were one and the same. Choosing not to follow the suggestions was willful disobedience.
    It has been only recently through the years (through statistical results and scientific evidence of the biologic basis for homosexuality, to add to that discussion) that the leadership of the church has pulled back on reparative therapy and marriage therapy as the required execution of the doctrine.
    Not that I’m saying that scientific knowledge dictates morality, BUT, in this case, it very clearly has directed the change of church policy. Today, celibacy (or marriage to a woman) IS the execution of the doctrine.

    Regarding obedience as a remedy, I fully recognize that as a consistent call through the ages. To be honest, the Lord will confirm a commandment to an individual if that truly is one of His commandments. Something of this magnitude deserves confirmation. It is perfectly rational for Nephi to question a command to kill someone, and require a strong confirmation of such. It is perfectly rational for me, and my gay brothers and sisters to approach the Lord for confirmation of our tricky paths ahead. To be honest, simply saying “The Lord thinks he has already made it clear” is somewhat of a cop out. To tie in to your reference regarding the priesthood restriction, the vast majority of the general authorities KNEW that “the Lord had already made it clear” on the restriction of the priesthood. To be explicit, one of the best scriptorians in our leadership history, Elder McConkie, also fully believed in the prevailing interpretation of scriptures even peripherally regarding “the curse of Cain” or in the Book of Mormon regarding the curse on the Lamanites (until a short while before 1978).
    To push back on your scripture assertions, there are many many more scriptures used to justify the priesthood restriction. These scriptures include modern scriptures. On the other hand, there are only a handful of scriptures that deal with “the gay,” none of them spoken by Christ, none of them in the Doctrine and Covenants, and none of them in the Book of Mormon.
    The bottom line, if master scriptorians can misinterpret a swath of scriptures to support “the Negro Doctrine” i submit that it is entirely possible that we need more light and knowledge than relying on the handful of scriptures we interpret that currently direct our practical policies on the gay.
    Like I asked others, which path do you explicitly recommend for me? If we believe that the guidelines of the prophets are true, we should feel fine with a practical recommendation.
    Which is it to be for me? Celibacy or a marriage to a woman?

  69. pconnornc says:

    brian – I think when they brethren have spoken on the issue they have entered the discussion on “morality” – and lost focus on cause and treatment. If we are looking for them to change on “morality”, there isn’t much to grasp onto in the scriptures. If we are looking for them to change on cause/treatment (and even policy), I think we will continue to see movement as their understanding grows – whether it be from science or listening to individuals like JD.

    Kristine – i’m happy to share privately my experience, after you and I have spoken you are more than welcome to judge me publicly.

  70. Kristine says:

    pconnornc–whatever your experience is, it obviously does not include becoming familiar with the doctrinal history you attempt to summarize…

  71. pconnornc says:

    JD – your point about how we interpret the scriptures incorrectly and need to be corrected is 100% correct. That is why everyone should be a little more open to “further light and knowledge” – it is good to be reminded of that. I also can empathize with waiting for answers that just don’t seem to come – though sharing my own recipe for managing that gulf would probably only come across as trite, though to me it was spiritual and profound.

    I know previous “therapies” were hurtful and misguided, but I never saw where it was taught as doctrine to the church. Now there are plenty of examples of people who think they have taught doctrine, but were as far away from the Lord as they could be. They need the atonement as much as anybody, and those hurt by the false teachings need that comfort even more.

  72. JD: thank you for a thoughtful and heartfelt post, and for your commendable patience in this thread. I’m glad to have you in the church; your example here inspires me to be more Christlike.

  73. pconnornc says:

    Kristine – what can I say. Without knowing me you can summarize my life and dismiss my opinions. That is an amazing gift. I wasn’t even trying to give a history of the doctrine of chastity and morality.

  74. Kristine says:

    I’m not dismissing your opinions–I’m pointing out that you are ignorant of the history you’re discussing. I’m sure your opinions might be interesting if they were accurately grounded.

  75. Kristine says:

    pconnornc–I’m sorry for the dismissive tone. But I think we muddy the waters considerably by pretending that the prophets have had a consistent set of either doctrines or practices about morality and chastity as those relate to homosexual people. I just don’t think we have time for that kind of nonsense. It’s an urgent problem–hearts are being bruised and broken, and if yours doesn’t happen to be one of them, it’s even more incumbent on you to be intellectually honest and accurate. The very least we owe our LGBTQ+ siblings is intellectual honesty and factual discussions.

  76. @ pconnornc 6:40
    I like your last paragraph as well. I think that is a good comparison. Granted, I think a great conception of prophets is that they are ABLE to receive the will and knowledge of the Lord – not that they ALWAYS do.
    I think a better parallel would be your example, a prophet stating something demonstrably false about the creation of the earth, and then dictating a geologic policy based on that fundamental lack of understanding. If you were a geologist, a negative response from you to the prophet’s policy would be answered with “The Lord has already made it clear (that he created the earth in so many days…etc.)” A response from you regarding the increasing scientific evidence to the contrary would be answered with “Science (or in my situation, science and statistical results from failed policies and the testimonies of LGBT individuals) does not dictate the policy of church.”
    I know that that may be a hackneyed comparison, but that is how I feel.
    I don’t know your profession or area of expertise, but translate this comparison into your experience- A church policy based on a fundamental misunderstanding of something you know very well, with demonstrably damaging consequences.
    Leonard Arrington wrote about this general situation (not the gay, but friction between the church leadership and experts during the early days in Utah). A church general authority would recommend something, (in agriculture, or economics, etc.) An expert or even multiple experts would disagree with the leader, based on their experience and knowledge of the field. The church leader would insist, based on their feeling. When the results would be predictably disastrous, the response of church leadership was often Soviet in style. They would blame the members or blame other individuals for the failure in policy. (I have studied Soviet history and have lived in Eastern Europe, so I am very familiar with this type of response.)
    I bring this story up not to say that church leaders are always wrong and every whim of experts should dictate church policy, but to illustrate that the church has a history of resisting expert advice, often in favor of very earnest policies based on limited knowledge.
    Ultimately, I’m trying to explain my hesitancy to follow practical policy from individuals, who, while earnest and righteous like Captain Moroni, have a history of misinterpretation of scriptures and a tendency to default to precedence on difficult situations. (To be clear, i’m again referencing the events surrounding the priesthood restriction. A staggering misinterpretation of many scriptures, followed by a destructive game of historical telephone, with prophets passing down statements and actions that Joseph Smith never actually said or did.)
    (To be MORE clear, i’m not submitting an equivalency between the priesthood restriction and the gay. I’m simply stating that we have ample evidence for misinterpretation of scripture and disastrous use of precedence in our church.)

  77. @ Kristine 7:07 pm
    Thank you Kristine. In pconnornc’s defense, he offered it earnestly. I WANT many people to earnestly offer advice and practical suggestions for me – in humility. I enjoy responding to such advice. I like interacting with people and talking about things they may never have considered. I like considering new things myself. I like considering “the other.” It is through (potentially) opposing viewpoints that we truly refine what we believe.
    Thank you for your passionate defense though. It means a lot to me. I need as many (internet) hugs as possible these days.

  78. I am an active Latter-Day Saint gay man who is probably a little too active and way out, loud and proud. After my excommunication as a gay activist, I spent decades as a high profile voice for gay Mormons. Four years ago I was rebaptized and I am still way out, loud and proud in my Utah County ward were I teach Gospel Doctrine in Sunday School and serve in the Temple. I have learned that in my life of apparent contradictions (cf. Fifth Lecture on Faith) and irreconcilables there is a foreground and a background. In the deafening noise of the background is the salient issues and concerns so well voiced here in the OP. In the foreground is God who continues to direct my life through unmediated personal revelation–meaning without mediation—of the noisy sort. His is the voice I wait upon. I turn down the noise with His word to me, about my paths in life. I wait, I listen. And because of his loving kindness and enduring grace, I hear.

  79. pconnornc says:

    I am unaware of any doctrine from any age where a prophet or leader has said anything doctrinally besides sexual relations between a man/man or woman/woman was a sin (along with various other man/woman transgressions) If there is variance on that I really would like to know.

    As far as what policy/therapy/cause/etc – I am very aware of the uneducated, hurtful and often mean history.

    JD’s point that we have regularly misunderstood the scriptures in the past is justification for petitioning the Lord for more clarity. If we are suggesting to people that the Lord has said this behavior was not sinful in the past as encouragement, then I fear we are being dishonest and giving false hope. If you are correct and I don’t know the doctrinal history, then please let me know – and that would become another leg to stand on in the petition to the Lord.

    I heard Darius Gray bear testimony that while the Lord did not reveal whether the priesthood restriction was of Him or of man, the Lord did reveal that He wanted Darius to be part of His church – and he and the church were blessed for it. Though I am sure it was not easy. I hope members like JD have the same blessing while waiting on the Lord – for either policy, doctrine, understanding or other things to change. I hope that they are strengthened that even though members can be hurtful and teach philosophies of men as doctrine, that there have been others with different, but similar challenges that were blessed along the way.

  80. Kristine says:

    “If we are suggesting to people that the Lord has said this behavior was not sinful in the past as encouragement”

    No one is saying that. But that is not the only doctrine that has been promulgated on this topic, by a long shot. And the peripherals matter a lot–whether, for instance, homosexual orientation exists and is unchosen makes an enormous difference in what, exactly, is doctrinally described as “sinful.” And that has changed dramatically in just a few decades. Go read Elder Packer’s “To the One,” and compare with the ways that Elder Holland speaks about gay saints, or even the Oaks/Wickman interview. We’re not even in the same doctrinal library anymore, let alone on the same page.

    Darius is a saint among Saints. I long for the day when the gay Darius Grays in the church with be recognized and honored as he is. And I hope they will be as gracious and forgiving of the rest of us as he is.

  81. pconnornc, when you write, “Now there are plenty of examples of people who think they have taught doctrine, but were as far away from the Lord as they could be,” it’s difficult to understand what you mean other than the “true Scotsman” fallacy. I’m not interested in debating policy and doctrine with you. JD has clearly already addressed this in his 7:26pm comment.

  82. @ pconnornc 7:41
    To your question about where reparative therapy was written as doctrine, when your Bishop or Stake President or Apostle or Prophet tell you that marriage or reparative therapy is “the Lord’s plan for homosexuality” it’s hard for you to respond back saying that it isn’t doctrine without sounding disobedient. The best evidence of this policy is to talk to the thousands of people who went through reparative therapy, particularly earlier. One very visible example is Tom Christofferson’s book “That We May Be One.” He explicitly says that during that time period, simply admitting being gay (even with full following of the law of chastity) was enough grounds for excommunication. I have other resources from Bishops of that time period that echo that sentiment. During that time, there was not the separation that there is (mostly) today – between BEING gay and DOING gay (stuff). From Bishops to Apostles and Prophets, there wasn’t that separation. Simply being gay was a sin, and reparative therapy was the execution of the doctrine that “we are all heterosexual.” Not undergoing reparative therapy was to choose to continue being gay – a sin.

    To your question about where marriage therapy was written as doctrine, I submit 1 Nephi 3:7, which was often used in this situation. The logic went: Marriage IS a commandment. The Lord will provide a way for us to fulfill that commandment. If we refuse, we are being disobedient to the Lord’s plan for us.

    I feel that you are earnestly striving to maintain a consistent wall of separation between doctrine and recommendations, but on this issue, there just wasn’t. Bishops and Stake Presidents and Apostles and Prophets – their consistent statements on this issue represent “doctrine in practice” – even when it isn’t truly doctrine. Sad, but unfortunately true.

  83. I have great hope in the increase I’ve seen in love and acceptance, along with the “we don’t know” so often used. The Church isn’t there yet (as I still hear too many shunnings and excommunications), but I have hope that it’s moving in a better direction. I’m also more hopeful in the increased tendency to seek out experts if something is not known, which I believe is a byproduct of that “corporate nature” so many complain about.

    I don’t have much hope for a change in doctrine, however. The standard of complimentary gender is pretty interwoven into the theology, and the exceptions (us) are an undiscovered country that no one really wants to explore. The exclusion policy needs to be cast aside especially if the acceptance is going to be believed at all.

    I don’t believe that the science will save us on this. There have been plenty of studies that show how one trait or another increases the odds, but no indicator that can accurately predict it. I hope they never settle on one trait, as it’ll cause blowback on those of us who don’t share it but believe it of ourselves anyway. Ultimately, we have to be believed that we have wrestled with whatever we’ve learned in life, prayed and fasted, and come to our own conclusion without having to justify ourselves.

    The first response after telling my mother I was transgender was “no you’re not”. We’re not all asking for theology to change; we just want to be believed and accepted as children of the same God, with the same needs to be ministered to and the same desire to be welcomed into the arms of the Savior. We are confident that it will “all be handled in the afterlife”, but in the mean time, can we just be included with the Saints?

  84. Geoff - Aus says:

    JD, To some extent you are self censoring. I have reports of a gay man who serves as a bishops councilor, lives with his male partner, and both hold temple recommens. Presumably the bishop knows and the Stake president.
    Perhaps you could find a place like that and find the love and support you need to live your life to the full. You do what is right and let the leaders turn a blind eye or do their worst. Are there any reports of gay couples being exed?
    There was a reference above that the Prophets were never wrong on moral issues. When I was married in 1970 the church was teaching that birth control was a moral issue, and an attack on the family. We had 3 daughters in 4 years, and my wife was advised she would not survive another pregnancy. We talked to the bishop, who said he could not go against church doctrine. Our sp said it was more important to keep my wife alive, so we ignored that one. We no longer hear that doctrine. Another loss of credibility for the leaders.
    This was taught as a moral issue, and against a commandment from the Lord to multiply and replenish the earth. It changed, as did the priesthood ban, and this will to.

  85. “Since I feel that you are earnest in your words, I earnestly ask you to recommend one of those paths for me”

    JD,
    I wouldn’t give a specific recommendation in your case regarding celibacy or marriage. If I did would you or others jump all over me? I get the feeling it’s a trap, as you no doubt have sophisticated arguments for why both options are intolerable, inquitable, and unacceptable.

    I would say, however, that God desires all of his children to become parents like him. It’s part of our inheritance in eternal lives. The timing of that for each person is not for me to say.

    I’m surprised that in any kind of good faith discussion you’d compare the council of any of the Brethren to investment advice in Madoff in principle. Really, if you can draw parallels there why is this conversation even important to you? Moth to a flame? Troll stirring the pot?

    But I’m happy to overlook what appears a Freudian slip, because regardless of your true aspirations this is nevertheless a real issue deserving real engagement.

    Recall it was the Savior who was constantly put into situations requiring answering a question that presupposed offense or error. At times, he even had nothing to say to his accusers. I think we can often see that response from the Brethren on so many issues.

    Consider the questioning accusations in Mathew 22 regarding posterity and marriage. Jesus refused to play along with their questions, which seem right out of a modern anti-Mormons playbook attempting to demonstrate the absurdity of eternal marriage. He was likely discussing a different issue related to marriage, but they couldn’t help themselves in trying to throw curveballs to trip him up. Imagine having the Creator there for you, teaching what he knows you need to hear and instead quizzing him on nonsense thought experiments of the day. What a tragic loss. I assume they looked back after their lives in the spirit world shocked at how self-important their deep, engaging intellectual probings seemed at the time when they were in reality squandering their mortal probation and birthright.

    Rather than bring sacred subjects through muddied waters for debate Jesus bypassed the issue entirely and reframed the discussion.

    I’ve shared the some of the culminating truths of the most sacred revelation God can give his children. The answers are for you to have from God. But it won’t happen in a way with any force or authority that undermines what’s been taught over the pulpit and revealed again and again on this issue.

    Occasionally I read comments that suggest people have received otherwise. All I can say is, if such we’re true, they wouldn’t be saying it. God doesn’t reveal his secrets to blabbermouths who lack authority to make new revelation for the world.

    Your comments seem to suggest there is much ambiguity on the issue. It’s no more ambiguous than for the Brethren to respond they don’t know why God places a child in the hands of an abuser. We can’t give a specific reason why in so many cases. But that charitable declaration of uncertainty on the hows and whys about life’s various trials doesn’t mean they are ignorant of God’s ultimate will, plan, and desire for all of his children.

  86. @ Geoff – Aus 9:53 pm
    I don’t believe i’m intentionally self-censoring. While I do know of maybe one or two gay couples that attend their ward openly without being excommunicated, they only exist at the leniency of the Bishop/Stake President – and they don’t have temple recommends. The concept of “leadership roulette” definitely applies – as soon as the local leadership changes, their status is vulnerable yet again. Granted, there are likely many more gay couples who may exist in this situation. Sadly, this isn’t 101 Dalmatians, there isn’t a gay “twilight bark” passing on that information to me, and I don’t know every gay in the church. :P I’m thoroughly hopeful that what you describe (a gay couple both holding temple recommends) exists somewhere, I just was not aware. I do know of several gay couples that have been excommunicated. On the other hand, I do hear reports of “intentional inaction” – when leadership have turned a blind eye and not followed the directives of the November Policy. As always, it’s a mixed bag.

  87. @ UC 11:07 pm
    Not a trap. Not a troll. I basically want everyone telling me to just “Follow the Prophet” to consciously and literally say these words to me “The Lord wants you to be single your entire mortal life, or The Lord wants you to marry a woman and (somehow) have sexual relations with her to raise up children.”
    I want people saying to just “follow the prophet” to put themselves in my position. To consciously think about being voluntarily alone for mortality. To consciously think about being married to and having sexual relations with a man (if you are a straight male) or a woman (if you are a straight female.) I want you to consider practical implications of the recommend course of action.

    Regarding Bernie Madoff, I’m not comparing the intent of the General Authorities with the intent of Madoff, I don’t imply an intent to defraud. To be clear, I’m comparing results, not intent. Knowing the results of the Madoff investment plan, would you yourself invest in it? Similarly, knowing the devastating results of the paths available to me (the ones I listed in my first piece) gives me great pause regarding those courses of action- enough to approach the Lord as we are taught to do for confirmation of possible options of my life direction.

    In a broader context, while not advocating a specific course, knowing those results on a church wide scale both historically and currently makes me feel that we definitely need further light and knowledge on this issue. Knowing the stories of so many of my friends confirms that for me.

    While I appreciate you earnestly sharing your thoughts, I get the feeling (with you sharing of the attempts in the New Testament to query and trip up the Savior with legalism) that you feel that I am not genuine in my search for the Lord’s will in my life, and with your potentially veiled insult regarding “blabbermouths who lack authority.” While I find your philosophical loquacity interesting but not succinct or practical (and I have repeatedly asked for practical), I will see if I can summarize some of your points:
    1.) You feel that revelation contrary to the position of the church is never given to individuals who aren’t the current prophet.
    or
    1) You feel that revelation contrary to the position of the church is rarely given to individuals who aren’t the current prophet, but only given to those who tell nobody.
    2) You feel that celibacy or marriage to the opposite sex is the only correct path for LGBT individuals.
    3) You feel that I just need to keep approaching the Lord until I get the answer that the Brethren have stated.

    Regarding this sharing of my thoughts, feelings, and impressions, please don’t insult me. You know nearly nothing about me. I carefully pondered sharing my thoughts and feelings publicly for years, and I DIDN’T share until feeling a confirmation from the Lord. I don’t share this lightly,
    I would ask that you not drop insults so lightly either.

  88. @ UC
    Do you feel that we as a Church need further light and knowledge on this issue?
    Please answer Yes or No.

  89. Loursat says:

    UC, the question that you refuse to answer is not a trap. It’s a question that gets to the heart of the matter. In all your efforts here, you have shown no interest in understanding the experience of being gay or the experience of being gay in the church. You appear not to have the slightest idea how a gay person should actually live. It seems to me that JD’s question is an attempt to get you to focus on this central practical question.

    I know that I’m repeating what JD just wrote, but I do it to add this personal note: My views about LGBTQ people have been formed by wrestling with these practical questions in the lives of real people whom I love. A long time ago, on these issues I think I was pretty much where you are now, UC. I have learned that spinning elaborate theoretical rationales gets us exactly nowhere in our Christian responsibility to help people. We have to start by looking real people in the face, opening our hearts, shutting our mouths, and listening. Only then can love and the Holy Ghost and divine inspiration do their work in us. We will not go wrong when love is our guide.

  90. To JD (to minimize angst about whether I am criticizing anybody):

    In the ‘90s as a sitting bishop I considred the “celibacy or marriage” question seriously and directly with real people. My honest answer was “go elsewhere, you will not be nurtured as you deserve in this church in this generation.” I felt constrained by position to stay silent. The tension was one of the several things that broke me.

    I’ve said this before, on these pages and elsewhere. It’s not self-revelatory or confessional. Nor is this discussion new or novel (although it is calmer and more reasoned than usual—kudos to you!) I am repeating myself for the purpose of reminding that to the question “celibacy or marriage?” there is always the third implicit “or leave?” Everybody is teasing at that third way. Answering the question, not answering the question, ducking, or running, it’s always there. I suspect the most ‘conservative’ and the most ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ are BOTH inclined to the “leave” option (for different reasons, presumably). For the middle, which the OP represents a part of, and the conversation I want to be a part of, the search is for a fourth way.

  91. UC (3:45 pm) claims to have received revelation confirming the nature and existence of heterosexual Latter-day Saints, including the nature and existence of Heavenly Mother, and saying that all others wander in “strange paths” or belong to the great and spacious building.

    Personal revelation has a long history in this Church and is a central part of our faith, so as kindly as I can, will suggest that his revelations may be limited to what he has received for himself, and that it’s very human to extrapolate our own understandings and life experiences out to the rest of humanity and to blend any revelation we have received with our own personal social views.

    Until we have canonized revelation on the positive life purpose of all non-heterosexual humanity — and we really don’t have such revelation — it’s undoubtedly safe to consider certain condemnatory comments as irrelevant to our salvation.

  92. I’ve been around here long enough that I shouldn’t be shocked anymore, but the amount of hostility on this thread from, for lack of a better term, defenders of the Brethren toward a child of God (and an active member of the Church at that) beggars belief.

    JD’s patience with and charity toward so many hostile commenters staggers me, too, but in the opposite direction.

    Jesus told a story once about a man beaten nigh to death and left on the side of the road. All the people with religious standing in the community walked by, no doubt quoting the Brethren as they did, until a Samaritan—an infidel, or, God forbid, a gay Mormon—came to his aid.

    All I’m saying is that if being a believer entails treating others the way that some of you have treated JD, I want nothing to do with it. Nothing. I want to vomit until every last scrap of such belief has left my body.

    Jesus said that we’d be able to tell who his disciples are because they love each other. God knows I haven’t lived all the way into that call yet, but it’s the thing that keeps me wanting to become a Christian. It’s why I show up each week at a church that often has little room for me. I want to meet Jesus in all of you, and in a way, I do, because Jesus came among us to become human, with all of the brokenness that entails. We are the broken bread we eat each Sunday, but our call is to become the one loaf again. I eat that bread with you, and so does JD. I am full of sorrow that we treat a brother in Christ as we have treated him, and so many others. Crucifying people is exactly the wrong response to taking the sacrament each week, but too often, that’s what we do. Maybe that’s why we have to take the sacrament each week, because repenting of our proclivity to crucify people is so freaking hard.

  93. it's a series of tubes says:

    JD, you’ve shared and discussed a difficult topic with civility and restraint. I don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute to the discussion, but my hat is off to you. Bravo, sir. Well done.

  94. Thank you, Jason K. I have wondered and continue to wonder how much of the apparent hostility, not only on this blog thread, but also at senior levels of the Church, may be motivated by fear — including, but not limited to, fear of admitting the lack of full revelation and comprehension of God’s “plan of happiness” or of admitting the lack of universality in such part of a “plan of happiness” that they do comprehend. [That is not to say that my comprehension is more complete, but only possibly more conscious of its incompleteness.]

    As we continue to lose the participation of friends who find they can no longer stomach the hostility — that it is significantly unhealthy for them here and now and perhaps eternally —, I wonder more often “why I show up each week at a church that often has little room for me.” I continue to find and recall and experience sufficient reasons to do so, but each continuing absence of departed friends makes it more painful. Thanks for articulating one of your reasons for doing so.

  95. I won’t blame you in the least if some day it gets to be too much for you, too, and you have to find another path, but our community will be diminished by your absence, as it already is by the absence of your departed friends (and mine). Would to God that more people felt that loss and mourned it as such.

    In the meanwhile, I pledge to do what I can to hold space for you in the pews. There will *always* be a seat for you with me and my family.

  96. wreddyornot says:

    Amen, Jason K.

  97. @ Lee 8:24 pm
    Thank you for sharing your experience – I truly appreciate that. I find that the gay, for better or worse, has forced me to “not rely on the testimony of others” and more earnestly (and more desperately to be honest) seek His voice “without mediation.” It is difficult though – part of me still longs for the comfort of youth with black and white thinking. The ideas that “God did not create gay people” and “Counseling and marriage are the solutions” are comforting because they confirm an easier and less complex interpretation of the Plan of Salvation regarding this life. I recognize why that is an attractive philosophy and so hard to let go. Like Pres. Packer, we often don’t want to believe that a Father does that with his children.
    Is this true adulthood, true agency in mortality then? The realization that simple comforting “truths” taught in youth may not ultimately be truthful, and the recognition that I must personally make choices with the (incomplete and contradictory) truths that I have, counsel with the Lord in all my paths, and go forward with faith?

  98. Ryan Mullen says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts here. They have been thought-provoking and, since they relate experiences beyond my own, good exercises in building empathy.

    I have to say tho, your beautifully expressed thoughts pale in comparison to your civility in responding to the comments. You’ve been the target of vitriol and arrogance and responded with a calm and humility that is truly mind-boggling. Thank you for demonstrating such Christian discipleship. You have bolstered my faith in humanity this weekend.

  99. Rexicorn says:

    I’d be interested to know when gender complementarianism became a central tenet of Mormon doctrine, because it’s definitely not there in the beginning. Personally I’m inclined to believe it’s an after-the-fact rationalization for the gender inequity in our priesthood/leadership system (the “seed of Cain” of male-only ordination) along with a way to reframe early polygamy doctrine for a post-polygamy church. That’s what makes the most sense to me, looking back, but I’m a heathen on this issue so a neutral analysis would be interesting.

    I say this because I agree with you, JD, that the hostile reaction to your questions is likely based in fear. Reconsidering what the church teaches about sexuality and gender represents a seismic shift for people who’ve built their doctrinal foundation on it, and that’s scary.

    A helpful thing to remember in these discussions is that human brains have strong defense mechanisms against cognitive dissonance. Your brain does not like holding conflicting ideas at the same time. It’ll do anything it can to get out of having to do that. Even if it means sacrificing your empathy. If you really want to fulfill the call to “mourn with those who mourn,” you have to learn to sit with your discomfort. Which means you have to recognize that feeling of visceral revulsion at an idea for what it so often is: pain avoidance.

  100. Further light and knowledge is most certainly needed by many, but it’s too be had freely.

    The round about discussion online will not result in it because it’s not something I can give. That’s why this is a difficult issue. It’s no different than if I was trying to debate someone that the church is true and they ought to just get baptized when they’ve constructed, or read, or experienced a bunch of reasons why not to.

    You can have the experiences you wish as a faithful member. It won’t result from blog posts or blog comments. This is just conversation where we each share our views.

    No insult was intended with blabbermouths, beyond pointing out that I cannot accept anyone telling me, “the Lord revealed to me the prophets are wrong on this issue and we just need to keep asking” or something to that effect.

    It’s entirely likely God can reveal something to you the prophets aren’t emphasizing, and even potentially contradictory seeming (from a certain point of view). It’s happened in my own experience. But in every case it was clear it was for me only and that was the extent of the revelation (there’s more to the story than that but we can’t explain everything about complex issues I’m an aside).

    So my framing of the blabbermouth remark was that it’s the built in position of any latter day saint to reject someone’s proclamation that God revealed to them the prophets are wrong.

    Again to your specific questions, the most appropriate answers I can give you is to testify what is true and encourage you to go to the source and do the things to qualify so that the doctrines of the priesthood can distill on your soul. And of course, be patient. With yourself, with the Lord’s timing, with people who put their foot in their mouth and so on.

    But let’s be clear here that constantly asking if the 116 pages can just be shared with Martin Harris’s wife over and over isn’t the best way to proceed. God has said much on this issue. Go and do it as best as you can and be patient. I do sincerely worry about how much success one can have when they frame the situation as, I’m gay and destined or can only be with the same sex. This gets back to the massage questions asked of the Savior in Matthew 22. Raising some thorny issues that we can debate over doesn’t mean there is no truth in the current teaching. And seriously, people are losing their jobs over opening their mouths. Other people are going to extreme reactions and thinking they’d be better off dead. These kinds of responses curtail speech. You can’t expect just simple sweet answers for every difficult question as though charity and good faith prevail from all quarters.

    Regarding practical and succinct, I mean have you read the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants? God didn’t lay out the path to the universe expanding revelations on coming to know him and receiving eternal life with business writting bullet points. We can certainly simplify things to make it digestible. But ultimately real conversion comes from the source after much work and faith, following line upon line.

    But those abstractions aren’t substitutes for coming to know God’s plan though the work needed in both study, practice, and service.

    If you read my first comment on this issue, however, I did in fact give you some succinct and simple statements pointing to our origin and eternal destiny.

    I would love to see more light on this issue revealed to the world – I’ve already hinted at some such with our eternal destiny. But some truths aren’t too be dispensed by the prophets to be argued over. Some truths come directly from God to us individually.

    I didn’t give you the exact advice on a specific course of action, because there are so many variables at issue. But the general principles are there. Have you tried visiting with your stake president though? (Sorry if this was already discussed) That would be the best course of action in my book. Visit with him, pray, fast, do what he suggests and summon all your patience and courage on the issue.

    PS -thanks for using the word loquacity. I imagine to have a conversation in person with you would be engaging.

  101. UC,
    JD and other folks around here are engaged in being nice for its own sake, but put up or shut up. You’ve no basis for showing up here, hinting about some deep revelation that you’ve received and that all could receive if only they were open enough. I guess I’m happy for you that you’ve made peace with the crappy way the church treats gay folk but the Lord promises us that He explain His will to our hearts AND our minds. So you should be able to explain anything that originates from him (maybe not well, but why put your light under a bushel if it’s actually illuminating?). Otherwise, this just comes off as trying emotionally manipulate JD and other folks here by means of horseshit.

  102. Emily U says:

    “All this tells me is that our leaders are operating under lesser light and knowledge and true revelation is needed.”
    I agree, 100%. Also with your statements about certainty being a block to new light and knowledge. That certainty can be summed up in one word: patriarchy. I know that word gets overused, it’s the whipping boy for so many ills, but in the church it really is the root cause of so much wrong. There can’t be gay marriage when men preside, because who presides in a marriage of two men? There can’t be ecclesiastical equality for women when men preside, because who are they constitutionally fit to preside over if not women? Being anti-gay and anti-woman are two sides of the same coin. No, they’re even more inextricably connected than that. They’re the warp and weft of the same cloth.
    I yearn for the day that the cloth is burned up in the purifying fire of new revelation. What we’ll have instead is charity as the fabric that holds a Zion society together.

  103. I didn’t realize it until reading Rexicorn’s comment, but it seems that some have confused me with JD. Were anyone to perceive something negative in my wondering comment or in my being pained at the loss of those who no longer participate in our church community, I do not want that attributed to JD who has admirably dealt with and continues to deal admirably with a much more fundamental reason than I why our church often has little room for him.

  104. UC –You worry about “how much success one can have when they frame the situation as, I’m gay and destined or can only be with the same sex.” If you are heterosexual (not bisexual), do you not frame your own situation as being just as destined to only be with the opposite sex? Do you think you could decide to switch to being attracted only to those of your own sex? If it would seem impossible, that looks like JD’s situation as well.

  105. @ UC 11:05 am
    Thank you for your thoughts UC. My basis for the desire for further light and knowledge is less predicated on my own experience, and more on the global situation historically and presently within the church. Therefore, I do not present anyone with “I have received revelation and thus we as a church must ask for more.” I present with the century of evidence, the historical and current dismal statistics. While I fully admit that my own persistent impressions and experiences add to my feelings on this, the global situation is what drives it. I present everyone I can find with “the tobacco stained floor in the school of the prophets.” THAT is why we should be pleading for further light and knowledge as a church. Responding that this is similar to the 116 pages and thus we should not ask, because the answer is clear is a cop-out. Do we believe in James 1:5, or not?

    I have mentioned in this piece and the previous one that I have spoken with priesthood leaders. While earnest, like I mentioned before, their ability to counsel is directly related to their prior experience and knowledge on this issue. Both in my experiences and in the experiences of my friends, the diversity of responses has been wide. A pure data analysis on the responses shows no consistency – simply a correlation between their feelings on the matter and their counsel. Again, I repeat. These are earnest inviduals. Wise counsel can be had from these, but the majority still dispense the philosphies of men mingling with scripture. Because of this, I have always infinitely preferred the temple, as I described specifically.

    I will repeat a sentence from the introduction. “Until we consider the real implications of our statements, actions, and policies, we are not prepared to minister to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.” I don’t ask for practical suggestions because i’m a glutton for punishment. I ask, because if you cannot bring yourself to say “The Lord wants you to be single/The Lord wants you to marry a woman in this life” then you don’t really believe in what you say. (Perhaps, in my reading between the lines of your post, you feel that a change in sexuality is possible. While I never deny the possibility, data and (now the church even, refer to Elder Holland) continue to show that this is not statistically likely, or even likely part of the Lord’s plan.)

    If we aren’t brave enough to realize that our allowed prescriptions mean that the Lord wants for our gay brothers and sisters either celibacy/straight marriage, and say that to our gay brothers and sisters, in person, then we aren’t prepared to minister to them. We prefer to philosophize from a distance. Academic discussions that evaporate in the reality of sunlight are hardly helpful.

  106. Rexicorn says:

    JR — Oops, I definitely did confuse you two! That’s what I get for only reading some of the letters, I guess.

  107. Rexicorn says:

    There’s an odd thing where people want to think of homosexuality as somehow cordoned off from the rest of life, like it pertains only to the type of sexual acts you like. I guess because it has the word “sexual” in it, kind of like people who think you’re only homophobic if you’re literally afraid of gay people. But it’s more than that, just like heterosexuality is about more than just the specific type of sex you like to have.

    Romantic stories are absolutely foundational in our culture. It begins in the earliest stages of childhood, when we tell fairy tales about princes and princesses falling in love. We model it everywhere, over and over and over. Romantic subplots. Mommies and Daddies coming together to create families. There’s a reason kids are always curious about whether their teachers are married or not. In Mormonism, it’s even worse, since we have this narrative about marriage and complementary genders. The only concrete statements we have about a female God come from the supposition that a male God simply *must* have a female partner. Heterosexuality is so reflexive that it’s a logical given on which you can base doctrine.

    Take a moment and just think about how many times we’re presented with heterosexual relationships and desires, in the world and in our stories. Then, imagine that all of those scripts, many of which are so ingrained that we don’t even recognize or think about them, are flipped for you. It’s not just that you saw someone your own sex and you wanted to kiss them one day. The story you tell yourself about the world, the way you relate and how you fit into the relational structure of humanity, is different from what you’ve been told is normal.

    Now do you see how it’s more than just having a limited frame?

  108. @ UC 11:05 am
    To repeat a brilliant statement from Kristine H years ago:
    “Our religious certainties ought to be troubled by our encounters with our fellow human beings; no theological abstraction should matter to us more than the pains and joys of our brothers and sisters…If we are to arrive at truth-we must allow our encounters…to shake us from our comfortable beliefs and throw us to our knees to beg for wisdom and understanding.”
    She penned that shortly after Pres. Packers’ talk in 2010. I wish I could thank her in person, but I send internet thanks now. This piece (What I Wish I Had Said, By Common Consent, October 14, 2010) provided Christ-like thoughtfulness in the midst of a cacophony of “absolute moral certainty.” This piece helped me re-frame my approach to the Gospel, and in a way, saved my life.

    The reason I share this quote, again, is that, If we truly cannot move beyond theological abstractions and translate them into realities, if we truly are unable or afraid to tell someone to their face the practical realizations of a policy we claim to espouse, then I am afraid that we simply desire to rest comfortably in a temple of theology, rather than physically travel the road from Jerusalem to Jericho next to the Samaritan.

    To be honest, the individuals trying to question the Savior had plenty of theological abstractions on their side. One thing that I fully appreciate about the parable of the Good Samaritan, is that the Lord’s response was both practical and would have been shocking to the audience of the day. When questioned with legalism, he often responded with a practical story that exemplified right action, EVEN when that right action trampled on the policies and doctrines of the “church” (and often culture) in that day. Do you possibly think that all the Pharisees and Sadducees walked around like Montgomery Burns on The Simpson’s, with tented fingers plotting world domination? The Pharisees and Sadducees would be the philosophical equivalent of Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Area Authorities of today. They would ostensibly work to do their “home teaching” and all responsibilities exactly within the guidelines of the law. They would do what was asked in the law with obedience, with exactness, because “The brethren (Moses) had already repeatedly spoken.” They would work TIRELESSLY to “keep the doctrine pure.”

    My take on this to the entire church, still remains: “No theological abstraction should matter more to you than the beaten man/gay guy in front of you, needing practical help.”

  109. And to everyone who recommends “Just Follow the Prophet” – i’m not asking for you to give me an either/or recommendation. I simply want you to be brave enough and believe in your words enough to be able to say the following words (type them directly to me since this is the internet.)

    “JD, The Lord’s plan of happiness for you in mortality is that you remain single until your dying day”
    “JD, The Lord’s plan of happiness for you in mortality is that you find a choice daughter, take her to the temple, and that night, close your eyes and think of England”
    (or of mid 20’s Prince William before he got married and lost all his hair)

  110. Deborah Christensen says:

    Kudos to you JD for patiently sharing with us a piece of your journey. I still don’t understand how being gay fits into the Plan of Salvation. But I’m glad you’re trying as we all struggle to understand and learn.

  111. I’d rephrase the 2nd possibility slightly: “The Lord’s plan of happiness for you in mortality is that you find a choice daughter, never think that she might have her own purpose and destiny that involves being truly and fully loved by her husband, and use her as a prop for your pursuit of ‘righteousness.’ Don’t worry about what she might feel while you’re closing your eyes and thinking of England.”

  112. I’m 50+ never married heterosexual, so yes, I know, my pain isn’t real, but let me assure you, there are plenty of us hearing: “The Lord’s plan of happiness for you in mortality is that you remain single until your dying day”.

  113. Lily,
    How about “The Lord’s plan of happiness for you in mortality is that you never should even fantasize about kissing someone you are attracted to until your dying day”? Does that make the distinction clear?

  114. John, Oh, right, right. . . that makes being alone sooooo much easier.

  115. Rexicorn says:

    Lily, pain is not zero-sum. Just because there’s a difference between your situation and a gay member’s doesn’t mean that yours isn’t difficult or painful.

    Nobody’s saying your pain isn’t real. It’s just that there’s a difference between being told that your desires are righteous but won’t be fulfilled, and being told that your desires are unrighteous and *should* never be fulfilled. Both should require consideration and care, but they’re not exactly the same thing.

  116. Tagging on Lily’s input, I think both situations (JD’s and Lily’s) are perhaps pointing to a larger issue – isolation and loneliness. I see it rampant in typical western society, and in my view this suggests there is a structural flaw in how we are living together.

    I think as a species we are social creatures, that crave and need relationships of depth and intimacy to truly thrive and live happily. And currently as we live as individuals, couples, or nuclear families, our answer to this is to therefore enter into the couples or nuclear families groups to find this connection and intimacy, also suggesting that romantic coupling and sex is a necessary part of the solution to find this type of fulfillment.

    I’m not sure if this is true though. As I have thought through it, I have come to the belief that our species is meant to communal, and that our culture of living as individuals, couples, or nuclear families in very isolationist ways causes a lot of damage to all three groups, but especially to those who are single.

    And therefore I believe until we address this structural flaw, it will be very hard to imagine a prescription of singleness as anything but second rate and even torturous. Isolation and loneliness is just that, and being single in current society will include at least some measure of it. But I don’t think it has to be that way, I think there is a much fuller way to achieve greater fulfillment, intimacy, connection, and joy than making that dependent on a single romantic relationship.

  117. *to be communal

  118. I am shocked–SHOCKED, I tell you–and scandalized–SCANDALIZED!–by this post. It is both against the laws of nature and the laws of God to wear the types of socks described above. Tisn’t right, tisn’t fair, tisn’t fit, tisn’t proper.

  119. @ Anon 2:42 pm
    I have definitely internally included that thought in my absolute hesitancy to marry a woman. I can’t countenance the idea of a woman I care about not being “truly and fully loved by her husband” – me.

  120. Yeah, JD–I assumed that you would have thought of it. Unfortunately, many church leaders don’t.

  121. @ Lily 3:07 pm
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. While we have mentioned the differences between single sisters and the gay, I would never want to imply that your pain isn’t real. One thing that I’ve briefly touched on is our near obsession with marriage within the church, which is part of a broader discussion. The church has a significant gap in ministering to most anyone on the margins.

  122. @ Steve LHJ 3:48 pm
    I definitely agree that isolation and loneliness can be rampant in Western Society. I fear that the desired cultural structure of the church may actually contribute to this. The family unit is the primary intimate social structure. While ward units are designed in part to provide community and social interaction, other pieces here have described in excellent detail the lack of actual friendships within groups and quorums.

  123. @JD
    Yes, totally agree with you. And I agree with the church foundationally that the nuclear family does indeed sit at the center of a healthy society and the perpetuation of our species. At the same time “our near obsession with marriage” as you put it (and I would add the nuclear family unit), to me looks like inadvertently leaving out crucial pieces of the body of Christ, making for an unbalanced and not fully functioning body. I agree the result being “leaving a significant gap in ministering to most anyone on the margins”. And I think not only a ministering gap, but those on the margins don’t really even have a place, not truly – both in the greater plan of salvation theologically, right down to where to fit in the community here and now. Given the light and knowledge we currently have, perhaps understandably from a theological perspective, we pray and hope they can fit that one particular mold one day rather than see what I think is the blessing to all that stands right in front of us. If we could see it, I believe we could structure ourselves accordingly to take advantage of those blessings, and the fruits would be the development of deep and abiding friendships, bonds of true charity, belonging, and happiness.

    Now this is where you and I might diverge, I see the push for gay marriage in a subsection of the church (and the hope/belief that it will one day be integrated into our theology), as a different manifestation of this same mindset. Seeing one basic mold as the ideal, and so trying to replicate what we see in a heterosexual union and nuclear family and attempting to overlay that model on a homosexual relationship, rather than exploring that their might be something better for gay members themselves, and better for all of us as a community. Or as christiankimball put it, I believe one day we will see a fourth way / option (and have a better understanding of the implications of the other 3 options, and how they could each be the best/viable options given unique individual circumstances). I have a gut feeling inside, an almost piercing feeling, a broadening of our understanding of the plan of salvation and our eternal destinies will open our minds and make that option clear. I hope that day is coming soon.

  124. @ Steve LHJ 6:57 pm
    That is a fascinating idea. I’ve definitely heard many different ideas regarding broadening of our “understanding of the plan of salvation and eternal destinies.” I recognize that we know very little about so much. However, one thing that I can’t reduce to an attempt to replicate a heterosexual mold is my instinctual drive for male intimacy and companionship. Like I mention in my previous post, it is as all-encompassing as the desire for straight guys and female companionship towards their wife. I still tend to feel that that nuclear unit is still a functional structure in this broadened context. If the benefits of an earnest marital relationship exist within a committed heterosexual relationship, they surely apply otherwise. If marriage (and family) are excellent mechanisms for the Lord to teach truths to individuals, the structure still seems to be appropriate.

  125. @JD
    That makes sense, and I would imagine the sexual drive to be with a person would be the same regardless of who that natural manifests toward. It does seem on some level the benefits would apply regardless. At the same time while it’s easy to believe all benefits would equally apply (by easy, I mean a simple answer that can be quick to reduce the anxiety from these genuinely tough questions), I’m not convinced it is the truth. The most obvious benefit difference being that the heterosexual drive exists from an evolutionary perspective to drive forth the perpetuation of life. And almost all life as we know it on earth, billions upon billions of souls coming and make earth what it is for us, of which human life is only a part, comes from the drive for and pairing of male and female. There is something primal and archetypical about this that I don’t think can simply be dismissed to a mere appearance difference. In nature, we intuitively perceive slight differences in appearance that tell us something about the behavioral propensities of an individual or animal. That reality suggests to me that significant differences in appearance between male and female are indicative of something more significant than just skin deep. For that reason to me it is a big jump to assume that male-female, male-male, and female-female pairings are interchangeable in cause and effect of the interaction between the two. Although as members of the same species, yes, I do think there will be at least some subset of cause/effect relationship that would be interchangeable between all pairings. Because the benefits analysis may be different for each, I believe it is reasonable that a normative ‘ideal’ for each may also look different. At least that’s how I currently see it.

    I have a side question for you in light of this discussion, and I don’t have any particular follow up, I only want to ask out of genuine curiosity and interest in your thoughts given this conversation (and please feel no obligation to answer if you don’t feel comfortable). I am interested to know as a thought experiment, if you knew that your homosexual desires would not be eternal, that perhaps while inconceivable given your current emotions and feelings, if God were to show you that the vast majority of your eternal existence you would have a straight sexual orientation, would that effect the way you approach this earth life?

  126. @ Steve LHJ 8:34 pm
    Oh I know a good deal about the concept of evolutionary psychology and sexual selection. (For a fascinating exploration, read “The Red Queen” by Matt Ridley.) From an evolutionary biology standpoint, I personally cannot explain the existence of the gay. I know there are conjectures and studies within different animal groups and humans to evaluate it. Recent genetic evaluations that I’ve read show that female siblings of gay males have a significantly higher level of fecundity. (more kids) and a higher chance that one of those kids is gay as well. Not enough data yet to truly evaluate that idea though.
    Regarding your question, I know many gay individuals who have a testimony that they will be gay for eternity. I know other gay individuals (along with the general authorities) believe that the gay will be removed as soon as they are resurrected. I don’t have strong feelings either way, and honestly, it doesn’t affect my approach to this life in the least. That is one of the things I had pondered concurrently in the temple while asking the associated questions. I hadn’t shared that here and I don’t usually share my impressions on that topic with many people. Because of that very strong impression, i DO have strong feelings on the matter of this life. If marriage were simply a mechanism to have and raise children, then I would more fully understand this marriage restriction. Since animals produce offspring acting on instinct, we know marriage is more. The best example of my thoughts would be for an individual to ask Pres. Oaks or Pres. Nelson why they got married again after the death of their spouses. The answers they give would be the same reasons why we believe that marriage is much much more than simple childbearing.
    To vaguely summarize my impressions in the temple, i felt very strongly that God cares about us in this life. The learning and knowledge one gains while in a committed relationship (and even more while in a family) is incalculable. I don’t know what the postmortal existence will be like. And while I still can’t conceptualize being with a woman, either option doesn’t truly bother me and doesn’t change my approach to this life based on my other consistent impressions.

  127. Thank you for your response, I feel like I have a better understanding of where you’re coming from. I think all of your impressions are right, or at least they feel right to me, and taken at face value I agree with everything you wrote. I think we might diverge in view in how those principles might apply in an overarching framework, but again I have no desire to step in and tell another person how they should interpret or apply their revelation, each of our lives is our own. I’ve appreciated the discussion, thanks again for sharing.

  128. “That reality suggests to me that significant differences in appearance between male and female are indicative of something more significant than just skin deep. For that reason to me it is a big jump to assume that male-female, male-male, and female-female pairings are interchangeable in cause and effect of the interaction between the two.”

    I mean male-male and female-female pairings are more egalitarian, so yeah, you’re right that they’re different: on at least one metric, they’re better.

    “This suggests that the gendered nature of paid and unpaid work and travel is muted in the absence of a two-sex household structure, though some gendered differences persist.”
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214367X16300837

    “However, the role division among lesbian couples was more egalitarian than that of heterosexual couples.”
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233654414_Relationships_between_Gender_Role_Attitudes_Role_Division_and_Perception_of_Equity_among_Heterosexual_Gay_and_Lesbian_Couples

  129. “From an evolutionary biology standpoint, I personally cannot explain the existence of the gay.”
    If you’re interested in theories for why specific animal species have been observed exhibiting homosexual behavior, evolutionary biologists do discuss it, although theories tend to vary by species because the behavior does.
    – because it feels good (macaques)
    – cements social bonds (bonobos, dolphins)
    – allow unpaired females to more effectively raise young (Laysan albatross)
    – deal with surplus of females (Laysan albatross)
    – difference in brain structure between males who mate exclusively with males and males who mate with females, and the genetic cause of those differences may be tied to greater offspring in their female siblings (domestic sheep)
    (http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150206-are-there-any-homosexual-animals)
    -“same-sex pairing in many species actually alleviates the likelihood of divorce and curtails the pressure on the opposite sex by allowing members to exhibit more flexibility to form partnerships, which in turn strengthens social bonds and reduces competition.”
    (Yale Scientific, “Do Animals Exhibit Homosexuality?”, March 14, 2012)

    Theories for possible evolutionary benefits in humans:
    “maternal female relatives of gay men have more children than maternal female relatives of straight men. The implication is that there is an unknown mechanism in the X chromosome of men’s genetic code which helps women in the family have more babies, but can lead to homosexuality in men. ”
    ‘established that in Samoa “gay” men spend more time on uncle-like activities than “straight” men.’
    “…with every older brother the chance of homosexuality increases by about a third. No-one knows why this is, but one theory is that with each male pregnancy, a woman’s body forms an immune reaction to proteins that have a role in the development of the male brain. Since this only comes into play after several siblings have been born – most of whom are heterosexual and go on to have children – this pre-natal quirk hasn’t been selected away by evolution.”
    (BBC News, “The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality”, 18 February 2014)

  130. Hi JD-

    Thank you for your post. In response to asking more questions:

    – Hypothetically, if you were able to be sealed to another man in the temple, for time and all eternity, what would you and your husband do as exalted beings? What do you imagine your roles would look like? What might your work and glory be?

    – Would gay couples be open to “Time Only” marriages? There are hetero marriages within the church that consist of people at advanced ages, whom have no intention of multiplying and replenishing the earth, and which marry for “time only”. Would an arrangement like that be satisfactory to you?

    – Do you hope for a time when the church acknowledges that maybe not every person born on this earth has the desire to be an exalted being who possesses eternal reproductive power, and would be content to live eternally in some other capacity besides a god with a spouse creating spirit children and peopling planets?

    – Do you, as a gay man, have hope that maybe you could be eternally sealed to a man, and be together eternally fulfilling some other role beside that of gods?

    Thank you for your consideration of these questions, JD.

  131. ” Hypothetically, if you were able to be sealed to another man in the temple, for time and all eternity, what would you and your husband do as exalted beings? What do you imagine your roles would look like? What might your work and glory be?”

    As a heterosexual woman, I have no clear example of what I would do as an exalted being. I don’t know if my role would differ from what God does in the scriptures. If the role of exalted female being does differ from our scripture about God, I have very little idea of what my role would entail other than pregnancy (and dear sweet Mary save me from the celestial kingdom if that’s what it will mean). I get the impression that you’re trying to establish that there is a doctrinal hole where homosexuality is concerned. You’re not wrong, but doctrinal holes exist in all kinds of places.

  132. Rexicorn says:

    Now might be a time to note that Mormon teachings about Post-Mortal life are mostly vague and contradict each other over time. The broad strokes of three kingdoms and exaltation through celestial marriage have remained the same (though we define celestial marriage a little differently than we used to), but everything else is largely conjecture from what I can tell. Even prophets contradict each other on the details. So I wouldn’t lean too heavily on that area for doctrinal answers here, personally.

  133. KLN-
    Correct. I wonder if God’s work and glory of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of humankind necessarily means becoming like God in power and capacity, rather than character and purpose. I love how you pointed out that, as a woman, you’re not clear on what your role is as an exalted being. As Rexicorn stated, the LDS theology of the roles of exalted beings is mostly vague, surface level, “Families Can Be Together Forever” (what does that really even look like, practically speaking?), when the nuts and bolts seem far less concrete.

    I also wonder if church leadership will ever be willing to allow space for the idea that there may exist individuals who, through free exercise of their agency, will choose to be eternally sealed to an individual of the same gender, with the understanding that they would forfeit the capacity to have eternal increase through spirit offspring, but remain sealed to each other with the purpose of eternal fulfillment and enjoyment in that relationship? While fulfilling other complementary roles that are available in God’s economy?

  134. Rexicorn says:

    I mean, are we even sure that opposite-sex partnerships are needed for a godly increase? Did God have to physically birth all the non-human elements of the universe somehow? Are we even sure that “spirit offspring” is born and created the same way mortal ones are?

    I guess what I’m driving at is that eternal cosmology doesn’t need to be the stumbling block, here. There are so few actually concrete, consistent claims to work with there that eternal same-sex marriage doesn’t even have to mess anything up. Most of what would be shattered are suppositions based on the initial doctrine of “what you bind on earth is bound in heaven.”

    To get at Steve LHJ’s point from a while back (and also wander further into the weeds) I’m not entirely convinced that sealing is meant to be confined to marital pairs. It’s easy to conceive of it as more of a web, with sealing representing an unbreakable bond both between people and between God. We just happen to use marriage and family as a vehicle because it’s the only earthly example of an unbreakable (at least in theory) relationship. Other bonds can be pretty transient, but you’re always a parent and a child.

  135. Great questions, Rexicorn, very thought provoking. In the endowment, interestingly enough, there is not a female to be seen at or during any part of creation until Eve. Male-only creative participation.

  136. MDearest says:

    This has been important for me to follow. Even though *I thought* I had thought this through way back 10 years ago and made a commitment to favor valuing people over principles, I still have much to learn. I have no wisdom to offer but thanks to JD for giving this the thorough examination it deserves and with such good will. That alone should inspire us to sort this out better than we have, and I think that has inspired most commenters toward better civility. And the logic of some of the comments have helped me improve my own. Maybe we can get closer to zion, but JD must be included at the heart of it.

  137. Rexicorn says:

    Ben, and childbirth is presented as a part of the fallen world that women are cursed with because Eve transgressed. It’s essentially a curse. That doesn’t sound like a process that’s mirrored in heaven to me.

  138. @ Steve LHJ 5:16 am
    I’m glad you feel you have a better understanding. To reiterate for everyone, the reasons why Pres. Nelson and Pres. Oaks feel it is important for them to be married currently are similar to why I feel an earnest marriage is important in mortality inherently.

    While pondering and praying about it, this concept felt right to me in my mind, and it felt right to me in my heart.

  139. @KLN
    Thank you for those articles. I have read and perused through many articles that posit ideas on evolutionary comparative advantage and evaluations of species activity.
    Within humans, the increased fecundity of maternal female relatives and the caretaker philosophy with ‘guncles’ are interesting ideas, particularly within Primates and Hominidae.

  140. @ Ben 7:59 am
    Thank you for your questions. I’d be happy to address your questions in the hypothetical realm.

    -If I were able to be sealed to another man in the temple, i would assume that as exalted beings we would do exactly the same thing as the other exalted beings. Create planets? I definitely played SimCity a ton as a kid and loved Star Trek, and apparently us gays have good aesthetic sensibilities. Could you imagine the amazingly stunning planetary systems and galaxies we’d create? I’d want planetary systems with at least two livable planets in the Goldilocks zone though. Makes things more interesting that way. Mars just isn’t doing it for me.

    -I’m sure there are couples who would be amenable to “time only” marriages. At this point in time any marriage that I would enter into would not be recognized by the church, so that essentially functions as a “time only” marriage by default. If that were a hypothetical step within the church, “time only” marriages for the gays, I would definitely consider it.

    -That question really points out the severe lack of actual information we have on the postmortal existence. We have wild speculation by prophets and apostles on the matter. I definitely was taught about eternal viviparous birth as a youth. Us adolescent guys thought it was spectacular, the girls, not so much. I actually think that the current church approach DOES acknowledge that not every person wants to be an exalted being – although their acknowledgement is essentially “anyone not obedient to the covenant path doesn’t want to be an exalted being.” I know PLENTY of my friends who have no desire to be “eternally pregnant” though…although I haven’t personally heard that mentioned for a while, so I hope that idea is disappearing from our postmortal discourse.

    -Much of my temple study and ponderings have been on what are good actions and decisions for me in THIS life, and so I honestly don’t know about the eternities. With that said, however, I am sure that were I in a relationship with someone who matches me, with a guy i’m just head over heels for, a man who makes me want to be better version of myself when I’m around him, I would want similar things to what heterosexual couples want- a continuing of the relationship.
    I know I haven’t answered your questions directly on exaltation and godhood, but there’s so much that we DON’T know, it would just be wild speculation on my own part. I DO know, however, that I don’t want to be some executive secretary to some other messy and disorganized God, though. I watched The Devil Wears Prada. That seems like it would just be an eternal headache. ;)

  141. @ Rexicorn 11:25 am
    I agree with you wholeheartedly – we know practically nothing on the requirements for Godly increase. Contradictions abound on speculative theology regarding spirit birth and development. Eternal spirits with an eternal relationship with God? Eternal spirits in a non-eternal relationship with God? Eternal spirits as intelligences? Non-eternal spirits form from unintelligent matter? Non-eternal spirits formed from intelligent matter? Joseph Smith, Truman Madsen, BH Roberts, Brigham Young, the Pratts. Everyone can pick, as we have plenty of conflicting ideas to choose from.

  142. Kristine says:

    I’m out of the running for goddess (divorced), but I really hope that a lot of the folks in charge of eternity could be assigned a sassy gay friend or two… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQhkzYVlLl8

  143. I find that there are inherent problems in allowing theological speculation of the premortal and postmortal existence (even of the earnest variety) to serve as evidentiary support for policies within mortality. Not to beat a dead horse, but we have ample evidence of speculation providing support for other specious doctrines and policies. Granted, most of it was coordinated with seemingly logical thought processes, presented with an authoritative voice, and supported with scripture. None of that changed the fact that it was still simply speculation.

  144. JD, I see you mentioned the Pratts, but I would have thought Orson deserved special mention of his own for his speculations in The Seer about the “incubation period of pregnant Gods.”

  145. @ Kristine 3:19 pm
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    “You can’t plan a good themed BRUNCH in 7 days…”

  146. @ Kristine 3:19 pm
    Sadly I wouldn’t even qualify for the Sassy Gay Friend position in eternity. I Inherited the humor, but completely missed the sass and mannerisms. As well as fortunately missing the penchant for wearing real scarves on non-scarf weather. What IS that?

  147. @ JR 3:30 pm
    I had heard of that but know very little. I’m always amazed at the abilities of individuals to profusely pontificate. (And Elder Maxwell’s use of alliteration, as you can certainly see.)

  148. Bro. B. says:

    Very thought-provoking post, JD. The comments have morphed away from your original questions. But in regard to them, I wouldn’t presume to be qualified to pick either option for you. It is easy for people to compare an older man who has already had a wife and family now as a widower contemplating the rest of his years in celibacy to your option one as a gay man. I can understand that for you,
    as a young man who yearns for these experiences, there is no comparison. As for option two, I totally understand your comparisons to a hererosexual person trying to make a go of homosexual marriage. I would truly hope for you that there could be a third or fourth option that fit you better. But I hope you don’t discount those very very few who have made this option work. I know a young RM who calls himself SSA, not gay, who is married with two young wonderful sons. He and his wife dated in high school, and she went into the marriage with eyes wide open, knowing full well his situation and hers. Time will tell, but I respect both of them for their choice.

  149. “With what you knew, what did you do to help others?” Using all the patient “Job”-like stories, long-suffering persuasions, research, and encouragment filled with gay laughter that I can muster up (mustard seeds or muster seeds?), I try to help gay and straight members learn about the human mind, feelings, and how to see Divinity beyond Mormonism. I was 49 years old when I finally came out gay, 50 when I left Mormonism in great anger, and 54 and married to a good, kind, ex-Mormon man who loves me, too. I “lost” my testimony of Mormonism, and I gained a real world of beauty and divinity, and I still sing “Whenever I hear the song of a bird, or look at the blue, blue sky . . . Heavenly Mother or Divinity or Vishnu or Supreme Being, loves me.” My TBM family say I “lost” my testimony. I say that I found the full beauty of the earth. Hey, that’s a hymn, too!

  150. @ Bro. B 3:44 pm
    Thank you for your thoughts. I don’t discount those that have made a mixed-orientation marriage work. I just know that statistically, it’s so unlikely to be successful. I have several friends who have in recent years entered into those marriages. They are all divorced now.
    Their anecdotal experiences combined with statistics, and the fact that i really have no desire for emotional, social, intellectual, or sexual intimacy with a woman means that it would have to be some staggeringly miraculous feat.
    Let me reveal something about myself, somewhat humorously, but in all seriousness. If concentrating on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show does nothing for me, then I don’t think there’s any hope (or help) for me in that arena.

  151. @ kevinrex4 4:35
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I know it can be difficult interacting with family within the church, hopefully the inherent goodness in the relationship will bring them around.

  152. JD: the evolutionary bio theories were more for other readers than they were for you, despite the fact that I quoted you – I don’t necessarily appreciate those who argue that it lacks evolutionary benefit. If nothing else, it can’t be damaging to a significant degree or it wouldn’t happen.

    “ really have no desire for emotional, social, intellectual…intimacy with a woman ”
    Surely you don’t mean that you don’t desire these things, but that your interest in women socially, emotionally, and intellectually would not adequately form a basis for a romantic relationship? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but surely you don’t mean that you don’t have a desire to closely relate to any women on a social, intellectual, or emotional level.

  153. @ KLN 7:20 pm
    Your correction is correct. I definitely enjoy social relationships with women, i just wanted to emphasize both the fact that I don’t have that drive/desire for all aspects of female intimacy like I do for all aspects of male intimacy, and that my desire for male intimacy is multifaceted, encompassing more than just sex. I discovered that disparity while dating at BYU.

  154. KLN – different people have different needs, and they can’t always be summed up in “you only like x, but surely not in this way”. I know people who are romantically attracted to women but socially prefer to be around men. Personally, I really don’t have a desire for being around or forming any emotional, social, or intellectual anything with men. I don’t really understand them, feel an outsider hanging around them, and am much more comfortable in the company of women.

    Anyway, let’s try not putting others into our own ill fitting boxes.

  155. I confess that a flag goes up if a man says he has no interest in relating to women intellectually or emotionally. JD did not seem like a person who meant what that can occasionally mean, and I wanted to clarify. I respect what you have to say and agree that one can want different things from different sexes.

  156. Emotionally on a friendship level, obviously. Women can provide helpful emotional support outside of romantic contexts. I also know men who are attracted to women but prefer the company of men socially- I would argue that they’re the norm among heterosexual men, and I would be unhappy to be dating someone who is uninterested in my gender unless they’re looking for a romantic partner.

  157. MrShorty says:

    JD said: “I find that there are inherent problems in allowing theological speculation of the premortal and postmortal existence (even of the earnest variety) to serve as evidentiary support for policies within mortality. ”
    I don’t know why, but this statement seemed profound to me.

    For whatever reason, it reminded me of some searching I did months ago about how other Christian (especially more liberal) churches handle the LGBT questions. I was very impressed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) approach. Basically, they decided that there are good Christians on all sides of the issue. Rather than try to decide which side has “the Truth (TM)”, then felt it was more important to encourage Christians from all sides of this issue to worship together, learn together, and share their church space. So, the ELCA chooses not to take a side on the issue (see the section “Lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships” beginning on page 18: http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/SexualitySS.pdf ). Even with the added benefit of modern revelation, we seem to split along the same lines, but we insist on othering anyone who does not like our heteronormative philosophies.

    Ultimately, as I hear stories of people like Tom Christofferson, John Gustav-Wrathall, JD, Josh and Lolly Weed, and others, my hope always is that they will find some way to continue their association with the LDS Church. I wish the LDS Church had a better approach to these issues so that it was easier for them to continue their associations with her.

  158. “i really have no desire for emotional, social, intellectual, or sexual intimacy with a woman means that it would have to be some staggeringly miraculous feat”

    This is the part that church leaders do not understand. They think that homosexuality is only about sex. Plenty of couples have lousy sex lives and make marriage work, so the thought is that gay people and their spouses should also be able to make that sacrifice. The problem is that orientation is not only about sex–it is about all the kinds of intimacy JD enumerates. Mixed-orientation marriages have far more difficult problems than bad sex. (btw, the lifespan for those marriages among Mormons is approximately 10 + n years, where n is the number of children they have.)

  159. Bro. B. says:

    Anon, not disagreeing with any of your points, just curious, where did you get your data?

  160. Purely anecdotal.

  161. “Let me reveal something about myself, somewhat humorously, but in all seriousness. If concentrating on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show does nothing for me, then I don’t think there’s any hope (or help) for me in that arena.”

    This comment made me lol, so funny!

    In the same vein, I know I’m hetero because the beach volleyball scene in Top Gun does nothing for me. (I mean…not nothing, Mav’s smile is electric, and those jeans are practically painted on…and don’t get met started on Iceman’s awesome hair….but other than that, nothing.)

  162. MikeInWeHo says:

    “I will fight the desire to die and achieve a terminal resolution.”

    This is the hallmark sentiment of someone stuck in an abusive relationship. I’m sad for you, JD.

  163. @MikeInWeHo 12:42 pm
    Thank you for your comment. You aren’t the first to equate LGBTQ individuals in the Church to being stuck in an abusive relationship. I definitely can understand that feeling. I’ve been fortunate through my life experiences (primarily in courses at BYU of all places) to develop a greater sense of spiritual autonomy in regards to church leadership. I gained a greater realization that the complex interactions with social issues or science were indeed that – complex, and not the simple binary responses that I had been taught growing up in the church. When i interact with my friends, however, I realize that much of my experience is due to chance and my own privilege – my ability to learn from faith affirming professors who never shied away from engaging with controversial topics, my scientifically trained mind that never bought into the specious reparative therapy or marriage therapy claims, and finally my own independent nature. This, however, has not saved me from the thought of suicide. This is a key point that I want to emphasize to everyone who will listen, that suicide is still an issue within the LDS LGBT community – no matter what an individual’s choices may be. Having a mortal theology with explicit exclusion of LGBT individuals can certainly make it easier for me to feel superfluous on this earth, celibate or not. Admissions from General Authorities that we DO fit within the Lord’s plan, (but that they have no idea how) are well-intentioned but not entirely helpful. For the general membership (as well as all leadership), deciding that it is inappropriate to engage with this issue head on in mortality because “God has already spoken, and we need no more” or “God will fix it all in the eternities” is certainly inappropriate. I’ve never found the idea that anyone should outsource conscience to leaders or timeshift our engagement to the eternities to be particularly inspiring.

  164. MikeInWeHo says:

    “…..well-intentioned but not entirely helpful.” Um, it’s a bit worse than that.

    Those kind of statements from GAs are disingenuous and extremely harmful. How can LGBT members not feel suicidal on a regular basis? They desperately want acceptance from an organization that clearly isn’t going to provide it during their lifetime. The LDS church and Mormon culture regularly beat them down, yet some keep coming back. Interpreting that as anything other than profoundly dysfunctional and unhealthy is to engage in denial, exactly the way someone in an abusive marriage thinks “Someday he will change.”

    I had the good fortune to attend Gay Pride events all over the world this year. The diversity and vibrancy of the LGBT community is such a joy to behold. Not being able to fully come out and find the love and romance that one is meant to have, just to cling to membership in an anti-gay sect…is beyond tragic.

  165. @MikeInWeHo 2:46 pm
    Regarding GA statements, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. I do actually believe that they are earnest – and that the majority of the time they strongly believe in what they are saying, even when what they are saying has been patently false and demonstrably damaging. In this instance particularly, I appreciate the willingness of E Ballard to admit to not knowing. Admitting to not knowing something is the first step to being open to “further light and knowledge”, and is much better than any statement expressing assumptions stated as facts.
    I truly appreciate your concern, but don’t read into an abusive relationship in my situation in my writing – I don’t have a specific hope that “someday [they] will change.” At this stage, nobody else writes my story – I do. Channel concern and efforts toward those who haven’t been as privileged as I (or you) have been. Help those who still hear specious claims from parents and leaders and communities – counter falsehoods with truth. Encourage cooperation with local wards and stakes to actually implement Elder Ballard’s call to “listen to and understand what LGBT members are feeling and experiencing.” I write this to everyone, including myself. Like I stated in my post, I will continue to daily and directly seek for the voice of the Lord in my own life. I will highlight the best of the church while kindly countering false claims. And I will continue to attend church, wearing my colorful socks – and on my own terms, between me and the Lord.

  166. MikeInWeHo says:

    Sometimes I need to remind myself that I haven’t been LDS for over three decades nor have I ever lived in a Mormon-dominated area where heteronormativity is the background color of the very fabric of society. I’ve lived in gay neighborhoods in major cities my whole adult life. As such, I know I can’t really understand the life experience of someone so deeply involved in a conservative religious community that they can’t even seriously consider just leaving.

    That said, I stand by my assertion that regularly experiencing a wish to die is a sign of something very, very wrong in one’s life circumstances.

  167. You are correct. As many wise priesthood leaders have said, “If it’s a choice between the Church and you being alive, choose your life every time.”
    But that shouldn’t have to be the choice.