Oman, A Possible Theology of Same-Sex Marriage Sealings

This morning, Nate Oman posted what may be the most important and consequential piece of Mormon theology I’ve read in a long time over on his Substack. In it, he explores whether and how same-sex sealings could fit in Latter-day Saint theology.

Those of you who know Nate will be unsurprised to find that it is a thoughtful, careful, insightful, empathetic, and fundamentally faithful exploration. He takes as his cue D&C 9, which both describes a stupor of thought as evidence that what we do is not aligned with God’s will and instructs us to study questions out in our mind to figure out what is right, then present our findings to the Lord for confirmation.

Nate also doesn’t let ideas off easy. While acknowledging that the church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community does not feel just or fair, he doesn’t consider that, of itself, a compelling theological argument for same-sex sealings. At the same time, he finds our assumption of “heterosexual exaltation” equally baseless.

Instead, he advocates what I will call a theology of humility. He sketches the gaps in our understanding and application of sealings both today and through church history, how those gaps undercut our easy assumptions, and why those gaps allow for same-sex sealings.

Ultimately, Nate lives by his theology of humility. While he presents his theological analysis, he acknowledges that, in the end, he does not get to make policy decisions for the church. But he makes a compelling case for why LDS doctrines of sealing and family leave plenty of space for same-sex sealings.

You should read his piece. If you missed the link above, it’s here: “A Welding Link of Some Kind”: A Minimalist Theology of Same-Sex Marriage Sealings.

(Because Nate’s Substack doesn’t have comments, you’re welcome to comment on and discuss his article in the comments here. But please read his article first. I can almost guarantee you that, whatever you assume he says, you’re wrong. Or, at least, I was. I learned a lot and was deeply edified reading it. So enjoy!)


  1. This couldn’t come at a better time. My teenagers were quizzing me in this very subject tonight!

  2. A legitimately excellent essay. If I were hired to advise the Church though (which I never would be, obvs) I have to advise them against it. It might be the right thing to do, but I think it would hurt growth. I’m not sure how much that type of consideration weighs upon the decision makers in the LDS hierarchy, but I can’t imagine they *never* think about it.

  3. Immense thanks for sharing this. It deeply reflects the conversation I literally had last night with my son, who is currently serving a mission. In particular, the framework of expansive vision and theological humility. Very much appreciate Nate having crystalized so many of the same ideas, in a much more organized and well-written way.

  4. I loved the analysis. As someone who was sealed to his wife in the same year as Oman (1999), and who supports SSM and prays for the full inclusion of LGBT members, I’ll offer a few thoughts to this important discussion.
    First, as a realist, I can’t see SS sealings taking place without several interim steps coming first. The sealing language is still markedly male-female (despite recent improvements) and so including SS couples in the ordinance would also require finally dropping the baseless notion of gender essentialism. That isn’t happening anytime soon. More realistic would be allowing SS marriages, including in the temple, but waiting on sealings. Church policy currently provides for couples to be married in the temple even though they are past the age to bear children and even though they do not intend to be sealed eternally(because each is already sealed to a prior spouse who died). It’s not that big step to grant the same temporal marriages to SS couples.
    Secondly, the key driver of any change will not be whether an expanded sealing practice is doctrinally workable, but whether the unions are seen as fundamentally good. Christ taught to judge trees by their fruit. The reason I repented and began supporting SS marriage (and why I believe most member who similarly repented have done so) is not because of equality or fairness arguments (valid as those may be) but because I saw the fruit of the marriages and could not in good conscience label evil what I knew to be good. This is why we are losing so many valiant members due to this issue. The marriages and families are good fruit. The church is in opposition to goodness.
    While exercises such as Oman’s are valuable and ultimately necessary parts of the building, they are just castles in the sky until the foundation is laid – the foundation being that these marriages and families are good and therefore something we must seek after (AofF 13).

  5. kevinwessman says:

    This is beautiful. I’m amazed that Nate articulated not just an argument, but a potential path forward that respects and builds on the great work that’s come before while also keeping the doctrine of compassion and love at its core. Thank you, Nate. Thank you, Sam, for bringing this to a greater audience.

  6. your food allergy says:

    I appreciate Nate’s articulation that we have an internal theological contradiction in venerating marriage and family while excluding so many people from that life. From a viewpoint of advocacy and “from your lips to the brethren’s ears,” I only wish he would not have provided such an explicit template for a possible revelation, which I fear only guarantees we won’t be seeing something like it because he is now the originator of it rather than them.

  7. I appreciate the essay’s framing of the three understandings of/justifications for sealings (kingdom, lineage, and family)-that is a handy and helpful categorization. It is especially instructive in the sense that it foregrounds the continually-changing self-understanding that Church has of its own practices. This type of shifting is present in many other areas (consider how JSmith’s understanding of ‘priesthood’ changed between 1830 and 1840).

    Interestingly, my wife and I were just talking about the various types of sealings (past and present) and came, generally, to the same conclusion as the essay: If sealing is, at its core, about linking together all of God’s children, then individuals should chose to whom that whom link is made and there should be no limits on that (in a sense, much like, but not the same as, the early practice of priesthood adoptions, we need to take the ‘sex’ out of it–not hetrosexual sealings, not homosexual sealings, just people being linked to people). If, in the end, the goal is to link everyone to everyone else, and given how very little we _really_ know about the afterlife, it seems that there is nothing to prohibit a more open, gracious approach. Other than, of course, the way-it-is-now.

    All that said, if one views the shifts from kingdom to lineage to family as part of an inspired, prophetically guided shift that brought us closer and closer to the ‘right way’ of doing sealings–and I think there is a large contingent of LDS members who take that approach (an approach implicitly supported, BTW, by The Family: A Declaration to the World)–then this kind of theological move is much more difficult to make. “Proclamation Mormons” (I don’t mean that derisively) would likely respond to the essay by saying, “yeah… we’re doing sealings more-correctly now than they were in the past, and thus we have no right to change current practice.”

    So, as much as I appreciate (and, as noted above, agree with) the approach, I wonder how it speaks to those who see the current iteration of sealing practices as revealed “T”ruth?

  8. Oops…

    “…(an approach implicitly supported, BTW, by The Family: A PROCLAMATION to the World)…”

    Silly mistake; sorry folks.

  9. Stephen Hardy says:

    I would like to thank Nate Oman for this essay. At my last temple recommend interview, at both the ward and stake level, I brought up my sympathy for, and advocacy for, LGBTQIA+ individuals. I have become more confident in proclaiming my hope in the day when sealings between our brothers and sisters who are in these groups will take place, thus assuming full participation and welcoming of LGBTQIA+ members into our church. I am not confident, however, that at this time that I actually “belong” in the church. Perhaps my beliefs are so far afield of core shared beliefs (reflected by the temple questions) that maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to go to the temple. Both the Bishop’s counselor, and the SP’s counselor that I spoke to did not appear troubled by my stance and I breezed through the other questions. I have maintained my recommend.

    The Stake Presidency member who I interviewed with surprised me by asking me how I square my advocacy for LGBTQIA+ individuals with scripture, with doctrine, with church practice. Oddly enough I wasn’t prepared for that and really fumbled my response. So much so that after a few weeks of reflection I sent him a (probably not looked for!) several page essay that attempted to explain my squaring of belief against certain oft-quoted Old Testament and New Testament passages, and current church attitudes and teachings that are used in support of our current church practices and policies. I am sure that I was not convincing, although he received my epistle graciously and repeated his belief that we should all love each other.

    How I wish I had Nate Oman’s essay here at the ready! I sometimes aspire to writing, but then I read something like this and decide that such writing is best left to him and others like him who are able to say what I want to say, only better, clearer, and more convincingly.

    Thank you Nate Oman for saying something I have wanted to say, but saying it better than I can. Reading your essay was like an experience of a very thirsty person in the desert getting a drink of refreshing cool water. It satisfied, edified, and sustained.

  10. Stephen Hardy says:

    I would like to make one other observations about this excellent essay. I was speaking recently to an active, lesbian, returned missionary member who wryly commented that members of the church who are gay talk about the “great gay holocaust” in the next life when all humanity will apparently be cleansed of any LGBTIA+ persons. She does NOT long for the day when she will be “cleansed” of her condition and finds it offensive when others assure her that such a thing will occur in the next life.

  11. Not a Cougar says:

    Thank you for sharing and I find Nate’s article very intriguing. As others have stated above, I don’t think it’s our theology that keeps us from receiving such a revelation, but rather the personnel currently in place tasked with receiving such revelations. I suspect they are eager to avoid a schism, and I can see such a revelation leading to a significant schism in the Church. Moreover, given the other problems the Church faces with regard to its history and the historicity of its founding documents and events, I believe this change would need to be made in concert with a bunch of other changes to keep in or entice back people who otherwise would leave or have left over this issue. In other words, aren’t those who are most anxious to receive such a revelation also those who are most likely to have significant concerns about the priesthood and temple ban, Church history and historicity, and the status of women in the Church? Such a revelation might be welcomed with open arms by many current and former members, but what I see as less likely is such a revelation in concert with a number of other changes that are necessary to keep progressive Mormons from walking away. Further, for those who have already left, honestly, how many would be willing to come back even if the Church addresses all of the issues? Or am I being too cynical and results-oriented?

  12. Thank you for sharing this excellent essay. I hope the author doesn’t face discipline for writing it. I did have one technical question though, based on this statement:
    “The law of adoption had a similar function. Instituted in the Nauvoo Temple shortly after Joseph’s martyrdom, this was the practice of sealing non-biologically related adults to Church leaders as adopted sons or daughters.”
    Were women ever adopted as daughters as part of the law of adoption? I’ve never seen an example of this in my large pioneer history. I have seen a lot of polygamy, and women being sealed as wives even to men they never were married to in life, but no adoptions of adult women.

  13. This essay, and the people who are reading it or will do so soon, is a watershed moment.

    Thank you and bravissimo.

  14. Tawna, the short answer is that yes, women were adopted at similar rates as men.

  15. Anon for This says:

    This blog is an echo chamber. I know many people that would leave the Church if the SS sealings were allowed.

  16. I think that’s true, Anon for this, but it does say something interesting about such a person’s faith in continuing revelation and prophetic authority vs their feeling icky about gay people. To the extent that their mind and heart and testimony couldn’t adjust to further light and knowledge with the official imprimatur of the Church, doesn’t that undermine any current claims to care about those things?

    It was strangely reassuring to see politically conservative members getting upset when general authorities said humane and generous things about immigrants a few years back. Turns out, some of those who used to make the most mouth noises about “cafeteria Mormons” will pick and choose like everyone else when the brethren challenge their political identities.

  17. Anon for This: I know many people who are leaving the Church now. “People will leave the Church” is not, by itself, a good reason not to do something.

  18. Anon, there are many of the regulars in this *echo chamber* who also know many people that would leave the Church if these married couples were allowed to be sealed. We know a lot of the same people. But the question, as always, remains. What is the best right thing to do? Oman’s essay illuminates that question without presuming to usurp the authority to suggest the definitive answer.

    Have you read it?

  19. Stephen Hardy says:

    Anon: You’re probably right. But similar things were said before and just after 1978 about church members not accepting racial changes in the priesthood

  20. Race is not sex. While teachings around race have ebbed and flowed throughout history from quite racist to “all are alike unto God”, you can find no doctrinal support for SSM at any point, in any dispensation, from any prophet or any scripture or from any society that has ever lived any version of the Gospel of Christ. It doesn’t exist. Not even if you torture the text or context beyond recognition.

    Nate Oman seems to think we can find a little gap in the policy and “with humility” insert SSM into the code and nothing bad would happen. Nonsense.

    If SSM exists in the heavens it will require an entire rewrite of the doctrine and teachings of the gospel to make it happen on earth. Only God can do that.

    I don’t know if I would leave the church if SSM were allowed in temples, but many would. Not because they are bigoted but because it is self-evident to them that the basis of society, and the basis of heaven, is a man and a woman together making covenants to God in marriage. If the church modifies that base understanding, it will need a better reason than a “theology of humility”.

  21. I’m confused just at the introduction used – “The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that a “stupor of thought” can be a prelude to revelation (D&C 9:9).” Huh? The way that section 9 is written suggests that the stupor of thought IS the revelation (“no”), not that it is a prelude to an answer. The studying out and asking is the prelude to the stupor of thought – not the other way around. What am I missing here?

  22. your food allergy says:

    M, is the basis of society and heaven a man and many women, including mothers and their daughters, making covenants in marriaage? Or one woman and many men? Or people being adopted into priesthood lineage kingdoms? I’m not so sure that what is self-evident to you aligns with what happens in our temples. If you want to restrict sealings in a certatin way, you will need a better reason than it is “self-evident.”

  23. You can always tell who read the assignment and who didn’t.

  24. M, just because people commented before I saw it, I’m not deleting your comment. But you very clearly didn’t read Nate’s article. Please don’t comment unless you did.

    Nate F, same goes for you. I briefly and broadly summarized his work, but I didn’t do it in detail or in a way that does justice to his argument. So until you actually read what he wrote, you’re probably going to remain confused.

    Seriously, though: it takes maybe five or ten minutes to read. It’s incredibly thoughtful and well-done. And it may be the most valuable 5 or 10 minutes of reading you do today.

  25. Sam, I assume “Nate F” is me (Adam F)? If so, I direct cut-and-pasted from his article … don’t cast stones! It was a legitimate question that dealt with what was apparently the intro to his article.

  26. Sam, I read it. every word. I did not find it thoughtful, I found it to be wholly inadequate to addressing the situation the church faces. In my original comment, I was also responding to some of the comments made before me and not just Nate’s article.

  27. Agree with Nate’s conception of a theologically workable endpoint. As a practical matter I’m more concerned with the starting point: dropping the 11/2015 policy.

  28. Adam, sorry. Doing this quickly, and sorry for my assumption. I did a surface-level-at-best summary of his arguments. But I find his collective stupor-of-thought metaphor apt and a tremendously Mormon way of framing an apparently intractable problem. Certainly it falls apart at some point, but then, so does the whole stupor-of-thought thing.

    M, then I don’t know what to say. He takes a careful, thoughtful, and faithful approach to a very real problem. He doesn’t demand change, but he illustrates how change is entirely compatible with our current theology, and how current assumptions around sealings are not grounded either in history or revelation. If ultimately you don’t find that thoughtful or adequate, I truly don’t know what you would be looking for.

  29. Adam F, I’m clearly not Nate Oman, but I’ll offer a possible explanation of what the essay is suggesting. First, the next sentence of the essay reads, “I believe this describes the present position of the Church.” To me, Nate could be saying one of two things: 1) The Church currently doesn’t have an answer or really much of a response for gay people in Heaven other than “we don’t know”; they have a stupor of thought which means their assumption that can’t be married or sealed might be wrong. 2) When Nate prays (as have many faithful members) about the Church’s current position, he gets a stupor of thought, which means that the Church’s current might be wrong. With either 1 or 2, the essay continues to suggest that perhaps, then, there is a solution that would not cause a ‘stupor of thought’–one that reason studying it out. And then Nate does that.

  30. Yikes, sorry for the typos. I hope that still makes sense.

  31. It’s a well thought out article, thanks for the link. I’m still in the camp of “the theology of heterosexual exaltation” though. The question that I’m still open about is what to do about on earth. I don’t think that same sex sealings are correct, but I am open to opening the law of chastity to include same sex for time only marriages. I can’t help but suspect that part of the next life will include working on removing part of our identities we gained in this mortal life, by repentance when we no longer have the fallibilities of our mortal bodies weighing us down.

  32. Jader3rd, I couldn’t quite parse your grammar, but it sort of reads like you’re saying being gay is a sin and something to be repented of. If that’s not what you’re saying, a clarification is in order. Otherwise, you’re preaching your own doctrine here and it’s an ugly one.

  33. I’ll also take this moment to respond to M, who writes, “If SSM exists in the heavens it will require an entire rewrite of the doctrine and teachings of the gospel to make it happen on earth. Only God can do that.”

    Let’s make that statement actually accurate: “If SSM exists in the heavens it will require an entire rewrite of the doctrine and teachings of the Church to make it happen on earth. Only “people who ask and wrestle with” God can do that.

    The gospel, as defined by Jesus, says nothing whatsoever about marriage.

  34. And again to M, who writes: “I don’t know if I would leave the church if SSM were allowed in temples, but many would. Not because they are bigoted but because it is self-evident to them that the basis of society, and the basis of heaven, is a man and a woman together making covenants to God in marriage.”

    I won’t follow the contemporary conservative mantra of “If you don’t like it, leave!” because I think you and those many should stay. Also, you must realize that the second part of your comment basically argues that gay people never existed in society, which is factually wrong and . . . you guessed it, bigoted.

  35. At the core of Oman’s argument is that our theology of family & marriage flows from the temple. Is it possible that our ceremonies in the temple flow from our theology of family? Changes to the administration & organization might reflect a greater clarity of our theology.

    When Oman posits that we have a basic uncertainty of the nature of eternal relationships – we do know that 1) we are created in our creator’s image, 2) for their world, procreations are dependent on heterosexuality and 3) when creating His only begotten, Heavenly Father leveraged some semblance (we don’t know all the specifics) of a heterosexual relationship.

    There is also the rub for the theology of eternal homosexuality… If it is correct, and a same sex couple achieves exaltation and has creations in the eternity, then I am going to assume those creations are based on what we call male/female union. If this is the case, then to whom does the female creation look toward as diety – if both are male? If this couple is able to create in a male/male union yet to be understood, then does this dismiss females from previous creations as being inferior or unnecessary?

    Oman proceeds from a point of “we don’t know if sexuality is important” and then builds the case for sealing from there. I’m not sure the starting point is correct.

    I think his argument for opening the windows for homosexual sealings is that we have a history of muddled execution (whether initial priesthood adoptions, challenges polygamy left, or just plain record keeping where we have the mixed sealings he illustrates) – though I would contend that though “millions” of ordinances happened, the ones that conflict w/ today’s guidance are actually few. And since we’ve muddled it in the past – the door is open (and I agree) to changes in the future. I don’t see the “sprawling multiplicity of sealing practices” that the author sees – but we’re talking about adjectives and one man’s mountain is another man’s mole hill.

    Lastly, when Oman says we have not had a “single model of marriage”, I would argue that aside from temple work record administration challenges, we have had 2 – male/female, and male/females, and since the manifesto we have (thankfully) had one.

    I love that Oman goes down this path – and it’s good discussion. I could not agree more when he says “I long for a way in which gay & lesbian LDS can live within the kind of faithful, covenanted and committed companionship that the Church rightly holds out as the good life.” And I commend that he does this in a way showing great “loyalty to the Restoration”.

  36. “If this couple is able to create in a male/male union yet to be understood, then does this dismiss females from previous creations as being inferior or unnecessary?”

    Interesting thought experiment, that I’ve wondered about because Adam and Eve were both the creations of male only Gods. (Not to mention the rest of the entirety of the creation story. ) This has always been a negative for me when faced with the temple ceremony (silenced, invisible HM), but it can open a secondary arguement for possibilities about the actual nature of creation.

  37. I am corresponding with Nate directly, so I’ll be very brief here. All in my opinion:
    1. Good work. I agree with Nate almost word for word.
    2. You have to want a solution before the analysis makes sense. I want a solution. Nate wants a solution. But because the Church does not yet accept civil marriage, I doubt the powers that be (and likely many members in the pews) want a solution any different than the status quo.
    3. “We don’t know” is critical to Nate’s analysis and recommendation. I’m afraid the Church has spent too many decades teaching that we have answers for we don’t know to be an easy sell.
    4. The way I parse it, in order to move from we don’t know to a positive theology we will have to wrestle with fundamental, even radical, concerns about gender and about priesthood. I don’t see any willingness to go down that very deep rabbit hole.

  38. steelbright says:

    The essay shows with great effectiveness that considering the Church’s collective sealing policies over time can culminate into only one reasonable conclusion regarding what familial and other sealed relationships will look like after death: We don’t know and God will work it all out in the end.

    Albeit with deference to the ecclesiastical authorities who are in positions to make such a decision, it shows with equal effectiveness that erring on the side of inclusivity rather than harmful exclusivity is the obvious Christlike reaction to such ambiguity.

    It is satisfying to see that someone is taking seriously the fact that we think we know much more than we actually do and then putting in the effort to articulate the implications of that for all of us.

    Well done. Thanks very much for sharing!

  39. lehcarjt – the legacy of Moses’ and other’s world view and its impact on how theology flowed through them is another topic. I think we do find breadcrumbs in Genesis, specific references in modern scripture and clearly church leaders with a warm interest in greater understanding and probing as to Heavenly Mother, priesthood and women in the kingdom. If a male/female pairing of deity is what we’re supposed to take from that – then a same sex pairing of deity would need to find support from entirely new scripture & revelation – still leaving women or men in whichever same sex pairing out of the picture when looking toward the heavens.

  40. Aussie Mormon says:

    Brian: “The gospel, as defined by Jesus, says nothing whatsoever about marriage.”

    “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Gen 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Mark 10:7; Moses 3:24; Abr. 5:18

    Looks to me like it’s firmly a part of the gospel.

    pconnornc:”Lastly, when Oman says we have not had a “single model of marriage”, I would argue that aside from temple work record administration challenges, we have had 2 – male/female, and male/females, and since the manifesto we have (thankfully) had one.”

    Except it wasn’t male/females because each of the marriages was separate (the women were not married to each other, and divorcing one didn’t affect the marital status of the others). So it was multiple simultaneous male/female two-person marriages, rather than a 3+ person marriage. And as far as sealings are concerned (which is what the whole article is about), can still be done today (i.e. a second sealing after remarriage without termination of the first).

    On to the article itself. I’m not convinced. He says that “The Church has never sealed same-sex marriages in its temples, but such unions could fit under the categories of “covenants,” “bonds,” “vows,” and “connections.” “.
    Then saying since we do other sealing-related things we don’t know the implication of, we should also do same-sex marriage sealings.

    The thing is though, following that logic opens up the other things he mentioned under the sealing power. So if it is about forming a welding-link, why shouldn’t someone be able to be sealed to their friend without being married to them? Or two siblings being sealed directly to each other rather than having to be linked by their parents? Or a child being sealed to just one parent (if for example nothing about the other one is known)?

    He opens up this grand idea about the possibilities of what could be done with the sealing authority, and then crams it back down into marriage sealings, but just adding same-sex marriages to the mix.

  41. Aussie, I explicitly wrote the gospel as defined by Jesus. He did define it. You seem good at looking up scriptures. Go for it.

  42. Someone somewhere above (forgive me for not rereading every single comment to remember who) made a comment about how this topic is impacted based on how we see the progression of sealing focus from kingdom to lineage to family. If that progression is one that gets us “closer to the truth” as one might say, then that is worth considering.

    I noticed as I read Oman’s essay (which, by the way, for a thoughtful reader takes substantially longer than 5 or 10 minutes) that he bases the majority of his suppositions on precedence. I then noticed that he is an attorney, so that makes sense that he would focus on precedence as a guide. Certainly we all follow many scriptural and canonical precedents as guides when making choices. However, I think that precedent alone is not enough reason to assume that there is wiggle room for same-sex sealings. Let me be clear, my heart aches about this topic. I have friends in same sex marriages and have observed happy, healthy, enriching relationships. I do not know what the eternities hold for them or how God reconciles it.

    I do think it might be good if the Church acknowledged SSM and truly created space for SS couples in our congregations, however I am not confident that Oman’s interpretation demonstrates theological “room” for SS sealings. Especially when we consider the Proclamation, the Handbook, and recent emphasis in handbook updates that gender being essential to eternal identity means biological gender, not gender identities that may differ from physical sex. While trying to be more inclusive, Church leadership has also doubled down on this position and the statements from the Family Proclamation over the years.

    All in all, I have no alternate solution to present. I appreciate greatly how Oman emphasizes the rift that we are seeing in LDS culture and the need to update something in the Church to maintain cohesiveness.

    In the end, I agree with Oman that we really don’t know. There is so much that is vague, ill-defined, and has changed over the years. However, I really was hoping for something a bit more substantial in his argument than “a vague precedent may allow room for SSM sealings of vague significance”. What would be the point of such an ordinance? What would the wording of the ordinance be? It seems to me that over time the nature and intention of ordinances have become increasingly more clear (although still not 100% understood) instead of less. I too want a resolution for this dissonance in the gospel, but I do not think Oman’s essay contains it. I DO think, however, that it is a fantastic thing that he has thought through and written this essay. Such thoughtful discussions need to continue.

  43. Perhaps some of us in progressive Mormon circles are too quick to assume the majority of our co-religionists would be unable to recover from policies and theology that embraced LGBTQ+ members. This might have been true even ten years ago, and there is certainly overt homophobia in many (most?) congregations; I don’t deny that. Still, the last time the issue came up in my quite conservative and none-too-young Relief Society during a discussion of President Oak’s most recent conference address, I made a comment among the lines of how painful the Latter-day Saint experience can be for our LGBTQ+ siblings and those of us who love them. “My daughter,” said a member of the RS presidency, “my nephew and his ex-husband,” said the teacher, “my granddaughter,” said someone else. Many, many heads were nodding; more than a few were in tears. There was a lot of pain in that room, and a lot of trying-and-not-quite-succeeding to square the church’s teachings with the lived experience of their friends and family members.

    I agree there are still tremendous institutional impediments in play.

    But if we do make progress as a people here, it will be in large part due to the bravery of the daughters, nephews, and granddaughters shouldering enormous burdens to live their lives openly. To be out even in 2022, and especially in an LDS context, is a tremendous act of courage. It is the hardest and most crucial work. But change will also come because of people like Nate. I am deeply grateful.

  44. @Brian, I very well may be preaching my own doctrine, and it may be very wicked. Although, I don’t know if it’s so much preaching as it is me stating what weighs on my mind. My thought process is thus: if a couple gets sealed and one remains righteous and the other falls away, does the righteous individual receive all of the rewards for being righteous? I believe that they do. I could not believe that God could be just otherwise. So it kind of doesn’t matter who you are sealed to, so much as it matters that you’ve made the sealing covenant and live up to that covenant. You’ve proven in mortality that you can be a good spouse. So if a big part of a righteous life is to prove that you can be a good spouse, could it be possible to prove that via gay marriage? The purpose is not to be sealed to that individual, but to prove yourself a worthy partner. If that’s the case I could see room for non-sealing, same sex marriages to move from abhorrent to tolerated. And I can only see them as being tolerated under the condition that the end goal is shed the homosexual identity once the body is no longer mortal. I’m not convinced that all homosexual tendencies evaporate away once resurrected (as stated in the article). It very well could be a humbling process for some to give up that part of their identity in the next life. I imagine if so that many will be too prideful to do that.
    I cannot see room same sex sealings (even after reading the linked article).
    But all my musings depend upon how bad/wicked homosexual acts are. It very well could be that they are sufficiently sinful to outweigh the proving of being a good, committed spouse. It could be that its more important to never experience sexual relations in this life, and hope that resurrection will change you later on. That doesn’t seem fair to me though, which contributes to my musings.
    Sorry if my grammar is still equally unparsable.

  45. As a person with a Mormon background who is actually in a same-sex marriage, I read Nate Oman’s essay with interest. I hope my perspective will be welcome here.

    The idea, floated in the past 15 years or so by some LDS leaders, that sexual orientation will be ‘cured’ in the afterlife via some kind of amazingly effective celestial reparative therapy is in my view a harmful one. As Oman points out, many of us who are gay feel that changing our orientation would be so profound a change as to be equivalent to death of the self. But in addition, the idea of major, in fact wrenching, transformation of one’s personality and other attributes of the self in the life hereafter strongly contradicts prior LDS teaching on the continuity of earthly and post-mortal personhood. In essence, the ‘doctrine of eternal homosexuality’ is strongly in line with past LDS teaching on the eternal nature of the self, while the novel idea of mandatory celestial reparative therapy is just a band-aid to stop the ‘theology of eternal heterosexuality’ from bleeding.

    I really appreciated Oman’s background on sealing for the purposes of kingdom, lineage and family. I remember thinking many years ago, that if servants could be sealed to masters or men sealed to men by adoption, then it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for same-sex partners to be sealed to each other in one form or another. Sealing covers a lot of territory.

    Unfortunately, I fear that Oman’s ideas are dead on arrival in the current church. What needs to happen first is to simply stop the excommunication of same-sex married couples and instead to offer them and their children a place in the pews. I’m not even asking for temple recommends here; just an end to excommunication and overt shunning. This step alone, which is purely a matter of policy and not doctrine, could allow members of the church to get to know gay people firsthand and to heal the divisions that are currently tearing the church apart.

  46. Brian, I’m late in replying, but your treatment on what Nate might have meant with his framing of the “stupor of thought” made sense. And very well could be what he meant! If we are open to considering that the Church’s position currently is a stupor of thought, we should also be open enough to consider that perhaps the position is the opposite – that it is one that they received a witness to continue on the path they’re on. I don’t know!

    Which brings me to the article itself after having thought about it for the past day (no means an assertion that I’ve thought about it long enough). I can agree with his premise – “we don’t know”. That certainly seems to be the case, though again maybe we are looking at things wrong. Maybe the leadership doesn’t know *why* but they have received confirmation on the *how*? Perhaps that sounds too apologetic.

    I struggle with the precedents listed for sealing as justification/theological harmonization for suggesting sealings for SSMs. None of the precedents even suggested sealing two men together or two women together in a marital relationship. As other(s) I believe have alluded to in the comments, at best this provides justification for sealings to others in non-marital relationships. Which, fine. But that certainly would not reach the level desired for in the article. Even amidst all the tangles of sealings done in our history in temples, I’m not seeing any precedential practices that would appear to theologically justify sealing same sex marriages in the temple. At least to me, “we don’t know,” while an appropriate assessment of current circumstance, is fundamentally wanting as a theological justification.

  47. I found his essay fascinating but I see a gaping hole in Nate’s reasoning. And I say this as someone who is uncomfortable with the church’s current position on same sex relationships.

    Sealings by adoption involve pulling people into a bonded relationship that is a familial one in nature, but not necessarily a marital one. Marital sealings involve either hetero marriages or a special revelatory exception which existed for a variation of hetero marriages: polygany– one man, multiple wives.

    Situations where sealings may indirectly tie more than one man into a marriage do not involve individuals whom are all living at the same time and the church acknowledges the “we don’t know/it’ll get fixed later” escape clause. The living polygany exception contained a LOT of special circumstances, including one of the most controversial revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132. And church history suggests it took Joseph upwards of a decade to put it into place. And that was for what was a variation of hetero marriage. …which was temporary, at least in mortality where sexual relations and procreation was involved.

    I think Nate’s proposal is a much bigger leap than he makes it out to be. He is suggesting taking a version of the ordinance that is intended and has been intended for non-sexual relationships and/or for those who are dead or sealed to those who are dead and reworking the legalistic framework on that basis for sexual relationships for those who are living for a definition of marriage that we have no scriptural basis for. At bare minimum, IMO, in order to do this you’d need a Section 132 style revelation. And we know that would rock the church. And this ignores the constant reinforcement, even from the last general conference, that same sex sexual relationships are forbidden. I’m not saying it’s not possible. But I am saying that if it took a decade for 132, and as one knows, some significant turmoil before and after, then Nate’s reasoning is insufficient for such a policy change. It is not a policy change is what I’m saying.

    I also want to point out that questions of whether or not people lose same sex attraction after the resurrection is only one of the most severe consequential questions that I have. This falls into the same category of: does everyone end up with the same skin color/lose all aspects of their race? That is at least as consequential of a question, IMO and one I think that is also just as rattling. And similar to that, one that we presumably know: we will all speak the same language. Language is a significant cultural identifier. It appears we will lose that. All of us. As someone married to a non-native English speaker, I lament that. I love the multi-cultural nature of our bilingual household.

    All I’m saying is that I think we are in for a lot of radical changes and we truly will have to “Trust in the Lord” on this…I think it will be hard for all of us. I’m not minimizing the feelings that those with same-sex attraction have towards this, I’m just trying to paint a fuller picture. I think there’s a lot of fiery furnaces in our future, even for the righteous. There’s a lot of legitimate stuff I’m terrified to let go of, or that I might have to let go of. Is it really the case that we have to or not?

    I wish I had a better answer. I truly do not see a path forward on this. And that breaks my heart. Why same-sex attraction would be innate and then somehow not allowed is fundamentally unjust. I have no other words to put to it than that.

  48. MoHoHawaii, thank you for sharing your experience and perspective here; I appreciate it.

  49. It’s interesting to see the discussion here turn toward the dilemma inherent in Christian ideas about salvation. What starts as the hope that all our pain will be removed in heaven turns quickly into the realization that the things that most deeply characterize us might be magically negated. Further, the obstacles that create the possibility for our greatest growth and satisfaction might be magically removed. That’s actually a kind of hell.

    Nate Oman is right to put maximum emphasis on “we don’t know.” We would do well to pull way, way back on our speculations about what salvation looks like. The right place for our attention—all of our attention—is what we are doing here and now to love others. That’s the only thing we know anything about, and it’s the only thing we can do anything about.

    If you’re with me this far, you’ll ask what we’re doing in the temples if we don’t really know anything about eternal life. I believe we should let our understanding of the temple be guided by our experience of love in this life. Again, that’s the only thing we know anything about. Temple ordinances have changed so radically and so often that, frankly, it’s kind of stupid to think that they should not keep changing. We don’t know, and that’s okay.

  50. One thing missing from much of analysis above is that Nate’s work is merely an explanation to justify the change it wouldn’t be the reason for it. The reason given and taught from the pulpit would be because the First Presidency and the twelve received a revelation.

    Even when the writing was on the wall regarding the mistake the church had made regarding blacks and the priesthood President McKay realized that it would take a revelation to reverse the current practice.

    And much like Lester Bush’s article published in Dialogue these kind of pieces can offer others, including the 12, reasons to ponder and pray about it in order to receive a revelation.

  51. As an aside to Dave K “Church policy currently provides for couples to be married in the temple even though they are past the age to bear children and even though they do not intend to be sealed eternally(because each is already sealed to a prior spouse who died).” – Church policy no longer allows time only marriages in the temple.

  52. “Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’”

    Wislawa Szymborska (Polish poet awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996)

  53. I appreciate this essay for increasing the range of voices seeking ways to affirm same-sex marriages and relationships in the LDS church. If this essay, by presenting information in a performatively loyal mode, written by a scholar with an identity that makes him feel safe and unthreatening, reaches new eyes and ears and helps in some small way, someday, somewhere to make more space for LGBTQ people to flourish in the church, then praise be to God, Amen and Amen.

    But I admit I find the essay (and the effusive praise for it in this post) a genuine head-scratcher insofar as the essay is basically a tentative, cautious (a cynic, i.e. I in my cynical moments, might say homophobic-accommodating) restatement of ideas already presented and developed in greater detail by others that Oman doesn’t cite — most notably, Taylor Petrey and Blaire Ostler in their journal articles and books on the subject, but also Derek Knox in the Beyond the Block podcast and others.

    Maybe Oman deliberately avoided citing or crediting these others in order to present these ideas as more “respectable” and avoid any association with voices that are deemed too “radical” or “disloyal” (both traits he flicks at disapprovingly) or not “fundamentally faithful” (to cite the OP). If that is what he is deliberately doing, then I guess the hard-bitten pragmatic side of me finds it understandable — albeit another sad example of maladaptive behavior under the church’s patriarchal hierarchy. If he is not deliberately doing that, then I find it a sad reflection on the patriarchy in a different way — i.e. that someone as learned in the Mormon letters as Oman would not know of or credit the pathbreaking work of other scholars (including queer LDS themselves) who have developed these ideas at great lengths — much less engage with their ideas, build on them, illustrate where his ideas converge with and diverge from theirs.

    I find it even more befuddling that neither the OP nor even one person in the comment thread has referred to these ideas. They’re published by BCC Press and Dialogue for goodness sake. If Nate Oman becomes seen as the Lester Bush of the LGBTQ issue due to some strange collective amnesia of the work done in this vein over the last decade, including by queer folks, then it will be a genuine travesty. I guess it suggests that most people that engaged/engage with that content either don’t engage with BCC anymore or have more generally distanced themselves from discussions that in their de-ja-vu feel only serve to accentuate the maddeningly, depressingly stagnant state of LGBTQ inclusion in the church.

    (I’ve tried posting some version of this comment multiple times this week but for some reason it’s either not going through or getting stalled in the moderation queue. Trying again.)

  54. I’ve had to sit with this one for a bit, especially as it is a subject personal to me. I’m grateful for the article and the discussion it has invoked here, glad for there being few “this change would break us” comments (another pet peeve, but unrelated).

    I want to throw a bit of an extra dimension into the discussion, an aspect that wasn’t addressed – that currently there are temple marriages and sealings that have been done for people of the same gender, though that information may not have been known at the time. For example, I am still sealed to my wife. We are both women, and neither of us is inclined to try to have that sealing cancelled, even though we are in the process of divorcing.

    And before there are the inevitable objections of “gender ambiguity will be made right in the afterlife” (mimicking the similar argument against SSM), I’d remind of the instance where a transgender woman was approved to be sealed in the temple to a man in the 70’s, as well as the number of times that people with more easily defined intersex conditions have found their gender to be defined incorrectly and have had their gender marker in the Church updated.

  55. Rachel EO, thank you for the added context, things I don’t know of, or remember. And I want to know the full extent of the work that has been done, especially by queer members on their own behalf; we all should want to know. Of course, the pattern for change is that someone with respected position (cis) and priesthood office (male) needs to make the call before the PTB will listen. Whenever the church makes changes after a period of pressure to change, the erasure of those who worked for said change is disingenuous by those receiving credit, and painful to those who are erased. It’s an important contribution to Oman’s essay. Alma Frances Pellet’s comment adds another layer of history to consider as well.

    My apologies to Sute, I can’t follow the thread of their logic in their comment. It’s causing stupor in my brain. Maybe that’s my brain’s fault, or maybe editing would help.

  56. It’s not just you, MDearest. Sute’s comment has many things at fault in it that a lifetime of editing could not correct: faulty logic; vague references to outdated and untrue studies (mostly likely because they are repeating dishonest sound bites); abelism; a false analogy or two; and a host of straw person attacks (high chance they’re going to hate I just wrote that); all dosed in a high dose of arrogance. My pointing out of which, has almost no chance of changing their views.

    The main fault, however, is their attempt to justify straight up bigotry. Perhaps we can pray that a queer person Sute loves is strong enough to overcome such prejudicial attacks and come out to them. Though I can obviously see why no one would want to. Yikes.

  57. Thomas Parkin says:

    Joseph Smith said that if you could look for five minutes into heaven you’d know more than you could come to know reading all the books written on the subject. It is true that actually being able to look at such a world would give you a real leg up on learning about it, but seeing that we can only see to the edge of our personal and collective horizons, I rather doubt even looking at that world direct would help us so very much. We hardly know what we are in this world,.so much closer to our nature and threatening to become permanently so.

    God is overheard saying in one place that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Yet the thing we do without fail is project our ways and thoughts on to heaven. Hence heaven was once poly, now it is _straight_ up mid-20th Century American, with possibly more picnics, and friendlier lions, and whiter casual wear.

    We don’t know, indeed.

    Big thanks to Nate for thinking and writing so well. I found the exercise enlightening, and distinctly Mormon.

  58. I’m a little baffled by the assertion that it would be too hard for a female spirit to feel connected to a deity that is made up of a pair of men. Umm, that is exactly what we have right now. Don’t believe me? Go bear your testimony of Heavenly Mother in public…

  59. The new For the Strength of Youth pamphlet (just announced by Elder Uchtdorf, the favorite apostle of progressive LDS everywhere) has a great response to Nate Omen’s essay: “The law of chastity states that God approves of sexual activity only between a man and a woman who are married.”

    It also has a good reminder related to the frequent slander of “homophobe”, “transphobe”, or whatever the last slur is against believing members: “Many in the world ignore or even mock God’s law, but the Lord invites us to be His disciples and live a standard higher than the world’s.”

    So timely and truly inspired!

  60. Apologies, I see it was Brian, not Thomas part of my reply was directed to.

  61. @Danyal, First, if you’re taking that as a direct response to Nate, you’re very wrong. Secondly, it’s not like that quote says anything ‘new.’ Your argument that is this is some sort of final say on the matter is quite without merit.

    @Senoirhalf, the same goes for your comment. The argument that God condemns ‘homosexual’ behavior in the Old Testament and thus . . . is ridiculous. I mean, do you really want to argue morals based on what God does and doesn’t condone in the OT?

    @Sute, I never claimed ‘deaf ears’ or whatever you’re saying. I dismissed your comment based on its logical fallacies.

  62. I am always encouraged by such thoughtful expressions of faith and curiosity, and this is no exception. Thank you. It is far less distressing for any of us, LDS or not, to live in a world where what we know can coexist with what we don’t.

  63. Rachel EO says:

    @seniorhalf, I’ll add to Brian’s reply to note that God does not actually condemn same-sex marriages, relationships, or love in the Old Testament. Obviously same-sex marriages were not even something conceived as possible in that time period because of the very different political/economic/procreative purpose of marriage and the patriarchal structure of society. And as for same-sex relationships and love, there are actually beautiful examples of deep same-sex love (the most notable being the relationship between David and Jonathan, see 2 Samuel 1:26).

    As for gay sex, in the traditional example that people often point to (i.e. the men of Sodom), their sin is clearly sexual abuse and violence, treating others as sexual objects, hostility/inhospitality to foreigners, etc. — not gay sex as such, much less gay love. The other verses from Leviticus 18 and 20 often pointed to in this context are part of a purity code the vast majority of which we do not apply in our dispensation, in many cases because we see the prohibitions and punishments as bigoted and barbaric — meaning there is no logical reason why this particular prohibition must be carried forward just because it’s in the OT.

    For a discussion of these and other related passages (which actually are quite limited in number), I recommend and also this episode of the Beyond the Block podcast:!93bbd

  64. Rachel EO says:

    @MDearest, I’m very happy to point you and others to this excellent work.

    First, this pathbreaking essay by Taylor Petrey published in Dialogue in 2011 and another published in Dialogue a decade later in 2021:
    “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology,”

    For more context about the reception of this essay and the sources that inspired it, see this retrospective published a decade later:

    As you read Petrey’s 2011 essay, you’ll find that it basically covers most of the ground that Oman lays out — though admittedly in less accessible, more academic language. I’ll also point out here the importance of the historical work done by Jonathan Stapley and Samuel Brown on the history of sealings and adoption rituals in Mormonism — Petrey cites their work as an important influence on his ideas, even though their work focuses on history and doesn’t explore the potential theological implications of that history for same-sex sealings.

    The second deeply important source is a book by Blaire Ostler, a queer Mormon woman, entitled Queer Mormon Theology: An Introduction — published last year by BCC Press! (Yay!) You can read the introductory chapter free here: and you can buy the book here:

    Blaire in many ways picks up the baton from Taylor and develops some of his ideas further (she explicitly credits his work as an inspiration), but she also expands upon it and adopts an approach more viscerally informed by her own experiences as a queer woman (bisexual, gender-variant) and by those of her queer daughter.

    Lastly, I’ll refer to you a couple great Come, Follow Me podcasts co-hosted by queer Latter-day Saints: Beyond the Block (co-hosts Derek Knox — a gay man — and James Jones) and The Faithful Feminists (Channing — a bisexual woman — and Elise). Many of their episodes touch upon some of the themes that Oman speaks to, and more generally on ways to draw upon LDS theological history and scriptural resources to increase inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQ+ folks in the church. Here is a great example where the two sets of co-hosts join together in enlightening conversation on same-sex relationships in Alma 17-22:!6384d

    Taylor Petrey also wrote a great book, Tabernacles of Clay, that delves into some of the history of these issues further — highly recommend it as well:

  65. seniorhalf says:

    @Rachel EO and @Brian I don’t disagree with you, and I probably didn’t say what I wanted to say very well. As nice as it would be for same sex couples to have a sealing ordinance, and I mean that quite genuinely, I don’t see how our theology can change that much to accommodate it. I understand what Nate Oman is saying about the changes that have happened to the sealing ordinances over the years, but I just don’t think those changes are quite as significant as allowing same sex couples to be sealed.

  66. Would the church really become more popular if revelation that allowed gay marriage were received? I tend to think that no, critics of the Church would simply move on and find something else to critique. I am impressed that church leaders continue to preach the ideal of the family as the solution to the vast majority of problems with the world.

  67. Mark l, I don’t think anyone here (from either side) is arguing what doing what is popular, but rather what is right and good. But perhaps your comments reveals how those opposed to gay marriage view those hoping for it: as nothing more than an attempt to be viewed a certain way. If that is the case (and I suspect it is for many), I can assure you that you would be mistaken.

  68. seniorhalf, I think you underestimate the impact that the end of polygamy had on the way Mormons understood their faith. I once heard someone say that to recognize same-sex marriage within Mormonism would be “plan-changing.” The person meant that this would change something fundamental about the plan of salvation. My response was that for 19th-century Mormons, the Manifesto was “plan-changing.” Giving up polygamy was at least as fundamental a change as recognizing same-sex marriages would be today.

    It’s hard for us to get inside the heads and hearts of Church members who had to change the foundations of their faith when the Manifesto was announced. From our historical vantage point, we rationalize the historical practice of polygamy in various ways. We take the sting out of the doctrines connected with polygamy. Yet the fact is that giving up polygamy felt soul-crushing for some 19th-century Mormons. That’s why polygamist sects have persisted to this day. It’s why many Mormons simply refused to believe that the Manifesto was legitimate, and the Second Manifesto was necessary. It took about sixty years to end the practice of polygamy within the Church when we consider the polygamous marriages that endured until the deaths of polygamous spouses in the mid-20th century.

    I’m aware that we have not eliminated the theoretical possibility of polygamy in the eternities, but that’s beside the point here. My point is that we went through decades of lawlessness, violence, doctrinal change and spiritual upheaval in the process of repudiating the practice of polygamy in this life. We persisted through that process because it was the right thing to do, even though it was sometimes done badly.

    The bottom line is that embracing the truth of queer identities would be no more radical than changes we have already made to our doctrines of marriage and sealing.

  69. Loursat,
    I think you are minimizing the theological changes necessary to fully recognize SSM and implement same-sex sealings in the temples. There was no change on the theology of temple sealings with the Manifesto. It was a change of policy and practice most 19th century Latter-day Saints accepted readily. Yet it did, as you acknowledge, result in decades of turmoil and minority schisms in the body of Latter-day Saints. Same-sex sealings would result in nothing less and possibly much more turmoil than that which resulted from the first and second manifestos.

  70. Old Man, Nate does a great job of explaining why, in fact, sealing same-sex marriages would not require any significant theological change. Yes, it would change long-standing policies, but those policies have been significantly altered on at least a couple occasions.

    Would it result in turmoil? Frankly, I’m not convinced that it would. Church members by and large are pretty good at conforming to new church policies, and this one would, I suspect, be particularly welcome. But also, Nate’s not proposing that we take a humble approach to theology to be popular—he’s proposing that we do it because it is right.

  71. Old Man & Loursat,

    I agree. In order to fit SSM, and the rest of what could broadly be called queer identity into the gospel, it would require not just a tweak in policy or an announcement like one proposed by Nate Oman…. The questions of sex and gender go much deeper than polygamy, which is essentially just a form of heterosexual marriage. Such a change would have to be a “restoration” unto itself. Revelations the size of the Book Of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and D&C combined.

    Every temple ceremony for both the living and the dead would have to change drastically. The law of chastity would have to be rewritten. The purpose of creation, bodies, Adam and Eve, all of that would have to be addressed. Everything to do with priesthood offices, roles, power, etc would have to be redone. Not to mention policies regarding youth, numerous youth-related callings, missionaries, etc would have to be rewritten.

    I think we’d also require revising revelations on the physical and eternal natures of God, and Christ as well.

    Perhaps all that truth lies out there, waiting to be revealed. But we can learn from other churches that introducing that kind of change would, at the very least, split the church. Maybe even break it.

  72. “There was no change on the theology of temple sealings with the Manifesto.”

    This is one of those things that are easy for us to say 130-plus years later, when we have sanded away the sharp edges of the change. That’s not how it seemed to Mormons at the time.

    It is true that many Mormons readily accepted the change away from polygamy, but not because it was a change in policy rather than doctrine. The distinction between policy and doctrine is a thing of our time, not theirs. I think they accepted it because they recognized that it was the right thing to do.

  73. 1. Mac’s comment continues minimizing the extent of previous changes in temple doctrine and practice. We want so, so badly to think that the temple ceremonies are a constant. They are not. They have changed radically and fundamentally over time. They continue to change as we speak. Changing them again would be more of the same.

    2. It’s a wild exaggeration to say that same-sex sealings would require “revelations the size of the Book Of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and D&C combined.” Petrey and Ostler have shown that the theological possibility of accepting queer identity is already present in Mormon teachings. Oman shows how our temple practices already rely on the fact that we don’t know much about the afterlife and the eternal consequences of what we do in temples during mortality. From that point of view, I agree with Sam that it would not require massive doctrinal change to allow same-sex sealings in the temple.

  74. Chiming in with my opinion:

    Regarding the comparison with polygamy and the Manifesto, it’s historically inaccurate to argue the Manifesto went over easy. They fought a war over the Principle, and the Manifesto came with what is possibly the most heavy-handed “do what I say” in Church history:

    “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”

    I believe that’s what it took to drive obedience to that change.

    Regarding the amount of change necessary in the present, I believe we should adopt the “we don’t know” attitude about a lot of things. Because it’s true. And if we would, expanding our use of sealings would be relative easy with minimal doctrinal upheaval. On the other hand, I think there are many current Church members who would not/will not accept we don’t know theology and will instead demand answers to all things. I think some of them will have ulterior motives for that insistence, but however they get to the demand, definitive answers to everything associated with sealings probably would amount to a fifth standard work.

  75. The problem with the “we don’t know” attitude is it’s a huge self-justification. “We don’t know”, so let’s make things up. “We don’t know”, so let’s change temple ceremonies. “We don’t know”, so let’s change God’s law of marriage without His consent.

    The ultimate problem with “we don’t know”, is in fact that we DO know.

  76. lol! Someone didn’t do their homework . . . I’ve taught too many classes to not be able to recognize that sort of response.

  77. pconnornc says:

    Sam – when you say “Nate does a great job of explaining why, in fact, sealing same-sex marriages would not require any significant theological change.” I just don’t get that same explanation from Nate’s article.

    He does articulate how the execution of sealings in the temple has varied as we understood the purpose (priesthood vs family), changed policy (polygamy), clerical (mistakes) and again policy (time only sealings). I 100% get that.

    He also explains a lot that “we don’t know” – which again is great.

    What I don’t think he explained (maybe he wasn’t trying) was how some basic theology would need to change – I don’t want someone to just read the comments and think Nate has established an argument he hasn’t.

    Just a few theological challenges to resolve would include belief in Heavenly Parents and how that is modeled by God’s work on earth (Adam & Eve), in creation and revelations so far. Resolving law of chastity commandments and commandments to marry & multiply. Our theological understanding of inheriting all from our Father in Heaven, what we believe to be ongoing creation in the eternities, and how same sex creation doesn’t match our understanding of biology, and if heterosexual creation is how it would be done – leaves 1/2 of a same sex celestial union’s creations w/out a model for their divinity. And lastly, words of prophets that gender is essential to our purpose here. I won’t try to quantify the amount of that change, but it seems significant and certainly not explained away in Nate’s faithful article.

  78. For what it’s worth, both Taylor Petrey and Blaire Ostler seem happy with Nate Oman’s piece:

  79. While this is the best argument for it I’ve read so far (I’ve only seen some of the stuff that’s been linked in this thread – will have to look at the rest later) I do still tend to think that actual same-sex temple marriage is the sort of bridge you can’t cross without a major revelation. The various biblical passages and general tradition may not be very strong as far as doctrine goes, but the fact that there’s currently just nothing on the other side makes it hard to justify a strong policy shift in that direction. I think this article makes a good case for why that revelation wouldn’t be completely implausible, but unless and until that comes I don’t think we can really touch anything temple related.

    Still, as an unhappily single heterosexual I have a very difficult time telling unhappily single homosexuals that they should somehow just be content this way, and I find it a bit distasteful when married people do so. An easier theological route to greater accommodation, I think, is through our universalism – both mortal and postmortal. It’s pretty hard to argue that God doesn’t intend for most people to live their lives outside the church, when you look at our doctrine and at observable facts. Unfortunately, for missionary-related reasons we often act as if God’s benevolence is retracted the second somebody comes into contact with the church and doesn’t join (ironically suggesting missionary efforts do net harm to the salvation of men). Simply walking back that illogical notion would make it much easier for us to tolerate the participation of same-sex couples in the body of the church, even if they can’t go through any ordinances (including baptism, potentially – you wouldn’t even need to change membership policy). If the choice is framed as marriage vs full earthly church participation rather than marriage vs eternal salvation an awful lot of tension is released.

  80. The work of updating doctrine is the easy part. Our experience should teach us that when doctrine changes, we then discover that it’s more difficult to change what’s in our hearts. This suggests to me that we would do better to start with changing our hearts. Whatever is right will follow naturally from that.

    We don’t have to wait for new revelations giving us permission to live with more love.

  81. Geoff- Aus says:

    I was a temple worker at the time gay marriage became legal in USA. At that time the definition of chastity in the temple was no sex outside marriage.

    I thought good that covers gay marriage, the church doesn’t have to change anything. All the things people think need changing above, seem to be desperately searching for reasons it can’t be done. If you just change the definition of chastity back, problems solved.

    But no they changed the definition of marriage to exclude gay couples.

    Lost opportunity to quietly include.

  82. Gay marriage is incompatible with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints.

  83. Jonathan, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it’s incompatible with Jesus Christ.

  84. Loursat,

    “We don’t have to wait for new revelations giving us permission to live with more love.”

    This is the heart of it isn’t? What does it mean to live with more love? Just bear with me for a moment, but what if the doctrine related to marriage is already correct? What if God truly only ordains and approves of marriage between men and women? What if God has already spoken on the matter?

    If any of those things are true, Nate Oman’s essay would not be the most loving thing to put into practice. It would be setting up our brothers and sisters for failure.

  85. Mac, I’m not sure your conclusion necessarily follows. To say that gay people have no place in God’s plan for families and companionship is setting them up for failure, thank you very much.

  86. Jonathan,
    Got it, everything is revealed on this matter according to you even though it’s not according to the Church. They ‘don’t know’ is the best they have about the eternities for gay people. And I’m not particularly interested in what LDS people should do. I’m interested in what those who follow Christ should do, which in this case, unfortunately, seems to me and many others to be at odds with each other.

  87. Mac: Yeah, false hope can be a problem. But the alternative is no hope at all and I really can’t bring myself to push that position. Knowing you’re going to be alone for the rest of your life is the sort of crushing despair that leads to suicide.

  88. I have 2 gay members in my immediate family. I don’t know about the question of being healed in the resurrection or eternal nature as gay. Moreover, I can’t get past 3 things in this essay. One, it feels like an “ark steadier” approach. If we believe the Lord makes the rules, then why try to reason out another way? “My ways are not thy ways”. Two, it feels political. If we could only get a younger, more enlightened and progressive group of prophets, seers, and revelators, then we could make some progress. Three, even if approved, this works for one generation. What happens to the children of these couples? Are they sealed to their “parents”? I can just picture the sealer “I seal you to parent 1, and to parent 2”. This is not an eternal chain. It’s a weak link. Temple ordinances are forever, not just for “corrosive church doctrine”. Thus, the article is pure speculation. I feel like I’m listening to the men of Athens. Once Paul got the drift of their “gossip club sitting around to hear some new thing” he said “Ciao”. Not ready for prime time. Neither is this essay.

  89. Dougie, when you write, “What happens to the children of these couples? Are they sealed to their “parents”? I can just picture the sealer “I seal you to parent 1, and to parent 2”. This is not an eternal chain,” it seems to me that you missing how sealings have operated and operate in the Church, because that would precisely be and eternal chain is that’s one of the main points of the essay: sealings can and have meant more than what you suggesting they mean. So, I don’t really see that it’s a failing of the essay that sparked your comment, but some other failing.

  90. Dougie, are you positing that the children of gay couples will not have children? Or that gay people do not have parents? Otherwise, I don’t understand why a sealing of a same-sex couple wouldn’t create exactly the same kind of eternal chain that other sealings create.

  91. Beyond that, Dougie, believing that God makes the rules doesn’t mean that we entirely understand God’s rules. (In fact, that’s precisely the point of Nate’s piece.) In fact, canonically we do not believe that we entirely understand God’s rules—that is quite literally the point of the 9th Article of Faith.

    Moreover, while you’re using “ark steadier” in a colloquially popular way, it doesn’t actually map onto scripture. The problem was not that people touched the ark; it’s that the did so in defiance of a direct command from God. We, otoh, have not been commanded by God to not look for solutions to problems, or to explain history, doctrine, and theology. So it may be worth taking seriously Nate’s call for humility and careful rethinking of the things we think we know,.

  92. Ardis E. Parshall says:

    While I’m not commenting on Nate’s essay or any other comments, I do want to respond to this: “I can just picture the sealer ‘I seal you to parent 1, and to parent 2.’”

    That is in fact EXACTLY how some of my nieces and nephews were sealed to their eternal parents. They were the children of a first marriage and their biological father had given permission for their temple sealing but not (yet) for their civil adoption by their mother’s second husband. The wording used was “I seal you to [husband’s name] and to your mother [name].” My brother was not referred to as their father in that ceremony, but the children were still sealed to him.

    That’s not the freak you think it is.

  93. That scripture about ‘God’s ways are higher than man’s ways’ is about charity. God is more merciful than humans. That verse gets proof texted to mean God is less charitable and merciful than man.

  94. Thanks Ardis!


  1. […] blogger Sam Brunson, a Latter-day Saint regulation professor at Loyola University Chicago, calls it “the most important and consequential piece of Mormon theology” he has learn in a very long […]

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