Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Evening Speculations

Tonight I read Ty Mansfield's post at North Star about his hopes for more dialogue between Mormon leadership and the GLBT community. Although I agree with him that rhetoric has softened, I must say that I don't see much of a change at all in terms of doctrine. Some say that the Church has shifted from implying that homosexuality is a sin to saying that acting on same-sex attraction is the problem. I don't know that that is the case.
The statements I have read dating from the 1950's all make the Church's position clear that homosexuality is a verb, not a noun; a choice, not an orientation. True, they are no longer using the words “illicit,” “diabolical,” “depraved,” and “perverse.” But in the past 4 years we've had several official statements postulating that since "gender" is eternal, gays will be "fixed" in the eternities. This addition to the theology of sexuality seems odd to me. Never before have General Authorities dared to speculate on what will happen to sexual orientation after death.

I don't presume to know, either. It's a very deep and tangled doctrinal subject. But I read posts like this, and I just feel sad.

"I have searched, I have wrestled, I have pleaded. I've wished for my life to end, and came close to ending it. I have argued with friends (and with people I wouldn't really call friends). I have studied, I've fasted, I've prayed. I've offered my heart and my relationship and everything I have and am on the altar of God. I have suffered, physically and spiritually. I have been in the dark, alone. And one day I came through the other side with a profound, unshakable sense that there is nothing wrong with me as regards my sexual orientation. There are things wrong with me; I have physical imperfections/handicaps/disabilities (the most obvious one is my asthma) that I anticipate being fixed in the life to come. But in my love for my husband, I experience only wholeness and goodness that continues to grow in perfection and beauty...Like Job's friends, my friends can only speculate about what is in my heart...We are not inferior."


MoHoHawaii said...

I don't know any gay Mormon of my generation who hasn't at one time or another felt suicidal pressures. Statements from General Authorities in that era told us that "you would be better off at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake with a millstone around your neck" than be gay.

The leaders of the Church are no longer saying this to gay youth. That's a big change.

(The fact that they ever said this is an atrocity for which there will never be restitution.)

Bored in Vernal said...

You are right, the change in rhetoric IS a big change. Some of the words SWK used were just cringe-worthy. I'm glad to see more sympathy, more love and compassion by Church leaders. But it appears to me that there is no doctrinal change, in fact; there is a renewed emphasis that same sex attraction is a serious sin which will be corrected in the eternities. I don't see them EVER changing their stance on this. I can't know how this would affect someone who self-identifies as gay. But it MUST be difficult to live your life being told by your religion that there is something horribly wrong about an integral part of yourself that will be "fixed" in the resurrection. How can you see yourself as a whole person with this paradigm? THAT's what makes me sad.

MoHoHawaii said...

I'm with you on the difficulty of the emerging everyone's-straight-in-the-hereafter doctrine. I should also point out that it flatly contradicts long-standing LDS teachings about the continuity of personality in the next life.

I think the conjecture stems from a lack of familiarity with gay people. If the leaders listened to gay voices, they would understand that sexual orientation is very, very deeply rooted. Changing orientation would be like a death, a negation of the self. You can't just redefine people like that. It's unbelievably arrogant and naive.

I think a good step forward would be for the Church to call a truce without making doctrinal changes. They could just quit excommunicating gay members and stop organizing against their civil rights. It would be such a welcome change if gay people could just come to church and participate with dignity. It's fine if there are no temple recommends for gay couples. Even second class citizenship would be far preferable to the current barbarous practice of ritual shunning.

I think it's time to heal the divisions and start listening to each other. Honestly, the only obstacle I see to this is the current policy of excommunication.

I know I am more strident on this issue than some are comfortable with. The problem is that I see the incredible pain that the Church's rough handling even today causes in the lives of young people. Read this blog: It's the journal of a 16-year-old gay Mormon. He's bright, articulate and wants nothing more than to do what is right. You should read what is happening to him.

P.S. I like your blog.

Anonymous said...

The whole purpose for the existence of the Church is to help people to gain their exaltation. The purpose of exaltation is for exalted couples to procreate eternally, giving an infinite number of intelligences the opportunity to become spirits and progress eventually to exaltation of their own. Obviously, gay couples could not do this, and that is why they cannot be exalted. Since homosexuality is a hindrance to exaltation, the Church, whose whole existence is devoted to helping people become exalted, must ever be opposed to anything, such as homosexuality, that hinders people from attaining that goal.

For the Church to condone homosexual acts would be to say that extra-marital acts are okay if you are homosexual but not if you are heterosexual. I fail to see how that would be preferable to saying that all extra-marital sex is sinful.

I am continually amazed at people who have such an exalted opinion of their own intelligence that they cannot consider the possibility that the Brethren might actually be inspired, and they, themselves, mistaken because they might not have a perfect understanding of things from an eternal perspective.