01 March 2009

Don't Worry, It'll Be Gone When You Die

Something from the world's longest comment thread has really bothered me. It seems to have become popular for Mormons to oppose gay marriage because, among other things, they're essentially protecting gay Saints from their own misguided efforts to "settle" for something they call marriage but which never will be so in God's eyes, and which of course won't last beyond this life. Such Mormons see same-sex marriage as self-defeating because, they say, sexual orientation exists only in this life and won't exist in the next, so "giving in" to it may irreparably limit eternal possibilities.

Their basis for this "doctrine" is the following statement of First Quorum of the Seventy member Lance Wickman (made in the presence of and not contradicted by Dallin Oaks of the Twelve):

"same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life. It is a circumstance that for whatever reason or reasons seems to apply right now in mortality, in this nano-second of our eternal existence. The good news for somebody who is struggling with same-gender attraction is this: 1) It is that ‘I’m not stuck with it forever.’ It’s just now. . . . 2) If I can keep myself worthy here, if I can be true to gospel commandments, if I can keep covenants that I have made, the blessings of exaltation and eternal life that Heavenly Father holds out to all of His children apply to me. Every blessing - including eternal marriage - is and will be mine in due course."

Seems to me this statement has had essentially two types of responses: (1) unquestioning acceptance as doctrine by Mormons who oppose same-sex marriage, and (2) a shrug of the shoulders from everyone else. But I can't help seeing it as a much more crucial and debatable point. If Wickman's statement is actually true, then the implications are serious. If it's not true, then Mormons who believe it are latching onto a convenient fantasy.

So, questions for everyone:

Where does this "doctrine" come from?

Does anything in the Standard Works support this belief?

Has any other General Authority ever said anything like this before?

Does the fact that this statement was made during a Church-sponsored official "interview," or the fact that Lance Wickman is a member of the Seventy and was not contradicted by an apostle sitting next to him, mean that this is now official LDS doctrine that is binding on me to believe?


Chedner said...

Logistically, I don't think it makes any difference as to whether or not it will be a part of us in the next life. Such doesn't eradicate the fact that it is a part of us now.

And I believe it is our duty to live the healthiest, most productive lives we can now, with what we have now.

To put it another way, resurrected beings are believed not to have any blood running through their veins; nevertheless, that doesn't absolve us mortals from taking care of our cardiovascular systems as we look after our temporal selves.

To me, it is nearly as ridiculous to say "Homosexuality doesn't exist in the next life, so just ignore your attractions in this life" as it is to say "Blood doesn't exist in the next life, so just ignore your blood in this life."

Ignoring your cardiovascular health (of which blood plays an important part)... not a good idea.

Ignoring your emotional health (of which sexuality plays an important part)... not a good idea.

El Genio said...

Wow, that is a long thread. I read the mock interview by Elders Wickman and Oaks the day it was released by the church. Even before I was out to myself, the idea struck me as wrong. It just doesn't seem like the right form to announce revelation (and it isn't, as demonstrated by Scott's points on the other thread).

At any rate, Alma 34:34 seems to directly contradict Elder Wickman's statement.

Abelard Enigma said...

Where does this "doctrine" come from?

I think people want to believe it because it seems logical to them - it helps them make sense of homosexuality. If it's just an earthly condition then there is no contradiction with our doctrine regarding exaltation.

[is] this is now official LDS doctrine that is binding on me to believe?

[shrugs shoulder]

Grant Haws said...

I despise this pseudo-doctrine and all the damage it does. I don't about anyone else around here...but I'm pretty gay...and I cannot imagine existing without also being a big flamin' homo.

I am pretty sure hell would be getting converted to heterosexuality in the post-earth life.

Daniel said...

What I have to say to Wickman and his followers:

First of all, I don't want to be married to a woman in Eternity.

Second of all, if gay marriage doesn't last past the nanosecond that is Earth, than why does it matter so much? Just let us do with that nanosecond what we want and let God sort it out when it's over.

Daniel said...

What I have to say to Wickman and his followers:

First of all, I don't want to be married to a woman in Eternity.

Second of all, if gay marriage doesn't last past the nanosecond that is Earth, than why does it matter so much? Just let us do with that nanosecond what we want and let God sort it out when it's over.

Beck said...

It has always felt false and it rings hollow in light of all else that I have been taught and understand about the Plan. He is treating it like a physical illness or malady that is part of our mortal existence. But I don't feel like this homosexuality is a physical illness. It is more a part of my intelligence, my spirit, my soul, and as such is part of who I am, and therefore, who I will be.

Of course, maybe it is an illness of the mortal sphere and I just don't want to give it up or can't live without it. I know of deaf friends who cannot dream of living without being deaf and have no desire to physically hear. Is it the same? Or is there a fundamental difference?

Abelard Enigma said...

Actually, what bothers me most about the Oaks/Wickman mock interview is not the potential doctrinal impacts of what may or may not happen in the hereafter. I am bothered more by the counsel given for the here and now.

For example, there was a question about crossing the line between loving a gay son and inadvertently endorsing his behavior. A scenario that was put forth of a gay son who decides to live with a gay friend. Elder Oaks said: "I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your partnership.’”"

First of all, the very way the scenario was worded, e.g. "live with a gay friend", suggests that they do not accept that love can exist in such a relationship.

There is also so much shame embedded in this type of response that he expects most parents would give. "Yes, we love you, and you are welcome to come by for a short visit - just be sure to sneak in the back door so that the neighbors don't see you. And call us ahead of time so that we can close all of the curtains."

What about a son who is living with his girlfriend - isn't the level of sin the same? So, where is similar counsel given to parents in that scenario? How could a gay son feel loved by his parents if that is their reaction?

Robert said...

I could totally see/believe that homosexual feelings are solely a mortal trial. I don't see anything in the plan that would contradict that claim. We're here to be tested to see if we'll do what the Lord has asked us. He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, He asked Christ to horribly suffer and die, he asked the saints to move across the country, He asked Noah to...He asked, He asked, He asked. There are a lot of examples where God asked somebody to do something that didn't seem fair or rational or make much sense or even seemed counter-productive. "Look at this stick to be healed from your snakebites" or "don't keep any mana overnight." I think ti really could be the case that this is God-given for God's purposes. Maybe something like the blind man was blind so that God's grace and power could be made manifest through his healling. I'd be pretty upset if I was that blind man. "You mean, I was blind just so you could wait till I was forty and then you'd heal me? That's kinda rude."

On the other hand, there is sooooooooooo much relative to eternity that we are absolutely clueless about. When in spiritual creation did we acquire a gender or sex? Can it really be the case that, based on this "nanosecond" of mortality, our conditions of ETERNAL existance are going to be unchangeably assigned? Our boundaries of progress and possibility for ETERNITY can't possibly be absolutely determined by our performance in this relatively short mortal experience where the only common threads seem to be change and naivety. Who determined that while love between a woman and man is good, that the same love between a man and man is an abomination? Really, there are many, many valid arguements to support the claim that homosexual relationships can be every bit as virtuous as heterosexual relationships.

Unfortunately, we are naive on this matter. Maybe it's just me, but I really think that all we have for now is opinion, opinion, opinion. Scripture, mingled with the philosophies of men? Tricky, tricky. As for me, I just don't know.

On another note, It was so great to see you Alan. After I left, I wished that I had hugged you a little longer. Thank you for your kindness. I was really thrilled when I saw you there. I kinda felt a little less belonging because of my recent deviations from the straight and narrow. I'm sure it's self consciousness because of my drinking, but I felt a bit unworthy to be there. Yeah, dumb. I know. I'm real glad that you came. Have a really good month. See you later. Thank you for your posts too. I enjoy them and the discussions they start. :)

Scott said...

So... I've been thinking about this post, intending to comment here, and you've put me on a train of thought that will probably flesh out nicely to a blog post of its own.

I'll save the meat of my musings for my own blog, then, but a few thoughts:

As Abe said, it seems logical that this would be an earthly condition. Going further with that thought: It seems logical that it would be an earthly condition because it is still seen as a "temptation" by most members (and leaders) of the Church. We've moved beyond the claim that we've for some reason "chosen" to feel the way that we do, but the idea now, I think, is that we're simply (for whatever reason) susceptible to a temptation to have sex with other men. And since there is no temptation once Satan is bound, etc., etc... Presto, no homosexuality.

Although I'm aware of a couple of exceptions, for the most part all of the gay men of an LDS background I've talked to who have come to terms with being gay and actually given some thought to this issue feel justified in stating that their gayness is an integral part of them and that they can't imagine life (or an afterlife) without it. Whether all of that opinion means anything against the statement of a member of the Seventy in an official Church publication I don't know.