10 June 2009

Call For Contributions Round Two

Hey blog mates and readers. My friend Craig, who has now chosen to reveal his real name as Casey, has posted his response to the original Call For Contributions post below. As usual, he is thoughtful and respectful. I invite everybody to check out what he says and respond in kind if you wish.

25 comments:

Casey said...

Mostly I just didn't know how to leave a comment as Craig, and I was too lazy to create a new account.

:-)

Daniel said...

Casey,

If this were a matter of God asking men to control themselves, we'd be in complete agreement. It's not too much to ask a man to control his actions, or even to control his thoughts. A married man, for example, should not have sex with anyone other than his spouse. In fact, he should be careful to not even have an inappropriate emotional relationship with anyone other than his spouse. I'm a big proponent of self-control.

But that's not what you claim Mormonism asks of its members. Gay people aren't just beseiged with a temptation to have sex with attractive people of the same gender. If that were the case, then I would be against it in every way. Gay people are people who have the capacity to fall in love with a member of the same sex, and lack in almost every case the capacity to fall in love with a member of the opposite sex. (Please don't be offended if you don't fit that description. Exceptions prove the rule, not break it. I know there are Moho's who are in love with their wives, but for me, as a gay man, this would be impossible).

So the Church (again, the Mormon Church , not God) isn't asking gay people to control their appetites for sex, it is asking them to suppress their natural inclinations to fall in love. It is asking them to be alone- to not be in love with a partner. It is asking them never to form a healthy relationship with someone they love.

Now, the reason this doesn't jive with the God that I grew up loving is because that God has made it abundantly clear that man is not to be alone. No where but in a Mormon home is it more clear that it is better to be married to one you love than to be single.

This isn't like the "trait" (let's cut the BS, you mean "weakness") that leads one to be addicted to alcohol, or shopping, or coffee, or gambling. They are in NO way comparable to homosexuality. It's not about desires or behaviors. It's about relationships. It's about forming healthy relationships (something I could only form with a man) A better comparison would be to compare attraction to attraction. My attractions to men are no different than your attractions to women. They are no less clean, nor are they more clean. There is no hurt if I fall in love with a man, just as there is no hurt if you fall in love with a woman. And my falling in love is no more or less based in lust than yours.

This isn't about abstinence. This isn't about self-control. This is about falling in love. This is about companionship. This is about family. God doesn't pick and choose which families He loves and protects and which he doesn't. Neither should you, or any one.

Yudanashi said...

Casey, (1/?)

First off in response to the last part of your conversation I want to point out that the Proclamation on the Family was given out during a time when Gay marriage was a large issue. Granted not as large then as it is today, but it was growing in size. It came out during Prop 22 in California and many argue that it was a direct response to that ballot measure. But that is beside the point. I was glad to hear you mention that it is “so stage 3” to think that every word that the 15 speak is direct from God, that makes this discussion much easier because so many people that I talk to don’t grasp that concept yet.

Yudanashi said...

(2/?)
You state that the Proclamation doesn’t allow for wiggle room. I do not know how much else has been discussed because I am just jumping into this wave from the beginning rather than reading the comments or knowing what you and Alan have discussed already. I see two key parts that give wiggle room. The first is the opening line of We believe marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. (I am paraphrasing here so bear with me). This line doesn’t have an “only” modifier and given that it is revelation, wouldn’t that have been a key word to be included unless there were other forms of marriage ordained by God. In fact we know that polygamy is ordained by God even if it is not in practice on the earth right now. Why then could Homosexuality be ordained by God as well, perhaps not for exaltation if some form of resurrected physical copulation is necessary for becoming God, but just because it might be something that restricts exaltation, doesn’t mean that it cant be ordained by God, for everything has a time and a season. Perhaps our time and season is that homosexuality is naturally occurring with very little to 0 possibility for change, perhaps the reason (and I believe that it might be) is to promote families. Specifically broken families, families that have fallen apart and leave children orphaned or abandoned, families torn by the ravages of divorce, etc. Could it not be that the purpose behind homosexuality is to have a population of people who voluntarily take care of the fallen who are fallen due to the free will of man?

The second part that gives the Proclamation wiggle room is in the 2nd column about halfway down in the paragraph mentioning that a child deserves to be reared by a mother and a father. The line that gives wiggle room is “Death, disability, or other circumstances might necessitate adaptation” (paraphrasing again sorry) I think that homosexuality neatly falls into the “other” and some might argue “disability” categories. I think that there is a clear understanding for homosexuality within the Proclamation, the only thing close to modern canonized scripture regarding homosexuality.

There are (at least) two views on the last part of your statement regarding the two options. The first is that well I can’t change my orientation, but I can change my behaviors. This would leave the possibility of both you and the church being right. Granted this can often times lead to more problems than solutions, but there are several handfuls that make it work.

The second view on this is a risky often times arrogant one. It is that I am right and the church (the human institution) is wrong on this issue RIGHT NOW. But that the absolute truth of an unchangeable God is right on the issue ALWAYS. The trouble and arrogance come in when you try to decide that the church leadership, for whatever reason, is wrong on this particular issue. I think however that the Lord could easily be giving the answer of absolute truth for individuals to those individuals via the spirit, that He could be prompting us (me in particular) with the spirit of absolute truth that is currently different than the organization that is on the earth right now. I believe that because of the schisms that this church has faced over leadership, polygamy, and race over the years is reason enough to cause God to wait until the social conditions are in line so that the Church isn’t destroyed. Because think of it, If tomorrow SLC held a press conference and declared that Gay Temple marriages were legitimate practices and doctrine what would happen? Not only in the States, but internationally as well? Do I think that it is fair to those of us stuck in the crack? No, but Can I live with it? Yes. I think that this might have been one of the reasons why the Blacks didn’t get the priesthood sooner because the sentiments against Blacks was such that it would have crippled the ability for the church to deliver the message of the restored gospel to the world, thus impeding humanities progression towards truth.

Does that all make sense?

Keith said...

Casey, Alan and others,

Fourteen years ago I came out to myself after more than 35 years of doing everything I thought would make me straight. I was married in the temple. I had been a branch president, elder’s quorum president and high priest group leader three times. I fasted and prayed, studied the scriptures. I did everything I could but I was still gay.

After I came out to myself I joined the online gay community and one day I received the following email, which has been a great comfort at times whenever I’m discouraged about my situation. I think Tom wouldn’t mind me sharing it with you:

Years ago I was lying on a rolling table covered in a cold cotton hospital blanket on my way into my 7th surgery in a year and a half. I had spent most of that year and a half in one hospital or another, away from my family and loved ones, and felt totally alone in a very cruel world. I was dying a slow death of excruciating pain and a body that was disintegrating at an ever accelerating speed. I had come to understand that even the God that I had so dearly loved and trusted had forsaken me. But I heard these words as plain as any words that I have ever heard in my life:

"Tom you are My miracle, I created you just the way I wanted you and I have no intention of undoing my original miracle!"

I knew instantly what was meant by this as I had prayed all my life for a miracle to be "Straight," "Non Gay," "Non Queer," Non Homosexual, etc., etc. It was at this instant that it dawned on me that God in all his glory and wisdom had indeed created me in his image and likeness. GOD LOVED ME FOR EXACTLY WHO I WAS!!! At that moment I instantly stopped hating my very nature and truly started loving myself this was a first for me.

Low and behold!!! That was my last surgery and afterwards I started to regain my health and was soon out of the hospital and back home with my wife and family. It took years of in depth therapy and counseling to get my self esteem back. I had it as a small child but lost it in early teens when I caught homophobia. Took me more years to learn who Tom really was by joining the Gay community and getting to know and love some truly good, loving and holy Gay, BI, transgender, and transsexual persons. Also I learned a lot about who Tom wasn't by a lot of real shits out there.

I have now been out to my loving and supportive wife for 9 years. I have many loving gay and straight friends in this beautiful world. My life is full, good, and I go daily, knowing that God truly loves me! Blessed is a good word!

I can assure you that God created you just the way that he wanted you Please graciously accept that gift of His love. The trick of a happy life is now to go forth and make of yourself a happy person. If you do this, then those that you love will see that happiness and goodness and it will truly rub off on all.

Gods Speed, Tom

Romulus said...

Casey, et al,

So, I haven't really read all of the other comments, so I don't know if I'm overlapping or not with what others have said. I have sustained myself as a spiritual person, but not necessarily in the way that Mormonism would dictate. I see God and Jesus Christ as more merciful and accepting than we have been led to believe. I don't believe that God will judge and punish me for my actions. Rather, He will find that I have made a substantial and loving life with another human being.

As far as the premortal existence and postmortal, etc., I feel that my sexuality will persist after this life. And in many ways, I hope that it does. I want to be with whom I love for eternity. I don't believe that only an ordinance in a temple can make that binding. And if that is the only way, then I believe that one day, I will have that opportunity as well.

I don't believe that I could ever change my sexuality. It is something that feels so innate and natural, and frankly, I wouldn't want to change that part of me. To do so would be unnatural for me. I don't feel like it is a weakness for me either; it is simply a part of who I am and who I will be for the rest of eternity. God loves me for who I am, and I am more sure of that than I ever have been.

santorio said...

well said, daniel. you have moved the discussion away from scripture chasing and afterdeath speculation and placed it where it should be: inside personal relationships.

i may do something i've never done before--copy your comments and put it somewhere to find again some day

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Casey, you state in your last comment, "I cannot believe that God would exempt homosexuality from any of these expectations. I don’t believe in an escape clause. I can’t buy into the concept that there is one trait that is separate from all others and is somehow exempt from so many of His teachings." But I have to wonder, don't you think heterosexuality is "one trait that is separate from all others..."? I just have a hard time seeing how homosexuality is more wicked or more righteous than heterosexuality.

Casey said...

Thank you again to all who have replied. I've enjoyed reading your thoughts.

I fear this conversation has the potential to become contentious, which I sincerely do not want. In an effort to avoid this, I tried to voice my idea as clearly as possible but based on some of the comments and questions, I'm a little worried I didn't so such a good job.

For better or for worse, I'd like to share some of my core beliefs. You may disagree with some or all of these beliefs, and if so, that's okay. In sharing these beliefs I am not picking fights nor am I being judgmental. I'm just sharing a piece of who I am.

I believe that mankind has the ability to become gods and goddesses. I believe God has laid out steps for us to obtain this inheritance, and that one of those steps is being sealed for time and all eternity to someone of the opposite gender. I believe that God wants all of His children to be happy and find joy while talking these steps. I believe the Atonement has the ability to help everyone obtain this inheritance.

These are beliefs for which I do not apologize. But that being said, I need to also say that I do not believe homosexuality (without unchaste actions) is by nature evil, wicked or naughty. I am saddened that so many who call themselves Christians can be so hateful and judgmental to wards homosexuals and cause so many so much pain. I hope I never have and never will add to that pain.

On the Proclamation On The Family, I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. I view the entire document as a statement against gay marriage and for heterosexual marriage. I don't wish to pick it apart line by line or word by word. I am not going to accuse anyone of rationalizing what it says to fit their own agenda because this tactic has been used against me on other areas of the Gospel and I find it infuriating. Part of the beauty of the way God works is that he leaves so much up to us to ponder and figure out for ourselves.

And I like it that way.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Casey

Casey said...

Comments more in direct response:

Daniel, I hear you, and thank you for speaking plainly. I do understand, for the record, that this is not just a simple self control issue. I am aware that it runs much deeper. I have to be totally honest and say that I don't know what to say. I don't pretend to have all the answers. The only thing I *can* would be to simply repeat my core beliefs that I shared in the previous post.

Yudanashi, You put a lot of time into your posts, and I thank you for it. No need to repeat what I said above on the Proclamation. If the church were to announce *any time* that they would begin doing gay sealing I would truly be surprised... I simply don't see how homosexuality fits into the model of eternal procreation. But as I said before, my imagination is limited by mortality.

Tom (Keith), my heart goes out to you. I am sorry you suffered for some many years and I am thrilled that things are looking up. Thank you for sharing your story!

Romulus, we'll have to agree to disagree that God will not judge us for our actions. This much I do know... *I* will not judge you (or anyone) at all. But we do agree on this: "I can assure you that God created you just the way that he wanted you."

Santorio, I'm not sure what you mean by "scripture chasing". I love the scriptures, and I chase them as often as I can. :-)

Frank, you asked, "But I have to wonder, don't you think heterosexuality is "one trait that is separate from all others..."?

I guess I have to say I don't understand your point. Maybe I didn't make mine clear enough? I don't think God would create some of his children incapable of obtaining all that He wants to give us.

You also said, "I just have a hard time seeing how homosexuality is more wicked or more righteous than heterosexuality."

Me too! I don't think either is wicked. I do, however, think that homosexuality might have the potential to prevent someone from obtaining their full inheritance. What is the right word to attach to something that could come between a man and his full eternal potential? I'm not sure, because any word we choose will have unintended connotations.

Thanks again to everyone,

Casey

Daniel said...

"I do, however, think that homosexuality might have the potential to prevent someone from obtaining their full inheritance."

I hope you won't be offended if I restate what I think you mean. I think you mean that homosexuality (removing the might ;-)) doesn't lead to exaltation in the current LDS sense of the word, which means being a God eternally sealed to a Goddess(es) with continuing posterity and a divine likeness with God. And you are completely right. THANK GOD! Being eternally sealed to a woman (or heaven forbid two or three) would be eternal hell for me! I personally wouldn't be in love with her, and that would not be heaven or joy or divine at all. (Can you imagine being sealed to a man FOR-EV-ER!)

In addition to the word inheritance, you use the word potential. Eternal potential. As a gay man, my eternal potential is not to be with a woman. My potential lies with a man. My dad, as a parent, has told me that not all of his kids have the same potential. My sister, born with perfect pitch, has the potential to be a phenomenal singer. On the other hand, I, born tone deaf, do not have that potential. I do, however, have the potential to be a phenomenal visual artist.

It must be comforting for you to have prophets and scriptures which lay out the plan for your potential. You have conviction that you will inherit the blessings that God has promised you. And that's great.

My heart goes out to gay Mormons who wish they had that assurance. They wish the prophets would reveal what's in store for them. Often, there is real, deep pain over it. But I'm not one of them. I'm content to live my life without a revelation to a Mormon Prophet that vindicates my relationship.

I don't know that my future marriage will be sealed into the eternities. I don't know that I will have endless posterity. And quite frankly, I don't mind. I've had my own affirming experiences. And I'll be content building a strong relationship until I die. I'll be fulfilled just raising one or two children, and watching them grow to lead fulfilling lives. And in the end, God will look at my life, and give me whatever inheritance He sees fit to give me. I just pray with all of my heart it isn't a Goddess wife!

Scott said...

I've been swamped at work and haven't been able to respond as I would have liked, but I have followed this conversation with interest.

I've finally got a little bit of breathing room, and although it's possible that most of what can be said has already been said (and probably better than I can say it) I'm going to put my two cents in anyway. :) It's going to be long, so it'll be in multiple parts.

Mostly I'd like to address some of Casey's remarks and ask for some clarification...

Casey, you said: I view homosexuality as one of any number of (choosing my next word very carefully) … traits … that some of mankind has been given. (emphasis added).

I'm curious to know whether you believe that people are created gay? There have been a few statements from others in the comments indicating that they personally feel that God created them the way that they are (i.e. gay), and you seem to agree with that position in your response to Romulus. (For what it's worth, my own experience in coming to terms with my orientation included a very distinct impression that I am the way God wants me to be--homosexuality included).

I guess what I'm really getting at is that if we accept as a given (and it seems that we do) that we (gay people) are created this way, and if we accept as truth your position that any sort of action based on these attractions is contrary to God's will, we're left with a bit of a conundrum, aren't we? Either God put a good chunk of His children (10% give or take) on the earth with a predisposition to go against His plan... or we've missed something.

Scott said...

I know, I know. The standard Sunday School answer is that we're all predisposed to do evil. It's the whole "natural man" thing, right? In fact, you've said as much in earlier comments... that homosexuality is just another "trait" that we are expected to "master", and that "If God wants us to master our weaknesses (remember, calling homosexuality a weakness is not a personal judgment call), and if He wants us to be happy in the process of mastering our weaknesses, then I believe that both are possible for homosexuals."

I've got a post in the works on this very subject for my own blog, and I'm sure that this comment is going to be far too long already anyway, so I won't belabor the point, but I will say that I haven't met very many (or possibly any?) gay members of the Church who are doing what the Church expects them to do and who aren't frequently (if not almost constantly) agonizing in one way or another. I'm not one to moan or whine or play "woe is me", but I can't think of another "group" of people who are asked to give up something so fundamentally and universally longed for as love and companionship, with nothing returned for it except for the promise of rewards in the next life. I won't argue that it's impossible for a gay Mormon to live the Gospel, because a lot of us do it, but I'm not sure it's possible to do it without a fair amount of angst.

Scott said...

Back to my main point, though... The argument is that homosexuality is just another "trait" to be "mastered", but how many people do you know who claim that God created them with a natural inclination to murder or lie or steal or cheat or get slobbering drunk or have sex with any woman who will give them the time of day? Those aren't God-given tendencies--they're temptations authored by the devil that we are expected to resist. On the other hand, I feel naturally inclined (due to the person I am--the person my Heavenly Father saw fit to create) to show love and affection to men instead of women--not merely to have sex with men (though the physical expression of love is part of the package), but to love in a way that is extolled as a virtue and praised in song and verse when it is between a man and a woman.

So again, based on our agreed-upon facts and our assumed truths, the only conclusion that we can come to is that God created a significant percentage of His children with a predisposition to fail to meet the qualifications for Exaltation...

... Unless we just don't understand Exaltation yet?

To me, it makes a lot more sense to believe that God knows what He is doing, that He would not have created "misfits", but that in fact we do fit into His Plan, and that we just haven't yet learned how. I'm a big believer in "further light and knowledge" and "many great and important things" yet to be revealed.

Scott said...

Perhaps you can't imagine any revelation that could reverse the Church's position on homosexuality. You've stated that you "cannot believe that God would exempt homosexuality from any of these expectations." and that you "can’t buy into the concept that there is one trait that is separate from all others and is somehow exempt from so many of His teachings.". Of course, you're assuming that a gay relationship involves the participants somehow being exempted from God's laws, but what if we simply haven't understood His laws and no exemptions are required?

This isn't the time or place to "wrest the scriptures", but suffice it to say that the Bible's take on the subject leaves room for interpretation, and the statements of our modern leaders have always cited the Bible as their authority. It's not absurd to suppose that our understanding of the Bible may be wrong, and that God may see a committed monogamous homosexual relationship no differently than a heterosexual one, no exemptions required.

As for your inability to "see how homosexuality fits into the model of eternal procreation"...

I'm not aware of a single scripture that speaks of "eternal procreation". The only scriptures I'm aware of that reference the subject of Exaltation speak instead of "increase". It's common to assume that procreation is the method behind the increase (else why would a sealed couple be required?), but in truth we know nothing about it. Unless and until we receive a revelation that outlines the process in detail, I intend to refrain from making any declarations as to what is possible and what is not, and I won't dismiss the possibility of an exalted same-sex couple, loving each other for all eternity.

Casey said...

Scott,

In reply to some of your comments:

I guess what I'm really getting at is that if we accept as a given (and it seems that we do) that we (gay people) are created this way, and if we accept as truth your position that any sort of action based on these attractions is contrary to God's will, we're left with a bit of a conundrum, aren't we?

I don't see any conundrum.

God makes us the way we are. Sure. To go even further, He loves us the way we are. Then, after making and endowing us with a whole host of individual and unique characteristics, He also provides a plan, a path that we can follow if we want to become like Him.

Some of the characteristics he gave us will be beneficial in becoming like Him. Others won't be. Just because we have some characteristics which won't be beneficial in becoming like Him does not mean that we are wicked, does not mean he loves us less, does not there is an insurmountable conundrum in His plan.

In fact, that's part of his plan.

I haven't met very many (or possibly any?) gay members of the Church who are doing what the Church expects them to do and who aren't frequently (if not almost constantly) agonizing in one way or another.

:-) We ALL agonize! This mortal like if not easy for anyone. It's not supposed to be. Your cross may be hard to carry. But that does not mean that mine is any lighter. The "This Is Hard" argument does not go very far with me. I know.... walk a mile in his shoes. I'm aware that this may sound harsh and uncaring. If you would like some time, send me a private email and I'll share my own personal struggles with you. I'm only saying that this life is a test, and no good test is easy.

We all agonize.

I can't think of another "group" of people who are asked to give up something so fundamentally and universally longed for as love and companionship, with nothing returned for it except for the promise of rewards in the next life.

You make a good point (although I might differ with you on 'nothing returned'). Yet I could counter that everyone is asked to give up something to obtain the highest degree of salvation. What you are asked to give up is not easy. At all. But again, I'm not willing to say that this makes what the next guy is being asked to give up any easier. I think that God tailor makes our characteristic, and then asks us to give some of them up... and what he gives us and what he asks us to give up are absolutely unique to each of us.

In the end, we will ALL be asked to give up something that is incredibly hard to give up.

More in the next post....

Casey said...

Scott,

So again, based on our agreed-upon facts and our assumed truths, the only conclusion that we can come to is that God created a significant percentage of His children with a predisposition to fail to meet the qualifications for Exaltation...

I would say that God created ALL of his children with a predisposition to fail to meet the qualifications for exaltation. As I've said before, I don't see homosexuality as having any special exemption status.

how many people do you know who claim that God created them with a natural inclination to murder or lie or steal or cheat or get slobbering drunk or have sex with any woman who will give them the time of day?

I'm not being flippant when I say this, but the answer to your questions is: Many.

I worked in a prison for a while, and I stopped counting how many times inmates said, "It's just who I am." I've known people (men and woman) who have cheated on multiple spouses, and who just shrug and say, "It's who I am, I just can't be expected to be monogamous." I've known drunks who claim they will never be rid of their thirst because it's who they are, it's in their nature to drink.

But...

I've read and heard the position that homosexuality is different because nobody gets hurt. It's just two people loving each other. I don't want us to launch into a social debate on how a female male run household benefits children and society more or less then a male male or female female household. My point in bringing this up is because, regardless of the verity of this statement...

Those aren't God-given tendencies--they're temptations authored by the devil that we are expected to resist.

... the argument of "It's who I am" does not go very far with me. It *might* indeed be who you are, that is not to me to judge. If you say it, I'll take it as face value. Yet regardless of who we all are, I stand by these beliefs:

- The Atonement has the ability to bring all of us to the highest ranks of the Celestial Kingdom, but we need to want it

- The highest degree if the celestial kingdom requires being sealed to someone of the opposite gender.

more on this....

Casey said...

Typo in my last post:

- The highest degree of (not if) the celestial kingdom requires being sealed to someone of the opposite gender.

We've discussed before the possibility of further light and knowledge based on Article of Faith 9, "... there will yet be revealed many great and important things..." with comparisons drawn to Blacks and the priesthood. among others.

Absolutely. And if that day comes, I will celebrate with you. As I've said before, it's my personal opinion that this won't ever happen, but I fully recognize that my opinion is only my opinion.

In the mean time, as I understand the principle of obedience, our challenge is to bend our will to align with His, and not try to bend God's will to align with ours.

How we each accomplish this, and the extent to which we try, is a very individual matter.

Scott said...

Some of the characteristics he gave us will be beneficial in becoming like Him. Others won't be.... In fact, that's part of his plan... This mortal like if not easy for anyone. It's not supposed to be... this life is a test, and no good test is easy....

I'm not sure we fully agree on how the Plan of Salvation works, or on what the purpose of this life is.

We agree at least on the generalities, I think. This life is a time for us to prepare to meet God--or more specifically, to become as much like God as we are able in the time we are alotted.

Where we don't agree, I think, is on the nature of the "test". I believe that the trials that we face (that help us to grow and to become more like God) are simply inherent in mortality or they are born of the temptations of the devil and his angels. I don't believe that God actually "inflicts" us with traits or circumstances or situations that will make it more difficult for us to return to Him--any more than I would intentionally place obstacles in my own childrens' paths as they strive for success.

So no, I don't believe that God would (or has) create "flaws" or characteristics in His children that would make their very natures yearn for something that would appear to be so very contradictory to His Plan as we understand it.

... Which again leaves us at the point where we have to question whether I (along with many, many others) am wrong when I assert that my orientation is an inherent part of who I am, or whether we simply do not fully understand what to expect in the eternities yet.

Of course, you don't believe that this is "just who I am", as your experience in the prison has given you reason to be skeptical of that argument.

Here's the difference, as I see it:

Your inmate aquaintances are using the protest "it's just who I am" to justify their infidelity or their alcoholism--to justify the deeds they have done.

I have never acted on my feelings or attractions. I am married to a woman. We were sealed in the temple. I am active in the Church and hold a temple recommend. I do not plan to leave my wife, or to be unfaithful to her. I do not intend to do anything that requires justification. But I still confidently assert that my attractions to men are an inherent part of "who I am"--a core characteristic of my being. I still claim that God did create me this way, and I firmly believe that if He did so, He must have made provision in His plan for me and others like me. True, I have gotten married and I am raising a family and I am reasonably happy, but I would not dare to suggest that every gay person could do the same nor that they should, because I have seen far too many failed marriages and broken homes, and I realize that my wife and I are a bit of an anomaly. The Plan of Salvation is also called the Plan of Happiness, and I have to believe that He intends for the 7%-10% of His children who are gay to be happy too.

Scott said...

As for this: "The highest degree of the celestial kingdom requires being sealed to someone of the opposite gender."...

Please show me where it says so. I expect I've read D&C 132 more often and more thoroughly than most members of the Church, and I'm convinced that we've made a lot of assumptions about what is "required" that aren't supported by a careful reading of the Word of God.

The only verse that specifically delineates an exclusion from Exaltation is verse 21: "... except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory."

Depending on how one reads the chapter, "my law" could refer to the sealing of a man and a woman (the common interpretation), or plural marriage (the common interpretation for many years, until the Manifesto was received), or simply to the "new and everlasting covenant", which receives some explanation in the first several verses of the chapter specific to the marriage of a man and a woman--but which is never exclusively limited to such a relationship.

It could even be that the "law" is simply and succinctly outlined in verse 12: "I give unto you this commandment--that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord".

Bottom line: I would be extremely reluctant to make any definitive statements about the hereafter. When you get right down to it, we really don't know much about it. Even President Hinckley admitted as much to Larry King, when he was asked about Lorenzo Snow's famous couplet ("As man now is, God one was, As God now is, man may become"). He replied:

"I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it and I don't think others know a lot about it."

If the Prophet claims not to know a lot about exaltation, who are we to claim that we know what is required, and what is involved, and what it entails?

It's true that as a general rule we are expected to obey the currently revealed laws and principles until such time as new truth is revealed.

But I believe it's also true that personal revelation trumps church-wide policy, and many gay members of the Church have felt personally inspired to go against the Church's policies and seek a partner. I can't help but believe that they will be blessed for following the promptings they have received.

Casey said...

:) We are talking in circles, and I'm not sure we will ever get anywhere.

So no, I don't believe that God would (or has) create "flaws" or characteristics in His children that would make their very natures yearn for something that would appear to be so very contradictory to His Plan as we understand it.

None of us are born perfect. Thus, by definition, we are born with flaws. We are also born as God made us. I am flawed by nature. So are you. We all are.

But, we all have the potential to become un-flawed.

As for this: "The highest degree of the celestial kingdom requires being sealed to someone of the opposite gender."...

Please show me where it says so. I expect I've read D&C 132 more often and more thoroughly than most members of the Church...


Go back one section.

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this border of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

Scott said...

None of us are born perfect. Thus, by definition, we are born with flaws. We are also born as God made us. I am flawed by nature. So are you. We all are....

Ah, but as I see it, those flaws are not God's work, but are (as I said) caused by the fallen world in which we live. God did not cause my friend's sister to be born with a deformed hand--it was the thalidomide that her mother took while she was pregnant. It wasn't God that caused another friend's haemophilia--but rather a random combination of genetic markers passed on from his parents. God did not give my mother cancer--it was a random mutation that took advantage of a genetic predisposition. All of these "flaws" are simply the result of living in imperfect bodies in an imperfect world.

But I strongly feel that my orientation is not a random mutation or genetic anomaly. A person with a physical handicap feels unwhole or incomplete and looks forward to the day when they will be perfected. I, on the other hand, did not feel complete until I acknowledged my orientation and allowed myself to experience an unfettered attraction to other men. When I discovered my homosexuality I discovered another part of myself.

Go back one section. [to D&C 131]

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this border of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.


... but still here it only says that "the new and everlasting covenant of marriage" is required--there is no scriptural basis for restricting that marital relationship to male-female partnerships. The next section (132) goes on to indicate that a man and a woman who are sealed will inherit the highest degree of glory, and that a man and a woman who are married by something other than priesthood authority will not, but nowhere does it preclude other relationships from being sealed by the priesthood and enjoying exaltation as well.

And so again, I maintain that we cannot definitively state that only male-female married couples will gain exaltation.

(Though I do agree that it appears more likely that we'll both end up dizzy from running in circles than that one of us will convince the other of his point of view) :)

Casey said...

...but nowhere does it preclude other relationships from being sealed by the priesthood and enjoying exaltation as well.

If we are using this kind of logic we will never arrive at any conclusions. If the Lord says "Do ABC" we can say all day long, "But he didn't say DO NOT do XYZ, so I'm okay."

It seems that to be on the safe side, one aught to leverage the full power of the Atonement to try and conform to ABC.

Casey said...

(thought of this right after clicking the big orange Publish button...)

If someone does not want to do ABC, that's an entirely different matter, and in fact I would respect that point of view more. Daniel, for example, has been very clear that he does not want to be sealed to a woman for time and eternity. Okay. I can easily understand his position. I don't agree with it of course, but I can at least respect that he has examined the issue and taken a clear stand.

Yet it seems to me that we are on dangerous ground when we start to look for all the things the scriptures did not specifically say we should not do, and then assuming we are okay to do them because someday there will be a new revelation telling us it's okay to do them.

My take: Either do your best to do to what we've been asked to do, or be on record as saying you have no desire or intent to comply. But, to say, "I'm not doing ABC like we've been asked, but I am doing XYZ and it's okay because nobody definitively said not to"... well, I guess that just makes me nervous.

Alan said...

Casey characterizes Scott's approach as "If the Lord says "Do ABC" we can say all day long, "But he didn't say DO NOT do XYZ, so I'm okay" and says that "to be on the safe side, one ought to leverage the full power of the Atonement to try and conform to ABC."

Life is full of issues and decisions about which the Scriptures say nothing. We are not supposed to be "commanded in all things." In at least two places I recall, the Doc. & Cov. itself quotes the Lord as saying one particular decision or another "mattereth not unto me" and He left it to the people involved to figure out. I'm not saying that something as momentous as marriage is on the level of the Lord never caring about it, simply that there is precedent for the Lord to leave decisions to us and our own analysis.

That means there is room within the gospel and the Church for individual decisions when the Scriptures are silent, or incomplete, or ambiguous. So if the Lord said "Do ABC," great. But if XYZ does not conflict with ABC, and the Lord hasn't said anything about XYZ, then it is logical to at least infer that XYZ may be possible. It is a logical fallacy to conclude that because the Lord said to do ABC, therefore anything and everything else is affirmatively prohibited. That's not what the Lord said.

Obviously in Casey's analysis ABC is heterosexual temple marriage, and XYZ is same-sex marriage. Casey takes a strict constructionist approach and believes that the Scriptures affirmatively prohibit anything but heterosexual temple marriage. Scott is not willing to go that far because the Scriptures do not in fact say "no other form of marriage will ever exist or be acceptable, and there will never be any other possibility but this one pattern to which everyone ever born must comply or else they cannot get into the highest degree of the celestial kingdom." Casey would think that statement is the inescapable conclusion of what Doc & Cov 131 does in fact say. Scott would be unwilling to draw such a final conclusion from an allegedly open scriptural canon if the words are not that explicit, especially since the result would be to shut some of God's children out from the highest possibilities solely because of the honest desires of their hearts.

That is the irreconcileable conundrum in a nutshell. That is why only new revelation will resolve this.