Dear 100 Hour Board,
I don't understand why LGBT marriage/relationships are wrong from a church perspective. What are your thoughts on this issue and how do you reconcile it in a religious sense?
-My Name Here
See Board Question #93128 for some of my other, more well-developed thoughts on this topic.
As to why it's wrong, intrinsically? Nobody can say, really, except that our current practice is that God said so. That, as with everything else, could always change in the future, although I don't think that change on this doctrine is by any means inevitable. I won't belabor the finer theological points, since guppy of doom has broken down the logic of the position pretty well, though I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions and assumptions therein.
Our current position is a very difficult position to be in as a LGBTQ+ person. I can't understand that firsthand, myself, but I can understand the suffering related by others. It is not my place to tell them how to navigate it. I think we ought to be a good deal more compassionate and understanding in the Church. I've related personal frustrations with those who prioritize doctrinal purity over kindness and loving understanding at some length before.
I believe that God's atonement for us provides a means to overcome all suffering and find peace, whether reconciliation of faith and sexuality leads to continued faithfulness in the gospel or not. Barring further light and knowledge to enlarge my understanding, that seems to be the most logical conclusion to me. All of us suffer. Some of us suffer much more than others. And for some of us that suffering is lifelong and overwhelming. But the God I worship knows and watches over all things. I can't tell you what will become of same-sex relationships in the next life, but I trust that those who love God and others--those who seek to do and to be good and kind--will be rewarded in some ultimate sense. Those who are unkind or cruel or hateful--including viciousness or pettiness in service of doctrine or "eternal truth"--will not be.
The real reason? It's been carried over from how Christianity in general views homosexuality. While I would argue this treatment stems from men not wanting to be treated/viewed as sexual objects in the same way they treat/view women, Christianity has a long history of calling gay relationships "unnatural."
This belief naturally carried over into the Church, just like many other Christian beliefs. However, just as groups today are creating new reasons why LGBTQ relationships are bad ("It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve"), we too came up with our own unique doctrinal rationale (excluding the typical "well God just commanded it for some mysterious reason") for why these relationships were forbidden. Our current rationale is:
- Only those who are married can make it to the highest order in the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 131:2).
- Eternal marriage/companionship is key so we can become like God with "a continuation of the seeds forever and ever." (D&C 132:19). Eternity is to be spent becoming like God: bearing spiritual children and creating worlds that may be populated by them, so that they too may achieve exaltation.
- How does one bear spirit children? President Oaks in his Oct. 2019 Conference talk said, "[Our] highest destiny is possible only through marriage for eternity. Eternal life includes the creative powers inherent in the combination of male and female—what modern revelation describes as the 'continuation of the seeds forever and ever.'” (Also see the Family Proclamation). Now, is it the combination of the egg and sperm, or rather priesthood (male) and motherhood (female) that create these spirit children and worlds? It's not specified, but there's something about needing the male and female together to create godly things.
So, to sum up:
- A male, by himself or with another man, has the priesthood so can probably create a few things, but can't create children. (Unless there's 3 men, because then they might be able to create everything.)
- A woman, by herself or with another woman, is useless and can't do anything.
Then we have additional arguments as to why the Church can't allow LGBTQ relationships (that is, allow them to be sealed in the temple and become exalted together):
- This implies God reproduces in a way different than ours.
- Either the priesthood or women aren't that important (or both):
- Lesbians without the priesthood can become like God, so that means the priesthood isn't necessary.
- Gay men without women can become like God, so that means women aren't necessary.
- In order to solve the "priesthood isn't necessary to become like God" problem, the Church either has to give women the priesthood or say God somehow shares His priesthood power with all His children in the next life (essentially ordaining women in the next life).
- Homophobic Church members will be furious at the Church. We'll definitely get a few more sects out of it and membership would likely drop.
- This throws our current understanding of God for a loop. What if God is actually in a gay relationship and the reason we haven't heard much about Heavenly Mother is because S/He's actually another Heavenly Father?
- If two women or two men can do all this, why can't one woman or one man do it? What's stopping individuals from becoming their own lonesome gods?
- The Church will have to deal with polygamy in the eternities; their current view is "The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come."
- Pro-polygamous individuals will use the Church's acceptance of LGBTQ relationships to argue the Church needs to accept polygamy again. Some will argue God commanded the Church to accept these relationships only as a means to restore His true form of marriage, polygamy (see D&C 132).
- The Church's teachings on LGBTQ individuals has lead to depression, divorce, and death. What kind of loving God allows his children to be treated like monsters, made to feel they will never experience true love in this life, and commit suicide if He was going to eventually change His mind?
But there's reasons those arguments fall apart:
- Mary had a virgin birth. Adam was created from the dust of the earth. We create life in test tubes nowadays. We can't limit God's power by our limited understanding of biology.
- We already teach that women get a form of the priesthood in the temple, so the Church can argue that that's the priesthood a godly lesbian couple uses to create everything. And women have never really been important in the eternities - you could read all the LDS scripture and come to the conclusion that Heavenly Father is the sole god of our world, with no companions.
- Same as #2, though many would rejoice if this led to women being ordained.
- Racist church members left the Church when they ordained Blacks. This isn't about church membership, but what God wants.
- Our view of God and Jesus's relationships was radically different with polygamy. Church leaders taught that God and Jesus were polygamous and had many wives. Now we teach that God has only one wife (though some disagree, thanks polygamy "jokes"). An evolving understanding of God and eternity is literally what an "ongoing restoration" means.
- The Church is going to have to deal with polygamy at some point. This clarification is a long time coming, regardless of the Church's stance of LGBTQ relationships.
- We currently have people saying polygamy is God's true form of marriage (my male friend at BYU, for instance, was insistent this was the case). Maybe if the Church says gay relationships are valid in the next life will finally shut those people up. Telling women they'll have to share their true love for eternity is abhorrent.
- Yes, just like how black families weren't allowed to enter the temple and be sealed together for time and all eternity for decades. The pain people have suffered is no excuse for why their pain needs to continue.
I think the ultimate religious reconciliation is realizing that the restoration is ongoing.
From an unreligious viewpoint, this change is inevitable. The Church follows society's norms, though often decades after society has changed and with much kicking and screaming. We left polygamy after the government demanded it. We ordained Black men to the priesthood and allowed Black families to be sealed in the temple years after the Civil Rights movement. We've recently given women more power, as women first prayed in General Conference in 2013 and now women can act as witnesses. Our language around LGBTQ individuals has radically shifted from making jokes about punching gay individuals to expressing love and understanding. It's definitely not going to happen in the next few years, but in a hundred years or so our current comments about how abhorrent LGBTQ relationships are will have aged as well as the comments apostles have made against interracial marriages.
-guppy of doom