04 January 2011

ARG: Elder Oaks & Elder Wickman on SGA - Part 8

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Is heterosexual marriage ever an option for those with homosexual feelings?

ELDER OAKS: We are sometimes asked about whether marriage is a remedy for these feelings that we have been talking about. President Hinckley, faced with the fact that apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage as the remedy for these feelings, made this statement: “Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.” To me that means that we are not going to stand still to put at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.

On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate.
President Hinckley said that marriage is not a therapeutic step to solve problems.

ELDER WICKMAN: One question that might be asked by somebody who is struggling with same-gender attraction is, “Is this something I’m stuck with forever? What bearing does this have on eternal life? If I can somehow make it through this life, when I appear on the other side, what will I be like?”

Gratefully, the answer is that 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. Admittedly, for each one of us, it’s hard to look beyond the ‘now’ sometimes. But nonetheless, if you see mortality as now, it’s only during this season. 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.

ELDER OAKS: Let me just add a thought to that. There is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband, a wife, and posterity. Further, men are that they might have joy. In the eternal perspective, same-gender activity will only bring sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities.

ME: Why is this response so long? Yikes. The first difficulty I have is again with leaders not taking any responsibility for what has happened. "..apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage." Why does Elder Oaks talk about this as if this might have happened unknown to the leadership of the church? It most definitely happened, and it happened a lot. Leaders are all instructed by the Handbook of Instructions in very specific ways in how to deal with every issue imaginable. There is an army of men that were counseled by stake presidents and bishops across the country to marry a woman to cure their homosexuality. There is no room for anyone to speak of it as if it may or may not have happened or that it is just some rumor.

Then the second remark Elder Oaks makes about the exception makes it sound like any truly valiant and faithful person would marry a woman. "persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate." Blessing of eternity certainly can't be enjoyed without marriage to a woman right? And what about the many many gay members who have nothing to be cleansed of? Who have never acted on their homosexuality (like me up until the last few months)? Would I have been considered to be appropriately "dealing" with my feelings? How do you measure that? How does one "deal" with these feelings? Is it simply by "putting them in the background?" Never knowing when they might surface? To me, it sounds like Elder Oaks is saying, "no, marriage is not a cure for homosexuality, but faithful members with these feelings should get married." Which is it??

Oh Elder Wickman... has your life felt like a "nano-second," really? Of course we can say that in the perspective of eternity this is a short time, but that is not what our current perspective is. We have no concept of eternity. We cannot imagine it. We can however wonder how 10 minutes can seem to last for weeks. What? you have to pee? Just hold it. This life is just a nano-second. It isn't that much to ask is it?

Also.... WHOA! Wow... when was THAT doctrine revealed? I must have been asleep during THAT Sunday School lesson. Homosexuality did not exist and will not exist beyond this life? What about heterosexuality? I don't recall any scriptures or prophets speaking on the matter. I've already spoken my feelings about this subject in this post.

Finally, I agree Elder Oaks. Men are that they might have joy. And in my experience (which I cannot deny), same-gender activity has not brought me sorrow and grief or the loss of eternal opportunities. But guess what did? Those years of repression and denial of who I was. Instead, my dating experience has brought me more joy than I ever thought I'd experience. I'm pretty sure that things that bring true happiness in this life will be still bring true happiness in the next life because it is TRUE.

I feel bad. I would never speak this way in person to a General Authority. But these are my thoughts, unedited and plain as day. In person, or in a formal letter, I would of course word all of this more respectfully, but I'd still address the same points. Unfortunately, there is no way they would grant me an audience or even take the time to read, consider, and respond to a letter. So sorry if my tone offends you. It is only because of the deep emotions that are attached to statements like these.


Steven Lester said...

Well, now you know from whom I got the doctrine explanation that death conquers gay lusting. He told me that very same thing way before the Q & A thing came out. He backed it up with the same argument that I wrote down in a one of my rants from before: that lust is of the body and wasn't felt in the pre-existence nor will be felt as spirits in Paradise, because the lust is, once again, entirely of the mortal body. I was visiting his home during one Christmas, and I respected him greatly then, even as I do now, and although he wasn't a G.A. at the time, he was the biggest thing that I knew. So, I believed him, and I must say, still do.

Yet, I just read your article dated December 10th, and I think that you have some valid arguments on your side, too. I think that the two sides can be reconciled.

I am imagining a scenario that involves the tender relationship you and your boyfriend had up until recently. I can see that he must have looked handsome to your lustful side, good body, great kisser, strong hand holding your own, which sent some thrills through you physically. Perfectly natural, of course, but there was certainly more to your relationship than just those things. You shared some of them in that excellent paragraph so tenderly written a few entries below. And all of those binding qualities that transcended the bodily lustfulness and entered into the truly loving side of the equation, from puppy-love to spiritual alignment, if you will, are now entered into your memory with a happiness and goodness on a scale unlike anything you ever knew before.

He was your first, and that he will always be for eternity. You and he are bonded now with that singular distinction forever, and whether or not you two ever get together again during this mortality, you will certainly see each other on the otherside, and then you'll see each other and the love aspects will be remembered and you'll probably kiss again and hold hands or whatever else will seem natural at the time, but you feel no lust for him nor he for you at any time, which just leaves the love part, which is the sweeter of the two sides of the equation, wouldn't you agree? Sweet oneness without all of that messy grinding, so to speak.

I've never been in a relationship, of course. They scare me. I instinctively know that were I to give my heart to somebody and then it didn't work out, the pain would be worse than anything else I could or can imagine. I know that distance is safety. I've seen the misery that broken relationships force on other people. Why would I want to travel in that direction? So, I'm just imagining how it would be with you and your first love, based only on observation but no experience in the least.

One minute in Paradise would clear up so much confusion, man. The closest thing to that which I have found is found in the Near Death Experience. I've read hundreds of them. They offer me much hope.

El Genio said...

Elder Wickman's doctrinal assertion seems to come out of left field. The only other time/place prior to this incident that I have seen a similar assertion was from an Ensign article by Elder Holland. His assertion has never felt right to me, in fact, the feelings I experience while reading his answer are exactly opposite of those that the spirit would produce.

And to be frank, the direct association of homosexuality with lust is insulting. Are we really going to tell gay parents that have loved and served each other and their children for decades that their relationship was based on nothing but lust, and won't exist in the next life? Will their family bring them nothing but "sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities"? A God that would treat his children in such a way is not the God that I worshiped for so many years.

Steven Lester said...

And that is not the God you worship, indeed. Sexuality, itself, is lust. It is a reproductive urge within the physical brain that is activated during puberty, but its direction is set from birth, and that direction scans the whole field of definitions. However, lust is not love. The marvelous oneness that comes from lust-empowered attraction between two (or even three or more) people is much different. That is love and it should never be confused with lust itself. Why is it insulting? A relationship is NEVER based on just nothing but lust, and what will remain after death will be that higher something that bound two people together down here, and the lust that started it off won't be felt to muddy it all up, either. That won't change.

jen said...

There is nothing offensive or disrespectful about what you have written. It has a lot of power, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

I still see these men as speaking from a very small understanding. What they are saying helps them to make sense of their world, but doesn't actually apply to yours.

I really appreciate the things you write, so thanks for writing.

Gay Mormon said...

@Steven- I can agree with that to an extent. Perhaps the feelings that make you think "oh, he's hot or she's hot" will not exist, but even sex is much more than lust. It is the deepest expression of love between two people. I'm not so sure heaven would limit our expressions of love. If anything, it would add to the ways we can express love. Furthermore, even shallow comments like "he's hot" come from a deeper, more real appreciation for beauty. Where do we draw the line between appreciation and lust? I don't know. I am willing to accept that perhaps our feelings of love and lust will be different in some ways, but for the most part, I think that what we feel now, we will feel then. It is still our same spirit and same body having the same knowledge and experience.

Anyway, the major issue I have is simply with the idea that I will no longer love the man I choose to be with during this life. It doesn't feel right and it doesn't right true to me in the way I understand the gospel.

Lastly, it is true that relationships are scary. No one wants to be hurt. But I think that the risk is well worth the experience of loving and being loved.

@Jen- Thanks! I really appreciate your comments.

Steven Lester said...

Well, I can agree with you about that. You will continue to be able to love that guy on the otherside. I think that must be a given considering how fair God is with his children.

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