“We all struggle with imperfections, some not of our choosing.
But we also believe in an infinite Atonement that has the capacity
in this life or the life to come to endow us with every power necessary to convert our weaknesses and imperfections into strengths.”
~ Elder Tad Callister
As I pointed out yesterday, Elder Tad Callister’s article on morality in this month’s Ensign, which ignited a firestorm of controversy concerning his comments about women, also contained some comments on the subject of “same-gender relationships.”
In this post, I’d like to focus on two points, which are related: first, his brief discussion of how gays do not fit into the “Plan of Salvation” (the LDS doctrine concerning man’s progression through life and into eternity); and second, his implication that gay people will be “fixed” in the after-life. I’d like to first address the second point.
Fixing People Who Experience Same-Sex Attraction
In his article, Elder Callister implies in the strongest possible terms (i.e., stopping just short of a direct statement) that being gay is an “imperfection” and a “weakness.” This belief is offensive and demeaning to any person who experiences same-sex attraction. It is a belief that my generation was raised on, comparing homosexuality to, for example, alcoholism and birth defects. It is a belief that has been diluted over the years, but it is still there, as evidenced by Callister’s remarks. It is a belief that is the basis of reparative therapy and the cause of widespread and deep depression among Mormons who experience same-sex attraction.
But what is even more troubling is Elder Callister’s implication that homosexuals can be “fixed” in the afterlife. Everything will be made “right,” and a faithful gay Mormon will be able to have a spiritual transfusion that will make him straight so that he can move forward toward exaltation and eternal increase (see below).
Unfortunately, other general authorities have made statements to this effect in the past, but it is not based on anything more than their understanding of the Plan of Salvation. Meanwhile, it conveys a message to the entire church membership that being gay is a weakness that will be fixed in the afterlife, a message that reinforces many members’ beliefs that homosexuality is “unnatural,” a “sin,” and unworthy of recognition as something that is real.
Celestial Glory Shall Be Mine
In his brief remarks about homosexuality, Elder Callister opens by stating the following:
“[Same-gender relationships are] at odds with the scriptures, with the words of modern prophets, and with the plan of salvation, all of which teach the necessity of eternal marriage between a man and a woman as a condition to exaltation. A samegender relationship is inconsistent with God’s eternal pattern that husbands and wives not only have children in mortality but also have eternal increase in their exalted condition.”
Elder Callister is right: same-gender relationships are at odds with the Church hierarchy’s current understanding of the Plan of Salvation. They are also at odds with the Church’s fixation on its understanding of exaltation. But this does not mean that there is not a place for God’s gay sons and daughters in the eternal scheme of things.
I have written more extensively on this subject before, but for present purposes, I’d like to point out that the Church’s current understanding of “exaltation” is essentially based on only six verses in the Doctrine and Covenants, i.e., D&C 131:1-4 and D&C 132:16-17, which read as follows:
“[131:1-4] In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; 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]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase … [132:16-17] Therefore, when they [i.e., those who are not sealed in the temple] are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven …”
Note that other than these passages, there is nothing in all of Mormon scripture that addresses the two lower degrees of celestial glory (let alone the two lower kingdoms). Nothing.
That being said, is there not ample room within Mormon theology to provide a place in the afterlife for Heavenly Father’s gay and lesbian children? Did not Jesus himself say that in His father’s house are many mansions? Why aren’t these “other mansions” ever discussed in modern Mormonism?
Because nothing is known about them.
Gay people don't need to be "fixed" - either in this life or in the life to come. They are as God created them, and they are here in mortality for the same reason as all of God's other children: to fulfill the measure of their creation.