Friday, February 23, 2007

Eternally gay?

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
Alma 34:33-34

We read this scripture this morning in our scripture study. Afterwards my wife asked me for my thoughts and I responded that I didn't have any. But I lied, I do have thoughts, but not any that I felt comfortable discussing with her. It is the last half of verse 34 that has given me pause.

... for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

Does this mean that if I'm gay in this life that I'll also be gay in the next? I've read other gay Mormon's write things to the effect that they know these feelings and attractions will only be present in this earthly life and that they will no longer have to endure them in the afterlife. But, what is the scriptural basis for such a belief? Isn't the spirit which possesses my body right now attracted to other male spirits? And, according to Alma, won't that same spirit be with me in the eternal world? Am I going to enter the next life thinking "Wow! Nephi is even hotter in real life than he is in the pictures"?

Or are my attractions to men purely physical - like hunger? If that is true then wouldn't that also hold true for straight guys and their attractions to women? If I'm not going to be attracted to male spirits in the next life then doesn't it also hold true that straight men won't be attracted to female spirits in the next life?

This scripture is, of course, not new to me. I've read it many times before. I recall having discussions with missionary companions about this. We would often use examples to the effect that if a person is is a stupid jerk in this life then they will also be a stupid jerk in the next life, unless they do something about it in this life (i.e. repent and forsake being a stupid jerk).

But, what does this mean in regards to my attractions to men? I can repent of my actions, but do I have any control over the attractions? If I can't control them then is repentance necessary? How can I forsake something I cannot control? If I cannot repent and forsake my attractions to men, then what promise do I have that these feelings won't be with me eternally?

There are some who claim that same sex attraction is a choice, and that I can choose to not to be attracted to men. But, these claims are made by people who have never experienced them. I don't know why I am attracted to men. But, one thing I do know beyond any reasonable doubt is that I did not choose to be this way. The very suggestion of choice defies logic - why would I choose to be attracted to men and then torture myself for the rest of my life by not allowing myself to act on these attractions?

When we teach young men about the law of chastity, we often quote Elder Boyd K. Packer where he says:

"It was necessary that this power of creation have at least two dimensions. One, it must be strong, and two, it must be more or less constant.

This power must be strong. Except for the compelling persuasion of these feelings, men would be reluctant to accept the responsibility of sustaining a home and a family. This power must be constant, too, for it becomes a binding tie in family life."
Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, lesson #45 "The Sacred Power of Procreation"

But, what does this mean for those of us where something was cross wired so that the urges within us are directed at our own gender rather than towards women? It is still just as strong and constant. And, if our strong sexual urges compel us "accept the responsibility of sustaining a home and a family", then what is compelling me, with my attractions to men, to accept that responsibility?

I don't know where I'm going with this train of thought. Maybe I'm just in one of my "why me?" self pity moods.


Loyalist (with defects) said...

I believe there is a world of difference between action and thought (attraction).

We are responisble for our actions we are not responsible for our thoughts.

Mormon Enigma said...

Understood. But, will I still have these attractions in the life hereafter?

Ammon said...

That is the big question. I've asked my bishop the same question. If attractions are purely physical than everyone will have them taken away in the next life, regaurdless of who we are attracted to.
But if these feelings are deeper than just of the Natural Man, than yes, we are going to be gay for the rest of our spiritual existance too. So embrace being who you are. These feelings will either go away after death, or it will be part of you forever.
I'm not saying go find a boyfriend. You can embrace your being gay without acting on your feelings. I'm still working on that one, but I think it can be done.
You have a beautiful family and I think that you need to really see the happiness that can be found all about you. I'm very jealous, actually. I wish you the very best as you continue thinking everything over and talk through your feelings with your wife and family.
love, your friend,

Kengo Biddles said...

I think at many levels we have to delude ourselves to have some sense of hope in this life...Your points about same- and opposite-gender attraction have made me think on that.

I guess it comes down to faith, what you believe your purpose is here on Earth.

Part of my has to hope that the same-gender attractions will go away, that they won't be a plague to me forever.

If God is a just God, how can he give us these feelings and yet force us to be married to women (or celebate) for eternity? That would be worse than any hell, and we might as well go live it up!

I choose to hope.

Foxx said...

We are responisble for our actions we are not responsible for our thoughts.

Doctrinally, you are responsible for both. Alma 12:14, Mosiah 4:30.

I think at many levels we have to delude ourselves to have some sense of hope in this life...

If there is hope to be had, can I not hope without delusion or dilution? I prefer to hope in that which is real.

I guess it comes down to faith, what you believe your purpose is here on Earth.

Herein I see a problem. The scripture seems to imply that in the case of attraction, the feelings will not go away when we die. What you are asking us to do is to ignore the scriptures entirely and accept our "plague" as temporal because it allows us to have hope and to have faith and to believe.

What am I to believe in if I cannot trust the words written in scripture?

Enigma, I hear you. This scripture is one of the troubles I have with the Church on the subject of gays. The authorities never come out and say that the feelings will go away in the next life, so we're all left here wondering, floundering, hoping, and deluding ourselves while we try to make sense of something which, right now, really doesn't make sense, afraid of the consequences should we come to the wrong conclusion.

Where is the universality of God? What does he really expect from us on Earth? Does God cease to be God if he has different sets of rules based on circumstances outside your healthy ability to choose?

Sorry for the outburst, but this hits a nerve for me.

Gay BYU Student said...

Okay, lots of random comments:

When I read the scripture at the beginning I yelled out loud, "he stole my idea!" I actually had this very same question, and discussed it in an email several weeks ago with a gay married Mormon man (hey wait, is that you?)

General authorities have been more explicit recently in explaining that, according to church doctrine, this is only a mortal condition. Elder Wickman: "Same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life." I don't know if I believe it (especially in the context of the scriptures) but there you go. They mention nothing about heterosexual attraction except to say that there is no fulness of joy in the next life without a wife.

I laughed out loud at the Nephi comment. Very clever.

In the context of KB's remarks, it becomes apparent that we have been given the choice between hell now or hell later. There is no escaping it!

Excellent post. Well thought through and well stated. Thanks!

SG said...

M.E. - I appreciate your thoughtfulness and faith. Please indulge my simple faith and what some would call naivete).

Like most SSA men, I know I did not choose to be attracted to other men. I believe I was born this way; I believe I was given this challenge as a way of being tested, much like I am being tested by having bipolar disorder, like how another is tested by having a predisposition to an addiction like alcoholism, etc.

I believe sexual attractions themselves are not only a mortal experience - I'm planning on being able to have sex with my wife into the eternities :). I believe in my perhaps overly simple and naive way that only the desire to redirect those desires towards members of our own sex is a part or our mortal test.

I believe these scriptures teach us that if we have no desire to repent in this life we won't have any desire to repent in the next life.

That leads to the next question. Do we have anything to repent of? If we've acted on our feelings or attraction to other men, then yes. If all we've had are the feelings themselves, then no.

Are the feelings of attraction sinful? In my opinion, they are not. But, again, in my opinion, and I'm prepared to be bashed by some, I believe they are a distortion of Heavenly Father's eternal plan for us. I believe they are one test of mortality; they are, in my mind, nothing more than a test. I've lived with these feelings longer than most who post (I'm in my mid 40s). Some are given this test, others different tests.

We're taught that none are given tests beyond our ability to bear. I have a hard time believing there are many tests more difficult to bear then this, but that's probably because I'm one who has had to bear it.

Like others have said, I choose to have hope. I choose to believe that Heavenly Father really does love us, and that His plan is perfect. I believe we are here to be tested, but the test can be passed, albeit with difficulty, but that it will ultimately be worth it.

-L- said...

The purpose of the reproductive system is reproduction, and we should have hormonally prompted sexual desires to that end. I'm somewhat vague on how free will will integrate with a perfect resurrected body, but I think that a perfected body will have the appropriate morphology of its hypothalamus, the appropriate response to chemical signals (like apocrine sweat), the right level of testosterone, etc., to allow us to leave the sexual part of SSA behind.

That, plus what gBYUs already said about Wickman's comment.

To be honest, I've always been a little baffled as to why everyone finds it so hard to believe. We can be different than we are and still be the same. Life is like that.

Mormon Enigma said...

... but I think that a perfected body will have the appropriate morphology of its hypothalamus

Them are a lot of big words. But, I think I got the gist of what you are saying.

Chris said...

...we have been given the choice between hell now or hell later. There is no escaping it!

Oh, but there is. Just not the way the LDS Church teaches, in my opinion.

I knew I reached an important crossroads in my understanding of myself when I realized one day that I actually liked being gay, and the idea of not being gay was terrifying. If the Mormons are right (and, hey, I'll concede that maybe y'all are...) and I lose my attraction in the hereafter, I'll be deeply disappointed and will arrange for PPI with God at the earliest opportunity to talk with him about the rather sick joke he played on us.