Guest Post: Turns Out I Was Wrong

By Lilith: Mormon studies scholar, ethnographer, and feisty heretic. Deeply and queerly Mormon.
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I know the missionaries were disappointed to hear that I have strong feelings about certain Church policies and cultural practices. I know this in part due to the way one of the sisters literally melted into her chair as I spoke indicating how my position deflated her pre-conceived notions about me, and maybe even the Church. As a new member, the missionaries are always challenging me to pray about the things I am unsure about or uncomfortable with. They tell me that I must have an open heart and be willing to set aside my own ideas and convictions, and be willing to be personally wrong so I can listen to what God’s plan is. So, when they gave me that challenge regarding my questions, I complied and I discovered that indeed, I was wrong. Not about the policy, not about “revelation,” but about the much bigger picture, and the surprising discovery of my own bigoted position. Let me explain.

I am totally convinced that the policy never came from God – it came from extremely misguided legal advisors wanting to cover the churches collective as….(ahem) “bottom” should the church ever be challenged on its stand against same-sex marriage. I strongly believe that the plan was to quietly slip the policy into Church handbooks and only fully enforce it when some boldly courageous LGBTQ couple wanted to do something so radical as to ask that their family be recognized through ordinances such as baby blessings, baptisms, or even (gasp) ask that their legal and committed marriage to one another be blessed with a temple sealing. The glitch in the plan came when some “yeah, but disciple” (disciples who always choose to follow God, despite contradicting orders from Church leaders) leaked the new handbook pages to sources that could expose them to the public uncovering the ill-conceived plot at codifying bigotry. Naturally, there being more “yeah, but disciples” in the world than Church leaders counted on, there was a huge public outcry. This just didn’t feel right, in fact, this felt immoral and unchristian! The policy didn’t feel like it came from God and many people openly stated as much.

Now the leaders were getting concerned; their authority was being openly questioned. Surprisingly (ok, not surprising at all), the hastily constructed broadcast wherein the Church leaders interviewed themselves, and attempted to claim love for children and families as the guiding thought behind the policy, did not quiet the murmuring crowds. In fact it only seemed to make them speak a bit more clearly. Now the leaders were really in a pickle! Obviously they were trying to defend an indefensible position and had painted themselves into a corner. It was clear that the leaders had two choices: either admit their mistake, fix it and move on. Or, find a way to justify their actions by producing an irrefutable source that could not be challenged, even by the “yeah, but disciples.” ” Sadly, they chose the bigger mistake, and claimed the policy was “revelation” and from God. Now their actions went from being a mortal mistake to an egregious abuse of ecclesial power. Satisfied that the murmuring would stop, they sat smugly back in their red velvet chairs expecting to hear the wonderful sound of compliance.

At this point in the story we can safely assume that those leaders now know exactly how the Grinch felt waiting on the top of Mount Crumpet to hear the sound of the Whos down in Whoville all crying boo-hoo and instead hears something unexpected. A correlated hush does not fall upon the crowd. Naturally there are some that are willing to sit and quietly wait for God to actually intervene, but there are still many more “yeah, but disciples” than the Church leaders are comfortable with – and they are still shouting about the fallibility of Church leaders. The Church leaders must be thinking: “how could this be?! Before the internet quieting the murmuring was so much easier!”

It is at this point in the story where I realize my mistake – realize how I was wrong, and acknowledge that now it may be quite possible that God does indeed have a bigger plan. You see, before this point (and it pains me more than a little to admit this), I would have been totally OK with the LDS Church keeping its LGBTQ members outside the temple doors. That is wrong. I see now that I too was guilty of my own form of bigotry, and for that I apologize to all my LGBTQ brothers and sisters and hope they can forgive my narrow-mindedness. Upon realizing my complicity I see the bigger, more divinely appointed, plan.

The plan is to throw open the temple doors to all families and in the process to change archaic approaches to gender and recognize that even in the temple there is “neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28-29). As Abraham’s heirs we are all children of God, all part of the human family Joseph Smith so radically envisioned.

By allowing same-sex sealings to take place in the temple will mean that the temple scripts (and even doctrine) will have to change; namely, that the archaic gender roles will have to be abandoned. It will be impossible to make women covenant with their husbands instead of God if they are marrying another woman – which of course call into question why heterosexual couples would have to stick to the old script while same-sex couples could enjoy a truly equal partnership with each other AND God. It will mean that the Eve story Mormons tell in Sunday school class, where Eve plays a crucial and active role, will have now have to be told in the temple as well.

Women may finally get a voice inside the temple as Eve is granted a speaking role in the temple’s ritual of the telling of the creation story! Giving Eve a literal voice will allow Eve (and all Mormon women) to speak directly with God. Speaking with God will allow women to make covenants with God – women will no longer be subjugated to men inside the temple doors and in the eternities. This idea is so radical and goes so counter to thousands of years of mortal social custom that it will certainly take a divine being to bring this about. Instituting full equality in the ability to form binding relationships with God is the bigger, more divine plan.

Equality in establishing binding relationships with God is a radical act of following Christ’s teachings. Of having such Christ-like love for others that we throw open not only the Church doors, but the temple doors as well. It is a radical act to invite all to enter into a deeper relationship with the divine and to share more equally in the power of the atonement. If the temple building project of the past fifty years has been all about getting ready for the millennium, where Mormons are expected to be doing massive amounts of temple work, it may be time to start unlocking the temple doors now. If temple work is so important that Mormons do it for their dead, maybe it is time to let more of the living enjoy the blessings of the temple as well. I apologize for being one of those willing to lock the temple doors against some LDS members. Please accept my most humble apologies – I was wrong, and I am sorry.

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18 Responses

  1. Andrew R. says:

    What a staggeringly difficult post to process. I could not disagree with most of what you write more. You say you are a new member, but not how new – so I don’t know if you have been endowed. However, if you have you have missed the Eve’s role in the endowment is every bit as important as it is in Sunday School. And with the latest presentations I believe that comes out even more than before.

    There is, however sad it may be for some to realise, no place for SSM in the eternities. The temples doors will not be opened so that same sex sealing will happen. I can not believe that God would have left such an important doctrine as this to this time in the history of the earth, if it were true. Sorry.

  2. Bonnie says:

    Andrew must be watching different temple movies than I’ve been watching for over 35 years. 🙁

    At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect with your post, but soon I realized that my smile was growing with each line I read. I love this, and I think you’re on to something…somrthing bigger than we could have dreamed.

  3. Lisa says:

    I love this! Before the 50’s high jacked our church we were all sealed to the family of
    God. So beautiful and inclusive but long gone like the granaries, women giving healing blessings and autonomy. God teaches us line upon line is our belief. Maybe this understanding and acceptance of the rainbow of sexuality is that next line. Something to think about anyway.

  4. Jess R says:

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines recently. I read somewhere recently that, “Privilege is thinking something is not a problem because it is not a problem for you personally.” I think that’s why I was willing to be ok with the church not allowing same sex couples to be sealed in the temple. It makes me sad because I can’t imagine the church ever relenting on this.

  5. Andrew R. says:

    The Bible, Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants all teach that marriage is between a man and a woman. At what point was all of this wrong?

    The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage is between a Man and a Woman. Why? Because that’s the plan. I didn’t make the plan, it’s the Father’s plan. If the plan allowed for any two people to be sealed and become eternal parents why would it take until the very eve of the Millenium for God to suddenly declare it so?

    And please, don’t say because we are all so much more enlightened now. If it has always been the case enlightenment wouldn’t have been needed – although it might well have hindered populating the earth.

    No, as I said, it is sad, especially for those this truly affects, but it is God’s plan so far as I can tell. And there is nothing scriptural that I can find that can change this.

    • nrc42 says:

      “The Bible, Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants all teach that marriage is between a man and a woman. At what point was all of this wrong?”

      Oh, I don’t know, maybe around the time that marriage was between a man and fifty women. Around the time when Brigham Young taught that monogamy was invented by the Romans, caused the fall of Rome, was an evil perversion of the Lord’s true design for marriage, and that polygamy was an eternal requirement for exaltation.

      Consistency in Church teachings on marriage is probably not the sturdiest foundation for your argument.

  6. Andrew R. says:

    Marriage, whether polygamous or monogamous, has always been between male and female. Please give me an instance where this has not been the case in the eyes of God.

    And I think you will find I was using Scriptural teachings, not Church ones. I do not believe that we have canonized anything attributed to BY RE marriage.

    Please, I would love to be proved wrong and end the pain. I have no issue with the legality of SSM. I only take issue with the idea that SSM can be eternal. I don’t believe the “power of endless lives” can come from anything but a male and female sealed together. And I don’t believe there is a scrap of scriptural evidence to the contrary.

    • nrc42 says:

      It’s worth pointing out here that until D&C 132, there wasn’t a scrap of scriptural evidence that ANY marriages could be eternal.

      It’s also worth pointing out that there have been previous Church teachings that were supported both by scripture and by Church leaders that have since been acknowledged as incorrect.

      Any argument here relies on the assumption that the scriptural record of God’s will and modern prophetic teachings of God’s will are accurate, but is this consistently the case? (Spoilers: No.)

    • Emily U says:

      I second what nrc42 wrote, and would just add that although Andrew R. is correct that there is no explicit reference to same sex marriage in scripture, and no modern revelation saying it could be sanctioned by God, we do believe God has “many great and important” things to reveal to us. I don’t know why people think same sex marriages are beyond the pale of future revelation.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Because I can’t believe in a God who would force, by implication, men I have known marry a women and be sealed to her, and then later allow two men to be sealed.

        I believe it is one of those things that would always have been.

      • nrc42 says:

        I have no idea what you’re trying to say here, Andrew. Mind rephrasing?

      • Kevin Winters says:

        I’m with nrc42: is the man being forced to be sealed to the woman? Sealed to the man? Would this be any different than the monumental change in how the Church as a while interpreted the racial ban on both priesthood and sealings?

  7. Emily U says:

    Lilith – I’m with you in that I hope this horrible policy will be an irritant that pushes the Church to open the wound it created and do some major surgery on the body of Christ that we are. That the Church will revise patriarchy out of the temple script, and out of the leadership structure, and out of the family.

  8. Abby says:

    In the temple, two men (Heavenly Father and Jesus) create Adam and Eve with zero input or help from a woman. Heavenly Mother is nowhere to be seen in the process. That used to hurt me because it made me feel rather unnecessary for anything in the eternal plan (especially since motherhood and creating life was supposed to be my only, and all important, job, and then I learned in the temple the guys could do it just fine without me after all).

    But now, it feels like it’s hinting of new possibilities I’d never considered, and I’m feeling more hopeful about that doctrine. Two men can create a world and the people on it without help from women – that means a same sex union might be much more of a possibility than I’d considered before. And for my gay friends, that makes me glad. I liked your article. 🙂

  9. True Blue says:

    Andrew, The fact that marriage between a man and a woman, is recorded, means the recorder was heterosexual. It says nothing about homosexual relations, which are now a possibility. It never occurred to me that when gay marriage became available, so the temple definition of chastity, “not having sexual relations, except with the husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully married”, allowed gay couples to comply, we would refuse to seal them in the temple.

    I can not understand why we are inventing reasons to exclude them?

    Lileth in this post has come up with a positive twist.

  10. Ellee says:

    I do not understand why SMS is even an issue. When I was growing up it was a standard teaching in the Church that covenants made in the temple were only valid if “sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” I took that to mean that God approved and sanctioned that covenant. I also interpreted that teaching to mean that a couple could be sealed in the temple, but if that marriage was not “sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise” that they were in fact, not sealed eternally. They might have the chance to become so in the next life, but there was no guarantee they had an eternal marriage.

    So I don’t understand why there is such a need for control that “the Brethren” are not willing to allow gay couples to be sealed in the temple. Shouldn’t they be allowed to and then let God determine whether or not they could or would be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise? Isn’t that God’s decision? Why limit God’s choices? If He says, “No”, no harm done, but what if He really wants to say yes? Isn’t God’s work being impeded in that case? I just don’t think we need to make up God’s mind for Him.

    I liked this article that explored ways the temple might be friendlier to women as well. I also find the temple demeaning to women, and I really, really don’t believe that is of God either.

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