As a rule, it is rare that I preach the gospel of Samantha outside of my personal blog. The reasons for this are endless, but the most important reason I keep my thoughts in my own personal space is because, having researched and pondered and prayed, I see no reason to place those thoughts in an indefensible arena. My blog is a fortress because the bottom line is that IT?S MY BLOG AND I WILL SAY WHATEVER I WANT! However, I shared my ideas about a particular subject with a friend recently, and I have been asked since to reiterate them to several other interested parties.
Given my natural attraction to women, I, like every other faithful LDS person who is same-sex attracted, have pondered the possibility of eternal same-sex couplings. It feels right and comfortable. To many of us, the promise of eternal opposite-sex couplings feels miserable. It?s not what we wish for now. And often, when gospel tenets feel uncomfortable, we search for other answers, other possibilities?anything to help us resolve the inner conflict caused as we try to balance our feelings with our beliefs. This has inspired many to ?re-write? the gospel according to their own beliefs, their own comfort levels, and their own spiritual feelings.
Often those who do this will cite a landmark revelation given June 8, 1978, in which President Spencer W. Kimball announced that the Lord had made it known from that day forward that all faithful, worthy male members of the Church could now be ?ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.? (D&C?Declaration 2). The resulting line of logic goes something like this:
- For many years the priesthood was denied to people of African descent (specifically meaning those referred to as ?blacks or negroes??I apologize to any whom these terms offend).
- The Lord changed this part of the gospel to include them.
- If this is true, it is possible for God to change the gospel, through revelation, to include eternal same-sex marriages and families.
There are, naturally, variations on this theme, and I have simplified what, in many cases have been complex, deeply researched theories backing up the logic and supporting each premise.
I must pause here to mention that I know many who believe deeply, indeed who pray daily that the above speculated revelation may come to pass in their lifetimes. I put forth my own ideas not to belittle their views, nor to debate them. I have the greatest respect for anyone who searches for truth, regardless of whether or not our beliefs concur. I have read many of your writings and research. I have listened to what you have to say. I have never been disrespectful of the things you believe deeply. I request the same courtesy as I state my own views.
The flaw I see in the previously mentioned logic problem is that we are talking about two very different aspects of the gospel when we compare gay marriage to Declaration 2. Many disagree on the basis that continuing revelation is without limitation, and the parallel is not illogical. So, after much study and research, I bring you my reasons for my own beliefs.
In the beginning, God blessed Adam and his posterity with the priesthood. It was limited only by worthiness and gender. It was intended to be available to all people. The worthiness problem became a glaring issue when Cain killed Abel. Obviously, murder will effectively separate one from righteously exercising the priesthood. It?s not always obvious to the casual Old Testament observer, but Cain was not alone in living the ?unworthy? lifestyle, he was just the first to take another life?sort of a historical biblical landmark. At that point, steps were taken to separate those who wished to live the gospel from those who did not. A mark was placed on Cain and those like him (we?ll call them the ?unworthies? simply for clarity in the story), and they were separated from the ?worthies?, or those who had the priesthood. I do not wish to speculate on the ?mark?. It is not necessary for my premise to stand.
At the point of the worthiness separation, for the first time, the priesthood was no longer universal. Steps were taken to keep it within the workings of the church, and those who lived in the society of the unworthies were denied the priesthood regardless of their personal beliefs or worthiness. If men were born into a family of unworthies, circumstance dictated that they would not be ordained members of priesthood quorums. It does not seem, from what I?ve studied, that this edict was lifted, and descendents of Cain continued without the priesthood throughout biblical times.
In addition to this, at one point the priesthood became exclusively available based on tribe and bloodline. The Melchizedek priesthood was reserved for very few people (like prophets), and the number of priesthood holders dwindled until the coming of Christ. During Christ?s ministry and immediately following his death, he began once again, to make the priesthood universal to all people. Gentiles were baptized. The gospel was preached wherever the church leaders went, and this continued until they were all killed which effectively ended the first attempt at what I refer to as ?universal priesthood restoration?.
My point?it has always been the Lord?s intention to have all men ordained to his priesthood. Because of the acts and choices of mortals, this intention has been thwarted throughout history. I?ll come back to this.
Fast forward to the lifetime of Joseph Smith–he fulfilled his predestined calling, restored the gospel in its fullness and brought forth the Book of Mormon. BUT?the priesthood was still exclusive. It was denied to people of African descent. Why?
Mormon fable would have us believe these falsehoods:
- African people were descended of Cain, and therefore denied priesthood and temple blessings.
- Those who were born to families of African descent were less valiant in the spirit world and would bear punishment for that in mortality.
There are certainly more untruths stated as reasons for the exclusion, but they are all ficticious. Some of our past church leaders have allowed the falsehoods to be purported, unfortunately, during their lifetimes. Some, perhaps, even believed those to be true. We are all mortal and imperfect; even those who lead the church have made false statements and/or believed Mormon folklore. It?s an unfortunate fact of life, and one which all who remain in the church will have to come to terms with in at some point during their lifetimes.
The truth, however, is this. The timing of the Restoration coincided with a long tradition of slavery in the
In addition to this, the
Given the social constructs, language barriers, and literacy problems, it would have been unjust for God to endow those of African descent with the responsibilities of the priesthood. To ordain them to a power they could not freely exercise would not fit with the order and logic the Lord has used in his intervention throughout time. In order for the priesthood to become universal, as it was always intended, there would have to be many changes made within the societies blessed with the restored gospel. Some of those changes would deal with educating and equalizing the status of the African people in any country, but most of the changes would be within the hearts of those who were members of the church who viewed their fellow brethren with prejudice and judgment. Only when the general membership grew spiritually mature enough to nurture and love all people, could those who had been less privileged, who had borne the aftereffects of slavery, bigotry, and prejudice, be given the full blessings of the priesthood. Truthfully, the church membership wasn’t, and isn’t, as charitable as it should have been when the blessings were restored–but even the Lord can’t wait on bigots forever.
It is a wonderful thing that the Lord has provided for those who were key actors in bringing about the change, but who were unable to experience personally, the blessings they brought forth to their posterity. In speaking with a lovely older lady, sporting neatly arranged gray dreadlocks, I learned that she understood society?s need to progress to the point where all men might be considered equal before those of her heritage could enjoy the fullness of the gospel. She spends many hours in the temple (where I met her), making certain that her loved ones, ancestors, and even strangers can one day receive the blessings she enjoys. It does not seem, to her, to be a judgment of God against her ancestors, but rather, a result of the bigotry and ignorance of mankind which kept them enslaved and illiterate, effectively stopping the progression she believes the Lord intended. It does seem that God?s plans are always thwarted by the pride and prejudice of man, but only for a moment. In the end, a way is always found for God?s intentions to go forth.
This returns me to the first point I outlined: it has always been the Lord?s intention to have all men ordained to his priesthood. This is the premise which makes the parallel drawn between priesthood restoration and the possibility of a revealed acceptance of gay marriage false.
Marriage, on the other hand, has been limited to a man and a woman. One can argue that there have been times when God has commanded multiple wives, but the marriage contract was still between a man and a woman. Throughout history the traditional marriage has maintained this construct.
I will not speculate about the Lord?s power to make anything happen. He is, of course, omnipotent. My purpose is not in trying to decide if He will reveal that gay marriage will be acceptable in the future or the eternities. It is simply to point out that to base one?s belief that such a revelation will happen on the landmark revelation given in D&C Declaration 2, is a flawed line of logic. The Declaration restored that which had been lost. A revelation changing the construct of marriage would be introducing a new concept, one which has never been historically offered to mankind. The two are unrelated in purpose and principle. The revelations themselves, should one compare them in theory, are not similar historically. The premise cannot stand.
Where does that leave those of us who are same-sex attracted? I suppose that is and always has been an individual decision. My belief is that all who are born to this earth will have an opportunity to sacrifice to the Lord at least one thing that is an integral part of one?s mortal being. That sacrifice will be something dear to each of us. In the end, every person will understand that in the sacrifice of all things, we are blessed in equal ways. It will probably not be in the ways we would choose, but at some point all will acknowledge that our limited knowledge does not compare to that which the Lord has, nor can our ignorance change His limitless love for us. I believe, in every instance, the bottom line is that our Heavenly Father has placed each of us in a position here on earth which will help us learn and grow in the best way possible?even when it?s uncomfortable, lonely, or heartbreaking.
And there you have it?one more aspect of the gospel as I see it. Please remember not to quote or preach the gospel of Samantha, as it belongs exclusively to me. Seek out truth. Never stop learning. Don?t forget to talk often with the One who truly has all the answers.