“Hmm, I don’t know where to begin. Do you mind telling me how you feel as a gay Mormon?”
That was the question a recently returned missionary asked me today — he’s only been home from his mission for two weeks. My friend (we’ll call him Tom) had never met anyone that he knew was gay. He himself is straight and likes girls very much, though he is waiting to pursue marriage until he gets further along with his education.
Tom grew up in the church in Africa where his father had served as the bishop of his ward during his childhood. In his country, not only is the subject of homosexuality taboo in church, but in his culture it is a topic that just isn’t discussed. As a returned missionary, he is very well versed in the scriptures and gospel principles, but he knew almost nothing about LGBT people, and he wasn’t aware that there is a church website dedicated to the subject. I could tell that he sincerely wanted to understand and to grasp how it all figured into the gospel that he had just spent two years proclaiming to the people of his mission.
Tom’s initial question resulted in a discussion about what it means to be LDS and gay, and how that all fits into the Plan of Salvation. Not that I had real concrete answers for him, but I did the best I could to explain my perspective as a gay man with a testimony. Excerpts from our conversation follow below. Though this conversation only scratches the surface, I hope it can be a good beginning of understanding for straight members, but also for LGBT members who are struggling to find how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ applies to them.
TOM: Hmm, I don’t know where to begin. Do you mind telling me how you feel as a gay Mormon?
ME: You accept that I’m a gay man, right?
TOM: Eshh! In evaluating what you said, my percentage of believing that is 20%. Because I know you’re a good man.
ME: Being gay doesn’t mean you are good or bad. You are an African, and that doesn’t mean anything about whether you are good or bad. You were just born there. Likewise, I was born gay, and it doesn’t determine whether I am good or bad. I am a devout member of the church, and I am gay. I still have a strong testimony of the gospel, and I strive every day to live the gospel just like anyone else in the church.
ME: This may be a new concept for you to encounter. But the church all over the world is having to come to terms with there being gay members in the church. As far as we know, we are about 10% of the population of the world, and of the church as well. I know I am gay because I have very strong attractions to other men. I don’t have the same feelings toward women. You like girls, and you know how you feel when you are around a pretty girl. That is how gay men feel when they are around other men they find attractive.
TOM: Mmm, it depends on you. You know that we are agents unto ourselves.
ME: Yeah, when someone says they are gay, you have to believe they are the expert on their own feelings. When you were a missionary and you bore your testimony to an investigator that you know the church is true, the investigator has to take your word for it. They cannot read your mind, but they can hear your testimony and accept that you truly believe what you say. The same applies to when someone says they are gay.
When someone says they are gay,
you have to believe they are the expert on their own feelings.
TOM: OK, one of the greatest gifts we have been endowed with is the gift of Agency, the right we have to make choices and consider alternatives. You can chose it, I may not be wrong to say that if it is not appropriate.
ME: Yes, I can use my agency to choose whether to marry a man or not. I know the church currently considers same-sex marriage to be a sin. But I believe that will change within the next 10-20 years. So I have to use my agency to decide if I am going to get married now, or wait 10-20 years when the church accepts same-sex marriage.
TOM: Please don’t get upset at this question. If it sounds bad, throw it away and then accept me as your friend. If homosexuality was to be practiced universally, tell me how will you come to this earth?
ME: There is no way that everyone can become gay. Only about 10% of the population is gay. If we don’t want gay people on earth, then we have to blame heterosexual couples, because they keep giving birth to gay children. 😂😂😂😂
If we don’t want gay people on earth,
then we have to blame heterosexual couples,
because they keep giving birth to gay children.
TOM: You!!!! You’re interesting. With all my heart, I believe that your children enjoy your company.
ME: hahaha, I love my kids and they tolerate my sense of humor.
TOM: Do you love to read the scriptures? Remember 1 Corinthians 11:11. “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” Yes! We need to have in mind that God created Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve.
ME: Yes, I love the scriptures! I was a seminary teacher for several years, and continue to have as deep of an appreciation for the scriptures as I did then. When considering this scripture and all scripture, you have to consider the context in which it was given. And we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.
ME: In my opinion, that scripture is completely true and valid, and perfectly applicable to 90% of the population who are heterosexual. We can assume that Paul was tailoring his epistle to a heterosexual audience by default, which is consistent with the thinking of other ancient authors of the same time period and region. However, I believe the Lord has further light and knowledge to reveal that will make it more clear, not if but how gay sons and daughters of God are included in and integral to the Plan of Salvation. See Article of Faith 9.
We believe all that God has revealed,
all that He does now reveal,
and we believe that He will yet reveal
many great and important things
pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
(9th Article of Faith)
ME: This morning I was studying the scriptures and was pondering about Adam and Eve, and about Agency. It’s funny we are having this conversation today.
TOM: I know for sure that you will make good use of your Agency as you get another wife.
Remember hymn 239, Choose the right when a choice is place before you. Remember hymn 240, Know that every soul is free.
ME: I realized that the story of Adam and Eve is not really about obedience, like most people interpret it. Because if God was trying to teach us about absolute obedience, he would have made it possible for Adam and Eve to keep all of the commandments he gave them. But in fact, God gave commandments to them that were impossible to keep one without disobeying the other. They were commanded to procreate, but they were incapable of keeping that commandment while in their innocent state. They were also commanded to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but there was no way they could progress beyond their innocent state without partaking of the fruit.
ME: God intended for absolute obedience to be impossible. Why would he do that? Because he wanted them to learn to use their Agency for good. He wanted them to use their Agency to choose the path that will bring about the greatest good and the greatest righteousness. Eve was the first to figure this out, and I’m so glad she did. Had she not learned this lesson on Agency, none of us would be here on the earth today.
God intended for absolute obedience to be impossible.
Why would he do that?
Because he wanted them to learn to use their Agency for good.
He wanted them to use their Agency to choose the path
that will bring about the greatest good
and the greatest righteousness.
ME: Gay Christians are faced with a very similar predicament as Adam and Eve. Many Christian denominations still consider same-sex marriage to be a sin, but more and more churches are affirming gay congregants and same-sex marriages. Gay Christians have to weigh the pros and cons of same-sex marriage and decide the path that will bring about the greatest good. It’s all about using our Agency to bring about good.
TOM: Wow! What you have analyzed make sense. It is true that for them to keep one, they need to break the other as we know from 2 Nephi 2:22-25. It is vivid, clear and simple.
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
TOM: We need to consider something! Before Eve partook of the fruit, a plan was made in heaven that Jesus Christ will come and die for us, as we know of the first estate. But for gays, there was no plan made, so where does the practice come from and what is the proof?
ME: How do you know there was no plan made for Heavenly Father’s gay sons and daughters? We are taught that our gender is part of our premortal, mortal, and eternal existence. Therefore, Heavenly Father must have had a plan for his gay children. Just because it hasn’t been revealed yet doesn’t mean that a plan doesn’t exist.
We are taught that our gender is part of our premortal,
mortal, and eternal existence.
Therefore, Heavenly Father must have had a plan for his gay children.
Just because it hasn’t been revealed yet doesn’t mean that a plan doesn’t exist.
ME: That is why I continue to wait and look forward to the day that further light and knowledge is revealed on this subject. I have prayed and received a confirmation of the spirit that this revelation to the church is coming. So now I have to use my Agency to decide whether to wait 10-20 years to get married. I am making it a matter of sincere fasting and prayer.
ME: And I know for a fact that the Atonement is just as accessible to gay children of God, just as much as it is to God’s straight children. God doesn’t distinguish by the same labels that we mortals do. Nephi taught that we “all are alike unto God”.
“…and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Nephi 26:33)
TOM: Family is central to our Heavenly Father’s plan. Priceless scriptural gems have been given us both in the ancient and modern-day scripture. Even the New Testament helps us to understand that we have a family in heaven.
ME: Yes I believe in the importance and eternal nature of families. Same-sex couples can also be a family. Many adopt children. The ability to procreate is not the basis for whether you can be a successful family or not. Many straight couples are unable to bear children. They can adopt and have children sealed to them. There is no reason that a same-sex couple can’t be every bit as much of a family as a straight couple.
ME: Besides me, do you know anyone who is gay? Do you know any members of the church who are gay? I’m sure there are at least a few in your ward and several in your stake. Until you know the suffering that gay members of the church experience, you cannot know how difficult it is for a gay member to accept who they are and how God created him or her. It is not a curse to be gay. It is not a disease. It is how our loving Heavenly Father created 10% of his children. He has given us talents and abilities, and he needs us in his kingdom. I pray that soon the church will stop excommunicating gay members who enter same-sex marriages, and include them fully in the church family.
TOM: It seems to be true. I believe that some couples who do not have children can adopt. It is not bad to adopt.
ME: It is a wonderful blessing for families to adopt. LDS Family Services has placed thousands of children with adopted parents since 1970. It is my belief that all the blessings that heterosexual married couples in the church experience today will be made available to same-sex married couples — including the blessings of eternal marriage and eternal families. Families are forever!
It is my belief that all the blessings
that heterosexual married couples in the church experience today
will eventually be made available to same-sex married couples —
including the blessings of eternal marriage and eternal families.
Families are forever!
TOM: Let us think logically, for the men that choose to not marry a woman. Tell me if others were to be like that, where will a child come for the others to adopt? If all were to be Mr and Mr Q, who practice homosexuality, where will a child come for the adoption?
ME: The Lord will never make it so that 100% of people on earth will be gay. As far as we know, only 10% of the population is born gay. So your scenario will never happen. And besides, there is always cloning! hahahaha
TOM: Hahahaha. I love the Doctrine and Covenants.
ME: Me too. I love all the scriptures, except for maybe Leviticus. hahaha
ME: One more point… Did you know that homosexuality occurs in the animal kingdom as well? For instance, homosexual penguin couples have been documented to adopt and hatch eggs rejected by their parents, and rear the chicks into adulthood (BBC News, 14 May 2014). Homosexual penguins therefore contribute to the survival and thriving of their colony and their species. Just something to consider.
ME: There may actually be a plan for Heavenly Father’s gay children in the eternal scheme of things after all.