Of Course Not Everyone is Straight in Heaven!

One popular theory in the Church regarding homosexuality is that those who experience it will have those desires healed/cured/removed during the resurrection. This idea has been repeated on all levels of the Church, at every level of leadership. It's worth deconstructing for several reasons, not the least of which because of the harm it does to the LGBTQ+ community and the doctrinal inconsistencies with our own scriptural canon.

I'm bringing this up because I've spent the better part of today deconstructing this idea, as part of my project to revise the Topical. Because LGBTQ+ members, their families, and friends encounter this position so much, our community is remiss when we don't address it.

Let's look at the mental and theological framework surrounding the idea that we can "pray the gay away."
  1. Homosexuality as an attraction is not a sin. It requires no repentance. 
  2. Homosexuality is a deviation from "the Plan" of God. It must be resolved. 
  3. Jesus Christ has the power to "fix" homosexuality.
  4. Jesus Christ has the desire to "fix" homosexuality. 
  5. He will express that desire and power through the resurrection--presumably because homosexuality is part of some physical dysfunction within the body that Christ needs to "heal."
Examining each one of these points in isolation, they each fall apart under closer scrutiny because the house of we're trying to build for our LGBTQ friends and family members cannot stand. So let's take them apart.

Homosexuality as an attraction is not a sin. It requires no repentance.  

The first point really should be more salient to people. If there is no sin in being attracted to the opposite sex, how can it possibly follow that acting on that desire is wrong? Especially in light of what Christ said in Matt. 5:27-28:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Sexual transgressions do not take place when we do something wrong. They happen the moment we even have the desire. If we've reached a logical place where our leadership advocates that homosexual attraction is not a sin, it should follow that acting on it isn't either. The idea that a desire can be separated from the sin is inconsistent with what Christ taught at the Serman on the Mount.

If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is prepared to teach that same-sex desire isn't sinful, it's because we're ready to accept that acting on it isn't sinful either.

Homosexuality is a deviation from "the Plan" of God?  

Second point: if homosexuality needs to be resolved by Christ as part of his plan, there should be evidence somewhere in the scriptures that he believes this. This is especially true for Latter-day Saints because we have an open scriptural canon. If anyone should have evidence of God's explicitly stated, scriptural condemnation of homosexuality, it should be us.

What we find instead is that our expanded scriptural canon doesn't ever address homosexuality. Not in the Book of Mormon. Not in the Doctrine and Covenants. Not the Pearl of Great Price. And it's not because addressing social and cultural issues directly is outside of their purview. In fact: here's a list of issues those scriptures did address/condemn directly, as a demonstration:
  • Cannibalism
  • Human sacrifice
  • Slavery
  • Sexism
  • Overthrowing governments
  • Unjust laws that hold people on unequal ground in society
  • The Nephite monetary system of coinage
The closest thing we have, in terms of modern revelation that condemns homosexuality, is the Family Proclamation of 1995. And given that we haven't voted on that as a church, it isn't part of the scriptural canon. It's not scripture. It's inappropriate to call it scripture because it hasn't undergone the process to become scripture. And my personal feeling as to why it has never undergone that process is because it would never pass.

So where did the idea that the scriptures condemn homosexuality come from? From outside of our community in the fraught exercise of Biblical translation. And what's more, it wasn't presented as a scriptural interpretation for the first time until the production of the the Revised Standard Version of the Bible by Protestants in 1946. The idea that the Bible condemns homosexuality by name or with that specific intent is not ancient in origin.

In fact, the people who saw the introduction of that idea into Christianity are still living and actively dismantling the harm from that mistake today.

The unique message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the world is we don't take our cues on scriptural interpretation from the rest of Christianity. I have no loyalty to this interpretation of scripture because it didn't originate in my community, doesn't exist in any of our scriptures, and is best understood through the lens of apostasy creeping into the Church from those with agendas to cause harm to our people for their own political gains.

Jesus Christ has the power and desire to fix Homosexuality?

These last three points all converge together, so let's just dive in. If Jesus Christ has the power and desire to fix homosexuality, there should also be no sign of any scriptural evidence that contradicts that assertion. Under no circumstances should we see God being as open armed to as many people as possible, complete with mission statements committing himself to being way more inclusive than we're prepared to be.

Note these verses in 2 Ne. 26:24-28:

He layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him.

Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.

Hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

All men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden. 

Then of course there's John 13:35:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And who could forget James 1:5, the scripture that we present to the world as the core, defining ideological pillar of our faith:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
I could keep going, but suffice it to say: we could put forth into the world that God endorses us when we read these scriptures with an unspoken caveat that the LGBTQ+ community isn't included, asserting that they don't get to claim the same belonging and acceptance in the community as straight members do.

Or, in the more likely scenario, we can accept that some in our community have a reading comprehension problem with the world "all."

In conversations I've had with other Latter-day Saints on this subject who are possessive of their ability to withhold support from the LGBTQ+ community, I've noticed a certain fondness of appealing to the Law of Moses. I can't help but ask myself what that has to do with anything when the demands of the law were answered through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It's not as if God delivered the unmistakable message to Peter and the entire Christian world that "what God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (see Acts 10:15)

Jesus will "fix" Queerness through the Resurrection?

Let's get to the main point of this thread. Is Jesus Christ going to fix same-sex attraction in the resurrection? Do we have a doctrinal ground to stand on when we assert this is going to happen?

The answer, as it turns out, is no. Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. And even he doesn't get to use the Resurrection to fundamentally alter someone's identity or divine outcome. And let's dig into this idea here because there are two ways of looking at it:
  • Homosexuality as a physical mortal flaw attached to the body, and 
  • Homosexuality as an intrinsic part of someone's identity. You might say, someone with a queer soul.
Now, anyone who has ever bothered to listen to queer members of the Church would know that "queer body, straight soul" is not consistent with their experience. I've chosen to take those folks at their word because as the ones with the lived experience, they're going to be the ones with the rights to that revelation. But even if someone disagrees with the idea of queer souls being a thing, let's dig into scriptures to see what they say about eternal identity formation.
"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 34:34
In context, this verse is talking about sin. Can Christ actively prevent us from the consequences of our actions viathe resurrection, as it relates to sin? Answer: No. But the language here, I think, reaches beyond just sin. It speaks to eternal identity formation in every context, including the one we're talking about.

Go with me also to Alma 40:23:
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.

And Alma 41:2:
I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.
Is it possible to read these verses and believe God gets to tamper with the fundamental parts of our identity, the sum total of who we were born as and what we decided to make of ourselves--whether as a consequence of biology or identity?

If we're reading these verses honestly, I think it's clear that it doesn't matter how you choose to interpret when and how homosexuality becomes a part of a person's lived experience. Whether it's a biological force or of someone's eternal identity, Jesus cannot and does not cancel out who we are in favor of making into who he wants us to be instead.

Read those verses in Alma 41 again. If God was in the business of  overhauling people's personalities as part of the resurrection, why are we using the word "restore" here?

The role of Christ in the resurrection and the judgment is going to be to perfecting whatever version of myself I hand over to him. He is going to work with whatever raw materials I gave him. Which only seems fair, seeing as that's what I've been doing with all the lived experiences he has given to me.

We don't get to completely redefine everything we know about Resurrection in order to erase queerness from the Kingdom of God. We certainly don't get to do that to perpetuate unacceptable attitudes and behaviors towards our LGBTQ friends, neighbors, and family members today. And if we insist on continuing in that line of thinking, we need to remember one thing: Jesus isn't going to magically fix that about us before we go into our final interview. He will restore that crusty attitude right back to us, where it belongs.

We each need to think about the person we want to be when we meet Jesus again. What do I want him to restore to me from my life here on earth? Now is the time I have to decide who I want to be. The last thing I want him to ask me in that day is "Why were you so comfortable with the suffering of others?"

Because I'll tell you what. I can't think of a single good answer to that question.

The People You Meet in Infertility

Let's take it from the top and have a conversation about Hannah, and all the people around her who aren't making her life any easier.

Person 1: Peninnah, the sister wife

This heifer taunts and makes snide comments to Hannah about not being able to get pregnant. For years, she does this incessantly until it gives Hannah anxiety and makes her openly cry in public. Now, this is just about the most extreme, hurtful example there is. But encapsulated in Peninnah is a lot of hurtful behavior that many with infertility do experience.

Relatives that make your infertility about them and their feelings? People with better luck passing judgment, asking impertinent questions, or making stupid comments that show how little they understand about what you're going through? Hannah's got that in spades.

Person 2: Elkanah, the husband

"Why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?"

This line makes me laugh every time I read it. He's trying so hard, and he has no idea what to do. Infertility is something couples experience together, while experiencing differently. It's not up to one partner to save, fulfill, or change the way the other partner feels. And because he has children with another wife, he isn't even fully experiencing Hannah's infertility the way she is.

Elkanah. You can't fix everything with the magical gift of your presence. You're not chocolate.

Person 3: Eli, the priest

I'm sorry if this is news to anyone. But walking up to a woman he doesn't know, interrupting her when she's praying, and telling her to go home because she's drunk is not at all helpful. And in that spirit, let's talk about strangers giving unhelpful advice and feedback on reproductive health. Because that has not changed at all.

If you've ever started any sentence to an infertile person with "why don't you just" or "have you tried," you weren't really doing that person any favors. They had to educate you, against their will, about why your behavior was not okay. Anyone who has been experiencing infertility for longer than five minutes will have already explored any option the average person can think of off the top of their head. Trust me on that one. They don't want or need uninvited input from a random stranger who is not a doctor, no matter who that stranger is.

And of course, because Eli is actually the priest, he gets all the credit for "fixing" Hannah with his super special priesthood. I'll pose you a question. Does he though? Point to me in 1 Samuel 1 where Hannah is cured of her infertility because of Eli and the absolute bare minimum he does, after he extracts his foot from his mouth? I'll wait.

Hannah, in my estimation, did everything that was required of her when she prayed to the Lord from the depths of her soul. He doesn't deserve credit for what she did, just because he holds the priesthood. Especially since he's not even good at it. See literally every other chapter he's in.

Person 4: Herself

The most powerful verse in this entire story is when she finishes her prayer, dusts herself off, ignores these wearisome people, gets something to eat, "and her countenance was no more sad." 

She left that moment having absolutely no idea if, when, or how her prayer was going to be answered. She wasn't sad anymore because she decided she deserved to go on living, even if it never was. She accepted that she might never have children. I know that because that was the exact moment I stopped being sad about my own situation, which I did after I read this story for the first time and truly understood it.
Now you may be thinking, why would God do this to her? Shutting up her womb like that. Why wouldn't he do it to the heifer to teach her some humility? Why do it to this very awesome lady?

My awesomeness is debatable, but let me hazard an answer to that one.

Infertility is not the end of the world. It feels like that at times. But that's because of how much of our personal worth and self-perception are wrapped up in eventually being able to have and raise kids. I am not sorry that I experience infertility anymore. I've been going through it long enough that I'm grateful for it. I'm glad this is how my life turned out. I don't live in a constant state of wishing for this part of it to be different anymore.

I've lived with infertility long enough to see how liberating it can be. I've gotten the chance to know and love myself in a way I couldn't if my entire being was wrapped up in taking care of tiny humans and giving them the things they need. That's why one of the things that still bothers me is when people say "you'll never know love until you have kids." But parents don't get the monopoly on true love. It may be true for them to say that those without children can't understand the love they have for their kids. However, it would be equally valid for me to say that they don't know the love infertile people have and develop for themselves because it's something they don't get to experience. There are many kinds of love in this world, and none of them are more valid or valuable than any other.

The fact is, "shutting up my womb" was the best, most loving thing God has ever done for me. It's what I needed and he understood that. Sometimes I feel like he's the only one who does. It's not a mistake. It's not his plan gone awry. It is his plan for my life. It's what the plan of happiness looks like for me.

I'm glad Hannah's story is in the scriptures. I don't know where I'd be without it.

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