Friday, May 4, 2012

Can Mormon Theology Accommodate Same-Sex Marriage?

Speculation on this matter seems to be cropping up more and more lately in the world of the interwebs. Once upon a time, this was a very important question to me.

I should note, parenthetically, that whether folks have argued pro Mormon theology accommodating same-sex marriage or con, it's all speculation. So periodically, you get someone launching off on a long-winded explanation as to why Mormon theology cannot possibly ever accommodate same-sex marriage. These kinds of arguments are made both by Mormon anti-gay apologists as well as by gay anti-Mormon activists, by the way. But this is as much speculation as the theological forays of those gay-friendly and gay Mormon apologists who want to argue that, yes, indeed, Mormon theology can accommodate same-sex marriage.

The thing is, "theology" does not hold an elevated place in Mormonism. We don't have theological seminaries, and we therefore don't have scholars on the payroll of the Church who specialize in theology. We do occasionally have General Authorities who poke fun at the idea of high theology. For Mormons, theology really doesn't matter much. What matters is doctrine. And, while some folks want to make a big fuss about the problems involved in determining what Mormon doctrine properly speaking is, I think most will agree that Mormon doctrine finds its living embodiment in the teaching of living prophets, seers and revelators, and in the policies and procedures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

So what theology we have is, more or less, amateur theology, and it doesn't carry any weight at all in the Church. Theology is used -- by amateur Mormon theologians -- to rationalize or justify or apologize for a particular point of view in relation to Mormon doctrine. And this is as true of someone who wants to argue that Mormonism can never accommodate same-sex marriage as it is of those who argue that it can and must. Every Mormon knows that a new revelation from God could change the entire doctrine and practice on this subject; and every Mormon should know that human speculation regarding the mind and will of God on any particular subject is risky business.

I recognize I'm in a precarious place here. I am excommunicated from the Church, and so officially I remain under judgment and subject to the discipline of the Church. I love the Church and have a testimony (I have an amazing testimony!), and I do the best I can to obey as many rules of the Church as I can. But I also remain committed to my life partner.

I've done my best to make the right decisions in life, and I freely acknowledge that I've made many bad decisions. But there is no doubt in my mind, heart or soul that my decision to seek out and find and commit to and love my husband is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It is a decision I made after much searching, prayer and fasting, and after seeking and receiving guidance from my Heavenly Father. So there is no doubt in my mind that it was the right decision. So people can take that for what it's worth.

I've tried to avoid the temptation to speculate about what all that means. All the same, even if you eschew theology, you can't help but have some kind of internal theology; a kind of spiritual worldview based on your personal struggles, questions, and experience. So, for what it's worth, here's my "theology" on this subject. It's based on two scriptures and on personal experience.

First scripture:
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone (Genesis 2:18)

Second scripture:
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. (1 Corinthians 12: 14-25)

My personal experience is that being gay is an intrinsic aspect of who I am, and always has been. God has reassured me that he knows this about me, because he knows how I am woven together; he knows me from my inmost parts. And he has reassured me that I may rest in the knowledge that this aspect of me is good, that it has a purpose, and that I just need to trust in him.

This for me is about the sum of it. It is good for me to have a life partner, to not have to walk alone through life. I have a place in God's plan; I am part of the body. My family, my relationship with my partner, has a valuable place in my extended family, and as part of my extended, extended family of all God's children. No other part of the body has a right to say to me that I (that we) don't belong, that I (that we) don't have a place. And God's creation in me is good. It has an end and a purpose. God has a valuable role for me as a member of his family, and God has blessed my and Göran's efforts to care for one another and for others.

I have yearned for detailed answers, for theological answers to the questions related to my faith as a Latter-day Saint, and to being gay. But what I've learned is that it is more important for me to have patience and to have trust and to have compassion.

And I suspect that the Church as a whole will not receive more satisfactory answers to these questions until we have, as a Church, learned more of those virtues of patience, trust and compassion as well.

1 comment:

Neal said...

You are an integral part of the Church to me. Your official 'status' is irrelevant.