Mormon Church to Gays: There’s Always the Afterlife

Via the Deseret News, it looks like the leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints are attempting to recover from the PR disaster caused by Proposition 8, as well as staunch the flow of gay Mormons leaving the church:

With a clear invitation to gay Mormons to “stay with us,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today launched a new website aimed at providing “greater sensitivity and better understanding” among Latter-day Saints with regards to same-sex attraction.

“When people have those (same-sex) desires and attractions our attitude is, ‘stay with us,’” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a video that introduces the subject of the website. “I think that’s what God is saying: stay with me. And I think that’s what we want to say in the church: stay with us, and let’s work together in friendship and commonality and brotherhood and sisterhood.

Not that there is much of a change going on. The new website, immaginitively titled Mormons and Gays – leaving us to question whether you can be both – includes this bit:

From a public relations perspective it would be easier for the Church to simply accept homosexual behavior. That we cannot do, for God’s law is not ours to change. There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right. But what is changing — and what needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.

This is one of the most irritating parts of dealing with authoritarians. It’s not that they believe themselves to be right, because we’re all like that. It’s that they can’t imagine themselves to be wrong. I never hear them say, “If I’m interpreting scripture right …” or “My understanding of God’s will is …” It’s always, “This Is God’s Law.”

The part of the website that’s drawing the most attention is this little snippet about the gays in the afterlife:

We believe that with an eternal perspective, a person’s attraction to the same sex can be addressed and borne as a mortal test. It should not be viewed as a permanent condition. An eternal perspective beyond the immediacy of this life’s challenges offers hope. Though some people, including those resisting same-sex attraction, may not have the opportunity to marry a person of the opposite sex in this life, a just God will provide them with ample opportunity to do so in the next. We can all live life in the full context of who we are, which is much broader than sexual attraction.

“If you stay celibate and alone, I’m sure God will make you straight in the afterlife.”

Worse than the theology of this statement is the fact that someone actually thought it would be consoling to gay Mormons.

  • http://reachingupward.blogspot.com Kevin L

    It actually can be consoling. Not always. In fact, there was a time when the very idea that I would somehow be made straight in the afterlife pissed me off. It seemed so dismissive. But I’ve come to believe that it really isn’t intended that way.

    I don’t know if you’ve taken the time to actually watch the video clips, but I think the biggest step forward is that the conversation actually minimizes that approach. Previously, I perceived the attitude to be “yeah, this must be hard for you, BUT look, it’ll all be over as soon as you die.” Now it’s more like, “We know this won’t last forever, BUT We want to accept and understand you right now. How can we help today?”

    I think that’s a positive step.

    • Irreverend Bastard

      “I would somehow be made straight in the afterlife”

      Why would I want a deity to “fix” whatever is supposedly wrong with me in the afterlife? Why couldn’t the stupid fucker “fix” me in the real life? You know, the only life we actually know about?

      And what if I don’t want to “be made straight”?

      • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

        If I’m in a wheelchair and god makes me walk upright in the afterlife, does that mean god thought I sucked as a disabled person and I wasn’t good enough the way he made me?

        • FO

          It means that God is not powerful enough to fulfil whatever design he has in mind without making you suffer because of the wheelchair.
          Or maybe he is, and just likes you to suffer.

          Uh, actually, the wheelchair is a man-invented object.
          Maybe God just didn’t want you to walk.

          Further, not walking is a clear and obvious disadvantage.
          Being attracted to the same sex is a disadvantage only if you live surrounded by cruel bigots enthusiastic about making you feel guilty and making your life miserable.

          • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

            I understand what you are saying, and I have really struggled with this myself. And I know you don’t believe in god, and this is OK with me. I am merely explaining the reasoning behind this, in no way judging you.

            But the idea is that god created this world and created it with laws that government it. This is why you don’t hear from god. he’s not going to shout out through the clouds so everyone can hear. that would disrupt the order of this world. the same goes for breaking a leg. you don’t wave a magic wand and a leg pop in place. that’s too weird. he built the world, with potential for pain but also for potential for a lot of good stuff, and we have to live in it. the trade off is its only temporary, unlike the next life, which is eternal, and in that life, the laws will be different, and wounds won’t last. It won’t be weird, because the norm is watching your arm pop back together. But that world is not this world, and we can’t compare.

            As to homosexuality, there is disagreements upon religions and denominations. they arrange from God not caring your sexuality to God healing it. Leanne Payne’s pastoral care ministries has seen 100s of homosexuals heal by first coming into the presence of god. Its okay to be skeptical. I am merely summarizing the position of some christians — the idea that god can actually heal people today of this, but its not as easy as a setting a leg.

            • Sunny Day

              For the moment we’ll just ignore the ancient book of mythology (the Bible) that contradicts everything you just said.

              Thanks for listing just some of the things that your god can’t do. I’m sure it appreciates you stepping in to make excuses. I guess we can add being an effective communicator to the list.

              Why would you worship something so limited and call it God?

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Here’s the thing – if god created the laws that govern the world, presumably both the physical laws and the moral laws, then he deliberately or incompetently set them up in opposition to one another. He made physical laws of biology that cause a certain segment of the population to be attracted to members of the same sex. Then he made moral laws that said having sex with members of the same sex is an abomination worthy of death. He made a species that is prone to greed, anger, lust, then decided these were morally reprehensible traits to be discouraged at all costs. He made a species out of ‘love’ then made the HIV virus and malaria and cancer. He’s either a deeply unpleasant character or an exceptionally poor engineer. Please pick one.

            • FO

              I appreciate your genuine attempt to clarify.
              Still, there are things in your argument that do not convince me.

              First of all, how he’s not going to “shout”?
              Sending down his Son, having Him make a mess (let’s say a good mess) and have all sorts of miracles happen, then having him killed and resurrected is NOT disruptive of reality!?

              Or are you telling me that God CAN’T intervene in reality without being disruptive?

              Also, all these things you know about God you know (I imagine) because a) the Bible, b) your feelings, and those are the same a) and b) that other people interpret, differently than you, to persecute gays and do other nasty stuff.
              I wonder: couldn’t God reveal Himself in a less ambiguous way?

      • Selah

        ** IRR Bastard
        Please take some time to read 1Corinthians 6 : 9-12. You don’t have to wait till the ” afterlife ” , you can call on Jesus , get saved , be baptized and become a new creation. If you continue in your present state you will die in your sin and spend the rest of your ” afterlife ” in Hell with the great deceiver and his minions. Today is the day of salvation ! Don’t harden your heart . God loves you more than you know and wants you to spend eternity with His Son forever and ever. JOHN 3: 16. Merry Christmas !

        • FO

          God is hardening my heart as He did with the Pharaoh.
          Should I oppose God?

        • Mogg

          Selah, please read this before making any other comments. At the moment you are being rude and obnoxious.

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      I have to disagree that this is a positive step. There is no accepting or understanding here, there is simply a lot of empty words that amount to “we’ll stop calling you names if you stop trying to get married”. You cannot accept somebody is who they are if you insist that they should look forward to being fixed by an omnipotent being. You cannot be thought of as understanding when you tell people, however politely, that their very nature is sinful and any thoughts of loving who they love is actually a ‘mortal challenge’ which they only have to worry about until they die, after which their agency will be taken away and they’ll be made to love the correct gender. Nothing has changed beyond a transparent attempt to have their cake and eat it – to denigrate homosexuals and deny them their rights while pretending to be sensitive. I guess I don’t think that pretending is positive, but I can see that it might lead to things being a bit more civil.

      Why am I not surprised that the religious version of the “it gets better” campaign has the caveat that you have to die first?

      • FO

        LOL for the comparison!

        I see it more like: ““we’ll stop calling you names if you stop *bringing your money away*”

      • Kodie

        One of the first online communities I participated in featured one miserable, self-loathing gay Mormon. This might have helped him. The way he put it, he loved the church. He simply loved it and believed everything in it, and like I can imagine for anyone full-on religious like that (based on descriptions), deconversion is the most terrifying thing to him. That was not on the table, not even shopping around for a gay-welcoming church. And then being gay, no, he was not willing to choose “gay” over the church under any circumstances, although I believe he had sexual binges and then proceeded to shame spiral. And he’d get suicidal over it – I think the hardest thing to feel is the pain of wishing you were dead but being religiously against suicide too, because you are gay in a religion that doesn’t tolerate or validate a person as their individual whole self in a loving way – certain things are sins and you have to rid them from yourself. You can’t say out loud to anyone or they will just say what you already know they’re going to say, since you belong to the same church and you know how they handle these problems. I don’t remember if he was also in any kind of therapy, but I believe not.

        I like to think this suggestion might have helped him, since he wasn’t going to even consider any route that would separate him from his church or his family. He was damaged and abused by them, but he was never going to leave. I don’t know him at least for the last 10 years, didn’t know him really well except for things he wrote, and maybe by now he has left the church and accepted himself. I don’t think he could suppress being gay if he tried like some of those phonies.

        Anyway, he can’t be the only one.

        • FO

          Then the call of the Mormon Church may have worked for him: at least he’d felt accepted and his struggle recognized.

        • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

          I understand what you’re saying (at least I think I do), and I remember the pain of being trapped in a similar situation until I was able to deconvert. And clearly deconversion isn’t for everyone, and certainly not in the relatively swift timescale it happened for myself. To an extent, I got lucky. Yet I still do not see how this would have helped an individual in this kind of circumstance. I do not see any practical steps here to make anybody feel accepted, it’s simply turning the dial down a bit on the hatemongering, while the implication remains that gay Mormons are broken and bad. I suppose that just dialing it back a bit itself could help, maybe it will dampen the stigma a little bit and help stop the guilt and shame being quite so prominent, but I don’t see it making a significant difference in their community when it is not their position that changes, it is merely their language. Like the Republican party and their attempts to “change how we deliver the message, not the message itself”, you can’t keep telling people they are terrible, change to telling them they are terrible politely, and expect them to feel better about it.

          Maybe I’m expecting too much. It is a positive step, however small, and I guess I should be grateful for that.

          • Kodie

            Ideally, I would like to see people reject pain when it can be rejected. And obviously, who put that psychological obstacle for him – the church. You can’t simply deny the truth when it suits you; if you are raised thinking that, it’s definitely damaging to the person who believes it and yet is in an unacceptable category within it. I blame the church for hurting him (and anyone in a similar situation, whatever “sin” they commit), but if he won’t budge, the next best thing is to help him feel a little better about it. I don’t really think it’s a step forward.

            A lot of religions “compromise” to keep members, they may even think they’re doing the right thing… maybe. I mean, I think people who believe “love the sinner, hate the sin” have had that reasoned out for them as better. They are not the leaders who are making these statements. Pretty much I give most religious people, followers, more credit for meaning well than the church itself. I don’t think they’re being reasonable at all, I mostly don’t think they think about what they’re thinking and saying, but it sounds good.

            I am thinking about how “don’t ask, don’t tell” was supposed to be a good thing, once. I don’t think these things change drastically all in one go. The church certainly wouldn’t just change all at once, and I generally don’t give them credit for being inclusive as an impulse toward love and kindness as much as money. But if it helps someone’s family not kick them out, I have to say it’s a better thing than being shunned entirely, or feeling wicked.

            I’m not really a fan of cognitive dissonance, is what I’m trying to say. It ain’t the best.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Very well said. Amen.

  • Makoto

    Just as soon as they can prove the afterlife happens, and happens in the way they suppose based on the rules they enforce in life, maybe I’ll grant them some measure of acceptance for why they do what they do. Until then, they still seem like they hate homosexuality and just promise a nebulous afterlife that may or may not happen, but the promise of which gives them the ability to hurt homosexuals right now.

    • FO

      Their “prove” is probably not your “prove” and I fear theirs is more popular.

  • http://belljaimie@ymail.com Jaimie

    Ah yes, the ol’, “it’ll be better in Heaven” rationale. That’s the same one that tells women it’s ok to be servile in this life because in Heaven you’ll be equal. Or it’s ok to be poor or oppressed because in Heaven you’ll be in Jesus’ arms with riches untold! Now they’re applying it to gays?
    What a load of crap. How long, if ever, will it take people to realize they’re being had?

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      Something I always wondered when hearing about the riches in heaven… what would I spend it on? Do they have shops in heaven?

      • Kodie

        One of the songs I like is called “Fifty Miles of Elbow Room” which is taken from bible verse. I looked it up, it says in the bible that heaven is paved with layers of semi-precious gemstones. It has dimension, and it’s made of physical material. I mostly like it because I live in the city, and that does sound like a nice place to go. It’s a song I think of in the category of songs that describe wonderful places, or the romantic qualities of a place, like New York City, California, Mexico, Paris, etc.

        I always think it’s funny that people think when they get to heaven, they get their own mansion, and there are rivers. One night in my teens, I was babysitting late at night after the kid went to bed and semi-dozed off and on with the TV on, waking to a preacher talking about hunting deer in heaven. Apparently, even though I thought animals don’t go to heaven, you get to hunt. Very descriptively, he shows the gestures of holding a rifle and sighting the deer and “BLAM!” And then the deer gets right back up again and goes on his way. You could shoot the buck as much as you want, every day, and he won’t die or even be pissed at you – there’s no death up there.

        • Jer

          Semi-precious? Painting god as a cheap bastard. I want all diamonds or nothing!

    • Kodie

      Sorry to take the implication here, but if god’s “correcting” gay people, will he also “correct” women and turn them into men? I just don’t see how otherwise the policy of equality would work for them up there. Maybe I am overthinkin’ it, but just sounds like it might be better to be turned gay when you get to heaven.

      • FO

        Man yes Kodie!
        How could you stand the whole afterlife without a piece of meat dangling between your legs!?
        And since there will be whor- ehm concubines in Heaven (depending on your flavour of bullshit) how will you enjoy them without your manly appendage?

  • FO

    Question (yes, today I have time to waste):
    What would you say to the guy with the sign, who is both “Mormon & Gay”?

    • Kodie

      “I thought you said, More Men. Never mind.”

    • Grejj

      “Mormonism isn’t genetic, it’s a lifestyle choice”?

      • RJ

        Yes, and it’s a slippery slope! If we allow them the freedom to worship god, next thing you know they’ll be worshipping their toaster or their cat.

        • FO

          Win!

  • Robster

    The mormons only want one thing from their deluded flock and that’s the ten percent. They need your money, whether you’re straight or gay. If you are gay, they’ll give the wad a good wash to get rid of the icky gayness on the notes, but hey they want your money so they’re quite happy to put up with you ’till you leave them the lot in your will.

    • grumpygirl

      That’s very unkind and untrue about Mormons. They are no better and no worse than any other religion. I think their beliefs are ridiculous, but so I do about other religions that believe in magic deities.

      The Mormons have a very extensive social service network and really do take care of their own. Of course they use money to forward their religion, but every other religion does that. They aren’t any greedier than any other religion.

      • smrnda

        I’ve met many ex-Mormons who say that the LDS church definitely does not take care of members when they are in need. It could just be them, but they said it was like an insurance company, all about taking in the premiums and all about denying claims. Before they help you when you’re in financial need, they’ll check to make sure you’ve made your payments reliably and on time, and if not, they pretty much just tell you tough luck since you haven’t faithfully supported the church. They publicize lots of stories about destitute people giving their last dollars bills to the church as well.

        All religions are a racket, but they seem like a bit more efficient than most.

      • Robster

        As far as I know and as commonly acknowledged, only the mormons insist on the 10%. I’ve a nephew that’s been taken in by the con. His employer pays the nephew’s wage to the church that then passes on what’s left to the nephew. They don’t even trust their afflicted followers to pass on their dishonestly obtained dosh honestly. That’s because they don’t know the meaning of the word. Mormonism doesn’t have adherants, thay’e got suckers, victims of an obvious fraud wrapped up in pretty buildings occupied by pretty young things. It’s miserable nonsense.

  • grumpygirl

    The Mormons are a very practical bunch. When bigamy became a problem, the president had a revelation that there can only be plural wives in the after life. When not allowing blacks to be part of the priesthood, the president had a revelation that blacks SHOULD be part of the priesthood. Now that there are a gay Mormons coming out, they will eventually get a revelation that will accept gay Mormons. They will have to do some stuff in the afterlife to make it all OK, but I have complete faith they will come around. They don’t like to lose members.

    • FO

      Awesome!
      They will bleach white the blacks in the afterlife!

      I just wonder, why those revelations always have to trail society?
      This pesky God.
      Certainly He could have pushed His Revelations a bit earlier.

      • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

        To be fair, we’ve all moved on to email and twitter, god still delivers his message via dove.

  • UsingReason

    “for God’s law is not ours to change.”

    Except this statement is in direct opposition to the history of the Mormon church; the prophet of the church has received instructions in the past, via his direct line to God, that changed some pretty important laws. As soon as their current position costs them enough money I’m sure there will be another revelation and then they can use some whiteout on the Book of Mormon, again.


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