A Problem in Understanding Celestial Sexuality

Aaron R. aka RicoMormon 52 Comments

Disclaimer:  This may be offensive to some people.  I will talk about hetero and homosexuality in relation to understanding a ‘celestial sexuality’ and whether one of the current views can be applied to paedophiles.

Firstly, I should apologise for another post of sexuality; but I guess this is what happens in a sexually repressed culture, we talk about it (see Michel Foucault: The History of Sexuality).  One of the unresolved problems I have with Mormon doctrine is how we view and understand sexuality.  It does not make a lot of sense to me. 

Faithful Dissident has argued that love is essential to healthy human beings and argued that if people love each other there is nothing wrong with this.  The exceptions however were incest and sex between a child and an adult.  What separates these issues out as being inherently evil?  I think 50 years ago the same might have been said about homosexuality.  The problem for me is that sexuality has a history and in other times sexual relations between people have had different values [1]. 

Jeffrey R. Holland has said that heterosexual “human intimacy is a sacrament” in that it is “one of a number of gestures or acts or ordinances that unites us with God and his limitless power” [2].  But what is the place of homosexuality in the next life?  One item of reasoning on this is that the Church’s current position on Homosexuality (that those with these desires will be changed in the next life) does not take into consideration the fact that these individuals may not want to be changed[3].  Gustav-Wrathall’s excellent article outlines a touching account of dealing with this issue in the Church.  Much of his argument I cannot disagree with, except when I think it through to its logical conclusion. 

For if I apply this same logic to other sexual situations I am left with some uncomfortable conclusions.  For example, there is wide literature (see the APA) that sexual orientation is not chosen and that it is the result of a mixture of environmental, social and genetic factors.  Therefore the argument that people are born this way is equally applicable to some people who are sexually attracted to young people, or even children.  Will God honour their sexual preferences? Or if we are all adults will they be left with no sexually satisfying relationships?  If you reject the idea that God will accept this form of lifestyle, upon what basis do you do that?  Can this same logic be applied to heterosexual or homosexual preferences as well?

I want to be very clear here.  I am not suggesting in anyway that homosexuals are paedophiles, nor am I claiming that their sexual preferences are in anyway comparable with sexual abuse.  Nor am I advocating paedophile behaviour.  I just want to understand what makes sexuality divine and I am not convinced by the above argument.  I am merely suggesting that the logic some have applied to justifiying a celestial homosexuality can be applied to other forms of sexuality that are not as socially acceptable.  Moreover, for those involved these feelings could be just as natural as heterosexual or homosexual desires. I am unsure on all counts.  I just don’t know. 

Have I mis-understood what is implied in this argument?  Is what I am saying wrong?  What is the logic of celestial sexuality? 


1. Plato, The Symposium, (London: Penguin Books, 2005).

2. Jeffrey R. Holland, Of Souls, Symbols and Sacraments in Morality, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992) 162.

3. John Donald Gustav-Wrathall, A Gay Mormon’s Testimony in Sunstone, April 2006, (Salt lake City: Sunstone Education Foundation) pp. 52-7.

Comments 52

  1. While we may have no ability to change what a person wants, we need to remember that there is no sin, weakness or shortcoming that He is not capable of healing. We all have weaknesses that we struggle to overcome – some of them are just more noticeable than others. But any sin unrepented of, is just as deadly. The danger of any sin is less its seriousness and more how contrite we are in the face of it.

    But why is homosexual sex, or any sex outside of marriage such a problem? Virtue has everything to do with families replicating the very structure of the Heavens. Even the Abrahamic Covenant is nothing more than binding a very large extended family together – else what would Enoch or Adam have done? They were quite pre-Abrahamic and would have had to have had a similar corresponding covenant.

    It is not mere celibacy that God wants (That was Augustine’s idea) – it is eternal union of opposites that is capable of eternal increase. The first thing we learn of Eve was that she was complementary opposite of Adam, yin for his yang, if you will.

    Of course, all this is assuming this is not causal commitment-less sex for pleasure only – that opens up a whole new can of worms. Marriage was not created as just a forum for pleasure – it is more a setting for service and love. Anytime we mistake the frosting for the cake, we are going to have issues.

  2. “The exceptions however were incest and sex between a child and an adult. What separates these issues out as being inherently evil?”

    Excellent question, which I’m not quite sure how to answer. In fact, some Mormons have defended Joseph Smith’s marriages to teenage girls on the grounds that it was common back then for older men to marry teenage girls. Yes, it was, but does it make it right? Or is marriage between an adult and a child and/or teenager inherently evil?

    I guess there is one very important factors, IMO: whether or not it’s consensual

    Now, a 50 year-old paedophile can argue that his 14 year-old “girlfriend” “consented” to have sex with him. The law today says that you have to be 18 to be able to decide whether you consent to it or not. Such a law is vital, IMO, but we have to understand that it’s merely a guideline. Some 17 year-olds may be more mature than a 21 year-old, for instance. But I think that cohercing a child or teenager into marriage is robbing them of their childhood and time to mature emotionally and physically, no matter how favourable the circumstances of the marriage may be.

    I guess in the case of Joseph Smith and girls like Fanny Alger and Helen Mar Kimball, we have to ask ourselves: were they children or were they adults? Are children always children, regardless of the era and culture they live in? If we accept JS’s marriages to them, isn’t it hypocritical of us today to object to FLDS underage marriages, or forcing young Muslim girls to marry old men? Assuming that Fanny and Helen consented to marry Joseph, does it even matter? Is their consent worth any more than it would be today if your teenage daughter wanted to marry a man in his 30’s or 40’s?

    So, to answer your question, are sexual relations between adults and children inherently evil? My personal opinion is that yes, they are, because they are always lacking in true consent. A child is a child, regardless of era or culture, and a child does not have the emotional maturity necessary to truly consent to it, even though she may think that she does. So, engaging a child in sexual activity — even if it doesn’t necessarily require any great effort to coherce her/him into it — is robbing them of the protection afforded unto them under the law — civil and, I would hope, eternal.

    As far as incest is concerned, I’d like to argue that it’s inherently evil, but the fact that any of us are here today makes it kind of hard to say. 🙂

  3. Therefore the argument that people are born this way is equally applicable to some people who are sexually attracted to young people, or even children. Will God honour their sexual preferences? Or if we are all adults will they be left with no sexually satisfying relationships? If you reject the idea that God will accept this form of lifestyle, upon what basis do you do that? Can this same logic be applied to heterosexual or homosexual preferences as well?

    You are unwinding the fact that the arguments used are just very strong arguments, but can be applied to anything. That is a step few are willing to make. Either they just reject the position or they get upset at the fact that the arguments for accepting any sort of sexual preference can be applied to just about any other and accuse people of creating false equivalencies.

    Once you realize that the argument “I can only achieve true bonding/happiness/love in a relationship of type X, therefore it must be acceptable” is seen as a universal argument, it either justifies anything, or it justifies nothing (of itself). Twenty years ago it caused semantic contamination. One of the major reasons a large group of Americans still associate a wide variety of practices with each other is that all of the groups were using the same argument, not that they have anything else in common. Now, depending on who you are, it is seen as a trump card, or a frustrating end to argument.

    The same is true of the argument “But I would not want to change.” Or the argument “But it is really part of who I am.” I’ve seen the latter argument applied to habits as silly as always interrupting conversations, taking them off-course and otherwise irritating people in groups (by a guy in his 70s).

    It does draw into question just what our identity is, how and what kinds of changes are essential, and where these issues take us.

    So far, no one has been unwilling to unwind the arguments as just strong arguments and then take them to where they might lead, in that context. The conversation always seems to get derailed. I’m glad you are making an effort.

  4. In my view, the individuals with homosexual pulls you mention who may not want to change after this life are just like any other person after this life who decides to reject the gospel. They can do that. They’re just missing out.

  5. Correct. the mere fact that people feel strong attractions to various things does not mean that all those things are morally equivalent. But that goes both ways; it doesn’t mean that all of those things which exert the attractive pull are uniformly good or bad either.

    “By their fruits ye shall know them.” One possible guide to resolution is to judge by the results of any of these attractions. I recognize that this may itself lead to results that may startle some, but JS’s multiple marriages did that too. Issues of consent and mature capacity to reason and make informed individual judgments are also factors, IMHO. For example, the results of pedophilia or a propensity to violent anger or alcohol abuse are always bad, damaging and destructive. This is not true of mature, committed, faithful homosexual marriages (and yes, they do exist) which can be as healthy in every way as heterosexual marriages.

    @Michelle’s #4: You are of course entitled to your view. I don’t believe the Scriptures support that approach, however, and if you truly believe the 9th Article of Faith I think you would concede that this is at best an open question.

  6. In the pamphlet God Loveth His Children, the First Presidency states that same sex attraction was not present in the pre-existence and will not be present in the next life. This would seem to indicate that anyone who has desires for sex with the same gender, children, or any other deviancy will have no choice but to have it removed since it is not and can ever be a natural condition.

  7. #6 Phil, the pamphlet may be right or it may be wrong. I don’t know. Personally, I consider such ideas to be theories and speculation, just like many of the teachings that have been in Church-produced pamphlets over the years regarding race, gender, and sexuality. I don’t consider them to be Gospel truth. They can sound good at the time, but as time goes on and the Church evolves, they just end up sounding uninformed and sometimes downright offensive, such as in the case of race.

  8. Healthy homosexual erotic relationships are equivalent to healthy heterosexual erotic relationships in the sense that they are relationships between fully-formed equals. In contrast, relationships between adults and adolescents are usually fundamentally unequal and, when sexualized, are thus usually exploitative. That’s the basic difference.

    So this is where I think your reasoning goes astray. I think you’re decoupling sex and love. Of course, people do this all the time, not just rhetorically but in real relationships, but if there is such a thing as “Celestial” sex, can we not take it as a given that “true” or “Christlike” love is always a part of it? And while “true” love (or at least something approaching it) is often found in sexual relationships between adults, it is rarely if ever found in sexual relationships between adults and adolescents because of the unequal nature of the relationship. Surely the Celestial Kingdom will have no relationships involving coercion, manipulation, or exploitation. Yet those elements seem to generally define sexual relationships between adults and adolescents.

  9. Faithful Dissident,
    “In fact, some Mormons have defended Joseph Smith’s marriages to teenage girls on the grounds that it was common back then for older men to marry teenage girls. Yes, it was, but does it make it right?”

    I’m not necessarily taking issue with the overall message of your post, but I am curious where you got the idea above. From looking at census data from the 1850-1890, I don’t see the kind of culture you seem to be alluding to. The average age of marriage for females was around 22 (24 for males) and only one in six women married husbands that were more than 5 years older than they were. Also, it would appear, based on the outrage written in US papers at the time Utah polygamy was at its height, that the American people found the practice of marrying teenagers abhorrent. Had they just found polygamy evil and marriage to teenagers normal, why would they even mention the young age of the girls?

    I believe certain uneducated individuals in the church, many years ago, started this rumor about 1800’s teen marriages being the norm to help justify polygamist unions in the Utah Territory. From my study of the era, I believe people were even more livid about its uncivilized nature then people are today.

  10. Healthy homosexual erotic relationships
    Scriptures and the prophets indicate that the above statement is untrue, that these relationships are not healthy or natural.

    One interesting thing Joseph Smith said is that the same sociality that exists here will exist there. This alone may help to clear up Aaron Reeves confusion regarding the afterlife and sexuality.

  11. re 8: Kuri,

    I am channeling the spirits of sexism and homophobia for just a second…let me see what the spirits tell me.

    They tell me, “Healthy homosexual erotic relationships are not equivalent to healthy heterosexual erotic relationships because the latter isn’t a relationship between fully-formed equals, but rather a relationship between fully-formed “perfect complements.””

    I predict there will be some kind of official church endorsement of such a statement eventually, since the dots are already there in the theology (gender complementarity, etc.,) and all the church would need to do is connect them.

  12. #2 – I appreicate your answer. I think it is well thought out and I agree. The issue being that we are framing this view of true consent on our current cultural values. These are not static. I am therefore not convinced that there is something inherently evil because I am not convinced that there can never be true consent between an adult and young person.

    #5 – Again I am not saying I agree with this position. but many of the great and foundational thinkers of western philosophy saw pre-pubescent homosexuality as a part of normal moral development. On all accounts it just was simply not a destructive part of their society. They viewed these youths as capable of choice. So although I agree I am just not convinced that I am right and that neither are you.

    #7 – I have to agree, which is why I have some confusion.

    #8 – Although I see the strength of that argument. I think another issue is that if these people keep their sexuality in the celestial kingdom then they will be eternally frustrated. Also I think you assume soemthing about the nature of those relationships which may not be the case.

    #10 – I fail to see how this resolves the issue. Because homosexual relationships are part of the sociality they have here. It seems that your definition of that sociality is based on a pre-conceived interpretation of what that sociality is which is not contained in the actual scripture.

  13. “In the pamphlet God Loveth His Children, the First Presidency states that same sex attraction was not present in the pre-existence and will not be present in the next life.”

    So we can’t figure out what causes it here, in the people right next to us, but we have pulled a rabbit out of our hat and can declare that homosexuality didn’t exist before and won’t exist after. I guess something like that is easy to say when it can’t be disproved.

  14. #10 “Healthy homosexual erotic relationships
    Scriptures and the prophets indicate that the above statement is untrue, that these relationships are not healthy or natural.”

    As has happened so many times before, science is gradually proving that the scriptures and prophets are wrong (or that people’s interpretations of them are wrong, if you prefer).

    #11 Andrew,
    Well, I can’t stop people from making up ad hoc explanations to suit their prejudices. 😉

    #12 Aaron,
    “I think another issue is that if these people keep their sexuality in the celestial kingdom then they will be eternally frustrated.”
    I don’t really see how it could be satisfied. There will be men and women in the Celestial Kingdom; there may not even be adolescents. And even if there are, there may not be any who prefer sexual relationships with adults.

    “Also I think you assume soemthing about the nature of those relationships which may not be the case.”
    I recognize the possibility of exceptions, but I’m comfortable with my assumptions as generalizations.

  15. As has happened so many times before, science is gradually proving that the scriptures and prophets are wrong (or that people’s interpretations of them are wrong, if you prefer).

    Are you a member of the LDS church? Jewish theology is very liberal concerning social issues like this, are you Jewish?

    Going along with church doctrine, only the people who are faithful and are worthy of the highest level of the Celestial kingdom will be able to maintain their family relationships, which presumably includes sex. This means that everyone else must live separarely and singly, forevermore. When Joseph Smith said that the same sociality that exists here will exists there, presumably he meant for the most part living in the Celestial Kingdom and not continued living in sinful/unrighteous ways like we do on earth.

  16. I imagine it is hard to decouple our experiences outside of our cultural upbringing. Had we lived in ancient Rome, the male adolescent intertwining with an adult male would have seemed to be a rite of passage, whereas because it is now viewed as wrong either from the religious side (Calvinist) or the scientific side (child development) the perceived injury by an adolescent who grew up was probably mitigated if present at all. I think that as the culture shifts, that the perception of what is normal shifts, and therefor we cannot rely upon culture, the experts, etc. for our conceptualization of what is “normal” in human sexuality. Religion is usually worse, unless it’s the true one when revelation is taken into consideration. The best we can do is to align our own revelatory experience with the Brethren. If we come to another conclusion, readjust, alter, and try again. That’s all I have–after that you’re blind in the dark, because I certainly don’t trust science on this, since they have a political bias behind their research.

  17. Just a data point to keep in mind, for those of you who are curious, in all likelyhood, the Virgin Mary was probably 14-ish when she was pregnant with Jesus.

    I think we have a lot of infantilizing of adolescents in our day and age. If you look at what kids were doing in earlier segments of history, we seem quite immature.

  18. #15 Phil,
    “Are you a member of the LDS church?”
    No one has told me otherwise.

    #17 Zen,
    “…in all likelyhood, the Virgin Mary was probably 14-ish when she was pregnant with Jesus.
    I think we have a lot of infantilizing of adolescents in our day and age. If you look at what kids were doing in earlier segments of history, we seem quite immature.”

    Mary was also what one might call an Iron Age barbarian. I’m not sure her culture is one we want to look to in order to evaluate our own social norms.

  19. Considering she was with child of holy ghost, and I find that deity’s ideas of when kids are ready far more pertinent than I do modern opinions. If an “Iron Age barbarian” can do it well, shouldn’t we be holding ourselves to a higher standard of performance?

    And wasn’t it Mormon that was still a teenager when leading the armies of the Nephites?

    But don’t let this suggest I am soft on paedophiles – I think as a whole, they had ought to be shot. But I do think some teenagers are capable of making decisions for themselves.

  20. I asked the question about homosexual sex many times because of friendships with several different couples I’ve known, of different age groups. Met them through scientific study groups regarding same sex attraction.
    Add in personal revelation explaination from above and found for myself great understanding regarding the basics of what and why this occurs.
    There are, as just about any of us would admit, strong influences from the opposite side of Christ / heaven and eternal laws. That opposite side is ruled by Satan and his minions. I personally met a leader of this Church of S. and he explained that the devil promises to those who yield to his influence….which would include disobeying laws of chastity…one of the MAIN ‘rewards’ to promiscuity with the same sex is a much more heightened experience…in EVERY way.
    Drive / orgasm / the actual attraction process / fulfillment (temporary) not lasting, but voracious for the most part. Much more to the whole thing than lawful man + woman thing. It also comes with a certain ‘spirit’ attachment or possession when given into. Which then influences the person with heightened anger relex, insecurity, self-esteem issues, etc., or in other words the exact opposite of the fruit of the Holy Ghost. Plainly speaking they have in one way or another the opposite of that fruit. When you add in the science of two beings with the same magnetic field (2 males) rather than….two beings with opposite fields – since a female has elements of electricity and magnetism that is more distinctly opposite to that of a male (hormones), etc….you can see where a homosexual coupling is setting up for a situation that can never be the kind of ‘match’ or fulfillment in the WHOLE, as can the interplay of the two ‘made for a perfect whole’ man AND woman.
    The elements of male and female when joined together with love and law can rise to a significantly higher degree of fulfillment and competeness.
    So, hopefully I was clear enough sharing my theory.
    Science is at work = electro-magnetic fields
    Spirit is at work = following law in it’s fulness
    and NO dark spirit has influence or possession.
    Obviously, as well, there are other factors in this continuing mystery YET to be revealed.
    However, what I shared makes the whole problem and questions regarding this issue MUCH easier to understand and deal with.
    We are still under Christs’ admonition to love all our brothers and sisters unconditionally and
    leave it to God to judge.

  21. wait.


    re 20:

    When you say you “personally met a leader of this Church of S.” do you mean you met someone who follows Laveyan Satanism and the Satanic Bible?

    I hope you realize if this is the case that you and the person you talked to had much different views of Satan. Not going to touch your hypothesis on magnetism.

  22. 20. Wow. That is so not what I learned about magnetic fields and electric fields in my graduate level physics courses. PLEASE don’t propagate … ideas … like that as science.

  23. As a society we have arrived at our current conclusions about sex and morality from thousands of years of thinking and reasoning. I think we have pretty damn good justifications for the argument as to why it is inappropriate for older men to have sexual relationships with adolescents that many people were not aware of in their time. A little girl in Joseph’s day might consent to sex but it doesn’t change the fact that she is a kid who lacks experience and perspective and is being taken advantage of by an adult (one who is greatly admired in the community and by her parents).

    I don’t think it’s wrong to be critical of this practice in history, at least from a religious perspective. It’s understandable that men have an evolutionary instinct to spread their seed with different very young women. But we are not animals. Despite these inclinations when we thoroughly reason through these issues it becomes apparent that it is absolutely unethical.

    Am I wrong to expect past prophets (esp. Joseph) to understand this with their expanded perspectives?
    I don’t think so. If revelation does not clear up these issues than what good is it? If the theory of Divine Accomodation is true ( that god works through mens cultural imperfections and reveals truth to them as they are mature enough to receive it) than really what is the point of attributing OUR ethical advances to god’s wisdom?

    I’m sorry but I expect Joseph to know that using your status to coerce little girls into marriage is wrong (even if there was a cultural explanation for it at the time). It was wrong then and it is wrong now. It’s silly to think that when people are finally smart enough to realize this that we can now attribute that knowlege to god and revelation. It would have been useful back then wouldn’t it? It’s people who create ethical standards. God just slows and complicates the process.

    I think the church position on homosexuality will eventually cave. Scripturally all we got are Old testament laws against it. Christ didn’t seem to think it was worth mentioning. These are the same set of laws that ordered people to kill any family member who professes a desire to worship another god besides Yahweh. The whole thing is maintained by cultural prejudice. As society begins to sympathize with homosexuals so will more members of the church until some leaders feel a moral obligation to correct an incorrect practice. Study church history and pay attention to how attitudes towards inter-racial marriage have changed. Members of that day I’m sure felt that there was really a binding stamp of revelatory approval on that prejudice. What are the equivalents of our day? I think homosexuality is one of them.

    I wish more people could just admit that they don’t have a clue what ANYTHING will be like when they die. How do you know there’s not a place for homosexuals in the Celestial Kingdom. How do you know they don’t have a purpose to fulfil? You seem to know alot about it.

  24. Of course, that really begs the question just how old is old enough? There are quite a few 18 year olds that are blonde enough at heart – simply immature enough – and yet we grant them this privilege. When do we consider people accountable for their own actions?

    The problem with making Homosexuality a part of the Gospel is that it is incompatible with what we know of our exaltation. The family is extremely central to that. The Feminists gripe we don’t hear enough about Heavenly Mother as it is… the alternative would be a race of mankind without a Heavenly Mother at all – that does not sound healthy for them, to me anyway.

    If God can cure me of all manner of sinful inclinations (of the ordinary kind), why can he not teach others how to overcome theirs? I think there is an unconscious lack of faith in just what the Savior is capable of. How do our sinful inclinations differ fundamentally from Homosexuality?

  25. re 24: Zen, never mind that the church is already scuttling ideas like the Heavenly Mother under the rug

    I’m feeling inclined to agree with Geoff J when he guest writes for 9-Moons that we should be trying to retire/bury the popular doctrinal idea that spirits gestated in the womb of an exalted celestial woman.

    This isn’t a comment to somehow relegate women to irrelevance — on the other hand, it’s to point out that the fetish with spirit births harking to human biological constraints is rather creepy, opposed to certain doctrinal ideas (spirits have no beginning, remember), and still seems to pidgeonhole this idea of, “Men -> Priesthood and authority. Women -> Motherhood” which…is a raw deal.

    I think the problem of God curing people of all manner of sinful inclinations at first doesn’t seem very controversial, but then we get into several other ideas: 1) the same spirit you have in this life will be the one you have in the next life, 2) what’s the point of NOW if it’s all for naught later, 3) this essentially adds a new and crueler dimension to the problem of suffering (“oh, sorry, gay sons and daughters, for making your mortal experience incredibly awkward and perhaps painful and then just taking it back now without much closure or anything; we’re still friends, right?”), and 4) it opens the door for all kinds of other frightening possibilities. For example, for worrying about the feminists so much, haven’t you heard the arguing of some (at Zelophehad’s Daughters) of the utter distastefulness of the possibility that women will just be “changed” into wanting celestial polygamist marriages?

    Let’s say that is the case. Again, this would suggest a dramatic change of the person from this life to the next — by changing these aspects of desires, one essentially would be destroying the old person. It’s not “you” who enjoys the afterlife, then, but “you prime.”

  26. #15 – That you use the word ‘presumably’ in your response does support what i said above about your interpretation. Further, we have seen some changes in what constitues those behaviours which are celestial in our dispensation let alone between dispensations, so I think it is difficult to assume something will be same as here.

    #16 – I agree. However, because of some changes in how the Church has seen the role of sexuality in the our future celestial lives I am left wondering whether they ahve revealed direct revelation on these issues.

    #23 – I don’t accept that we are somehow ethically more mature than previous cultures and societies because I am not sure that our values are developed in a linear way as a result to increasing rationality and scientific evidence. Your view seems very much based on what we is currently accepted as social norms without reasons for it. You just state that Joseph’s actions were wrong as if it is something inherent. I think that is a dangerous card to pull because it has been used many times in the past to enforce a coercive power.

    #25 – I can see the strength of that argument, which is exactly why I am writing this post. I guess to argue with myself and you. The ‘you prime’ that enjoys the after-life is what mormonism promises anyway. A resurrected, glorified, omniscient, omnipotent, married w/ children ‘you’. One who has changed their whole perspective. So maybe God does change people maybe God lets them see something differently and they voluntarily give up their homosexuality, in the same way i give my pride. The issue here of course is that on this view there are no homosexuals in heaven, and that understandbly upsets people who feel that God’s loves them regardless of who they are. My confusion I hope is apparent.

  27. I would like to add an other-worldly dimension to this discussion. The basic argument so far, it seems, is that Paedophilia is wrong here so it is wrong in the celestial kingdom and we have discusssed the possible impact these relationships could have. A new issue that could be placed within this discussion is this (assuming there are children in the celestial kingdom – I am aware that our ‘doctrine’ say they will not be) then is it not possible that God would heal any inclination in these paedophiles to engage in destructive sexual relationships. They will then only do it in ways which are fully consensual. Assuming of course that these children would be of a different kind of intelligence etc. comments by zen do beg the question of whether the bodily-attraction is wrong only because the individual is not mature enough. This implies that being attracted to a young person’s body is not wrong but only that they can’t decide. So if in the celestial kingdom they could decide is it still wrong? If a celstial youth could decide and God heals any inclinations to engage in destructuve relationships, which people seem to advocating above, then are these relatinships wrong?

  28. re 26:

    If God can/does change things as he wants, then really, it seems that we also have to accept the possibility that “you prime” could be much different than any of us expect. Mormons “prefer” a Mormon view of heaven, but what if the change from “you” to “you prime” will occur through a non-Mormon view of heaven: where no one is given in to marriage, and everyone just sings praises and plays harp all day? Many Mormons (or non-Mormons, for that matter), don’t “like” that possibility…but if “you prime” would, then does their complaint matter?

    It seems that your confusion can be answered by this stark question: does God love “you” or does he love “you prime?” Think carefully about this. When people say, “There was no homosexuality in the pre-mortal existence and there won’t be in the afterlife,” or “Homosexuality (and other things) are products of the fall,” or even “Sexuality isn’t a part of who you are,” then they are implying that no, God doesn’t like *you*. God likes *you prime*. And then, from here on, everything else becomes very different. So God’s goal isn’t that you will return to live with him eternally. No, he hopes that you get over yourself (or in biblical terms, “lose yourself,” or get rid of the “natural man”) and gain a You Prime in Christ. This violent process engenders the suicide of “you” for “you prime,” but then again, this shouldn’t scare you if you’re a true believer. Jesus came to bring a sword…

    Personally, I find this to be contentious. But that’s just me. I bet if others in the church or elsewhere asked these pointed questions, they might be comfortable with the prospect of becoming you primes.

  29. Since I don’t think there will be “sexual activity” of any kind (and I DON’T include all intimacy and physical expression in that category) that is involved in the creation of children in the afterlife, these type of discussions are purely intellectual / academic for me. I consider what little has been written (speculated) about the process of creation outside of mortality (next to nothing, really), and I personally choose not to care about it.

    I don’t think “sex” is involved, but I certainly don’t feel I “know” the answer. It’s just what makes the most sense to me.

    Sex with someone who is underaged is wrongg, imo – but, as others have said, the problem is trying to determine a universal standard for what underage means. I’ll leave the legal wrangling to others, but the general principle involves offending these little ones, millstones and cutting off body parts rather than being cast into Hell. That’s strong enough for me.

  30. “The exceptions however were incest and sex between a child and an adult.”

    should have included here bestiality, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, masturbation, lusting over porn. Anything less then it isn’t the mormon way! Plus I think the scriptures are clear that those who don’t want to change, as many gays don’t, simply wont be a part of the celestial kingdom. But your argument here that this could apply to pedophiles is logically correct but also shows the error of the assumption that homosexuality will have some place in these kingdoms.

    #9 #2 Most states permitted marriage at 14 with parental consent, some at 13! although the average was higher. It was only during the ’90s that most states raised the age to 16. Today in Missouri for example, a 15 year old can marry a 40 year old and so grant consent before 18 via her parents granting of consent to marry. Europe has similar age limits but note that China had 22m/21f for centuries so then if Jose Smith had lived in China he’d be in bigger trouble! But then again he married in religion and only sealed it seems for eternity and not time and never had children with them, pus Helen Kimball marriage again at 16 and did have children from that second marriage which points more to a religious agreement in her first sealing to Jose Smith than a full and proper marriage as we understand it.

  31. #9 Doug G. “I’m not necessarily taking issue with the overall message of your post, but I am curious where you got the idea above. From looking at census data from the 1850-1890, I don’t see the kind of culture you seem to be alluding to. The average age of marriage for females was around 22 (24 for males) and only one in six women married husbands that were more than 5 years older than they were.”

    I stand corrected, so thanks for pointing that out, Doug. It’s one of those things you always hear, so you just assume it’s true. I’d never bothered to check census records, so it’s good that someone does. 🙂

  32. Aaron, I couldn’t agree with you more and it’s a topic I try to address with friends of mine who are gay-affirming – the argument that homosexuality is or is not a choice is not persuasive. As you point out, it has been proven scientfically that many humans are born with dispositions to certain types of behaviour. It is not part of our legal tradition to give credence to this, other than perhaps as a mitigating factor in punishment.

    Scripture tells us that humans, by our very nature, are prone to sin. Surely one cannot argue that “sin” itself is ok because it is in our nature (ie. designed by God) for us to sin? While I think this brings up other notions of the nature of God and sin itself, I still think it’s necessary to understand the failings of this common pro-homosexual argument.

    For myself, I am unconcerned whether one chooses to be in a homosexual relationship or whether such a desire is innate. Based on my understanding of the Gospel, we are called to enter into loving, consensual, relationships based on mutual respect, equality and common purpose. If such a relationship is between two people of the same gender, to me makes no difference. Similarly, if a relationship is unequal or unhealthy, it is of no matter whether it is heterosexual or homosexual, it is not positive.

    If we look at relationships of all sorts, in the context of its positive or negative effect on the members of the relationship and its positive or negative effect on the community, rather than on whether such relationships are “moral” or “natural” or “proper,” we will go alot further in seeking to build relationships that help build the Kingdom.

  33. For me, it comes down to doing harm. Pedophiles hurt children and take advantage of them, which is bad. Consenting adult homosexuals aren’t hurting anyone, the only argument against their love is based on one interpretation of scripture. So in my mind, pedophiles will have to change (though not “be” changed–it will take time and repentance) because their desires are inherently wrong and hurtful*, whereas gays won’t have to change because really there isn’t anything wrong with homosexuality except a cultural taboo against it.

    *barring some situation similar to what was described in #27, which could change that, but as for here on earth true pedophilia is always a sin.

  34. I don’t know. I still don’t understand why our current understanding of morality is not superior to past generations. When I say “we” I mean the majority of the democratized world. I think that most people I interact with nowadays would say that there is something wrong with a really young girl consenting to marriage and a sexual relationship with an adult. Our laws reflect the common attitude of the majority toward this. With our level of psychological knowledge we understand that someone under age, albeit consenting, is still being taken advantage of because of their lack of experience and perspective. Young people admire older people. They care more about being noticed. That can make them easier to manipulate by adults.

    I don’t know if a few hundred years ago people would approach these ethical dillemas the same way. I think that if a child consents they would not see the broader complications that still exist. If a girl’s parents consent for her that is still obviously infringing on the natural rights of the child. It will dramatically effect her future and her quality of life.

    Morality and ethics are very subjective but if there is a perfect morality our societies have moved closer to it as we have embraced reason and worked through things. I have heard that the morality demonstrated in the Old Testament was justified because the Israelites were not yet ready for the more advanced truths and would reject them at their level of progression. So it’s not just a secular argument to point out that our understanding of ethics has improved over the centuries. Either we have gotten better at seeing the whole picture, or it has been revealed to us what the big picture is.

    Anyway, I personally am having difficulties, understanding why I should be so forgiving of past cultural attitudes such as in this discussion. Can’t we at least expect the prophets to demonstrate a higher level of conduct? Help me understand.

  35. I am a homosexual who was raised LDS and whose LDS father is attracted to children. My dad is active in the church and exercises self control to lead a normal life as a husband and father. I have talked with him in depth about what it means to him to be attracted to young girls, and what it means for me to be attracted to men. They are not the same in any way.

    Attractions to children are based in a physical and emotional desire for a certain circumstance, not for a certain person. It is sexual, but it is aimed at children in the state of being children. While my homosexual feelings are also sexual- physical and emotional, they are not for a certain type of person, they are for persons. I fall in love with men. I am in love with a man. I want to spend my life with him. I want to grow old with him. You can see how that last statement falls apart with someone who is attracted to children.

    Self control is necesary for love and for happiness. But this doesn’t mean that self control needs to be applied in the same way for pedophiles as for homosexuals because the circumstances are just not the same.

  36. @Aaron
    I liked your post. I haven’t thoroughly read all the comments, but wanted to throw in my two cents. I share the same questioning that you do.

    “The exceptions however were incest and sex between a child and an adult. What separates these issues out as being inherently evil?”

    I don’t think anything separates these out as inherently evil. I am taking an introduction to psychology course and the teacher addressed this issue. The idea was that we have evolutionary mechanisms in place that give us a negative gut reaction when we think of incest. This is because from an evolutionary standpoint it doesn’t promote our genes in an effective way. I think, in this way we often confuse our gut reactions with some sort of superior universal moral truth. From an evolutionary standpoint homosexual sex is not very effective at promoting our genes, hence the gut reaction. But in my mind, this doesn’t make it wrong, especially in light of the fact that there is so much more to it than simply sex.

  37. Sorry, I should qualify my statement more clearly. I don’t think incest is inherently evil from a moral standpoint of sex. I do think it is inherently evil when considered from the aspect of abuse of a child. I’m sure that some children will be mature enough to understand when they’re sixteen, and some when they’re eighteen, and some not until they’re 30-something. I think 18 is a reasonable age to draw a line in the sand, and any sex, consensual or not, between an adult and child is considered abusive. This has to do with the child not being capable of making well-informed reasonable decisions (not that many adults do much better).

    I hope that clarifies it a bit.

  38. This is a good discussion…thanks for the interesting comments. If two adult equals engage in sexual activity, but happen to be parent/child or sibling, it may not be inherently evil from the moral standpoint of sex, but it gives me a negative gut reaction. From what I’ve read, there seems to be some degree of prohibition of incestuous relationships in every society. Is this a cultural paradigm that will cave away in the future too?

    The elements that evoke physical attraction are also cultural. So will physical attraction be part of Celestial thinking? Will eros be replaced by agape? Will eros exist but be redefined? Plato spoke of eros as progressively becoming an appreciation for the beauty within a person, and as contributing to an understanding of spiritual truth. Will we take our culturally developed sense of physical attraction with us to heaven and have the same negative gut reactions there? “Marriage was not created as just a forum for pleasure – it is more a setting for service and love.” It is the setting for eros progressing to agape.

  39. Just as a modern prophet corrected a lingering bias against Afro descendants surely will this conflicting bias against those that suffering with same sex attraction come to an end. The Lord would act if a prophet would act. The Lord waits patiently…. for those with courage and faith to act. It is sad that in the interim young people of great faith and potential are not invited to the table of the gospel. Many lurk in the shadows unwilling to be ridiculed. Others find no resolution and commit suicide. Other put their trust in the prophet only to find that being single to be a very lonely place in this family church. We need to fully embrace these special individuals. They did not choose this path. They don’t need to hide and believe themselves to be evil. We as members could make the difference with something called Christ-like behavior. They have just as much right as you and I to find companionship, family and joy from that union. I am ashamed at the unchristian conduct of an institution that should live by the highest of all standards. Get to know them. They have powerful blogs. Read their stories. Encourage them. Love them. Invite them to the table of Christ. If they come as sinners…who should throw the first stone….Keat

  40. #28 – I have to agree that this is a difficult process. Since I see people as in a perpetual state of change or becoming anyway there is very little to us that I see as innate. I see our potential as innate. Therefore God’s love to me is about expanding our capacities. I see it about entering a relationship and getting the most from that relationship and that may take change, the same as other relationships.

    #29 – I have heard you refer to this earlier and find it persuasive since I do not have a good conception of how this will work. However, the idea of embodiment as divine (and all the experiences of the body as part of that divinity) is one that resonates with me and so I want to hold onto that. If sexuality can be dropped then why not other senses or physical experiences.

    #32 – So are you saying that the you would be happy with the example in #27?

    #35 – Thank you for your comment. Your insights are very helpful to me. Do you think your fathers experience is unique or is it a more general character trait of those who experience these desires? Further, is it possible that in learning to deal with his desires that your dad has learned to frame his experience in a way different to yours (because of cultural pressure to do so, much the way that homosexuals would have framed their desires 50 years ago)? I am not asking these qestions to be contentious but am merely trying to understand.

    #38 – Eros has also been linked with divine Love (see Boman: Hebrwe Thought Compared with Greek). I have often considered eros, philia (i hope that is spelt correctly) and agape as forms of love that are important aspects of the divine. If I accept marriage as part of celestial life then I can see how eros is coupled with agape and philia in that celestial relationship. I think this is what E. Holland suggests above. That sex is a sacrament. However, in Ray’s view, I could accept your argument that eros is earthly experience that we use to understand agape more fully.

  41. I don’t think they are unique to my dad. Someone brought up pedastry in early Rome. That was a sexual encounter encouraged in society between a man and a boy. But it was just an encounter. The men were almost always married (to women), and the boys grew up to marry women. They probably aren’t anything like pedophiles in todays sense of the term, but the point I made was the same. In the case of the pedophile, the sexual interest is for people in the state of youth. It is not for the people themselves. A pedophile wouldn’t want to grow old with his love interest- it sorta defeats the purpose. On the otherhand, homosexuals can fall in love with people they are attracted to- real love that is only deeper when they are 80. It really isn’t just about sex.

    I’ve read things written by homosexuals 50 years ago. I’ve read letters by Michealangelo hundreds of years ago. They didn’t describe their attractions at all the way my dad or other pedophiles describe their attractions. It’s not the same type of attraction now, and it wasn’t the same type of attraction then.

    Think about my attractions to men as no different from your attractions to women. They probably developed about the same time, had the same intensity through the teen years, and improve my relationship with my spouse in the same ways yours do. I have seen gay men marry women, and it is almost without exception terribly unhealthy. I have seen men stay celibate, and it is almost without exception unhealthy(I’m not talking about singleness, I’m talking about a degrading form of celibacy). I can say with certainty based in experience and in observation that same sex couples have relationships that are just as healthy as heterosexual ones. In fact certain qualities, make them more healthy in certain areas, like the fact that it is impossible to fall back on unequal gender roles/stereotypes- which introduces more creativity, compromise, and communication about chores and other roles parents and spouses play.

  42. There’s that saying that goes something like, “We are not human creatures trying to have a spiritual experience, we are spiritual creatures trying to have a human experience.” A telestial body of flesh comes with mortal challenges which may be released when entering the spirit world. Some have speculated that the habits and addictions we experience on Earth will go with the unembodied spirit and have to be overcome in the spirit world, the difficulty of overcoming in turn making it a spirit prison. Perhaps it could be more appropriately called a “post-human” prison rather than a spirit prison, as the spirit is imprisoned by the effects of the human experience.

    If sexual desires, whether acquired or at birth, are not eternal, then the spirit may not cling to them or have a desire to cling to them. The resurrection of a body to a perfected state may correct neurochemistry. A smoker, for instance, develops a proliferation of nicotine receptors throughout life so that a greater surge of dopamine can be released with nicotine ingestion. That is why tobacco becomes so highly addictive and why quitters have difficulty becoming occasional cigarette smokers from smoking just one cigarette.

    If the brain chemistry in a resurrected being is perfected, then the nicotine receptor count (if we even need nicotine receptors) would return to that of a non-smoker. There may be those that would say that they wouldn’t want a heaven without cigarettes, but once the spirit is released from the body that has become enslaved to nicotine, it may not cling to that desire, even if there are effects to be overcome.

  43. What about true bi-seuxals? If the church becomes enlightened on homosexuality, will it also not be required to become enlightened on bi-sexuality? Or will bi-sexuals just have to choose one or the other and stick with it?

  44. #22 Andrew J Davis;

    As the educated man that you purport to be, it is beneath you to perpetuate adolescent jargon as, “That is SO not…”. The English language has an exceptionally large and nuanced vocabulary, please do yourself a favor and explore it fully and then jettison the pubescent banalities lest at some future time you could laughed off the podium while delivering an otherwise brilliant paper.

    End of threadjack.

  45. Anonymous:
    Have you ever checked out
    They advocate the idea that you are not born homosexual, that you are not consigned to this way of life. Yet they, without reservation, support the stand of the LDS church that homosexual activity is spritually, physically and psychologically harmful. This life is but a short time. Everything we do, say, and think in this life determines where we will be in the next. Be careful what you choose.

  46. Keat #39 Beautifully stated comment:
    “It is sad that in the interim young people of great faith and potential are not invited to the table of the gospel.”
    I too hope, that our grace can grow enough to welcome and include all of our young people. Educational psychologists work with children who are bullied just because their attributes do not really fit the attributes of the larger group. We see children denied fair treatment, omitted from the group activity, teased and victimized. Schools are required to protect all students and to take the attitude that the school should adjust for the individual, whenever possible. The idea of requesting social justice for each and every child is a formidable task in itself, and it may create adversarial groups because acceptance of diversity is resisted by the larger group. Focusing on the differences between individuals tends to exclude children. A more inclusive attitude can be developed if leaders determine that love and acceptance of these children is a goal and the true problem is the behavior of the individuals bullying the child who is viewed as different.
    I have been required to clarify this idea in previous school districts when a recommendation was made to remove a student because the school “could not protect them” from bullying. The student would often be cautioned with “Be careful how you choose to act, because if you act too _______, you might be beaten up.” It is not an option for an public education institution to deny a student a free and appropriate education because we find it easier to deny one student, rather than discipline many students for inappropriate behavior. The same sentiment can be applied to a religious institution. The LDS Church does not have adequate oversight when individual members are bullied, and the results show up as a lack of grace, lack of inclusion and lack of acceptance of others. This lack of grace could be overcome, if the LDS Church determined that any individual member has a right to be treated with dignity and respect.

  47. #41 – I appreciate that same-sex couples can have healthy relationships, that was not my question, and I did not mean to suggest a different point of view. So would you then argue that any relationship that is focussed solely around the sexual encounter alone and not around the full spectrum of connections and associations that other types of relationships bring is not a divine type of relationship?

    #42 – Although I see the strength of that argument I can also see how that might be offensive to people who feelings put them in a place in God’s plan that they do not want, and I can see the motivation to try and find that a place of peace.

    #43 – I think you raise an interesting question. I forsee this getting less discussion in all sectors primarily because a bi-sexual can have a happy and succesful heterosexual relationship. Therefore I see that the Church’s position should one develop would be along similar lines as their principles on temple marriage for heterosexuals. If it does not lead you to the temple don’t marry them.

    #46 – One of the difficulties I see with the Church mocing toward that time is that unless a ‘celestial’ vision of homosexuality can be achieved then their place in the Church will be one that will involve intolerance. That is one of the reasons I have written this post.

  48. “This lack of grace could be overcome, if the LDS Church determined that any individual member has a right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

    Perception really is truth at the individual level, I suppose. I sincerely hope you find a way to see the effort “the LDS Church” is making to teach what you are saying – and to understand and forgive those members who aren’t there yet.

  49. Aaron, good point.
    #46 – One of the difficulties I see with the Church mocing toward that time is that unless a ‘celestial’ vision of homosexuality can be achieved then their place in the Church will be one that will involve intolerance. That is one of the reasons I have written this post.
    As someone who is working with children who may not meet the standard idea of either feminine or masculine, and who are victimized because of that difference, I believe that we dishonor ourselves by not seeing the person first, and view the behavior as their personal attribute. It is the lack of ability to value and honor that child of God. Prop. 8 and the LDS’s very public and monetary support to take away a civil right of individuals was a public humiliation as it highlighted the intolerance of the LDS Church.

    Ray: you provided a gracious comment in the thread, “The only Power to Punish the Church has Ever Had”:
    “And while I would agree that the church is becoming more open about its history, the fact remains that many of these “disaffected “ sorts didn’t fall out of bed because they weren’t far enough in. Usually, just the opposite-They were the ones most adamantly following the principles and defending the faith. Just saying…”

    I have already been told “Just get back into bed and pretend it never happened.”
    I would rather ask the LDS church to “do better” and explain what changes, IMHO, need to be made. I do understand what occurred, at least in my own situation. With this view, I have asked the LDS Church, in my stake, to bring to light the actions and habits that transmit oppression of its members. In my case it was unrighteous dominion & sexism, (not being allowed to pay tithing under my own name, renew my temple recomment until my DH wished to attend or even schedule and attend a meeting with the SP, without my white, male DH present). The “pretend it never happended attitude” is a way of glossing over a concern and choosing apathy and ignorance instead of allowing actions to be brought to the light of truth. It is a way of coping that the LDS Church uses, in the way that they revise history and choose not to address a concern, in order to continue to be the transmitters of sexist, elitist, homophobic and oppressive policies and habits. I understand and forgive their ignorance but as an educator, still want the LDS Church
    to “do better”.
    Remember, indifference is the opposite of love, and my statements here are not indifferent.
    Please enlighten us as to the “efforts that the LDS Church is making”.

  50. #49 – How do you distinguish between personality attributes and behaviours that may need to change, i.e. how do conceive of the idea of repentance. I acknowledge that this would come into your work. But person-centered perspective, if applicable to the Church would need to be able to incorporate this ideas well I would say?

  51. Very perceptive, Aaron. The person-centered approach is my preferred classical model, as follows:
    Adlerian Psychology is a values-based, fully-integrated, philosophy of living, psychotherapy approach. Its mission is to encourage the development of psychologically healthy and cooperative individuals, couples, and families in order to effectively pursue the ideals of social equality and democratic living. A vigorously optimistic and inspiring approach to psychotherapy, it balances the equally important needs for optimal development of the individual as well as social responsibility. Our church believes in the founding father’s idea of individual rights and applying those concepts to the LDS religion seems reasonable to me, as it eliminates oppression of people by the larger group. My approach has been viewed as contentious by some of our contributors.
    Your second point:
    Being able to identify behaviors that may need to change is an interesting question that was recently addressed by Jimmy Carter, in his address to the Baptists in The Age, “Losing My Religion for Equality”.
    He stated:
    “Baptist leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
    This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.”
    He also stated that many churchs, including LDS, tend to become more rigid and narrow in their definition of the role of women as they progress.
    LDS concede that women’s roles in the church limit their access to leadership, and state that the separate but equal RS meets women’s needs for leadership roles in the Church. I don’t accept this as a just or equal substitute and request that they reconsider their current approach.
    The first step in change is to acknowledge that there is a valid concern. How often have we heard our prophet state something to the effect of:
    Women in our church are happy with their role, and there are no complaints.
    In seeking a change in social justice, one must first recognize that there exists its opposite, injustice. Many of the church leadership and men in the priesthood are not even aware of their own bias and the impact that bias has on women in the Church. We are currently at this first step, where the official policy is that there is no complaint, concern or injustice.
    I’m not sure how your idea of repentance should be addressed. Should I repent for questioning the current policy, actions or inactions and attitudes that continue to oppress women, myself included.
    If we voice our concerns, is that considered a sin? I would be excommunicated if I publically questioned church leaders in my stake. Currently, I think my husband and I are just informally disfellowshipped and shunned by my stake for my voicing my concerns privately (and anonymously on these forums) regarding church leaders actions that would be considered discrimination in any other realm than religion.
    The priesthood leaders and RS representative have each stated, “Pretend it never happened” or “It never happened”, in that order with the clear intent that I am to forget what occurred, not question, and not speak of any concerns again. I disagree and want clarification and change. Does that make me an apostate and sinner? If so, it implies that I and what I ask, no longer matters to the LDS Church.

  52. Pingback: Charity Toward Elder Bruce Hafen’s Evergreen talk – Part II « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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