In some of my self-examination, I've been thinking over the last week or two what the role of gays are in our theology. I've read a lot of people's personal views on the interpretation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and how the original Hebrew does not necessarily support the idea that it was destroyed for homosexuality. Instead, the destruction occurred because the people lacked hospitality.
I have no background to add to that discussion. However, there is no clear instruction from any scripture on the matter. Jesus did not address same sex relations. Joseph Smith did not either. In fact, according to some, the issue was not raised within the Church to any degree of specificity until Spencer W. Kimball became the prophet.
I do not claim to be an expert on how the Church's position has changed concerning homosexuality. Trusting that others have done the research, I've been wondering then where gays fit into the eternal scheme of things if I accept the proposition that God may not condemn gays as the Church leaders have said. Certainly a gay man can abide by many of the same commandments as anyone else. He can serve in the church, attend priesthood, go on a mission, etc., so long as he is celibate. I recognize that path. However, now a gay man can get married in certain states and in some other countries. He can refrain from sexual relations until he marries his love, just as a straight couple can. If he does so and engages in sexual relations only within the bonds of matrimony, has he lost his worthiness in God's eyes? I know that church leaders now would disapprove and not allow his participation at church.
If he is still worthy in God's view because he is only sexually active in a marriage relationship, should he then be allowed to serve in the Church, perform priesthood ordinances, and go to the temple?
As a missionary, I read Third Nephi, chapter 11 almost daily with investigators. In that chapter, Jesus to me seems very clear that the path to salvation is through the 4 basic principles of the gospel--faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. In fact, He teaches that whoever teaches more or less than this doctrine is of the devil.
The reason I point out this section of scripture is that our Church as a much more complicated path laid out for salvation that culminates in seeking a spouse and being sealed in the temple. Only then, as Joseph taught, can one enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. Should we as gay brothers in the Church hope for a day when gay men and women can go to the temple and be sealed? Do we want to encourage acceptance so that a gay, sexually active man, can be a bishop, stake president, or apostle? Or is there another path? Will gays be like the blacks prior to 1978 who can attend church but not obtain temple blessings?
There are two other degrees of glory within the celestial kingdom. We don't know anything about them other than the people there will be with God and be his angels. That doesn't sound so bad. Is one of those degrees reserved for God's gay children who are also true Christians? If so, then not having perfect attendance at church meetings, going to the temple, or doing some of the many other things that we relate to Mormon culture but is not really relevant to the basic doctrine of salvation will not matter to God so much.
Joseph taught that that we will retain our identities, desires, and characteristics into the next life. Being that I think more people are accepting that one's sexuality is inherent in one's identity and not a choice, that idea implies to me that one's sexual identity is part of one's soul. If a guy has no attractions to women, that will not change in the next life and he will likely then not want to be in the highest degree of glory if that's for married heterosexual couples only. The other two degrees may be just right.
What about me? I'm married to a great woman. I love her and continue to hope and pray that our relationship will continue for a long time. If I continue to remain faithful to her, then we're promised that highest degree of glory. We can only go there through accepting and receiving the benefits of the atonement. As Alma taught, the atonement is very broad. It includes not only washing away our sins, but taking away the pains, sicknesses, and sufferings of this life. Isn't being denied a male partner a suffering? Maybe through the atonement, we will be blessed with great male partners in heaven. I've heard in Church before that righteous men will be given more wives in the celestial kingdom because polygamy is an eternal principle. If that's true, then maybe I'll ask God for both male and female spouses.
These are just some thoughts. What do you think about being gay in the eternal perspective?