Wednesday, 13 June 2007

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination"

Yes, I'm using Leviticus 18:22 as my title. I'm fully aware that this will be a controversial post, and that if anyone ever reads it, it's going to invite criticism. So I'm going to handle it delicately. That means no more Leviticus.

As you've probably surmised, our topic today is homosexuality. As I write, it's still a subject which can incite a great deal of emotion on both sides of the debate. I'm simply going to endeavour to formulate a coherent argument as to why, religiously, it is wrong.

Disclaimer here: There is much debate about what causes homosexuality, conscious choice, genetics, environment or whatnot. I don't claim to have an answer to that. I don't claim that everyone can cheerfully say 'Oh, it's wrong? Then I won't be gay any more!'. That would be ridiculous. But it is always possible to ignore a part of your personality that is wrong, for whatever reason. Many heterosexual people deny their sexual feelings until they are married, or in some cases for life. It can be done. I don't know that anyone disagrees with that simple fact. What I'm going to try and prove (again, solely from a religious perspective -- if you're going to argue 'You're wrong because your religion is wrong', then this isn't really the place for it) is that it is part of God's plan for people affected to deny and overcome their homosexual yearnings.

This is going to cause trouble, isn't it?

The Bible Dictionary, found in LDS editions of the scriptures, contains this passage in the entry on 'Marriage':

Latter-day revelation tells us that marriage under the law of the gospel and the holy priesthood is for eternity, and that men and women thus sealed in marriage continue to have children throughout eternity. Although this concept of marriage is not fully presented in our present Bible, traces of it are found in Matt. 16:16-19; 19:3-8; 22:23-30; and Moses 4:18. However, the fullest explanation is found in D&C 132.

The first of those sections from Matthew include the words 'whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shal be loosed in heaven'. This is interpreted differently by all denominations of Christianity, but it is in actuality a reference to the priesthood (as mentioned above: 'marriage... under the holy priesthood is for eternity'). At this point in time, Peter had the keys sealed upon him that would allow him to bind and loose people in the bonds of eternal marriage. These keys were lost in the Great Apostasy, and later restored through Joseph Smith Jr.

... lest this turn into an implausibly long post, I think I'll need to postpone an explanation of the Apostasy and Restoration to a later post. My next one, perhaps.

Moving on, we have a few verses from Matt. 19. In this section, the Pharisees test Christ by asking him whether it is lawful to put away (that is, divorce) one's wife. When they state that it must be, because Moses gave instructions whereby divorce could be committed, he informs them that 'Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so'. (He then continues on to say that the only justification for divorce is fornication, a position which is for the most part maintained by the present Church). The obvious point here is that marriage is something which God wants to continue; why anyone could think that he would ordain something that would last purely for our mortal lives but take it away after we achieve glory is entirely beyond me (leaving aside the Lord's earlier words to Peter -- ''whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven', remember?).

The final Matthew reference is one of those traditionally given as an argument against eternal marriage, and as such deserves special attention. The verse in question is Matthew 22:30 -- "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

Were this verse in fact problematic, one would expect the Church to quietly ignore it; instead, it is referenced as evidence for eternal marriage. Something is obviously going on here. This is what:

The marriages which the Sadducees were speaking of were purely temporal marriages. The Jews at this time were living the Law of Moses, which is inherently a temporal thing. I'm going to have to devote another post to that subject, although I have touched upon it in I Desired Mercy, And Not Sacrifice, a previous post. Suffice to say that, due to their iniquities, the Israelites proved themselves unworthy of the higher, Celestial Law, and were instead only given the Telestial, the Law of Moses. This law does not include the higher Priesthood, and thus does not contain the sealing powers given to Peter back in Matt. 16. The marriages the Sadducees spoke of were not eternal, and so there is no conflict in their question.

How, then, can people be bound in eternal marriage? Through the higher, Melchizedek Priesthood (as opposed to the temporal Aaronic Priesthood of the Jews). This can only be done while they have mortal life on the earth, or through proxies after their deaths. Before the final resurrection of the dead, everyone who wishes it and is worthy of sealing will have been sealed in eternal marriage to the partner of their choice (this is neither the time or place for a discussion of polygamy). Thus, in the resurrection (that is to say, in the time when people have been resurrected), they are neither married nor given in marriage -- that's all been done already. It is significant that Christ did not say 'nor are bound in marriage' or 'nor live in marriage', but rather that they 'are as the angels of God in heaven'.

It's time to turn this back to the subject in hand. I hope that the preceeding work has shown that the concept of eternal marriage is not, in fact, utterly alien to the Bible. The rest of this post will be focussed on latter-day revelation, as it conveys the relevant information clearly and in far more detail. Thus, Doctrine and Covenants 132:15-17:
15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.

16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.
This is pretty much restating my arguments concerning Matt. 22, with the addition that the angels are servants, ministering to those worthy of 'a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory'. It should be noted that these angels have still obtained the celestial glory - but there are three divisions therein, just as there are three degrees of glory overall (yep, that's another one for a later post). These angels are still glorified beyond description -- but, as verse 17 states, they are not gods.

Verse 19 is hideously long - in my scriptures it takes up almost a full column - but I'll summarise the beginning and merely quote the end, along with verse 20. The 'they' in the verses refers to those who have been married for time and all eternity according to the law of God, and by the correct authority, and who have kept their covenants, and finally died:

19 [...] and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

I'll restate that. The glory of godhood -- which is the ultimate end of eternal marriage, and gives those who hold it power over all things -- is the continuation of their seed. In other words: the goal of eternal marriage is children. Forever.

(If you wonder how these two points relate, you can look at the post I made just before this one -- Before I Formed Thee In The Belly I Knew Thee. It deals specifically with the creation of our Earth, but it can be extrapolated with minimal changes to all others -- and all other gods)

So, the goal of all human life is to obtain the highest glory, which is eternal marriage and children. This cannot be achieved through homosexual relationships, even could two people persuade a priesthood holder to (attempt to) seal them -- it's impossible for them to have children here on Earth, and our bodies after the resurrection will be much the same as these. So homosexual activity is already a bad idea, because it distracts one from one's ultimate aim. That, I would thing, is enough of an argument. But just in case, there's more.

Sexual relationships are sacred, and belong solely within the boundaries of marriage -- even back in Matt. 19, we saw that the only justification for divorce was one partner being unfaithful. So 'casual' sex -- homo- or heterosexual -- is wrong anyway, on principle. Homosexual marriages, however, are becoming legal in various places, so is that all right?

Well, no. This goes back to the first argument, only more so. If someone is in a homosexual marriage, and assuming they are faithful within that marriage, then they can never attain the highest degree of glory. It's completely impossible -- they are married, but it isn't one that is recognised by God, and thus will be worthless after they die. They can never be sealed, and they can never achieve godhood. Even allowing for an incredible lifespan, eighty years isn't even a scratch on eternity. So allowing people to enter into homosexual marriages (when they could be either marrying someone of the opposite gender or -- and this is equally acceptable, and actually preferable (I think) to entering an unhappy marriage -- staying chaste until after death, with the promise that they will be resurrected at the first resurrection, and thus can find a suitable spouse during the Millennium, cleansed of all their imperfections and weaknesses) is actually worse than than allowing homosexual 'casual' relationships among those who haven't covenanted to keep the law of chastity. Where the former will kill off every chance they might ever have of the highest degree of glory, the latter will merely ('merely'!) give them more to repent of when they do find the gospel and take such covenants.

Lastly, and the only argument you'll see in most Christian circles, the Lord has commanded that we not enter into homosexual relations. See my title as an example. But really, the other arguments were a lot more convincing, I think.