Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mormon Leaders Welcome Gay Couples

"Forget everything we said about the purpose and destiny of mankind, we spoke with limited understanding. Sincerely, the First Presidency."

No it is not a real statement. It is my initial response to the suggestion of MikeInWeHo, who provided the framework on a LDSLF Mormon Stories thread: (message 105)
"Write an imaginary statement from the First Presidency announcing that married gay couples are welcome in the church. This must be done without altering any basic church doctrine, the Law of Chastity, or the restored understanding of the nature of deity."
My first inclination was almost flippant, but communicated my feeling that changes to policy regarding gay people would require major revisions to fundamental doctrines. I have long believed that there is no place in Mormon theology for the homosexual. But then I thought about it after MikeInWeHo posed his question, and upon some reflection, I actually don't believe it would be as difficult as one might suspect. In fact, I doubt any major revelation would even be necessary.

What would be required for the church to welcome and embrace gay people into its fold?

1. The biblical passages condemning homosexuality would need to be reinterpreted as speaking in the context of idolatry, cultic prostitution, pederasty, rape and abuse, and not referring to righteous, loving homosexual relationships. A new interpretation would not be difficult, given the context of these passages.

2. It would require the church stop viewing all sexual activity that falls outside of the ideal as being akin to murder. Gay sex would be viewed as appropriate intimate behavior for committed gays. Yes, falling short of God's design for humanity, but not inherently sinful. I do not believe this view would be a difficult step, given that non-procreative sex is entirely approved by the church within an appropriate setting. Already the church welcomes divorced people who remarry into full fellowship and does not consider this sinful, despite the strong condemnation by Jesus himself.

3. An appropriate model of behavior would need to be established to accommodate Gay and Lesbian saints. This would involve inclusion of gay people in "Gold and Green Balls", church socials and youth programs. And yes, it would require Same-Sex Marriage. Only with a truly comparable paradigm can homosexuals be held to the "same standard" as heterosexuals. I would think that a few simple additions to the Handbook of Instructions is all that would be needed.

4. Church members would be encouraged by its leaders to welcome and be inclusive of members and visitors who do not fit the stereotype, who fail to wear white shirts and ties, or may sport facial hair. Single members who are over 30 should not be stigmatized or shamed. This should not require a new "revelation."

5. Questions related to the eternal destiny and purpose of gay, lesbian and transgendered people would simply be answered with, "we don't know."

6. Finally, the proclamation on the family would need to be amended to be more inclusive of people who, for whatever reason, find themselves outside of its vision.

I do not see anything difficult or requiring changes to major doctrines or even a new "revelation" in order to give gay people a place at the table. Forgive me if I appear to be treating lightly what members may hold sacred or idealize. I just do not see why the inclusion of gay people is considered something that can "never happen."