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Charity Toward Elder Bruce Hafen’s Evergreen talk – Part II

September 27, 2009

This article is the second part of a series. See the first part here and see part III here.

Next, Hafen begins to relate the doctrinal foundation of what he is saying. This part (and the paragraph I will quote) features some of what people have seen as the most controversial parts of Hafen’s talk, but actually, they aren’t all that controversial. Here’s what we are dealing with:

You are literally God’s spirit child.  Having same-gender attraction is NOT in your DNA, but being a child of God clearly IS in your spiritual DNA—only one generation removed from Him whom we call Father in Heaven. As the family proclamation states, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”  As part of an eternal plan, our Father placed us in this world subject to death, sin, sorrow, and misery—ALL of which serve the eternal purpose of letting us taste the bitter that we may learn to prize the sweet.

WHAT?! How can Hafen speak about genetics?! He’s a lawyer! …wait, hold on…let’s read what he’s saying.

While later comments in this speech might lead us to reasonably believe that Hafen truly means to say that there is no genetic basis for homosexuality (and this topic will not go into that)…I don’t think it would be to apologetic of me to suggest that this isn’t even the intent of his comment in this line. Rather, look at what directly precedes and directly follows the comment. Hafen states uncontroversially (especially for Mormons): You are literally God’s spirit child. What does this mean? Well, I’m sure we can talk about the dynamics of spirit procreation later, but whatever the method, he means that we are literally related to God. I don’t know if that involves literal DNA, but it certainly involves some kind of spiritual passing down of information.

And look! right after his controversial comment, he follows up with, “but being a child of God clearly IS in your spiritual DNA.”

So isn’t it more reasonable to assume he’s not making a claim about human genetics, but about spiritual genetics? I hope that doesn’t sound too convoluted and apologetic…

Now, sure, Hafen makes the mistake of confusing “orientation” with “gender” (protip: gays and lesbians aren’t “confused” about gender…so of course, a gay Mormon can buy eternal gender…it doesn’t say anything ill about his or her homosexuality, however.) But ignoring that (since that would be a standard doctrinal point to our Evergreen Mormon), Hafen does say that our entrance into the world comes with all kinds of bitter things…so even though homosexuality (which Hafen would say is “bitter” and “miserable”) is not in our spiritual DNA, there’s nothing stopping Hafen from conceding that it very well could be in one’s physical DNA…but such would be expected in a fallen world.

The next line is curious.

If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then—you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex.

Many have read this line unfavorably…but the way I see it, it actually represents a progression for the church. Originally, the church viewed homosexuality as something that should be fixed in this life (and so they had the electroshock therapy to help with that). Over time, the position softened…and with the pamphlet God Loveth His Children, the position changed to this:

While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life.

This was still not the greatest concession…after all, the “many” implies that a lot of people “overcome,” and that the “others” are some marginal group. HOWEVER, this message was incredibly progressive for at least recognizing that some won’t be free.

And now, with Hafen’s comments, we have what I think is more progress. Now, the focus is on resurrection morning…and maybe before that. So, it seems that the church (vis Hafen) is recognizing that homosexuality isn’t something that goes away. Hafen has retreated doctrinally to Heaven…and for the devout Mormon, that may be compelling. (Me personally…I don’t live for Heaven. I live for life.)

Hafen worries that his doctrinal proposal might be too good to be true, but I’m thinking most gay members would view this as too good to be true. Rather, it would not be good enough. They essentially must conclude that they probably will not be able to experience a committed, loving relationship in this lifetime…and this lifetime is pretty “persistent,” even if one believes in an afterlife that follows. The grand prize of “enduring to the end” never seems “too good.” It seems like a letdown. But if a gay member can be content to realize that celestial glory is still within his reach (even if it takes a difficult life), then I guess it would seem, as Hafen says, too good to be true.

In part III, I’ll take a look at Elder Hafen’s creative analogies and metaphors for homosexuality.

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47 Comments
  1. Much of the research that argues for a biological basis for homosexuality makes it chiefly due to in vitro hormones rather than genes, anyway, and also acknowledges a social/environmental component.

  2. I’ve encountered at least a few fellow Mormons who speculated that the supposed upsurge in homosexualtiy is due to environmental pollutants.

    I wonder if that link were ever established if Mormons would finally start caring about environmental issues for once…

    To get to the main point of this post however – I think a recurring problem with LDS public relations is that our General Authorities are used to “insider” conversations when they give addresses. You talk differently when addressing an audience of like-minded people than when putting something out for consumption by a mixed audience (many of whom are even hostile to your position).

    So the authority in question will put out a bunch of language that an insider audience will likely pick up on and understand. But outsiders are likely to draw entirely different conclusions.

    Like the classic scene with some politician or business exec sitting chatting at the table frankly with a close friend or colleague, and then looking at the table mic – “is this thing on?”

    Yes, I’m afraid the mic is “on.” It’s just a lot of LDS leadership hasn’t gotten used to that fact I think.

  3. Seth, I’m not going to comment on the environmental pollutant factor (although, it certainly seems possible) because I just don’t know.

    But I will say that I think you’re absolutely correct on the “insider” conversation issue. It seems pretty clear that this conversation was *meant* for Evergreen members, who of course would have a different reaction, understanding, and sympathy for Hafen’s position. It would probably be interested to have heard Hafen’s talk with respect to other talks at the conference or other talks given historically at Evergreen.

  4. What is puzzling to me is why they then tossed it up on the PR website.

    Someone just wasn’t being careful I guess.

  5. The plot thickens, though, because the talk didn’t displace Elder Oaks’ and Elder Wickman’s interview on homosexuality either, but is simply an “additional resource” in the Public Issues – Same Gender Attraction section.

  6. Is this the LDS PR department’s way of suggesting that many General Authorities are, essentially, “additional resources?”

  7. well, I guess Elder Oaks (Q12) supersedes Hafen (1Q 70s).

    Elder Wickman gets a pass with Elder Oaks. :D

  8. Although… I think the Quorum of the Seventy as a whole are equal in authority with the Quorum of the Twelve (at least, in the D&C they are).

    So how many Seventies do you need to equal one Apostle?

  9. wow, I’m not good enough at fractions to feel comfortable with that calculation.

  10. JTJ permalink

    I think the part that sticks out the most to me is the spiritual DNA reference. It’s just such a typical nonsensical metaphysical and metaphorical answer. Follow the logic on spiritual DNA. Does god have a spiritual appendix that he passed down? A spiritual 13th rib? Spiritual nipples?

    Another thing,I just listened to Julia Sweeney’s “Letting go of God” and when the LDS missionaries told her that she would be resurrected with her previously removed uterus, she exclaimed, “I don’t want it back, I’m happy without it. Gosh, what if you had a nose job and liked it!”. So what if you like being a homosexual, wouldn’t heaven then become a hell?

  11. JTJ:

    this is a tricky metaphor/metaphysical framework. After all, I’ve been to some blogs that insist that spirit procreation REQUIRES penis in vagina contact…so God MUST be a man with a penis and Heavenly Mother MUST be a woman with a vagina…and that’s why gays cannot be given an inch — because to do so would always be metaphysically sound.

    I remember Julia Sweeney (didn’t she have a shorter version of her routine for TED…that’s where I saw her). And that does raise good points. What all gets “fixed” with a perfected body? I think this is just folklore, but I used to hear people say that the church “frowns” upon people putting themselves down as organ donors…because your body will be resurrected (and perfected). [But then again, wouldn't you just get new organs if that were the case?]

    Your final question is a HUGE one. It was one addressing Zelophehad’s Daughters (in a slightly different way — most women, and especially the one’s at ZD, wouldn’t like to be in celestially polygamist relationships…but if heaven requires it [as a few people insist -- obviously, the GAs are hush hush about it ], and people are “changed” to enjoy it [because heaven is enjoyable], then wouldn’t it not be the PERSON who is in heaven…but them “prime”? I have made that argument before, actually….)

    whoa, huge parenthetical comment.

  12. My understanding is that the Church encourages organ donation, but discourages cremation. Not sure why, maybe they figure God can find all the organs in the ressurection and get them back to the body, but that he can’t if they are reduced to carbon again? Are we really going to be reconstituted from our same atoms in the next life?

    I don’t think it makes an awful lot of sense from the perspective of agency if God were to take away a non-preference for polygamy in the next life. I mean, wouldn’t that just be forcing someone into the CK? How is that different from Satan’s plan?

  13. I don’t think it has anything to do with taking away the “non-preference for polygamy.”

    It’s just that the same insecurities and vulnerabilities in our relationships that we hold here on earth will not apply in the hereafter.

    As for why cremation is discouraged, I think it’s merely a symbolic reminder of the resurrection. The body is also traditionally buried with the feet towards the east – to symbolize rising up to greet the Savior when he returns. I imagine some Mormons take this stuff literally (and your critique probably applies well to them). But most of the Mormons I know take it as a symbolic gesture.

    I would also point out that discouragement of cremation is unheard of among the LDS in Japan (where an overcrowded population and government regs make burial impossible). There the Church simply allows cremation without comment.

    So apparently, it’s hardly a non-negotiable item in LDS symbology.

  14. re Madam Curie:

    But what I have heard in response addresses exactly your point — those who would be concerned simply would not be eligible for the CK. We reach our level, and not any higher. This isn’t meant as a punishment (Oh noes, I’m not in the CK), but rather as a gift (better to be in either TK and be content than be in the CK and miserable).

    re Seth:

    Why wouldn’t the same insecurities and vulnerabilities apply, if the same spirit that possessed us in this life is prone to possess us again in the afterlife?

    Wow, I never heard the feet thing. All of these “traditions” and “folklore” points must be hard to remember…

  15. Andrew, you beat me to the punch – the spirit we have with us here rises with us in the next life, meaning those insecurities will still be ours.

    As for me and my house, we are happy for the lowest of the CK, as long as I can keep my DH to myself. He took long enough for me to find, I’m not giving him up.

    And Andrew, I did want to say that I admire you for taking the higher ground with this series of posts. Its a well-needed balance in the bloggernaccle (just as LaJuana’s post on Mormon Matters on Hafen was not!)

  16. JTJ permalink

    then wouldn’t it not be the PERSON who is in heaven…but them “prime”? – kinda like the plan of lucifer. Just make them happy, we know what’s best? How classic that that argument circles around to that.

    Also, with respect to organ donation, the church can do better than folklore. Anyone who disagrees, does so up to the point where they need one, and then they thank god someone had to die (typically) to provide one. I’d like to think that the last thing I do in life is save a few more.

  17. re Madam Curie:

    I think that is a good attitude to have…but what I wonder is…why must we be happy for the lowest of the CK (if not lower)…why is it that we have reached a level of understanding that would only make us most comfortable in these “lesser” glories?

    I’m still trying to figure out WHO LaJauna is, and I’m a coblogger at MMatters…but yeah, definitely a different purpose in writing between us.

    re JTJ:

    So, then I guess what really comes into play are contrasting doctrinal ideas…what does it mean that the same spirit that possesses our bodies may be able to possess it in the next life? How much of our personalities persist? OR…what does it mean that we will be perfected? Of what does becoming whole consist? I actually don’t think the answer is conclusive, so I can’t say much about if the church’s actual position is related to Lucifer’s plan. It could be all this speculation is an (unknown) heresy, a red herring.

    I think the church could do better than folklore on a lot of issues…BUT…I also like the idea that the church sometimes just stays out of certain doctrinal discussions. I wish they would do it on more topics (instead, with the homosexuality stuff, I think the church has gone the other way, overextending themselves.)

  18. I have thought about this a fair amount, when it comes to being “fixed” in the next life… and about some things, I don’t want to be. When I was researching Hafen’s talk, I looked up a lot about Evergreen. I did this to get a better understanding of the therapies that Hafen was referencing in some of his talk. Many of the “therapies” involve trying to “retrain” someone to fit the socially accepted heterosexual norm for a man. For example, some of the specific methods included having men go to sports games and avoid going to the opera or theatre, or spending more time with heterosexual male friends than with female friends or other gays.

    Here’s the thing – in my relationship with DH, our “gender roles” are extremely fluid. He is more of the nurturer, likes to cook, and gets us tickets to the theatre every year. He hates sports and has never been into cars. I really like math, debating, and working. Are we going to get to the next life and suddenly he will be your “prototypical male” and me your “prototypical female” circa 1950? I really hope not – I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, and I sure as heck wouldn’t be attracted to my husband!

    What I am trying to say, is – there are things here that are inherent in our personalities, such as our preferences for spending time with sensitive men, butch women, gay men, or lesbians. This is so, so, so much more than a physical thing – its a personality thing. I don’t want my personality, my very essence of “self” to suddenly evaporate at death. What would be the point of progression at all then, if God is just going to instantaneously make us all into one set mold?

    • FireTag permalink

      Very confusing to use DH so close to a sports reference. I couldn’t figure out how we got talking about designated hitters. :D

  19. JTJ permalink

    I vote for red herring.

    The LDS church and others can do a lot more. It’s why Heinlein wrote “The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.”
    — Time Enough for Love (1973)

  20. I’m not quite sure what you mean, Andrew, when you say, “why must we be happy for the lowest of the CK (if not lower)…why is it that we have reached a level of understanding that would only make us most comfortable in these “lesser” glories?” Can you clarify?

  21. Funny JTJ,

    Heinlein’s statement is exactly the reason I prefer Mormonism over traditional Christianity.

    Not that I expect you to care. But I found it interesting anyway.

  22. re Madam Curie:

    I think this is indicative of the LDS current position that seems to “combine” sexual orientation, gender, and gender roles all into one. So, for example, Hafen says, “You are a man; this is your eternal gender; accept this.” I’m thinking, “Uh, yeah, and?” This statement to me doesn’t say anything about sexual orientation or EVEN gender roles…but the church wants members to believe that saying, “You are a man,” implies, “You are heterosexual” and “You are the traditional expectation of manliness.”

    I think this is a growing pain the church will eventually get through (or maybe they’ll stick to their guns…)

    I agree with you though…I don’t want my personality to just “evaporate.” It does seem counterintuitive if that’s what happens, so I do not believe that is the case.

    JTJ

    This comment actually reminds me of something I heard from Kullervo at Songs from the Wood. He’s a Hellenic pagan, so I guess it’s a little different, but the way he puts it is…he doesn’t worship because the gods require it. Rather, he worships because it seems like the thing he should do out of love. Worship, in his opinion, is the natural event done out of love (the difference is that “worship” is reserved for elevated being deserving of worship…but we don’t normally say that other humans fit this quality…so we just say love. What limited language.)

    If this is the case, I think it changes the example considerably. But you’re right — I cannot deny that some scriptures and some sermons characterize God as somehow being so frail that he NEEDS and REQUIRES us to worship him. And I wonder why?

  23. oh gosh, I’m getting tripped up in comments.

    re Madam Curie @ 11:46 PM:

    What I mean is this…I’m seeking what I think, feel, intuit, whatever from the deepest part of my heart is *good* and *correct* (if such judgments can be made). If I end up dying and meeting God, and he says, “You had it all wrong. You were and still ARE supposed to do *this*, even though in mortality, that stuff made you miserable and seemed — to the core of your being — wrong,” then I will accept such a judgment…but I will always lament…Why did it have to be that way? Why did I only “understand” the lower level?

    Even if I understood that the lower level of the CK was best for me, I’d always wonder…why couldn’t I be better? Why must things be this way.

    Consider if I’m enrolling in classes for school. I know that “honors” classes are the best, but in some subjects, I may simply not be competent enough to have a good time in the honors courses. If so, it really is a great favor and mercy to keep me out of honors…regardless…I will lament; I will lament that I wasn’t “good enough” for honors on my own.

  24. I think this is indicative of the LDS current position that seems to “combine” sexual orientation, gender, and gender roles all into one. So, for example, Hafen says, “You are a man; this is your eternal gender; accept this.” I’m thinking, “Uh, yeah, and?” This statement to me doesn’t say anything about sexual orientation or EVEN gender roles…but the church wants members to believe that saying, “You are a man,” implies, “You are heterosexual” and “You are the traditional expectation of manliness.”

    This is unrelated to homosexuality, but I think the hardest thing for me is that the church has taken the stance with the Proclamation on the Family that gender roles are eternal: women nurture, men preside. But…. some women (like me) are naturally not very nurturing and make horrible mothers and are better providers. Likewise, some men are awesome nurturers and pretty much suck at the presiding. So… what happens? I just change at death? This is my personality, people, not an act!!

    I don’t want to spend all eternity vaginally birthing babies, and that is all there is to it!!!

    Sorry, /rant

  25. re Seth:

    I actually agree (and when I was making my latest comment to JTJ, most of the scriptures I thought of that made me think of such an “insecure” God came from scriptures that non-LDS Christians would usually emphasize). However…in my example with Kullervo (relating to worship as a kind of “love” for the gods)…I thought to our friend Jack…and she has written of her position in a similar way, I think. Her relationship with God is of love, and so it isn’t something that she has to “check boxes” for (at the time, Jack was commenting against the idea that many LDS practices seem like “check the box” lists of activities)…rather, her willingness to obey and change her behavior is spontaneous from her relationship.

    AT LEAST, THAT’S WHAT I THINK SHE WAS SAYING. Her actual analogy was something like sex vs. marriage…

  26. JTJ permalink

    Seth R.
    Oh, but I do care. I would emphasize the “least productive” portion of Heinlein’s words when it comes to christianity, of which mormonism is a bright spot. But when it compares to science, the numbers are overwhelming on the productivity side of science. We live longer, healthier, and more peaceful lives, not because we pray any harder, or give more in tithes and offerings.

  27. re Madam Curie @ 11:57

    I still agree with you (just take out the sexual orientation part). Because what I think the church is doing is they are trying to equate gender with gender roles. This is devastating because gender roles simply *are not* one-to-one with gender.

    I hope…and think…that eventually, this is something that will change in doctrine. I really don’t think the church seriously means that on resurrection morning, all women will suddenly drop all of their desires and only desire to eternally have and raise spirit children. I think this is a confusion because the current rhetoric of the church does not distinguish gender from gender role (along with sex and orientation).

    At least…I *hope* not. I could be significantly underestimating the misogynistic foundations of the LDS metaphysics.

    • FireTag permalink

      I think it’s the metaphysics that are messed up. There is another way to interpret the relationship between the physical and spiritual (assuming, for argument, that a spiritual realm is accepted). I talk about it at “http://thefirestillburning.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/youve-read-this-post-before/”.

  28. Andrew, regarding the kingdoms thing – I agree with you. And I think it comes down to somewhere in the Doctrine and Covenants about us choosing the kingdom that “feels right”. I prefer to see it that way, and not to view it as a “better/worse” scenario.

    I read somewhere, perhaps it was on here, someone saying that one man’s hell is another’s heaven. You have a JW and a Mormon in the afterlife, spending all eternity arguing over doctrine. The rest of the spirit world thinks they are in hell, but they think they are in heaven doing missionary work. And, I think that is how I would view a polygamous CK or a CK where I had have a personality lobatomy to enter: It would be Brigham Young’s heaven, but my hell.

  29. re JTJ:

    I think the main point of Seth’s post is that the Mormon idea of God doesn’t demand saccharine adoration, and doesn’t become petulant in absence of such flattery. Think of it like this: the “stereotype” of the non-LDS Christian heaven is people forever praising God’s name. Really? Is that it?

    But Mormonism’s stereotype heaven is different. It is creating worlds without number (the problem is in the mechanics: as concerns Madam Curie, does this involve the “setting aside” of the personalities and dreams of women?) It is a much more progressive goal, IMO. (as long as you “fit” it…of course. Obviously, many won’t.)

    It’s not that God demands flattery…rather, in Mormonism, it’s that God does not force his gift — the atonement — onto us. *We* must choose to accept, so to speak. This includes worship, etc.,

    This is a plus point for Mormonism, don’t you agree? Even if you disagree with other aspects, this is, I think, a marked difference between non-LDS Christianity and LDS Christianity.

  30. re Madam Curie:

    I understand what you’re saying, but still! The agony! I know I shouldn’t see one glory as “better” than another (they are all glories, are they not?), but I can’t help but feel as if one is best…I mean…creation of worlds without measure? Exaltation? Living with God? Etc.,

    Even though I’m willing to accept under the LDS framework that a lower glory would be a “better fit,” what I lament is: why couldn’t the top of the top be the best fit? I don’t want to be CHANGED so that it is. I want to know why *I* can’t progress to a level of comfort with fitting for that glory.

    If I had to apply my thought process to yours…it would be like this (forgive me if I presume too much). So, you suspect that polygamy is what you may need to get into the highest level of the CK (or at least a desire to eternally produce spirit children, rear that spirit family, have a stereotypically “nurturing” gender role, etc., whatever it may include). But since that isn’t you, the highest level of the CK isn’t the “best fit” for you. It would be someone else’s Heaven, but not yours.

    But don’t you ever ask yourself…*IF* these things truly are the qualities needed for the highest glory…then why am I so opposed to them? Why am I so opposed to something which is supposedly the best of the best. Why must I be fundamentally changed in order to see the beauty of polygamy (which I think is ugly?)

  31. JTJ permalink

    Agreed that it is a better metaphysical perspective. but until we find some metaphysical $, I’ll promote, and encourage all, to support sound science.

  32. Long and peaceful life was never really my style JTJ.

    I can’t remember a time when my mind was ever really at peace. Nor can I ever remember wanting it to be. There’s just too much still to see.

  33. JTJ, I think the metaphysical $ value is the personal persuasiveness of particular religions to individuals. Why should we discount this subjective factor, when we are subjective beings? I trust that Seth is compelled and strengthened and emboldened by something within the Mormon metaphysical framework. So, if this is the case (Seth, correct me at any time, LOL), I think this is enough. That doesn’t mean I think it’s persuasive for me or that it’s persuasive to everyone (in the way that I think, cold, hard, physical external evidence more often is)…but I most certainly don’t think it is “worthless.”

  34. In terms of the afterlife, my non-cultural-Mormoness probably helps me. I wasn’t raised Mormon, and have never lived anywhere where there is a large LDS population. Whereas you reject the doctrine but retain a certain Mormon cultural heritage, I can reject portions of the doctrine without having to reject a heritage, if that makes sense. In my mind, a loving God is not going to “punish” me for not believing in someone else’s idea of heaven. I think it would be much harder for me not to see myself as “failing” if I was raised with this notion that it was “Temple Marriage Or Bust, Baby!”

    The next life is what it is. I can’t change it. Yes, I may look at God and be like, “Darn you, why did you make me this way if I never had a chance to begin with???” but I really don’t think it is like that. In my own personal view, it is impossible for me to see God rejecting a homosexual for their loving feelings for another human being. I just don’t envision my God that way, and I think the organizational Church is wrong in that opinion. A person can learn faith, hope, and charity just as easily in a same-sex marriage as he or she can in a heterosexual or polygamous marriage.

    In terms of this life and my ability to “get along,” well, that is dramatically affected by my ability to accept certain teachings. Yes, in terms of the church culture, I am a CK flunkie. Oh, well, at least they won’t be the ones judging me in the hereafter; I have to live with myself, not them.

  35. MC, I think yours is a healthier way of looking at things…simply separate from doctrine as cleanly as possible (it certainly helps to lack the cultural baggage).

    I think I’ve been working on this too…but where I differ is that when I look at it, I then come to realize, “Even though I don’t believe in a god who rejects homosexuals for their loving feelings toward other human beings…I don’t have any particular reason to believe that such a God who accepts these homosexuals exists. I don’t have reason to believe in the normal idea of God touted in my culture or in other churches…but actually, I don’t have reason to believe in any idea of god at all.”

    And so here I am. That is atheism.

    Much of my conversation here has been theoretically…it’s been a sort of “as if Mormonism were true,” discussion. But to my day-to-day life, it doesn’t bring me anxiety, because I don’t accept that “as if” condition.

  36. By the by…

    I don’t think there is any reason whatsoever to believe that vaginal birth is involved in spirit creation. Nor do I necessarily think it’ll be physical sex (no matter what my high school seminary teacher thinks).

    Theologically, it speaks of a union of perfect love. The two become one. It is from that union that new life is begun.

    But don’t think that I’m offering an eternity of happiness either. That’s not my motive in rejecting speculation about the physicalities of spirit birth. It’s not to make you feel better about heaven.

    The Mormon aim is to become like God.

    I don’t think people really think through what that means.

    Ask yourself – is God happy?

    Is he happy watching some Romanian orphan being sold on the black market to the mafia for child porn work? Is he happy watching how people hurt and kill each other?

    Enoch was onto something huge when he asked in utter puzzlement why a perfect being would be weeping. If God is so perfect, then why sorrow? Aren’t you supposed to be happy when you are perfect?

    I’ve thought about this a lot, and what I think is that our capacity for joy is only as deep as our capacity for true sorrow. Our capacity for love is irrevocably linked to our capacity for compassion and grief.

    The greatest among us are not those who are happiest.

    It is those who feel the most deeply. Those with the greatest capacity for all emotion united in love for others – the desire for complete union with others. Those are the truly great ones.

    So, I’m not interested if some suburban American family has achieved their own version of a “happy life” – mostly through a combination of self-medication on football, sitcoms, video games, and shopping. That’s not greatness – that’s getting stoned.

    And that’s all a lot of America’s so-called happiness really is – a drug-induced haze of escapism.

    American pop-culture can take it’s own excuse for happiness and shove it. I’m not after being happy. I’m after exaltation. And there’s a big, big difference.

  37. Seth, you raise a really important point that I think we have somewhat missed in our discussion. If we think of Christ and what He went through for God’s sake – and we tell ourselves, Christ was as Heavenly Father in being on earth – well, Jesus’s life was pretty darn awful. I can’t imagine he is very “happy”. Actually, I feel the entire notion of “happiness” is a very Ameri-centric notion to begin with. I don’t have children to be “happy”. I don’t live by the sweat of my brow for “happiness”. I may do it for a number of things, but I ultimately don’t think its about happiness.

    Here’s another funny thing – I don’t really want glory and honor and world-making. I don’t want to be a queen. Priestess I would think was pretty great, because I could serve God and act in His name. But queen and having dominions, not so much. I would much rather have the “eternal rest” Jesus spoke of.

    Perhaps that alone is indication that I was never CK material to begin with!

  38. re Seth:

    Regarding spiritual creation, I know, I know…and in my post, I just let it slide (e.g., we can talk about the dynamics of spirit procreation later…I particularly liked the link on nine-moons that dispelled the idea of womb-birth). However, since some do believe in such an idea, and this hasn’t been completely ruled out, then if it is brought up, I talk about it.

    Interesting comments on happiness vs. depth of feeling the full spectrum of experience and emotion…it makes sense…but at the same time…I feel that in the end, your message betrays itself.

    Really, you are combating (and you do this a bit in your comments) a fleeting, shallow pleasure. This is escapism. Being stoned. Self-medication. Etc.,

    But I don’t think that’s the same as *joy*. As *happiness*. As *completeness*. And I think even if you say otherwise, that you are looking for these more lasting, deep things. Because these things are completeness. And true, *joy* requires short term suffering. But we don’t say that as a “you will always be suffering and lamenting.” It’s that eventually, you somehow graduate and learn what you were supposed to learn.

    but if not…?

  39. JTJ ~ Gosh, what if you had a nose job and liked it!”.

    Oh, I’ve had all kinds of thinking along these lines. What is a perfect body anyways? We say that our bodies will be perfect, but Jesus’s resurrected body maintained His crucifixion scars. Are my stretch marks going to be there? The scar on the back of my ankle where I sliced my Achilles tendon? What if your face practically got destroyed in a fire? Are we all going to be the same height, or can we get a re-sizing if we’re too tall or too short? If we want to be real perverts, what about circumcision? Worse, are hymen going to be restored? (That will put a damper on the plans of some horny seminary teachers…)

    It’s probably disturbing that I think of these things, but I say it makes theology fun.

    I don’t claim to have any thoughts on how it’s all going to work out; I just trust that the God who made us knows how to please us. On the sex question, I guess I (mostly) take the traditional Christian view, so I don’t think sexual attraction is going to exist in the next life. I simply imagine God has something better in store. Sure seems to make things a lot simpler.

    Madame Curie ~ I totally feel your pain on gender role reversal. I don’t consider my husband feminine in any way, but we’ve long agreed that each of us will do whatever it takes to use our talents and make our marriage and family work. For the last three years he’s been working while I’ve stayed home with our daughter. Now I’m attending graduate school and working and he’s mostly playing the stay-at-home part (though he is looking for work on top of that). Our ultimate goal is for me to work in archiving or teaching college and him to work from home and do free-lance writing. I’m trying to decide right now if I want to start a PhD application next year or do a Masters in Archives and Records Management.

    Anyways, if I were LDS I think I would believe that the leaders just aren’t listening to God on the gender issues, especially concerning what they’re teaching about the next life. But it’d still be a hard pill to swallow.

    (Side question: if they’re wrong about not giving women the priesthood, what are they going to do about all of the women who have had proxy work done for them without being ordained to the priesthood? Grandfather them in, or go through and re-do all those initiatories? Sounds like a mess in the making…)

    Andrew ~ Yeah, I think you’re getting my sex analogy right in the context of this discussion. I think.

  40. Amy permalink

    Madame Curie-

    Right, it was Joseph Smith’s ideals. Grandeur and Supremecy is what HE wanted. That is why you see them in the theology of the Mormon church. I’m sure it added to the appeal for the many people that hoped for the same.

  41. Bill Rice permalink

    Evergreen issued a statement in response to the criticism over Elder Hafen’s talk. It says that “Evergreen appreciates Elder Hafen’s kind and direct instruction to live gospel standards as we struggle through life’s challenges. Evergreen sustains the doctrines and standards of the Church without reservation or exception. Evergreen testifies that people do overcome homosexual behavior and diminish same-sex attractions. We’ve seen it happen time and time again.”

    See Evergreen’s statement at http://evergreeninternational.org/2009-conference-response-hafen.html

  42. I really am completely up in the air about this one.

    On the one hand, I have a lot of reasons to question Evergreen’s objectivity.

    But on the other hand, I feel not one iota more trust for the data suggesting the opposite position.

    You get this all time when the science is linked to a controversial subject:

    -The effects of global warming (note I said “effects,” not “existence”)
    -Breast cancer
    -Whether milk is really healthy for you
    -Stem cell research
    -Homosexual psychology

    All of these are emotionally – and consequently politically – charged issues. You just can’t trust any of the data as being completely unbiased – especially when you combine the ulterior motives of society with the inherent tentativeness of ANY scientific research.

    I’m just not willing to buy the bill-of-goods that either Evergreen or the gay community is pushing right now.

  43. I think it’s ok to question the objectivity of both sides.

    After all…this is as much a comparison and contrast of subjective issues than it is for objective.

    As far as I can tell…I’d like to believe Evergreen. I’d like it if all of their participants were happy and successful in their endeavors. But instead, what I see and hear is that this method brings misery and feelings of inadequacy.

    And I mean, we could also say the same thing of parts of the gay community (e.g., promiscuity, etc.,) So, there has to be moderation. We don’t and may not ever get an objective, conclusive answer…but I think the subjective experiences and reactions of people should be considered just as well.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Charity Toward Elder Bruce Hafen’s Evergreen talk – Part I « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. Because Seth R will not write on his own blog « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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