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Dear Celibates: there is no hope for you after death

September 15, 2010
Smoothie King

I apologize for this joke...with the smoothies...and the fruits...

There’s an argument I’ve heard a few times with respect to the law of chastity…it actually relates to teh gays, but it can apply to quite a few groups. The question that leads us into the rabbit hole? Why shouldn’t gay people seek committed relationships with people they love — even if those people happen to be the same sex?

Well…because it’s just wrong! It’s not consistent with eternal gender. Gay people should definitely stay celibate in this life, because if they are obedient, then their afflictions will be relieved in the afterlife (at least, according to God Loveth His Children [pdf alert]. And, when their afflictions are cured, they’ll find their celestial partner(s?) (of the opposite sex, of course) in heaven. And then everything will end happily ever after. Hallelujah!

…The alternative, presumably, is that if one does not live a celestially worthy life in mortality, then that’ll lead to disastrous consequences in the afterlife…like not being able to stay with your sin partner anyway because only some families (the “real” ones, that is) can be together. Or being a smoothie (yay eunuchs!)

From here, we can generalize.

People celibate in this life (particularly for peculiar circumstances or perhaps from involuntary circumstances) should take hope — everything will be resolved in the next life, if only they are obedient to the commandments.

But is that so?

A couple of days ago at Main Street Plaza, Alan took a look at Matthew 22:23-33. Those rascally Sadducees are trying to trip up Jesus and his crazy idea of a resurrection by drafting up a situation where a woman has, in mortality, married seven brothers (without bearing any children) [uh, I guess it's important to note that these marriages were serial -- would polyandry require a new case to hash out?]. And so, they ask: in the resurrection, whose wife will this woman be?

And Jesus answers something like, “Y’all are clowns — at the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in to marriage.”

Now, for Mormons and a belief in eternal marriage, this is a bit problematic if you interpret it just a certain way.

But not too problematic, if you interpret it in other ways. As Alan points out there is a common LDS response that takes a second look at Jesus’s answer.

Notice that Jesus did not say that marriages would not exist in the resurrection. What he did say was that “they neither marry, nor are given in marriage”, that is, marriage ceremonies are not performed by resurrected individuals. He was talking about the act of marriage not the condition of marriage.

Let’s suppose that this interpretation is correct…what happens? It turns out that dodging a theological bullet here means we take a direct hit elsewhere: specifically, to the previous “hope” that various celibate individuals may find companionship in the afterlife. It seems to me that to accept the former, then we cannot accept the latter.

So, back to the drawing board. What value is it for someone who, say, is gay, to forgo companionship in this life for a celestial existence in the next that will be neutered (if only figuratively, because not being a TK Smoothie, s/he’ll have all his/her parts)? I think it’s already unpalatable enough that some folk* doctrine basically suggests a person will be changed at a fundamental level to “enjoy” the Celestial Kingdom (this is a big deal for me for much of Christianity in general. “Losing myself” to gain myself in Christ doesn’t seem like it would maintain me continuity. Why should I care about the annihilation of “Me” so “Me Prime” can do whatever he will do in heaven?), but to have that happen and still not collect $200? Can’t say this deal seems all that great.

I thought religions were supposed to provide a certain level of existential comfort…

*Jello, wall, etc.,

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14 Comments
  1. It seems to me that to accept the former, then we cannot accept the latter.

    You are totally forgetting about “the millenium” — the wonderful thousand-year dispensation (before Judgement Day) when Jesus reigns on the Earth and tons of temple ordinances are performed, since Jesus can tell the temple folks all the people who still need to be sealed.

    Why should I care about the annihilation of “Me” so “Me Prime” can do whatever he will do in heaven?

    Totally. That’s a key point above and beyond all of these apologetic word games.

  2. If you were celibate, unmarried and gay on Earth, you wouldn’t have to sit patiently in your own personal Celestial Waiting Room for very long because time works differently in Heaven. In fact, as soon as you sit down, the Speaker System will announce the Millennium and your new wife or husband will walk through the door. The ceiling will then break away, and the two of you will float through the roof to the highest level of Heaven. Am I being crass, or merely filling in the details?

    But seriously my understanding is that there are consequences if you don’t marry on Earth (unless it’s totally beyond your scope), which is why gay Mormons exist on this cusp of “You can postpone marriage due to your ‘disability,’ but don’t postpone too long or we’ll make you feel like an outsider.” Why? “Because it’s not fair that you get to be so special that you don’t have to follow the same rules everyone else does. We’ll make some exception for you because of your ‘disability,’ but don’t get cocky talking about why you don’t ‘fit’ into God’s Plan. Don’t get selfish.”

  3. This all assumes that sex is going to be the ultimate expression of love that we’ve come to assume it is here in the USA.

    If it’s not, then a lot of this becomes a non-issue, right?

  4. chanson,

    I just got a really weird image: matchmaking by proxy.

    Alan,

    now that image is looking more like celestial blind dating.

    Seth,

    If it’s not, then that changes a LOT of things assumed about the celestial kingdom, the necessity of heterosexual marriage, etc., etc.,

    I mean, we don’t quite need sex as the ultimate expression of love. Rather, sex as the procreative method for divine beings and the idea that people who are procreating actually, you know, love each other. (which doesn’t always happen, but oh well.)

  5. Well written, Andrew; you’ve brought into the open a knotty problem I hadn’t thought of before.

    Somebody is going to have to explain the Smoothie joke to me. Am I just not hip to some sly sexual innuendo popular with you kids today, or is it a Utah thing I’m just not getting?

  6. Rock,

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a Utah thing, but I do think it is speculation extrapolated from ambiguities in real doctrine.

    Basically, in the Celestial Kingdom (at least, the highest level), people can create worlds beyond number, etc., How is that? Well, we don’t know. But a popular assumption is that spirit birthing is pretty much the same mechanical process as real birthing. (hence man + woman = marriage.)

    So, people in the CK need those organs.

    But people outside of the CK, who don’t create worlds beyond number, would presumably not need those organs. And so the idea is that those people in lower kingdoms are resurrected *without* them. Hence, they are smoothies. Not meaning the drink, but what they will look like…down there. As I linked to Mormon Matters “Are we going to be Eunuchs after this life” some of the source support for this kind of interpretation is Doctrines of Salvation, Vol 2.

  7. Oh, I get it. Ken and Barbies.

  8. Rock — see also the “smoothie” link above or my comment #21 on the MSP post (also linked above). All of us sinners will (supposedly) be smoothies. ;)

  9. I can’t imagine living such a life — unwillingly celibate, denied romantic and sexual bonding with people to whom one is truly attracted, and fearful of what will happen in the afterlife. It’s a recipe for bitterness!

  10. I enjoy how the discussion title, as it appears in the “recent comments” widget on the right-hand side, says, “Dear Celibates: there is no ho…”

    Carry on.

  11. LOL, Jack.

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