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I now understand why homosexuality is wrong

February 5, 2011

A long time ago, I went through a thought experiment of some of the differences between Mormon Christianity and non-Mormon Christianity. I was trying to figure out some of the reasons why the latter group finds the former group so heretical — to the point of saying Mormons aren’t even Christians.

Starting with a few axiomatic changes, I was able to discover, in short, why homosexuality is wrong from a traditional Christian standpoint (which is a surprisingly different set of reasoning than from a restoration/Mormon standpoint.)

Let’s begin with first things first.

1) God is a different “species” from humanity.

This is a good first distinction point between Mormonism and non-LDS Christianity because it changes the entire set-up for the plan of salvation. In Mormonism (oh gosh I’m going to botch this and make a fool of myself in t – 3…2…), humans have their origin in eternal intelligences (thus, no creatio ex nihilo), which are then organized in some process of spiritual birth into people like us. We then are sent to earth with physical bodies as a sort of growing and testing period — a test of agency and choices so we can learn to be like our Heavenly Father, to whom we are related.

But we kinda suck. Not because of anything Adam did, but because every one of us will individually sin and become unclean. And so we need someone who can take care of us.

Well, this was all planned out ahead of time, and long story short, the guy who decided to take the job was Jesus — our brother.

Throughout this really really poorly described summary (and there are many parts here which are up for debate…how does spirit birth work? what is the nature of eternal intelligence? and so on), but a few ideas come in that seem to send warning sirens to everyone else.

Jesus…brother? (And this will usually come as part of a package: “What…Jesus and Satan are brothers?!”)

God…literal father? (What then does the spirit of adoption mean again?)

I have struggled in the past to understand where traditional Christianity gets hung up in this process. I used to have some great links from discussions where It Clicked (in last link, scroll down to a comment from “James” that begins “But I can’t figure out…”), and I usually love linking elsewhere (because that is good e-tiquette), but I can’t find everything now.

Anyway, the way I had it described to be was this: in Mormonism, the major heresy here is in supposing that God is the same “kind” of being as us, only with more time, experience, and awesome under his belt. (This leads to speculative questions like: could God have sinned once? Did God go through the same kind of salvation experience as we did? Etc.,)

However, in traditional Christianity, God is a different species. God is uncreated, and humans are created. There’s no way to bridge that gap with time, experience, and awesome (even if it were possible) — because all of these contingent details can’t touch the necessary difference between God and humans, being that, well, God is necessary and humans aren’t. (I have heard this factor into other criticisms of LDS Christianity…how can God have flesh and bones? All matter is…contingent…but God cannot be contingent. )

This ontological difference between man and God already splits the very reasons for the universe. If I may quote Sister Miriam Godwinson:

Sister Miriam Godwinson

Play Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri NOW

Some would ask, how could a perfect God create a universe filled with so much that is evil. They have missed a greater conundrum: why would a perfect God create a universe at all?

 

Indeed, the traditional creatio ex nihilo Christian needs different things to answer such a question, or at least a question as, “Why would God create humans?”

And here, I’m probably going to drastically strawman and oversummarize the other side:

2) Humans are created to love God

This isn’t saying that God had a “need” for something or someone to love, because God is self-sufficient and self-containing and etc.,

But humans still were created to come to realize that we need God and God is pretty awesome (in the original sense of the word and in the modern sense.) And as a result, we can’t help but worship.

Sorry, there isn’t a lot here, but I can’t really go that much into how it looks to me except to go into a really bad strawman presentation: Christian heaven. In Christian heaven, everyone sits around playing harps for God. You won’t care for another roommate when you see Jesus. In Soviet Russia, God and potatoes don’t exist.

In contrast, in Mormon heaven, everyone* is productive and creative and progressing as gods and playing Sim City but with REAL LIVES. Heavens YES.

*who has won it big in the best part of the Celestial Kingdom.

This second part, combined with the first part, gives us a crude understanding of what sin means with respect to our purposes.

In Mormonism, sin is chopping off your nose to spite your face — you’re preventing yourself from being able to play Sim City for eternity.

In traditional Christianity, sin is preventing yourself from…harps…and love…and worship.

Oh…hmm…

Why the distinction?

In Mormonism, we are, as gods in embryo, destined to be architects and engineers of our own universes. In traditional Christianity,

3. we are pets.

THAT’S THE REVEAL.

All of a sudden, everything makes sense. Homosexuality is wrong because it doesn’t serve our purpose as pets. Imagine you’re the owner of a pet or a super awesome racehorse or something. You have this pet so that it can love you (but you are self-sufficient…as a human, you don’t need a pet, but you can have one out of the pure goodness of your heart.) If that pet then brings dirt into the house or tears up the furniture, then that’s no good.

And if you’re trying to breed the horse to make $$$ through awesome baby horses, and the horse won’t breed, then that’s no good.

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30 Comments
  1. Wow. Should have read your post before I just wrote mine.

    I wanted to play Sim City for ever…Though looking back it is probably good that its not going to happen. I always liked to cause disasters and than save the city… That would make me a pretty mean, self-serving God. “I will smite you now just so that I can save you!!! HAHAHAHA!”

    What you are getting at is one of the things that caused the biggest disconnect for me in Mormonism. How could God’s entire master plan be based on couples playing Sim City for every and make one of the main functions of this life to be finding a playing partner and than make it so that I really could not and should not get married to a guy…

  2. Actually, Kiley, when I got your latest post in my RSS feed, I thought, “Man, I should’ve read your post before I wrote mine!” I’ll still also comment there though.

    Sim City explains what a believable god for me would be.

    which actually…that reminds me of another post I would write. But basically, cut out all of the “omnis” because when I’m playing Sim City, even though I know MORE than the Sims (I know they are in the game, and I know how the game operates, and the ways to break and cheat the game), I don’t know everything. Even though I am a pretty nice guy (because I want a good score), I don’t pretend to be all-loving. Exactly as you put: I like to cause disasters and then save the city.

    Can you imagine that? You meet God, and you ask, “So, what was the deal with natural disasters? Were they supposed to test us?”

    And then God goes, “N…no…they were to challenge me. I got bored sometimes.”

    But anyway, the fun thing about Sim City (and spirit birth) is that it actually doesn’t require One Man and One Woman (TM). I mean, I think for sure the modern church thinks of it in this way, but it could be that we aren’t being creative enough (especially when in plenty of other situations, people are comfortable with saying that “God works in mysterious ways.”)

    I think for one that such a view of spirit birth is incredibly demeaning to women. (So, women’s roles in spirit birth is as…spirit incubator? spirit womb? For billions of spirit children?! I’m honestly not sure which is worse to look forward. Playing harps for an eternity or THAT.)

  3. Christopher Smith permalink

    Historically, the logic for mainstream Christianity went like this:

    1) God is pure intellect. We are made in the purely intellectual image of God. However, we “fell” into a mortal state in which we are subject to fleshly “passions”. This has marred the divine image in us. The “goal” is to remove the taint of fleshly passions (“sin”) so that we are restored to the purely intellectual image of God.
    2) Since the passions are sinful, passionate sex is the quintessential sin.
    3) Because humans are mortal, however, it is necessary to propagate the species. Thus sex has a legitimate purpose in procreation.
    4) Sex for procreation is therefore OK, but sex for pleasure is NAUGHTY.
    5) Because gay sex is purely for pleasure and not for procreation, it is NAUGHTY.

    This used to mean that oral sex, anal sex, and “protected” sex were considered naughty, as well. (For Catholics, it still means this.) But Protestant inhibitions against such things have diminished over time. Meanwhile, Protestants have clung to the prohibition against homosexuality, probably because the Bible specifically mentions homosexuality, whereas it doesn’t say a word about the others. Oh well. Makes it easier to point out the inconsistencies in their logic.

  4. I think the difference between Sim City and the Mormon god, though, is that the Mormon god’s goal isn’t solely his own amusement. His Sims’ growth and development is the main goal — with the bonus of actually running their own Sim Cities if they “win” — and his own amusement is a more of a by-product. So it’s a win-win for both sides. (Except for the Outer Darkness Sims, who get deleted.)

    Also, even when I was a pretty true believer, I was never able to take “spirit birth” as anything but a metaphor. I always assumed it just meant the boy god and the girl god joined together and turned “intelligences” into “spirits” somehow or other. If it somehow involved actual coitus, so much the better, but I never thought there was actually “pregnancy” involved.

    • Seth R. permalink

      Re: “Outer darkness sims” “who get deleted”

      Or broken down into their component “intelligence” matter and recycled to create new spirits, if you believe Brigham Young.

  5. Christopher Smith permalink

    By the way, I love this quote: “Some would ask, how could a perfect God create a universe filled with so much that is evil. They have missed a greater conundrum: why would a perfect God create a universe at all?”

    • Seth R. permalink

      Yeah, one of my favorite quotes from Alpha Centari.

      Along with that eerily Mormon-sounding quote from Friedrich Nietzsche about how the Creator seeks for “companions” and “not herds and believers.”

      • have we already gone through a post over whether joseph smith was proposing a theistic ubermensch philosophy (or to the contrary, nietszche was unwittingly proposing atheistic mormonism)?

  6. Christopher Smith permalink

    >>I always assumed it just meant the boy god and the girl god joined together and turned “intelligences” into “spirits” somehow or other. If it somehow involved actual coitus, so much the better, but I never thought there was actually “pregnancy” involved

    In Hindu Tantra, the union of Shiva and Shakti causes creation by "vibrating" the cosmos into existence. Their coitus vibrates the cosmic mattress, so to speak. (Think "String Theory.")

  7. Chris,

    Is that point one (e.g., “the goal is to move the taint of fleshly passions”) also based on the dualistic idea that “spiritual” = “good” and “physical” = “bad”? So that we are literally learning to *overcome* our bodily prisons? (This point, however it works, just doesn’t work with Mormonism either)

    kuri,

    That’s a great point that got lost in my mix of analogies and metaphors.

    The interesting part for your second paragraph is that you say you were never able to take spirit birth as anything but a metaphor, and yet the metaphor still required certain things (e.g., boy god and girl god joining together.) It seems that a metaphoric spirit birth should break a lot more of the physical coitus comparison (if pregnancy is not involved, then who’s to say boy god and girl god are necessary? — other than revelation, lol).

  8. “In Hindu Tantra, the union of Shiva and Shakti causes creation by “vibrating” the cosmos into existence. Their coitus vibrates the cosmic mattress, so to speak. (Think “String Theory.”)”

    Sounds much better than “Let there be light.” 😀

  9. The boy god + girl god thing was pure heterosexism on my part. Although it seemed that at least two gods were necessary, I had no particular reason to think that any two gods (or group of gods) couldn’t do the same thing; it just never occurred to me. (It has since; in fact, I wrote a post about it a few months ago.)

  10. Point 3 made me laugh out loud. We are pets!!

  11. Christopher Smith permalink

    Point 1 doesn’t require that matter is evil. Some early Christians (and pagan Platonists) did believe that, but others saw matter as morally neutral. The passions were viewed as problematic not only because of their association with the material world, but also because they impeded reason, disturbed inner peace, and implied a dissatisfaction or disharmony with nature and fate. Actions motivated by passion were the domain of senseless, ignorant animals; actions motivated by rational purpose were the domain of humans made in the image of God.

    • fair enough distinction.

  12. Andrew, this is an awesome post!!!! I do believe you are getting at why Mormons find couplet theology so engaging, and why the Christian God just doesn’t appeal. I totally, GUILTILY, love your comment #2. Such delicious irreverence.

  13. BiV,

    at least, why some Mormons find couplet theology so engaging.

    Others aren’t so sure we even teach that.

  14. acknowledging that you set the Christian view of Heaven up as a straw man; our view of heaven is actually a lot like Sim City too. One of the ways we worship God for eternity is through work, relationship and eternity. Our Heaven is not just limited to family, but to everyone. We’re all family.

    Your conclusion seemed to be a non sequitor and I think Chris disappointingly misses another Biblical argument against homosexuality. In a nutshell, Adam and Eve were created for one another. Tab A was made for Slot B. The Bible isn’t at all against pleasurable sex. A decent reading of Song of Songs will reveal that.

  15. Tim,

    Is one of the ways you worship God through creating worlds beyond number?

    Recognizing that harp-playing is a strawman, I don’t see how “work, relationships, and family” = Sim City, although maybe I can see how they would be the Sims. For whatever it’s worth, pets are still an integral part of family, relationships, and even work.

  16. Christopher Smith permalink

    Hey Tim,

    Like the logic I described, the “Tab A was made for Slot B” argument works as well against heterosexual oral and anal sex as against gay sex.

    I agree with you that the Bible is ambivalent toward pleasurable sex (and even extramarital sex, for that matter). However, my intent was to explain the logic of historic (catholic) Christianity, not the logic of modern evangelicals.

    Peace,

    -Chris

    • Seth R. permalink

      That’s why I don’t bother much with the biological argument. I don’t consider the only point of sex to be procreation.

      The only hangup I have, is that I do believe that Godhood consists of a unity of male and female. That’s something that everyone is eventually going to have to obtain – no matter what their mortal preferences or handicaps or whatever.

      • Mormonism’s gender complementarity today is very much like Tantric Buddhism in medieval India. If one was male, one’s ultimate goal was to know oneself and to mate with the “other” in order to achieve a kind of divine unity. Desire was very important, but there was an expectation that desire be put into service of this divine complementarity of gender. Procreation was less important.

        No matter how much you attribute sex to procreation, to desire, or to some combination of both, this does not escape the fact that on Earth, heterosexual desire is not all there is. Not everyone feels “unity” in “gender complementarity.” Not everyone really agrees on what “gender” is. Is gender in the mind? Is it determined by the presence of a penis or a vagina? Is it solely a spiritual thing? In ancient India, men would find themselves attracted to and mating with hijras and the “complementarity of gender” was still in tact. For Tantric Buddhists whose their gods and goddesses changed gender at will, there was no problem here. And the silly notion of implementing a lack of procreation into religious thought risks ending the species obviously isn’t the case if you consider India’s current population.

        Now, these exceptions can be seen as “unnatural” in which one has disdain for transgender occurrences (and in this fashion, homosexual unions would also be considered transgender: note how Mormons consider homosexuality to be a “gender problem”). Alternatively, and I think this is better, one can wake up and recognize that the presence of “gender” does not find its basis in reproduction, and that homosexual/transgender desires are, in fact, natural because they have been always occurring in humanity. This would, of course, require one to reimagine Mormon theology into something less totalitarian and, I wouldn’t use the word “permissible,” but rather “realistic.”

        • What about those of us who are Intersexed? Born with bodies neither wholly male nor wholly female?

          What about those rare Intersex conditions such as 5ARD or 17BHDD that result in a natural “sex change” over the course of one’s lifetime?

          It can be most disorientating, even if in the right direction, trust me on that.

  17. the question of homosexuality is a question of value judgments. or rather, do value judgments exist in objective reality or are value estimations merely subjective. what must be first understood is that homosexuality is born of social environments and is not a genetic trait.

    “There are no genetic factors that can be studied independently of the environment,” says Michael Meaney, a professor at McGill University in Canada. “And there are no environmental factors that function independently of the genome. [A trait] emerges only from the interaction of gene and environment.” This means that everything about us – our personalities, our intelligence, our abilities – are actually determined by the lives we lead. The very notion of “innate” no longer holds together. Our abilities, our dispositions, are not set in genetic stone. They are soft and sculpt-able, far into adulthood.

    secondly we can observe that qualities such as fear, shame, courage, honor are real and valid experiences. and by means of our senses are objectively real. the causality of human experiences are as concrete as the laws of nature. “one reaps what one sows”

    homosexuality is wrong because it has no basis in what is understood to be noble, upright, virtues, trustworthy, faithful, cognitively sound. these values are real existents and are affirmed in reality.

    just as the burning of fossil fuels is understood to have an effect in the real world in which we live. so homosexuality damages the fabric of society, preaching a message of wanton submission to the leading of desires.

    Is desire bad ? Absolutely not ! but desire must not choose for us the choices which we our selves will be held accountable.
    desire must not lead. rather it is the human capacity for choice which must secure prominence in the mind. we should not be ruled by our thoughts or desires. Should we rid our selves of thoughts and desires ? No, but we must hold the volitional capacity for choice and purpose to guide and prove our selves in what is evidently a noble and upright reality.

    accountable to what ? to the objective reality that we become who we have chosen to be. that these actions lead to these results. That we reap what we sow.

    homosexuality is wrong because it damages ones sense of identity, it damages the cognitive capacity for man to be volitional. to act with purpose and to do what one knows to be right.

    no one is born gay. it is the result of a wanton and sexually and emotionally immature society.

    99% of homosexuals were sexually active before the age of 18. persons who wait to have sexual relations until adulthood have almost a 0% chance of leading a gay lifestyle.

    concussion : homosexuality is sexual immaturity

  18. zzzxzzz

    homosexuality is wrong because it has no basis in what is understood to be noble, upright, virtues, trustworthy, faithful, cognitively sound. these values are real existents and are affirmed in reality.

    I guess, getting to the first thing you said…why should we believe you on this value judgment? What reason does anyone have to believe that you aren’t just saying something subjective.

    Especially since we know that in cultures past, homosexuality had plenty of basis in what was understood to be noble, upright, virtuous, trustworthy, faithful, and cognitively sound. It was the vehicle by which young men were brought into society by older, more experienced men!

    Alternatively, if we want to quibble on that point, we could go one step further…why consider our heterosexist construct of “men” and “women” to be noble, upright, virtuous, trustworthy, faithful, and cognitively sound. We know that the concepts of “male” and “female” are a bundling of organs that we have just chosen to bundle…but races are a similar bundle of certain features and characteristics and yet, more and more we are coming to understand that these are arbitrary bundlings and are ignoble, not upright, vicious, untrustworthy, unfaithful, and cognitively unsound.

    The same thing is happening, bit by bit, to most gender roles and the very idea of gender. *Gender itself* is born by social environments.

    Is desire bad ? Absolutely not ! but desire must not choose for us the choices which we our selves will be held accountable.
    desire must not lead. rather it is the human capacity for choice which must secure prominence in the mind. we should not be ruled by our thoughts or desires. Should we rid our selves of thoughts and desires ? No, but we must hold the volitional capacity for choice and purpose to guide and prove our selves in what is evidently a noble and upright reality.

    I think this is a bit premature. Really, you’re going to have a problem thinking of a pure, desire-less choice…or of a choice that goes against thoughts and desires.

    Really, the volitional capacity for choice is being shown, more and more, to be a smokescreen for neurological predispositions and desires. This even includes what we “view” or “feel” is “noble and upright reality.”

    homosexuality is wrong because it damages ones sense of identity, it damages the cognitive capacity for man to be volitional. to act with purpose and to do what one knows to be right.

    The interesting thing about it is that one could literally make this statement about ANYTHING.

    “Denying one’s sexuality is wrong because it damages ones sense of identity, it damages the cognitive capacity for man to be volitional. to act with purpose and to do what one knows to be right.”

    Heck, if we are talking about homosexuality OR heterosexuality, we are missing that *both* may be wrong and that the “cognitive capacity for man to be volitional” requires bisexuality or pansexuality. We literally cannot know what is “right” from statements like these.

    99% of homosexuals were sexually active before the age of 18. persons who wait to have sexual relations until adulthood have almost a 0% chance of leading a gay lifestyle.

    Unfortunately, you don’t actually have any credible data to show this…because there isn’t any credible, peer-reviewed research about this.

  19. well, at least give me props for effort !!

    • Props duly awarded.

  20. RobertW. permalink

    I came out a month ago to my family. While there are some in my family, who want me to embrace the gay lifestyle. I haven’t decided if that is what I want to do or not. As I am currently going through a divorce to a woman who treats marriage like a game or a piece of candy. To me right now, I feel like I will never have a fair shot into the Celestial Kingdom. So bad do I wish that I could understand what actually makes these feelings wrong and actively living a gay lifestyle. None of my questions on either side of the issue make any sense to me. Some answers seem close to the truth, but others seem false.

    • Seth R. permalink

      Robert, under LDS doctrine, anyone who is repenting is “Celestial material.” And that includes everyone – no matter how big or small their “sins” may be.

  21. I didn’t get an answer to my previous comment – perhaps it wasn’t well understood.

    Please explain this:

    http://www.usrf.org/news/010308-guevedoces.html

    Certain facts seem inconsistent with your philosophy here. I find that a lot when it comes to theology. “The Earth is Flat, therefore…” etc has long since passed into a very fringe minority view, even though the Earth does seem flat in daily life. But biological equivalents regarding sex are still mainstream, even majority views.

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