A Radical Change(?)

Today I went to church at my ward for the first time in some time. I was asked to sing at our stake's Priesthood Preview; the group practiced today at 8 am, so I came to that and then went to church.

It was good to be back. I felt the Spirit during the Sacrament and Sunday School and thought to myself, "Could I give this up?" For me there is a peace that comes from this culmination of the repentance/forgiveness process. Whatever struggles I might have with the Church, the Atonement is real for me, so what would I do without my membership? Obviously the excommunicated cannot partake of the Sacrament; does this mean that a gay member who chooses to love the person (s)he's meant to can never have access to the Atonement? I don't know if I can believe that--and yet, isn't the Atonement (and therefore the Sacrament) the only way to be forgiven? Some might suggest that the Sacrament is a beautiful symbol but not strictly necessary for forgiveness, but isn't the Sacrament required to renew the covenants we break by sinning?

{Any thoughts there?}

* * *

In Sunday School the lesson was on continuing revelation, and we had a very good discussion about the decision to let black members hold the Priesthood. Our teacher basically said, "You know, you guys have no problem accepting this [policy] because, for you, this is how it's always been. But because it was such a radical change, it was a hard time for the Church. And someday, there might be a radical change [in Church policy] in your lifetime." He also said that "President Kimball had a friend of African descent, and it bothered him that this friend wasn't able to have the Priesthood. So he went to the Lord and prayed about it. This is how revelation happens: there's a problem, and the Prophet goes to the Lord about it, and when the time is right, the answer is given. Some anti-Mormons would say that 'revelations' come when they're convenient--Word of Wisdom, polygamy, etc. But revelation is given when there's a problem and the Prophet asks the Lord how to fix it." This gave me some hope for "a radical change" in Church policy related to homosexuality in my lifetime...

But then again, how, really, can I entertain even the idea that such a "radical change" could be possible? As radical a change as Official Declaration 2 was, one condoning homosexuality would be many times more revolutionary because, unlike previous radical changes (except for maybe polygamy), it would necessitate a completely new understanding of fundamental doctrine. How could the membership of the Church swallow such a pronouncement when one of the Church's primary aims is to make sure everyone goes to the Temple to marry someone of the opposite sex? Suggesting that some other basic family type* might fit into the Plan of Salvation would mean that God's pattern for happiness isn't universal. Can you see the Church saying, "Our way leads to happiness for almost all of God's children"? I can't.

And yet, we see what seem to be exceptions. We see the phrase "individual adaption" in 'The Family: A Proclamation'. We see gay people who insist they cannot be happily married to someone of the opposite sex. So isn't it possible that Heavenly Father has a plan for those people who don't seem to fit into the Plan as we currently understand it--such as His homosexual children?

I would say that if revolutionary change seems unlikely, we should consider with hope and prayer the possibility of evolutionary change. For all its flaws, the Church statement supporting LGBT nondiscrimination was an evolutionary step in the right direction--and one that would have seemed utterly impossible a few decades ago.

*Plural marriages don't count because they maintain the male-female ideal of marriage. (There are multiple people in the marriage, but the sexual bonds are strictly heterosexual.)

By the way, I think this blog needs some remodeling. Any ideas for the makeover?


darkdrearywilderness said...

The Atonement is for everyone! God doesn't care if we're gay or straight...he loves us no matter what, and gave his life for us. And I'm sure Heavenly Father has some kind of plan for his gay children, just as he does for single members, divorced members, etc...there are a lot of groups besides "us" that don't fit the traditional 2-parent family pattern. Anyway, is it weird that I look forward to your posts, FLeeS? You're pretty inspirational, and I wish I had had the courage to come out when I was your age :)

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

So true--thanks for the reminder that God set up an Atonement for *all* of His children.
And I am so flattered that you look forward to my posts! Thank you! I do have to confess that I'm not actually as inspirational or brave as I sometimes make myself out to be on this blog. I haven't really come out of the closet--it was more like I stumbled out accidentally (and even then, only to my immediate family). But still, thank you!

David Baker-@DB389 said...

Hey FLeeS, like Dark & Dreary said, the atonement is for all and received by all regardless of the sacrament. It is a time and opportunity for us to renew the covenants made at baptism, but those covenants were still made. Therefore, Baptism is a saving ordinance, but the sacrament isn't.
Re: Revelation. This weekend I spent some time at the Affirmation Thanksgiving dinner here in the DC area and one of the things mentioned was that Spencer W. Kimball ("SWK") had difficulty in getting unanimous consent amongst the 12 and thus the practice was held up for many years as he waited to die. It was stated (needs to be fact-checked) that the two biggest opponents to the 1978 revelation were absent from the quorum at the time (overseas and in the hospital) and so the unanimous quorum of 10 confirmed the SWK revelation. An interesting way to think about it for the future.
Re: the Radical change, I think that there has been a dirt road paved (largely by us) that the rest of the church will be able to use existing scripture, existing revelation, and a reaffirmation of the importance of abstinence before marriage to uphold an official declaration #3. I think that the only way for the concept of eternal homosexual marriages to take hold will need to be an increase of understanding re: spiritual sexuality (does homosexuality end at death?) and the logistics of creating spiritual families.
Hope all that helps!

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

It does help--especially the insights into the 1978 decision to allow black members the Priesthood. And thanks for the equally helpful thoughts about the Sacrament.
I agree that a *lot* of barriers would have to come down before the Church would be ready for more revelation about homosexuality. I suppose that's a collective MoHo goal--to help bring those walls down. Certainly it is one of the purposes of this blog (though I don't know how much good it's doing!).