Toward a Post-____________ Mormon Theology

The bloggernacle is justifiably abuzz about Taylor Petrey’s upcoming Dialogue article titled ‘Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology’.  While I do not agree with the thrust of his article, and am uncomfortable with the approach, I acknowledge the brilliant strategy and execution of the article.  It really is an impressive and creative piece of work.  It would not surprise me if people were referencing it many years from now.

What I mostly disagree with is the idea of changing the theology in order to have a group of people ‘exalted’, rather than changing people through repentance and atonement to be exalted.

In order to express my discomfort in this, I thought I might try to generalize what I see as the strategy employed, and perhaps suggest some extreme examples to make the point.  One will notice the title of this post with a blank after the ‘Post’.  In a generalized strategy – following Petrey’s template – one can simply fill in the blank with the opposite of any group you wish to be an advocate for.   While I say ‘simply’ I do not mean to reduce the amount of effort it will take to pull something like this off.  You will not be able to just throw this together if you want it to be persuasive.  This effort is what makes Petrey’s work so impressive.

The strategy seems to follow three steps:

Step 1 – You need to show that God himself has something in common with the group you are advocating for.  In Petrey’s article he makes premortal life, eternal life, and God himself largely genderless and asexual.  He uses examples like the creation and the resurrection as creative, yet asexual, acts presumably executed by groups of men.  Thus he clears the way for sealed and exalted homosexuals.  And since heaven is now basically genderless and asexual it shouldn’t really make much difference.  This is brilliant.

To suggest an absurd example to express the force of my worry, what if someone wanted to advocate for sealing and exalting serial killers.  One could point out that God is responsible for all those deaths during Noah’s day as an example.  Thus clearing the way for exalted mass murderers as mass murderers.  I do not choose this example to equate homosexuals with mass murderers, only to show my discomfort for the strategy.  I wanted to choose as extreme and absurd an example as I could think of.

Step 2 – Find some symbolism or way of thinking about certain ordinances that aligns with your preferred group.  This may be best done historically, since that may grant some advantages of being far removed from the present.  Ordinances are important and powerful things, and if you can wiggle your way into them it can be very effective.

One example of this may be one who wants to reclaim contemporary polygamists, and seal and exalt them as contemporary polygamists.  One could easily point to prior teachings and understandings to make this case.  They could also point to widowers who could be sealed to another spouse.  This could be used to move toward a post-monogamist Mormon theology if you wish.

Step 3 – Make the case that current church leaders are out of touch and guilty of pre-critical thinking.  Make an appeal to modern scholarship that is sympathetic to your cause.  This may take some time and effort, but chances are good that if you look hard enough, you will be able to find what you seek.   This has the further advantage of making anyone who disagrees with you seem out-of-touch, ignorant, and stupid.

I think the example that Petrey provides is a good one – that of modern gender studies.  This way you can put modern scholarship up against modern ‘revelation’ (or guides).   This is probably good form for most progressive theological ideas.

To me, the real question is not whether or not we can change a theology in such a way as to seal and exalt whomever we prefer, but whether or not we should.

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78 Responses to “Toward a Post-____________ Mormon Theology”


  1. 1 Chris H. December 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I must say that while I agree almost entirely with Petrey, I am more fascinated with the responses to it. When I first read it, I was already thinking along the same lines as Taylor. I am glad that he did it…because he is much smarter than me and I seem to be unable to produce anything in finished written form.

    I am not so much interested in gay marriage (one way or another), however, I very much think that the Mormon conception of gender (whatever that might be) is in need of the type of deconstruction offered by Petrey.

    Eric, I am not sure it there really is a strategy at play here. I think that many people are looking for some sort of underlying agenda in Taylor’s work. I do not see it that way. In this sense, this is much more of a philosophical piece that a movement piece and it should be read as such.

  2. 2 Eric Nielson December 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    That could be Chris. I have no training in this arena. I may be reading this with uninitiated eyes. I am mostly trying to understand and express my discomfort.

  3. 3 Paul December 13, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Eric, I think you’ve stated your case in an interesting way, particularly you opening point: “What I mostly disagree with is the idea of changing the theology in order to have a group of people ‘exalted’, rather than changing people through repentance and atonement to be exalted.”

  4. 4 Casey December 13, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I would argue that your critique starts on the wrong foot when you assert that Petrey makes God and the heavens “genderless”. Your implicit definition of “gender” (opposed to “genderless”) is based on a system of discourse that uses as its basis…the same system of discourse it attempts to prove. (I’m assuming you believe to some degree the more traditional LDS interpretations of gender, so hopefully I’m not pegging you incorrectly).

    In other words, common LDS arguments about gender depend on the assumption that certain gender roles, traits, and characteristics are immutable. But as I read Petrey, if those same roles must be taught and reinforced then they can’t be any of those things – they must be fungible and therefore cannot be eternal. So peeking behind the curtain reveals that the arguments for reinforcing “traditional” gender roles necessarily assume that those roles already exist. It’s a circular argument and it seems meaningless to call heaven “gendered” or “genderless” based on how mainstream LDS thought tends to use the terms.

    Not that your concerns aren’t valid, but I don’t think the article’s trying to do what you fear, and I think you may have misunderstood at least what it argued about gender.

  5. 5 Eric Nielson December 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks Paul.

    Casey: I believe the church’s position is that gender is essential. I think it is overstatement to say that anything that must be reinforced can not be eternal. like commandments i suppose.

    Most of my take was that if you remove all purpose or function to gender, you arrive at genderless. Or at least close to it. The result is that Petrey seems to rely on making gender vauge and meaningless, and that this is a necessity for his case. I believe this is a quite fundamental change to Mormonism.

  6. 6 Casey December 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    But I think you’re relying on a binary conception of gender that doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. There is no “This is a Woman, this is a Mother, this is what she does and does not do; This is a Man, etc.” I don’t know if Petrey would go this far but I certainly will: there is no platonic ideal of gender, of womanhood, or of manhood. I think any close examination of history and anthropology shows that what we like take for time-honored values are societal constructs, even if they happen to be widespread. For example, the “Male breadwinner” image broadly conforms to the historical pattern of male domination (“leadership” if you prefer a less charged word) and might be labeled a sort of eternal principle (“presiding”), but the Man who Works while the Wife stays home and Raises the Children has innumerable counterexamples and complexities, even within the Christian – and the Mormon – historical tradition! Acknowledging that doesn’t make the constructs invalid or false; in fact they’re critical to how we view the world.

    Back to Petrey for an example: if what the church presently teaches about motherhood indicates immutable,eternal principles of gender, then we certainly get none of that in our doctrine of Heavenly Mother. Whatever Her role is, it is shrouded in mystery and She seems (they seem?) to play no obviously necessary role in our creation or salvation narratives. Very different from how womanhood and motherhood are portrayed in the modern church (which, whatever its flaws, is at least prominent)!

    There is sex – the physiological nuts and bolts that determine our physical attributes and what fits where. Men obviously can’t have children, and there are biological differences that have certainly influenced cultural developments (I’d guess that men being generally bigger unfortunately led naturally to men relegating women to lesser roles throughout history). Perhaps in a meaningful sense our biology is somehow eternal, but as Petrey argues, who are we to know what that could even mean? Did we have the same physiology in the premortal life, and will we have it in the afterlife? What about transgendered people? Certainly in sexuality and physical reproduction I think he persuasively argues that we need not project our mortal way of doing things onto before and after.

    So I don’t think Petrey is denying gender at all, but he is complicating the Man/Woman binary with all the attendant roles we may project onto it. Perhaps if you only define gender by those roles then you are left with a “genderless” society, but I’d believe that’s a tautology. I think the Church should and eventually will deal with the issues Petrey has raised one way or another (doubtlessly very cautiously), even if it requires asking questions of previous official statements. It’s nothing that we haven’t done before – transitioning to Polygamy and back were as fundamental of changes as you get! – and I think that kind of questioning by individuals is necessary to develop a robust faith.

    Anyway sorry for the textplosion but it’s an interesting issue for me and nobody reads my blog so gotta engage somehow 🙂

  7. 7 Eric Nielson December 14, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I basically disagree with everything you have said. All mankind are begotten spirit children of heavenly parents. Gender is an important part of our premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose. While roles may vary some, and biology has its variation in mortality, this does not negate eternal gender.

    There is some evidence of spirits looking like our mortal bodies, In the afterlife, all will be resurrected beings of flesh and bones.

  8. 8 Matt W. December 14, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Casey: I don’t mean to speak for Eric, but I think when he says gender, he means merely the sexual aspect therein. ie- a man and a woman are required to make babies. In Eric’s view, which has historically been held by a good percentage of mormons, there is a position that a male and female are required to be sealed together in order to have “eternal lives” or “eternal increase” meaning they can have spirit children of their own in heaven via some form of vivaporous spirit birth. The reasoning continues that if this is required for us as God’s children, then so god was the same. In this way, there is a very literal rendering of the physicality of human nature.

  9. 9 Eric Nielson December 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I think you are on the right track Matt. In my view Petrey had reduced gender to a point where there was no purpose or function. perhaps I should have left it as asexual.

  10. 10 Michael December 15, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Eric, in your view, what is the purpose of gender from an eternal standpoint? And by an eternal standpoint I mean beyond the biological child-bearing functions experienced in mortality?

    If you believe it is in complimentary dispositions of protecting and nurturing as stated in the Proclamation please explain how Heavenly Father and Christ are fully presented as nurturers and comforters in our doctrine when these should be the responsibility of Heavenly Mother.

  11. 11 Eric Nielson December 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    All spirit bodies are begotten offspring of heavenly parents.

    I think you are being to absolute. It is not as if males can not nurture and comfort. My opinion is that Heavenly Mother is much more involved than we realize.

  12. 12 Michael December 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Eric,
    Thank you for responding but, with all due respect, you are not being very clear. You are merely stating cliches. Where does it stated scripturally that all spirit bodies are begotten offspring of heavenly parents? And how would you specifically define “begotten”? Does that mean biological sex between Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother? Is there more than one Heavenly Mother? If Heavenly Mother is involved in the earthly salvation of her children here on earth why is she hidden? In what ways specifically is she involved?

    I am sincerely interested in these questions. Taylor’s article in Dialogue was bringing up such questions in-depth to really explore how all this works. If we are basing our current understanding of the family and the plan of happiness on these things, it is important to make sure we fully understand them.

  13. 13 Paul December 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Michael, it is apparently important to you that you understand them. That’s ok. But why do we assume that Petry’s analysis is correct or even relevant? It is an interesting thought study, but even he does not delare that it is definitive. And there are plenty of believing Latter-day Saints who do not require the full understanding you say is so important.

  14. 14 Eric Nielson December 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    These are not cliches, they are united official statements of current prophets of God. Hebrews 12:9, Romans 8:16ish are some examples of this. Begotten is to father or to sire. it involves some type of gendered reproduction.

    Anyway, just because we have not had all the details revealed, is not a license to throw the whole concept out. The tactic you are using is to hold the concept to an impossible standard because of some lack of detail or mystery, leaving me in a position to speculate on such questions. this tactic is used all the time. I would rather see thought experiments which deal with official teachings as they are.

  15. 15 Michael December 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Paul, the issue is very important and very relevant for many Latter-Day Saints because they are being told by a Prophet of God that there is no place for them in the Plan of Salvation as they are currently constituted in their unchosen nature.

    They are also being commanded by the same Prophet not to love while in their mortal probation. The Prophet is basing his command and his proclamation on the items that Taylor specifically addresses in his essay, namely, that eternal life has no place for exaltation of those persons who are not straight and married. The Prophet states there are no exceptions to this rule but Taylor shows there are many, many unanswered questions concerning this particular view of the Celestial Kingdom.

    With all due respect, it may not be important to you because you already fit the mold as described by the Prophet and have no problem viewing eternity as a continuation of your currently chosen lifestyle.

  16. 16 Michael December 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Eric,

    “United Official Statements” are completely different from direct revelations from the Lord. They cannot be relied upon as eternal truths unless they are received, tried, and confirmed by the Holy Ghost as revelations. This is the eternal pattern given first to Adam and Eve.

  17. 17 Eric Nielson December 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Your reply to Paul is very over the top and needlessly absolute. Degrees of glory, resurrection, atonement, repentance, vicarious ordinances, progress after death, etc., opens all kinds of doors for everyone. Not to love? Give us a break.

    And it would not surprise me in the lease to see the The Family – A Proclamation to the World make it into the D&C. It carries a lot of appropriate weight as it is.

  18. 18 Michael December 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Eternal truth is absolute. It is not relative. I am confused as to your claims that I am seeking for absolutes. That is exactly what the Restored Gospel is composed of – absolute truth.

  19. 19 Paul December 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Michael:

    Commanded not to love? Nope. Not to have homesexual sex? Yes.

    No place in the Plan of Salvation? Will they not be resurrected through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ? No one has taught they won’t be. Can they not be forgiven of sin? No one has taught they cannot be. They have as much claim to the Plan of Salvation as anyone.

    Can they enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage with a same sex partner? Nope. You’re right. Section 132, which teaches that covenant, does not make allowance for same sex sealing.

    “The prophet is basing his command and his proclamation on the items Taylor specifically addresses in his essay…” Oh? I didn’t see that Taylor had interviewed members of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve to validate that claim. The assumption that these prophet, seers and revelators base the proclamation on the family and other writings soley on the written word and intellectual inquiry is clearly not the mainstream view of the church or its members. Multiple participants int he creation of the The Family: A Proclamation to the World (for instance) have spoken publicly about the inpired nature of that document. You may claim that there is less validity to inspiration granted to apostles and prophets compared with a canonized revelation. I don’t agree with that view.

    I appreciate the value of a thought experiment to expand our thinking and to stretch our intellectual capacity and understanding. I do not appreciate it as an attempt to reframe doctrine.

    In your final paragraph you refer to my “chosen” lifestyle, while in your first paragraph you cite an “unchosen” nature. The repeated statements of apostles recently have made clear that our nature (nor our inclination, nor our curiousities) is not what will disqualify us from the blessings of the plan of salvation. Indeed, King Benjamin taught that our goal is to overcome our nature and to become submissive to our Heavenly Father.

    I realize that by now I will likely have been classified because of these comments as a homophobe. I don’t consider myself that way. I am accepting of my gay relatives and friends and work associates. And I also respect and understand that those who feel strongly about the church are in pain and turmoil, and I am no more comfortable about that than you or Petrey or others. I am fortunate not to have lived in the US during the Prop 8 movement in California, and therefore not to have been immersed in what must have been a very difficult season.

    All that said, as I mentioned in my first comment on this thread, our goal in life needs to be to align ourselves with God, not to seek to align hm with us.

  20. 20 Eric Nielson December 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    When you say crap like prophets commanding you not to love, that is the type of absolutes I am talking about. It is your absolutes that are the problem, not the gospel.

  21. 21 Vin December 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Having read both Taylor’s article and your post, I think a flaw in your reasoning is that you believe it is reasonable to expect that homosexual orientation can be “overcome”, just as bigotry, a violent temperament, or a tendency to gluttony can be overcome. I dispute that, which I fully understand is something you’d counter-dispute.

    The problem is more complex. Speaking hypothetically, once you “overcome”/diminish homosexual tendencies, that doesn’t solve the “problem”. You still have no heterosexual tendencies, so I suppose at that point, you will have to “overcome” a deficit in heterosexual attraction, at least enough so that you could maintain a successful relationship with a spouse of the opposite sex. See what I mean? The issue is far more complex than simply “un-gaying” yourself.

  22. 22 Mark D. December 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Whatever is going on here, this really isn’t an LDS compatible theology. It might work for people who want to go off and start their own denomination, although I don’t know how recognizably Mormon it would be. Sounds something more like Unitarianism.

    Not only that, the Dialogue article isn’t remotely cast in terms that would make it sound like theology to the vast majority of members of the church. If Joseph Smith wrote like this, the church would not exist.

    The church’s understanding of exaltation is strongly rooted in the wording of the Abrahamic Covenant in the Bible. D&C 132:19 is an echo of Genesis 17 and 22. Petrey doesn’t even begin to address that or any other scriptural passage, for that matter. That is not theology as members of the church understand it, that is wishful thinking.

    • 23 Chris H. December 15, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      ” Sounds something more like Unitarianism.”

      The idea of a genderless (not at all what Petry is arguing for) is actually held by many Christian faith. Dismissing it as Unitarianism is silly, particularly since Mark likely knows jack about Unitarianism. Taylor and I are not going to start our own church no matter how much Mark would like us too. Trust me, belonging to the same religion as Mark makes me want to vomit…but it is not his Church.

  23. 26 Eric Nielson December 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Vin: We all must overcome and change things to be exalted. Some have one set of changes to make, others have different challenges.

    Mark D: Bravo my friend.

  24. 27 Trubeliever December 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    The LDS church will embrace love between people of the same gender. It’s a matter of how and when. Doctrine? A revelation? A statement? Sexuality should remain out of this question. We are talking about love and family. Families that exist now. Loved by God, praying in the name of Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. Individuals, also, both young and old fully within the embrace of his guidance through this frontier. Repentance and exaltation are surely part of this new thing Heavenly Father is doing. It’s time to cast off the former self. Thanks so much everyone for being so willing to be a part of this conversation.

  25. 28 Eric Nielson December 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I am not sure what you mean about sexuality being out of the question.

  26. 29 Chris H. December 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I interpret Petrey as saying that we have imposed our heterosexual ideology on the eternities. This is largely because of the limits of language.

  27. 30 RG December 16, 2011 at 12:28 am

    To me, the real question is not whether or not we can change a theology in such a way as to seal and exalt whomever we prefer, but whether or not we should.

    I thought I was following you until here. In your view, why shouldn’t we?

  28. 31 Vin December 16, 2011 at 2:52 am

    There are just far too many obstacles in the way for me to believe that God wants his homosexual children to endure strict celibacy throughout mortality in the hopes that it will be “cured” in the afterlife. That seems like a cruel and bitter punishment to souls born into a religion that places so much emphasis on family and relationships.

    I could be wrong, but I just can’t fathom that the status quo is anywhere near optimal.

  29. 32 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Chris H and RG:

    My response to both of you would be about the same – it comes down to whether or not aspects of our religion are revealed or constructed.

    Vin:

    There is all types of suffering during mortality. Homosexuals would not be the only ones who have to endure something during mortality.

  30. 33 Michael December 16, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Eric,

    EXACTLY! You hit it on the head with your question about which aspects of our religion and theology are revealed and which are constructed!!!!! Perfect. So how come will are not allowed to ask that question?

    For example, the Proclamation on the Family – was it revealed or was it constructed? It introduces a brand new doctrine which was never taught before, namely, that gender is eternal. When Elder Packer referred to it in the last general conference as a revelation he was required to change his language in the written conference report to correct that and show it was counsel and not a revelation. It is very telling that the Brethren required him to change the language. There has been much discussion in the bloggernacle about how the proclamation was written by a committee of seventies as a response to the same sex marriage debate and signed off on by the FP and Q12. It was not written by them or received as direct revelation.

    My point is that we, as Latter-day Saints, do not question those aspects of our doctrine or theology to determine exactly which parts are constructed (and are thereby subject to change) and which are received by revelation (and are unchangeable). Plural marriage was received as a revelation but we issued a declaration temporarily postponing its practice back in the 1890s. The priesthood ban was constructed by Brigham Young and was de-constructed by the Brethren through a declaration in 1978. Temple sealings and the law of adoption were taught and practiced much, much differently than they are today. The box was not as circumscribed and limited as it is today to biological connections only.

    Taylor is doing a great service in questioning which aspects of our current teachings on gender, sealings, and eternal identity are constructed and which are revealed.

    I will ask again the questions which you did not answer:

    Where does it state scripturally that all spirit bodies are begotten offspring of heavenly parents? And how would you specifically define “begotten”? Does that mean biological sex between Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother? Is there more than one Heavenly Mother? If Heavenly Mother is involved in the earthly salvation of her children here on earth why is she hidden? In what ways specifically is she involved?

    Paul will think this is all just an exercise in speculation and a waste of time but from a theological and practicing standpoint the answers to these questions are desperately needed in our day and in our time to address the challenges facing many church members in trying to stay faithful to the Restored Gospel while still finding the purpose for their existence – especially if they are being asked to shoulder burdens and carry crosses that may be totally unnecessary for their salvation. You and Paul both have many children and it would become an issue if one of them were facing these questions in their life. You would be forced into delving deeper and questioning where these teachings come from and how they were formed – by revelation or by construction. Many LDS parents have been doing just this and, unfortunately, we, as a church, are avoiding the discussion entirely and labeling it as heresy or, worse, a sign of apostasy. We have been commanded to ALWAYS question what we are taught – not to doubt but to ALWAYS question and to understand!

  31. 34 RG December 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Eric, I’m going to have to go with Michael on this. How do you tell which aspects of our theology are revealed, and which are constructed?

  32. 35 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

    As far as construction/revelation goes, for the church it is what the leaders say it is. They are the authorized spokesman for the Lord. So when they roll out something like the proclamation as an official proclamation to the world, present it in conference and the Ensign, sign it as united quorums, it carries a lot of weight. Supporting it is part of sustaining them. It may be easier for me because it genuinely rings true to me.

    This is where the individual comes in. We all voluntarily either believe or not – and this can be on a case by case basis. Eventually some of us may have some difficult decisions to make on what to sustain and what not to. And in a way it can be simplified to whether one can continue to sustain the leadership and all they do as a group or not. For now I choose to sustain them because it all rings true to me – even with the lack of detail.

    I think each of us have to make that decision ultimately. That is kind of why I did Kierkegaard lately. Subjectivity is truth – look within authentically.

    As far as the Proclamation goes, I heard a competing rumor about it that I introduce here .

    I answered most of your questions once, I suppose I can do it again – these are my opinions:

    Where does it state scripturally that all spirit bodies are begotten offspring of heavenly parents?

    Heb. 12:9 and Romans 8:16-17 and Acts 17:29.

    And how would you specifically define “begotten”?

    to reproduce offspring

    Does that mean biological sex between Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother?

    Something like that.

    Is there more than one Heavenly Mother?

    I don’t know or care very much.

    If Heavenly Mother is involved in the earthly salvation of her children here on earth why is she hidden?

    I don’t know.

    In what ways specifically is she involved?

    Working to bring about our immortality and eternal life. It would be pure speculation. I don’t know what the specifics would be based on. I might refer you to David Paulsen’s “I’ve a Mother There” for some interesting quotes.

    I might also refer you to my 2010 SMPT presentation here.

  33. 36 Michael December 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Eric,

    I am sorry but, with all due respect, you are skirting so many direct questions and refusing to engage in a coherent or intelligent conversation that I will have to bow out of commenting on your blog. It would be my expectation that if you bring up a subject on your blog that you would be willing and prepared to engage in a thoughtful conversation as an adult. Especially as you are seeking to provide an alternative explanation to Taylor’s well researched, faithful and insightful article in Dialogue.

    I will leave one final thought. You state that the church is what the leaders say it is. This is false doctrine. The Church is what the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ say it is. He is the head of this Church. He is the One that we worship, adore, follow and obey. The leaders of the church are his representatives and they need to be clear when they are speaking for Him and when they are speaking for themselves. Sadly, this is what is missing in our organization. Clear understanding as to what is doctrine and what is human opinion (or should I say revelation vs. construct) is perhaps the number one issue challenging the church and its members at this time. The word games employed by many and the emphasis on blind, unquestioning obedience does nothing to strengthen Zion or to build individual testimonies.

    I wish you the best in the future.

  34. 37 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I am really going to miss you.

  35. 38 RG December 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Eric,

    I’m going to try to be a little more patient than Michael.

    Your disagreement with Petrey’s articles is that he, in your view, is attempting to change LDS theology into something it is not. LDS theology, in your view, is necessarily revealed, and “revealed” means authoritative statements put forth by the leadership of the Church.

    In reading Petrey’s article, he certainly doesn’t claim to be in discord with these authoritative statements. As a matter of fact, if I’m reading him correctly, he seems to be asking what kinds of theologies are possible _given_ what we accept as revelation.

    On what grounds are you ruling it out?

  36. 39 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I certainly do not think that everything has been revealed, and there is a lot of mystery left. We need faith after all.

    There have been many statements against gay marriage, and any sexual relations outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. So much of the fundamental goal seems out of wack. Unless he his proposing homosexual temple marriages that would be completely asexual in their relationship – which I doubt.

    There have also been many prophets teach about what we might call spirit birth. These may not be cannonized, but they do have weight. I am not aware of any prophet teaching against it – and statements against it alwasy seem a stretch to me. Dismissing this explanation of spirit birth is key to Petrey case, and goes against several statements of prophets.

    Also, dismissing eternal gender is key. This goes directly against the proclamation.

    Now these are not cannonized absolutes, but they do carry weight. His dismissing of them is not persuasive to me.

    So, it is mostly the common current teachings of the church, statements by prophets, the proclamation, that weigh against Petrey fo me.

  37. 40 RG December 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Ok, so your rejection is three-fold:

    1) Petrey argues for gay marriage and sex between two people of the same sex.

    2) He dismisses spirit birth.

    3) He dismisses gender.

    Is there a difference, in your view, to “arguing for” or “dismissing” something and exploring what things like spirit birth might mean?

    In other words, if I’m reading Petrey correctly, he’s not dismissing spirit birth, he’s asking what it might mean. How do we account for the fact, for instance, that within our own “revelations” some people are created by means other than sexual reproduction? It is quite interesting that within the scriptures there are no accounts of God(s) creating people by means of sex. I think it’s plausible to suppose that creation in the next life need not be done by means of sex. I think what Petrey’s doing is arguing for this kind of plausibility.

    I think he’s also probing further into the issue what “gender” might mean.

  38. 41 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I think you are reading him correctly.

  39. 42 RG December 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Then I guess I fail to see how you’ve excluded it as a possible Mormon theology.

  40. 43 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I should probably have said more-or-less correctly. It is probably time for me to re-read the essay. I thought he was dismissing spirit birth as a gendered reproduction.

    Let me turn this back on you for a bit and ask you some questions. This essay is going to be published in Dialogue. What do you think the chances are of it being published in the Ensign in the next couple of months? If this essay was given to the First Presidency, how would they respond?

    My guess is there is about no chance at all of this being published in the Ensign, and that the FP would be uncomfortable with it. Is my guess likely wrong?

  41. 44 RG December 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I think it has about as much a chance as being published in the Ensign as does something like your SMPT presentation.

    I honestly don’t know how the FP would respond. Perhaps they are uncomfortable with any and all speculation. I don’t think, though, that they would issue a response to it (either endorsing or denouncing it), so I’m not sure how far that gets us.

  42. 45 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I think the Ensign is much closer to publishing articles on spirit birth than they are on proposing gay marriage. In the Jan. 2010 Ensign on page 15 there is the article God is Truly Our Father, and point number 3 is that he is our literal spirit parent. I post on this here . I feel certain there are dozens if not hundreds of articles that use such language about the parent/child relationship between God and man. It is described this way in True to the Faith as well. It simply is the current orthodox position, although without details.

    I read the article again, here are some notes:

    “Given that Mormonism imagines ideal heterosexuality, not as desires or practices, but as eternal relationships, could this same framework help us to reimagine the permissibility of homosexual relationships within Mormonism?”

    I disagree with this given. Ideal heterosexual marriage is more like it.

    I see an inconsistency in how he uses resurrection. When discussing spirit birth he forces resurrected bodies to be much like mortal bodies in order to dismiss spirit birth. Later he makes the case that resurrected bodies are not like mortal bodies at all. This is a shifting standard.

    There is sort of a naïve asexual assumption going on through the whole section. He does not deal with the sinfulness of sexual relationships outside a married man and woman.

    I think the kinship sealings are more parent/child than spousal. People don’t adopt friends, they adopt children. I believe the evolution of sealing ceremonies are a progression rather than a regression.

  43. 46 RG December 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    In the Jan. 2010 Ensign on page 15 there is the article God is Truly Our Father, and point number 3 is that he is our literal spirit parent.

    Is God the Father the literal father of Jesus? Was Mary a virgin?

    As you note, the details about creation are lacking. I don’t disagree that the Ensign is far from publishing an article advocating same sex marriage. But I think you’re shifting the ground of discussion here. Are you ready to consent that Petrey does not dismiss spirit birth? I noted three of your objections to Petrey, and you’re sliding between #1 and #2. Are you prepared to consent to #2 and move to #3 and/or #1?

    “Given that Mormonism imagines ideal heterosexuality, not as desires or practices, but as eternal relationships, could this same framework help us to reimagine the permissibility of homosexual relationships within Mormonism?”

    I think you’re also misunderstanding this since substituting “heterosexual marriage” for “heterosexuality” doesn’t really change things. Let me try to restate it: Mormonism takes heterosexual marriage as more than simply the act of sex. It’s about cultivating an eternal relationship that is about more than desire. Could this framework help us to rethink the permissibility of homosexual marriages within Mormonism?

    If you’re going to answer “no”, then you should probably explain why not.

    For your other objections, if you think they are serious, then put them in a list. I’d like to press you on some of them.

  44. 47 Eric Nielson December 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Yes, God is the father of Jesus. We do not know exactly how Mary got pregnant. But God did transmit His attributes through a pregnancy and birth.

    No, it seems that dismissing anything like a literal spirit birth is key to Petreys entire case. Re-reading solidified that for me. So I win 1 and 2, and 3 seems pretty clear as well. Are you ready to consent?

    For Petrey it seems clear that ideal heterosexuality is asexual. That is what I disagree with in the statement. And so the answer to the question for me is no. The reason is that within Mormonism the highest degree in the CK is about eternal heterosexual marriage and continued spirit offspring.

    We already have a list of fundamental objections right here.

  45. 48 RG December 17, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Now I know why others have given up. We’re having a failure to communicate here.

    Yes, God is the father of Jesus. We do not know exactly how Mary got pregnant. But God did transmit His attributes through a pregnancy and birth.

    But not through sex; and that seems key to one of the things that Petrey is saying. Creation can occur through means other than the act of sex. He isn’t dismissing spirit birth as much as he’s saying that 1) It’s not clear that our scriptures support it; and 2) There are examples of people being created by God(s) through means other than sex. You have to recognize the difference between a “dismissal” and saying “there could be other things going on here”.

    We already have a list of fundamental objections right here.

    If you’re serious about continuing this conversation, number your objections out; because the lack of organization in your comments isn’t allowing me to understand what you’re arguing for.

    And I have no idea what the following sentence means: For Petrey it seems clear that ideal heterosexuality is asexual.

  46. 49 Chris H. December 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Eric,

    RG seems to be getting a tad worked up (I love when people make demands on other people’s blogs).

    That said, I would be curious as to what you mean by “For Petrey it seems clear that ideal heterosexuality is asexual.”

    Clearly, Petrey is turning many tradition LDS assumptions of their head. However, I think that it does give us much to think about.

    What Petrey has given us is a postmodern interpretation of the language that we use to describe things which we know little about. While some things have either been revealed about these things or have become part of our theological narrative…I think this does not mean that we cannot think about them from different perspective.

  47. 51 Chris H. December 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    “My guess is there is about no chance at all of this being published in the Ensign, and that the FP would be uncomfortable with it. Is my guess likely wrong?”

    My guess is that like much of the bloggernacle…they would have no idea what to make of it. If a journal article made them “uncomfortable” I would be saddened by such a reaction.

    Of course, it would not make it into the Ensign. However, the Ensign has not publish anything close to academic since the 1970s. The Ensign is not really relevant to this discussion. That is the beauty of Dialogue. There can be articles like this one.

    • 52 Eric Nielson December 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      I agree mostly. Although at a certain level, articles like this are supposed to make people uncomfortable right? In a way, I think if this article makes someone like me uncomfortable, Taylor might say, ‘mission accomplished’. I don’t think you write something like this without knowing it will make some people uncomfortable.

      • 53 Chris H. December 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm

        Petrey surely expected you to disagree with him. However, I do not get why this would make you uncomfortable.

      • 54 Eric Nielson December 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

        I hope the imbedded reply works properly.

        Part of what makes me uncomfortable is that i have a strong view of what is normally considered sexual sins. It seems this would save people in their sins rather than from them. Excusing sin makes me a little uncomfortable.

        It also made me uncomfortable because it was so well done – yet i disagreed with it. I really like it when i disagree with something that was also poorly done. I was disagreeing with really quality work.

      • 55 Chris H. December 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm

        I cannot speak for Taylor. However, I do have a very different view of sin. I am glad that we can be friends despite these many differences.

  48. 56 Eric Nielson December 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    The birth of Jesus was a gendered reproduction. God was the father, Mary was the mother. Details of how are unknown.

    I am not serious about continuing this discussion. What will happen is a raising the bar to impossible levels. It will not likely be productive.

    Petrey’s claim is that ideal heterosexuality does not include [sexual] desires or practices. Thus it is asexual, or without sexual desires or practices.

    So, here is a fundamental objection:

    – Petrey’s plan involves exalting souls in their sins, rather than from them. Just define the sin away. The sin here is sexual relations outside marriage between a man and a woman.

    The above seems pretty fundamental to me, other objections will be a subset of this. I think if this is not resolved, there will be no need to go further. Is sexual relations outside of a married man and woman fundamentally sinful behavior? I think Mormonism is committed to saying yes to this. And it seems a key obstacle in Petrey’s essay. I would propose this as something fundamental. If we are not talking about gay temple marriage during mortality, which would surely include sexual relations, then one wonders what the point is? Is this sinful behavior or not?

  49. 57 RG December 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I am not serious about continuing this discussion. What will happen is a raising the bar to impossible levels. It will not likely be productive.

    What are you talking about in saying the bar will be raised to impossible levels?

    Petrey’s claim is that ideal heterosexuality does not include [sexual] desires or practices. Thus it is asexual, or without sexual desires or practices.

    Umm… let me try clarifying this again. It’s not that heterosexuality does not include sexual desires or practices, but that the desire and act of sex is only one part of a heterosexual relationship. I’m guessing you’re married, but I assume that you’d agree that the desire and act of sex is only one part of you relationship with your wife, no?

    The birth of Jesus was a gendered reproduction. God was the father, Mary was the mother. Details of how are unknown.

    You’re missing my (and Petrey’s) point about sex. People are created in the scriptures without the act of sex. This doesn’t mean that there is no sex in the eternities; just that sex may or may not be necessary to create children.

    Petrey’s plan involves exalting souls in their sins, rather than from them. Just define the sin away. The sin here is sexual relations outside marriage between a man and a woman.

    If this is now your key objection I’m happy to discuss it. In my reading of Petrey on this particular issue, I see him asking why homosexual sex is considered a sin. If the answer is because all sex outside of marriage is a sin, then the question becomes one of why don’t we allow same-sex marriages. If the answer is because heterosexual sex is required in the next life to produce children, then how do we make sense of the examples he provides where creation occurs without heterosexual sex?

    Does that clarify things for you?

  50. 58 Eric Nielson December 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    When someone is committed to believing something, it often does not matter what is said, it will never be enough. That is what I mean by raising the bar to impossible levels.

    Just because sex is only part of the relationship, that does not mean that it is not a fundamental part of the eternal marriage relationship. What Petrey is saying is that it is not fundamental nor necessary. I simply disagree.

    I dispute the examples of creation without gendered reproduction. My belief is that is indeed where spirit bodies come from. Resurrection is not an original creation, and is not the same type of thing.

    There has been no switch of objections. This is what I was stating in the second paragraph of the original post. It is clear that the teachings of the church is that sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is sinful behavior. We can speculate as to why that is if we wish, but this is not what should lead to a change in commandments. I personally believe that a gendered reproduction is what produces spirit bodies. I find his examples of resurrection, and Adam and Eve as unpersuasive (especially since my guess is that he likely favors evolution over creationism anyway).

    Does this clarify things for you?

  51. 59 ji December 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I don’t want to engage in a back-and-forth such has been going on, but I do want to add some small parts of a differing perspective. I don’t claim to know anything except what goes on inside my head. But for me, considering myself a good Latter-day Saint in every way, I am troubled by this debate. I am a Mormon, and a good Mormon, but I do not believe in the doctrine (or folklore) of a heavenly mother. The scriptures are silent and all we have is conjecture and supposition. Conjecture and supposition do not make good doctrine. I don’t reject is as absolute truth, but I do assert that it is not doctrine of the church. Regarding eternal gender, well, that notion was introduced into Mormon folklore in recent years, and recently included in the Proclamation. Maybe it is Mormon doctrine as the leaders of the Church have formally espoused it, but it isn’t Mormon doctrine in the sense that it has never been submitted to the church of a sustaining vote. I don’t reject it as absolute truth, but I haven’t accepted it yet as doctrine of the church. Regarding Jesus’s parentage, I am perfectly happy with the scriptural account — in my mind, it is perfectly believeable that God in heaven spoke and one cell in Mary’s body reconfigured itself and then at the appropriate time the spirit entered the fetus. I do reject any notion of the Father and his erection visiting Mary as absolutely false and intellectual pornography, and I reject is as doctrine of the church. I reject any and all attempts to paint definitive pictures of the pre- or post-mortal worlds based on the facts of life here. I do call myself a son of God, but the scriptures speak of BECOMING a son or daughter of God, or a son or daughter of Christ, as part of accepting the gospel. I do not know the exact nature of our family relationships, if any, in the pre-mortal world.

    So, Eric, I disagree with some of your also positions, and I disagree with some of the positions of your opponents here.

    In a sense, I believe in the priesthood of all believers. I am a Latter-day Saint and a holder of the higher priesthood. I am entitled to my beliefs. Those who are called to positions of eminence within the church are also entitled to their beliefs. But ultimately, it might be that none of this matters. What truly matters is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as our Savior, Redeemer, and God (see D&C 10:17, 17:9, 18:47, and many more), and our walk among our fellow man as sons of God and neighbors to others. Righteous living is more important than academic arguments. I like a little academic stimulation also, but I have to realize that righteous living is more important than solving all the mysteries through contention.

    Neither article would be published in the Ensign, because as was already written, the First Presidency is far more interested in righteous living and the simple truths of the gospel than speculation on the mysteries. I wouldn’t want to see the Dialogue article in the Ensign because it does seem to me to re-frame sin into acceptance, and is therefore harmful to faith. I wouldn’t want to see your article there because I reject vivaparous (sp?) spirit birth as speculative and harmful to faith.

    God’s way are not our ways. God’s understand far surpasses ours. We must not confine God to our understandings. God created us in his image; let us not re-create him in our image (thanks for Voltaire, I think).

  52. 60 Eric Nielson December 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    From Gospel Principles lesson 2 we have:

    God is not only our Ruler and Creator; He is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 335).

    If the general idea of spirit birth is speculative and harmful to the faith, then why are prophets proclaiming it and putting it into the basic official Sunday school manual of the church? Would the above statement make it into the Ensign? I would imagine it is already there.

  53. 61 ji December 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Eric,
    You will note that the source of the teaching is Joseph F. Smith, not the scriptures or our God. President Smith was sharing his thoughts as he best understood them, trying to build faith. That’s good. Every Church leader should teach others as best they are able. And Church members should accept their offerings as good teachings from good men. The Gospel Principles manual is also a gift from the leaders of the Church to us, capturing the teaching of our leaders as best as they can.
    I don’t deny some truth in what he wrote. But to me, more important is BECOMING sons and daughters of God. This is the message of the scriptures. John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name. 3 Nephi 9:17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name. 2 Corinthians 17-18 Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you; and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. And many, many more. Indeed, essentially ALL the scriptural references to being a son of God are with this meaning — and none of them were given for the purpose of establishing the truth of viviparous spirit birth. But many among us have reinterpreted them in this way because they want to re-fashion God in their image, and impose their understandings on the pre- and post-mortal worlds.
    When I say I am a son of God, it is with this understanding from the scriptures that I am speaking. At my baptism, I was born a son of God.

  54. 63 Eric Nielson December 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    When defending my position on Mormon Theology, I feel better when I can show that my position is consistent with church leaders whom I sustain as modern day prophets. This restoration is important to me, Modern day prophets are here partly to inform us on important issues for today, and how to interpret the scriptures.

    So pardon me for quoting from modern prophets and official manuals when defending my position on Mormon theology. I feel we need to take the scriptures and the teachings of modern prophets together as a whole.

  55. 64 ji December 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I certainly agree that the teaching of our church leaders today should help inform your theology. And my theology. That is an important part of the mixture.

  56. 66 Eric Nielson December 17, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Sure thing. Simple disagreements don’t bother me at all.

  57. 67 Mark D. December 19, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Chris H, what I stated about LDS compatibility is pretty much a fact. Of course it is always possible that the leaders of the church could rewrite LDS theology along those lines, but at some point you start throwing out so much stuff that it doesn’t look like historical Mormonism any more.

    “if a man marry a wife…and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise… they shall pass by the angels…to their exaltation and glory in all things…which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. (D&C 132:19, emphasis added)

    That is the difference between salvation and exaltation. There is an extensive Biblical record of the Abrahamic covenant described in essentially the same terms. So the first problem is that if this is wrong, no one would have any idea of what exaltation actually was. No one would have any idea why we do family history, or child to parent sealings, or have the ideal of completing a sealing chain back to Adam and Eve, and so on.

    In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D&C 131:1-4)

    It does not say “adoption” here, it says “marriage”. Joining a celestial society and all that is something that makes perfect sense to be accomplished through adoption, it makes you an heir to the blessings of the person or parents who adopted you. But how in the world would anyone explain a major theological difference between two same sex individuals who entered into a marriage with each other or not? And how would that be different, theologically speaking from being sealed to ones natural or adoptive parents? That is a covenant too, is it not?

    The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. (D&C 130:22)

    Far and away the most prominent difference between LDS theology and that of most Christian denominations is the doctrine that God has a body. The theological implications are enormous. It is one of the propositions that makes the possibility of exaltation coherent, the idea that Heavenly Father is an “exalted man”. If God is not embodied, or is not an “exalted man”, LDS theology reduces to classical God is Other theism in a big hurry, and the doctrine of the resurrection becomes more or less pointless.

    According to the scriptural record, the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples, demonstrated that he had a body of flesh and bone, ate with them, and let them feel his hands and side. It is quite puzzling then, that no one bothered to recount the proposition that he no longer looked like a man, or that his resurrection was temporary, or all for show.

    Whether a Mormon-theology divorced of these tenets would look more like Unitarianism or some other classical creed is a matter for debate. It would look certainly more like one of them than LDS Mormonism, as it has been understood for more than a century. Maybe Community of Christ might be the better analogy, although presumably temple ordinances would remain in some form or another, even if divorced from their historical context. Protestantism with a temple, as some people like to say. Out with the old, in with the new. It has been done before. It just doesn’t seem likely, in my opinion, for the reasons I have enumerated.

  58. 68 Adam G. December 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Well put. None of us is entirely innocent, and a bit of philosophy that just happens to line up with major social forces in opposition to the Church is even less so.

    I imagine that even Mr. Petrey himself would admit that his pure dispassionate spirit of inquiry is largely mythical.

  59. 69 Adam G. December 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Those who insist on deconstruction and showing the falsity of our usual categories should turn their tools on themselves from time to time.

    For one thing, I don’t see that a hard and fast distinction between ‘constructed’ doctrine and ‘revealed’ doctrine is possible or useful in this life. It may not even be desirable. The kind of search for the ‘real’ gospel that is separate from history, culture, and human prophets and revealers is very much akin to the search for a disembodied abstract God that Mormonism flatly rejects. See here:

    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2007/12/revelation-made-flesh/#more-4318

    http://www.jrganymede.com/2011/11/08/lehis-dream-teaches-us-about-revelation/

  60. 70 Eric Nielson December 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for the comments and links Adam.

  61. 71 RG December 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Sorry, I’ve been on the road.

    Just because sex is only part of the relationship, that does not mean that it is not a fundamental part of the eternal marriage relationship. What Petrey is saying is that it is not fundamental nor necessary. I simply disagree.

    What Petrey is saying is that sex may not be a necessary part of the eternal marriage relationship if creation by other means is possible. Now, if you want to argue for the _necessity_ of sex for creation then you need to account for all other examples. Even if I consent that resurrection (and I imagine baptism) is a different kind of creation, I’m still not sure how you make sense of Adam and Eve and Jesus (perhaps the only people even spoken of as created by God in the narrow sense that you want to discuss it).

    It is clear that the teachings of the church is that sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is sinful behavior. We can speculate as to why that is if we wish, but this is not what should lead to a change in commandments.

    I don’t think Petrey seems himself doing anything other than speculating; and I was under the impression that speculating is precisely what we’ve been doing here. Why, in your opinion, does the Church teach that sex outside of a marriage between a man and woman to be sinful?

  62. 72 Eric Nielson December 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I do not need to account for all other examples. This is precisely they type of raising the bar I was speaking of. It will never be enough. As far as Jesus goes, Mary is clearly the mother, and was pregnant and gave birth. We maintain the God the Father was the father. I would call this some type of gendered reproduction, although no details are known and I am uncomfortable speculating any further than that. Given the pregnancy and birth this should be a clear point against Petrey, not for him.

    As far as Adam and Eve goes, many today are unsure of whether it is creation, or some type of evolution going on. I am quite agnostic about this. I suppose some version of evolution would be a stronger case for my side, but I don’t really care to make it. There are also possibilities of Adam and Eve being translated or transported beings, or sculpted beings I suppose.

    I would say that the reason the church teaches that sex outside of marriage is scripture and revelation based. If we want to go to scriptures, there are several that are pretty harsh against homosexual relations in the OT and the last few chapters of Romans 1. I would not go as far as death penalties, but the Bible is pretty clear about homosexual relations being sinful behavior.

  63. 73 Eric Nielson December 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Many of those arguing with me about this have taken a ‘back to the scriptures’ approach when it suits them. For a guide to the scriptures on the topic of homosexuality see here.

  64. 74 RG December 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I do not need to account for all other examples. This is precisely the type of raising the bar I was speaking of. It will never be enough.

    This isn’t raising the bar, but asking you to substantiate your claims. If you want to claim that the act of sex is _necessary_ in creating children in the eternities, then asking you to argue for that necessity is a requirement of the conversation.

    Petrey’s position, in so far as I understand it, is that our (Mormon) tradition has multiple narratives of creation, and not all of these narratives maintain the necessity of sex in creating offspring. Since you consent to these narratives (Jesus and Adam and Eve, for instance), I don’t see how you can hold to the _necessity_ of sexual intercourse. Now, this doesn’t discount the possibility of sex for procreation, but it doesn’t get you to the level of necessity. And if you think this is raising the bar, then this is only asking you to clear the bar that you’ve set for yourself.

    The example of Mary works against Petrey only if there are no examples of single-sex creation (where a male or female isn’t involved), but in the case of Adam and Eve there are. Evolution doesn’t discount Adam and Eve, because the discussion is about the creative abilities of God; and I don’t see anyone here arguing that God _could not_ have created a human being (or human beings) in a process similar to the one described in accounts of Adam and Eve.

    I would say that the reason the church teaches that sex outside of marriage is scripture and revelation based.

    This is a non-answer. This is like saying, the Church teaches X because it teaches X.

  65. 75 Paul December 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Eric, I’m enjoying the discussion.

    RG, the thing I don’t get about Petrey is this: he seems to want to generalize two very specific examples — Adam and Jesus — and their physical creation. He has not spoken about their spiritual birth, and it seems to me very likely that each is a unique exception in the creation of mankind. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

  66. 76 Eric Nielson December 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Let me make an attempt to summarize the arguments in formal logic – which I have no training in:

    Petry:

    P1: Sexual intercourse is not necessary for God to create or organize life.
    P2: People have been sealed to people other than a spouse of the opposite gender.
    P3: Opposite gender couples serve no function or purpose that other couples could not serve.
    C: There is no reason that homosexual couples cannot be sealed together and exalted.

    Now again, I am not trained in this, but I hope the above is fair. What I am saying is that the premises do not demand the conclusion. There is still the problem of scriptures and church leaders teach that homosexual behavior is sinful behavior. The argument does not address this, so I feel it is incomplete. I suppose there is an assumption that the scriptures and modern day prophets are simply wrong about this. I do not find P1 persuasive. Even if there are some tangent examples of creation without sex, this does not say that this is not how spirit bodies come into being. It may be that way. Without knowing for sure we can not say that this premise holds. It may or may not. P2 is not persuasive either. Parents and children are sealed, but not in the same way spouses are. P3 also seems to be simply a dismissal of the proclamation. So I do not buy the conclusion. And even if one bought p1-p3, the conclusion would not be demanded from them.

    Now as you point out, I don’t think I have much of a counter argument, but I am saying that this is not the point. When you say the church says x because the church says x, I would suggest that it is my belief that the church says x because God told them to say x. This may seem unsatisfying – because God said so – but I think that is where we are at. Now it seems like your argument against this is that if I can not answer every detail of every question you can possibly come up with, then we are free to ignore the scriptures and the prophets and construct our own theology based on anything we prefer.

    So this is why my position is difficult in a philosophical debate. I am left with what I believe to be revelations without details. Someone else says that without the details, we are free to dismiss or ignore the so-called revelations. When I say that this makes me uncomfortable, and ask if we should even do this, then I am asked to speculate about the missing details in the revelation. If someone is tenacious enough, then no explanation will be sufficient. I wont budge because I believe what the scriptures and the prophets say – and because it rings true to me, spiritually speaking. You won’t budge because you don’t want to, and nothing short of complete detailed answers to every possibility that can be imagined will do.

    Another topic like resurrection would be similar. We believe in something without knowing the details. Someone comes along and wants to deny the ressurection, and creates a logical argument against resurrection. I think we would be left with a we believe because we believe position.

  67. 77 Eric Nielson December 22, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I would also add that the births of Adam and Eve, and Christ are mysteries. It makes for a even thinner argument to base you arguments on these mysteries as a foundation.

  68. 78 Eric Nielson December 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    After thinking about this some more, it reminds me of Kierkegaard Genius and Prophet essay. Where the Genius will try to show by logic, reason, research, scholarship, etc. that you should follow him because of his genius. While the prophet would simply declare God’s message as one who speaks with authority.

    So if I were to give my argument against it would go something like this:

    P1 – Modern day prophets are authorized representatives of God.
    P2 – They have consistently taught that homosexual behavior is sinful.
    P3 – They have consistently taught that marriage is between a man and a woman.
    C – Petrey’s theology, and its conclusion is rejected.


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