You know those times when you are asked to prepare a talk or a lesson and you have the distinct feeling that the preparation of said lesson is more important than the actual deliverance of it? Usually that is what is said if no one listens, shows up, or if you end up not giving it for some reason, but ever so often, one comes around where you know it was the guiding hand of the lion for you to prepare that talk or lesson.
Well I had one of those experiences today. Last night I was asked at 6:30 PM to prepare a lesson for Sunday school today. (First off, I am a member of this class and so teaching it is … awkward, Second I was asked just under 18 hours before. These are one of the 2 things I hate about UT Mormon culture BTW, but that is another post entirely) Today, after preparing the lesson, I got to my class to be confronted with one other member, someone who has had 1/3 of his brain removed and is now… how to put this nicely… his place in the Celestial kingdom is assured. So besides having the prompting all throughout my preparations last night, it was confirmed today that this lesson was meant for me to learn a great deal from. And I did.
My Patriarchal blessing states a couple of things about the celestial kingdom that have, since coming out, left me feeling down. For instance it states “Through your honest effort and the gift of Jesus Christ you will be able to inherit eternal glory, with your eternal companion, in the celestial kingdom where glory and happiness never end.” Looking at this in context of my homosexuality it as left me kind of depressed that I will not be able to enter the celestial kingdom or it has galvanized me to believing that the celestial kingdom can be shared with an eternal same-sex companion. Largely it has led me to become depressed, feeling like I will be destined to live in the terrestrial kingdom (a great place) and knowing that I could have had celestial glory. This thought process is interesting because of the section right before this in my blessing that states “You will be acutely aware that you are not perfect and have faults, but never let this bring you down, for Satan wants you to think that you are just not good enough to return to Heavenly Father in the Celestial kingdom.”
What was interesting was the fact that the lesson I was to prepare was “Kingdoms of Glory,” and it talked all about the 3 kingdoms and Outer Darkness. I was planning on having to teach the high school juniors and seniors as well so I prepared to have a dumb down basics version with deep thought questions should the basics not be enough. Well in going over everything I was focusing on things I had questions about, largely progression between kingdoms and whether there were 3 or infinite kingdoms of glory. It wasn’t until I was in the car with my brother-in-law (another blog post concerning him is forthcoming) and I mentioned the last minute assignment that he, in his infinite trivia-focused mind, asked “what is the only thing required to enter the celestial kingdom?” I in my depressed state offered the answer of “temple marriage.” I was wrong. Turns out the only ordinance (what he meant by thing I am sure) is baptism (which everyone will have BTW). That is the only physical ordinance required for entrance into the celestial kingdom. This struck me as odd until I remembered, like a big dumb idiot, that there is a difference between Celestial Glory and Exaltation.
All too often we in the church lump celestial glory and exaltation together. I heard it told to me by my bishop’s daughter while we were talking over everything earlier this week when she asked me if I would sacrifice the celestial kingdom by marrying a man? Granted I don’t know if she was confusing exaltation and celestial glory, but when she said it I sure combined the two, leaving me with “if I marry a man I inherit Terrestrial glory at the greatest.” I think this is one of the reasons I have been so depressed and confused concerning the possibility of exalted homosexual partners.
I have spent a lot of time contemplating and conceptualizing a way for there to be exalted same-sex partners (males at least, sorry ladies something about priesthood power). The one hang-up I had was something that I had thought of and no one has yet to point it out as a possibility for an error in my logical approach but me. Given that Intelligences are called forth into spirits by priesthood power, then there really needs to be no eternal sex, meaning no eternal need for opposite only exalted couples. The problem comes in with the creation of man. Now, because sex in general is a taboo word let alone eternal sex as a topic in Sunday School there is little proof for this, but I wonder where Adam came from. 3 theories have presented themselves to me, largely because the mud man principle doesn't make sense as literal and must be symbolic.
1, Evolution within the "6 days" happened as Darwin claimed it did with the body of what is now Homo Erectus evolving out of primordial ooze into chimps into homo erectus and when Heavenly Father/Jehovah breathed the Spirit Michael into the body it became Adam (man, Homo Sapien). 2, the Body of man was transplanted from another species from another planet, as prophets believe happened with all other life on earth, and then filled with the spirit becoming Adam. 3, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother had sex and due to their perfected resurrected bodies created a perfect human in the image of God that was quickened with the spirit of Michael and then raised in the Garden (or sprang forth fully formed), then after the fall (namely the partaking of the fruit) the body became mortal and thus no longer perfected.
The second approach seems to not work because then Man was created in the image of Heavenly Father's relative and not him and regardless it had to start somewhere. Number 1 is more plausible and in fact could probably happen (it does explain dinosaurs) and we are after the image of our father due to the breathing in of the spirit which changes us from Homo Erectus into Homo Sapiens. However, a part of it hasn’t set well with me and only the third option really works in my mind, but it has two flaws, one it precludes a same gender God companionship, hence the difficulty, and it doesn’t explain how things originally began with the first God, but this one is explained away by the “it doesn’t have a beginning” principle that our mere mortal minds can not grasp. So I have been left with this one possibility, the 3rd approach, that doesn’t fit for me, meaning I have to marry against my orientation or not enter into celestial glory. At least that was my thought process, depressing I know!
The amazing part of this entire lesson learning experience happened in realizing and remembering the difference between a Celestial Glory and Exaltation. I might be the only one who crosses these together as one but I know that it has made me depressed because of this (thanks Satan!). Exaltation is not meant for everyone. It is an Eternal weight of Glory. Think of how infinitely difficult it would be to sit and watch as your only begotten son suffered everything for all of us and you had the power to stop it and save your son. Melvin J. Ballard put it best here
God heard the cry of His Son in that moment of great grief and agony, in the garden when, it is said the pores of His body opened and drops of blood stood upon Him, and He cried out: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.”
I ask you, what father and mother could stand by and listen to the cry of their children in distress, in this world, and not render aid and assistance? …
He [Heavenly Father] saw that Son finally upon Calvary; He saw His body stretched out upon the wooden cross; He saw the cruel nails driven through hands and feet, and the blows that broke the skin, tore the flesh, and let out the life’s blood of His Son. He looked upon that.
In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed, but it fell, and the life’s blood of His Beloved Son went out. His Father looked on with great grief and agony over His Beloved Son, until there seems to have come a moment, when even our Savior cried out in despair: “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”
In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even He could not endure it any longer; and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying child, has to be taken out of the room so as not to look upon the last struggles, so He bowed His head, and hid in some part of His universe, His great heart almost breaking for the love that He had for His Son. Oh, in that moment when He might have saved His Son, I thank Him and praise Him that He did not fail us, for He had not only the love of His Son in mind, but He also had love for us.
Parents out there I know you have felt a taste of this in parenthood and it is bitter-sweet. Imagine the Eternal weight of that. Now so often we are taught to seek after exaltation and hey I think we should, but also too often we view it as exaltation or failure, that if we give up striving for exaltation we are settling for sin, but in the infinite love that our Father has for us we know that it is not, even if I lose sight of it sometimes.
I can fully accept the possibility that I might not be meant for exaltation. I do not even know if it is something that I want. I do know that I want celestial glory and seek to live with Heavenly Father and will strive to accomplish that goal, but it doesn’t require a temple marriage. It only requires giving all we have in the service of God and Christ, in the service of our fellow men. This is why I love this C.S. Lewis quote so much.
It may be possible for each of us to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden, of my neighbour's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare. All day long we are in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities it is with awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry,snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
This quote so exemplifies the goal of all those who seek to enter the Celestial Kingdom and return to his presence. Love the Lord they God and Love thy neighbor as thyself. Things which I, in a committed Gay relationship, could accomplish.
Given the distinction between Exaltation and Celestial Glory, and the difficult simplicity with which we can enter into the celestial kingdom, I can see an easy path for broader acceptance of homosexuality in the church. It might simply be that both parties are right. That exaltation is meant for a traditional couple and that the act of eternal procreation is a key facet in the eternities, in becoming gods and goddesses, in exaltation. It could also be right that Heavenly Father, in his infinite love, would not place so many of his children in a situation that, particularly for those who are not born into this church, is so easy to not return to him and instead has a distinct plan for his GBLT children in the Celestial Kingdom, and not cut off from their families in a lesser glory. It depends entirely on the willingness of each individual to accept the doctrine of Christ and do all that is necessary and within their power to follow him. To focus on those who are downtrodden, heavy-laden, with their arms hanging low and bring them up through service and love. To focus on keeping all of the commandments that we can, ie. Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, and Tithing.
Perhaps it is our mission, perhaps only mine, to follow in the footsteps of John (Young Stranger) and continue going to church and remaining as active as possible even after excommunication. Perhaps we should, when comfortable and impressed by the spirit, bear our testimonies to our wards. Because if we leave then the leaders of the Church can simply ignore us and quite possibly Heavenly Father will as well. And the Members will, as all too often happens when someone leaves the church, discount all that we say and will not listen to the truth that we testify of, the truth that we know in our hearts that God loves all of his children, even us and that we all have the chance for Celestial Glory. But if we come out, come out en masse, come out in our wards and stay active amidst the storm, be the resource that our ward members can come to, to learn the truth just as they ask investigators to approach them and not the Anti-crowd. If we come out, and not until then, the hearts of the saints and the leaders may be softened and perhaps that is what is needed to reveal the mysteries of God unto the Church concerning us.
And if it turns out that temple marriage is necessary in the world to come in order to enter the celestial kingdom (which D&C 131:1-2 states it isn’t) and it has to be with an opposite sex companion, then I would be willing to sacrifice what I have had here on earth for a temple marriage prepared during the millennium when all truth is restored. And if, not until that time, I am allowed to take a husband into a temple marriage, I will glory in the Father for his love and compassion for me an insignificant, imperfect son who still has much to learn even beyond the veil. Regardless, I will serve the Lord in the eternities, be it in separation from an earthly male companion, joined together with an eternal female companion, or joined together with an eternal male companion who was my earthly companion, I will not let my personal preferences interfere with the Lord’s plan for me.
P.S. Wow this got long fast, hence the double title.
P.S.S This doesn't mean I have made any sort of decision as to how I will spend my life in the classical MoHo Dilemma sense, but it does mean that I have leaped yet another hurdle in my way.