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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “42 – Afterlife”

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42 – Afterlife


“As a gay Mormon, I make my home in the borderlands. In a theology that says every man must be married to a woman in order to be with God and progress in heaven, gay Mormons are anomalies. No one quite knows what to do with us.  (Kent Blake, “Burning the Borderlands: A Personal Reaction to the Mormon Church’s Policy Changes on Same-Sex Couples,” Huffington Post, November 10, 2015)


“[p. 46] I had faith that God could perform a miracle here, too–a faith that was strengthened when I received my patriarchal blessing and heard, to my intense relief, its promise that I would marry and have children.…

I was too hard on myself, and prayed fervently many times each day. And waited. For fourteen years.…

[p. 48] For countless evenings, as I said my prayers, I beg to the Lord to take my life during the night.…

[p. 49] It had never crossed my mind, of course, in all those years of struggle, to ask God if he had any plans in regard to all this. I knew that I wanted my orientation changed, and I trusted in God to do it. After all, he would have to change it if I were to become what the Church taught (and what I believed) I was supposed to be. I was unprepared, therefore, for the response I received.

The response I received was that if I kept with a man the same moral standards the Lord expects of his heterosexual children—chastity prior to a lifetime commitment and fidelity with in it—my salvation and exultation would not be lost. I was warned, however, that it would not be an easy life.

‘Well,’ I thought after I finished praying, ‘that can’t be right.’ I knew what the scripture said. I knew what the Church said. This was ridiculous. It also certainly wasn’t the solution I would have chosen had my preference been asked. I wondered if I had finally cracked under the pressure and taken leave of my senses completely. Had I manufactured this? The only problem was that the revelation had been unmistakably clear. It had been strong. And it had been delivered by the same experience—by what I term the same voice, for lack of a better metaphor—that had first spoken in the past to confirm to me the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, that has guided me on my mission, that had borne witness to me of so many other things and experiences in the temple, and that had throughout the years provided guidance which, even if seemingly unreasonable when given, had always proved right in the end. That same voice. I felt I knew that voice. I knew that it had never guided me wrong in the past.

Still, I was reluctant to trust this experience. I found my bishop at church the next Sunday and told him what had happened. His initial response surprised me. ‘I know you to be very sincere and spiritual,’ he said. ‘If that’s what you were told, then I guess that’s what you were told.’ Later, of course, once the implications of what I had said had sunk in, he was careful—as he has been in each discussion of the issue since—to stress the rules of the Church on homosexual relations and to let me know that he had had occasion to sit on Church tribunals judging man who have made similar statements but who had been excommunicated anyway. (What, I wondered, if they were telling the truth?) Later still, deeply troubled by his inability to make the prescribed moral judgment of homosexuals comport with the characteristics of the man he actually knew, he even cornered a general authority to ask him if he thought there might be a revelation on the issue soon.

Meanwhile, I retested my personal revelation. Same answer. I waited until calmer times, and asked again and again over the coming weeks and months. Same answer. I went to the temple. (I had asked my bishop whether I should continue to go; he responded that I should go until I actually did something that would prevent me from being there.) Same answer. Eight months after the original revelation, having made certain that I had resolved anything I could think of with my bishop, I went to the temple to ask one more time. Same answer.…

What it, I wondered, still be appropriate for me to attend the temple once I had ‘married’ a man? Naïvely, I figured I had the Lord boxed in on this one. He would have to say either yes, from which I could infer that one of the Church’s limits was simply wrong, or no, from which I could conclude that the Lord had no business giving me permission to go off and do this in the first place. Of course, when I prayed, the Lord said neither. Instead, as happens from time to time, the answer came as a recollection of the scripture, its implication obvious: Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians that they abstain from eating meat sacrificed to idols, whatever their own beliefs about it might be, lest they weakened the faith of their brethren. (See I Cor. 8:9-12.) I understood from that prayer that if I married a man I would no longer attend the temple because, whatever the right or wrong might be, there would be too many people who would not understand and whose faith it might injure.

In retrospect, I realize that this answer also served to stress to me another important truth about the earlier revelation: that it was personal to me, and could not of itself be understood to be of broader application.…

[p. 52] In some cases, support within the church has come from very surprising sources, including members with reputations for extreme doctrinal conservatism. In the case of at least one of my priesthood leaders, his support clearly came against his will. After sustaining minor injuries in an automobile accident, I had requested a priesthood blessing from this man—a humble man of profound charity, but one who had gently but firmly made clear from the outset his fundamental opposition to the course I had adopted. When this leader laid his hands on my head, however, he blessed may not only that my injuries would heal properly (they did), but that I would one day meet the man who was to be ‘my companion in this life.’ It was the only time in my many years in the Church that I have stood after a blessing to see its giver manifestly shocked and horrified. That leader remained shocked and horrified or a very long time, but eventually—a year after the blessing, perhaps—walked up to me after sacrament meeting one Sunday and quietly told me that he hoped I would find my companion.” (Oliver Alden, “’My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?’: Meditations of a Gay Mormon on the 22nd Psalm,” Sunstone, August 1995)


Can individuals struggling with some same gender attraction be cured? “With God nothing should be impossible” (Luke 1:37). It really doesn’t matter, however, whether or not same gender attraction can be cured. The right course of action remains the same: eliminate or diminish same sex attraction.…

In the day of resurrection you will have normal affections and be attracted to the opposite sex.”  (James O. Mason, “The Worth of a Soul is Great,” Evergreen International 15th Annual Conference, September 17, 2005)


“One of the survey questions read as follows: ‘Have you experienced a spiritual manifestation through which you felt an acceptance of your same-sex sexual orientation from Deity?’ Seven hundred fifty replied ‘Yes’ (47.1% of total participants; 49.1% of males responded affirmatively, 41% of females). The next item read: ‘If yes, please briefly describe the experience.’ This generated 802 narratives, 78.8% by males and 21.2% by females.  Those with sufficient content, n=794, were coded. Their primary themes are described, with examples, in Appendix B. The distribution of the 989 total themes (an average of 1.2 per person) is shown in Table 5.

The cumulative total for the five most frequent themes is 63%. These all express a highly positive spiritual experience in which God’s specific love was manifest, His personal interest was felt because He knows about or ‘made’ (is responsible for) the individual’s orientation, and a strong sense of peace, relief, or happiness resulted.

‘As I began to think differently about my orientation and as I began to associate with more people like myself, I stopped asking God to change me and I instead asked if he accepted me as I am. I can remember the stress lifting and feelings of peace come over me. Since then I have started to see myself as a unique child of God who is different from most, but who is known and loved by his Heavenly Father. I am a unique and gifted creation.’

‘I asked if He accepted me as I was: gay. That very instant, I felt such a sense of overpowering love from on high that I was overcome with emotion and almost collapsed. I felt the spirit and the love and the acceptance of God so strongly that it was tangible, like an embrace of a broken child who finally understood. Upon feeling that heavenly acceptance, the relief that washed over me felt like pure joy.… In that moment, I had a divinely inspired epiphany … that I could be my gay self and still be loved and accepted by God.… I didn’t have a reason to hate myself. I didn’t have to be someone who I wasn’t. I didn’t have to hide. I was not alone.’…

One of the most frequent sentiments expressed was to the effect that ‘God made me who I am,’ the notion that God knows about and is broadly responsible for the circumstances under which His children conduct their lives.…” (William S. Bradshaw et al., “The Etiology of Sexual Orientation: Secular and Spiritual Perspectives in an LGBTQ Mormon Sample,” Manuscript submitted for publication, January 2016)


Gustav: My dad did come around.  He had his own spiritual experiences with this.  The turning moment for my dad was a year or two after I came out to him.  He called me at eleven o’clock at night.  I was already in bed, the phone rings, I pick it up, it’s Dad, and he says, “Can you open your scriptures?”  I was like, “Oh, shit!”  So I go grab my scriptures and he says, “I want to read a verse with you.”  We open it to Matthew 19:12.  This is the verse where Jesus says, “Some were born eunuchs from their mothers’ womb, some were made eunuchs by men, and some became eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.”  Dad said, “When Jesus talks about born eunuchs from their mothers’ womb, do you think that he’s talking about homosexuality?”  That was a conclusion that I personally had come to some years earlier, and so I said to him, “As a matter of fact, Dad, I do think that’s what he’s talking about.”  He said, “I think so, too.”  I think that was a pivotal moment for him.

Prince: “Not a curse, but a calling.”

Gustav: Yes.  Dad is pretty much convinced that there is going to be a revelation.  He thinks it’s inevitable.

Prince: What would that revelation say?

Gustav: Before I even try to answer that question, I’ll tell you that I actually prayed about this.  I asked the Lord that question, and I got a very clear answer of, “That’s not for you to know yet.”  Having said that, having prefaced that, I’ll say that I think that there is a place for Guron and me in the Celestial Kingdom as a couple, as a family.  I do have a very strong spiritual sense of that, that our relationship is not intended to be temporary until this life ends and then we can graduate to some more appropriate, heterosexual relationship when presumably the homosexuality has been purged out of us.  This is part of who we are, and there is a place for our relationship there.…

Prince: So get back to the question: What does the Mormon heaven look like, if we get the revelation?

Gustav: I’ve thought about it a lot.  It may sound kind of strange to you.  I think the Godhead, to me, is instructive.  We have a Heavenly Father who we believe has a heavenly wife who is our Heavenly Mother.  And he has a son, Jesus.  And then there is this mysterious, third member of the Godhead who doesn’t have a body, according to our doctrine, and who plays a very specialized role.  Well, I think that in the Celestial Kingdom, gay people are going to have a special role.  It’s not necessarily going to be to procreate and fill worlds with spirit children, but it will be to play very important roles that are required in order for plans of salvation and plans of exaltation to unfold.  So I don’t know if it’s a role like the Holy Spirit, where you have somebody doing something that is very vital to save and exalt people.  Nobody says we are supposed to emulate the Holy Spirit; the person that we are supposed to emulate in this life is Jesus Christ.  But, the Plan of Salvation couldn’t work without the role that the Holy Spirit plays.

Prince: You showed me yours, now I’ll show you mine.  And I say this only partially flippantly: Could a straight God have created such a beautiful world?  Think about it!  It’s part of the DNA.

Gustav: It’s amazing to me how often we are teachers, artists, musicians.

Prince: You give the flavor to the stew of humankind.  Otherwise it would be bland.

(John Gustav-Wrathall, October 17, 2015)

Hansen: One of my other statements about the Proclamation on the Family is this new doctrine that is articulated in it—if we are going to call it a doctrine—

Prince: “Doctrine” is like “rhetoric”—it just means “teaching.”

Hansen: That’s right, and I’d rather not have it canonized.  But it is this new doctrine that gender is an eternal characteristic of our pre-mortal, mortal and post-mortal existences.

Prince: Yes, but think about that: they didn’t think about the other side of that.  To me, there is a huge irony in there.

Hansen: OK, tell me the irony.

Prince: What if gender is eternal and it is biological?  They are setting themselves up there for saying, “Oh, my gosh!  Maybe homosexuality is going to be eternal.”

Hansen: Oh, I see.

Prince: Think about that.

Hansen: Yes.

Prince: They thought that was getting them off the hook, and it may have gotten them onto a bigger hook.

Hansen: A bigger hook, yes.

Prince: I don’t think any of them thought that one through.

Hansen: Probably not.  But my critique on that is that now that gender is an integral, eternal characteristic of our pre-mortal, mortal and post-mortal existence, is that this is a new teaching that goes beyond biology-as-destiny, and that says, “Before we had biology, we had gender destiny.”  I haven’t really carried it out to its logical conclusion, if you are talking about homosexuality.  But that’s an interesting observation.

(Nadine Hansen, October 22, 2013)

Knox: That goes back to my previous statement about the conversations that I know were had at stake meetings and in parking lots of churches.  People said, “Look, I’ve spent a good portion of my time in this organization talking about marriage and how important it is, and how it’s important for everyone and how children need to be supported, and how this is the core of our belief system.  And now you are telling me that it’s an exclusive business.  We’re the same people who learn about our ancestors so we can pray them into heaven—and yet, do I bother to pray for my gay ancestors or not?”  This really raised some deep existential, and also theological questions for people.  It made them think about their faith.  It was no longer a matter of training and recitation, as religion is for most people; it became a matter for them all of faith.  “What do I really believe in?”  That’s just good for a faith organization from time to time.

(Harry Knox, October 27, 2015)

Millie: You ask why the Church is where it is.  I look at the Plan of Salvation, and there is no place in that Plan of Salvation for gay people.

Greg: There is barely any place for singles.  Barely.

Millie: Yes, ministering angels or something.  So I think they have to rewrite the whole basic plan.…

Gary: One of the things that I have seen from Jeff was when he wrote to our daughter Becky about Craig.  He said, “This is for this life only, and in the next world it will all be changed.”  That is really offensive to Craig, our gay son.  He says, “Dad, does that mean all the relationships that I have, and the people I love, are going to be totally different in the next life?  What is that all about?  Am I me, or am I somebody else?  Am I going to be a different person?”  And the General Authorities don’t get it.  They think, “Oh, it’s just for this life, so tough it out.  It’s your cross to bear, and then everything is going to be OK.  In the next life you are going to be straight.”…

Greg: They don’t need to articulate a fully gay-inclusive afterlife theology.  I don’t want them to do that, because that would just create another box farther down the road that they haven’t anticipated yet.  I would prefer to see them step back and say, “There is much that we do not understand,” and then have a here-and-now theology that it loving, inclusive, enabling.

(Gary and Millie Watts, August 8, 2014)