So, in the future, I'll probably cut off the FFAQ votes at midnight on Friday, but I've gotta say, I thought you guys made the poll really excellent, and I absolutely loved the questions. While the resurrection question won, it won by literally one vote against the next question, and another question had only two fewer. So competition was vigorous. Also, I'm happy to report that nobody cheated from what I can tell! (I can see if someone's IP address has voted for the same question twice.) So thanks for that. I think I'm really going to enjoy doing this every week, and I hope you enjoy it too.
All right, on to the winning question (btw, if you ask a winning question and have a blog, I'll obviously pimp it out, but this question came from an anonymous user):
Josh, as Latter-Day Saints, we believe in a resurrection where our bodies are restored to perfection. If I can ask what may be a really personal/controversial question...what is your idea of what that perfected state would be for you? If you could, would you simplify your life and simply want to "become" straight? Or do you think that being gay is a defining part of who you are, and that you are already perfected with that trait? I think it's an important question for our church- what is the end goal for people like you? For LGBT Mormons, what does heaven and perfection look like, what are they hoping for? Do you think that your answer differs from others in the community?
Excellent question, my friend.
I'll jump in with some caveats. First, this question and answer is based on the Mormon doctrine of resurrection and afterlife. For more information about that, look here, here and here. Second, I'm about to share my own personal, spiritual, opinions. I am not trying to foist this opinion on anyone else. I'm simply answering, honestly, a question that was voted on in a poll. Third, if your opinion differs from mine, I completely respect that, and I'm not going to challenge you or argue with you about it. Fourth, I claim the right to not really know the answers, and to have fluidity of thought. So, while I am stating something that I believe to be true now, I also claim the right to allow my thoughts on the subject to evolve over time.
This is where I'm at with this subject at the moment:
For me, a perfected state as a resurrected being would include no longer being gay.
I want to clarify from the outset that my life wouldn't be my life if I weren't gay, and there are many incredible and important things that being gay has resulted in for me in this life. Many of my talents and interests and abilities seem to correlate in some way with my homosexuality, and I treasure those components of who I am.
So, what of those components of who I am? What will happen to them if in the next life, a perfect body means a body that is attracted to women instead of men?
I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. My suspicion is that the important things that the gay portion of my identity has given me will be taken with me into the next life. I'm not sure how it will work. But ultimately, I believe that in that state I will feel complete and whole, and that there are probably details regarding resurrection that will make it feel transcendent in such a way that any concerns I have will probably all be moot and I'll be like "Whoa, okay, I see how this works now, and--coool--I love my new, improved, non-wrinkled, non-blind-eye, perfectly sexualized self."
I really do love who I am, and feel that major parts of who I am are directly correlated with being homosexual. That includes stereotypical things like my aptitude and ease with musical and verbal expression, my interest in people and ability to empathize and relate to other humans, and my uncanny ability to notice when people, especially women, have gotten a good haircut (really, I have no idea why that is part of my repertoire when we've established many times that I no style sense, but it is). It also includes more complex things things like the fact that being part of two groups that appear mutually exclusive (gay and Mormon) my entire life has allowed me, and sometimes forced me, to free myself from over-simplified black and white paradigms. Or like the fact that bullying and persecution in younger years has given me added perspective as I do therapy, as well as strength and stamina as I confront the world around me as an adult. So, in a lot of ways I feel as though I have come to truly cherish the ways my homosexuality has enhanced, enriched and expanded who I am. I am a deeper, better, more nuanced person because I'm gay. I have seen Christ's Atonement work in my life in miraculous ways because of it. I have truly come to love that part of who I am, although it has been challenging in many, many ways.
One thing I am spiritually very sure of is that the resurrection will happen. It's probably one of the more profound spiritual witnesses of truth I've ever experienced. Riding a bus in a dusty town in Venezuela, reading about Christ, I had a moment of transcendence--a moment where I knew with perfect, spine-tingling clarity that Jesus Christ actually had revivified, eaten honey comb, walked with his comrades. That he was alive, embodied, in that very moment, and that one day I too would be resurrected.
Photo attribution: here
I am positive that no matter what, when we are resurrected, we will be happy with what has happened. We will feel whole and we will feel good. Also, I suspect that all people will have a change in their sexual impulses once resurrected, and I think it's perfectly possible that sexuality in a resurrected state is something that we can't even conceptualize.
The bottom line is that this is a mystery and I don't know the answer. And I'm okay with not knowing all the answers. (Cognitive dissonance is something I tolerate very well due, in large part, to growing up as a gay Mormon, and thus the conversation comes full circle.) I know God loves us. I know He wants us to be happy. I don't believe I'll spend eternity feeling sexual attraction to something I'll never ever ever ever EVER have. I don't believe that the God I know, who has tenderly guided my steps throughout my life and whose love for me feels very real and very personal, would ever lead me down a path that ended in that way.
All right, there it is folks. Thanks so much for the excellent question.
Also, I haven't decided what I'll do with questions that were first and second place runners up. I've thought about using them for future posts, or I might just leave them to be resubmitted for future weeks.
Only time will tell. As well as my desperation for post material.
Oh, I wanted to close this one out with one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets Gerard Manley Hopkins (who, incidentally, was a gay closeted Jesuit priest who never acted out on his homosexuality). This beast is a brilliantly executed double Petrarchan sonnet with language that arrests me every time I read it. Because Hopkins wrote sonnets LIKE A BOSS.
That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection
|CLOUD-PUFFBALL, torn tufts, tossed pillows ' flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-|
|built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs ' they throng; they glitter in marches.|
|Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, ' wherever an elm arches,|
|Shivelights and shadowtackle in long ' lashes lace, lance, and pair.|
|Delightfully the bright wind boisterous ' ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare||5|
|Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches|
|Squandering ooze to squeezed ' dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches|
|Squadroned masks and manmarks ' treadmire toil there|
|Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, ' nature’s bonfire burns on.|
|But quench her bonniest, dearest ' to her, her clearest-selvèd spark||10|
|Man, how fast his firedint, ' his mark on mind, is gone!|
|Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark|
|Drowned. O pity and indig ' nation! Manshape, that shone|
|Sheer off, disseveral, a star, ' death blots black out; nor mark|
|Is any of him at all so stark||15|
|But vastness blurs and time ' beats level. Enough! the Resurrection,|
|A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, ' joyless days, dejection.|
|Across my foundering deck shone|
|A beacon, an eternal beam. ' Flesh fade, and mortal trash|
|Fall to the residuary worm; ' world’s wildfire, leave but ash:||20|
|In a flash, at a trumpet crash,|
|I am all at once what Christ is, ' since he was what I am, and|
|This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ' patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,|
|Is immortal diamond.|
As I said. LIKE A BOSS.
What about you? Do you have any thoughts on the afterlife and resurrection? Feel free to share your own opinions, but please remember to be respectful and kind as people share their deeply held core beliefs. Remember also that it's totally okay to have completely different opinions and beliefs than other people! Our job here is to learn and share and love one another despite our differences, not to correct and condemn. Attacks on people's personal views are something that will never serve to persuade another human of anything. Ever.
All right. To bed I go so I can be rested for Stake Conference tomorrow. Over and out.