Saturday, September 15, 2012

Resurrection

All right, I've decided that it's official: I'm taking Friday's off, and instead I'll just be doing FFAQ polls. Who wants to write a post on a Friday night anyway? (This is why you're not seeing my response until now. Sorry to freak people out. My sister just wrote me and was like "um, did you die? You didn't post yesterday." I am alive and well, and am posting my response today as my Saturday post.)

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 herehere 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.

63 comments:

  1. Josh, great post. I too have been ruminating on this question. I loved the part where you talked about resurrection meaning you'll feel whole and complete, like nothing is missing. I personally think your homosexuality is part of that perfection, because it enables you to feel and express Christlike feelings of love to those of the same gender, which is something some men have a hard time with.

    But I do think to your appropriately-expressed affinity for men will be added a complete heterosexuality as well. Not that you'll be bisexual in the next life, but as you said, homosexuality has given you quite a few tools that you're sure to be able to take with you.

    Appreciate your insights! What a unique and challenging question

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    1. I knew this discussion would generate some real pearls. Love it! It's wonderful to contemplate the intricateand glorious consequences of our earthly experiences and challenges. Thanks Josh, Lolly, GMP, and other commenters for broadening our vision of what we are and what we can be when we trust our Creator. The poem is total ICING :-).

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  2. I really liked these thoughts. I believe that after this life all mysteries will be made known and the whole homosexual attractions will be a part of that. I would say for right now, I have no idea what that might entail, but I also know that we are loved by our Heavenly Father and that the whole point of this life is so that we can find joy now and in the eternities hereafter. So all questions, worries, difficulties will be addressed and rectified. Thanks for these thoughts.

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  3. I think you left out an important component - or not - but it is something that makes sense to me. You have chosen to be eternally joined to Lolly, a woman, who you love and cherish and want to be with forever - so I would think that for both of you to be "perfected", not having homosexual attractions would be part of your resurrected being in order to have a perfect relationship with her. I like what you said about how all humans will probably have a change in their sexuality as they now know it after the resurrection. I hadn't thought of it the way you put it, but as mortal beings, NONE of our sexuality(ies) are perfect (even with the happily married, heterosexual "Mormon ideal", I'm sure every spouse on the planet has had selfish sexual desires, or said/done something stupid in the bedroom to hurt the other's feelings - or whatever), so of course ALL of us will have some learning and changing to do once the natural man is gone. I think that thought can take any of us down a notch who think WE are perfect and condemning others (such as homosexuals) who we might think are not. Aren't we all just sinners trying to do the best we can and trusting that God will work it all out in the end?

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  4. P.S. - it would be awesome if you could answer some of the other questions throughout the week - especially those that might only require a couple sentences answer (you know, combine them into one big FAQ bonus post). Otherwise, I would imagine that you're going to be getting the same questions week after week until they finally get answered :)

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  5. Very well done, Josh. I had hoped you might answer this question, but I cringed a bit at how personal it was. I'm impressed with your straightforward honesty and frankness. You're doing a great service to your readers by being open to such direct questions, and answering them with the directness they deserve. Thank you for building this branch of God's kingdom. Carry on, brother.

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  6. Thank you, Josh. finally! In this post you have answered clearly and with no room left for doubt, the reason you have chosen to never live out your homosexuality.
    And you are right - people cannot be argued out of their core beliefs. They have to come to that conclusion on their own. And obviously if they live in a way that their main connections, their whole world are people that also hold the same core beliefs, it is almost impossible to ever change those beliefs. it does happen of course - in my case it was like a lightbulb moment when I fully realized and admitted the damage being done to others from so many others who believed what I believed. And wow is it ever a difficult process.
    I was thinking last night of a friend. Her core beliefs are similar to yours except she is a fundamentalist Christian. In her life she has worked with the homeless, raised her sister's four children and now works with the police helping children who are pulled out of abusive homes. Never once has she used her beliefs to intentionally or unintentionally heap shame on anyone. that to me is profound and extremely (sadly enough) unique. Unfortunately, core beliefs can result in true and permanent damage - emotional, psychological - to other people.

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  7. I've got to say that with every post you impress me more and more. You and I are complete opposites in our outward life. I am not affiliated with any religion but am very spiritual and have a person connection with God (which we all do, really - we just exercise that differently). I am a lesbian and have lived my life very happily with a woman for the last 15 years. She is my perfect soulmate and I know that we would be together either as 2 women, 2 men or a man and woman...we were just meant to be. So I understand your connection with your wife, some people are just meant to be. I had guilt and other negative views of my sexuality until my wife walked into my life. My attraction to all other people (male or female) ceased once our love began. That is one of the reasons I feel like I am a "lesbian unicorn". I think we both represent the complexities of sexuality and it's obvious that there is a spectrum.

    Your posts were introduced to me in a fairly negative why by other gays who felt your life was "impossible" or that you were "hiding who you truly are". Well, this unicorn does not agree with that. You embody so many qualities that I wish more of civilization shared. You are accepting and loving of all people knowing that you can never possibly know their struggles and it is not your place to judge. I'm with ya there, brother.

    My favorite caveat was "I also claim the right to allow my thoughts on the subject to evolve over time" (note: I originally paraphrased because I was too lazy to scroll but, for you, I decided to scroll anyway because..I'm a giver). I also try to approach all subjects with this same view. I know what's right for me, not others - so how could I questions their choices? I make choices knowing whats right for me but also know that my views will change and grow as I change and grow.

    I read your posts to my wife and we are both very impressed with the way that you and Lolly are handling this and the way you are communicating your life. You are reaching a wide audience with your approach and this lesbian unicorn thanks you for that. The world is a better place with you in it and we appreciate you.

    Keep up the great work.

    PS - My pet woodchuck is standing by with instructions on how much wood he has to chuck.

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    1. the synchophancy on this blog's comments are kinda scary to be honest. Does anyone ever challenge you, Josh?

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    2. Just because it is a big word does not necessarily mean it is the correct word. Anyway, if you are going to use a word that somewhat approximates what you really want to say, obsequiousness sounds better. Just saying.

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    3. Additionally, I wonder how much anon @9:28 has read of the comments in previous posts, because there certainly are people who challenge Josh!

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    4. actually i did spell it wrong - should be syncophancy, I think. And actually it is the correct word. Obesquiousness isn't what I meant.
      dictionary.com if you want to know what it means.
      There have been a few challengers but then the syncophantic swoop in to try to make it all better.
      Hey, Josh is here to help people know that gay people exist and I'm here to introduce big words.

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    5. Have one more try (hint: too many 'n's).

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    6. Although i think 'supportive' a more apt word.

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    7. thanks for the spelling correction! I have trouble spelling that wor for some reason. And no, I'd still stick with that word. People need heroes - I get it.

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    8. Sycophancy is a self-serving flattery. From the Greek and Latin for trickery or dishonest prosecution. If that is indeed the point you were making, then you have poor exposition of your arguments.

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    9. Thanks for looking it up and copying it on to here - always good for folks to know new words. And no, I stick by the word as a good choice of words. The word is used more commonly now to describe say how fans behave with celebrities or how someone might behave around a person of power. In this case, I use the word more loosely - Josh's story and thus by extension, Josh, serve the purpose for many of continuing to be able to deny gay people the same freedom given to others. No matter how it is thought of, that's what it comes down to for some (not all of course)
      But seriously, again, thanks for looking up the word and copying it here.
      Also, I don't actually have to present a valid argument - although I just did - as so many on here say the most interesting things with either circular arguments as exposition or nothing at all.

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  9. Thanks Josh for this post. I have thought alot lately about this very question. Alma teaches that the same spirit that posses our body in this life will follow us in the next. I have always thought about that in terms of needing a beer or a smoke, but what about my gayness? I also want my blind eye to be whole someday, but what about who I am in my inter most inner do I want that to change?

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  10. Well, put, my friend. Thank you for leading the way in honest, candid living. Too many people are fearful of being their authentic selves, that fine mixture of who we are and who we want to be. I'm glad you are opening up the way for true discussion. And I have to say, I agree wholeheartedly with you on this one.

    p.s. just a thought: maybe just do a poll once a month and use the most requested questions for post material over the whole month, answering the most voted for first (as you did) and then going down the list. Maybe?

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    1. Ditto on the post material suggestions or you will soon find yourself swamped in questions. Sure to complicate your ADD!

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  11. I had never thought of sexual attractions after we are resurrected before. Now that I think about it, I wonder; will there be sexual attraction in the afterlife, be it same-sex or opposite-sex. I’ve been inactive for 18 years, so I am by far an expert on Mormon doctrine, but…
    In responding to the question about to whom the woman who had been married to 7 brothers will be with after the resurrection, Christ says “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”
    I understand that as sexuality being a very earthly attribute. We won't worry about finding a mate. Love, on the other hand, transcends.

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    1. Sexuality may be different in the next life, but I don’t think Christ is saying that sexuality and marriage won’t exist there. In the scripture you cited, he declares that we won’t marry or be given in marriage (i.e. we won’t START marriages) in the resurrection, not that our existing marriages won’t continue there. In other words, all questions of who we’ll stay married to will be sorted out before we resurrect (note that LDS theology holds that we don’t resurrect immediately after we die, partly so that people who don’t marry in mortality will have the chance to seek and find a spouse).

      In the specific case Christ was addressing, where a woman was widowed and remarried six times (see Mark 12:18-25), I believe Mosaic law clearly stated that the first marriage remained in force, and any children from the wife’s subsequent marriages would be considered offspring of the first husband.* When Christ told his questioners “[ye] err, because ye know not the scriptures,” He was saying that Mosaic law had already answered their question about who the woman would be married to in the next life, and things wouldn’t be changed after the people resurrected.


      *I know that part sounds neat and tidy on paper, but in reality families and relationships are much more complicated. If my mom had been widowed before marrying my dad, I’m sure I wouldn’t be thrilled about the idea of calling a stranger “Dad” for eternity. I can only assume that when we get to the next life and come to see things from God’s perspective, we’ll be at peace with the way our profoundly wise and loving Heavenly Father has arranged things (or rearranged them—after all, He cares more about helping His children achieve true and lasting joy than He cares about meticulously following rules; often the two go together, though).

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  12. Josh, (excellent post, btw), You talked about parts of your personality that you attribute to being gay. Don't you think that maybe those things are part of YOU, sexuality aside, and that your acceptance of being gay gave you the ability to act on, cultivate and express those attributes?

    I have often thought about how society / culture allows some to express certain attributes and pressures others to deny them. Traits that are seen as feminine or homosexual would perhaps not necessarily be either, were it not for social labeling and pressure. Just thoughts.

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    1. I think this is an excellent point!

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    2. My thoughts exactly. Josh, excellent post, but I was just slightly bothered by the stereotype. Being very involved in the fine arts, I've known my share of both straight and gay musicians, artists, actors... And I would hope that at some point society can move past those stereotypes (along with the all-straight-men-are-insensitive-clods one).

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    3. I tend to agree with Joy and Elizabeth. I have two male friends--one is a furniture designer, the other a hair stylist--and both are fantastic in their chosen careers. They've both mentioned how the gay men in their profession have a hard time believing they're not really gay, believing that a straight man could do hair or decorate a house without any irony at all! And yet they do. Chalk it up to families that supported their interests, a healthy dose of self-confidence or the ability to embrace non-conformity, but it works for them. I also work in the performing arts and I know that straight people can be just as successful as their gay counterparts. I guess my conclusion is that there would be a greater fluidity of interests among all people if we weren't socialized to think of careers/hobbies/activities as gendered. So maybe it's all semantics, but perhaps you would have been as talented and skillful as a gay or a straight man, but perhaps your current sexual orientation gave you the courage to pursue and embrace those things in a way your straight self would not.

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  13. Thanks for your comments on this topic. I think about the resurrection a lot (1-because I lost my mom about 6 years ago, and I have to wait until then to see her, and 2-I have a bad back... and I can't wait to have everything put back in the place it belongs and recall what it is like to not have back pain). I love that you claimed the right to not really know the answers, and to evolve. I think most {normal} people would claim those same rights. I've wondered about the gay thing, and I've also wondered about the idea that God will grants us our desires, "whether it be unto death or unto life" (Alma 29:4)--meaning salvation or destruction. I have wondered if God would allow people to keep their sexual orientation if that is what they desired. But then I have considered what does "perfection" mean--and is it subjective or completely objective??? I would suppose that if perfection were subjective, then God would allow people to keep or get rid of their sexual orientation based on whether or not they wanted to keep it, or give it up for heterosexuality. But if it were objective, I would think that it would be perfected by God's standards and not our own. I can't pretend to know Him fully and completely, and I'm sure there's a reason we don't 100% know the answer to this question now.

    We understand sexuality on a very basic level, in my opinion. Much like you said, I think that sexuality in the next life is something that we can't even begin to understand here. If we are perfected, I imagine all other things will be perfected also. How or when, I have no idea, but I believe that what little I know about intimacy now as a mortal (I *am* happily married) will only exist exponentially in awesomeness when the Resurrection happens. Of course--this is all just my own speculation.

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    1. Sorry to interject - but if you live on Utah, please go see dr Corey frogley at integrated wellness in bountiful ! He saved my neck. - literally ! ;) he will help you with your back ;) ok , I'm done

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    2. Haha. Thanks. I don't live in UT. I can't tell you how many physical therapists have worked with me, and I get to a certain point and it just doesn't get much better so they discharge me. Its sort of annoying, but I just deal with it :P

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  14. I like to think that it won't much matter either way. I used to be so caught up in who I am (like all the things that make me unique and different) that I kind of fought against some good things, because I was worried about them making me less who I am and less different. Silly. Now, I realize that whoever I am, I've already been for eternity, so I don't need to worry too much about that. This life is such a short part in comparison, that when I'm resurrected, I imagine it will feel like coming home and finally feeling fully comfortable with myself.

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  15. I'm glad you are such an amazing writer because this blog talks about some very in depth topics and through your abilities you are able to convey exactly what you mean so beautifully.

    That is one thing I love about the gospel, that some things we will not know completely until the next life. That we don't have to have all the answers right this moment, and that is what this life is for; finding answers through time. Even then there will be so many questions answered in the next life.

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  16. Thank you so much for being vulnerable and authentic and helping so many who follow.

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  17. When I hear the word "perfect" I usually think of flawless. But the word, when used in scripture, is often closer to "whole" or "complete." So when it is said that we will be resurrected in a perfect form, I like to think of it as complete - nothing missing, not even a hair of the head. When I consider my own attractions, they usually are formed by my hormones based on very limited sensory stimuli. I expect that after the resurrection, when our physical forms are complete, our interactions will also be more complete, and that it will fundamentally alter the way in which I feel attraction to others. It won't change my core self, so to speak, but it will change my perspective and the way in which I interact with others. So I'm not sure my gayness will translate very well in the resurrection.

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  18. I do love the idea that we will be complete and whole. I look forward to that. I dont pretend to know exactly how things will be on the other side of eternity but i have had a near death experience and it was inspiring and loving. Im in no rush to go back but it will be great to be home. Everyone is on the own perfect path and its inspiring to see that you have the courage to live yours.

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  19. ok first of all, hi I'm Belky nice to meet you. I've been reading your blog since the "coming out post"
    I just realized you served in Venezuela,if it isn't too much to ask. When where?!!!
    I am from Santa Teresa del Tuy and have been a member since 1999

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  20. Wow, I really enjoyed your post! I have a question regarding your description of resurrection. You mention sexuality in the resurrected self, so do you think that after this life sexual tendencies will still exist? Is sexuality a purely human characteristic or something that carries into the next life/body/world?

    As an Interfaith person/believer (there's really no specific name) I always thought that after this life things such as sexuality and emotions such as anger and jealousy and such were relinquished in favor of more spiritually enlightened emotions and tendencies. So because sex can be both beautifully spiritual and dangerous depending on the situation, what place do you think it has after this life?

    I don't know much (anything) about Mormon teachings, so my apologies if I come across as a little ignorant or clueless.

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    1. Our church teaches that our marriage and our families will exist in the eternities along with the potential to increase. I understand that to mean that an intimate marital relationship will continue albeit in a celestial state. The implications of that, I don'tknow. (I think sex with my husband is pretty stellar already ;o) )

      I wouldn't group sexuality with the emotions you cite. I certainly intend to be shot of anger and jealousy and negative feelings like that, but now you are all making me think about it more deeply, I wonder how positive can exist without negative. Khalil Gibran, and C S Lewis, and the Book of Mormon all teach that only because of sadness can we experience joy and vice versa. Heavenly Father must feel sadness sometimes at our exploits so I guess we will too. I guess eternal life in a celestial place does not mean perpetual bliss. Probably a good thing. Might get boring.

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  21. Nicole,
    There's no exact teaching about what will happen to our sexuality or all of our emotions. It is stated in our scripture (paraphrasing Alma 41:5, you can look it up on LDS.org if you're curious) that our desire for good or evil will be resurrected with us. How that occurs and what it entirely entails isn't spelled out. But who we've fundamentally become in this life (whether good or bad) won't necessarily change.

    As for sexuality, who knows. I personally believe it will come with us. The first sentences in a pamphlet given to our teens states "Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred." So considering its supposed to be something sacred and God given I figure something like it will exist after this life. Just because it has been misused and degraded and used even as a weapon does not alter its initial intent and nature. I also assume that just as none of us are physically perfected here and now nor do we have any idea what that feels like, the nature of sexuality will also be perfected.

    Just my random thoughts

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  22. hahahah! "pimp out your blog"... best line ever.
    loving the Q&A fridays :)

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  23. Jesus is so tall and white in that picture. Even if he did swing by America, he wasn't tall and white. Picture more short and semetic looking.

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    1. Actually, think about how some of the Native Americans thought the Europeans were gods when they came because Quetzacoatl was white and bearded - like the Europeans. They believed Quetzacoatl had been with them, and promised to return, just like Mormons believe that the Savior visited the Americas and promised to return.

      Certainly it would make sense that during His life He was of a darker skin, but this particular picture is of Him after he has died, and we (Mormons) are generally of the understanding that Heavenly beings practically exude light from themselves when present on the mortal plain. (See just about any description of angels visiting in the Book of Mormon or Doctrine & Covenants, particularly Joseph Smith's First Vision.) http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,104-1-3-4,00.html

      So I guess my point is not that He definitely has lighter skin, but that the artists rendering was certainly trying to portray his Heavenliness with the light (like we sometimes see a literal halo in paintings to show the divinity of Christ.)

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    2. Is light skin associated with greater holiness? Is it the idea that the darker you are, the less holy you are?
      Interesting if so.
      Natives may have thought that at first but once the Europeans slaughtered them, they stopped thinking that. Brutal but true.
      The whole skin tone thing seems to be very important in the Mormon Church. Also, the picture above definitely shows Jesus as being Caucasian. In heaven then, do all dark skinned people become white? These are genuine questions.

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    3. I feel that you ignored my point that the lightness of Christ's skin in this picture is possibly figurative of his divinity. Not that "light skin" indicates divinity, but "light" like that of the sun often indicates divinity (and darkness and shadows are often associated with the devil), and thus if you wanted to imply that someone was divine, you might make their skin a lighter shade - just as you would if you were drawing someone in the sunlight compared to that same someone in shadows.

      That being said, yes, there is an association of dark skin being a curse for people being wicked, but it is not ALWAYS that way. (Please read this all the way through if you read it.) For example, the Book of Mormon says in 2 Nephi 5:21-23

      21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

      22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

      23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

      Above, we see that just as the Jews were instructed not to marry the unbelievers, God made a physical difference between two groups of people in the Book of Mormon, so that the righteous would not marry the unbelievers and rick their children being taught wrong/evil traditions.

      HOWEVER, later in the book, we see that God knows people can change, and He gives other instructions: Jacob 3:9

      9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.

      Essentially it is pointing out that we are ALL sinners, and that those with dark skins have that because they are descendants of a people who were cursed, but they are not responsible for the sins of their fathers, and should be looked at for their own worth. And that a person should worry about their own sins (filthiness) instead of the sins of others.

      Soooooo - in THIS day and time, skin color is basically a moot point. It has no indication of a person's inner holiness or lack thereof.

      But my point about the figurative light of a person is still intact, I think. The Motif of Light=Good and Dark=Evil is as old as time itself, and lends itself to people using light (or lighter shades, in the case of art) symbolically.

      Anyone else care to explain this? I'm not much of a scriptural scholar and I feel like I'm missing an important piece of doctrine that might explain this better.

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    4. Oh, as for the "in heaven" part, there really is so much that we just don't know. I don't believe there is a firm answer to that question, and I wouldn't feel comfortable guessing. We'll probably not know until it happens, because it's so irrelevant compared to teaching people who Jesus Christ is, and what His Atonement does for us and our loved ones, and what He asks of us in return.

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    5. "That being said, yes, there is an association of dark skin being a curse for people being wicked, but it is not ALWAYS that way.'
      "Essentially it is pointing out that we are ALL sinners, and that those with dark skins have that because they are descendants of a people who were cursed, but they are not responsible for the sins of their fathers, and should be looked at for their own worth."
      People have dark skin because their ancestors were cursed? Dark skin is sometimes, but not always, a curse for being wicked.
      Got it.

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    6. uh, yeah, the whole dark skin as cursed but not anymore thing - I have to tell you because you don't seem to see it seeing as you were quoting all of those book of mormon quotes and not seeing an issue with it - that is all really racist and really offensive. Well,now, you may say, God says the filthiness is from the black ancestors - yeah, still incredibly racist.
      Now there are African American Mormons but there are also black skinheads - meaning that people sometimes participate in their own oppression. The history is there - it can't be, and no pun intended,whitewashed away. It doesn't matter if every religion ever invented is also racist - the concept of black people having dark skin because of a curse upon their ancestor makes my skin crawl. Mormonism appears from the outside to be this beautiful, kind religion. But look deeper and it's a mess of racism and homophobia. The nicest people can and do believe the most horrific things.
      As for a glorious white light making skin look white bizarre argument - yes I know you mean the glory of God light and not just light light - does not happen. Example - I have olive skin and when I'm in the bright sun, my skin looks darker. have you seen black people in the bright bright bright sun - they still look black, y'all, even more so.
      Before I knew anything about Mormonism, it seeme like a cozy, homespun religion. the more I looked into it - the more horrific it got.

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  24. Way to tackle a hard issue with delicacy and thoughtfulness. And as a side note, thank you for showing, both implicitly and explicitly, how to share beliefs that may not be "church doctrine" or even majority opinion. Thanks for teaching us how to be tactful and respectful. You write like a BOSS!

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  25. Josh, I really liked your insights about resurrection. Something that I've been pondering about since reading your Q&A on it is the idea of "spousosexuality" (a word my husband came up with to define my idea). When we are resurrected and hopefully attain celestial glory, we will be completely pure and without sin or temptation. Because our doctrine of eternal life centers around the family, I imagine that everyone in heaven will be "spousosexual". I don't really see homosexuality or heterosexuality really existing because your spouse, who you are eternally sealed to, will be the only focus of your attractions. For homosexuals and heterosexuals alike, the attraction or desire for anyone other than your spouse would be entirely gone. The way I envision it, I wouldn't even feel like being heterosexual would be apart of my identity anymore because my husband would be the sole entity of all feelings of sexual desire or attraction. I just feel like in the eternal scheme of things, we won't have to deal with the temptations or attractions that are shoved in our faces here in our moral life, hetero or homosexual. I hope that makes sense.

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    1. Ha! "Spousosexual," I love it! I totally get what you're saying. :D

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  26. I just found your blog. I think you're brave. I like that. I'm a blogger, too, and I talk about sexuality and faith quite a bit, as well. Being sexually abused as a child changed things for me. I think it's a big issue, sexuality, and there is a lot of misinformation out there and people feel embarrassed to talk about it, including me, so those who are looking for help don't have as many resources as they should have. I get a bit of criticism here and there about what I write, and it hurts more than it should, so I'm glad I found your blog because it gives me courage to keep writing. Thanks. Both of you. You're doing something good here.

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  27. What it boils down to is this really - Josh, what you are expressing is that gay families - gay couples, gay couples with children (and there are many of those) gay couples with grandchildren, etc, that those families are wrong. And not only are they wrong but they are also wrong in God's eyes. That the creator of the universe finds those families to be living in sin.
    Imagine children your kids' ages who happen to have two mommies or two daddies. Their family is just like yours - loving, supportive, etc. Your ultimate message to those children is that their parents are wrong in God's eyes. Imagine if one of your children was told that about you and Lolly. Imagine if your children were told that the love you and Lolly have for each other is wrong.
    So, no, I don't find what you are doing noble or a sacrifice for the greater good.
    This has nothing at all to do with how your message is used or what religion you believe in or any of that. It has to do with the message your story sends to gay families - it tells them that they are wrong and evil. That is your message in a nutshell, is it not? Children should never have to grow up with that kind of message. Josh, gay families can be as loving as your family. Your message serves to negate these families. Please,Josh, people are going to jump all over my comment. I ask that you really really think about what I am saying. There is no nobility or bravery in what you are choosing to do here.

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  28. Josh -

    Thank you for your honesty and courage. I so admire you for being who you are and speaking from your heart; it is a rare person who is willing to be so vulnerable and true to themselves. You are an inspiration.

    One of the questions I have - and anyone is free to answer! - is why the LDS church does not condone homosexual relationships. I am Episcopalian, and my church is open to and supportive to all marriages. I am afraid I do not understand the conflict.

    Please do not regard my ignorance as insulting! I only wish to understand your beliefs and your faith. Many of my friends are Mormon, and they have been unable to explain it in a way that I can understand - so I'm hoping that you might be able to give me some insight!

    Thank you so much!

    Abby

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    1. http://mormon.org/faq/stand-on-homosexuality

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  29. well, to put it simply we believe that families are for eternity and that woman will have spirit babies for eternity. And to ensure that, we need female and male couples. Also, there are passages in the Bible that show that God does not condone homosexuality.
    We believe that people can be gay as long as they don't live the gay lifestyle.
    and just for myself personally, you can see that nature intended sex only between a man and a woman - the plug and the electric cord type thing.

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  30. Recently, our white Camry bit the dust and we had to let her go. I took her down to the junk yard and signed the title over. Ashley compared it to "losing a pet." As I watched the forklift carry her off to the piles of trash behind the fence, I noticed the bumper and how it was wrinkled. Noticing the tint, I sort of chuckled at how many times officers tried to "get" me for the tint being too dark - in Washington, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon and Utah. And that the e-brake hadn't worked since like the first time Ashley drove the car because she drove all day with the e-brake on. The darned front handle broke twice and was super irritating to replace; I never got the door put together quite right and there was a bit more exterior noise than previously. I was sort of relieved, because since the vehicle was broken in to (the first time), the tape and CD player were sort of fickle.

    But she had been a good ride. I swelled a bit with pride because she was on her third timing belt. I drove her well over 200,000 miles and she was certainly worse for the wear. This experience wasn't very emotional for me, though I did leave the junk yard thinking that nobody will know her story. She'll be cannibalized for the good glass, straight doors, solid transmission, interior, A/C pump, power steering motor, etc. And then, one day, she'll be crushed into a cube of steel to be smelted. Shortly after, all the records at the DMV will be erased, and her existence will completely be subject to question.

    I've thought about the Resurrection quite a bit, and I like where you've landed. I hope you don't do the political sound byte thing and over-apply this analogy to the point of missing what I'm saying (I'm sure you won't - you've demonstrated your patience with me before). It is weird, but I have wondered about scars and other "imperfections." I, for one (right now anyway), think I'd like to keep the scar on my elbow from the Mesa High game, the cut in my throat and temples from when I broke my neck, the weird shape of my left middle finger because I cut off the tip at my OA ordeal (Boy Scout thing), my "trick" ankle because I broke it pole vaulting at Purdue, the scars on both my ankles from breaking my leg on my mission, etc. Every one of these takes me back to an experience which identifies an era of my life, complete with huge personal and spiritual growth. It is the evidence of me. At the very least, the Savior kept His, so there is precedent. I will, however, be happy to get 20/20 vision. I am tired of glasses.

    Exercising our agency is what earth is all about. Gaining a body is so clutch to the whole Plan of Salvation that I want to believe that since we need to take as much from this life as we can, we may have options and choices at the Resurrection. I don't have any scriptural or over-the-pulpit comments to admit as evidence for this; just my own ramblings and musings. As you've mentioned in other places, few things are black-and-white. I am increasingly convinced that Resurrection isn't a factory assembly line, one-size-fits-all ordinance. Our agency and the body to exercise that agency are the greatest gifts from our Father in Heaven. The Book of Mormon teaches us to "remember" time and again. We take upon us covenants with the express intention to remember those covenants. Baptism. Confirmation. The Priesthood. Temple ordinances. Earth life too was a covenant we made - those who kept their first estate. Our bodies, like the garment here on earth, are physical reminders of that covenant in the eternities.

    The Lord compels no man to do anything. I guess what I'm saying is that I wouldn't be surprised if that is a choice you (everybody) will have come that day.

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  31. Again, what you're talking about isn't a "scar" or an "imperfection," so the analogy isn't 1-to-1. You are talking about what makes you who you are. I don't know how or if opting in to keep my scars and other mortal frailties has anything to do with "how" you will be resurrected. Or maybe I want to feel tough. It is all so hazy right now...

    Also, I'm glad that Anonymous "put it simply" so that I could understand.

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