Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Marriage and the Plan of Salvation
I recently read an article written by a gay man who actually said that "Jesus had nothing to say about sexual behavior of any kind." He went on to say that Jesus taught love for one another, which is true, but he didn't teach us to love sin. He didn't teach us that sinful behavior is okay as long as it is done in the name of love.
I guess if people want to be literal, then no, in the New Testament, Jesus himself did not say anything specific about homosexuality. However, his prophets and apostles, who taught what Jesus wanted them to teach, did speak about it. Recently, I saw an infographic going around Facebook. Click over to the infographic and read it. What gets me is how they compare homosexuality in the Old Testament with eating shellfish, pork and wearing clothes woven with different fabrics. Now, I'm not an Old Testament expert, but I can differentiate between what are God's never-changing laws and what was cultural Jewish law of the time period. They are not the same thing. God's law never changes. Cultural laws that reflect the time period did and do change. I especially love the part on the graphic that says, "Have fun living your sexist, chauvinistic, xenophobic lifestyle. The rest of culture will advance forward without you." I don't understand why these people think that by accepting homosexuality and allowing same-sex marriages, culture is "advancing". How does that make it advance?
It is clear in scripture that homosexuality is sinful, as are all other types of sexual sin. These days, though, many people do not feel that sex outside of marriage is sinful as long as you are in a "committed" relationship or that you are "old enough" to make that choice. The scriptures never say those things and certainly don't advocate any type of sexual relationship outside of marriage.
Let's take a look at marriage, then. According the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, "Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan." It also states, "God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." Can this be backed up by scripture? In 1 Corinthians 7:13, Paul says "Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." Also, Doctrine and Covenants 49:15 says that "marriage is ordained of God."
Now that we've established a definition for marriage according to scripture and modern revelation, we should discuss the Plan of Salvation. According to LDS theology, the Plan of Salvation is God's great plan of happiness. In this plan, we lived in a premortal existence before coming to Earth. When we are born, our spirits are given a physical body. Our Earth life is a test of faith. The plan includes the Savior's great redeeming sacrifice--his suffering for our sins and dying on the cross. This part of the plan satisfied God's requirement for justice and also allowed mercy. Our sins were paid for. But we have to come unto Christ and follow Him in order to accept this sacrifice. This includes faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end by living a life full of love and service. Then, we die. At death, our spirits are separated from our physical bodies and go to the Spirit World, which is divided into Spirit Prison and Paradise. One huge part of the plan is that all will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accept it, whether that be in our Earthly life or in the Spirit World. After all have heard the Gospel and either accept or reject it, there will be a resurrection and then great day of judgment. At the resurrection, our spirits and our physical bodies, now perfected, will be reunited to live forever. The judgment is when we are judged for how we lived our lives and whether or not we accepted Christ's sacrifice. At that time, we will be separated into three kingdoms: Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial. The highest kingdom, the Celestial, will only be for those who accepted Jesus Christ and all of the priesthood ordinances done and lived worthy lives. The Terrestrial Kingdom will be for those who lived good lives, many who accepted Christ even, but didn't have the saving ordinances done (baptism by those in authority being the first of those ordinances). The Telestial Kingdom will be for most everyone else, people who didn't accept Christ, people who lived immoral lives, people who murdered and thieved and never repented and changed. The last place people will be sent is Outer Darkness. Only the very worst will be sent there, the Sons of Perdition.
I realize that is a brief explanation of the Plan of Salvation, which is many Sunday School lessons for each part of the plan. However, you can see from that plan that if we don't follow it, we won't end up in a place where we will experience eternal joy and happiness. Following the commandments of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ lead to happiness, both in this life and the next. As the scripture in the Book of Mormon says, "Wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10).
Now, many people argue that homosexuality is not a sin. In and of itself, it is not. However, when people act upon homosexual feelings and choose to express their love in that way, therein is where the sin lies. So many people seem to misunderstand the LDS Church's doctrine regarding this issue. Yes, people may have the tendency, the temptation, the trial of homosexual feelings. I don't pretend to know why Heavenly Father would allow people to have such a struggle. But I also don't pretend to know why he allows some people to have cancer or get into terrible debilitating car accidents. There are many struggles we face in our Earthly life. Some of them are perhaps merely the result of having a physical, carnal body. Even heterosexual men and women in the Church are taught to restrain from certain physical affections before marriage, and even to control our very thoughts outside of marriage in that area. It seems unfair to some, both in and out of the LDS Church, that homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to marry and finally be able to express those feelings. However, if you look at marriage in light of God's plan of happiness, gender as "an essential characteristic" (Family Proclamation) of who we are and how that all fits into the eternal plan, it is more unfair to allow them to marry in this life because they won't be able to be with that partner in the life hereafter. Others say it's unfair to expect them to remain celibate throughout their mortal life, but the Gospel teaches that anyone who never marries should remain celibate. Why would the Church, which teaches love and eternal happiness, want to condemn someone's eternal state of being by allowing them temporary pleasure in this Earthly life, which we know to be merely equivalent to the "blink of an eye?" It just doesn't make sense.
This quote has been going around the Internet for some time: "Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate." -Rick Warren
You can still be compassionate and loving toward those who struggle with same-sex attraction without changing your convictions about traditional marriage. Not supporting same-sex marriage does not mean you hate your gay brothers and sisters or that you want to restrict their rights. It means that you believe wholly in traditional marriage and that same-sex marriage does not have a place in God's plan of happiness. You can still love them and treat them kindly and compassionately, as you should. Definitely love your brothers and sisters, your fellow men, and treat them kindly. That is something all can do.