Monday, October 1, 2007

Eternal Happiness

One of the reasons I love Mormonism is the spiritual blessings it gives to it's members. I love the Temple and the blessings bestowed in the Temple. I love the revelations and the concept of divine communication with God. I love living Prophets. I love Joseph Smith. The inspired man declared, "As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints" (D&C 121:33). God has indeed poured down knowledge from heaven upon the Latter-day Saints, but he's not done pouring. I believe that God will yet reveal important things pertaining to the eternal salvation and happiness of homosexual Latter-day Saints. In the mean time we need to make use with what we have. As we examine what God has already revealed generally about eternal salvation and eternal happiness, we can better understand what we need to do to experience these blessings.

As far as I'm concerned, Joseph Smith received one of the most significant revelations on Eternal Life in the history of this world. He saw in vision things that had never before been seen, including degrees of glory within Heaven. The promise made to him at the beginning of the vision applies to all of us.
"I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me . . . And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom . . . even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations . . . yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man" (D&C 75:5-10).
For ages to come the Lord will continue to reveal to His servants great things pertaining to His kingdom that have never before been revealed.

Included in that beautiful vision, the Prophet saw the Celestial Kingdom, the ultimate hope of all Latter-day Saints. Both the requirements for this Kingdom and the blessings of that Kingdom are clearly identified.
"They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized . . . and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power; And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, . . .They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things— . . . Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God— Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. . . These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever. . . These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood. These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical" (D&C 76:50-70).
I think the excerpt speaks for itself, but I will emphasize that marriage is not a requirement for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom. Also, all members of the Kingdom are considered gods, the sons of God, and have all things in the presence of God forever. As far as I am concerned, that is eternal happiness.

Where does marriage fit into eternal life, then? Further revelation was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord explained, "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase" (D&C 121:1-3). Within the Celestial Kingdom-- within eternal happiness, there are three degrees. The difference between the highest degree and the other two is that only in the highest degree is there "an increase." What is an increase? I believe that this refers to eternal posterity. To have children in the eternities, it takes a man and a wife. The same as here. This is not a surprise. I find it interesting that it is only one out of three parts of the Celestial Kingdom that will have an increase. Not necessarily 33% of celestial people, but there are two other levels within eternal happiness that don't have an increase.

In Joseph Smith's most controversial revelation, this notion of increase is developed more.
Those who do not marry an eternal companion in the Temple but who are married outside of the Temple "are not bound by any law [of marriage] when they are out of the world. Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law [of marriage]; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever" (D&C 132:15-17, emphasis added). (Though this is spoken to those who are married outside of the Temple, it is the closest thing I can find pertaining to single saints and so I will assume that the description applies to those who never marry).
In this description a different definition of "god" is used to denote a difference between a man and a woman united for eternity and a single person. Here the word "god" does not denote one of "the sons of God [of which] all things are theirs" as it did in section 76. Instead the word "god" in section 132 denotes those that "have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them" (D&C 132:20). In reference to Eternal Marriage, the blessings of godhood are that they continue (ie. increase- posterity) and that they have all power (including the procreative power, again, an eternal increase). "[T]hey shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever" (D&C 132:19).

In light of all that has currently been revealed, those who do not marry but are faithful to baptismal and Temple covenants, including homosexuals who choose not to marry, enter the Celestial Kingdom as gods in their saved condition, but do not have continuing seed or the power to procreate. They do have, however, eternal happiness. Those who do marry in the Temple pass by these gods and go on to create and inherit eternal posterity and creative power. They have an added happiness- that of posterity- that the others will never experience.

Understanding this helps me to make decisions and to feel like I have a part in the Plan of Salvation. At this stage in my life, eternal marriage sounds more like eternal hell. To be sealed to a woman would not be happiness for me- at least not now. And you know what? I'm ok with that. I'm ok with divine Angelic status. I think I would love being an Angel- I would find a lot of fulfillment as an Angel. Being single doesn't exclude me from the blessings of divinity promised by the Church. I can still inherit eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom and be happy forever. And who knows, maybe a revelation that allows two men to be sealed together- something that has never before been revealed- will one day be poured down from Heaven.


Abelard Enigma said...

those who do not marry but are faithful to baptismal and Temple covenants, including homosexuals who choose not to marry, enter the Celestial Kingdom as gods in their saved condition, but do not have continuing seed or the power to procreate.

In his latest talk Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction in the October 2007 Ensign, Elder Holland said

God’s richest blessings will eventually be available to all of His children if they are clean and faithful.

Wouldn't his richest blessings include the power of procreation? We only understand procreation in the mortal sense. Yet, even here on this mortal earth there are species which can change gender at will, or are asexual and can procreate without a mate. Why are we so quick to limit God in procreation?

I'm not saying this is how I personally believe. I merely intend to point out that there a many many things we do not understand. We should not apply artificial limits to our eternal progression based on our limited mortal understanding.

SSA said...

"God’s richest blessings will eventually be available to all of His children if they are clean and faithful."

I was explaining to a good Jewish friend of mine the LDS concept of the afterlife last week. I explained to her that having an eternal spouse was so central to LDS exaltation that many believe that those who never married through no fault of their own will be given a spouse in the afterlife. She asked me where these spouses came from, and I took some imaginative license and explained that maybe some faithful woman in the 1600's died too young to marry. Well, if I was faithful, but never married, she and I could be sealed for the afterlife.

She then said, "AHA!" and told me that was why I was gay. My soul mate died 4 hundred years ago, and if I was straight I might marry the wrong girl, so God made me like men so I would die single and could be with my 17th century bride for eternity.

Then I told her about polygamy.

Abelard Enigma said...

My soul mate died 4 hundred years ago, and if I was straight I might marry the wrong girl, so God made me like men so I would die single and could be with my 17th century bride for eternity.

LOL - I think I feel a faith promoting rumor coming one :-)

Then I told her about polygamy.

So, in addition to your 17th century bride to be, you may have other celestial maids in waiting? :-)

Maybe it works the other way too - a righteous women can have multiple husbands. Just because it was never instituted in this moral life doesn't mean it can't exist in the eternal life - just watch "Paint Your Wagon". Maybe that's why some of us are gay - we will be just one of many husbands sealed to a celestial woman :-)

BTW, I was obviously speaking in jest; however, maybe there is some tiny bit of truth in it. I used to be a Family History Consultant for my ward; I also volunteered at our stake family history center once a week. One of the interesting things I learned is that when doing temple work for your ancestors, a deceased woman can be sealed to multiple husbands - and some of those husbands may, in fact, be sealed to other wives. Kind of adds an interesting twist to the concept of eternal family :-)

Chedner said...

Abraham 2:10-11 -- having seed in the richest of meanings is also not dependent on marriage (nor is it as 'nuclear' as many would otherwise think).

Jay said...

\o/ shout out!

[i ... have no idea how blogger works; i think i am inadvertently signed in through my gmail account? but. hi!]

mulan said...

My soul mate died 4 hundred years ago, and if I was straight I might marry the wrong girl, so God made me like men so I would die single and could be with my 17th century bride for eternity.

Crap, so does that mean that Romulus already has some female soul mate waiting for him? :) Maybe I should just give up right now...

Oh, and welcome! I'm totally looking forward to meeting you! Mind if I link you on my blog?

SSA said...

Mulan, you don't have to give up if you don't mind being in a polygamous relationship in the afterlife.

forever barred said...

“Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory.” (The Teachings of Joseph Smith, pg. 300)