The Lavender Wager: A Call for LGBT Latter-day Saints to Leave the Garden

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pascal

Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher and mathematician who lived from 1623 to 1662. He made enormous contributions to math and philosophy during his relatively short life. One of his most famous (or infamous) postulates is known as “Pascal’s Wager.” In essence, Pascal argued that it is in one’s own best interest to behave as if God exists, because the chance outcome of eternal punishment in hell is more alarming than any possible advantage of behaving as if God does not exist.

Pascal was a man who–like every person–was a product of his time. The notion of an austere, punitive God dominated the thinking of the Church and the populace.

hell

As Latter-day Saint theology describes, Mormons do not worship the same blood-thirsty God of vengeance described by Pascal. In fact, the God conceptualized by the founder of the Restorationist movement, Joseph Smith, is a Father “more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.” Joseph Smith went as far as to canonize a near-universal model of salvation, described in substantial detail in today’s LDS volume of scripture known as the Doctrine & Covenants, section 76. The astonishing contribution of D&C 76 to the Christian dialectic isn’t who Joseph identifies as being left OUT of heaven: rather, Smith’s eternal order is astonishing for the radically vast INCLUSIVENESS of nearly all human souls in a glorified, perfected cosmos.

archangel-gabriel

Common folk-wisdom in LDS culture is that those gay men and lesbian women who opt to pursue a same-sex marriage in this life, while simultaneously seeking to live honorable and good lives, will be qualified for an eternal kingdom of glory known as the Terrestrial Kingdom. The glory of the Terrestrial heavens have been described as possessing the glories of those angels who are in the act of ministering to the Most High for eternity.

The glory of angels ministering to the Most High for eternity. I don’t know about you, but to me, the glory of an angel ministering for eternity to the Most High sounds pretty awesome. I look at the angelologies of Christian theological systems, and try to imagine myself serving alongside the concourses of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael–it’s a terrifically wonderful proposition.

In other words, at its most severe, the eternal outcome for LGBT Latter-day Saints who cash in their glory chips, opt out of an eternal heterosexual relationship (which doesn’t sound appealing at all to me, anyway), and focus on living lives of goodness and love is postulated to be the company of ministering angels of glory, praising and serving the Eternal Throne forever.

Done. I’ll take it.

uriel

If this proposition does NOT sound sufficiently excellent to a human psyche, I actually wonder about the virtue and purity of that particular mind. If a human mind can only be satiated by lingering on the fantasy of personal enthronement as God…that sounds eerily close to the power-lust that led to the fall of Lucifer and his demons.

In other words, the human mind that does NOT feel contentment in a proposition of unimaginable glory ministering in the Courts of Eternity may actually be a very spiritually diseased human mind. Think about it.

If one’s only spiritual satisfaction comes from an insistence on being the God of a private universe, then I question the wellness of that soul.

For LGBT Latter-day Saints, the additionally-good news is that by opting OUT of the LDS’s tyrannical insistence on heteronormative and soul-crushing conformity to an empirically devastating life decision (the rates of marital failure and family break up for so-called mixed-orientation marriages is over 70%), the highest caliber LDS doctrine indicates that your eternal progression will NOT be stopped at terrestrial inheritance (which–as we already established–would be an incredibly phenomenal eternal reward).

As reported by early Mormon apostle Orson Whitney: “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return.”

raphael

If you are an LDS literalist, consider that you are a child of Adam and Eve–the parents of all living–who were true and faithful to their covenants. Joseph himself taught and promoted a doctrine of post-mortal movement across kingdoms and spheres. These two considerations of faithful parents to the human family, and a loving Parent God who provides for movement across kingdoms and spheres should be a tremendous source of hope and comfort to the flagging LDS LGBT faithful who are at their wit’s end…broken and bloodied from carrying a cross that they never actually needed to carry in the first regard. It’s time to stop fighting against your divinely-endowed nature. Your calling to love someone of the same gender is a gift. This life is not a life for you to fight the measure of your creation: it is a life wherein you are to fulfill the measure of your creation…even and especially if that measure includes being blessed with a queer spirit.

The_Ressurrection_of_Christ

The loudest cynic opposing the correct Josephine doctrine of eternal progression and movement across kingdoms and post-mortal spheres is Bruce R. McConkie. (The “R,” incidentally, stands for “Really bad at theology.”) This is the same man who declared “Negroes will never hold the priesthood in this life,” and who insisted that the biological theory of evolution is Satan’s plan of deception. Bruce McConkie was an unkind man who was falsified on enormously significant and strident points of doctrine and theology. He has failed the test of time and is conclusively a false prophet. Pay him no mind.

angel michael

The last piece of the lavender wager I would assert to you is that all the preceding discourse has been relative to an Eternal Father. Nothing yet has been said of an Eternal Mother. If your Eternal Father is more liberal in his views and love than you are ready to receive or believe, I can all but guarantee that your Eternal Mother is orders of magnitude more liberal and generous in the love She is willing to expend on the safe return of all Her children to the Mansions She is preparing for them. The LDS Primary Songbook contains a beautiful ballad that can be adapted to an invitation to commune with your Heavenly Mother: “Pray–she is there. Speak–she is listening. You are Her child. Her love now surrounds you.”

coronation

If you believe in a Heavenly Father, I’d ask you to also open up your heart to the belief that a Heavenly Mother hears your prayers, and that She loves Her children…especially Her queer children. She enfolds them in the apron of Her love and watches over them. She knows you. She wants you to experience love and a fullness of joy–both in this life and in the lives that may follow.

A final word: if you are like the tens or hundreds of thousands of LGBT folks who grew up in an unforgiving, hostile social environment wherein being gay or queer in any way was demonized, please know that the people who created that sense of demonization for you were acting out of bigotry that someone else had taught to them. That is not the attitude or spirit that comes from the Most Sublime God or Goddess. Especially if you have contemplated suicide or are contemplating suicide, please–take the lavender wager and LEAVE the LDS Church in favor of a spiritual home that is appreciative of your unique gifts and talents, and that can pastor and care for your soul with the queer delicacy that you deserve. The worst case outcome of the lavender wager is that by leaving the LDS path of an eternally heterosexual regime, you will qualify to be an angel unto the Gods, sharing in the eternal glories of the angels and archangels in the worlds to come. That is a far, far better choice than deciding to end your life. Please–whatever else–choose to live.

In summary, the Lavender Wager I propose is this: be willing to step outside the borders of the safe garden as they have been taught and enforced to you. In so doing, a glorious irony will come clearly into view: you will discover in stark contrast to the fear and doom of terror-filled preaching, that when you let drop the illusory veil of the lone and dreary barrenness, you will discover that the garden is infinitely yours.

A ceiling mural at Versailles outside of Paris

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15 thoughts on “The Lavender Wager: A Call for LGBT Latter-day Saints to Leave the Garden

  1. Great essay–and from the viewpoint of Classical Mormon Theology (NOT LDS-ism) it is completely sound theologically. Joseph Smith collapsed the distance between the Divine and the Human; he totally rejected the orthodox Christian doctrines of Hell and Damnation, and preached Universal exaltation.

  2. Nick Einbender

    Everyone’s path is different. I agree that if someone is comtemplating suicide, it is better to take a step back, take a step away, or find a way that works for them. However, if change is going to occur in the church, it must come from within. It will take LGBTQ people, their famiies and friends, standing their ground and not walking away. So many people in the church want to learn from us, they want to understand. My finace and I have amazing experiences in our ward on Sunday’s all the time and truly there is a work to be done among the LGBTQ people of the church that is just as much to their benefit as it is to the heterosexual populations benefit. We need each other. It takes extreme humiltiy and patience on both sides, gentle persuassion, meekness, longsuffering and love unfeigned. These are principles that apply to all situations in our dealings with our fellow men. Bottom line, we should all seek truth that comes from our Father in Heaven and our Savior and seek to do Their will and Their work here on earth. If we have a testimony from God of the Restoration and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, we shouldn’t walk away from it nor should we give up as we are all responsible for the truths that God reveals to us through the Spirit no matter how difficult the circumstances become. I find great joy in the LBGTQ missionary work currently happening in the wards, branches, and stakes of the chruch and I see God’s hand guiding it. I’m optimistic and hopeful for what lies ahead.

    • With all due respect, Nick, I think that by insinuating that staying in an LDS ward is the only or the most correct form of expressing belief and faith in the Restorationist movement, that you are contributing to the problem of artificial binary thinking. Cheers.

      • Nick Einbender

        Where in my post did I say or insinuate “the only or most correct?” The more interactions people have with LGBTQ people in their wards and branches on a personal level, the more opportunity for minds to consider and the more opportunity for hearts to be touched….logic begs that. I never state a “one path fits all”…much unlike this article’s call for a mass exodus from the church from the LGBTQ population…which unsurprisingly you aren’t arguing.

      • “If we have a testimony from God of the Restoration and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, we shouldn’t walk away from it nor should we give up as we are all responsible for the truths that God reveals to us through the Spirit no matter how difficult the circumstances become.”

        This is the tired black and white thinking that if you have a testimony, you will stay in the LDS Church, regardless of personal cost. It’s unkind, and poorly reasoned.

      • Marthastewart

        Nick was respectful, and kind and stated his opinions as his own. You on the other hand stated things as Fact with no effort to try to get where he was coming from. People need to be more understanding. Now I don’t pretend to know you or your beliefs. I could’ve caught you at a bad time. Or perhaps there are reasons for you feeling that way that I am unaware of. I don’t pretend to know everything. I apologize if this comes out as judgy, that is not my intent at all I just think people are validated in their personal views. You in yours, and nick in his and neither one of you deserve be that your belief is wrong.

  3. Nathan Kitchen

    The thought of being a ministering angel for the eternities falls flat for me now that I have five children. For me my kids have taken me to the highest places of happiness and, at times, to great depths of sorrow. It is the same parental sorrow Enoch witnessed when he marveled God Himselfweeping for his children. He truly is a God of passion! My children have filled me with a love that is like nothing I have ever been able to replicate. It is spiritual violence for a church to have led gay men into mixed orientation marriages and then threaten to take his children from him for eternity once the marriage fails and console him with a second place ministering angel job. My heavenly parents are just and consistent. I am a parent just as they are. Experiencing heaven as a father really does feel like heaven to me.

    • Well, here’s the kicker–if Eternal Heterosexuals are anything like temporal heterosexuals, there are going to be plenty of spiritual children ready for Eternal Homosexuals to adopt and parent them. As below, so above–the opportunity for Eternal Same-Sex Parenting will be available to those whose measure of creation includes an extra dose of eternally queer spirit sparkle. 🙂

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