Saturday, August 19, 2006

Eternal sex

There is, I admit, something definitionally inadequate about sex with my wife. I deny charges that we don't have adequate emotional intimacy or sexual intimacy or more intimacy than you can shake a stick at, but there is something there to be desired. And that's why I'm trying to objectively look at the data about changing my sexual orientation. It's actually quite difficult with the shrieking always in the background from people who (wrongly) claim that the question is already answered, or that I'm bound to end up suicidal if I undertake such an interest and hope.

Not to worry, I'm not going to become suicidal. And even if I don't achieve certified straight sex in my life, the sex we do have will suffice quite nicely, I'm sure. And the happiness and intimacy we currently share in our marriage increases constantly and I have no reason to believe that will stop despite the expressed fears of some that marriages like mine end up like some prison sentence.

Even if, as the data seems to suggest, deliberately changing one's sexual orientation is unlikely in this life, I still think I'll achieve "full sexual expression" in the next life. I mentioned something about resurrection in the SLT article and it was quoted on some blogs and ridiculed savagely. (Savage ridicule is so... worthy of reciprocity.) Granted, I can't annotate a great concordance with all the scriptural references for my belief in this department, but my thoughts seem highly consistent with what I know about the gospel and our eventual destination.

I think the biological components of same sex attraction--the actual neurological pathways and genetics and brain imprinting--will be "healed" in the resurrection to be consistent with the actual purpose of the reproductive system. The psychological aspects like emotional ties and relationships I'm not so sure about (which is one reason I think chastity is an eternal true principle). Ties to men loved during mortality will no longer be supported by physical attraction nor sanctioned by legal or divine authority. A life of love and common experiences will end when we're set to whatever our eternal jobs will be. But the emotional ties will probably remain, and to that end gays will have inadvertently created an eternal situation ironically similar to the temporary one I'm in now--one in which they are not fully sexually compatible with the person with whom they've shared their life. I imagine this might be an instance in which my imagined explanation of why gay love is ultimately wrong applies... of why gay love is good, but not good enough.

Anyway, those musings are ancillary to the true point of this post. The point is, I look forward to a time when, if not in this life then the next, I will be fully sexually compatible with my wife. What a foolish thing, some believe, to gamble so much on faith in a situation after death. But, I'm happy to do it. Gambling on my spirituality has yielded nothing but returns so far.


Loyalist With Defects said...


AttemptingThePath said...

that's amazing. I'm excited for the day that I'll be able to have such intamacy in life.

once again, youre amazing L

santorio said...

i'm very wary of making any decision based on afterlife speculation. although mormon theology has far more to say about afterlife than any other judeo-christian perspective, i think my understanding of it can go no further than a blind person's understanding of color.

but the subject raises some interesting questions.

regarding the question, will i always be gay?
my gut reaction is to say i don't want to be straight, i am happy as a gay man married to a straight women and happy as a father and happy as a mormon. i don't mind enjoying a male body as long as i can keep it as an aesthetic enjoyment [i.e., no porn]. my straight wife loves the female body; one of her favorite works of art is a female nude by cranach. my goal is not to rid myself of the appreciation of males, but to control it. i don't try to eliminate my appetite for food [that's what an anorexic does], i just want to control it.

i see no advantage to waking up in the resurrection and finding myself suddenly turned on by big breasts. maybe my resurrected body will [following the 'nipple' theory] be equally moved by both the male and female bodies and by then i will have totally conquered any temptation to have such 'feelings' lead to corrupt behavior.

as far as physical sex in the afterlife, i'll leave that for another day or millenium

Scot said...

It’s a troubling thing to know how others regard what you see as unquestionably invaluable, and precious. It’s worse to think they look forward to it being diminished in any way or ended, particularly when it’s a matter of faith. But I’ve never been able to resist looking into it; it has many consequences, from what laws are passed to how your kids are treated at school. So, my inevitably long response:

Why is one aspect of the “biological components of same sex attraction” “healed” but not the other? If the issue is procreation, why is the attraction to men changed to attraction to women, whereas, presuming omnipotence, the ability to procreate may be changed just as easily? I mean, this may be possible even with our current technology, and altering the mind puts up an impediment for existing families (not just gay couples, but all those who depend on their relationships being as strong as possible from grandparents, to cousins, and so on).

In the same vein, the 50/50 genetic mosaic humans again. Wouldn’t these people be altered anatomically in the afterlife to make them fertile, though they have no defined sex, may identify as neither male nor female, and may experience attraction to both (or neither)? If they are altered to meet the compatibility requirements with their spouses, male or female, why not gay couples? (Are they even allowed to marry in the LDS church? IIRC, they aren’t in the Catholic church.)

Not that I’m saying gay men would get female anatomy, but omnipotence is omnipotence. Still, that would be a better solution than the one you’re suggesting--alter the anatomy of one and alter the other’s attraction.

[cautiously] What happens to all the children? Are their minds similarly altered towards this ideal family? Do they stop thinking of the people that parented them as parents? Those born though fertility treatments all start thinking of their non-bio parent as Jane or John instead of mom or dad, and some stranger who was never there when they were sick, never taught them how to walk or ride a bike, and so on, is now in? How does it work for adopted kids?

Anyway, as I said in my comment in your last post, I’d give up sex in a heartbeat if I thought that’s what God wanted; that’s relatively nothing. But neither my sexual orientation nor my union hang on sex, neither is my union merely an “emotional tie”; after so long it’s become hard to tell where I end and he begins. It’s the cause of my family; it's what I am, a cog in this union. It’s incredibly creepy and depressing to think of an afterlife where I’m altered to not feel the same way I do about us, and where I’m not allowed to keep my family intact, regardless.

Doesn’t that strike you as the slightest bit immoral, L, to do what you’re expecting to any person? We, you and I, are basically forced to switch places, and then much worse would be added to my situation. I’m altered to not find the sole love of my life naturally attractive. But in addition, our ties would not be “sanctioned” (allowed?), for all eternity.

Lol, at least I’d have an eternity in which to repair my sexual orientation. I hope they have blogs in the afterlife :-).

-L- said...

Santorio, all we have to go on regarding the afterlife is what God has told us, but that's not nothing. I fully believe what Elder Oaks has to say on the topic as well because I consider him to be a prophet.

I think both male and female bodies are aesthetically beautiful, and I don't think that's going to change when I'm no longer attracted to men. And I'm not so interested in big breasts as I am in my wife's breasts. It's all a means to an end, not insignificant in the least. As I said, what I have is great, what can be better will be better.

-L- said...

Scot, to be sure, I don't "look forward" to any misery issuing from the scenario described here. I don't think God looks forward to any misery that results from sin either, but in my view it's part of his economy that unavoidable consequences follow from our obedience or disobedience. Some falsely believe that God's omnipotence allows Him to be fully arbitrary in addressing our needs, but this is wholly inconsistent with the Mormon concept of God.

To appeal to His omnipotence for mercy in denial of justice is simply contrary to the plan as I understand it. I see some people appealing to God's goodness to excuse what they know or believe to be inconsistent with His plan. But, there are REAL tragedies in this world. Our society is still full of pain, misery, injustice, and the terrible consequences of a fallen world despite God's perfection.

Can God create a stone so large He can't lift it? In the Mormon view, God's omnipotence is limited in several ways. In the Mormon view, our eternal gender and personal identity is unchangeable. While this is quite disheartening to many considering what we want here and now and think we will want forever, I think when full divine light is shed on our eternal situation it will become clear that it is for the good of us all. In the mean time, we have very little to go on. It's a grave mistake I've seen made by some to call God's commands "irrational" because we don't immediately understand them or the consequences of disobedience.

And you needn't wait til the afterlife to start your blog. ;-)

Samantha said...

If you speed read your title, it could be mis-read as "External Sex". Which really has nothing to do with anything, except it made me laugh.

And if you think about the title, "Eternal Sex", it could have reference to my blog entry that was entitled, "This made me laugh so hard," even though it doesn't (and I'm certain from a physician's or a man's standpoint, that's not even funny--but it still makes me laugh). And I understand that my light-mindedness is distracting to the deep-thinkers who visit, but sometimes I just think a little levity is totally necessary, regardless of whether or not it's appropriate.

Scot said...

I fear I blathered on to the point of obscuring my point :-).

You’ve already allowed God’s altering of a person’s biology in the door. But you’re only considering the biology that affects a characteristic of your personality (is that not part of personal identity?). Why exactly not the other biology, the one that alters your procreative ability, leaving who you are intact?

God already does that for hermaphrodites, right? (Really, I’m not 100% sure of the LDS position here, but, from what I know, it’d be far more accommodating than the Catholic’s)

Again, this is not the old question of making a stone too heavy for God to lift. It’s not an impossibility by logic or empirical science. I could point to journal articles that show mere humans are taking steps towards making this a possibility.

Also, I’m not understanding the point of highlighting “REAL tragedies” in the here and now. Seems that’s a sad given, and I’m certainly not claiming being gay is some big tragedy; in fact, I’ve meant the opposite. I’m talking about the LDS afterlife, which is a very different thing, if they still teach what they taught me in Sunday School.

Skipped the question on the child/parent thing, wise choice :-). Still, seems for what you’re looking forward to in gained intimacy, you have to excuse in other family’s eternal separation. Calling it justice for disobedience, and for their own good, or claiming their love isn’t as good as yours or that you think they’ll eventually regret their choices (often choices that led to the lives of their children), explains where you stand but doesn’t help explain the ethics of getting there, as far as I can see.

I mean, how far could this go? At what point would a model of the right and reasonable afterlife become untenable? Consider, as things stand now, we’re not really talking about people and their children being eternally punished for their choices specifically, right? The exact same choice, based on the same intrinsically felt orientation, is either encouraged or punished based on the inborn anatomy of the person making it.

Eh, but we’d likely never see eye to eye on the idea of morality, and at least the LDS afterlife is more humane than most. Can’t help but try though :-).

-L- said...

I think God's altering of our biology might be constrained in some ways (whether by his own design or by the nature of our individual eternal natures). I've wanted to post for a while about hermaphrodites and transexuals, but I haven't gotten around to it. Ultimately, I think sexual identity is eternal and we will only be changed in the resurrection to make our bodies consistent with our eternal gender identity, and that God actually can't change us in any other way. Which gender is the "right" gender for certain individuals is debatable, but I feel reasonably confident in asserting that I'm male now and forever. :-)

Limitations on God's omnipotence are not limited to logical impossibilities. That really is a much longer discussion than we can probably have in the comments here though, and I included the stone example as the briefest demonstration of limited omnipotence I could think of. Whatever medical science may achieve in gender reassignment, the eternal gender identity of any given individual is absolutely unaffected (whatever it may be).

"Who we are" will never be so fully intact and purely accurate as in the resurrection. God, as our Father and creator, knows who we are much better than we do ourselves.

The "real tragedies" comment was intended to include both mortality and the afterlife. I didn't mean that you thought of being gay as a tragedy, but to the extent terrible consequences result from it, I do. The consequences I've imagined in the post are not punitive, they are just there. As with many things in life, the particular combination of temptations, capabilities, and decisions on the part of each individual will be judged with omniscient love. Whatever loyalties and obligations we have outstanding from mortality will be subject suddenly to a wholly different context, one that our Father in Heaven anticipates and we cannot.

Lastly, sorry for ignoring your question about children. I'm often not very thorough in my responses, just picking and choosing what I find most interesting. I think we know very little about the social structure in the afterlife, and how could we comprehend it? What we do know is that families can be sealed together forever by God's power (and that everyone will ultimately be given the choice to opt in or out). The details of how issues like adoption, surrogate parents, cloning, divorces, polygamy, etc. will be sorted out are really unknowable to us. Appealing to God's wisdom on such matters isn't a convenient appeal to ignorance, but rather is a logical consequence of the entire plan of salvation and the mysteries of a spritual realm meta in relation to our own.

Ooo... that last part made me sound so philosophical. Maybe I'll just stop there.

Scot said...

Thank you L, for your response.

I’ll leave it at that...

Maybe if you’d stop being so provocative I could find time to get a blog up and running… ;-)

(Aw, you're not that provocative, in the bad way, I’ve just got a lot to fight for here and see your take on things affecting us in each legislative session, even if you’re not one advocating it. Tell me when I get too uppity.)