I understood that sooner or later, the topic of dating and marriage would come up in relation to same-sex attraction. Like many of my SSA friends, however, I have chosen to ignore that topic as long as possible in serious and even informal discussion. But I have realized that the time has finally arrived for this discussion to take place in its entirety, and for me to explain doctrinally why dating and marriage are both part of the Plan of Happiness, which is designed for the purpose of us returning to our Savior and our Heavenly Father, and becoming gods and goddesses. The Atonement makes it possible, because it is their work and glory to bring to pass both our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39). Moving on, then...
An oft-quoted scripture in Romans 8 states that the Spirit itself bears witness that we are children of God, and because we are children, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. In other words, because we are the children of our Heavenly Father and covered by the atoning blood of Christ, we have the potential and choice to become as God is, regardless of sexual orientation. We are defined solely by our divine identity, because that is what we came into this life with and what we will go out of it with. President Kimball and President Packer have both taught we are not "born that way", and the reason President Kimball gave is because it would contradict the doctrine that we are created after the image of God, meaning that we are created in His likeness, not just physically but in every aspect. Whatever the cause of same-sex attraction, it surely is not that (see my post, "Born That Way?" for more details). I speak of all this concerning our identity because this is what the scriptures and the servants of the Lord have taught from the beginning, and because when we start seeking after the goal of exaltation, we must begin with an understanding of who we are in truth and purity.
The pathway towards exaltation then begins with us developing and later encouraging attractions towards the opposite sex, whether that is sexual or not. A healthy, celestial marriage naturally will include sex, but this does not have to be attained through physical attraction. Worldly philosophy will tell you it does, and cultural Mormonism might. However, I see the gospel of Christ as a place where people grow to love each other as a process. This process, known as dating, starts out casual and moves into the second phase of steady courtship. After this, it leads into marriage. From dating to courtship to marriage, all of us are engaged in that process for the purpose of becoming as our Heavenly Father is. Consider these quotes on the proscribed and proper pathway to exaltation, from a gospel-oriented perspective:
"There may be some who won’t be married. May I say to you, the most important
thing you have to remember is to stay on the high ground and make sure that you
are worthy, because we are told that there will be many blessings in the
eternities to come that will be rightfully yours. So do not get that
discouraged. The most important thing is to stay worthy and true and on the
spiritual high ground." (Elder Robert D. Hales, CES Firesides, "Seek and Attain the Spiritually High Ground in Life")
"Do you want capability, safety, and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed, word-and-deed Latter-day Saint. Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. You separate dating from discipleship at your peril. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is the only lamp by which you can successfully see the path of love and happiness. How should I love thee? As He does, for that way ‘never faileth.' " (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “How Do I Love Thee?” New Era, Oct. 2003)
Discipleship is directly related to dating, which is a part of the process of celestial marriage. For those who are not meant to be married in this life, we are not to be discouraged but rather to live on the spiritually high ground, to remember that faith has everything to do with romance and dating with discipleship. The same goes for those who are meant to be married in this life- keep high standards. If we are to seek out the Lord, we cannot pursue dating, romance, chemical attraction, infatuation, passion, lust, or anything else like it with someone of the same sex. It taints the process of true, celestial love, which can only exist between a man and a woman, and damages the potential of marriage later. If a man was preparing for the Melchizedek Priesthood, he would have been honoring his Aaronic Priesthood in his youth and striving to obtain his Duty to God award. If a woman were preparing to be a member of the Relief Society, she would be honoring her virtue as a daughter of God and striving to obtain her Young Women's medallion.
I encourage all SSA members of the Church to remember that God leads us along in the light of truth, clarity, understanding, revelation, and purpose, which directly matches the principles and doctrines of the gospel as taught by the scriptures and the modern-day prophets and apostles of the Lord. We are led by revelation and pure doctrine, not by confusion. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as Paul taught. I believe it impure, blasphemous, and heretical to propose that male or female members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can keep their covenants while also dating members of the same sex. Speaking specifically to the men, all of us can fulfill those needs and desires through other pure methods, such as deep male friendship, single fathering, service, magnifying callings, honoring priesthood, volunteering time in the community, spending time with brothers in the gospel, doing home teaching, and more. We can. And I know that as we do, we will find much greater joy than any alternate pathways, and we will be traveling on the pathway to exaltation. More to come soon... thank you for reading!