My thoughts on the question of marriage and homosexuality have evolved in two distinct directions as I have aged. I find myself simultaneously more understanding of same-sex relationships and also more convinced of gospel doctrine regarding marriage and gender. For example, I believe that same-sex marriage ought to remain legalized as a socially acceptable and protected exception to the norm of heterosexual marriage and heteronormativity. In the church, same-sex relationships ought to be afforded communal respect amid a faith nonetheless oriented toward heterosexual marriage as the general rule. This (perhaps) odd stance stems from both personal and intellectual experiences. Throughout the past several years I have been forced to confront my feelings of same-sex attraction. I have moved from denial to shame back to denial and then to begrudging acceptance and slowly toward peace. I understand why individuals choose to pursue same-sex relationships outside the church. I do not judge them for that decision. I have been extremely quiet throughout this process. In fact, I intended to keep this aspect of my life extremely private. But simultaneous intellectual and spiritual experiences have moved me to a desire to defend the church’s doctrine on marriage and gender. This requires a willingness to speak and write more openly. So much of the LGBTQ movement is—not wrongly—built on the basis of personal experience and appeal to emotion. That means that the best defenses of doctrine will be a combination of intellectual discussion and personal experience. Perhaps, then, I am best able to speak to my beliefs from the vantage point of personal transparency.

Motivations for my staying mostly closeted are manifold. First, my primary motive is to protect my husband, who just happens to be the one delightful exception to my interest in women. Second, I wanted to protect my children from confusion or discussion. These two reasons feel honorable enough, even when weighed against the need for voices experiencing same-sex attraction to provide intellectual and personal defense of doctrine. Other reasons include an intense desire for privacy, a feeling that my sexual attraction is really no one’s concern but mine, a fear of being pigeonholed into a single identity that represents only one small part of me, a desire to write about and focus on other issues, and a secret wish to not have to have honest conversations with family members (my husband is fully aware of my experience with same-sex attraction). Several months ago, I read an article in Public Square Magazine about why same-sex attracted members of the Church often decide not to speak up publicly. It moved me to tears because I did not feel so alone anymore. Clearly there is a need to speak more frankly from the perspective of same-sex attracted members of the Church. I’m just not convinced that I want that person to be me. All the ‘other’ reasons for staying quiet seem less defensible when held up against saving testimonies—or maybe just bolstering spirits. I’ve opted for a middle path of writing this piece anonymously, which has the beneficial effect of allowing me to write more honestly.

To clarify, I do not believe that I can convince anyone of the truthfulness of the gospel. What I can do is show that a defense by someone who experiences same-sex attraction is possible. I am a woman who is attracted to women, and I am also deeply committed to the concept of eternal marriage. This commitment is both spiritual and intellectual. That means something. Moreover, I feel it important to note that I do not feel rejected or forgotten by church doctrine, which may be because I can easily pass as a straight woman in a very happy heterosexual marriage. I realize that others who experience same-sex attraction may be in very different circumstances. Finally, I wish to note that I have no desire to give advice on how to be a same-sex attracted member of the church. You’ll have to figure that out on your own. I simply seek to add my intellectual defense of the doctrine of marriage from the personal perspective of one who understands the weight (and sometimes burden) of that doctrine.

In brief, it is my contestation that all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole. It has previously been argued in the pages of SquareTwo that without the doctrine of Heavenly Mother the concept of eternal gender falls apart. Similarly, I argue that without the doctrine of marriage, there are very few options for preserving the concept of gender, and especially the eternal, embodied female, for marriage is the natural outcome of a godhood of “mixity.” Whether in this life or the next, what makes us human is to be descended from a male and a female yet radically insufficient on our own. As a result, I see the embrace of this radical CoJC understanding of marriage and humanity as the single greatest hope for functional peace, or perhaps just productive tension, and meaningful equality between men and women.

Marriage and Humanity

Twenty years ago, a French feminist philosopher named Sylviane Agacinski wrote a remarkable book entitled The Parity of the Sexes. Her primary objective was to write a philosophical defense of a proposed law requiring all French political parties to include equal numbers of male and female candidates on their lists or face a fine. Her thesis was built upon a staggering claim about humanity. Humans are of two types: male and female. “Let’s just say that the will to share power between men and women can only be legitimate if we admit that sex is neither a social nor a cultural trait, nor an ethnic one, that it is not the common characteristic of some ‘community’—like language, a religion, or a territory—but, rather, that it is a universal, differential trait. That is, humankind does not exist outside this double form, masculine and feminine (xxxiii).” In other words, there is no unified humanity—no primordial Adam from which we all derive our humanity.

Rather, there are two humanities: male and female, Adam and Eve. These are distinct enough experiences to irreparably divide humanity, yet it is only in the combination of the two that life springs forth. Indeed, Agacinski argues that “Beyond the psychological, sociological, or political questions, sexual difference comes back to only one issue, the one linking birth and death … this is why we cannot separate the meaning and value of sexual difference from the question of generation… (22).” We cannot separate the male-female question from existence because to be human is to be descended from both male and female and yet to be only one or the other yourself, incapable of perpetuating the species alone or monopolizing what it is to be human. Each of us is thus radically insufficient without the other humanity. “Neither man nor woman constitutes the whole human” (15). Instead, male and female together are human. This is Agacinski’s concept of mixity. Addressing this mixity has fundamental ramifications for how tension and difference are dealt with in political and social life. “Isn’t the other sex, for each, the closest face of the stranger? Thus it is crucial, politically, to know how sexual difference is recognized or, on the contrary, denied. Because the way we think the other sex determines the way we think the other in general (xxxiv).” The mixity within humanity is both the basis of politics and the cause of its “eternal discord (23).” While Agacinski’s framework has fascinating implications for democracy, such as whether any country is a democracy which lacks 50-50 sex representation in its legislature, it also connects profoundly to the Plan of Salvation and a CoJC understanding of marriage.

As we understand it, God is both male and female. This does not mean that God is both male and female in a single body, or gender fluid, and thus default male in all practical expressions. No, this entails an exalted, embodied male uniting with an exalted, embodied female. Two exist in the eternities, which has the revolutionary implication that the female body is eternal and created in the literal image of one half of God, even in its mortal capacity. The female is not a deformed, castrated male. If anything, both male and female experience the double castration of not being fully human—and by extension in the eternities, gods—without the other. Previously, I nodded to Johnston’s (2020) argument on the importance of the doctrine of an embodied Heavenly Mother for the logical sustainability of the Family Proclamation’s declaration on the eternal nature of gender. It also has crucial implications for the doctrine of marriage. If correct, this doctrine makes clear the centrality of the male-female connection, not simply for childbearing but for becoming divine—or for experiencing eternal life. Marriage is a prerequisite for living as God lives, for God is a united male and female. What is it about eternal life that requires both united in marriage? Perhaps it is that all creative and organizational energy is derived in some capacity from the male-female connection. The inherent differences and tension between two persons who are fundamentally unalike in their experiences of humanity is a natural spark for creativity. Perhaps the conception and childbearing processes on earth are a sign and an analogy to the process of organization and creation in the eternities. Regardless, the doctrine of marriage makes it clear that a union of male and female is essential for exaltation, and thus essential for living as God lives. We are children growing up over eternities into the image of our First Parents. Marriage is the last great ordinance in the earthly portion of that process.

Moreover, I am convinced that marriage, correctly understood, is the primary basis for political, economic, and social harmony both in mortality and in the hereafter. Societies built upon dedicated marriages between men and women who respect one another as different but equally legitimate halves of humanity can only lead to societies predicated upon similar respect. Social change begins in the intimacy of the home. Mary Wollstonecraft, one of our most important and overlooked philosophers, argued in A Vindication of the Rights of Women that the source of every public virtue was domestic affection (Bachiochi 5). Throughout her work, Wollstonecraft underscored the fundamental role of marriage in securing both the rights of women and social harmony writ large. For her, marriage was understood “as a relationship of reciprocity and friendship between equals, a shared project for the upbringing of children, and the best means to restore harmony between the sexes” (Bachiochi 7). Only when things are set right between the sexes—starting with the basic unit of marriage—can the whole human race have hope of progress and happiness. “The two sexes mutually corrupt and improve each other. This I believe to be an indisputable truth, extending it to every virtue” (Bachiochi 43). The best hope for politics is found in the strength, harmony, and, yes, tension of male-female relationships, starting in individual marriages founded not upon patriarchy but on diarchy.

A society that fully grasps the diarchic male-female relationship, which is at heart a statement on what it means to be human, would find itself very near to Zion. Imagine how such a society would reframe its priorities to include women, including in matters of education, poverty alleviation, and healthcare. Imagine the impact this would have on rates of sexual abuse, prostitution, unwanted pregnancies, maternal mortality, pornography use, homelessness, and divorce. How would the relationship between work and home change if we reoriented ourselves toward a humanity of mixity? How would such a society measure economic success? How would it frame and engage in war and peace with its neighbors? Clearly our doctrine on marriage and gender remains woefully untapped for its revolutionary political, social, and economic implication. We refuse to see what a priceless gem we have in our doctrine of marriage and gender. It forms part of the very foundation of Zion.

Whether in mortality or immortality, humanity is double. Men and women together form the full humanity. The individual is radically insufficient. Likewise, men and women together form the prototype of our Heavenly Parents. No individual can be exalted alone. As it is on earth, so it is in heaven.

Translation into Real Life:

The previous section forms my intellectual defense of the church’s doctrine of marriage and gender. Living the reality of that doctrine requires more comment. My commitment to the intellectual and spiritual principles laid out in the previous section, what could be called a political and religious heterosexuality, compels me to travel a certain path personally. I am committed to my temple marriage, to my husband, and to remaining in the church. The first, most obvious question is whether this path is doomed to failure, as we have seen with many gay men in the church? My immediate response is that I am not trying to lay out a path for anyone else. I do not believe that this path would be viable for same-sex attracted people across the board. In fact, it may be immensely damaging for others in different circumstances. For this reason, I strongly support socially acceptable alternatives to heterosexual marriage both within the church and within the broader political community. Nevertheless, two key reasons make this particular path of personal devotion to the principles of temple marriage and covenant keeping viable for me.

First, I am happy in my marriage. I strongly believe that, for whatever reason, God led me to the one man on Earth who could be my eternal exception. Mine is not a pale imitation of marriage. It has friendship, yes, but also romantic and emotional connection. Still, I experience what most individuals involved in a long-term relationship experience, namely attractions outside the marriage. Luckily, I am married to a man who is not insecure. He labels my experience of attraction to women as “just another thing we have in common.” Sometimes I admit to my husband—and sometimes he points out to me—that I have a crush on a woman. Usually, this is happily joked about, and we move on. In at least one instance, however, it was an immensely painful personal process. It required getting some distance from a new friendship until I could return again solely in the spirit of a friend. It also required accepting the reality and intensity of my feelings and not condemning myself, as I knew that God did not condemn me. Within a few months, all was well again, and this friendship continues. The key between my husband and I is communication and a willingness not to judge. We both know the sincerity of our mutual commitments. This isn’t a revolutionary process. In fact, it’s likely the process that most long-term couples use to protect their relationships.

Second, I have found new life in personal acceptance and in openness with close friends. Secrets, especially from yourself, can be destructive and inhibit the ability to live a full life. This has been particularly true in the realm of friendship. I struggled for much of my life to build strong female friendships. Some unnamed fear kept me from pursuing any kind of connection with other women. My life has changed so much for the better since coming to terms with my same-sex attraction. There is no longer a barrier to friendship. Instead, I have learned that strong female friendships are immensely healing and rejuvenating. They fill a space that is too painful when left empty. What’s more, my experiences make me a good friend. True, I am at times sexually attracted to specific women, but I also possess a deep respect, love, and concern for women in general. I cannot help but see the best in, and wish the best for, the women in my life. The more I give that kind of friendship, the more complete I feel, and it improves the lives of others as well. In fact, so much of what is best in my life stems from my general love for women. I think, write, and advocate about women’s issues in religious, political, and social contexts because I love women. In this light, my same-sex attraction offers a gift in addition to a burden.

My intent has been to give a defense of the church’s doctrine of marriage and gender from the perspective of one who experiences same-sex attraction. I have sought to briefly explain a portion of my commitment to the gospel by providing the intellectual and spiritual defense of marriage that speaks best to my soul. To others in the church who experience same-sex attraction: please know that you are not alone. Leaving the church is not the inevitable path for us, for there is great logic, beauty, happiness, and fulfillment to be found in the gospel. We have so many reasons to be hopeful.

Full Citation for this Article: Anonymous (2022) "A Same-Sex Attracted Individual In Defense of Marriage and Sexual Difference," SquareTwo, Vol. 15 No. 2 (Summer 2022),, accessed <give access date>.

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