There’s something that’s been milling about in my head for a while, and I think parts of my last post are a good transition into it. I note again that this post is heavy in speculation, and is absolutely NOT endorsed by the Church. It’s my own personal deductions based partially on hearsay evidence. So take that for what it’s worth (which is very little indeed). And it talks about some possibly uncomfortable subjects. Also, this post reads like gibberish, so you’re probably better off just reading Elder (also Justice) Oaks’ excellent article on the subject.
Still reading? Last chance to turn back …
When you have had the Spirit testify to you in very certain terms the truth of certain core principles you believe to be true, it is easy to start drawing abstractions and assuming that every prejudice and pre-conception you hold must also be true. It’s easy to forget that the Lord’s army is not an army of clones and automatons (like that clone army in Star Wars). The Lord has painted us in many different hues and endowed us each with our own personality. And more importantly, He has granted each of us agency. This principle is so critical, so inviolable, that the Lord permitted a full third of His spirit children to rebel—knowing (and warning them) that they were making a choice that would eternally bar them from so much as receiving a body—all to preserve the principle of agency. Indeed, the sum total of absolute “Thou Shalts” and “Thou Shalt Nots” accounts for only a very few of the many life choices available to us. For the most part, He permits us to use our agency to make choices, learn what effects follow, even make mistakes, so that we can learn and grow and progress little by little. This learning process means that we are all at various stages of understanding, and in the early stages of understanding, it’s easy to think that “Doing A works for me and helps me feel the Spirit, while doing B would make me feel bad” necessarily implies that Doing A and refraining from B must be right for everybody.
That premise is correct if “A” is a clear “thou shalt” and “B” is a clear “thou shalt not.” The prophets have commanded families to have Family Home Evening. Whoever and wherever you are, I promise, if you will have Family Home Evening, you will be blessed for it. Similarly, the prophets have instructed us not to commit adultery. Whoever and wherever you are, adultery will lead to the loss of the Spirit and will have dire consequences.
But like I said, the categories of those things are rather narrow. It’s harder for many of us to get on board with “Doing A works well for me, but may not be as effective for Brother Y.” It’s even hard to get past, “Many (or even most) people who have trial X choose behavior Z, which the Prophets have told me is a sin, so those who have trial X must have committed some sin.”
The truth is, we are all sinners. And even where we are competent to judge whether behavior is right or wrong in the Lord’s eyes, we are not competent to judge the states of others’ souls.
One reason I bring this up is that I have said frequently that I believe SRS is contrary to God’s plan. I reiterate that position. But that doesn’t mean I presume to judge those who have made that choice. Consider this hypothetical: Sister Jones shows up as a newly-baptized member of your ward. She’s single, and you don’t think much of it, until you learn that Sister Jones used to be a man. Would you be shocked if she were still permitted to take the Sacrament? Would you demand that the Bishop excommunicate her?
I bring up this hypothetical because in the accounts I have read of others, I have seen several people who have been Sister Jones. I have heard some of them say that the Church Handbook of Instructions permits post-operative transsexuals to be baptized, though (for hopefully obvious reasons), they may not receive the Priesthood. Again, this is strictly hearsay. I have not read that part of the Handbook because I don’t have it (I don’t need it, because I am not a Bishop). So I’m not saying that’s what it says; just that’s what I’ve heard.
But assume for a minute that it’s true (in any case, I haven’t seen any contradictory authority—if you have any, please share it. I’d be interested to know one way or another). Does that mean that I’ve been wrong all along? Does that mean that it really would be okay for me to leave my family, drop the Priesthood, have surgery, and start attending Relief Society?
Absolutely not, and here is why: Because I have received the Melchizedek Priesthood. That means I have entered into the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. I have received temple covenants, both in the Endowment and in my Sealing to my lovely, angelic wife. To reject my role as a man would be to reject all those covenants, and to bring upon myself all the condemnation of breaking them. I could not reject the Priesthood and still remain active in the Church, because I would be delivering myself to the buffeting of Satan. I could not reject the truth “just a little.” Where much is given, much is required. I have been taught the truth since my birth. For me, it must be all or nothing. I am left utterly without excuse.
But let’s carry out an academic exercise. What if I decide that I’m tired of fighting it all, and I want to be Sister Jones? Assuming that the above is true (and even ignoring the fact that it would require me to come out in open rebellion against God, which never goes well), doesn’t this mean that the Lord can consider a post-operative transsexual to be worthy of baptism? Doesn’t that mean one may inherit the Celestial Kingdom. Making all those assumptions, yes, that would be the logical deduction. But even then, without the Priesthood, I would be ultimately limited. Assume Sister Jones really is a man (i.e., not intersexed or otherwise ambiguous) (and I know some people disagree with binary gender designations, but I hold as true that we are each either a son or daughter of God, so please just go with me on this one). If Sister Jones does not eventually make choices that prepare her (him now? this gets confusing) to receive the Priesthood, Sister Jones cannot be exalted. Something would have to change. The highest blessings of exaltation are available only through the ordinances of the Temple, and those ordinances are available only to those who receive the covenants of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Sister Jones cannot receive the Priesthood, because she has rejected the role of a man. Likewise, she cannot receive Priesthood Covenants as a woman, because that is not her true eternal gender identity. She certainly cannot be sealed to a man in the Temple (I guess theoretically, she could civilly marry a female-to-male transsexual, but he couldn’t receive the Priesthood either, so it couldn’t be in the Temple, so they’re both still stuck).
Now, if you know Sister Jones, don’t go telling her, “This guy on the internet told me you can’t be exalted.” I didn’t say that. Everybody will be judged on his or her degree of knowledge and understanding, and I know for a fact that the Lord is merciful, and that He will give every one of His children every possible chance to do His will for them. And when they don’t, He will give them the very greatest Kingdom He can justify giving them. And if Sister Jones “only” receives a lower Celestial glory, while I mourn the lost opportunity of exaltation, she’s still way ahead of most the pack. But as a personal reflection, I personally could not reject the truth and count on the Lord’s mercy to make up for my willful rebellion. The Lord has front-loaded too many blessings on me. Like I said, for me, it’s all or nothing. And when I wrote a couple of weeks ago about some very important, comforting answers the Lord had recently given me, it was pointedly shown to me that those answers are meaningful only if I go with the “all” path. The answers I received are worthless to me if I am not faithful in obtaining, the the merits and mercy and grace of the Savior, the blessings of exaltation that the Lord has prepared for those who keep His commandments. Which is why those answers were beautiful and uplifting—they inspired me to keep the Lord’s commandments.
So this is kind of a pointless, rambling post. But to the extent that there is a point (or several): Let’s all try to be more understanding of each other. Let’s all open our arms to each other, regardless of our inner struggles. Let’s not judge each other. Let’s love one another as God’s children, regardless of how we look, act and dress, and leave it to God to judge souls. If you know Sister Jones, reach out and fellowship her. Maybe it was the best thing she knew to do at the time to survive, and maybe she has something beautiful to share with the world. If you know somebody else who has a trial or pain you don’t understand, err on the side of compassion instead of judgment. Let the state of his or her soul be between him or her and the Lord, with the Bishop’s inspired counsel. But if you have received great blessings of knowledge, spend some time in introspection, lest you be found to treat those blessing lightly. While we shouldn’t judge others, we should judge behavior as it applies to ourselves and those we have responsibility for. Seek the Lord’s will for you and yours, and then do it and no less, whatever it is.
And if this post makes absolutely no sense on paper, you should have seen what it looked like floating around in my head.