Sunday, August 21, 2011

Circumcising our Sexuality vs. Living in the Spirit

This is another in the Gay Gospel Doctrine Class series of posts that takes a lesson from the LDS Church’s (Adult) Gospel Doctrine class and presents it from a gay perspective.  Today’s lesson is based on Lesson #32 in the Gospel Doctrine Manual (“Living in the Spirit”) and was prepared by yours truly.

The Gospel Doctrine Manual declares that the purpose of this lesson is “to encourage class members to seek promptings from the Holy Ghost and to avoid attitudes and actions that will keep them from receiving these promptings.”

We talk a lot about the Holy Ghost in the Church.  But I’d like to pose a question:  Why?  In what context is it usually discussed?  If I were actually physically teaching this class, I would pause here and wait for members of the class to respond.  But since this is a virtual class, I am going to propose an answer to this question for your consideration:  the context in which the Holy Ghost is usually [not universally or exclusively, but generally] discussed is that of making a “correct” moral decision. 

But that being the case, I’d like to pose another question:  Isn’t that what the “commandments” are for?  Isn’t that what the scriptures, countless conference talks, Ensign articles, For the Strength of Youth and other guides and manuals are all about, i.e., teaching us the “right way” to go?  Isn’t there a well-established code of moral conduct in the Church?  A “legal code” if you will?

That being the case, I return to my previous question:  What is the purpose of the Holy Ghost?  And what did Paul mean when he wrote in the 5th Chapter of Galatians that we should live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit?

A bit of context:  In Galatians, Paul is attempting to counter the influence of those who taught that, in order for the Galatians to be true Christians, they must submit to circumcision and follow the Torah, i.e, the “Law.”  In the 5th Chapter of his epistle, he juxtaposes following the “law” against “living in the spirit,” writing in verses 22-23:

  22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
  23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

In other words, the purpose, if you will, of the Spirit (as it seems to me) is to transform our character, our nature – something that it was utterly impossible for the Law to do.

I will leave the class to ponder upon the application of this concept to what I have written above (though I would be very interested in your comments) and move on to conclude with some thoughts by Candace Chellew, one of the founders of, with respect to Paul’s comments about being under the bondage of the law, using circumcision as an example:

“In Galatians we find the members of [the] conglomeration of churches in Galatia faced with a problem. Jewish-Christian teachers are insisting that, to be true followers of Jesus, the Galatians must submit to circumcision and follow the Torah, or Jewish law, to the letter. In particular, these Jewish-Christian teachers were urging the men to submit to circumcision to prove their faith in Christ. If they don't, they are certainly NOT true Christians. 

"How many times do we, as GLBT Christians, get preached to about the "rules" we must follow or the things we must do to be considered Christian [or faithful members of the Church/disciples of Christ]? I get letters almost daily telling me that I must believe this or that doctrine or most often, renounce my sexual orientation or else I am certainly NOT a child of God or a true Christian.

“Often, like the Galatians, we are asked to prove our faith in an outward way by "circumcising" our sexuality. Only if we desire to become heterosexual can we truly be saved. Only if we observe the laws of "normal" society will we earn our right to be called "Christian" by society at large. Until then we are merely sinners pretending to have the grace of God.

“Paul tells us to "stand firm" and not to "submit" to this "yoke of slavery" that often well-meaning Christians seek to put on us. By demanding that we first become "straight" before we can be Christians, our detractors seek to put us into slavery ... a slavery that forces us to deny our innate sexuality and live under a burden, a "yoke" of lies. In this way, we cut off, or circumcise, our natural, God-given, sexuality. Indeed, Paul warns us that if we let ourselves be "circumcised," Christ will be of no benefit to us! If we renounce our God-given sexuality we will be trying to live by the law of today's church that tells us that only the heterosexuals are saved, and not by faith that assures us that all who believe in Christ are saved. If we try to live by the law, Paul warns us that we cut ourselves off from Christ and we fall away from grace. But, the good news is that:  "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love." Galatians 5:6”


  1. In the Doctrine and Covenants, it tells us that the Holy Ghost knows all things and knows all truth. His job, then, as I understand it, is to reveal truth: to us about ourselves, about God's will, and, about the divinity of the Savior, etc. In my own personal experience, the Holy Ghost has been most important as he as helped me to understand truths about myself, the truths about Heaven and their involvement in my life, and the workings of the Savior and his gospel.

    Thank you, Invictus, for your gospel doctrine classes. I appreciate all the work to which you go to help us learn and think about our own lives.