By Christopher Cooper
Is it wrong to aspire to positions of leadership, or request advancements within the priesthood if you feel you have been overlooked? Active, worthy, gay members of the Church may readily advance through the mechanical steps of Deacon, Teacher, Priest, and Elder when they arrive at the stipulated ages, but the invitation to become a High Priest is one that may forever elude most active, worthy, gay LDS men because of reasons which may never be fully explained, or are even doctrinally justified.
Active and single LDS gay members are largely excluded from being invited to be High Priests due mostly to the fact that the invitation comes by peer-election from those men already within that group – men who may not be inclined to invite someone “queer” to join with them. The Church’s current discretionary process of invitations and recommendations for Elders to be High Priests presents an added degree of subtle discrimination to active gay Elders commonly overlooked for High Priest advancement.
Many Elders assume the invitation to become a High Priest comes at the time of receiving a call to be on a Bishopric or Stake High Council – both of which require the individual to be married, which is correct, but in addition to this, High Priests who wish to invite another brother to join with them – even if unmarried – can initiate recommendations at any time. There are no stated qualifications to do with age, marital status, maturity or any such thing other than to already hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. A worthy single elder has the right to claim priesthood leadership ranks up until Elder, but the next and highest rank of High Priest may forever elude him if the other brothers do not wish him to join with them for whatever unstated reason.
Is it wrong to want for something noble that you do not already have? The feeling is that it is wrong to aspire to this High Priesthood, and especially wrong to ever request it, yet Abraham taught us differently when he wrote of his aspirations for the very same – “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same… and desiring instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.”
So while the current handbook of instructions states that becoming a High Priest is determined by the stake president with the bishop usually initiating the recommendation for these ordinations, our scriptures teach us that Abraham actively petitioned for this right that was his, and he claimed it and became a “rightful heir”. Might we therefore suggest that LDS gay men and other single men who are constantly being excluded from being invited to join with their other brothers as High Priests therefore speak up about this, question why, and petition for this as Abraham once did?
Each Sunday LDS men witness the charade where they combine at first together, and then the men who have been invited to be High Priests are excused from the main body to meet in separation. The same lessons are fundamentally taught from the same lesson manuals as the Elders Quorum, which prompts the question why such a separation is ever required, if not for reasons of exclusionism, separatism, or elitism?
In our pre-mortal life, many were foreordained to priesthood offices (Alma 13:3, Abraham 3:23). Joseph Smith taught that anyone who receives a priesthood office in this life was foreordained to such in the pre-existence. Clearly, before September 1978, there were men living on the earth who were foreordained to hold priesthood offices, but they were denied this because of what Elder Bruce R. McConkie describes as the “limited understanding” of the time. It is surely the case that there are thousands of active gay brethren today who are fore-ordained to hold the priesthood, and even that of High Priest, and their hearts yearn for this, yet they are currently overlooked because of the “limited understanding” of the rest of their brethren who do not want them there, and therefore have not invited them.
The Church affirms that God is “no respecter of persons” and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous is favored of Him. In 2 Nephi we read “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”
May we as LDS work harder to ‘denieth none’ and to be no ‘respector of persons’, and to be of ‘one heart and one mind’, especially as it concerns our gay brothers and sisters.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalms 133:1