Imagination, Hope, and Queer Mormonism

Imagine a world where weapons are transformed into tools of creation, instead of melting down church bells for bullets, we melt down tanks and guns and knives to form plows and homes (Isaiah 2:4).

Imagine a world where countries cease to fight with one another, where each one of us loves our enemies and helps those that hurt and use us (4 Nephi 1:2, Matt. 5:44).

Imagine a world where all things are held in common and no poor exist, where everyone has what they need and refuses to take advantage of another (4 Nephi 1:3).

Imagine a world where people and their desires are so good, that the devil himself will have no power to even tempt us to do evil (1 Nephi 22:26).

Imagine a Kingdom that is like yeast and a mustard seed, where the first shall be last and the last shall be first and the poor in spirit are in charge and and and… (Matt. 13:31-33, Matt. 20:16, Matt. 5:3).

What a wild world. I believe in that world, but I have no idea what it looks like, how to bring it into existence, or what my day-to-day life in such a world would look like. If I can’t imagine it, then how am I supposed to live it?

I believe that it is my moral responsibility to live as close to the world that Jesus and scripture describe as possible. Not to single-handedly usher in Zion and the Millennium, but to be actively working alongside my comrades in Christ to prepare the earth to receive its paradisiacal glory (AoF 1:10).

As I was recently reading Taylor Petrey’s Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism (2020), I was struck by the ways in which official church teachings surrounding gender and sexuality seem tied to beliefs and assumptions about what Heaven will look like. Since I think we should be far more humble about such beliefs (and all beliefs really), I couldn’t help but think that if we could imagine alternatives to the vision of Heaven that seems standard throughout much of modern Mormonism, that vision could inspire us to transform how we treat one another in the here and now.

For me, this type of imaginative, speculative thinking is key to hope. If I cannot imagine what the Kingdom of God is like, how can I hope for it? How can I work with God to bring it to pass? How can I hope for something that I cannot envision?

As pride month draws to a close, in the midst of national protests and conversations surrounding racial injustice, I feel a religious, spiritual, moral imperative to imagine a brighter, kinder, more Christlike world. I believe that Mormonism has rich potential for playing a role in bringing this world to pass, a true Zion community, where we’re of one heart and one mind. And, I think we can begin that work in speculative theology, carving out spaces to explore what Mormonism can offer to the Saints and what we can in turn offer the world.

So, let’s do some imaginative, speculative fiction! These are not meant to be binding in anyway, just springboards to more imaginative thinking about what a better, kinder, queer Mormonism could look like. I hope to do more stuff in this vein and I’d love for y’all to join me.

I. The Council

The Council convened. The Gods gathered together—God-Dad, God-Mom, God-Spirit, God-Brother, God-Sister, and the others. The time was nigh to decide the precise roles of the noble and great ones. The Council ruled with one voice, though they took turns writing the degrees (and on rare occasions there would be split decisions with dissenting degrees offered—Orson and Brigham’s debates will be, or were, or are (it’s hard to say when all time is present) an unfortunate side-effect of this approach). Tonight’s Council meeting once convened has never ceased…

II. ‘The Family’

“200 years ago, the Quorum of the 12—at the time all men—released the original ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’. Further revelation at the centennial of the proclamation expanded the teachings found within it to cover our nonbinary and genderqueer siblings, describing how the ‘male’ and ‘female’ binary contained in the original document is better understood as two artificial groupings of a spectrum, and that all of us have masculine and feminine characteristics,” the Bishop continued for the duration of the meeting weaving together the history and present gender teachings into a powerful sermon on how to best perform our own unique gender identity. She was one of the last bishops that had gone through the Church’s official clergy training before they reverted to the lay clergy model that had defined previous generations, focusing on the history and theology of gender and sexuality (a somewhat old-fashioned arrangement, but still useful).

III. Choose Your Creation

“Welcome to the highest tier of the Celestial Kingdom! I’ll be your guide during the brief orientation. Remember as we go through everything that even if it’s not what you expected, God’s house is a house of order. Here in the Celestial Kingdom, we’re all about creation—ambicreation and antecreation. That’s the creation of planets and the creation of spirit bodies. To maintain the order of God’s House, you’re each assigned tokens for each type of creation—you earn these at regular intervals and in regular amounts. You’re welcome to barter amongst yourselves for more or less of either token.

You’ll need at least two people to unlock either variety of creation—nothing is done here in isolation. Out of the mouth of two or three (or four or five or, you get it), witnesses, ya know. It is simply impossible to engage in either ambicreation or antecreation without the proper tokens and a second, consenting individual with their respective tokens. Don’t trouble yourselves with the how right now, that’s for another time. Now, on to your ‘mansions’.”

IV. Sealing

Louie was dead. She’d been dead for some time now, hard to say exactly how long, time is a finicky thing on earth, and gets even more so beyond the veil. She lived in CK with her wife and husband, though those labels may mask the nature of the bonds between the three of them, trying to force a mortal understanding that doesn’t quite capture the richness and complexity. Louie and her wife were sealed, as they say, as were Louie and her husband. Louie’s husband and Louie’s wife, however, weren’t. They just weren’t that close. They liked each other fine, but never felt the need to seal their friendship. They both were sealed to other friends and relatives, but just didn’t feel that special connection with each other.

V. A Calling

“Today’s a special day in the Celestial Earth 7th Ward. God is being released. All in favor of thanking Josh for his years of service as God please make it manifest. Thank you. Now, can Layla, please stand. We have extended a call to Layla to serve as God for the next dispensation. All who can sustain Layla in this calling, make it manifest by raising the right hand. Any opposed by the same sign. Thank you. Layla, can you please join us on the stand? Josh will share a brief testimony, after which Layla, excuse me, God will address us. After Her remarks, we’ll sing ‘In Our Lovely Deseret’. We’ll proceed to that point. Josh?”