Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Worth of Souls

In Egyptian mythology, the beast Ammit was said to devour the unworthy heart or soul that weighed more than a feather. All but the purest of souls were consumed.

Today I learned of another two suicides. Two teenage boys, both Mormon and both gay. They died within two days of each other. Of course, the decision to kill oneself is never a simple one, and there are usually many complex factors that lead a person to do so. To pin it solely on sexuality or rejection from their faith tradition, particularly to weaponize their deaths against the opposing camp, has already been done often enough.

I have contemplated writing this post before, but tonight feels like the right moment. It will take a tone of emotionless pragmatism. If you still feel tender in the wake of tragedy, I advise you to read elsewhere.

Often suicides such as these spark discontent among others. Comments such as “The Church needs to stop!” or “When will the Church finally change?” follow each death. The answer I’ve come to is that the Church will not change. It simply does not make sense in the economy of heaven.

My brother just completed a mission in Madagascar. As we drove out into the country, he explained that missionaries did not look for investigators outside of major towns; it is not feasible to do so. The people in the country are uneducated, and therefore cannot read the Book of Mormon or easily understand new complex abstract concepts like the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. Even if they did baptize people, the new branch president would be too tempted to steal Church funds to feed his starving family. And it simply would take too much time to walk the large distances in between houses. You can contact and convert more people when they are in a concentrated area. So despite there being amazing people in the countryside who may very well accept the Gospel, they aren’t worth the proselytizing effort or the Church’s limited resources, which can be more effectively spent elsewhere.

Anyone who has served a mission knows that the Church is concerned about numbers. We count how many people are in Church each Sunday, and we proudly announce total Church membership at Conference each year. The formula is simple: we want to bring the Gospel to as many people as efficiently as possible. The worth of souls may be great in the sight of God, but even a soul of infinite worth is worth less than two souls of infinite worth. The Church does the math and tries to save the majority of people, even when it means leaving others behind.

So let’s bring this back to LGBTQ issues. True, the worth of each queer soul is of incomparable value, but it makes better sense to sacrifice them for the greater numerical good. While Europe and North America may be more accepting of queer people now, they are still anathema everywhere else. The Church is expanding globally, and they need to take into account their image in Russia, China, and Uganda. If they start teaching that LGBTQ people aren’t sinning, they risk losing access to the billions of potential converts in these countries. It makes more sense to sacrifice a couple hundred thousand queer Mormons in exchange for many more souls saved in heaven. This is especially true  when some queer Mormons stay in the Church anyway, ensuring that their souls too are saved.

But there’s more at risk than new converts; the current membership would also be in danger should the Church change their position. Many would leave because they would not be able to accept queer people in the Church. We already saw this happen in 1978 when the Priesthood Ban was lifted and people of African descent were given equal status.

What’s worse, people’s faith in the Prophet’s infallibility would be shaken. The Church has assiduously taught that homosexuality is a sin for the last sixty years. They have placed special emphasis on it for the last 20, with “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and more recently the November Policy Change. When members have complained, they have doubled down and said that it is through revelation that they guide the Church, and that this is all God’s decision.

Should a new revelation come that changes all of these doctrines and policies, allowing queer people to marry or even to exist, then members would inevitably ask what good prophetic revelations are. Our Church is distinguished from the many other Christian sects by its adherence to Priesthood authority and modern day prophets. Without this, it could spell the end of Mormonism as we know it. Christ’s one true church would topple, and no one would receive the saving ordinances that allow access to the Celestial Kingdom. Entire generations of souls would be bereft of the blessings of the Gospel.

So do the math. Two gay Mormon teenagers took their lives this week. Two souls lost in pain, despair, and ostracization. Quite possibly they were lost to the sin of acting on their homosexuality, meaning that they are lost for all eternity. But that is a small price to pay for the continuation of Christ’s true Church and the hundreds of thousands of souls it will save this year alone. Even 100 or 1000 suicides wouldn’t make queer acceptance worth it.

I remember the parable of the lost sheep at times like this: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4). But if, by going after that lost sheep, the entire flock were scattered while the shepherd were away, would he still go after it? I am also reminded of what the Spirit whispered to Nephi before he decapitated Laban in cold blood:

It is better that two teenage boys should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief. 


  1. What in heavens name made you think this is the right time to write something that is so completely devoid of Christian compassion and charity?! Your sadistic cruelty after the absolutely tragic deaths of these boys is utterly breathtaking. Words completely fail me. Utter and total shame on you!!

    1. Edward, the sadistic cruelty and utter lack of compassion is kind of the point. I'm glad that it offends you, as it shows you're an empathetic and loving human being. Thanks for reading.

  2. I really love reading your posts. They are usually so interesting and really thoughtful. I especially appreciate how you make your content abrasive at times, like in this post. It really makes your blog one of my favorites.