In a recent Sunstone magazine, a person wrote a letter arguing that Mormonism could abide gay marriage if the partners are married just for earthly time, not for eternity. (He even mentioned that such marriages-for-time could take place inside the temple, but I think the church has stopped doing those, which was smart in light of today's marriage wars.) Here is my rebuttal, which I hope Sunstone will publish:
In response to Jim Rasmussen's letter (December 2008) regarding my essay "Why Mormonism Can't Abide Gay Marriage" (October 2008), let me add some more reasoning about why Mormonism shouldn't and can't, in my opinion, ever condone same-sex marriage, not even just for time rather than eternity.
First of all, Mormonism abhors a sealing vacuum. The church takes pains to encourage everyone to get sealed for eternity to a spouse. In fact, it's better for a woman to remain sealed to her civilly divorced husband than to revert to an unsealed state. After I was divorced, my ex-wife was not able to cancel our sealing until she had found a new husband with whom to become sealed in the temple. So if the church condones marriage for time between same-gender spouses, that removes those parties from the possibility, however slight it may be, of getting properly sealed to a spouse for eternity. (The most difficult case remains that of men who marry widows who were previously sealed to someone else; while it's true that these men apparently remain unsealed to a spouse for now, any progeny are sealed by virtue of the wife's prior sealing. Of course, in many if not most cases, such marriages happen in later life, and the male was already previously sealed to a spouse too, so he's already taken care of and there's no sealing vacuum.)
Secondly, and more importantly, is the issue of actual gay sexual relations, which Rasmussen did not address in his letter. Just because the church seems to have adopted a don't-ask-don't-tell policy regarding oral sex between heterosexual marriage partners doesn't mean that it could ever come anywhere near accepting gay sexual practices, which it would be doing if it condoned gay marriage in any form. In my essay, I tried to address this issue in muted language, but now I will be more blunt: God has a penis. Created in his image, his male children also have penises, and they are commanded to use them only in Godlike ways within marriage. If we say that it's OK under certain circumstances for males to manipulate each other's penises or insert them into each other's mouths or rectums, then we have to imagine male gods being able to do that amongst themselves with their own genitals, which of course makes reason stare, at least for most of us. (Equivalent logic can be applied with females.) So if we can't imagine our corporeal God doing this, that makes gay sex an unholy and impure practice that Mormonism can never accommodate on any terms. We're here to learn to become like God, especially in the sexual arena, and there is no temporary allowance or validation for earthly sexual perversion, even for those burdened with seemingly insurmountable exclusively same-gender attraction.
When I hear liberal Mormons romanticize the notion of gay marriage, I think they are glossing over the cold reality that the physical aspects of such unions are simply unacceptable in Mormon theology, period. Personally, I believe that oral sex between married heterosexuals is also an unholy and impure practice to some degree, even if the church has backed off from trying to outright prohibit it, and I feel that society's recent open acceptance of this practice has indirectly strengthened the gay agenda. While I personally don't pretend to fully understand the same-gender-attraction dilemma and would never judge any individual's accountability in that area, the fact remains that physical gay couplings of any kind run counter to Mormon theology and can never be accepted through consecrating gay unions via marriage, even if only for time.