Monday, September 20, 2010

Gender imbalances and eternity

Here’s a Mormon meme that i don’t think i hear as much as i used to, but that i still hear occasionally: that more women will inherit the Celestial Kingdom than men. (Every once in a while you even hear the dreaded “A general authority said in a stake conference that…” on this one.)

Anyway, i for one haven't been able to find any definitive word on this issue. Most defenses of the claim, though, go something like this:

  1. Every individual that receives exaltation must be sealed.
  2. Some men have been sealed to more than one wife. (Not just nineteenth-century polygynous sealings, either—for example, under current policy a widower can be sealed to his second wife while remaining sealed to his first wife, but this is not done for widows.)
  3. God keeps covenant promises. This means that those who keep their covenants cannot have a sealing broken.
  4. Therefore, if at least one man and two of his wives keep their covenants, there will be more women than men in the highest level of the celestial kingdom.

The problem, though, is that this is based on certain widely-held but uncertain assumptions. For example, assumption (1) seems reasonable, but we don't actually know that it’s true as stated. Those who die before the age of accountability, for example, are saved in the celestial kingdom automatically, sealing in the sense we think of it or no.

Assumption (2) presents an incomplete picture. Some women have been sealed to more than one husband, to begin with—under current practice, when doing sealings for the dead, if a woman was married more than once she is sealed to all of her husbands.

I’ll agree with (3), but that doesn’t lead directly to (4), even ignoring the problems with (1) and (2). Conclusion (4) seems logical enough, but i would argue that those who present it are making an assumption that sealings work in postmortal existence the way they’re applied in mortal existence. (That’s arguably a warranted assumption, but one that one oughtn’t make without explicitly building a case for it.)

Basically, we don’t know. Given the desire of Mormons to fill doctrinal gaps, though, it’s the sort of speculation one would certainly expect to find.

Definitely doesn’t make it right, though.

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Actually, I think sometimes people actually say that as "proof" women are more righteous than men...