Mormon.org FAQ: Homosexuality

Hawkgrrrl Mormon 120 Comments

We’ve explored some of the answers members have posted on the mormon.org site in the church’s new profiles campaign.  So far, we’ve discussed member answers to questions about polygamypriesthood, politics, parenting, and prophets.  Today, let’s see what members had to say about the church’s stance on homosexuality.  Heaven help us!

Here’s the question:  What is the Church’s attitude on homosexuality?  Why is homosexuality and same-sex marriage important to the Mormon Church?

From the church’s official response.  Interestingly, this is from the Ensign in 1998, but there is a more recent interview on lds.org that is a little less harsh (in that it doesn’t use the term “so-called” which implies disdain for whatever term follows):

“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

“We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

In light of the church’s stance, there’s not much room to maneuver.  Answers that seemed best to me at navigating these tricky waters:

  • I’m Gay & Mormon.  Hmmm.  Strangely, no profiles said that.  Silence speaks louder than words?
  • Celibate + Homosexual = OK.  Since this is the church’s stance, I suppose that’s really the only way to answer.  It also should make it clear that we would accept and welcome those who are celibate in full fellowship.  The celibate clause may be cold comfort, but again, that’s all we’ve got to work with here. The best of these are probably ones that are
    • “So how do those with same-sex attraction fit into the Church? They should be loved and supported just like anyone else. . . Celibacy is expected of all unmarried individuals, homosexual as well as heterosexual.”
    • “We love our brothers and sisters who have same-gender attraction, and welcome them in the church as long as they keep the law of chastity.”
    • “Some homosexuals may feel it is too much to ask to have them remain chaste, but any member of the church that is not married is commanded not to have sexual relations as well. There are people in the church who have been single their whole lives and die single, never having broken that commandment. We expect this of homosexuals as well.”
    • “The Church teaches that feeling same-sex attraction may not be a choice, but that acting on those feelings is.”
  • We are against discrimination.  A good reminder (for members, too), SSM notwithstanding.  Loads of profiles went down this path.
    • “At lunch we noticed that a gay member of our organization was sitting alone, shuned by others. We walked over an joined her for lunch. She asked an interesting question: “Why is it that you Mormons, who have the strongest beliefs against the gay lifestlye, always treat me with the greatest kindness among all of my co-workers?””
    • “Mormons also believe that people with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and that violence and unkindness toward people with same-sex attraction is as sinful as violence or unkindness to anyone else.”
    • “Meanwhile, all of us–gay or straight, older or young, conservative or liberal–can work on being kind and loving to others and ourselves. One of our church leaders, Joseph Wirthlin, put it this way, “The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony.””
    • “”…..The Church does not object to rights…regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference……””
    • “Should gays have the same basic human rights that we all enjoy? Of course. I personally believe that there is plenty of middle ground to be found — particularly as it relates to civil unions.”
    • “In regard to Gay Marriage, the church has found it important to speak out against the granting of the title of Marriage to Unions between gay couples. Yet, the church is not anti-gay. The Church has spoken out in favor of a non-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City. Members of the church are divided on the issue of Civil Unions though many members in Good Standing including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are ardent supporters. It is my belief that Gay Couples should have all of the same rights as straight couples, but that the title of marriage is something sacred that should be guarded and protected.”
    • “This is kind of a tricky one for me to answer. As I’ve stated, I disagree with any form of bigotry, and believe that discrimination of all sorts goes against God’s will. I’ve received personal assurance that I am supposed to be fighting against discrimination and bigotry in all forms, and that includes discrimination against homosexuals and anyone else in the LGBT community. But please do not take that statement, or my previous political activism (completely on hold during my mission) and believe that I disagree with the teachings of the church.”
  • We are pro-marriage.  Again, it’s kind of skirting the question by affirming what we do stand for vs. what we don’t support, but there’s not much to work with here.
    • “The Church believes that marriage is ordained of God and is defined as the legal and lawful union of a man and a woman. No other sexual relation is condoned by God.”  This sexual relation was brought to you by . . .
  • Someone close to me is gay.  This is better than the elusive token friend, and much more personal.
    • “my best friend of over 20 years is bisexual, and she is also the most loving, unselfish person I have ever met.”
    • “My older brother is homosexual. I love him to death and so does my family. Many people misunderstand the church’s stance on homosexuality because of the emphasis we place on the family. It is difficult to be a member of the church and be homosexual, but it is possible. Personally I do everything I can to promote a feeling of love and compassion towards those who struggle with same sex attraction. It is a trait that my brother has to deal with. He is not a member of the church.”
    • “This was an important question that I had when I was learning about the church because my Mom is gay and married her partner. It was important for me that I need always accept her and love her. The churches views on homosexuality can be found in the Bible. It states that marriage is between a man and a woman.  A friend said it to me best, she said, “The church does not support same-sex marriage, but we do support families.” That was all I needed to hear. Even though I am a member of this church and I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, I still love my mom and her partner.”

Middle of the road, and not so comforting:

  • Hate the sin, love the sinner.  Since we are all sinners, this seems a little hypocritical and condescending.  However, many commenters DID point out that we are all sinners, so kudos for that!
    • “Simply put, homosexuality is a sin. God has commanded that this ought not to be. However, that does not entitle anyone to discriminate against a person who is a homosexual. It is sin that God hates, not sinners.”
  • I have lots of gay friends.  I do have lots of gay friends, but it sounds like tokenism to say so.
    • “I have had many friends who have chosen that lifestyle. I love them, but do not support their sin.”
    • “I personally know and have close friendships with a large handful of Mormons who experience varying levels of homosexuality–some have left the teachings of the church (to remain celibate or wait until they find someone of the opposite gender who they love) for a gay lifestyle, but most remain active in the church, getting support from loving people who do not judge them.”
    • “I have homosexual friends who are good members of the church. I have one friend in particular who left the church for many years to live in a homosexual relationship. But at one point he decided that the Lord’s gospel was more important to him and so he came back to the church and refrained from sex. His sexuality didn’t change, his behavior changed. He died some years back from AIDS, still firm in the faith.”  The mention of AIDS sounds a little cautionary to me.

What really set the hairs on the back of my neck up:

  • I used to be gay, but now I’m not.  Fortunately, I saw NO comments like this either, and I’m glad.
  • Being homosexual is a choice.  Science certainly doesn’t back this on the whole, although there are some exceptions (e.g. bisexuals, childhood abuse).
    • “The concept of marriage of a man and a woman is so fundamental to our beliefs about the nature of the hereafter that we are very sensitive about the issue. Having other forms of union between people accepted as though they were the same as the God sanctioned union of a man and a woman hits at the very core of this concept. This attitude can and has convinced individuals to choose this lifestyle and turn away from the one sanctioned by the Lord and forfeit substantial eternal blessings.”  I’m not sure SSM causes people who would otherwise not be gay to become gay; it probably discourages gays from heterosexual marriages, which is a good thing, IMO.  Does it discourage homosexual celibacy?  I doubt it impacts that one way or another.
    • “Homosexuality is a sin just like any other defiance against God’s will.”  Being gay is defiant?  Sassy, maybe.
    • “I have a few friends who have chosen to act on the temptations and urges that accompany homosexuality and while I do not agree with their choices, I still love them like brothers. Some people argue that God “created” men and women gay. I disagree. God does not, nor cannot, create sin. That being said, I do believe that there are some people out there that develop or are prone naturally to an attraction to the same sex. Does this mean God created them gay? . . . So to those who feel that they were “born gay” I say you were created just as everyone else, except you were given a trial that God knows you are capable of handling.”  The use of quotation marks around “born gay” implies that people are not, in fact, born gay.  Which science disputes.  The whole answer is a bit confusing, really.
    • “Homosexuality is simply a manmade way–an alternative to God’s design. It serves no purpose for God, for it is contrary to His design.”
    • “I have a friend that chooses to be homosexual and he asked me about this a few months ago. . . .  I realize that for some people it is a biological urge as strong as that of any heterosexual man.”  So, it sounds like the friend chose it, but others don’t.
  • Gay = disability.  While it may be the implied doctrine, I’m not going to say it.
    • “My heart goes out to those who deal with same-sex attraction, including my friends and family who deal with this trial. . . We believe, however, that homosexuality is one of the challenges of life just as others are given their own struggles addiction, disability, illness, childhood trauma, etc.. For us, there is a difference between same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior.”
    • “I do not look down on homosexuals and I don’t see them as bad people. We all have things we are dealing with and things we need to overcome.”  But do you respect them and see them as good people?
    • “Someone born with a disability or disfigurement was given that body with the an express purpose. What is that purpose? Most of us will never know. Why does God let children be born blind, deaf, or crippled? He allows this to happen because this life is a time for us to be tried and proven. A sad part of life is that we all must experience sorrow, trials and temptations. We can’t escape that.”
  • Gays should marry heterosexuals.  Yikes.
    • “Those with homosexual tendencies and desires, regardless of how they were derived, should seek the Lord’s help in redirecting their behavior towards the end of having a spouse of the opposite sex.”  This just seems like bad advice to me.
  • SSM would be disastrous for humanity.
    • “But if same-sex marriage is made legal, it will require those of us who believe it is wrong to officially accept it.”
    • “We reach out a hand of fellowship to all men everywhere, but homosexuality and same-sex marriage is destructive to our whole society and way of life. These practices lead to the ruin of mankind, so we warn all men everywhere against these practices.”
  • Other funny stuff I found:
    • Misused euphemism.  “This is why it is important to not use or act on those powers of procreation outside of the bonds of matrimony”  Technically, you can’t call homosexual acts “powers of procreation,” and certainly many sexual acts are not procreative in nature.  Sometimes we just like a turn of phrase so much we don’t stop to ask ourselves if it makes any sense.
    • What the –?  “I think the real lesson is a warning against being so lustful that you don’t care who – or what! – you are having sex with, to the point where your not so much a person anymore, but more like a horny dog that will hump anything indiscriminately. Reality TV, anyone?”  OK, I actually did like this answer overall, but she kind of wandered off a little bit there at the end.  “Horny dog” passed the filter?  Hilarious!
    • Mormon-speak alert!  “We believe that all of us have freedom to choose, yet all of us have temptations, thorns of the flesh, if you will.”  Thorns of the flesh?  I think this is a Mormon euphemism, especially since the guy who said it looked like he was in his twenties.
    • Wow, just wow.  “The church truly believes in love. (just not homosexual love) In men and women being together for all eternity. I too am a firm believer in this. Men and women come together to learn how to become an eternal partnership. One is never truly without the other.  Homosexuality, derives from this goal. (‘scuze me?  I think she means it detracts from or it deviates from or it deters from . . . ??  Is this a Freudian slip?)  It means that a family cannot be achieved through natural causes. No, it does not mean I do not love everyone equally. I have people who are quite close to me that practice homosexual behaviours. (As Hawkeye would say, “practice makes perfect”)  However, at the same time, I cannot say it is part of God’s immediate plan.”  (But it is part of his long-range plan?)  This person is just all over the map here.
    • Is this guy’s wife reading this?  “I’m a married man. Is my wife the only person I find attractive in a sexual way? Of course not. I have to exercise self control to keep the law of chastity.”  DO tell!

What I might say:

  • “No comment.”
  • Since the church doesn’t welcome practicing homosexuals, I would certainly think they are not the target audience of this FAQ.
  • The law of chastity requires that you abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.  Since the church considers homosexual acts to be unchaste, the church does not sanction gay marriage.  Is a legally married homosexual unchaste?  I leave that to God to decide.
  • No one who isn’t gay would choose to be gay just for the fun of it.
  • I would never knowingly encourage someone who is homosexual to marry heterosexually as a way to reform their natural feelings.  That seems destined to fail.
  • Being gay in the LDS church would be extremely difficult.  I imagine that a loving God would understand that.  I am not to judge.

What do you think?  What would you say?  Do you agree that the so-called phrase “so-called” should be stricken?  Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 120

  1. As a struggling member of the church, this subject causes me so much turmoil. Reading the trite, ignorant, and dismissive answers you’ve outlined here doesn’t help. I’d have a lot more respect for church members and it’s leadership if they would just be straightforward with what they believe instead of back peddling and sugarcoating. All the tripe they spout in lieu of that just serves to further alienate people like me: members who have issues with what appears to be a century + long habit of colorfully repainting doctrine and church history.

    Just for clarification, I believe homosexuality is an inherent trait — not some choice or sinful inclination that people must choose to overcome like smoking or stealing. (I can’t tell you how much that comparison chaps my you-know-what.) I am also ADAMANTLY pro gay marriage.

  2. Well, with all due respect, it seems like faithful Mormons are in a bit of a fix with this question. If you believe the party line is inspired, and yet don’t argue with contemporary psychological and biological evidence that (at least some) sexual orientation is not a choice, then the only self-consistent conclusion you can come up with is that homosexuality is some sort of biological handicap, like depression or a predilection to addiction, meant to be struggled with even if it cannot be entirely overcome in this life.

    The only other option I can see is to say the church has it all wrong on this issue. Homosexuality doesn’t fit in with the church’s current teachings on eternal families, and it seems to me that restructuring that view would take one heckuva revelation.

    So yes, asking the members about homosexuality is going to be dangerous, especially if the only acceptable answer is that we embrace homosexuality as beautiful and normal, because the church simply doesn’t. I can’t see how pain can be avoided here.

    Also, there are gay Mormons responding to the question on homosexuality:
    http://www.mormon.org/me/1TJC-eng/David

  3. Before I start, can someone tell me how to start my own post (don’t wanna “thread-jack)…..

    I’ve a bro-in-law that is gay and has a partner and another male relative that has had both gay and straight relationships (don’t know if he can be considered ‘bi’ as he has been monagamous in whatever relationship he’s been in), also dated a lady that though previously married has struggled with bisexuality (she sez that it’s a part of her being and she doesn’t want to engage in further lesbian relationships but still at times feels the attraction).

    I feel no hesitation to commend the PRACTICE of homosexuality; however, it doesn’t mean that indulgence in sexual sins of a ‘hetero’ nature are somehow less “bad” in the eyes of the LORD, IMO. Someone who has the inclination but does not act on it should not feel that the inclinations of themselves are sinful. Still, if it’s powerful enough to interfere with a normal marriage then perhaps the person thus afflicted shouldn’t marry.

    Until about 1973 it was considered a mental disorder in the eyes of Psychiatry: what, other than politics and cowardic, changed their minds?

    If I, being decidedly heterosexual, were to take on a mistress or “concubine”, I’d be run out of the Church on the proverbial rail. Why, therefore, do those that break of the law of chastity in a homosexual manner feel that they have some type of special privilege or that they’re the subject of bigotry if the wrongfulness of their conduct is pointed out and they’re held to account?

  4. A highly charged subject that has so many facets. My observation is that no civil conversation is possible because of political correctness, politics, human rights, religious beliefs, the uncertainty of science and just plain old hostility.

    So the best course is: no comment.

  5. Doug 4: do you mean to say “commend” or did you mean “condemn”? While the early 20th century had a pretty poor record of acceptance of homosexuality, that has not been the case historically and in other cultures. In many cultures, homosexuals had special status.

    Heather 3: I think people are doing the best they can, but the church’s policy is difficult and colored by conventional wisdom. Many of their answers leave me flat, too, but I also find talking to just about anyone on this topic is unsatisfying. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom changes over time (often as scientific knowledge changes). I’d rather the church be willing to revise its stance when necessary than stick doggedly to inaccurate statements contradicted by fact.

  6. A married heterosexual man wanting to take a mistress, or “so-called” concubine (?), is not the same as a homosexual man wanting to marry and stay faithful to one man.

    Hawkgrrrl, I really like your third bullet point. It’s hard to imagine how the LDS church would ever fully accept faithful gay and lesbian people. But maybe in the distant future, people will start to accept that someone could receive personal revelation to marry their SO in something other than an LDS temple marriage.

  7. Hawkgrrl,

    You explored all of the responses, except in my opinion, the right answer. All of us are born with some propensity or challenge – some have a hard time controlling their emotions and act out in anger and violence, while others have no temptation in this area; others can easily become addicted to pornography, while others have no attraction to this behavior; some can have a few drinks or puffs from a cigarette or bong and be addicted for life, while others have no temptation for drugs or alcohol. In short, ALL of us are born with some propensity for evil. This would include those that are born with same sex attraction.

    The question is not whether we will face certain tendencies in this life; rather, the question is how we will deal with these tendencies and challenges. The difference is that some of those that are born with same sex attraction what to change the rules. They do not want to accept that their tendency is wrong. It would be tantamount to someone with an addiction to pornography to say, “Look I was born this way and there is nothing I can do to change the way I am. What’s more, I want you to accept me for who I am and not judge me”. I don’t think this would go over well with the Lord or his church. Rather, he has said “my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them”.

  8. My last two comments must be in a moderation queue somewhere — could somebody get them out? They include a link to a gay Mormon answering the homosexuality question on mormon.org.

  9. #8 Will: in fairness, and in keeping with the “official” answer that HG quoted in her OP, the statement “They do not want to accept that their tendency is wrong” is at least a mischaracterization of the church’s position, and at worst is offensive.

    The “official” statment which HG quotes makes clear that in the church’s view what sin exists is in actions (such as acting on those tendencies, or, as the statement calls them, inclinations), not in the inclinations themselves. To use (but not endorse) your metaphor, the same is true of an alcoholic or heroin addict: the ‘sin’ is not in the addiction itself but in the abuse of the addictive substance.

    Finally, I’d note that the “official” statement quoted in the OP, though perhaps not attributed at Mormon.org, is from President Hinckley.

  10. There’s an interesting age-related difference in the LDS population. Judging from my own extended family, I would guess that 80% of active LDS people under the age of 30 support gay relationships in some form. Well over half of this group support civil recognition of same-sex marriages.

    Active LDS people in the 60+ age range are not generally supportive of same-sex relationships– perhaps a third of this group think they are okay in some circumstances and maybe 10% support the idea of same-sex marriage.

    In the middle ages, from 30 to 60, I’d guess that support for same-sex relationships is maybe 50% and same-sex marriage is about 35%.

    Do these numbers correspond with what others have observed in LDS friends and family members? With numbers like these, it’s clear that many LDS people must be experiencing significant cognitive dissonance with respect to this issue. The mormon.org site encourages (enforces) consistency with official LDS positions. I would therefore guess that the responses in this FAQ are somewhat more conservative than a random sampling of the active LDS population would show.

  11. And in the “where angels fear to tread” department, your cousins in the Community of Christ have decided that the pain to the US church can no longer be set aside, and is being dragged slowly toward dealing with the theology of same sex marriage and the priesthood calls of gays. The First Presidency has announced the following next step, leading toward a national conference to deal specifically with these issues in the Summer of 2012:

    “The World Church Leadership Council (general officers, presidents of World Church quorums, and directors) and the Standing High Council will meet in retreat September 18–19, 2010. The retreat’s purpose is to discuss the 1982 Standing High Council statement on “Homosexuality” and the 2002 World Church Leadership Council statement on “Community, Common Consent, and Homosexuality.”

    “This discussion is in response to confusion in some areas about which parts of the statements are official policy and which parts describe perspectives on homosexuality when the statements were written. In response to requests for clarification, the groups will work together to provide helpful information to the church as discussions about same-gender and sexual-orientation issues continue and plans are made for national or field conferences.

    “The Presidency invites members and friends to remember the World Church Leadership Council and the Standing High Council in your prayers as these leadership groups discuss extremely complex issues in the church’s life.”

    Background is in this post from a few months ago:

    http://mormonmatters.org/2010/04/21/after-action-report-the-community-of-christ-did-what/

  12. Post
    Author
  13. For many years, a black woman and a white man were banned from being sealed in the temple. This obviously had nothing to do with a “priesthood ban”, as women can’t hold the priesthood anyway. It was merely based on race. This couple could be legally married civilly. They could be active members in the Church. As long as they were chaste before marriage and faithful after marriage, they were not considered to be breaking the law of chastity.

    I could see the Church eventually accepting this same position with regards to homosexual marriage without much doctrinal shift (and certainly MUCH loss doctrinal shift than Brigham Young teaching that an interracial marriage meant immediate death). This couple would still be banned from being sealed in the temple. They could be legally marriage civilly where that was allowed. They could still be active in the Church. And as long as they were chaste before marriage and faithful after marriage, they could also technically not be breaking the law of chastity. Church leaders have taught that being homosexual in and of itself is NOT a sin, but breaking the law of chastity is a sin.

  14. “In many cultures, homosexuals had special status.”

    In 20th Century America, homosexuals had special status, but I don’t think that is what you were trying to express. As far as unspecial status goes, being just another pair-forming part of society just like Mom and Dad, “many cultures” would be better phrased “a handful of cultures out of hundreds some have searched through.”

  15. Re #14, here is a repost of the deleted comment.


    There’s an interesting age-related difference in the LDS population. Judging from my own extended family, I would guess that 80% of active LDS people under the age of 30 support gay relationships in some form. Well over half of this group support civil recognition of same-sex marriages.

    Active LDS people in the 60+ age range are not generally supportive of same-sex relationships– perhaps a third of this group think they are okay in some circumstances and maybe 10% support the idea of same-sex marriage.

    In the middle ages, from 30 to 60, I’d guess that support for same-sex relationships is maybe 50% and same-sex marriage is about 35%.

    Do these numbers correspond with what others have observed in LDS friends and family members? With numbers like these, it’s clear that many LDS people must be experiencing significant cognitive dissonance with respect to this issue. The mormon.org site encourages (enforces) consistency with official LDS positions. I would therefore guess that the responses in this FAQ are somewhat more conservative than a random sampling of the active LDS population would show.

  16. #6, Hawkgrrrl:

    I disagree. I don’t think people are “doing the best they can.” I think they are running around with their tails between their legs begging to be liked in spite of what they believe.

    “Doing the best they can” would be to say something like: “Well, whether or not people are born gay is open for debate. Science seems to be telling us that it is an inborn trait. But until recently our church leadership has disagreed. Now they say they don’t know. But that is beside the point. The LDS church believes it is sinful to engage in homosexual activity. They believe it would be better for these people to remain alone and celibate their entire lives or for them to get into un-fulfilling heterosexual marriages. The church believes they are breaking the laws of chastity by engaging in homosexual activities and that they will be held accountable for these activities. Additionally, if homosexuals engage in those activities, they run the risk of being excommunicated (removed) from the church. The church believes that marriage should be reserved for heterosexuals only and that the most sacred purpose marriage is to raise children brought into that union. I do not hate homosexual people and I have compassion for their struggle. But, it doesn’t change the fact that our faith teaches us that homosexuality is a sin — and God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”

    THAT is honest. I would have respect for people who say that. I would wholeheartedly disagree with them. But, as long as they treated gays/lesbians with respect and kindness, I would respect them.

    I don’t respect this wishy-washy BS that people spout. It’s spineless. It’s saying, “I know that you’ll think what I’m about to say is ignorant, bigoted and closed minded… so I’m going to sugar coat it and soft sell it as much as possible so that you will hopefully still like me and not hate me or my religion for it.”

    Do people believe it or not? Is it truth or is it fiction? If it’s truth and the believe it then they should grow a backbone, stand up for what they believe, and let the chips fall where they may.

    Otherwise, what’s the point of having a belief structure at all?

    I’m not saying people should be rigid and arrogant in their beliefs. I’m not saying that I think church members should join Fred Phelps’ group on street corners. But there’s being tactful yet full of conviction and then there’s being a wimp who apologizes for what they believe.

  17. (So much for no comment…)

    Heather (17) – how is what you’ve written materially different from the “official” statement included in HG’s OP? Not much, except in tone, and perhaps a bit of history on the nature vs. nurture question.

    Frankly, most of the member comments north of “hate the sin; love the sinner” HG included echo similar sentiments, as well.

  18. Okay, I’ll re-post what I wrote earlier this morning:

    With all due respect, it seems like faithful Mormons are in a bit of a fix with this question. If you believe the party line is inspired, and yet don’t argue with contemporary psychological and biological evidence that (at least some) sexual orientation is not a choice, then the only self-consistent conclusion you can come up with is that homosexuality is some sort of biological handicap, like depression or a predilection to addiction, meant to be struggled with even if it cannot be entirely overcome in this life.

    The only other option I can see is to say the church has it all wrong on this issue. Homosexuality doesn’t fit in with the church’s current teachings on eternal families, and it seems to me that restructuring that view would take one heckuva revelation.

    So yes, asking the members about homosexuality is going to be dangerous, especially if the only acceptable answer is that we embrace homosexuality as beautiful and normal, because the church simply doesn’t. I can’t see how pain can be avoided here.

    Also, there are gay Mormons responding to the question on homosexuality:
    mormon.org me 1TJC-eng David

    I cut up the link so this gets through.

  19. Paul,

    A person with the tendency for same sex attraction that is not engaging in inappropriate acts is not guilty of sin. This is true for any other inappropriate activity. We will be tempted, but it is only a sin if we engage in the inappropriate activity.

    Firetag,

    You posted one of the best threads I have read in a long time. I think your response was honest and chartable. I enjoy your comments. I don’t see eye to eye with the leaders of your church on such issues. It is my belief that the proper authority went westward with Brigham Young.

    Mike S.

    Those are administrative decisions, not moral decisions. The moral code of our Father will never change.

    Heather,
    Great comments.

  20. Will:

    Thank you. I can’t deny my own testimony, so I’ll just have to take my chances that God prefers an honest fool to an uncertain one. (Heather can appreciate that as an example of her argument. :D)

    Put in a good word for me with the ministerihng angels, ok?

  21. #21: Will:

    “Those are administrative decisions, not moral decisions. The moral code of our Father will never change.”

    We have been told that interracial marriage meant death on the spot. We have been told, using scriptural references, that blacks will NEVER have the priesthood until the end of the millennium. We have been taught this as doctrine. We have been taught that we didn’t know why people were born black. We have been taught they were fence sitters in the pre-existence. We have been taught this as an eternal truth. But at the end of the day, IT CHANGED. Many people now think it was never actually God’s will, but likely 19th century prejudices incorporated into Church doctrine.

    We have been taught that polygamous marriage is the only eternal standard. We have been taught that monogamy is what leads to prostitution, etc. We have been taught it is an eternal principle, a moral truth, etc. But that “moral code” also changed. We are now told that if you are polygamous you will be excommunicated from the church, which necessarily implies taking away all of the sealings, etc. that entails.

    So, when you are so sure that things will never happen, history may prove you wrong, or it may not. We don’t know. I just wouldn’t be as dogmatic. BRM was just as sure in his opinions on blacks as you are now. BY was just as sure in his opinion on polygamy (and blacks) as you are now. They were both wrong.

  22. Post
    Author

    Heather 17 – I think your comment is very similar to the majority of comments on the mormon.org site, as the post says. I also included the comments I considered problematic to show that there are still some issues. But I stand by my statement that the people creating the profiles are on the whole doing the best they can with the church’s stance being what it is. A few people, I take exception with (as detailed above).

  23. Mike S,

    What I do not understand is why you keep going back to what this guy said or what the church used to do, etc. The fact is, we have a living Prophet who speak to us today and helps to navigate in this life at this time, not 100 years ago.

    Surely, we have made a number of significant advances as a society and as a church on beliefs held long ago. I notice Doctors don’t do blood-letting anymore, either. But maybe, we should because they used to.

  24. Mike S,

    See, I don’t see polygamy or blacks and the priesthood as moral changes. I will tread lightly on the polygamy doctrine as I don’t quite get this one. I have just put in on a shelf for now hoping someday I will fully understand this practice. It is an odd practice to me, but I suppose it was practiced by Prophets both ancient and modern. I will say, however, the scripture in Jacob does provide some solace and some answers “when I the Lord command it’ It is very possible he can command it at one time and not another. If so, this would explain this practice being acceptable at one time and not acceptable now.

    As for Blacks and the priesthood, not only to I see this one clearly, it is a strong testimony as to the inspiration of those involved. I do realize they received the priesthood when the church was first organized, but this changed when Joseph received the revelation regarding Fort Sumpter. We, the Mormons, did not create the hostility between our black brothers and slave owners. As a church we did not condone or practice slavery. Along these lines, Joseph received the revelation this would lead to the Civil War. In fact, one of the things that created the tension in Missouri was our stance as a church against the practice. The hostility created by this evil practice was, and still is, real. There was a great deal of pride on one side and hostility (justifiable) on the other. It would not have been good to force this issue and create more tension. Sometimes, as in this issue, it is best to wait until tensions have eased then try and heal the wounds. It is much more likely to succeed. The alternative, which was practiced by many religions (who openly practiced slavery), was a separate but equal policy. The problem with this policy is you still have segregated churches. On the other hand, the church has integrated blacks and whites better than just about any organization. I believe this was due to the fact the priesthood was given to the blacks at the time it would best succeed.

    A final note; the church has issued a proclamation signed by both quorums that defines gender identity and the role of the family. The examples you site, along with BRM, are the opinion men. The PofF can be viewed as canonized scripture. It will not change.

  25. #28 Will: I think you miss the excellent point that Mike S brings up. When you look back at LDS history, it should be clear that LDS leaders have been wrong a number of times on a multitude of issues (racist policies towards blacks, interracial marriage, polygamy, the ERA, etc). Your attempt to somehow justify these ridiculous policies, or excuse them as “administrative”, misses the point. Our church leaders have taught us incorrectly in the past. If they are really guided by revelation when they issue church-wide policy or revelation, then they would not have misguided us back then. God doesn’t suddenly change his mind (ie. God is not racist one day, and then post-civil-rights movement the next). Men change their mind. Society changes it’s mind. Prophets appear to do the same thing. Hence, they appear no more “guided” than any other fellow traveler in life. And because they are products of their time, couldn’t they be leading us down an unenlightened path with regards to SSM right now? I would suggest they are. I think we’ll look back on this in the future, through clearer lenses than we look through now, and say “What were they thinking?”

  26. JP,

    I don’t think the Apostles and Prophets were racist up and including President Kimball, but if you choose to make that unrighteous judgment that is your decision. Of course they make mistakes. All of them have said and done things they regret: however, when they speak as a collective group and sign their name to a document in my judgment it represents the will of the Lord.

  27. JP,

    I think it is you who have missed the point. You continue to judge the actions of people 100 years ago with people today. And while you can call Church Leaders wrong, if you like, they were merely reflecting the current mores’ of the day. As you can judge from Polygamy when the Church went against societal norms, they were castigated for it. What do you think what have happened with inter-racial dating in an era when inter-societal (inter-class) dating, inter-religious dating were frowned upon?

    Continue to press your progressive views on the Saints and society of 100 years ago and you will be the one who is ridiculous.

  28. One thing that really saddens me is the fear of violence many gays and lesbians have.

    We’ve had a bunch of database errors, so I’m also sorry (though not any where near the same degree) to those whose posts have been lost or who have had problems with the site today.

    I know, one post, one topic, I shouldn’t try to merge two or three in the same post. My best wishes to all, but I’m afraid of the database crashing again (I’ve had ten crashes in the last ten minutes, so if I get a post through, I want it to cover everything).

  29. Heather #3,

    “and it’s leadership if they would just be straightforward with what they believe instead of back peddling and sugarcoating”

    I’m currently in a so called leadership role and have done just about all callings, so for what its worth: a disciplinary council must be held if a member holds a position of trust in the church and commits “adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities…..” etc. If the member doesn’t hold a position of trust then the disciplinary council ‘may’ be held depending on the members availability, activity and attitude in general (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 1, Church Discipline section). Placing homosexual relations with adultery and fornication doesn’t leave much doubt as to what the church thinks. And a disciplinary council is to subject a member to church discipline to see if they actually have or haven’t committed the alleged -and usually confessed- sin.

    So to make this clear, whilst adultery and fornication are defined as sex outside of marriage, the term “homosexual relations” is all encompassing. Its clear that if someone has homosexual relations (which could also mean short of actual intercourse) then church discipline will normally occur.

    Having said that a new Handbook of Instructions is coming out this month, some apparently have it already, so we need to see what the language will be in this new edition but I can’t see it changing to “maybe its not a sin if gays are SSM” or something like that.

  30. Heather,

    You summary back in #20 is spot on: “Well, whether or not people are born gay is open for debate. Science seems to be telling us that it is an inborn trait. But until recently our church leadership has disagreed. Now they say they don’t know. But that is beside the point. The LDS church believes it is sinful to engage in homosexual activity. They believe…………”

    is exactly what every church leader I’ve met and herd talk about this would say. If anything is unfortunate its that some few members apparently never heard this being said. My only disagreement would be in the ‘they say they don’t know’. Most leaders I know would say that yes, maybe you have these inclinations from an early age ie puberty not birth, but it could and should be something to overcome.

  31. Mike S #17 #28

    “a black woman and a white man were banned from being sealed in the temple. This obviously had nothing to do with a “priesthood ban”, as women can’t hold the priesthood anyway. It was merely based on race.”

    I don’t think this is technically correct because the basis of that ban rested on the fact that an ‘endowment’ meant making priesthood covenants and people are ordained to priesthood offices (ordained to become priest/priestesses, kings/queens etc) in the yet to arrive celestial kingdom and one needs that endowment to then marry for eternity. Also it can be argued that a sealing is a priesthood office, the highest in fact since the couple is ordained for Godhood status. Since a black woman couldn’t be endowed she then couldn’t marry after that. So I don’t think what you said is the entire story.

    Many church leaders in the past did say that blacks wouldn’t receive the priesthood until the millennium and some claimed until the end of it however where they erred in was in the time frame not in the fact that blacks would eventually be granted the priesthood. This is not the case with homosexuality. There isn’t a suggestion that one day gays will be allowed to marry in SSM for all eternity for example since homosexual relations are classified as sin. Very different scenarios. And yes, BYoung would be classified a racists today and politically incorrect but he was a product of his time and his racists comments aren’t today nor never have been included in the scriptures. Also we don’t really know how or what exactly was the context of that ‘death on the spot’ comment or even if he actually said those word. History can be subjective at times; we don’t unfortunately have a video of him saying this.

  32. Heather “Doing the best they can” would be to say something like: “Well, whether or not people are born gay is open for debate. Science seems to be telling us that if we do twin studies the results are not in accord with either camp and the issues seem complex which looks to some like wishy washiness.

    Everyone’s best looks either like being hard headed or being soft on taking positions to someone else ….

    carlos — many of Brigham Young’s statements are not actual statements (i.e. they are someone’s paraphrase) or taken out of context. Though I personally think the proper context for Brigham Young is his complaint about the rhetorical styles of the day and the saint’s preference for hyperbole when he spoke to them, his effectiveness with the style and his dislike for it as well.

  33. Sex, shmex. All this about what? I am too old to care about who does what to whom.

    The high-light of my day now is just a good bowl movement.

    Why can’t we be just like Popeye — “I yam what I yam.” and focus on remedying the real problems of this world like starvation, lack of adequate health care and education, crime, war, etc.

  34. “And while you can call Church Leaders wrong, if you like, they were merely reflecting the current mores’ of the day. As you can judge from Polygamy when the Church went against societal norms, they were castigated for it. What do you think what have happened with inter-racial dating in an era when inter-societal (inter-class) dating, inter-religious dating were frowned upon?”

    Jeff:

    Enoch wouldn’t recognize your God.

  35. “Also it can be argued that a sealing is a priesthood office, the highest in fact since the couple is ordained for Godhood status. Since a black woman couldn’t be endowed she then couldn’t marry after that. So I don’t think what you said is the entire story. ”

    Carlos:

    How exactly does this clarification improve the picture?

  36. Steve B;

    “heterosexist”.

    Interesting term. LDS are the only modern Western religion I can think of offhand that builds its eternal metaphysics and cosmology (let alone its missionary effort) so closely around gender identity.

  37. @Carlos: I’m a life-long member of the church. I understand how the discipline process works. 🙂

    Also, in reference to what the church says about the “origins” of homosexuality, I would have to do some more “research” in order to find for myself what church recent general authorities have said. But since I’m not inclined to to that, I’ll respond to what you said taking it on face value. Though, to be honest, I’m skeptical of what you’ve said. Which church leaders have said this? Where? Links? Anyway…. on to responding to your comment at face value: church leaders saying that people have “inclinations” towards it when they are young is misleading. They’re pretending to cede the point when they actually aren’t — because what they really mean is, “sure, they may want to commit that sin when they are young — just like others want to steal or smoke when they are young.” They don’t mean the same thing scientists mean. They might as well say, “We pray the gay away.”

    @Stephen Marsh: I wonder what explanations will be given in the future for why church members should regard what our current church leaders preach.