With the renewed conversation in Mormonism about homosexuality initiated by the November 6th policy changes, it has become clear that many Latter-day Saints have never really been exposed to the breadth of research conducted in the past several decades about the biological and social factors involved in human sexual development, attraction, and identity, including homosexual orientations. It is also evident that many currently hold to older and largely disproved explanations about the causes of homosexuality and an individual’s ability to change her or his sexuality. In this four-episode arc of the Mormon Matters podcast, host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by microbiologist William Bradshaw, marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist Natasha Helfer Parker, and psychiatrist Daniel Parkinson in an attempt to suggest the scope and summarize the findings of research into these questions.
Parts 1 & 2 focus on the preponderance of research into the biological factors that play a huge role in our sexual orientations and identities, including sexual fluidity.
Parts 3 & 4 tackle the sociological and psychological research. Part 3 addresses ideas that are often held by Latter-day Saints and others that homosexual orientation is caused by factors such as sexual abuse or early sexual experimentation, or certain personality traits of one’s parents. The panelists also address issues surrounding attempts to change one’s sexual orientation. Part 4 includes a continuation of these same issues as well as a focus on what’s happening in Mormonism today and what the panelists see as being the healthiest options given the new policies that do not, at this point, seem likely to change anytime soon.
Thanks for putting together this wonderful panel discussion! I gleaned many thoughtful points for engaging with my more orthodox family members. Whenever I hear Bill Bradshaw, I’m reminded of the beautiful television PSA he and his wife did encouraging marriage equality. The spot aired a couple of years ago and I have always wondered if the Bradshaws received any church discipline for participating in that. I would love to be able to point to that example when I advocate for my LGBT brothers and sisters. Do you have any insight on this that you are at liberty to share?
There seems to be a great effort here to suggest that the homosexual condition, as opposed to the heterosexual condition, is not an aberration and that there are those who are preconditioned or predisposed to be gay. Now I do not speak for the Mormon Church, nor do I necessarily agree with their position on this issue. However, were I to channel the spirit of Elder Packer, he old say…
Maybe there is a ‘gay gene’ maybe there is a predisposition to be gay. That isn’t the point. The point is that marriage is defined as the Union of man and woman. Sexual preference, natural or otherwise is irrelevant.
Sexual preference is pretty relevant to LGBT people who find that same-sex marriage is their best route to happiness. The overwhelming majority of LGBT people leave the church because it only offers them despair. So, I guess the only conclusion I can make based on your conclusion is: God created me gay because I must have been less valient in the pre-existence and he gave me a trial that I am sure to fail because basically God hates fags.
This above comment may sound harsh, but that is basically the conclusion that our LGBT teens make, based on the rhetoric they hear at church. That is the kind of despair-inducing message that leads them to suicide. I hope you will consider someday what it might be like to be an LGBT teen being raised in a Mormon environment. They could use a little empathy.
Daniel! I agree with you! I reckon this policy is abhorrent! But I’m pushing the other side of the argument because I’m covering every area so I can justify and support my abhorrence! Does that make sense? So you comments are great thanks.
But let me push it further. I am a UK Mormon, not totally active, I like some stuff in the church, don’t like other stuff. There was a documentary on the BBC the other night that explored the roots of paedophilia. Scientists have real solid evidence that paedophilia is hardwired within perpetrators from the womb!! And yet, we would all agree that paedophilia can never, ever be accepted or justified. Indeed, some have genetic dispositions to violence and other sexual proclivities which cannot be accepted.
Now I am not saying that LGBT is like paedos. Not a bit of it.. But I do think you can see my point. My point being that the argument from ‘natural or genetic disposition’ can not always be accepted as a given. God has a standard of marriage (in this case) that remains intact despite personal preferences regardless of whether those dispositions are genetic or inescapable or otherwise. We simply cannot accept anything less.
Baptising the children of parents in a same sex union, only complicates the issue further. There are potential legal complications that could compromise the position of the church because of it’s teachings regarding homosexuality.
There is not much point comparing the situation to pedophiles. Let’s make a better comparison. Let’s compare them to heterosexuals. Heterosexuals fall in love with people of the opposite gender because of genetic programming based on hormone levels the same as homosexuals. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals spend their entire adolescence dreaming of finding somebody they can love and have sex with…and in both cases they dream of entering a voluntary, legal, consensual and informed marriage (pedophiles can not have consensual sex, because children can not consent).
You are lucky because God created you and then commanded you to do what you most want to do in life. He created LGBT people and by your argument, he is telling them to do something for an arbitrary reason (it is God’s law), since unlike pedophilia, it is 2 adults pursuing happiness and family and everything noble and good in life. The only reason we are given is a somewhat vague and hard to understand theological reason that just happens to benefit all the straight people who also happen to be the majority (reminding me of when religion was also used to justify slavery, and praised it for bringing Christianity to the African peoples).
So if you believe that God is arbitrary, you probably can just accept it at face value. If you believe God hates Fags, it is also easy to believe…(and people who hate fags see little distinction between LGBT people and pedophiles). If you believe that God is fair and just and makes commandments so that we will be happy in this life and the next, then you have to wonder if we really know what God’s intentions are in this realm, since his current ‘policies’ lead to despair in this life and eternal damnation in the next (since most gays leave the church). Then you have to wonder if our church is wrong on this, as they were wrong when they denied blacks the priesthood, and encouraged segregation from the pulpit.
The church’s message to straight people: You can be happy in this life if you follow the gospel–and everything that is good comes from being married and having a family, which is what you wanted to do anyway…that is what everybody wants!
The church’s message to gay people: You mustn’t have a family. You should be alone. And by the way…we won’t give you any respect for your sacrifice of celibacy. We will marginalize you in our wards and stakes as we marginalize all single people. Most of you won’t make it. We don’t care. We aren’t going to do anything to help you. (Basically you are a cancer that needs to be removed).
Underlying message, if you can’t stand the idea of being alone (which most of us can’t), it is better to kill yourself to save your soul, than to stay alive and find love and live a life of service with somebody you love.
I have trouble believing in a God who set up that scenario. I believe in a non-capricious and fair God who is not arbitrary.
Daniel… with all do respect, you believe in a fantasy god…one that has no historical or scriptural reality. This is the problem I have with all of these discussions. While I feel sympathy and even empathy for the individuals I can’t help that some are trying to fit a square into a circle. The doctrine of the church based on biblical/scriptural text as the circle and the individual societal inclinations being the square. I just can’t justify it with religion.
On the other hand maybe we put too much stock in scripture…but that opens up a nasty can of worms.
Here is an analogy. Suppose you have 2 wonderful sons. They are both talented and intelligent and both have great potential to help humanity. One of them is basically normal and can walk. The other can’t walk…but he can fly.
However, your religion says he must not fly. So you make him ride in a wheelchair. There is no real reason that he can’t fly, other than your religion says that God doesn’t like that. So you make him ride the wheelchair.
Who is causing the handicap?
If in your mind, it all comes down to “the Lord has spoken” then you are not very informed on church history, nor are you very informed about the context of Bible passages that refer to this and have been grossly misinterpreted. You are also overlooking the fact that the Book of Mormon and D and C have nothing to say about this issue. The church has evolved on lots of issues, and I hope they will evolve on this one. I know that God approves of my marriage. You can not possibly convince me that he does not.
Allowing your quests to come on and claim that the Church leaders have blood on their hand is just so wrong in so many ways and only proves to me Dan that you don’t need the Church you only need a platform. Discussed
I, of course, disagree with you assessment, and in particular with your personalizing this toward me rather than actually facing up to the reasons Daniel would have said those things. All of us have blood on our hands for so many things we do and fail to do (on this or many other issues), why should church leaders be exceptions? To hear someone say one has blood on one’s hands should be understood as a call for self-examination rather than a totalizing condemnation. If we fail to try to learn and self-correct when we are living and teaching out of a false or mis-informed worldview we are failing the tasks that we are put here to do. And this is especially true when we are in influential positions.
May Daniel’s words echo loudly–enough for those leaders who you want to imagine as already having everything perfectly figured out to hear and take to heart. It is time for them to say–and loudly–‘Don’t throw out your gay teens and think you are doing this out of righteousness.” “If you are gay, do not marry someone of the opposite sex and think your sexuality will change.” (Joe, would you want your daughter to marry a gay man? I doubt church leaders would either, yet they don’t forcefully speak out against this, allowing old ideas to simply stay in many minds and hearts.) I believe our church leaders are good people who do much good in the world. This is not an area they’ve become sufficiently informed about–and it’s leading to tremendous pain, and sometimes even death. As good people, I trust they will find their way on this issue. And if it takes a wake-up call like Daniel’s language to spur it, then he’s a messenger of God.
I uderstand Daniel’s point. I also don’t get how you refuse to discus or acknowledge any and all legal implications for the church In Light of same seat marriage. I is your irresponsibility that confuses me when it come to allowing such a hateful statement on the air. You could have prevented it. The Church cannot fix be all things for all people. There is scripture. Guess like black priesthood it going to take a generation for a revelation to trump present scripture. It such bad taste Dzn I don’t care how angry you are. My like and opinion of you is in flux.
We (a different set of panelists and I) discussed the legal stuff on episode 306.
It sounds from your comment that you believe the church caved into pressure on the blacks and the priesthood policy. If that’s the case, then we seem to both be willing to admit church leaders can and do sometimes error (even though my sense is they made an inspired decision in 1978, but a non-inspired one in this instance).
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Thanks for the great informative podcast! I am looking for backup of the assertions made by Bill and Daniel that the theories are false and not generally believed anymore that homosexuality is often caused by inadequate relationships with the same sex growing up and therefore treatable (reparative therapy) through non-sexual bonding with the same sex, per the Pritts in the late 1980’s which continued with Evergreen, NARTH, Exodus, etc. and I believe continues to this day in LDS Social Services. I think Bill said he had studies that confirmed his assertions.
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