The LDS Church, Homosexuality and Suicide: How Can We Prevent It?

August 14, 2008
By

On February 25th, 2000 — in the heat of the LDS Church’s Prop 22 efforts in California to ban same-sex marriage — a young LDS returned missionary named Stuart Matis drove to his local LDS chapel, pinned a “DO NOT RESUCITATE” sign to his shirt, and shot himself in the head.  More of Stuart’s story can be read here and here.  Also, to read one of Stuart’s last letters on the subject written weeks before his death — click here.

A few years ago I did some research on the topic, and discovered that Utah leads the nation in suicides for men from 18-24 years old, and that an estimated 1/3 of those suicides are tied to homosexuality.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Bruce Rognan and his son Chris — about the suicide of their son/brother Curtis.  I would like to share with you the following 4 clips from this multi-part interview:

First, here are the father and brother discussing how Curtis didn’t “fit into the mold” of Mormon culture, and how Bruce once felt inspired to discuss the issue of homosexuality with his son, but didn’t out of cultural/social fear…..

Second, here are Bruce and Chris talking about “the day” Curtis committed suicide….

Third, here is (Bruce) the father trying to find meaning in the suicide, and wondering how Christ would have us treat homosexuals in the church…

And fourth, here is Bruce providing some recommendations/suggestions to LDS parents and church leaders about how to avoid suicides in the future:

(the full set of interviews can be located here)

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For those interested, I would love to brainstorm on how we (as members and leaders in the LDS Church) could work to develop greater understanding and support for gay members of our church — and what we might be able to do, together, to carve out a space for them, even if they choose to pursue relationships as homosexuals.

My only hope/goal is that we can avoid more isolation and suicides in the future. Perhaps together, we can make a small difference in this regard. And even if it saves just one life — perhaps it will have been worth it.

(Please no arguments about politics or church doctrine/policy here. Thanks.)

Also, for more information on suicide prevention — see here: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/suicidal_signs.aspx

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131 Responses to The LDS Church, Homosexuality and Suicide: How Can We Prevent It?

  1. August 14, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Well done, John. And heartfelt thanks to Bruce and Chris for agreeing to share these difficult memories and feelings. I met Bruce briefly at Sunstone; he struck me both there and here in these videos as someone who really gets it.

    John, I’ve asked this question many times: “How [can] we (as members and leaders in the LDS Church) work to develop greater understanding and support for gay members of our church — and what we might be able to do, together, to carve out a space for them, even if they choose to pursue relationships as homosexuals.”

    I hate to be cynical, but I just don’t see a middle ground. As long as the Church positions same-sex feelings are “wrong,” as long as same-sex relationships are “sinful,” a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin position just doesn’t “carve out a space for them.” Curtis Ragnow still doesn’t fit. With no “cure” for such feelings, that leaves sensitive Gay Mormons with no other “space” in the church than as “Eunochs for the Lord”. But it is the emotional and spiritual eunochism that does the real damage, not the sexual eunochism. The theme that keeps coming up again and again with Curtis, Stuart, et al is the unmitigating emptiness they feel inside, the suffocating deadness. Since their purest, baseline feelings are “wrong,” they cannot trust or own any of their feelings. By the time the pull the trigger, they have long since already died.

    • ryanh206
      July 29, 2012 at 12:41 am

      eunochs of the lord! omg – good one! 

      unmitigating emptiness they feel inside? have you experienced this? the suffocating deadness? sounds like you are familiar? 

      suicidal gays don’t become that way because of this “emotional/spiritual eunochism”.
      they become that way because of brainwashed idiots like you dictating how others are to be in order to be aligned with god.  who are you to tell a gay person to carry their affairs? do you have some extra special hotline to god? does he call you up and let you know how others are to live their life?
      if so, can i have the number? is it a long-distance call? 

      you’re not cynical dude. oh no, not cynical. you’re SELF-IMPORTANT and stand in judgement of others. 

      in reality matt thurston, you’re a speck of human turd in gods grand scheme. you are an infinitesimally irrelevant piece of a larger whole. i hate to break it to you dude, but you need to keep your nose out of other people’s sexual affairs! eunoch of the lord! jesus….priceless…..

      text me that phone number when you get a chance! me and god need to talk about the shit you do in your bedroom…frightening i bet.

  2. August 14, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Suicide is a very broad topic, with a great deal of pain.

    • TRENTON G.
      March 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      When my own family speaks of wanting to value marrage and children yet all have given there own brother the cold shoulder ……wasnt I forever a child to my dear mother and father? As seems to be a parodox when your own family would really be happy if u were to take your life :( not wanting to look at there part in making my time as a child of god unbearable….

  3. fifthgen
    August 14, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    John: Thanks for the post. It is an issue the merits much more thought and discussion than it gets. Out of curiosity, where do you get the 1/3 of male suicides figure come from?

  4. August 14, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    fifthgen,

    The 1/3 stat came from one of the articles listed here: http://mormonstories.org/?p=85

    …but many/most of them seem to have been pulled down since I wrote the post. :(

  5. August 14, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I think the best way to help those contemplating suicide ostensibly because of the stance of the Church is to first change our own attitudes towards sin. The typical reaction to something we don’t understand or agree with is to avoid it and the person associated with it. It is this avoidance, I would hazard, that most causes the feelings of separation and depression, not the Church’s stance against homosexuality. After all, we all eventually have to deal with people who disagree with our root selves. It is part of life. But if we who profess the love of Christ redouble our efforts to cultivate and demonstrate that love, we can let people know that we care for them, even if we don’t agree with their behavior.

  6. August 14, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Below is a resource I just found over on Mormons for Marriage. Seems to echo Bruce’s message:

    http://www.thetrevorproject.org/suicidal_signs.aspx

  7. fifthgen
    August 14, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Any suicide is a tragedy. We should try to prevent them all. That said, is there any reason to believe that Mormons who are gay are more prone to suicide than gays in other religions? Or gays generally? The church should certainly do all it can to help anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, but I am not sure the fact that 1/3 of all Utah males (as opposed to Mormon males) who commit suicide are gay (if that is even true tells us anything).

  8. August 14, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    It does seem like we could do a lot more to fellowship members who struggle with same gender attraction. Homosexuality carries a stigma that other sins do not. After all, we do not feel that awkward fellowshipping a pregnant teenager, or a couple that has to postpone their temple marriage. Whereas if you find out someone struggles with homesexuality I think in our current state we are inclined to have fear or anger towards that person. I think we could make more “room” in the sense that we still show love for the person and foster an environment where we can talk about homosexuality, just like we talk about other sexual sins and how to avoid them.

  9. hawkgrrrl
    August 14, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    A few facts that I found on religioustolerance.org that are interesting:
    -Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among the entire population.
    -Whites commit suicide at a higher rate than African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics.
    -Married folks have a lower rate of suicide than do divorced, separated, widowed and single people.
    -Data concerning young homosexuals is somewhat unreliable. It appears that about one in three teen aged suicides is by a gay or lesbian. Since homosexuals represent only about 5% of the population, gays and lesbians are greatly over-represented.
    -Among the most common faith groups in the U.S., Protestants have the highest suicide rate; Roman Catholics are next; Jews have the lowest rate.
    -Followers of religions that strongly prohibit suicide, like Christianity and Islam, have a higher suicide rate than those religions which have no strong prohibition (e.g. Buddhism and Hinduism.)

  10. John Nilsson
    August 14, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    What would help? A First Presidency letter which said, “You are normal. The feelings you are having are normal. We love you. God loves you. Jesus loves you.”

  11. Ray
    August 14, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    John, the Church already has perhaps the most “understanding” stances on homosexuality among all of the “conservative” Christian churches today. The new pamphlet “God Loveth His Children”) already says everything you just said. To be even more “accepting” would take a statement saying that the subsequent actions are not a sin, and I just don’t see that happening. I can see MANY ways to make distinctions between various actions that would allow practicing homosexuals to avoid excommunication and disfellowshipment, but I can’t see all lines being dropped and everything accepted.

    How can we prevent suicide? We probably can’t, not when it is so epidemic even outside our religion, but we should try our best. We should follow the counsel of Jesus and the Church to love and fellowship and not judge and not condemn and not ostracize, for example. We can distinguish between communal worship in our church buildings, baptismal covenants and temple covenants. It would be EASY to carve out a way for “full fellowship” in our weekly meetings without touching basic temple standards. I’m not in a position to either comment publicly on or influence that, so my response is on the individual level. We can be more Christian, and we can do so without compromising our basic standards.

  12. August 14, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Ray,

    I’m not talking about the church’s stance. I’m talking about the extent to which gays feel welcome and loved in the church.

    – The covetous still feel welcome
    – Those who occasionally bear false witness still feel welcome
    – Those who take the Lord’s name in vain (swear) still feel welcome
    – Those who are obese and violate the Word of Wisdom still feel welcome
    – Those who don’t tithe still feel welcome.

    What can we do to make our homosexual brothers and sisters feel more welcome — even if they are sinning in the eyes of the church?

  13. Teancum
    August 14, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    I wonder if others would feel equally welcome of they said, “I need the church to recognize that my desire to lie/covet/smoke/steal/commit adultery is normal and a part of who I am. You should not tell me to be different from who I am. And you also need to make me feel welcome.” Now, I recognize that lying, stealing, coverting and adultery are, in all likelood, more volitional than SGA, but I do not think the comparison of gays to those with these types of sins/challenges is very helpful.

  14. Teancum
    August 14, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    That’s “coveting” and “likelihood.”

  15. TJM
    August 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    There needs to be understanding that homosexuals don’t choose their orientation. They are born with it just as heterosexuals.

    In the “believer world” this should translate to “God sent them here this way”, so to call them wrong is to call their creator wrong and/or question his/her intentions.

    It’s our responsibility to understand and see the bigger picture. (religious or not)

  16. Teancum
    August 14, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    You know what, TJM, I agree with you. That is why I do not think comparing gays to sinners is particularly helpful. I think it is a much more complicated issue.

  17. Ray
    August 14, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    #15 – I understand what you are saying, but the Church already has acknowledged that. The difficulty within Mormonism is that labeling something as “natural” or “genetic” doesn’t place it outside “things that need to be overcome and changed” (or, at least, that require effort to change). That nuance is hard for anyone, and it isn’t any easier to accept for gay members.

    I agree with the spirit of John’s #12. The biggest thing we can do, imo, is to realize that homosexuality AT WORST is no different than any of my own “thorns of the flesh” – and that if someone wants to worship with us and is willing to do so without actively and publicly trying to fight the Church, it is my responsibility to open my arms and accept them as they sit on the same pew as I do.

    John, I would say that a better analogy would be those who drink or smoke but still have a testimony and would love to attend church – but their “sins” are more obvious and unable to be hidden. I believe most members would welcome a humble believer who was struggling to keep the Word of Wisdom; I believe that same understanding and consideration should be given to any homosexual person who wants to worship with us, as well.

  18. August 14, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Yeah…just to be clear — I’m not personally comparing gays to “sinners” from my perspective. Only from the church’s perspective for the sake of discussion.

  19. August 14, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    You know, I do feel some sympathy for faithful LDS who find themselves in this position between the rock and the hard place. TJM mentioned the logical problem. The church has now officially recognized that homosexuality can be a genetic thing, that someone can be “born that way”. Add to that the fact that many faithful LDS who come to know good and decent homosexuals feel a sense of compassion for them. This really puts them in a tough spot when they begin from the position that the church must be right on the issue and feel the need to force the logic and compassion into that framework.

    There were many folks who were in this same spot during the priesthood ban. Heck, many folks *still* shoehorn the logic and compassion of that issue into the framework of feeling the church had to be right about that, too. Its just easier on that issue because they don’t have to really deal with leaders making anti-black statements. History is fairly easy to put away in the closet and not think about. But its much tougher to do it in real time. From that faithful position, it is really hard to oppose the church because it feels like you are on a slippery slope. Along the lines of, “If I disagree with this, what’s next? Is it pride that makes me think I would know better?”

    I just hope that compassion eventually wins out.

  20. TJM
    August 14, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    #17 The difficulty within Mormonism is that labeling something as “natural” or “genetic” doesn’t place it outside “things that need to be overcome and changed” (or, at least, that require effort to change). That nuance is hard for anyone, and it isn’t any easier to accept for gay members.

    I agree with the difficulty but disagree with the “isn’t any easier to accept” within a mormon context.

    I hold that an understanding that homosexuals come to earth by God’s design, and as part of his “more intelligent” plan does make it easier for believers to accept. In contrast with the common layman thinking that they choose to sin.

    Understanding that nature and genetics may be impossible to overcome in this life, such as diabetes or a 5’8” adult suddenly becoming 6’4” overnight.

    Such events may even be considered miracles by some.

  21. August 14, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    TJM, that was well said.

  22. Aha
    August 14, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Let’s try to get perspective from other issues surrounding conditions that people are born/sent with. Downs syndrome, for one, is a genetic disorder which leaves the person without the same intellectual faculties as others. From a doctrine/policy issue, the church teaches that those people are guaranteed exaltation without any need for ordinances. For someone missing limbs or appendages, they may be exempt from participation in some ordinances, without spiritual penalty. For some mentally challenged people who are still very functional, it is often up to the person/family to determine if they feel they should be baptized, etc, in cases where their mental capacity is only mildly compromise. Likewise, other health issues can honorably excuse members from serving missions.

    The point is, there are precedents in which the Church deals with “born-with” issues by taking a compromising approach to certain policies, and even doctrines, which in some cases, classify under “indispensable for salvation” (ie. forgoing baptism for mentally disabled.)

    If SSA becomes officially regarded as an unchosen, innate, and unchangeable condition, perhaps similar concessions could be made (offering hope of exaltation without a temple sealing, etc.)

    However, it remains unlikely that the law of chastity will be redefined. Just as someone born with a genetic predisposition to anger does not have carte blanche to lash out unrestrained, those dealing with SSA will likely continue to be expected to exercise the same kind of sexual restraint required of all unmarried members. The wrench in the engine, of course, is that marriage, the “light at the end of the tunnel” for sexually restrained young adults, is not available to homosexuals, leaving them forever wallowing the dark tunnel of pent up frustration.

    Tough issue indeed.

  23. Ray
    August 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    TJM, I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying. I believe fully that recognizing a genetic pre-disposition makes it easier for members to accept and not shun homosexuals, but I don’t think it makes it easier for the Church to accept homosexual activity as less than sinful – or, at the very least, as a transgression. I do think the possibility of downgrading it to a transgression in some cases is a huge step, but, as Aha says, I can’t see the Church treating homosexuals any differently than heterosexuals in their standard calling for abstinence.

    The best gay members can hope for without explicit revelation, imo, is a move to define the Law of Chastity as forbidding only “intercourse” for unmarried members – and I have a hard time seeing that happening without such revelation. Frankly, I see gay marriage being allowed before such a redefinition, but revelation would make that opinion totally irrelevant.

    Iow, I have no idea how it will play out, since I’m not in a position to receive that type of revelation, but I do know we need to treat our gay members and friends and acquaintances FAR better collectively than we do. I believe we should be focused on THAT, not on intellectual speculation about what might or might not happen at the global level.

  24. TJM
    August 14, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    #21Just as someone born with a genetic predisposition to anger does not have carte blanche to lash out unrestrained

    Correct, this is a crime. Diabetes, height and sexual orientation are not.

    This isn’t about doctrine/policy it’s about humanity, acceptance and understanding.

    If you haven’t noticed I don’t subscribe to the doctrine/policy.

    (-ps what’s with the editing on this thread, comments here, comments gone?)

    • Trenton Gregory
      December 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Anger and not feeling right about a same sex attraction compared to something harmfull is fair. Labels such as dangerous is not the case as it just simply “is” that’s why its not a sin. Period

  25. August 14, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Actually, I would disagree that homosexuals are left without a light at the end of the tunnel. If they are TRULY converted to the gospel of Christ and don’t just view that church as a powerful, teetotaling community with a compelling story, then they believe that in the afterlife, all will be made up to them. They will NOT be eunuchs for the Lord forever…these feelings have nothing to do with their spirit. Just as I believe that the sex drive for heterosexuals has nothing to do with the spirit either (but that’s another story entirely)

    I have relatives and friends who face tremendous, debililtating illnesses that really do serve as stumbling blocks to a meaningful married life…yes, there’s a chance they could find that remarkable someone, but it’s no greater than the chances of a homosexual learning to be heterosexual. We ought to view our homosexual brethren and sisters in terms no different than we would someone with in-born affliction that prevents them from pursuing key elements of the gospel in this life. Someone has cancer, one arm…even is borne blind and deaf. I’ve been their too…so I have little patience for those who say I “don’t know what it’s like to face these things.” Not homosexuality, but I had to learn how to walk again, faced death on more than one occasion…all because of something I was “born with.” I didn’t choose it, at least not in this life. It bites, and I wish it on no one. But that said, I wouldn’t be half of who I am without a couple of rock-solid parents. They didn’t tell me to just let me just focus on my ailments…they said I should develop myself in other ways.

    So I point to myself as how homosexuals should be treated…as individuals who suffer a great trial rather than as hard-wired sinners.

  26. August 14, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Russell,

    Its a very different thing to have a genetic condition that is viewed by our community as a medical trial. Being Down Syndrome (like my BIL) actually makes you *admired* in our church as a spirit so valiant that you didn’t need the same kinds of tests, second only to children who die before the age of 8. That is not how it works for homosexuals. For them, they don’t just have a challenge to overcome, they are at their very core (because homosexuality IS at their core) at odds with God (according to the LDS gospel).

    Can you compare yourself to the plight of homosexuals? I don’t know, since you don’t say what the issue is. Does the something you were born with simultaneously bring you personal fulfillment as well as separation from God? If not, its incomparable.

  27. Mayan Elephant
    August 15, 2008 at 12:02 am

    consider this just a storm of my brain.

    as members we can get informed. learn the truths and the facts about homosexuality, sexuality and the relevant topics. there are plenty of resources out there now. members should seek the best resources on a topic as important as homosexuality, especially as it affects youth.

    as members we can learn, and acknowledge, the real effects of mormonism on homosexuals and homosexual youth. we can talk about it openly and freely, even if it doesnt flatter the leaders.

    a few things really stood out to me from the videos.

    1 – the father mentions his experiences on church courts. that was brutal. damn people. think about that experience. a child is perceptive and would know that his dad was on church courts and that he stood in judgment of others at such a level that he, along with other men, could effect the eternal fate of a person. and here is a child that believes in his dad. believes in the church. believes in that form of salvation. and his own dad is one of those that raises his hand, and supports an excommunication of people doing what he is feeling inclined to do.

    i do not fault that dad for this. it is the system they had. and it is very reasonable to think that a gay son wouldnt want to be the person to embarrass his family, by being the subject of such a court.

    courts exist to protect the integrity of the church, or so they say. and anyone knows that if they do some things, they will be the source of the shame and be shamed. that is a lot of guilt that some people can carry around.

    2 – the notes and preparations for the mission. the pressure to be ready is huge. the satisfaction in being ready for a mission is huge. i am sure he wanted his parents to know that they deserved to be proud and did all they could to prepare him for that part of his life.

    lets consider for a minute what curtis was about to embark upon. he would be a missionary, could he do that? probably. he was to not date and be worthy. could he do that? i think he was saying so. could he teach someone, like him, that the church was the best thing for them, and not explain the anguish he felt every day, enough to make him kill himself? he was being asked to go tell people to join a group that was unkind to people just like him. that is hard. and the predicament he must have been facing was understandably extreme.

    to accept homosexuals and have them feel welcome as brothers and sisters and parents and participants in any community, the community must work hard to eradicate bigotry, homosexism and unkindness. the community must fight against all forms of misinformation.

    comparing this to other sins is just stupid. comparing this to a physical handicap is absurd. to homosexuals, they are exactly what they are supposed to be. they are allowed to feel pure and free and beautiful and interesting and loved.

    the publication mentioned above, god loveth his children, does one good thing, it acknowledges that homosexuality may be innate. well duh. the church doesnt get a cookie for that. the rest of the world is figuring that one out without a pamphlet. the rest of the pamphlet falls very short.

    so. members, especially anyone inclined to read that pamphlet, should also have better information. they should speak up on the topic without being so comprehensively supportive of the leaders that are still not welcoming to homosexuals.

  28. Ray
    August 15, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Everyone, We aren’t getting to the root of the real issue, imho. What many are talking about is a fundamental shift in how the Law of Chastity is defined, and that effects single heterosexual members, as well. In fact, the current stance essentially is not different for homosexual members as it is for ALL single adults: don’t act on your natural sexual inclinations outside of marriage.

    So, I believe in order to answer this basic question properly, we simply HAVE to address how ANY “change” in definition, policy, perception, etc. would affect heterosexuals as well as homosexuals – OR we need to focus on how we (as individual members) help homosexual members accept themselves and not commit suicide. We can debate eternally about comparing this and that, but that debate does nothing to keep someone from killing himself.

    What might reduce suicide among homosexual members? At “The Church” level:

    1) Allow them to have sex without any guilt whatsoever. That would reduce suicide, but it would require that the Church apply that same standard to ALL its members. That ain’t an option.

    2) Sanction gay sealings. Ain’t gonna happen without thunderous revelation, imo.

    3) Allow them to have sex within the bonds of a legal marriage without any guilt. That actually would require very little, if any, change to our current wording of the Law of Chastity. That is a possibility, but it might require revelation.

    4) Allow them to have sex without excommunication. I can see that happening, and I do already in some cases.

    5) Allow them to have sex without disfellowshipment. I don’t think it’s an impossibility, as long as they are in some kind of legally recognized union.

    Perhaps there are more, but the same question asked on the individual level is instructive:

    1) Truly love them (emotionally and in action) as fellow children of God – exactly as we are supposed to love our heterosexual brothers and sisters without precondition.

    Is there anything else – or does that pretty much sum it up?

    Therefore, imo, it is FAR less important to talk about what “The Church” should do and focus on what WE should do. Reaching out to the gay people in our area and finding a way to associate with them without censure would be a great start, I believe. It would say more to invite a gay member or couple over for dinner than perhaps anything else I can imagine. Sharing our lives with them and participating in their lives is a good start.

  29. August 15, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Clay:

    “That is not how it works for homosexuals. For them, they don’t just have a challenge to overcome, they are at their very core (because homosexuality IS at their core) at odds with God (according to the LDS gospel).”

    I disagree…I don’t think that homosexual feelings are something that is “wrong” with a person anymore than I think that any other genetic disorder is “wrong.” And that’s church orthodoxy; that’s the gospel. If you want any number of recent citations on that, I can provide them.

    ANY trial can bring us both to and away from God. I have tried very hard not to become bitter at the things I could not do. So I understand how bitterness can come about from the trials we face…I understand that quite well. So on the matter of being admired, I agree that those with “traditional” ailments should be admired for their fortitude provided they stay strong; likewise with those who FAITHFULLY deal with homosexuality.

    I mean…it is particularly difficult, given that sexual sin is very serious and that “fulfillment” is a very compelling desire…we can’t escape that. But then again, we have faithful and single Latter Day Saints (I know one) who view sexual intimacy as A SERIOUS temptation. Indeed, their almost-addiction to this ends up messing up their lives. But if mastered, think of how they could succor their fellow Saints!!

    This goes for almost every temptation…most temptations bring a sense of fulfillment at one level or another. So to believe that homosexuality is SO different from every other trial is a form of homosexual exceptionalism. I personally want to help them just as I would help fellowship someone who was addicted to drugs, alchohol, or even pride. Assuming that their trial is so different from others prevents us from fellowshipping with them. I hope that I can gain their trust…I don’t know if I can (my staunch membership in the Church might serve as a stumbling block), but it’s worth my efforts.

  30. August 15, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Ray,

    I would add an option — something to the effect of:

    “Church leaders issue some sort of General Conference statement or proclamation which reads: ‘The church is for the broken — not the whole. We all fall short of the glory of God. All are welcome within the walls of our church — including and especially homosexuals. No anti-gay speech should be allowed within the walls of our church. And all should be allowed to serve/hold callings where they are willing/able, including homosexuals.”

    That would thrill me. And I think it would make us a more Christlike church. All that ecclesiastical stuff should be left between the bishop and the individual member.

    But ALL should be openly welcomed to attend, and to participate, with full love and compassion — or we’re simply not Christian. Plain and simple. And no hate speech should ever be tolerated (e.g. gays are the one true sign of the times — which I hear in my ward a lot).

  31. TJM
    August 15, 2008 at 8:45 am

    #22 I don’t think it makes it easier for the Church to accept homosexual activity as less than sinful

    And this may be.

    But if each individual member changes their perception/attitide and takes the “difficulty of the church” with a grain of salt, we have made the world a better place. Our brothers and sisters of different origin feel more welcome and loved.

  32. August 15, 2008 at 9:51 am

    I guess I’m struggling over a few things implicitly said here perhaps. First of all, there are lots of suicides in the Church, and not all of them are homosexuals. In fact it seems like the majority of them are not. Sure, homosexuals are overrepresented in that set, but homosexuals are overrepresented in suicides anyway, without Church involvement. I’m sure that in the other suicides in the Church, the victim felt that the Church played some sort of a role there. I’m not sure homosexual suicide is really the problem… I think SUICIDE is the problem. How can the Church help prevent suicide?

    Which brings me to problem #2. I think there’s a fundamental problem with blaming the Church for any of these suicides. From a person who has been very depressed and suicidal before (me), I’m not sure if I had pulled the trigger that I had anyone to blame, ultimately, but myself. In fact, a suicidal person often feels that they’re “punishing” their parents, their Church, their schools by committing suicide, and by attributing blame on parents, the Church, and the schools we are in a small way justifying the victim’s action.

    That sounds amazingly harsh and I realize that. But I think that’s where we can start. Recognizing that 1) suicide is the problem, and 2) it’s not the Church’s fault.

    If you recognize those two things, then the true question here is “how can we prevent homosexuals from feeling isolated from the LDS church?” Suicide is just a symptom and seems to be added here just to jerk on the emotions.

    • July 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Wow Arthur, you are so wrong. As a gay person, I can most definitely say that being told that I’m an aberration of God and a sinner for being born the way I have been (repeatedly by the Mormon Church), made me suicidal. The first attempt was at 17. I’ve been addicted to cocaine and heroin since I was 15. Two years before my family was excommunicated. The Church has come close to destroying my life. Luckily, MY God has seen fit to make me an incredibly talented and amazing person. I still battle the wounds that this “religion” (cult) has inflicted upon me. I am scarred for life. 
      To say that it’s not the Church’s fault is merely your opinion, let’s make that perfectly clear. You are wrong. It has been scientifically proven that homosexuals and transgendered people have a higher rate of suicide due to the oppression they face. Maybe you should do a little research before you post  your weak ‘theories’. You are speaking for an entire minority that you aren’t even a part of. The ironic thing is that people like YOU are part of the reason that gay people feel isolated from the LDS church. Not a surprise, as life is filled with irony. Needless to say, I am no longer blinded by the erroneous dogma of the Mormon church. I am spiritual. They say that religion is for the people that are afraid of going to hell, and spirituality is for people that have already been there. 

  33. adcama
    August 15, 2008 at 10:02 am

    John, thank you for posting these.

  34. adcama
    August 15, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Ray, it seems ironic to ask members to mentally juxtapose treatment of gays – with love, tollerance, respect, kindness – whilst giving sacrament meeting talks, sunday school lessons, firesides, in-home stake presidency meetings, etc., aimed at pointing out the evil nature of actions these folks would like to solomnize in a meaningful, family oriented way. If I were a gay man, I would feel like this “mormon-nice” rhetoric was simply a smile on the face of the guy thrusting the dagger into my chest.

    However, since we are where we are as a church (not accepting committed gay relationships), I am very grateful that the church has attempted to make this juxtaposition work.

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      They should right a new Book of Mormon and call it “14 Ways to Love and ‘accept’ a Leper and a Gay) Without Really Doing It”. To bad we can’t call up Jesus on planet Kolob and get his approval. Maybe the Scientologists can help with that? Lord help you all.
      : D

  35. Mayan Elephant
    August 15, 2008 at 10:25 am

    good point, adcama. i too thank john for this and a whole lotta other stuff he has done.

    this debate always sucks me in. and i wrestle with it all the time. i have had mission companions that were struggling with this during our time in the mtc, during my mission, and in the years that followed our missions. i have a homosexual brother and have known countless others that identify as gay or lesbian.

    i tend to agree with other posters that the law of chastity will never be officially changed. i also do not expect there to be any invitation to homosexuals to enter the temple, unless, of course, they are celibate and do not flaunt their homosexuality. (whatever that means. perhaps oaks can clarify that for all of us.)

    the doctrines and stances will not change. because homosexuals are for the most part going to be much happier and healthier by leaving the church and completely dismissing the suggestions of its leaders, i think the most christlike thing we can do for them, as friends and family, is treat them kindly and warmly and support their decision to leave the church.

    now before you get all trigger happy deleting or harshing that comment, let me go back to the original limits of the the comments on the thread:

    from dehlin: (Please no arguments about politics or church doctrine/policy here. Thanks.)

    the doctrine will not change. the policies of the church at the top level will not change fast enough to help the youth or young adults of the current church membership. politics are hot and juiced and funded by the church, today. its an impossible situation and may lead to the type of conflict that stuart matis was holding. so, in the meantime, i intend to make it easier for people to leave the church and by that, change the church.

    i hope homosexuals will not be charged with labels like satanic, immoral, sinner, similar to down syndrome children, or any other number of labels that we have seen on this thread and countless others. i hope that parents will ignore the counsel of the church to avoid being in public with their homosexual children. and the same ability to ignore such sad counsel, to avoid being in public with your homosexual kids, will kick in when our friends and family leave the lds church to avoid its anti-homosexual campaigns and positions.

  36. teancum
    August 15, 2008 at 11:06 am

    “ignore the counsel of the church to avoid being in public with their homosexual children.”

    Huh?

  37. August 15, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I am a gay Mormon, so I read this thread with interest. I have a few comments. I know my perspective isn’t exactly the same as yours, but I hope you’ll be interested in the view from my side of the fence.

    In #8 Katie said:
    Homosexuality carries a stigma that other sins do not. After all, we do not feel that awkward fellowshipping a pregnant teenager, or a couple that has to postpone their temple marriage.

    This is true. The Church, like it or not, is a tremendously hostile place for gay people. All you have to do is say you are same-sex attracted and you will be marginalized, even if you are sexually abstinent. For example, you are likely to be barred forever from working with youth. I’m sorry, but this is the reality. The stigma is not so much against homosexuality as it is against homosexuals.

    In #19, Clay Whipkey said:
    You know, I do feel some sympathy for faithful LDS who find themselves in this position between the rock and the hard place.

    I feel this, too. The official stance of the church is that any expression of same-sex love is a sin just one notch down in severity from murder. Yet, people who have any real-life contact with gay folks don’t smell the stench of evil. Gay people seem pretty wholesome and decent up close. And this is not the case with other “near-murderers” like rapists, child abusers, wife beaters, etc. Something just doesn’t click. It’s easy and fun to share laughs and gardening tips over dinner with your friendly and outgoing gay neighbors. It’s not as much fun doing this with embezzlers, drug runners and pimps. Too bad we’re morally equivalent. :- )

    In a number of comments people mentioned that a better way to think of homosexuals is as disabled. The problem is…. the people your calling disabled don’t feel disabled. Trust me, I am just as capable of love, commitment and intimacy with an appropriate member of my own sex as you are with the opposite sex.

    When you think of me, does it really come down to a choice between pity and contempt? Are these honestly the only options?

    In #24, Russell Stevenson writes:
    If they are TRULY converted to the gospel of Christ and don’t just view that church as a powerful, teetotaling community with a compelling story, then they believe that in the afterlife, all will be made up to them. They will NOT be eunuchs for the Lord forever…these feelings have nothing to do with their spirit.

    With respect, I have to disagree in the strongest possible terms. Homosexuality is a
    fundamental part of me. If you were to slice it away with a scalpel, the remaining bits of personality would be unrecognizable. My sense of humor, my creativity, my intelligence and my passion are completely intertwined. The recent (one year old) doctrine being floated by Elder Holland that homosexuality will be “healed” in life hereafter is deeply offensive to me. I guess sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it.

    In #27 Ray said:
    In fact, the current stance essentially is not different for homosexual members as it is for ALL single adults: don’t act on your natural sexual inclinations outside of marriage.

    Hmmm… Homosexuals will be kicked out of BYU (or Sacrament Meeting) with dispatch simply for holding hands. (!) Exactly how is this the same standard as is used for heterosexuals?

    Does anyone besides me see the irony here? Homosexuals are promiscuous fornicators!
    That’s why we must do everything in our power to prevent them from forming stable,
    committed and loving partnerships! Get out your pitchforks… oops, I mean checkbooks and yard signs!

    You know, I would have less of a persecution complex if everyone wasn’t out to burn down my house and break up my family. :- )

    In #27, Ray mentions a number of concrete steps that might be taken. These make sense to me. If we simply tone down the rhetoric (and stop the excommunications), I think things would be a lot better, and you would see a lot fewer suicides. Sometimes people in the Church think that we homosexuals are asking for more than we really are. Here’s the agenda: 1) don’t encourage our families to disown us and 2) treat us like anybody else in the civil sphere.

    When I was a young missionary in the MTC I remember being devastated by the story told by a visiting General Authority about the Church leader who told his son that he would rather see the son return in a coffin than come home from his mission having lost his virtue. Can you imagine the effect that stories like these have on deeply conflicted gay youth?

    What can you do to prevent suicide? Stop telling faith-promoting stories like this.
    Instead, you can tell gay youth that their lives are more important than meeting a heterosexual standard. Tell them that it is better to leave the Church and live with love and integrity if it comes to that than to die by their own hand.

    Thanks to all of you who are making an effort to improve the situation for gay people in the Church. It matters. Trust me, there are people in your own ward (and more than just a handful) who are silently trying to deal with this issue.

  38. Advent
    August 15, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Artur,

    #1. IMHO What pushes people to commit suicide is the problem. cultural pressures such as when your mission president tells you he would rather send you home in a casket rather than send you home being unworthy, are just one example.

    #2 I think you’re right, it’s not the Church’s fault, it’s the members who are the problem. We are the ones who don’t recognize the distress signs in our homosexual conflicted brothers and sisters. We are the ones who haven’t set the proverbial place at the table for them in the church, and we are the ones who have failed to reconcile our doctrine with reality.

    • korn75
      July 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

      #2 – The members are the church. Without the members, there would be no church. What do you mean by “distress signs”? I agree, members are the ones who have failed to reconcile their doctrine with reality. Now, how do they change that? Why has the prophet not come out to his members and said with a firm voice, “STOP DISOWNING AND SHAMING YOUR GAY CHILDREN”? Don’t you think hearing that from the prophet would make a huge difference?

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      Though I agree that it is the members of the church alienating gay people, it is also the dogma and literature of the whole belief system. If believe that God is either Everything or God is Nothing, then the Mormon church is fundamentally flawed, created by a very mortal and very flawed man. I’m pretty sure the Bible says to stay clear of false idols (I may be wrong, I’ve never read it).

  39. Mayan Elephant
    August 15, 2008 at 11:16 am

    clearly this is not the point of this thread. its tired. but yes. here ya go.

    ” ELDER OAKS: That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration. I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.’ Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that. There would also be other factors that would make that the likely answer.

    I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.” ”

    i do think it would be very helpful to homosexuals for parents to ignore this advice. thats my point. i think if more parents within the lds community did so their homes and the world would be better.

  40. Just for Quix
    August 15, 2008 at 11:22 am

    A close LDS friend in the Bay Area has its Stake youth ages 12+ going out this weekend to distribute material and collect donations on behalf of Prop 8. My friend and his family are going out of town to avoid saying no to participation, since the last time around he says there was “disciplinary” action for adults who refused to participate.

    This concern aside, I think it is unwise to place youth on the ‘firing line’ for an issue like this. They likely have not matured in their political views, their personal vs. institutional identity, or ability to interpret politics from moral issues from personal religious views. Plus they have no political vote themselves. Add in the pressure it may place upon young, closeted gay or lesbian-inclined LDS youth and it adds to cognitive dissonance that speaks louder than Church press releases and publications, that SGA people don’t really belong.

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      EXACTLY!! 
      I am gay and find it very odd that this very topic is on a Mormon website, the very religion funding anti-gay legislation….
      I have to admit, as a homosexual that has tried to commit suicide because of the spiritual damage that was inflicted upon me by the church, I find the videos very comforting. I thought I was the only one to have endured this crime.

  41. Mayan Elephant
    August 15, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Mohohawaii,

    you said this: “Here’s the agenda: 1) don’t encourage our families to disown us and 2) treat us like anybody else in the civil sphere.”

    that is the perfect. its so simple and so perfect. its a damn shame that it even has to be said, but it is true that it must be said. i think its shameful that people must choose between their family/heritage and their own soul and wellness. i hope conversations like this one, and the wholesome efforts of informed members, will change that for you and others.

  42. teancum
    August 15, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Mayan: I am not sure you are responding to my question, but that quote does not contain any advice to avoid “appearing in public” with gay children. It talks about how some parents might repond, after prayerfully seeking inspiration on the subject, to a gay child’s request to cohabit with thier partner in the privacy of THE PARENT’s home. In Elder Oaks’ hypothetical, the gay child no longer lives with the parents. Nor is it any kind of directive.

  43. teancum
    August 15, 2008 at 11:35 am

    “I can imagine some circumstances in which it might be possibel to say,” and “There are so many different circumstances, it’s impossible to give one answer that fits all” does not sound like advice to me. It sounds like a discussion about how a wide range of people with a wide range of views might repond to a mutually challenging situation. I, for one, would feel no obligation to avoid appearing in public with a gay child.

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      I was told by my sister that “gay people make her sick”. 
      When I ‘came out’ to my parents I was told not to come home (my father was violently mad) and the only thing my “mother” was concerned about was what she was going to tell her friends! She could have cared less about my state of being – she never did ask. Three years ago, my brother told me that he was ashamed of me – I am 42 and he’s 49.  I grew up a Mormon in Alaska in the 70′s and 80′s. At the time in Alaska, it was perfectly legal to fire me from any job I held for my sexual orientation. The best part about it is that NO ONE in my family (except maybe my sister) was actually Mormon. I was the only one forced to attend! I started abusing my mom’s valium and Nyquil when I was 8. I’ve dealt with the ‘spiritual disease’ better known as ‘addiction’ my entire life. The idea that the Mormon “church” would advise not being seen with your own gay child is hardly any surprise to me. I wasn’t allowed to bring my best friend to Church either (he was black). 

      Oh, besides addiction, I am angry and bitter…but…..thanks to A.A. and my own spirituality, I try to be more positive and productive member of society.

  44. Ray
    August 15, 2008 at 11:45 am

    #30 – John, I like that – perhaps minus the “especially”.

    #42 – To add a point about how some things aren’t simply a homosexual issue:

    There is a man in our ward who is losing his home and business. He was talking with my wife about the situation, and she mentioned that our house if known as “The Hotel” among our children’s friends. We have had many of them stay with us from one night to months when things at home got too bad to handle. My wife mentioned that he and his girlfriend were welcome to stay with us for a couple of months until they could marshal their resources for the move they want to make. There were two conditions.

    They are not married, so even though they are nearly 30 he would need to sleep in the basement with our boys and she would need to sleep upstairs in one of our daughter’s bedrooms. Also, there would be NO sex in the house. Period.

    I am not trying to “defend” the quote. It is brutally hard to address this topic in a way that doesn’t offend someone. I just want to point out that this topic is harder to address even than those of us who address it regularly realize sometimes.

    In the end, “don’t disown me” – “continue to love me” – “treat me with respect” – etc. are perfect. I also would rather have my gay friends living in a different religion than dead through suicide. If that is what it takes for someone, I am all for it.

  45. August 15, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Arthur,

    I totally agree that it’s not the church’s fault. But I have to believe that together, as members, with the church’s help — we can make a difference in lowering the overall number.

    If we can’t make things better — then what was Christ’s message to us? What’s the point of everything?

    For me, I HAVE to believe that together, we can make a positive difference in stuff like this. Or else I just want to cash it in.

    But yes — NOT the church’s fault.

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      you are simply wrong. it is both the members and the structure of the religion itself. 

    • Trenton Gregory
      December 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      I very much wish this was the case too!!! But youth are sent to programs to “fix” the problem, billons have crossed hands and evergreen and many many church supported groups teach young men and women conflicting training that now seen as fraud. The bodys are stacking up fast,

  46. August 15, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Ray — totally agree. Lose the especially.

  47. Holden Caulfield
    August 15, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Discussions like this give me hope that there are some LDS people who don’t just want to turn their backs on gays. My wife and I have a gay LDS son who lives in our home with his partner while they are going thru school. Since he came out almost 3 years ago, a day does not go by without my wife and I discussing some aspect of homosexuality and the church. NOT A DAY! I read incessantly, unable to be comforted. Every day, I naively, search the internet for some statement that will make the situation better.

    We are teetering on the edge of spiritual inactivity, although not church inactivity. Too many things have been said by the brethren in past years for me to ignore. It makes me wonder how high (low) the tower is that our watchmen are on.

    I read internet blogs and feel the anti-gayness of a church that proclaims itself not anti-gay. What is a church, if not the members?

    As to what we can do to help gay Mormons come to church, that is beyond me. My son won’t even go to church to witness baby blessings of his own nephews and nieces because he feels he has a giant wart on his nose. Obviously, the church’s doctrine will never change.

    I am amazed that an organization like Affirmation even exists. With the pain they all must feel, what keeps them going?

    Sorry no help here, but thanks for the forum.

    BYW, John, thanks for all you have done in the past few years on the internet for all matters Mormon. Your temple recommend interview suggestions helped me get through my last one.

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm

      I am recovering gay ex-mormon, and I thank you for your post!! It’s the most truthful and poignant post I have read. This religion almost killed me. 

  48. August 15, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    A serious and sad post, and many interesting comments to read. This is an intelligent discussion of a very difficult issue. I have had many personal experiences throughout my life with the gender identity and same-gender attraction condition. I do not suffer from this condition myself, but have been directly affected through association with and love for some of my closest friends and family members.

    Here is a (very abbreviated believe-it-or-not) version of what I personally believe on this subject based upon my experiences, my study of medical reports, my study of the official LDS releases & talks by prophets, apostles and general authorities, my testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and through my own personal prayers on this subject:

    1. Not Eternal: Same-sex attraction and other gender identity disorders did not exist in the pre-existence. It is an exclusively physical mortal condition and a challenge which will be removed once the spirit is separated from the body. It will not exist in the next life nor in the resurrected body.

    2. Research Needed and Prevented: As long as Satan succeeds in his campaign to convince that this is a “normal” and “natural” condition, and NOT a medical condition we will never find the truth. Billions of dollars are being spent to research AIDS cures and fighting to keep those alive who suffer from the disease already. Millions of dollars are spent trying to reform governmental laws and attack religious freedoms instead of finding the true help and hope for the condition. Is there a cure? No one seriously knows because no one is being funded enough nor allowed to take this point of view without violent attacks. Even if there isn’t a cure, there IS much more out there that could be discovered to improve the quality of life for those who suffer. Why are we not demanding this? Becuase Satan’s campaign is working to cloud minds and convince us this is “natural”, instead of an illness.

    3. God’s Laws Are Eternal: It is his plan. When He created this earth he placed one man and one woman together in the garden. He sealed them together with priesthood power, and instituted the sacred union of procreation and family. This is what is right. Anything else is in violation of God’s laws and will only bring misery and destruction. Changing a mortal government definition of marriage does not change God’s law and definition set down from the beginning. Satan was also present from the beginning in that same garden. He has vowed to do everything in his power to ruin the Plan of our Father in Heaven. To harm and kill and ruin the physical body in any way which he covets and hates so much, to distort the truth, to kill and to ruin the family unit, and to try to thwart our Heavenly Father’s Plan. In the end, he will fail, and he knows it. But he will drag as many of us into complete misery as he can until then.

    4. Do not be Deceived: There is a big difference between Loving someone unconditionally as a human being, and endorsing and encouraging that persons inappropriate behavior. I do not believe anyone chooses to have these feelings – and it is a terrible burden to bear. However, Same gender sexual activity is NOT natural behavior – as much as the desire to engage in that activity is felt as a natural desire. Speaking from a purely medical perspective right now. The human body is not designed for this behavior, and serious consequences occur physically. A horrible disease has also been spawned from this as medical consequence.

    Then, there is the psychological and emotional and spiritual damage which is added to that.

    5. Suicide Not The Fault Of Others:
    Suicide is not a natural human desire. Rather, a healthy human being is born with the instinct for self preservation – and to sustain life at all costs. Biological – chemical and mental conditions can arise that weaken and destroy that natural instinct. Trying to place blame on any one person (including the victim) or upon a religious entity for a tragic suicide irresponsible and uneducated. No one can deny how tragic and damaging a suicide is for loved ones to deal with, but once it has taken place it is useless to relive everything one might have done to prevent it, and not fair placing blame.

    More education is needed in our society to accept mental illness and depression for what it is – a real medical condition. It is no fault of others, nor creation of ones own. It is a lack of critical biological chemicals in the human body. It needs immediate professional medical care. If the medication or the therapy isn’t working – then it is the responsibility of the patient and loved ones to seek new care and never give up! My belief is GID and SGA is a medical condition, and antidepressants do help. I am not saying they cure the condition, but they help someone who is suffering with thoughts of ending life to be stronger to fight the challenge.

    6. Personal Responsibility: A huge part of the “loving thy neighbor” responsibility extends to the person suffering with an actual trial. How easy it is to want to lash out and blame others when we are hurting. We must each rise above that desire, and must learn to forgive those who say or do insensitive and stupid things. We each have the responsibility to be slow to offend, to focus on our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to not allow other’s judgment to limit our personal growth and self-worth. It is only through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation that we can come to know who we really are and our divine potential. ALL have divine potential. We must teach this stronger to our children, and we must remind ourselves and our children that when bad things happen to us, it does not mean we are bad.

    7. The church organization itself has the responsibility to defend the laws of God. There are inspired protocols in place for those who are in serious violation of sacred commandments and covenants which must be followed. This is something to be thankful for, not to deride and mock. It is a standard we can rely on, that the Church of Jesus Christ does not bend to every whim and popular movement and everyone can be treated equally. It stands as a beacon of what is true and right. It is our responsibility to cling to God and His commandments and develop our own personal testimony that this is Jesus Christ’s church on earth, for that is where there is safety and peace. We are not necessarily guaranteed total happiness in this life – but there is real peace.

    Bottom line. If you believe in God, then you have to believe in His commandments and stop trying to change them around to suit what is more convenient and comfortable at the moment. This has been standard human practice since Cain to try this (Satan’s eternal plan), and it will always cause terrible natural consequences. Meanwhile, we are commanded to reach out to everyone in love, embrace those who are suffering with this heavy load or any other heavy load and try to help them carry it. We should be supporting each other’s efforts to live clean and chaste lives under immense pressure, and still loving them if they are not able to. (but NOT enabling their addictions through acceptance of the behavior and changing laws)

    We need to seek understanding of the root of the issue. We also need to start demanding and advocating loudly for research into ways to alleviate the affects of this serious medical condition! There is help out there – LDS members can seek for it, and the church unofficially will give out recommendations. There is no solution right now, but there is help. I will stand by my conviction that this IS a mortal medical condition, and I hope someday our society can break through Satan’s evil design which is preventing us from finding the truth and solutions.

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      You lost me at “is there a cure?”  Being gay isn’t a flaw, nitwit! 
      If we are all creations of God, we are all perfect. I like to think being gay is nature’s form of population control to counter-act mindless, simple-minded, Mormon breeders.BTW……Satan is Santa in disguise….HELLO!! Did you miss that memo? The kingdom of God is within and Hell is between your ears….no need to anthropomorphize your ‘deities”. Actually I’m envious of you, must be nice to have it all figured out! Bravo Moron–uh–Mormon!

  49. August 15, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Soprano: “I do not suffer from this condition myself, but have been directly affected through association with and love for some of my closest friends and family members.”

    You would be a perfect example of that person between a rock and a hard place. You know gay folks and probably love them, yet you have the type of testimony of the Gospel that does not allow Church teachings about this issue to possibly be wrong, so you are forced to construct that labyrinth of logic to create an explanation for how the church can be right and your gay friends can be so good and nice.

    Of course, I’m also aware that other folks might look at me and say that Satan has tricked me into “calling evil good” with a clever web of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Thus, the we come together in need of mediation. Regardless of which of us is right, if either of us are… thank God for Jesus!

  50. Mayan Elephant
    August 15, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Holden,

    wow. wow. bless you. your family is lucky. your son is lucky. best of luck to all of you.

    Soprano,

    sorry to burst your bubble but the garden of eden thing aint very well supported by science. just sayin you may want to put that one in the myth category, even if it is inspirational and inspiring to you. it certainly aint enough to justify bigotry and exclusion.

    the leaders of the church may assume some responsibility to enforce the laws of god. thats just fine and thats just dandy. let em have all the courts and handbooks and commandments they want. fortunately, they are not charged with imposing the laws of their god on everyone else. and this imposition on families, municipalities, states and governments is hardening the place and increasing the size of the rock that has so many gays and families uncomfortably trapped.

    ============

    the difference between these two posts, of holden and soprano, is to me the perfect image of what we are facing.

    one is of holden, with total compassion, sincere love and loyalty to a son, having faith that god (and his church) will be right, in the end. the other, soprano’s more common LDS position, is total and complete loyalty to leaders of a church and that church’s god, with faith and crossed fingers that the son will be all right after death, if he only believes and endures to the end.

  51. August 15, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Holden,

    Please email me if you can. mormonstories@gmail.com will work.

    Thanks!

  52. August 15, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Soprano,

    I appreciate your participation here on MM, but the majority of your comment falls far outside the bounds of this post/conversation. This post is about “how do we love, embrace, support our homosexual brothers and sisters at church” — not about your theological, doctrinal, or policy conjectures.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but please save that for another place. For the rest of us, please ignore that comment. I’d rather the comments end than go down that well trodden rat trail.

    Thanks.

  53. Hymn331
    August 15, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Holden – thanks for your comments. You put us right into your situation and one can’t help but sympathize with you. What a remarkably insightful comment about the height of the watchmen’s tower. The Savior’s teaching about plowing a straight furrow not being possible while looking behind has special significance as we consider how reactionary the Church has been on certain critical issues such as this one.

    A request – can you or John please refer me to John’s temple recommend interview suggestions?

    Thanks.

  54. Advent
    August 15, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Soprano,

    Much of what/how you say reminds me of when I was at BYU and my survey professor was instructing us about the survey equipment. Although they were really just glorified levels, they were easy to misalign, and our professor always told us to never try and fix them by just using a “bigger hammer”. Inevitably, when we did misalign them, and we tried the “bigger hammer” approach, then end result was often a broken instrument. I hear you saying things like “We must teach this stronger to our children” and this just seems more of the “bigger hammer” approach, but the consequences are far more severe in peoples lives than just a broken instrument. When you read Stuart Matis’ story, and realize that this guy chose death over living gay….that’s a pretty big hammer.

    hope that’s in line JD.

  55. Aha
    August 15, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    This idea has been touched on a bit before, but let me throw it out again.

    Consider an engaged hetero couple at church. They come in holding hands, they give each other back rubs in sacrament meeting, they steal a kiss in the foyer, and lay their heads on the others’ shoulder in Sunday School. Are they married? No. But non-sexual intimacy is welcome at church between unmarried people in a committed relationship.

    Now imagine a same-sex couple engaging the exact same behavior in church. And suppose also that their intimacy is likewise non-sexual. They are in a chaste, committed, non-sexual romantic relationship.

    By all official doctrines and policies, this behavior ought to be tolerated and welcome by the Church and its members shouldn’t it? I must say, however, that most members would be grossly uncomfortable seeing this in Church. And THAT is something we CAN change without any need for changing doctrine or policy. If this SS couple is exercising the same kind of restraint expected of an engaged couple, there should be no room for any condemnatory stares, right?

    Of course, the engaged couple are “waiting until marriage,” and the gay couple would be “waiting indefinitely,” but the fact remains that it is just as possible for gay person to get a same sex boyfriend/girlfriend and maintain their chastity as a hetero couple. Sure, there will be temptation, but the same goes for any pre-marriage couple. And I think the Church’s members can make steps forward to welcoming this.

    It certainly makes it harder for a chaste gay couple who doesnt have that wedding date to look forward to to finally let loose, but it certainly beats the alternative of a closeted suicide.

  56. Ray
    August 15, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    #55 – That is a perfect example, Aha.

    I would hope we treat all of our homosexual members and friends at least no more strictly than we treat our heterosexual, single members and friends.

    I have said more than once that I would love to have a gay couple sit on the same pew as my family. I am an “arm on the back of the bench behind the shoulders of whomever is sitting there” guy, and the only time I don’t do that is if I am sitting next to an adult female to whom I’m not immediately related. I would do the exact same thing with a male gay member, and I believe it is that type of action that would make the most impact in individual wards. Simply “embracing” our gay brothers and sisters (both literally and figuratively, both within and without our meetinghouses) would go a LONG way toward helping them feel loved and accepted.

  57. Holden Caulfield
    August 15, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    to hymn331

    Hopefully John can remember where it is. I’ll find it on my ipod and post tomorrow or Sunday, if he hasn’t by then.

  58. Anonymous
    August 15, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    As a survivor of suicide I’d like to add some words here. I used the hose in exhaust way to die and end my pain after a broken engagement. This was 21 years ago.

    Point is what happened there as I passed out from the carbon monoxide. I felt suddenly underneath about 5 or 6 men who were shouting and screaming pushing me down and others who where reaching in from the side to try and scratch or rip some skin of me. It hurt and in a split second I was terrified. Some of them where dressed in white robes and others in old 1800′s type clothing.

    Then a tall thin man dressed in temple whites (which I didn’t know of yet back then) and who I didn’t recognize at the time but now do from old photographs as my mother’s father, somehow spoke and took them of me so they started to disperse. I stood and saw the place I was in, which was like a building hallway as a hospital one with people, mostly men, against the walls and the biggest man who was on top of me walking away screaming and cursing. I turned to the tall thin man in white and said that I didn’t want to die anymore, so I woke up again in the car vomiting profusely and then crawled out of the front seat to the fresher air outside. I then spent nearly 6 months in treatment due to liver failure and of course the psychiatrists.

    I write this to try and tell people that hell isn’t a nice place to be in. Now back then I didn’t have major sins on my tab, only kids stuff like the odd bear and some porn, but I was still a virgin and went to church every week with my family. Now although I do think that gay sex is a sin, I’m not addressing that. I don’t think we can do this, suicide, and then avoid hell because one is depressed or unbalanced because I was depressed and unbalanced back then but still ended up there. Off course I don’t know how long each person has to stay there after a suicide since I was there only a few moments.

    I think that this is what people who contemplate suicide need to know, what happened to me for those brief moments, as well as the pain and suffering brought on to the innocent family members. Maybe knowing where one goes may help someone disregard the option of suicide, but who knows?

    I myself still have questions about that day, like why my mother’s father, how did he know etc and also what will happen later on to me after the my life is up, as someone who went to hell and back since our doctrine awards those with the telestial kingdom only.

    As for the original questions here I think that greater depth in understanding about the doctine the church has on suicide may help many avoid it. But the brethren don’t deal with this too much and when they do people critize them for blamming the victim or not understanding. I look at this differently though since I went through it and was lucky enough to be given a second chance at life. My heart goes out to this family because the ex-missionary couldn’t get a second chance at life but surely all the good he did will tip the scales over to the right side in due time and he can have some peace as well. I don’t think that God meant to leave his children, lds ones gay or not, in hell for years over a suicide due to depression but he still will probably have to serve some time there. Just my opinion and no offense intended.

    • guest
      February 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      That was not hell. That was your dying brain assimilating what you have feared your whole life, by what you have been told. That you are bad. Full of sin. Going to hell. God does not make mistakes. You are good just the way your are.. Jesus Christ would never speak the way Christians are speaking about gay men and women. Never!! Not just the Mormons, most Christian churches. I would suggest to some gay members. To leave the church. Theresome Christian churches, that will accept you, and love  you. Just the way you are. Walk the talk, and listen to the words of Jesus Christ. Not a false interpretation of the words of Jesus…… Unity Church is an awesome place to go. Pure Love and acceptance.

  59. The Right Trousers
    August 15, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    #37: “The official stance of the church is that any expression of same-sex love is a sin just one notch down in severity from murder.”

    Your post got me thinking hard about this, and I’ve concluded that this is a folk belief. It’s a widely held one, even among General Authorities. AFAIK, this *interpretation* of Alma 39 is extra-canonical, though it seems to be consistent with the text and can be made logically consistent. (Taking and giving life is God’s job, etc.) The problem is that Alma is being *very* circumspect, so it’s impossible to say exactly what his son Corianton’s sins were.

    (Another issue is in thinking that sins can be objectively, independently ranked in the first place. I don’t think they can be, since it’s impossible to separate them from both offender and offendee, and all the other social context in which they happen. If you could, there would be no sin left to rank.)

    There’s another interpretation that’s IMO even more consistent with the text and even more logically consistent. Further, it’s consistent with your observations (and mine) that sexual sin just doesn’t seem to have the same soul-destroying oomf that murder does. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still serious – especially adultery – but it’s way outclassed.

    In this interpretation, Corianton’s worst sin, the one second to murder, is “lead[ing] away the hearts of many people to destruction” by his horrible example. Here’s the evidence:

    1. The commandment from the Lord to Corianton via Alma has to do with this specifically (39:11-12).

    2. The text refers to “harlots” (v. 11) that “[stole] away the hearts of many” (v. 4). Corianton’s behavior was *very* public. It’s likely that “Isabel” was some kind of group or cult, possibly of a female god, and possibly a sex cult.

    3. In Alma 36:14, Alma tells another son, Helaman, that he himself, in his rebellious youth, had “murdered many of [God's] children, or rather led them away unto destruction”. The wording here is almost identical to the Lord’d commandment to Corianton. It’s very clear that Alma considers putting someone to spiritual death equivalent to murder. Indeed, when he says that for murder it’s “not easy… to obtain forgiveness” (39:6) and then repeats this solemn phrase for emphasis, he may be speaking from experience. Juxtaposed as it is with his own story of redemption, I’d say this is quite likely.

    4. A major Book of Mormon theme is the analogy of spiritual death to temporal death. It’s no stretch to call intentionally causing either one “murder”.

    In Corianton’s case it was more like spiritual manslaughter, hence it is second to murder.

    This doesn’t prove anything, of course. But it seems more consistent with the text, the context, and overall themes. (And also our own observations.) It’s a darn good competing interpretation, and I think it shows that the other (sexual sin is second only to murder) is most likely folklore.

    Now, in general, I’m not too bothered by folk beliefs, even those that pretend to be canonical. But some of them – such as popular LDS interpretations of grace and application of the atonement – are downright spiritually dangerous. Given the cultural and religious context in which our youth with SSA grow up, I’m starting to think the one I’ve just yammered about is one of them.

    Maybe this is one thing we can do to alter our perceptions of our gay brothers and sisters so we can be more genuinely charitable: exorcise this folk belief.

  60. Ray
    August 15, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    #59 – You just handled something I was thinking of parsing in a future Common Scriptures in Review post. You did an excellent job, but I still might do it just to drive it home as a separate post in and of itself.

    Either way, well said.

  61. Holden Caulfield
    August 15, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    to hymn331

    John’s take on the temple recommend interview can be found on mormonstories.org

    the first item listed is a link to his comprehensive interviews, discussions, etc.

    #109 How to stay in the LDS church after losing your faith.

    the temple interview discussion is about 3/4s of the way through his presentation.

  62. August 16, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Whereas part of growing up entails finding one’s place in the world, for the homosexual child this is especially difficult, particularly in the LDS church. It is one thing for a youth to discover that he or she is gay in a “straight” world, but it is even more difficult to find a place to belong growing up gay in a religion who’s doctrine of salvation and ultimate destiny requires heterosexuality.

    The reason I state the obvious is to focus on something from the video interview. Bruce Rognan, the father, mentioned that in Curtis’ suicide note, the thing that “stands out the clearest, is who am I?, what is my gender?, who do I fit with?

    What seemed to frustrate Curtis, and contributed to his suicide, was his inability to find his place in the world. What does it mean to be a man when the gender role promoted by his faith is so central to fatherhood and heterosexual marriage? “It was the gender issue. How do I fit in here to this world?”

    How do we prevent suicides by our gay youth? We provide a social, moral, and metaphysical paradigm wherein the gay child can find his or her place in the world.

    Is such a model possible in Mormonism?

    Perhaps not, so long as the church seeks to defend and promote a strict binary model of gender and sexuality. In the real world, gender and sexuality are far more diverse. Indeed, it is not only gays and lesbians who don’t “fit” the LDS world view, there is also really no place for the transgendered, intersexed, androgenous, or sexually ambiguous.

    In comment #38 Advent remarked, “We are the ones who have failed to reconcile our doctrine with reality.” Why do we so vigilantly defend the binary model of humanity? Are we clinging to our own perception of God’s creation based on Genesis? As long as LDS theology denies the natural creation of the sexual and gender variant, it will always be toxic to our gay children.

    • Ryanhobson
      July 28, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      You forgot no place for black people either…..at least when I was physically forced to attend.

      As for your first paragraph, well said!! and so, so true.

  63. Hymn331
    August 16, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Holden – many thanks. My best wishes to you as you struggle through all this.

  64. August 16, 2008 at 9:57 am

    In #59 TheRightTrousers writes:
    … sexual sin just doesn’t seem to have the same soul-destroying oomf that murder does. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still serious – especially adultery – but it’s way outclassed.

    I think the problem here is that all sexual practices get lumped together, when in fact they are widely different in terms of their effect on others.

    My standard for the severity of sin is simple: what is the negative effect on others?

    If you use this guideline, sexual sins can be ranked on a 0 to 10 scale with masturbation being a zero in terms of its negative effects on others, cheating on your spouse or partner being pretty close to a 9 and child sexual abuse off the charts.

    Where does physical expression of same-sex romantic love fall on this scale? It’s pretty clear that if the two people involved are in a loving, committed relationship and they both have sexual orientations that rule out opposite-sex possibilities, then the moral harm of their intimacy is pretty much nil. In fact, you could argue that there’s a moral benefit, similar to the benefit that accrues to committed heterosexual relationships. (Both parties are better off for having found their other half– I know this is how I feel.)

    In #62 Steven B writes
    How do we prevent suicides by our gay youth? We provide a social, moral, and metaphysical paradigm wherein the gay child can find his or her place in the world.

    Amen. There is more than one possible path here. The most important parenting skill is listening.

    • ryanh206
      July 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      wow! what is the moral benefit to heterosexual sex? more kids? more people?!
      i’ve read (and may be mis-quoting) that by 2020, there will be 11 BILLION people on this planet. 
      there’s gonna be a lot of mormon kids real thirsty when we run out of water. 
      judging the morality of ANYTHING is a job for God itself?
      i believe that world would be a better place if people would put their dumb religious rules and moral rating systems aside and realize that we are ALL connect and part of the whole: ALL of us are god!
      there is a universal truth and it’s not buddism, christianity, islam or any man made religion (they all point to the same thing anyway)…god is within us!….the kingdom of god is within us! ‘god’ is not male, female, gay or straight and it could care less if you masturbate 80 times a day (though not recommended)! god is everyone and everything, war included. there is a purpose and a reason for everything. homosexuality included.
      it makes me sad when people are afraid to think for themselves and ascribe to ‘yee olde’ silly laws and rules…especially ones made up by some dude in the 19th century!
      theres a billion different paths up a mountain (about 7 billion and counting – one for every person on the planet)…don’t let yourself be railroaded into following joeseph smith’s (or anyone else’s) route up it….spirituality is a personal journey that starts from within and hopefully extends out towards your fellow man (gay people included). i’ve never read the bible but i’m sure it says the same thing and is taken way too literally. it’s ok to be imperfect in your quest to god. these dumb religions that have no margin for error are ridiculous and harmful to everyone. open your eyes.

  65. August 16, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    #28:
    3) Allow them to have sex within the bonds of a legal marriage without any guilt. That actually would require very little, if any, change to our current wording of the Law of Chastity. That is a possibility, but it might require revelation.

    I’ve wondered about this option for the LDS church. I’m not sure it would require a revelation for the LDS church to make it a policy not to take action against members who were legally married to a person of the same sex. The issue, as far as I can see, would be whether LDS leaders would be willing/able to take a position of “We haven’t received a direct revelation on this subject, so until we receive further light and knowledge, we’re going to act under this policy, in order to avoid any unnecessary action against certain members of the LDS church.” Is there room for an official “we don’t know” in the LDS universe, to the point of framing policy? I’m honestly not sure. There is certainly a cultural attitude among the LDS that they have “the answers.” How open can LDS members be to a situation where their leaders officially give the benefit of the doubt, based on lack of specific revelation?

  66. Mayan Elephant
    August 16, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    this conversation appears to have completely jumped the shark. i dont know if we can get Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli to come unjump the shark or not.

    doctrine shmoctrine. that wasnt meant to be the debate or topic. while i am always up for a good debate and a good thread-jack, i would sure like the debate and the threadjack to be something relevant, and speculation about the fate of victims of suicide is more than a bit whack. at a minimum, i find the discussion to be tasteless and disrespectful to the family of curtis who have volunteered their story and experiences to help us all. i mean cmon, here is a family exposing themselves and their experiences, and we have people yammering about whether suicide is a sin and what is the fate of the victim? tasteless. really.

    lets face it. if you all were to really really answer the question about the fate of anyone after this life, the answer is, “i dont know.” you may have some convictions about this that or the other, but you dont know what happens to any one person in particular. you just dont know.

    this lack of perfect knowledge is reason enough to soften the blows on gays and lesbians. you dont know. i dont know. nobody really knows the fate of these people. we can pile our faith up but it aint enough to justify being anything but generous to other people, including gays, lesbians and suicide victims.

    i am familiar with several stories of gay people leaving byu in real bad circumstances. ostracized by family. destitute. suicidal. lonely. this is not how we as a community claim to live, and yet, we tolerate it for gays and lesbians in an institution like byu.

    perhaps, all of us would be better off to accept what we dont know and do more to prevent there being more suicides by reducing unkindness and voicing our disdain for the institutional stubborness and overt intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from the top leaders.

  67. Brett
    August 16, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Hi, I’m Rays son. I just thought I’d take a quick second to say that (in my non-mormon, outside-commenter opinion) homosexuality is not wrong, aversion therapy is never good, and that people need to look inward when they think of this situation: Use these terrible circumstances to think about the way we treat people, and what that could drive them to do. The issue here isn’t how you should handle homosexuality, it’s how you prevent things like this from continuing to happen! But that’s just me.

  68. Ray
    August 16, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Proud papa threadjack alert:

    Hey, Brett. Good to hear from you.

    Back to our regular programming:

    “The issue here isn’t how you should handle homosexuality, it’s how you prevent things like this from continuing to happen!”

    Well said.

  69. August 16, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    FARGO, N.D. (AP) When a 13-year-old Minnesota boy was banned from church after parishioners complained about his behavior, it exposed a painful truth so politically incorrect that some people feel guilty just saying it out loud: Some autistic children can be annoying and disruptive in public.

    The case of Adam Race and others like him has laid bare conflicted feelings — among both parents of these children and other people — over autistic youngsters in public places. And it has stirred debate over how much consideration one side owes the other.

    http://www.propeller.com/story/2008/08/13/disruptive-behavior-by-autistic-kids-stirs-furor/?icid=200100397x1207760758x1200388746

    I think about things like this. I’ve friends with autistic children, at various levels of function. I’ve a daughter with Tourettes syndrome. She is lucky in that she is pretty and very bright. But I’ve seen the dramatic differences that medication and medication changes have made. I’ve seen people just try to discipline her compulsive behaviors out of her (doesn’t work, just drives her into a meltdown and makes her parents angry), and then seen medication melt things away.

    One of Orson Scott Card’s books had a sub-theme of a person who wanted to live free of biology controlling him, even if it meant dying. So much of our moods, actions, and experience is the way biology overlays what we are. I was talking with a doctor about the number of patients she has who have had life changing improvements when their Attention Deficit Disorder was treated as adults. She is a general practice doctor, and parents of ADD children will recognize their children’s problems in themselves, talk to her, take a trial of medication and suddenly they can listen to and understand a lecture or a sermon for the first time in their lives. Or enjoy a walk in the park.

    Some problems don’t affect some people. Alcoholism wasn’t much of a problem for the Eskimo peoples when they did not have fermented beverages. Vulnerability to the effects of sugar and flour didn’t bother the Pima Indians at all when they had neither (the tribes that now have them have 50% grossly obese members — they have an addictive reaction to high gyclemic index foods). Instead of understanding, I’ll bet most people who see them merely condemn them as gluttonous slobs. Rather think of them as alcoholics who can’t find a way to abstain (you can’t do without food after all).

    It is easy to be self-righteous, especially about biology. Naturally thin — well all those who are fat are terrible sinners who aren’t abiding the word of wisdom as the naturally thin have been permitted by God to truly understand it. Asexual (that is, lacking sexual drives), well, those who have them just lack self control. Have narrow and accepted sexual tastes … obviously those who do not share them are sinful, especially the same sex group. Have malleable sexual tastes you can control? Obviously those who don’t are choosing what is wrong.

    Some problems are easily controlled with medication. But, for much of history, humanity did not have much in the way of working medications. Some problems can be helped with simple behavioral tools that are not intuitive (consider some things that help dyslexics).

    We add complexity when the members of a group differ. Some children who do not sit still really are spoiled brats. Some are just bored, but could use some self control. Some can’t control themselves. Some are actually a danger to themselves and others. Obviously the approach and response to each is different.

    Which I think applies to same sex issues as much as it does to how we interact with those on the various locations on the autism spectrum (from high function Ausbergers to completely un-moderated autism with low function) or a child who has behaviors that seem inappropriate.

    That is why what John has had to say is valuable.

    • Trenton Gregory
      December 12, 2012 at 1:20 am

      Being gay is not ever been seen as a mental health illness or defect by the mental health leaders. Many share the same desire to have a commited relationship at times more so than many adult straight men . The desire to be loved and connect ….making love is the driving force in most healty people gay or straight. Why be surprised we are seen as bigots when we value our need to be married and reject theres .

  70. adcama
    August 17, 2008 at 7:22 am

    From today’s SL Trib…..

    http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_10223681

  71. Russell Stevenson
    August 17, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    MoHoHawaii

    1) This doctrine that Elder HOlland teaches is hardly new…the idea that “all would be made up” to us in the afterlife has been around a long time (Joseph taught it about the loss of infants); it has just addressed different issues. No, to call it new has about the same significance as calling the Perpetual Education Fund when the doctrine of self-sustenance has similarly been in the discourse.

    2) With similar respect, my friend, I would suggest that by identifying one’s sexuality as FUNDAMENTAL to one’s existence (I’m hereosexual and I find great fulfillment in activities that do not involve my sexual hormones) only exacerbates the problem of suicide. What if I identified myself as an “asthmatic” in the same way homosexuals identify themselves as such? I would live out my life just wondering why I couldn’t be a star athlete or why I have to take medication X or why I couldn’t REALLY be a part of the Scouts. I got a ghettoized Eagle Scout…they made “special” accomodations…not exactly empowering.

    Yes, there is a possibility for me to overcome this, but it’s not easily done (similarly with homosexuality…and Dr. Robert Spitzer, Prof. at Columbia, himself an advocate of the homosexual rights agenda, confirms this). But how much better it is, I’ve found, to find joy in the things that are available to me. This will help prevent suicide more than “consciousness-building” exercises. Trust me…I know what it’s like (in ways other than asthma) to dwell on one aspect of a person’s identity while letting the other elements atrophy. It’s not healthy and has only brought me pain.

  72. August 17, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    But how much better it is, I’ve found, to find joy in the things that are available to me. This will help prevent suicide more than “consciousness-building” exercises. Trust me…I know what it’s like (in ways other than asthma) to dwell on one aspect of a person’s identity while letting the other elements atrophy. It’s not healthy and has only brought me pain.

    Very well said.

  73. Imperfection
    August 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    The story presented by Stephen has been of special intrest to me. We long ago stopped taking our mentally handicapped daughter to church. Not because we were asked to stop, and not because people expressed some discomfort with her. I very much appreciate the accomodation all of our wards have shown us. That said, it was obvious that she did not fit what was going, and it was meaningless to her.

    I began to question how we worship. We put on identifying clothes, gather on neatly arranged benches to sing the same songs and review the same lessons. Our worship is very structured and ‘compliant’.

    Here is the point for this thread. Our view of helping people is to make them like us. To bend behavior into paths that we find acceptable and that do not disrupt our structure. Now, you will pull a bunch of scriptures out to counter this, and it only goes to show the weakness of argument from scripture IMO.

    BUT.

    The only true action I can see from a Christ centered religion is to embrace people as they are and do what you can to support them and help them find happiness without judgement. Take the sin out of religion. Leave the judgement to God.

  74. TJM
    August 17, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    #73 Take the sin out of religion. Leave the judgement to God.

    Now that’s well said.

    -ps Hope you don’t mind my endorsement, as I think some here do.

  75. Ray
    August 17, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Imperfection, would you mind explaining a little more your situation? I am having a hard time understanding two of your statements – or, at least, how they fit and what they mean when they are in the same comment.

    “We long ago stopped taking our mentally handicapped daughter to church. Not because we were asked to stop, and not because people expressed some discomfort with her. I very much appreciate the accommodation all of our wards have shown us.”

    and

    “The only true action I can see from a Christ centered religion is to embrace people as they are and do what you can to support them and help them find happiness without judgment.”

    I agree with your second statement up to a point (since there is some degree of judgment necessary in any group that teaches standards of any kind, including Christ’s own words), but it appears that your second statement happened with your daughter, so I read your first statement as being an example of how your wards did what you say “Christ centered religions” should do.

    That’s not a critique or criticism of any kind. I truly want to understand the point you are trying to make.

  76. Imperfection
    August 17, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Ray,
    At a ward level I very often see true Christ-like love. I saw that in the acceptance of my daughter even though she does not fit, and now cannot tolerate the rather rigid Sunday worship.

    At a ward level, I have also seen our gay members receive love and acceptance. Sadly this is not always the case.

    At the church level things become a bit corporate and the message is different. The ‘church’ is struggling with its message but it is hampered, in my opinion, by the idea of conformity to a norm. I understand why large organizations need this. However, in forming the organizational message the ability to love individuals can get lost.

    I wish I had an answer for this. I wish our gay members could be accepted the way my daughter was even though I know that acceptance was at times difficult. I understand the situations are different. I wish the acceptance could be the same.

  77. Ray
    August 17, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you, Imperfection, for that clarification. I understand and respect that sentiment completely.

  78. MoHoHawaii
    August 17, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Re #71 (Russell Stevenson)—

    Russell,

    I agree with you that sexual orientation shouldn’t dominate one’s identity or life and that endlessly bemoaning one’s situation (whatever that may be) is counterproductive. Also, I should mention that I’m not arguing in any way that homosexuality is a bigger cross to bear than any of a number of other issues a person might face.

    My point is only that sexual orientation is a deep part of personality. For myself (and speaking only for myself), I feel that eliminating my homosexuality would erase me, the ‘self’ that I know. This is terrifying, not something that I would ever willingly submit myself to. That’s why I react badly to Elder Holland’s suggestion of post-mortal heterosexuality for all. I make no claim as to what will really happen in the life hereafter. I’m just saying how I, as a gay Mormon, feel about this.

    When it comes to what might help gay youth avoid suicide, what seems lacking in the
    discussion are the voices of gay Mormons themselves. When I was a young person, I
    struggled like many other gay Mormons to reconcile the irreconcilable. After my mission, my struggle drove me into depression and very near to suicide. That I didn’t actually go through with act is just a flip of the coin. I could just as easily have been one of those statistics we’ve been discussing.

    I’m not trying to say how others should live their lives, but if we really want to address the issue of suicide in gay LDS youth, we should at least listen to the voices of the survivors.

    I know that blog posts are a difficult medium to express tone, but I really do want to say that I mean absolutely no disrespect or ill will with my involvement in this thread. The issue being discussed is personal to me, and I would do just about anything to save the lives of gay Mormon youth.

  79. Mahnahvu
    August 18, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Re #71 Russell:
    I would suggest that by identifying one’s sexuality as FUNDAMENTAL to one’s existence (I’m hereosexual and I find great fulfillment in activities that do not involve my sexual hormones) only exacerbates the problem of suicide.

    You are attempting to blame the victim. And I think you have it backwards. It is the church that has made sexuality FUNDAMENTAL to one’s existence. In our meetings, marriage, family and gender roles are discussed perhaps even more than the Savior. If heterosexuality were not so essential and central to the Plan of Happiness and ultimate salvation, then those who fail to possess heterosexuality would not experience the conflict.

    What ever happened to the simple Christian doctrine of salvation by grace through faith? Instead, in mormonism, our soteriology is all bound up in family and procreation, mothering and fathering and patterning our lives after our anthropomorphic God, who obviously has a wife and would never create homosexuals because that would frustrate his entire plan of mortal happiness.

    And if that fundamental dissonance weren’t bad enough, homosexuality is described as an abomination, and placed next to murder in repugnance. Members tend to recoil in fear at the thought. Imagine growing up as a gay child in a believing Mormon family. Whether or not the youth “identifies” as gay or is preoccupied with his or her sexual hormones, the youth will still experience a fundamental discord and feel lost.

  80. James
    August 18, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Ray brought up the following point

    What might reduce suicide among homosexual members? At “The Church” level:

    28 Ray

    3) Allow them to have sex within the bonds of a legal marriage without any guilt. That actually would require very little, if any, change to our current wording of the Law of Chastity. That is a possibility, but it might require revelation.

    What is the church’s position for example if you are a guy couple legally married in Canada(living the law of the land) and wanted to join the church?

    What is the church’s position if you were a gay unmarried couple and wanted to join the church?

    Is one of these a possible get out clause to gay and married and active in the church?

    Or is the church’s position they would require a gay couple to get a divorce in order to join the church?

    Nations that recognize gay marriage:

    Canada
    In June of 2005, the Canadian Parliament enacted a law allowing legal marriage for same-sex couples.

    Belgium
    The second nation to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003.

    Netherlands
    The first country to grant gay marriage in 2001.

    Norway
    Became the sixth country to legalize same-sex marriage on May 11, 2008.

    South Africa
    South Africa became the fifth nation to recognize gay marriage in 2005.

    Spain
    Spain became the fourth nation to allow gay marriage on June 29, 2005.

  81. Russell Stevenson
    August 18, 2008 at 9:59 am

    It is essential that I communicate that I am only seeking to empower LDS with same-sex attraction as I have been empowered in facing my particular issues (and asthma is not the only one, though it definitely is the most dramatic). And it’s not just homosexuality that is spurned amongst Mormon youth, it’s sexuality in general. If you recall, most chastity lessons made sexual relations seem horrific…even heterosexual ones. The stories of LDS newlyweds experiencing disconnect are legion…thinking that they have just sinned…some LDS women have even felt raped. Our people MUST do better at redefining homosexuality as a “cross to be borne” rather than as a chosen abomination (though, alas, SOME choose it…there’s a strong enough gay community that can reinforce socialization of homosexuality).

    And I suggest that the term “blaming the victim” is being misapplied here. I maintain that no matter how deeply embedded a tendency is, it need not control us. It need not define us, unless we want it to. If we feed that appetite, then the appetite, alas, will begin to define us regardless. And it can’t exactly be compared to food; after all, I have sexual appetites that I must keep in check all the time (granted, it’s not for the duration of mortality like homosexuals). In the end, we ultimately preach what we have practiced. What is being called “blame” is actually the ultimate form of empowerment, if one wants that power. I suggest that we do not need to be controlled by any appetite, heterosexual or homosexual, unless we give that appetite our consent. Just as with any other temptation (pride, for example…that too, according to Pres. Benson, is quite fundamental to the fallen world), homosexuality can be kept in check. In my experience, this is liberty…and the realization of this will help prevent suicide more than any kind of “it’s OK to be gay” slogans.

    As an aside, I believe those LDS gay youth who do commit suicide will be granted an added measure of grace, probably as a terminally patient who receives euthanasia. My good friend who suffered from bipolar almost certainly was. This is not to say that “it’s better to be dead than to be gay.” Indeed, it breaks my heart when it happens, and I too would bend over backwards to save both their lives and their souls, calling out their ward with ringing pleas for understanding and charity if necessary.

  82. Steven B
    August 18, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I suggest that we do not need to be controlled by any appetite, heterosexual or homosexual, unless we give that appetite our consent. Just as with any other temptation, homosexuality can be kept in check. In my experience, this is liberty…and the realization of this will help prevent suicide more than any kind of “it’s OK to be gay” slogans.

    I entirely disagree. I cannot say I know the heart and inner feelings of those who have taken their own lives, but I get the impression that Curtis Rognan and Stuart Matis and others were completely able to resist the temptation to have homosexual sex. I’ll bet that they took their religion seriously and maintained clean thoughts and refrained from lusting or dwelling mentally on sexual thoughts. Controlling their thoughts and appetites did not save them.

    Not only were there no “it’s OK to be gay” slogans, there was no “it’s OK to be Eunuch” promoted. Essentially, Curtis and Stuart were written out of the Plan of Happiness. Even if church members learn to be more loving and welcoming, That can only go so far. The theology itself is toxic to gay people.

  83. August 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Our people MUST do better at redefining homosexuality as a “cross to be borne” rather than as a chosen abomination

    We are at an impasse on that one. I agree that we need to not see it as a chosen abomination, but it sadly seems that for a while in the near future, the best we could hope for in the LDS church is for faithful folks to see it your way. Of course, that comes with little to no understanding of the actual pain that fosters for faithful homosexuals. Even the willingness to compare asthma with homosexuality is a staggering example of the gap between truly understanding and just trying to reconcile your loyalty to the church with your compassion.

    The most severe asthma imaginable would still elicit sympathy and compassion from fellow ward members. Most straight faithful LDS are creeped out by gay people. Once same-sex attraction gets pinned to an individual, they can no longer think of that person without attaching images of their sexuality. Even two men holding hands grosses some folks out. Shivers run down spines, subjects are changed, little hymns are sung in minds. Many people still can’t separate even the initial urges of same-sex attraction from pedophilia. Most LDS parents would strongly object to a gay man teaching primary. That experience is NOTHING like any kind of physical ailment.

    The question is, if the people of the church were able to change their mindset to more of a cross to be borne kind of thing, how do you move past the gross-out factor? There is a huge tide to try stem with that because many members feel that seeking to find understanding and compassion for homosexuals is a slippery slope which opens the door for Satan to deceive you into softening your own morality. We are taught constantly that our society’s increasing comfort with homosexuals is the result of Satan’s influence. How do we overcome that?

  84. Russell Stevenson
    August 18, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    “Not only were there no “it’s OK to be gay” slogans, there was no “it’s OK to be Eunuch” promoted. Essentially, Curtis and Stuart were written out of the Plan of Happiness. Even if church members learn to be more loving and welcoming, That can only go so far. The theology itself is toxic to gay people.”

    The theology is only toxic when the theology is misunderstood. The Plan of Salvation is one where people must endure these ambiguities/difficulties well (which I think I’ve said now to the point of redundancy). People like Stuart Matis and Curtis Rognan have a place at the Lord’s table just along with every member who is addicted to heterosexual intercourse, yet abstain…and believe you me, this is a real addiction for some people within our walls (and I know, I know…”heterosexual abstinence is different from homosexual abstinence”–that argument only serves to isolate members who want to reach out to them and to reinforce homosexual exceptionalism). They have a place alongside every physically ailed person who endures it well without turning against God.

    And frankly, if those members were more loving and welcoming, they should have been willing to say “it’s OK to be Eunuch.” We need to do better, much better. But then again, my disabled friend hears well-intentioned, but ultimately unkind remarks all the time. From the theology you claim we believe, there is hardly hope for her either; she is “written out of the P. of H.” as well. While her mind is bright, most of the daily realities of marriage would have to be drastically altered. And yet, she does not commit suicide; she believes that all will be made up to her. Any suicide is a tragedy and, sometimes, a failure of the community. But there is nothing in the theology that indicates that homosexuals will never be able have a part of exaltation…just as there is no theology stating that those “unmarry-able” in this life will not have exaltation in the afterlife. Of course, we hope that people can change…but then again, we wish that the lame could always arise from their wheelchairs and walk. In miraculous cases, both happen. Many times, they do not.

    The best solution then is that we be willing to give our fellow SSA brothers/sisters a hug, tell them we love them, and let them know that we will do our best to make them feel at home.

  85. Russell Stevenson
    August 18, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Darn, Clay…I wish I had seen your post earlier…then I would I have been able to address your questions as well as Stephen’s in one post. I guess I’ll have to frowned upon as the blog-hog :) So I’ll keep it brief.

    Honestly, Clay…I do understand that homosexuality carries with it its own challenges. But so do many others…challenges that homosexuality does not bring. It is wrong, in my opinion, for anyone to wade too much in exceptionalism…whether it’s American, WEstern, or homosexual exceptionalism. It only makes it more difficult for those who are trying to reach out.

    Yes, the gross-out factor must be overcome…at least when we are talking about feelings. Frankly, I am disgusted at ANY sexual activity not condoned by doctrine…even if it is premarital sexual activity. But in answer to your question…

    First, we have to separate ourselves from the Moral Majority right-wing. The Church is making far more moves towards fellowship than they are, so we would do well to learn to use our own rhetoric/principles to describe our stance. Otherwise, we absorb their hideously unhelpful arguments about how “natural” heterosexuality is and how their will be men marrying cows, etc.

    Second, it’s wonderful when good-hearted and well-informed Latter Day Saints give talks on these touchy subjects. To me, Elder Holland’s article fit that bill rather well (also, his interview on the Mormons documentary). No blazing guns. Just Christ-like love that can articulate the relatively nuanced stance the Church has on this topic.

    *sigh* that’s what I have friends…if you’re all interested in more, I can talk…but I think folks have probably gotten tired of seeing “Russell Stevenson” pop up on the “recent comments” section incessantly.

  86. Hawkgrrrl
    August 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Clay: “Most straight faithful LDS are creeped out by gay people.” Really?? I have a hard time believing this, in this day & age. I think this is generational. People in their 40s and younger have spent sufficient time around openly gay people that they can’t possibly feel this way on the whole. I really have a hard time believing this.

    • ryanh206
      July 29, 2012 at 12:00 am

      clay rhymes with gay you know. 
      maybe he got teased? 

      not sure i’d bother with him….

  87. August 18, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    First, we have to separate ourselves from the Moral Majority right-wing. The Church is making far more moves towards fellowship than they are, so we would do well to learn to use our own rhetoric/principles to describe our stance. Otherwise, we absorb their hideously unhelpful arguments about how “natural” heterosexuality is and how their will be men marrying cows, etc.

    You must not live anywhere near California. ;-p

    Clay: “Most straight faithful LDS are creeped out by gay people.” Really?? I have a hard time believing this, in this day & age. I think this is generational. People in their 40s and younger have spent sufficient time around openly gay people that they can’t possibly feel this way on the whole.

    Hawk, you might just be too sophisticated for your own good. ;-) My wife has a major gross-out issue with homosexuality, she’s 30. Keep in mind that a huge portion of LDS folks do not regularly go into environments like corporate workplaces where diversity is thrust upon them. There is a massive force of stay-at-home moms, and lots of folks who live in extremely homogeneous environments like Utah, Idaho, and parts of Arizona. I have met several LDS young people who moved from places like American Fork and said they saw a black person for the very first time in real life when they moved to their new state.

    I’ve been part of many conversations with young Mormons where the gross out factor was directly expressed when the topic comes up. My impression is completely based on my own generation and younger. I have not had many conversations about homosexuality with folks older than myself at all. Quick story, although not mormon… My backyard neighbors are a gay couple. When we moved into this house, their next door neighbors ended up meeting us and chatting us up with neighborhood gossip. This woman told us that those guys were a gay couple, and then told us of an incident where they called the police on them once because they were allegedly taking pictures of their kids swimming from their upstairs bedroom window. We eventually came to realize the woman was crazy and that family had all kinds of issues. But the jump from gay to pedophile was so automatic for her.

    • ryanh206
      July 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

      well maybe your with shouldn’t eat pussy?! WHO CARES what your stupid insignificant wife thinks or feels about sex with other women? 
      some of you are self-important mo-zombies~ seriously….in the grand scheme of things in this enormous universe….you really think something as omniscient as god honestly gives two shits if your ‘baby-maker’ likes thinking about having sex with women? it’s about being HUMANE to your fellow man, this isn’t about your wife.i love that you and your neighbors gossip about the gays! just like you do about black people i’m sure. you fucking dumb bigot. call me or any of my gay friends a pedophile and you’ve got serious problems. pedophilia is a heterosexual problem last i heard.

      you sound like you have a box permanently placed over your head as you walk thru life. good luck with that! moron/mormon

      judge not, lest ye be judged. unfortunately i have to judge you, you’re too much of an idiot.

  88. August 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    From #83
    … along with every member who is addicted to heterosexual intercourse …

    I have to point out that homosexuality has as much to do with the dynamics of pair bonding as it does with any kind of sexual activity. We often seem to ignore this and focus instead on sex acts. This makes a big difference– it is a lot easier to deny oneself the pleasures of a particular sex act than it is to live a life of loneliness and isolation. (And mixed-orientation marriages are absolutely not a solution.)

    If we are to address the issue of suicide in gay youth, we need to be realistic about the problem. It is not just a issue of sexual abstinence. I don’t know what can be said to make this any plainer.

  89. rigel hawthorne
    August 18, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Re: #87 My wife has a major gross-out issue with homosexuality, she’s 30.

    My wife has a similar reaction. I met her in a small town after having lived/worked in Southern California. We live in a small town now and our congregation meetings are much the way they looked in the 70s. Sure most of the ward members know or at least know of gay people, but it is not a topic that comes up frequently in our ward. I’m already spending 7 hours at church on Sunday taking care of the business at hand and my wife has the bigger task of getting a family of young kids ready for church on her own. When we finally meet up at home, we spend a little family time and, if lucky, some scripture time. At the end of Sunday, we are fairly exhausted. Asking the questions brought up by this post is not something that is at the forefront of our church experience nor something we feel pressed to expend energy toward. The luxury of personal hobbies drops and the needs of kids tops. Of course I think it is important to do what we can to prevent suicide for any reason, but attending my ward is vastly different than blogging on MM. One could attend for years and not be aware of the emotions members hold in and express here.

    Re #83

    About the dynamics of pair bonding that MoHoHawaii brought up, Curtis (from the opening link) bonded with a co-missionary who was able to help him through many rough times and I tend to believe that they were brought together for that purpose. Of course, (continuing with Moho’s comment contrasting pair bonding and sexual activity) it is easy to substitute the “pleasures” of sex for the void of loneliness and isolation with either orientation. When it comes to the test to “deny oneself” something during this mortal existence, how much can someone be expected to deny? What did gay church members do 150 years ago to survive in the culture of the church in that era? Did they make that ultimate denial in order for the church to survive/increase? That is an ethic that a posterity of such a legacy faces and must decide how to “carry-on”.

  90. Hellmut
    August 18, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    There is nothing tough about this issue. When gays can get married then the requirements of chastity are met. This is only tough when we submit to dogma that cannot withstand rational enquiry.
    A little love, a little reason, and a little humility and everything falls into place.

  91. CarlosJC
    August 19, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I really think it’s unfortunate that someone would chose to end their life because they are gay and out of place in our church. As someone wrote here, all should be welcomed “within the walls of our church” and there certainly shouldn’t be any hate-gay speech. But then again the law of chastity is very clear and we usually excommunicate those who engage in same-sex activities. Maybe there is room for change here since we usually don’t excommunicate YSA who engage in hetero-sex, so YSA who are gay could and probably should be treated the same when they engage in homosexual activity (married is another matter off course). Ie they could change the disciplinary processes for gays.

    But then I ask for those who wish to accept a gay-married couple in church, John,Hellmut,Ray et al, what happens in eternity? In the celestial kingdom? We know that only those in exaltation will be married. But what do you expect for exaltation, married gays within exaltation?

    If you do then this has to be THE biggest change in Mormonism since the restoration because we, or rather most leaders, always assumed that someday blacks would have the priesthood. But no prophet or apostle or similar has claimed that same sex marriage would be a part of exaltation. Joseph Smith was pretty revolutionary in everything he introduced and polygamy was a secret for a long time because of what others would do but did he ever make gay-marriage a secret part of Mormonism?

    This is one massive change you blokes want to force onto the LDS church, isn’t it?

  92. Ray
    August 19, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Carlos, two points:

    I have not advocated gay sealings, and that is the only thing that would require a massive change in eternal theology. Church attendance without excommunication is one thing; temple attendance is another thing; sealing is another thing. The Church could address each of those separately – in different ways, and only the most all-encompassing option would “require” revelation in the strictest sense. Perhaps revelation would be required due to general societal pressures for temple attendance, like with the lifting of the Priesthood ban, but I have never said the Church “should” do anything in this matter, with or without revelation. That’s not my stewardship. All I have addressed is what we might be able to do.

    I have no idea whatsoever what “marriage” means in the hereafter, and we simply haven’t been told what it means to “create” spirit children. I have no idea if that could be done by one person or two or three or a committee of millions; again, we simply haven’t been told. That’s part of what we still see a glass, (very) darkly. I’m not concerned about the afterlife in this discussion, so I’m not concerned at all about solemnizing gay marriage in the temple. That definitely would take a direct and detailed revelation, and I’m not at all convinced that is God’s will. I have no knowledge whatsoever about that. I’m concerned about this life and how to help gay members feel welcome on the pews beside me in the here and now.

  93. CarlosJC
    August 19, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Ray,

    Sure. But one can easily read a comment that addresses “what we might be able to do” as telling the church “what is the best thing to do” in this area.

    With marriage, it is pretty clear that to entre exaltation one needs to be sealed so, following the logic of it all, if we accept gay couples in the pews then we should also accept that latter on they can continue on as a gay couple in eternity [I doubt one changes sexual orientation in the spirit world], and that implies massive theological changes without revelations from the top. That seems to be the logic that many here in Mormon matters are advocating.

    I really hope that gays don’t commit suicide. It’s not a outer at all. But then telling then that something which is wrong could be right if you are in a couple and accepted by the rest and given callings is, imo, denying the reality of Mormon theology which holds chastity at the highest possible levels.

    So, brainstorming, the best way to treat a gay person in church is by confronting him with the truth, the theological truth, that same sex relationships won’t bring exaltation and therefore will only result in an eternal life which falls just short of the best possible. But doing this the proper why, i.e. a Bishop or parent saying it in confidence, certainly not through gay hate speech in church and certainly not via the US religious right anti-gay agenda. It’s a personal matter dealt with in person. Only when we are dealing with a married priesthood holder should things change as they do with adultery and other similar law of chastity violations.

  94. Ray
    August 19, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    “I doubt one changes sexual orientation in the spirit world.”

    Carlos, I understand that perspective, but, I repeat, we simply don’t know enough about the afterlife to be able to say with any degree of certainty what will happen to gay members then. Also, that is NOT the focus of this post, and John explicitly asked that it not become the focus. I will not pursue that out of respect for his wishes.

    Please understand, as I have stated in multiple places, I do not claim that active, extra-marital homosexual relationships should not be viewed either as sin or transgression. To take away that designation, I believe, probably would require direct revelation, so I don’t believe it is something “we” can do. All I am saying is that much can be done within our current theological framework to include our homosexual brothers and sisters in our fundamental worship services and general fellowship that is not being done universally at this time.

    I also return to the actual wording of the temple covenant, which I will not quote here and don’t want quoted here. Allowing monogamous and married gay couples into the temple would not require any changes to the current endowment, even if they could not be sealed. I am not saying that should be done; I am saying only that it could be done without doing any harm to the endowment itself.

  95. no-man
    August 19, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    This is the best collection of comments I’ve read about gays in the church. Not much to add that hasn’t been said, but I’d like to suggest something that may help with the “what can we do to help gays feel welcomed in the church” question.

    Something mentioned several times above is that church members let their bias or gut reaction get in the way of accepting gay members as first of all humans with dignity and value in God’s eyes. On the other hand, some gay members are so focused on their identity as gays (and the conflict that creates with the church) that they forget to look at other aspects of their lives and see the value there. They get more and more focused on that and it distorts their vision of themselves (I’m thinking of Stuart Matis, for example, who seemed to be unable to let go and see himself as valuable as something more than a failed perfect Mormon).

    I’ve been involved with gay Mormon men in therapeutic settings, some of whom have intense anxiety about being gay and want to be “changed” to heterosexual. Others are stuck in addictive behaviors and assume the addiction and their sexual identities are the same thing. Most of these men are unable to work productively on their spiritual lives because they are stuck going in circles with psychological or addictive issues. As they work in a therapeutic setting one of the first tasks is to get them to set aside their anxieties about being gay and work on the psychological issues first. They have to be able to defer “fixing” themselves (if that’s what they want) and get healthy in a psychological sense, or they have to get their uncontrolled addictive behaviors under control. After they achieve a better level of mental health, they are then more able to address the conflicts of their sexual identities. Many learn to be more accepting of their orientation rather than keep fighting to “turn straight”, a few may continue the quest to leave behind their gay feelings. But the important point is that they need to work on their general mental well-being first.

    A problem with church members is that we often see the unhealthy side of gay people and assume that’s their identity. What’s needed is to set aside the homosexuality while we work on developing healthy relationships focused on common spiritual ground. We need to give them psychological relief by accepting them as children of God and looking for the many ways that we share spiritual experiences.

    This is a hard concept for many Mormons because they assume that the gay identity issue trumps everything else. They don’t like setting it aside temporarily to help build up a better sense of spirituality. Many gays give up on spiritual development because they feel unworthy by virtue of who they are, not necessarily what they have done. If they lose that ability to connect with their spiritual side, they tend to give up on both church and God. But a huge challenge the church now faces, by claiming that gays have a (celibate) place in the church, is to find ways to give them a full spiritual experience within that celibacy. As several have already pointed out, celibacy is not a great option, but since we’re a church that has traditionally railed against celibacy as a lifestyle, we’re going to have to fill that void and come up with a meaningful way for it to work for gay members and to be accepted by the general membership.

    • korn75
      July 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Your comment is not even remotely helpful. You make it sound like gay people have some sort of mental disorder. Being gay is a big issue for gay people because straight, religious people, like you, make it a big deal. Your post is ignorant and uninformed.

    • ryanh206
      July 29, 2012 at 12:25 am

      glad that the gays need your approval to be children of god, when they are by virtue of their very existence! so many of you have been reading the mormon rule book too much. the more posts i read, the more i feel like a lot of you have been brain-washed into thinking there are rules to the after-life. fact is, NO ONE knows what happens after we pass, that’s why something called FAITH is required. 
      faith in god, doesn’t have to be complicated and full of these dumb rules! gays give up on spiritual pursuit because we have your strange rules and ideas about what is right and wrong forced upon us. 
      “keep fighting to turn straight”?!? 

      i implore you to keep fighting to turn gay my ‘friend’. 
      that must sound insane to you, because you certainly sound crazy to me.

  96. April 25, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I love your work here. I have a book coming out this year about sexuality and the Mormon faith. It is a novel about guy struggling with competing identities: Mormon and being gay. It is called “Without A Testimony”. Thank you for your page. http://www.jerodkillick.com

  97. Lestrangebob
    September 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Do you believe love is a sin? If you do, I’m sorry to say that you have misunderstood the whole bible, which is really a book about love. Have God not created everything and everyone on this planet?
    The word ‘homosexuality’ was first printed in the bible, in the late 1800.
    In ancient Greece and Rome it was completely normal to be ‘bisexual’. Then when Cristianity was invented it was suddenly ‘wrong’.
    Religious people say that atheist have no sense of moral. But I say it is YOU who doesn’t have any! You only accept people if they are like you and you draw your opinions from a book! Your whole life is based on a book, you don’t have your own opinion, you have the opinion on some old dude who lived 2000 years ago, wrote something down and told everybody that God had spoken to him.
    And Joseph Smith, HA! What is he a magician? If you belive in that, then you might as well believe in Harry Potter or unicorns… Just sayin’..

    • ryanh206
      July 29, 2012 at 12:27 am

      ok?!?! high-five!
      harry potter – lmaof!
      boy these fools are wearing me out!

  98. January 22, 2012 at 2:06 am

    My book Without a Testimony is now available on amazon. It addresses the complicated yet dramatic dynamics between mormonism and sexuality. I look forward to your feedback on this very important project! http://www.amazon.com/Without-A-Testimony-ebook/dp/B006Z3FK9W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326904053&sr=8-1

  99. Chet
    January 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm

     Mitt Romney and his part in the radical homosexual agenda!
    http://romney4president.us/RomneyGays.html

  100. August 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    http://www.samesexattraction.org (My first introduction to any kind of possible change came from Exodus, then it was Evergreen. Over 6 years I’ve collected information and passed it on to my stake leaders and several bishops. All of whom have looked at it, but have done nothing with it. I’ve made every attempt at trying to get my ward and stake leaders to open up an Evergreen group within our stake, but as the stake president has said “The Numbers Are Not There”. I hold my church leaders in grave contempt for hearing about these groups, but never not once mentioning it in public forum. I know that if I’ve needed it, others have too. But we are not human according to my stake president, just a number… the jews were considered numbers too. I remember well the Pink Triangle and it’s meaning; and I wear one as well as placing one on my Facebook page.)

  101. Trenton Gregory
    December 12, 2012 at 12:50 am

    So many members speak as if an opinion was science based fact? To not be part of the popular opinion does not leave church memders rejecting medical advances and as such , all church members should review standard mental heath information.Same sex attraction is not seen as a flaw in this pesons mental stability or integrity. We have many gay men and women surving in the armed forces wth honor which reflects these findings. To die for your rights and defend America takes attributes few have. Have some respect for your brothers and sisters as many gay members value love and honesty as they face foul insults each day and hate from loved ones. Most of us don’t have the ability to understand the lack of self worth we help create in many of our gay youth who act out. Its as if most members want to know who’s not as loved by god an d seeking truth? Your youth are taking there lives – because of this bigotry not because of lust and that is to hard,for there own familys to face.

  102. John Gagon
    December 1, 2013 at 3:17 am

    I have experienced extreme physical – caused by emotional pain from my family and from my sisters in particular. You would think they were not bigoted but they have consistently told me how gross I am, how a mere kiss is “X-rated” or not “family friendly”. I have to say, the mormon church is second only to Westboro still. Silver tongued apostles trying to paint an understanding picture on the mormonsandgays while pushing the isolation message of celibacy is just new polish on the same stuff while continuing to ignore family alienation, estrangement, disowning and so on. I don’t think you can solve it without a commitment to acceptance and harsh penalties on bashing and the preaching. It’s too late I’m afraid.

  103. John Gagon
    December 1, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Also, the solution isn’t just “sappier messages about love”. The love message has to match the rest of the message, otherwise you simply look like yet another love-bombing cult. (look up love-bombing). It’s very off-putting. Furthermore, there is a general impression that the gay men who stay in the church’s celibacy program tend to be really homely looking or stereotypical which sends another message altogether. There is simply a lack of peer group and lack of positive message that doesn’t come off as suspect. The image looks old-man /GA/ molesting priest creepy. I think it’s rather the exact opposite of the message that would be interesting to your desired audience. Without these, comfort level will not be obtained. If you want ideas, look at Brian Simms, Steve Young, Ben Cohen, Joe Kort etc as more flattering role models regardless of orientation. You simply don’t have these types.