We’ve explored some of the answers members have posted on the mormon.org site in the church’s new profiles campaign. So far, we’ve discussed member answers to questions about polygamy, priesthood, politics, parenting, and prophets. Today, let’s see what members had to say about the church’s stance on homosexuality. Heaven help us!
Here’s the question: What is the Church’s attitude on homosexuality? Why is homosexuality and same-sex marriage important to the Mormon Church?
From the church’s official response. Interestingly, this is from the Ensign in 1998, but there is a more recent interview on lds.org that is a little less harsh (in that it doesn’t use the term “so-called” which implies disdain for whatever term follows):
“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
“We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).
In light of the church’s stance, there’s not much room to maneuver. Answers that seemed best to me at navigating these tricky waters:
- I’m Gay & Mormon. Hmmm. Strangely, no profiles said that. Silence speaks louder than words?
- Celibate + Homosexual = OK. Since this is the church’s stance, I suppose that’s really the only way to answer. It also should make it clear that we would accept and welcome those who are celibate in full fellowship. The celibate clause may be cold comfort, but again, that’s all we’ve got to work with here. The best of these are probably ones that are
- “So how do those with same-sex attraction fit into the Church? They should be loved and supported just like anyone else. . . Celibacy is expected of all unmarried individuals, homosexual as well as heterosexual.”
- “We love our brothers and sisters who have same-gender attraction, and welcome them in the church as long as they keep the law of chastity.”
- “Some homosexuals may feel it is too much to ask to have them remain chaste, but any member of the church that is not married is commanded not to have sexual relations as well. There are people in the church who have been single their whole lives and die single, never having broken that commandment. We expect this of homosexuals as well.”
- “The Church teaches that feeling same-sex attraction may not be a choice, but that acting on those feelings is.”
- We are against discrimination. A good reminder (for members, too), SSM notwithstanding. Loads of profiles went down this path.
- “At lunch we noticed that a gay member of our organization was sitting alone, shuned by others. We walked over an joined her for lunch. She asked an interesting question: “Why is it that you Mormons, who have the strongest beliefs against the gay lifestlye, always treat me with the greatest kindness among all of my co-workers?”"
- “Mormons also believe that people with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and that violence and unkindness toward people with same-sex attraction is as sinful as violence or unkindness to anyone else.”
- “Meanwhile, all of us–gay or straight, older or young, conservative or liberal–can work on being kind and loving to others and ourselves. One of our church leaders, Joseph Wirthlin, put it this way, “The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony.”"
- “”…..The Church does not object to rights…regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference……”"
- “Should gays have the same basic human rights that we all enjoy? Of course. I personally believe that there is plenty of middle ground to be found — particularly as it relates to civil unions.”
- “In regard to Gay Marriage, the church has found it important to speak out against the granting of the title of Marriage to Unions between gay couples. Yet, the church is not anti-gay. The Church has spoken out in favor of a non-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City. Members of the church are divided on the issue of Civil Unions though many members in Good Standing including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are ardent supporters. It is my belief that Gay Couples should have all of the same rights as straight couples, but that the title of marriage is something sacred that should be guarded and protected.”
- “This is kind of a tricky one for me to answer. As I’ve stated, I disagree with any form of bigotry, and believe that discrimination of all sorts goes against God’s will. I’ve received personal assurance that I am supposed to be fighting against discrimination and bigotry in all forms, and that includes discrimination against homosexuals and anyone else in the LGBT community. But please do not take that statement, or my previous political activism (completely on hold during my mission) and believe that I disagree with the teachings of the church.”
- We are pro-marriage. Again, it’s kind of skirting the question by affirming what we do stand for vs. what we don’t support, but there’s not much to work with here.
- “The Church believes that marriage is ordained of God and is defined as the legal and lawful union of a man and a woman. No other sexual relation is condoned by God.” This sexual relation was brought to you by . . .
- Someone close to me is gay. This is better than the elusive token friend, and much more personal.
- “my best friend of over 20 years is bisexual, and she is also the most loving, unselfish person I have ever met.”
- “My older brother is homosexual. I love him to death and so does my family. Many people misunderstand the church’s stance on homosexuality because of the emphasis we place on the family. It is difficult to be a member of the church and be homosexual, but it is possible. Personally I do everything I can to promote a feeling of love and compassion towards those who struggle with same sex attraction. It is a trait that my brother has to deal with. He is not a member of the church.”
- “This was an important question that I had when I was learning about the church because my Mom is gay and married her partner. It was important for me that I need always accept her and love her. The churches views on homosexuality can be found in the Bible. It states that marriage is between a man and a woman. A friend said it to me best, she said, “The church does not support same-sex marriage, but we do support families.” That was all I needed to hear. Even though I am a member of this church and I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, I still love my mom and her partner.”
Middle of the road, and not so comforting:
- Hate the sin, love the sinner. Since we are all sinners, this seems a little hypocritical and condescending. However, many commenters DID point out that we are all sinners, so kudos for that!
- “Simply put, homosexuality is a sin. God has commanded that this ought not to be. However, that does not entitle anyone to discriminate against a person who is a homosexual. It is sin that God hates, not sinners.”
- I have lots of gay friends. I do have lots of gay friends, but it sounds like tokenism to say so.
- “I have had many friends who have chosen that lifestyle. I love them, but do not support their sin.”
- “I personally know and have close friendships with a large handful of Mormons who experience varying levels of homosexuality–some have left the teachings of the church (to remain celibate or wait until they find someone of the opposite gender who they love) for a gay lifestyle, but most remain active in the church, getting support from loving people who do not judge them.”
- “I have homosexual friends who are good members of the church. I have one friend in particular who left the church for many years to live in a homosexual relationship. But at one point he decided that the Lord’s gospel was more important to him and so he came back to the church and refrained from sex. His sexuality didn’t change, his behavior changed. He died some years back from AIDS, still firm in the faith.” The mention of AIDS sounds a little cautionary to me.
What really set the hairs on the back of my neck up:
- I used to be gay, but now I’m not. Fortunately, I saw NO comments like this either, and I’m glad.
- Being homosexual is a choice. Science certainly doesn’t back this on the whole, although there are some exceptions (e.g. bisexuals, childhood abuse).
- “The concept of marriage of a man and a woman is so fundamental to our beliefs about the nature of the hereafter that we are very sensitive about the issue. Having other forms of union between people accepted as though they were the same as the God sanctioned union of a man and a woman hits at the very core of this concept. This attitude can and has convinced individuals to choose this lifestyle and turn away from the one sanctioned by the Lord and forfeit substantial eternal blessings.” I’m not sure SSM causes people who would otherwise not be gay to become gay; it probably discourages gays from heterosexual marriages, which is a good thing, IMO. Does it discourage homosexual celibacy? I doubt it impacts that one way or another.
- “Homosexuality is a sin just like any other defiance against God’s will.” Being gay is defiant? Sassy, maybe.
- “I have a few friends who have chosen to act on the temptations and urges that accompany homosexuality and while I do not agree with their choices, I still love them like brothers. Some people argue that God “created” men and women gay. I disagree. God does not, nor cannot, create sin. That being said, I do believe that there are some people out there that develop or are prone naturally to an attraction to the same sex. Does this mean God created them gay? . . . So to those who feel that they were “born gay” I say you were created just as everyone else, except you were given a trial that God knows you are capable of handling.” The use of quotation marks around “born gay” implies that people are not, in fact, born gay. Which science disputes. The whole answer is a bit confusing, really.
- “Homosexuality is simply a manmade way–an alternative to God’s design. It serves no purpose for God, for it is contrary to His design.”
- “I have a friend that chooses to be homosexual and he asked me about this a few months ago. . . . I realize that for some people it is a biological urge as strong as that of any heterosexual man.” So, it sounds like the friend chose it, but others don’t.
- Gay = disability. While it may be the implied doctrine, I’m not going to say it.
- “My heart goes out to those who deal with same-sex attraction, including my friends and family who deal with this trial. . . We believe, however, that homosexuality is one of the challenges of life just as others are given their own struggles addiction, disability, illness, childhood trauma, etc.. For us, there is a difference between same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior.”
- “I do not look down on homosexuals and I don’t see them as bad people. We all have things we are dealing with and things we need to overcome.” But do you respect them and see them as good people?
- “Someone born with a disability or disfigurement was given that body with the an express purpose. What is that purpose? Most of us will never know. Why does God let children be born blind, deaf, or crippled? He allows this to happen because this life is a time for us to be tried and proven. A sad part of life is that we all must experience sorrow, trials and temptations. We can’t escape that.”
- Gays should marry heterosexuals. Yikes.
- “Those with homosexual tendencies and desires, regardless of how they were derived, should seek the Lord’s help in redirecting their behavior towards the end of having a spouse of the opposite sex.” This just seems like bad advice to me.
- SSM would be disastrous for humanity.
- “But if same-sex marriage is made legal, it will require those of us who believe it is wrong to officially accept it.”
- “We reach out a hand of fellowship to all men everywhere, but homosexuality and same-sex marriage is destructive to our whole society and way of life. These practices lead to the ruin of mankind, so we warn all men everywhere against these practices.”
- Other funny stuff I found:
- Misused euphemism. “This is why it is important to not use or act on those powers of procreation outside of the bonds of matrimony” Technically, you can’t call homosexual acts “powers of procreation,” and certainly many sexual acts are not procreative in nature. Sometimes we just like a turn of phrase so much we don’t stop to ask ourselves if it makes any sense.
- What the –? “I think the real lesson is a warning against being so lustful that you don’t care who – or what! – you are having sex with, to the point where your not so much a person anymore, but more like a horny dog that will hump anything indiscriminately. Reality TV, anyone?” OK, I actually did like this answer overall, but she kind of wandered off a little bit there at the end. “Horny dog” passed the filter? Hilarious!
- Mormon-speak alert! “We believe that all of us have freedom to choose, yet all of us have temptations, thorns of the flesh, if you will.” Thorns of the flesh? I think this is a Mormon euphemism, especially since the guy who said it looked like he was in his twenties.
- Wow, just wow. “The church truly believes in love. (just not homosexual love) In men and women being together for all eternity. I too am a firm believer in this. Men and women come together to learn how to become an eternal partnership. One is never truly without the other. Homosexuality, derives from this goal. (‘scuze me? I think she means it detracts from or it deviates from or it deters from . . . ?? Is this a Freudian slip?) It means that a family cannot be achieved through natural causes. No, it does not mean I do not love everyone equally. I have people who are quite close to me that practice homosexual behaviours. (As Hawkeye would say, “practice makes perfect”) However, at the same time, I cannot say it is part of God’s immediate plan.” (But it is part of his long-range plan?) This person is just all over the map here.
- Is this guy’s wife reading this? “I’m a married man. Is my wife the only person I find attractive in a sexual way? Of course not. I have to exercise self control to keep the law of chastity.” DO tell!
What I might say:
- “No comment.”
- Since the church doesn’t welcome practicing homosexuals, I would certainly think they are not the target audience of this FAQ.
- The law of chastity requires that you abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage. Since the church considers homosexual acts to be unchaste, the church does not sanction gay marriage. Is a legally married homosexual unchaste? I leave that to God to decide.
- No one who isn’t gay would choose to be gay just for the fun of it.
- I would never knowingly encourage someone who is homosexual to marry heterosexually as a way to reform their natural feelings. That seems destined to fail.
- Being gay in the LDS church would be extremely difficult. I imagine that a loving God would understand that. I am not to judge.
What do you think? What would you say? Do you agree that the so-called phrase “so-called” should be stricken? Discuss.