Red Light, Green Light: The Church’s Homosexuality Stance

By: hawkgrrrl
March 27, 2012

As the culture wars heat up in the 2012 election cycle and more and more states accept same sex marriage, the church remains in a very precarious and somewhat contradictory position.  This seems to be the case when change happens.  Old attitudes eventually give way to new ones, but in the meantime, we have contradictory evidence about our stance.

When I was a little girl, we used to play a game called Red Light, Green Light.  In the game, one person is “it” and the rest are in a stop and go race to get from the starting line to the person who is “it” at the other end of the room.  The person who is “it” turns away from the group and says “Green Light,” meaning the group can advance.  When s/he turns back to the group and yells “Red Light” all the players have to freeze in place.  A player who moves when “Red Light” is shouted gets sent back to the starting line.  It’s a game with an inevitable outcome.  The players are all advancing steadily, but watching for the “Red Light” warning.  It’s pretty easy to keep from getting caught moving, unless you do something crazy like break into a full gallop.

In our game of Red Light, Green Light with homosexuality acceptance, here’s how our current state looks:

  • We are pro-human rights and charitable treatment of all.  Hate speech and bullying should be opposed by all Christians.
  • We are anti-discrimination, sort of; we supported anti-discrimination legislation for gay couples seeking housing in downtown SLC, but we also won’t allow a gay couple to kiss on our property.
  • We create an environment in most wards where homosexuals do not feel comfortable or accepted, often even if they live the law of chastity.
  • We are against gay marriage, but we can’t really say why it hurts traditional marriage except that children deserve two parents, one of each sex (although others who don’t meet this “ideal” are not equally ostracized).
  • We believe in gender essentialism and have placed monogamous marriage (which Brigham Young derided as unnatural and the catalyst for the fall of the Roman Empire) at the core of our doctrines.
  • Some members of the Q12 have accepted that people are born gay rather than choosing to be gay; others in the Q12 clearly do not accept this.
  • Prominent members have supported gay rights or come out in support of their gay children, and the church has accepted this diversity of opinion and not jeopardized their membership.
  • An openly gay (but celibate) man serves as executive secretary in his California ward.
  • Members still report strong anti-homosexual political hate speech in some wards that goes largely unchecked.
  • Efforts in the past (and sometimes in the present) have often focused on remediation or trying to “pray away the gay” through a variety of means to overcome same sex attraction.
  • Teens are warned about homosexual behaviors in the new For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet.
  • The CHI includes an instruction against allowing anyone with same sex attraction from teaching primary, based on an antiquated view that equates homosexuality with pedophilia.
  • Adult gender reassignment is considered elective and disqualifies people from holding the priesthood.
  • Acceptance of homosexuality among members is at an all time high and seems to be trending upward.
  • We are still calling people “so-called” gays and lesbians as if they are not really gays & lesbians but something else pretending to be gays and lesbians.

A comment was made elsewhere that the church can’t actually bend on homosexuality until it bends a little on the law of chastity.  That’s one view.  Some language regarding the law of chastity will also need to be changed now that gay marriages are legal and lawful, meaning that according to one common definition in the church, married homosexuals who are celibate before marriage and totally faithful after are (technically) not breaking the law of chasity.  Another view (mine) is that homosexuality cannot be fully embraced in the church until we get on the right side of science regarding innate sexual orientation and lose our belief in gender essentialism.

All this contradiction to me indicates a shifting stance, both within society at large, an increasing majority of the lay members, and even some of the leadership – in that order.  This brings up a valid question, though.  Can the church ever accept homosexuality without relinquishing the “crown jewels,” our (current) core doctrine of families?  I am not convinced the church can ever successfully reconcile homosexuality with eternal families, which means that progressing beyond the status quo will be very difficult:

  • Gay members will only have a home within Mormonism if they remain celibate forever.  Conversely the church could attach a “second class” status to those who are married homosexuals, allowing them to participate on a clearly-defined limited basis.  This seems like it will eventually go the way of the race ban, though.
  • If being gay is scientifically proven to be 100% innate, the church’s intransigence puts us on the wrong side of science, not a good place to be.
  • Families with gay children are often torn on this issue, sometimes feeling they have to choose between their children and the church.  Therein lies the rub.  We preach about eternal families and the family being the center of all our doctrine, so when a family includes someone who is a homosexual, our family loyalty and love is conflicted with our fealty for the gospel.  And we are told that families come before church.
  • Another creative suggestion was to allow Mormon gay men to marry Mormon lesbian women, effectively eliminating the surplus of celibate gay singles.  I imagine this idea will sit well with those who like all the loose ends tied up, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be a very helpful solution.

Poll Questions:

Do you believe the church's stance on homosexuality has evolved over time?

Loading ... Loading ...

When do you believe active homosexuals will be in full fellowship in the church with no restrictions on behavior?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Let’s see what you think:

  • Is it possible to reconcile acceptance of homosexual orientation and behaviour (such as same sex marriage) while also retaining our strong doctrine of families?  When will such a thing become feasible?
  • Is this issue going to come to the forefront again as the election progresses?
  • What is the biggest obstacle to Mormon acceptance of homosexuality?  Doctrine?  Culture?  Slowness to change due to gerontocracy?
  • What types of compromise could the church make with practicing homosexuals without losing core doctrine about families?

Discuss.

Tags: , ,

63 Responses to Red Light, Green Light: The Church’s Homosexuality Stance

  1. Paul on March 27, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    Yes, many attitudes have changed over time. Failing a repeal of the Proclamation on the Family, full acceptance seems impossible.

    This sentence intrigues me: “Families with gay children are often torn on this issue, sometimes feeling they have to choose between their children and the church.”

    While I don’t doubt that there are families who have felt that way, how is that different from other families who have children who have other lifestyles that are at odds with the church’s teaching? As long as parents have children who make their own choices, parents will need to deal with their own relatively conservative religious views pitted against some children’s different views — either out and out rejection of the parents’ view or a slow liberalization of religious views. In the end, many parents need to figure out how to bridge the gap between their religious views and their children’s behavior.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 14

  2. John Mansfield on March 27, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    What would be the corresponding points regarding the evolution of Homosexuality’s Church Stance? What do homosexuals or those agitating in their name want from the LDS Church that wouldn’t have crossed their minds forty, thirty, twenty, ten years ago?

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 7

  3. Henry on March 27, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Why do you show a photo like that? How disrespectful of missionaries.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 9

  4. Jon on March 27, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    What we do know, is that Alma the elder and his interaction with Mosiah, learned that it is not right for the church to advocate the use of violence to stop people from being immoral. It’s necessary that direct harm happen to the other person.

    See Mosiah 26 & 27

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  5. Anselma on March 27, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    I think “homosexual orientation and behavior” is very easily reconciled with church teachings on families. Stay chaste, get married–just like we teach everyone. If two consenting adults decide that they want to enter into a relationship of love and respect and mutual self-sacrifice, and solemnize that agreement before God and the community, more power to them! The world needs more people choosing to build strong and loving relationships. I think it’s line with the spirit of the law, if not the letter (at present, yay continuing revelation!). While I am not sure if (or when) this will come to pass in the Church, I hold out hope that we can overcome out stumbling-blocks and build Zion.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 23

  6. prometheus on March 27, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Re: #1

    “… how is that different from other families who have children who have other lifestyles that are at odds with the church’s teaching?”

    Paul, it actually is different because sexual attraction is inborn, whereas doing drugs, sex before marriage, or whatever else the lifestyle may be, isn’t.

    Is it possible to reconcile acceptance of homosexual orientation and behaviour (such as same sex marriage) while also retaining our strong doctrine of families? When will such a thing become feasible?

    I don’t see why not. How much of this stems from our assumption that reproduction in the eternities is identical to reproduction here? The reality is, though, the amount that we know about how that process happens, and what intelligences and spirits actually are, is exactly equal to zero.

    Additionally, I think it is interesting to consider all of the adoption concepts found in the scriptures (Jacob 5, Gentiles being adopted into Israel, King Benjamin’s speech talking about becoming sons and daughters to Christ, and so on) that would suggest that blood lineage is a secondary, or even irrelevant factor.

    In any case, I don’t see any theological roadblock at all, unless it is being too proud (as a church) to confess ignorance. Far better to err on the side of tolerance and mercy in the name of unity and inclusion, in my opinion.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 10

  7. KT on March 27, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    I don’t think there will be acceptance of homosexual lifestyle ever, unless it is a very long way off and the Church changes The Proclomation To The Family. We certainly have seen a lot of things in the Church change over time, so it’s always possible for them to spin it as they have done other things. Maybe the government will have something to do with it. Acceptance of orientation, yes, possible, and I think already accepted by many individual members, but with the caveat of not acting on it….

    I believe that slowness to change due to gerentocracy is a huge part of it, as well as “Doctrine”.

    The honest truth is, if we as a Church really believe that God is the ultimate judge, then I don’t know why homosexuals couldn’t do everything that everyone else does, and the results will be what they will be anyway in the afterlife. Who knows, maybe homosexuality was put on this earth not for the people experiencing it, but for the rest of us reacting to it, to see how we as humans would react to it – are we accepting or cruel?

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 12

  8. Orwell on March 27, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    I just wanted to share this video I posted elsewhere — by the title one would think it is a Mormon Messages video. I wish it were, I think all Mormons need to see it:

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  9. Orwell on March 27, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I guess embedding the video isn’t allowed. Just follow the hotlink in the previous comment.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  10. Brian on March 27, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    “How is that different…”

    To me, a great part of the difference in dealing with the homosexuality of my son in a Mormon context is the complete and utterly ignorant view of homosexuality of leaders who tell us they know better. The issue didn’t become that I needed to follow my son but why in the world would I follow leaders like Boyd Packer and Spencer Kimball?

    As one who no longer cares what direction the church takes, I think views on marriage are too central to most Christian churches to change 180 degrees. I don’t think the church will remove the behavioral restrictions on gays. However, if the church ever does change its position, the church will insist it was correct both before and after the change.

    I personally can’t wait for the day when it is an accepted fact that gays are born that way. Raising five boys with one gay, I don’t need science to tell me that. I just want the naysayers to understand it so my son and others don’t have to feel less than those who remain weighed down by ignorance. My son is a great guy who has never had an attraction to women one day of his life. And some still call it a choice. Walk a few days in their shoes. See if your opinions change.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 20

  11. Orwell on March 27, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I guess I should have thought things through before posting, so I wouldn’t have three comments in a row.

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that all the words in the video come from the “It Gets Better” project — which makes it more interesting, in my opinion.

    When I watched it, I felt the Spirit more than I have at Church in a long time.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 4

  12. bwv549 on March 27, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    “If being gay is scientifically proven to be 100% innate, the church’s intransigence puts us on the wrong side of science, not a good place to be.”

    There have been enough twin studies (follow identical twins separated at birth) to answer that question conclusively right now. There is a higher likelihood that a twin will be gay if the other is gay. On the flipside, it very frequently occurs that the other twin is not gay. Conclusion: there is a genetic factor and a cultural factor.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 4

  13. Paul on March 27, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    #6 Prometheus, I would not suggest that families who cope with a gay child in the church have an easy circumstance. It is not my point to minimize their suffering in any way.

    But to suggest that parents of gay children are the only ones who suffer in this way is wrong.

    Parents of children who are addicted to drugs or alcohol also acknowledge that their children are likely born with a genetic predisposition to addiction, and that their addiction is a lifelong issue. And yet parents of addicted children will also feel shame and even shunning because of their children’s behavior. (That feeling springs not just from an LDS community, of course.)

    My only point is that all parents are likely to face a conflict between children’s behavior and church standards at one time or another. (And for those parents who don’t, my advice is that they don’t take credit for that fact.) It is part of the test of this life to see how we as parents respond.

    #10 Brian, I’m sorry for the pain you have felt, and I’m glad that you are accepting and loving toward your son. He is fortunate to have you in his life.

    I would hope that most would agree that the choice is less in your son’s orientation, but rather in his actions. But I realize that not everyone will.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  14. hawkgrrrl on March 27, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Paul – I think the key difference is that being gay is both a person’s identity (who they are) and their behavior (what they do). While the church used to reject wholescale the notion that gay people are innately gay, many are beginning to see that they are. To reject them for who they are is harsher than rejecting someone for making bad choices. A gay person in a consensual gay relationship isn’t harming anyone. An alcoholic is harming others through his or her reckless and irresponsible behavior.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 10

  15. Paul on March 27, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    HG, there you have it. The alcoholic’s behavior is reckless and irresponsible, yet the happily united gay couple is harming no one.

    While I would struggle to argue with the second, I could argue that an alcoholic’s behavior is not necessarily reckless and irresponsible. An alcoholic in recovery, for instance, is still an alcoholic, but he is being quite responsible in the management of his disease. Even an alcoholic who takes pains to feed his addiction safely may not be irresponsible.

    Of course there are alcoholics that do exhibit reckless and irresponsible behavior. Some drive while drunk. Others abuse their family members. Others squander family resouces.

    Similarly, while there may be reckless and irresponsible behavior among gays, one could not argue that all gays necessarily exhibit reckless and irresponsible behavior.

    You are absolutely right: to reject someone for who they are rather than their choices is harsh.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  16. Stephen M (Ethesis) on March 27, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Bwv549 — I think the twin studies are a huge obstacle to many theories. The implications of the twin studies are generally ignored.

    Thank you for bringing them up.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  17. Bob on March 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    #16:Stephen M (Ethesis),
    I agree. While twins seems to be a great working model, it never seems to work that way.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  18. Michael on March 27, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Our prophet needs to ask the Lord one simple question and then communicate the answer to us in a direct and clear fashion:

    “Where do gays and lesbians fit within the Eternal Plan of Salvation?”

    It is a very simple question. If Brother Joseph could get a clear answer to Old Testament polygamy, President Monson can get an answer to this question.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 15

  19. Nick Literski on March 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    The twin studies are just one aspect of the research on this topic. One of the strongest evidences of biological influence is the long-established observation that the more male children a woman has, the higher the likelihood that a subsequent son will be gay. In other words, the more older brothers you have, the more likely it is that you will be gay. This isn’t a matter of “having seven sons means you’re more likely to have a gay one than if you have two sons.” Rather, son #3 is more likely to be gay than #1 or #2, and son #4 is more likely to be gay than any of his older brothers, etc.

    Scientists believe this is may be explained by in utero hormonal influences. The explanation isn’t certain, but the data itself is solid.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  20. Nick Literski on March 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    The work of Dr. William Bradshaw (retired BYU biology professor and former co-chair of the freshman honors program there) on this subject is quite remarkable, btw. He has a gay son, and he’s given presentations showing a great deal of evidence for biological determination of sexual orientation.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 4

  21. Michael on March 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    (re: #19) But Nick I am the oldest of four. Male, female, female and male. The younger brother is totally straight.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  22. Howard on March 27, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Blacks were banned from holding the priesthood until they changed. No, wait blacks didn’t change did they? Okay then, until the church and non-blacks changed! Won’t it be the same for gays? Maybe it’s not about blacks or gays maybe it’s about non-blacks and non-gays learning to love someone they don’t.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 9

  23. salth2o on March 27, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    My neighbor lived with his partner. He sang in the choir, the former ward bishop sat next to him during sacrament meeting. He never sat alone in sacrament. No one ever discussed his homosexuality to the point when I was complimenting the ward on truly living the principles of the gospel, and used this brave neighbor and the wards inclusivenss as an example- the ward member I was talking to did not know he was gay.

    That ward, believe it or not- was in Bountiful Utah. I will never live in a ward like that again- but their living the gospel went beyond this homosexual member, it extended to the habitual smoker who was always in Sunday School and the pregnant unwed mother of 5. That ward was a bit of Zion which I doubt I will ever find again.

    The issue is the members, the culture- it’s not the church and it’s not the doctrine.

    My official stance on homosexuality is “I don’t know” I simply don’t have an opinion and it’s ok not to know. However, I do know we need to love our neighbor- and judge not lest we be judged.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 17

  24. Nick Literski on March 27, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    #21:
    But Nick I am the oldest of four. Male, female, female and male. The younger brother is totally straight.

    So your younger brother has one older brother. He was more likely than you were to be gay, but that doesn’t mean he necessarily would be gay. If your mother had another son, that boy would be more likely than either you or your current brother.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  25. Howard on March 27, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Salth2o,
    Great story! Wouldn’t that set a wonderful example if it were done occationally on the stage at GC?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  26. Heber13 on March 27, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    I just re-read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”.

    Here are my thoughts after reading it:
    1. Proclamations from the 1st Presidency like this one on the family constitute doctrine for the Church.
    2. This proclamation clearly states man and woman is the only marriage sanctioned by God to fulfill the commandment to procreate.
    3. Gender is eternal.

    From these, it doesn’t seem to me to have much wiggle room, if any, in its current form.

    However, continuous revelation could change this doctrine, that is not impossible.

    I think it could be possible that we learn over time that gay couples are just are likely to provide children with happiness and appropriate teachings to raise them in righteousness.

    It is possible that future revelation reveals more information on Mary’s conception of Jesus, that there are other ways of procreating besides heterosexual intercourse. If that factor was removed, there could be no reason why gay couples couldn’t live in the eternities together, if not bound by our current understanding of procreation. Maybe we can understand eternal progression better in a way that doesn’t compromise eternal families based on “one way” of husband and wife as the only option.

    These are just examples of “what ifs” that could lead to change in the future.

    But until some revelation changes the wording in the Proclamation, our doctrine as it currently is revealed is pretty clear to me, which will continue to be a struggle for the church and members facing real-world issues. That doctrine would have to change. And that is not impossible.

    But our church is conservative, and does not change quickly. Revelation seems to be more prone to hold to past revelation, and only change when it becomes glaringly obvious it is necessary, and then the revelation is just the stamp of approval to what most everybody knows and wants to happen…which means it will take 30 years or more after society accepts things. That’s how I vote.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  27. Remlap on March 27, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    I think it is inevitable that the church will have to modify its position on homosexuality.

    Sooner or later gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states. At some point, someone will sue to have LDS Bishops’ ability to perform marriages revoked since they won’t perform legally recognized marriages. Universities will boycott BYU and refuse to play football games with them or conduct any sort of exchange programs. They may even go after the Church’s for prophet businesses and/or the Church’s tax exempt status. After enough of that, the current Prophet will receive a revelation and new light and knowledge will be revealed and eternal marriage will become available to all couples regardless of sexual orientation. The current version of BRM will get up in conference and announce that they now have a greater understanding and everything that anyone said about homosexuality in the past is wrong….”

    I am sure that many people will say that this will never happen just like many people said that polygamy will never go away or that Blacks will not get the priesthood.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 7

  28. Cowboy on March 27, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Heber13:

    I think the wiggle room in the Proclomation to the World, came when BKP comment in conference stating that it was a revelation, was stricken from the printed version.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 7

  29. Howard on March 27, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Paul wrote: This sentence intrigues me: “Families with gay children are often torn on this issue, sometimes feeling they have to choose between their children and the church.”

    While I don’t doubt that there are families who have felt that way, how is that different from other families who have children who have other lifestyles that are at odds with the church’s teaching? Often it isn’t. Isn’t that a sad statement? Faithful brothers and sisters chose this day your child or the church? Not the gospel, the church!

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  30. Nick Literski on March 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    #26:
    1. Proclamations from the 1st Presidency like this one on the family constitute doctrine for the Church.

    Not according to the LDS first presidency, evidently, since Boyd K. Packer’s attempt to publicly characterize the proclamation as “doctrine” was promptly censored.

    2. This proclamation clearly states man and woman is the only marriage sanctioned by God to fulfill the commandment to procreate.

    Actually, the proclamation says that marriage between a man and a woman is “ordained of God.” Curiously–almost as if anticipating the need for future wiggle room–it does not say that any marriage between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman is “not ordained of God.” It makes an affirmative statement about opposite-sex marriage, without actually negating any other marriage forms (such as between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman, etc.)

    3. Gender is eternal.

    Gender has virtually nothing to do with homosexuality. A gay man is male gendered. A lesbian woman is female gendered. Whether gender is eternal or temporal has no bearing on sexual orientation, whatsoever.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 11

  31. Nick Literski on March 27, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    #27:
    At some point, someone will sue to have LDS Bishops’ ability to perform marriages revoked since they won’t perform legally recognized marriages.

    If they do, their lawsuit will be promptly dismissed, very possibly with sanctions against the plaintiff’s attorney for filing a frivilous lawsuit. Note that nobody has managed to sue Catholic priests for refusing to perform a legal marriage involving a non-Catholic party. Note that nobody has managed to sue the LDS church for refusing to perform legal marriages in its temples involving persons of African descent pre-1978, nor for non-recommend-holders at any time.

    They may even go after the Church’s for prophet [sic] businesses…

    Wow…that looks Freudian.

    I am sure that many people will say that this will never happen just like many people said that polygamy will never go away or that Blacks will not get the priesthood.

    Afterward, LDS who want to look good and/or get elected will go on and on about how they “wept” at the news, having always believed that a change would one day come. LOL!

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 7

  32. Paul on March 27, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    #29 Howard, actually, though you quote me, I don’t agree with your conclusion. It is possible for me to be a faithful, church attending Latter-day Saint and have children who do not live according to the same standards I do. I can still love them without feeling a need to preach to them every time I see them. Our culture does not always support that position, but certainly the Gospel does.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  33. Remlap on March 27, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Nick,
    My point wasn’t that they would win the lawsuit but that they will lose in the court of public opinion. The political pressure will become too great and the church will give in as they did with polygamy and the priesthood ban.

    And pardon my Freudian slip

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  34. Heber13 on March 27, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Nick, #30
    Actually, according to the Church:
    ” Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency…and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles…counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
    —LDS Newsroom, “Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” lds.org (4 May 2007)”

    Proclamations are included in that as doctrine, as per the Church. Until the proclamation is changed or removed, it is doctrine.

    Just because BKP’s talk was censored doesn’t mean proclamations or ODs are not accepted doctrine.

    Also, I would see gender as part of this discussion only in the fact that marriage is ordained by God only between man and woman, and they are stating that gender is eternal (before and after this life). This is just ruling out wiggle room that one could be celebate in this life and hope to be married to someone of the same gender in the next life. That option is not possible if gender is eternal and marriage is only ordained of God between man and woman.

    The only option is to change the proclamation with further revelation because it is worded specifically to address this, in my opinion.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  35. Heber13 on March 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Paul# 32 “I can still love them without feeling a need to preach to them every time I see them. Our culture does not always support that position, but certainly the Gospel does.”

    Well said…and I wish it was said more often in our church!!

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  36. Howard on March 27, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Paul,
    Thanks for your clarification. I have seen the culture in action far to many times. I agree with Heber13′s comment in 35. I also wish it was said more often in church!! Until that part of our culture dies.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  37. Jeremiah S on March 27, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    I’m a gay man who has recently chosen to remain celibate and stick with the Church. It has been an enormously difficult choice, and one that I have to live with every day for the rest of my life. I believe in the eternal nature of male and female, and that same sex attraction is one of many forms of mortal opposition that Heavenly Father allows us to face, and that the law of chastity has important implications for access to a fullness of happiness. I had fourteen years of therapy to change my orientation, and it didn’t work for me.

    There has been a clarification of the doctrines of the church regarding homosexuality in the past twenty years. The changes haven’t been well taught to the membership, but statements by Elder Oaks and Elder Holland have made a few important points:

    -That the man/woman gender distinction is eternal—that we were male and female in premortality and will be male and female after this life

    -That there are people who do not chose their same-sex attraction (I personally believe that no one chooses it)

    -That some people can change, but others cannot

    -That chastity is required of all

    For people who can’t change, this sets up an enormously difficult situation. In the absence of further revelation, we have to live with what we have. And what we have is a situation where we are asking an entire group of people to live all their mortal days with no companionship. We need to recognize just how much we are demanding of people, and support them in the difficulties inherent in this.

    In the absence of further light and knowledge there are some things I’d like to see:

    -I’d like to see the general membership of the church recognize that people don’t choose their sexual orientation—it’s part of the cards that all of us are dealt when we come into mortality. The Church has taught that sexual orientation is not a sin since at least 1995.

    -Some people can change through therapy, but others are stuck with their orientation until the resurrection.

    -Recognizing the above point has some serious implications for the practical application of the Gospel:

    Q. Are we only willing to accept people if they’re able to change?

    Q. If they can’t, and we demand celibacy from them, do we really have a place for them in the kingdom? In my experience with the Church, single people are only tolerated until they are in their mid-twenties—and then the questions and judgment begin.

    Q. Is there a socially and institutionally supported path of celibacy for adults in the church who cannot marry? I don’t think we have one yet, especially not for males.

    Q. If someone can’t face the implications of a life without companionship, can we forgive them for that?

    Q. If a gay or lesbian couple walked hand-in-hand into a sacrament meeting, would we cast them out before they had a chance to hear the fullness of the gospel? If they’re not walking into our meetings, what are we doing (beyond demanding perfection in living the law of chastity from people who have not yet accepted a covenant to live it) that is driving them away? Do we hate them? Do we fear them?

    I apologize for the length of this post, but I have a lifetime of angst to articulate.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 24

  38. Stephen M (Ethesis) on March 27, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Jeremiah S — your comments are welcome and no one has any problems with the length.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  39. anon to protect my friend on March 27, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    My best friend is lesbian, though she would never put that name to it. She endured a decade-long incestuous relationship forced on her by an older brother and though she is in her 50s now, she is still coming to terms with her “difference.” She walked home from girls camp as a youth because she was so upset by the strength of her feelings and the discomfort of the situation. She has dealt all her life with the difficulty of this compounded by the inability to talk about her feelings with anyone. She is chaste and temple worthy, but often states, “I’m not even in the Proclamation!” She is not interested in counseling and morbidly avoids discussing her feelings at all. She is lonely.

    She is living as JeremiahS describes, hoping against hope that in the resurrection she is healed, and I believe she will be. My heart understands her heart and I feel for her life struggle. I don’t think that alters the eternal plan. We all have things we deal with, imperfections that cause us great sorrow, sometimes cause us to stumble. We don’t ask the doctrine to change because of our struggle. My ex-husband most certainly had genetic factors that influenced his tendencies to violence and sexual addiction. We can understand that those factors aren’t part of a perfected being without asking the doctrine to change around that person’s admittedly tough row to hoe.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  40. annegb on March 27, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Really good post. I don’t have any answers, though, only more questions. I think that’s the best many of us can do right now.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  41. Bonnie on March 27, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    I read an interesting series on this just recently that might contribute to the discussion. It’s at http://mormonmidrashim.blogspot.com/2012/03/four-part-series-on-gay-marriage-and.html

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  42. el oso on March 28, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Jeremiah’s post is great. Some take-aways for me include:
    Q. If they can’t, and we demand celibacy from them, do we really have a place for them in the kingdom? In my experience with the Church, single people are only tolerated until they are in their mid-twenties—and then the questions and judgment begin.

    Q. Is there a socially and institutionally supported path of celibacy for adults in the church who cannot marry? I don’t think we have one yet, especially not for males.

    I do not see a lot of judgement in our ward, but there are only 2 single men that regularly attend our ward. Both have other relatives around and grew up in the church. There are more single women and at least 2 have prominent callings. Since we are far from Utah, there are many members who are married but their spouse is not a member. They usually attend alone also.
    There is an institutionally supported path for celibate singles, but it is unevenly supported socially.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  43. Dara on March 28, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    The picture is in extremely poor taste. This ridicules and disrespects the missionaries. I thought W&T was one of the more tame blogs but I guess not.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  44. Christopher Taylor on March 28, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    #48 Dara

    I see what you’re saying–I think the picture was indeed intended to be provocative which may be in poor taste–yet, at the same time the picture poses an interesting commentary on the issue in general. I know gay men who served honorably and were fantastic missionaries. They, of course, did not act on their feelings, but they were nonetheless gay. I don’t wish to comment on the Church’s policy regarding homosexuality, i.e. okay to be gay but not okay to act on it. I do wish to comment on the stigma surrounding the issue. Like I said, I know gay men who were great missionaries and are still wonderful men. They obey the Church’s teachings, yet they were not able to be openly gay as missionaries and in most cases are still afraid to be openly gay as members. I find this to be a gross injustice to them as people and faithful latter-day saints. If they are following the guidelines of the Church, they should not receive any negative social stigma because of who they are. I realize that this is not a Church problem as much as a culture problem, but the two are inseparably connected. If the members are not acting with the proper love and respect toward their fellow human beings as they should the Church should get involved and instruct them to be better. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was recently changed for the military. I suggest the same happen for the Church. This is not to say the Church needs to change their theological position. I merely think they should do more to actively promote acceptance of people with homosexual tendencies within the general membership.

    Just some food for thought: it’s possible the men in the picture were missionaries at one point.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  45. MoHoHawaii on March 29, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    I’ve noticed the same one-step-forward-one-step-backward movement as was mentioned in the OP. Some people think the inconsistent messaging is a sign of divided leadership. That may be, but I think it’s really a sign of a divided membership. Younger and more educated Mormons often support equal treatment for gay people under civil law as well as more compassionate treatment of gay people by the Church.

    In the year that preceded the announcement of Prop. 8 the Church underwent some fairly significant softening of its rhetoric, and I predicted– quite wrongly as it turned out– that the Church was going to sit out that that particular ballot measure. Washington state, with more Mormons per capita than California, has a marriage referendum on the ballot this year (Referendum 74, a.k.a. “Prop. 8 North”). Does anyone want to make a guess as to how involved the Church is going to be this time around?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  46. Michael on March 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    el oso (#42),

    You hit the nail on the head perfectly. As an older gay man living the law of celibacy there is virtually NO PLACE for me within Mormon structure, culture or theology that is welcoming and affirming of my decision. Every procedure, policy, doctrine, and cultural practice finds celibacy for the sake of discipleship to be anathema.

    On the other hand, the Catholics have found a much better balance in accommodating married members and unmarried members. They are welcoming of both straight and gay members who dedicate their lives to celibacy and to the Saviour. While their doctrine can be hostile to homosexual orientation, their culture and traditions provide strong support for celibacy. The LDS Church has no place for this to flourish. If you are not following the one prescribed path the church has defined (straight, married and with children), you feel ostracized. I don’t mean there are not wonderful members and support systems in place on the local level. But institutionally, there is no place for celibacy.

    A prime example is the church policy on Temple Workers. A single man over the age of 30 is prohibited from serving as a Temple Ordinance Worker. He can serve as a volunteer but not as a worker. However, no such restriction is imposed on single women over the age of 30. What possible reason could there be for such a restriction that does not demonize the single male?

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 7

  47. Bonnie on March 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Michael, I had no idea such a restriction existed. I am so sorry. In many instances, the “difference” each of us feels in social settings is a function of diversity in the church and the individual levels of comfort people have dealing with people different from themselves. I am an outspoken single parent with an academic bent, something that sets me apart from several social groups, but I don’t usually get too worked up about it. I do, however, remember how disenfranchised I felt when I was told I couldn’t even serve as a temporary ordinance worker on trips. I am truly sorry. I wish I knew you personally and could at least offer some useful friendship. It’s probably not terribly useful now, but I think the day will come when there is widespread appreciation for the contributions of celibate gay Mormons.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  48. Douglas on March 30, 2012 at 5:25 AM

    #18 – IF President Monson felt a need to inquire of the Lord as to the eternal future of LGBT, he’d do so. As it is, the answer is self-evident as to those that PRACTICE the lifestyle (as opposed to having the inclination(s)), and is no different from anyone that persists in a “sin” or lifestyle that the prophets and scriptures have denounced since time immemorial: “If they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (D&C 19:7). So the ultimate fate of those living the LGBT lifestyle is the same as any “straight” who, for example, whore-chases, or swindles, or cheats, or threatens…well, get the picture? The call is as always…REPENT!
    And lest one think that I’m getting on my self-righteous high horse, it’s not that at all. Indeed, I apply the maxim, “if one accusing finger I point at thee, three more I point at me”. AFAIC, regardless of how others might evaluate my ‘worthiness’, I simply point out what is sin and then concern myself with how I need to improve, then how I can be of assistance to others.
    In your case, if you have the gay inclination that precludes your finding a wife, but you want to participate in the Gospel, then I say, welcome aboard, and how can I help? Rather than judge you, or presume to “cure’ you of your gayness, as long as you understand that you can no more “do things” to satisfy your urges outside the bounds of marriage than I can and still be living the law of chastity, then your needs as a brother, especially of fellowship, are no different than any other man.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  49. hawkgrrrl on March 30, 2012 at 6:06 AM

    My apologies to any who felt the clip art was offensive. It was unintentional. I don’t see anything offensive about two men kissing, and I knew a few elders in my mission who were gay (celibate at that time of course). I do imagine the photo (which is the first Google image return on this topic) is staged by someone to make a point. It was hard to find a pertinent photo, honestly.

    As an American, I tend to think eventual acceptance is inevitable, but living in Asia gives me pause. There are still so many countries that don’t even acknowledge homosexuality or that make homosexual behaviour illegal or who consider it something some people prefer but still expect them have heterosexual marriages and propogate the species. The experiment with gay marriage in some Western nations is an evolution to something that could be very special and beautiful for those who are gay, a truly alternate lifestyle that provides fulfillment, the pursuit of happiness, and also provides homes for many children needing adoption. As with all huge change, there will be unforeseen consequences. Anthropologically, this is an interesting social change to watch. I’m not convinced the outcome is inevitable.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  50. Hnery on March 30, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    In the BOFM the inhabitants of the Americas are swept off the land if they do not serve Christ.
    Concerning legalizing gay marriage and societal acceptance of homosexuality,
    (The Face of the Land has changed)

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  51. Wyoming on March 31, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    “My apologies to any who felt the clip art was offensive. It was unintentional.”

    Really??? When the two gay protesters kissed for the camera – do you think that was unintentional? If you find a picture of two nuns making out – would that also be unintentional?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  52. Brian on March 31, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    “If you find a picture of two nuns making out – would that also be unintentional?”

    As a guy, that would have much cooler, Hawk.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  53. FireTag on March 31, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Offense can be a cross-cultural nightmare. As young marrieds, my wife and I chose to contribute to a foster child on Bali in Indonesia, in a program that encouraged monthly letters and pictures being exchanged.

    We decided we’d send a picture showing us in a very normal kiss — only to discover that the agency would not deliver the letter because a public kiss between a husband and wife was considered obscene on Bali.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  54. Dara on March 31, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Firetag:
    You can’t reason away this issue. This is an offensive picture.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  55. hawkgrrrl on March 31, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Yes, public kissing is also considered outre in India, and any kiss deemed passionate is censored from the movies, which is why in Bollywood rom-coms the hero and heroine often hug at the end rather than kiss.

    As to the picture being offensive, I only meant that I did not intend offense. Whether the protesters did, I can’t say since I don’t know the context of the picture. Actually I thought it might be a Carnival picture because they have Mardi Gras beads on and people used to dress as Mormon missionaries for Carnival where I served my mission.

    On one hand, the picture is beside the point, but maybe it is on point after all. If it is offensive, why is it exactly? When my kids say something is “gay” as a derogatory term I make sure they know that it’s not OK to say that any more than making sexist or racist jokes would be. Is it the idea that homosexuality is shameful that makes some find the picture offensive? Or the idea that some missionaries might be gay? Normally I would change a picture that raises an objection but I’m unable to do so this week due to lack of access.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  56. Dara on March 31, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    Someone made a picture of Queen Elizabeth topless on a bed smiling seductively. To be honest it was funny but I still think it was disrespectful. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  57. Dara on March 31, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    And how many of us would dare to put a picture/cartoon of Prophet Mohammed kissing a man in protest of the strict Muslim stance against homosexuality? Deaths threats would follow.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  58. hawkgrrrl on April 1, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    Dara – hopefully the updated picture will be less offensive. I think your analogy with Islam is not precise, and the reason is that most people wouldn’t post anything about Mohammed out of fear from extremists and violent backlash.

    The other difference is more apparent if you consider Haidt’s moral foundations. In order for something to be offensive it probably violates one of these: care/harm (the action puts others in harm’s way – e.g. child pornography), fairness/cheating (the action is unethical and creates an unjust outcome – e.g. embezzling from a charity), liberty/oppression (the action is bullying or physical intimidation – e.g. Spanish Inquisition), loyalty/betrayal (the action is a perceived threat to the tribe or in-group – e.g. the picture of missionaries kissing?), authority/subversion (the action is against a revered authority figure – e.g. Queen Elizabeth topless), or purity/degradation (the action is inherently repugnant on a visceral level – e.g. possibly Queen Elizabeth topless). The picture of missionaries kissing could be considered offensive under any of these last three, depending on an individual’s view. It doesn’t meet those for me because I just see it as two non-LDS people making a political statement or protest against the church’s Prop 8 stance, both of which are legal free speech.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  59. Dara on April 1, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    Hawkgrrl:
    This will sound weird but I it’s true I did not like the picture I don’t necessarily try to get someone to change something. For example, SouthPark creators showed or were going to show something offensive about Prophet Mohammed but received intense death threats so they backed down. But they continued showing jokes and saying things about other religions. Chicken****s! I lost my respect for the show and do not watch it anymore. I always liked shows like Mad TV and Family Guy because no one was off limits. They made fun of everyone and everything, men, women, gays, lesbians, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, you name it.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  60. Bob on April 1, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    #58:hawkgrrrl,
    A better picture!
    BUT*** I’m the one who was sleeping on the floor half my mission because (I guess), the Church thought their missionaries were maybe Gay(?)

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  61. hawkgrrrl on April 1, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    Actually I like the new pic more anyway because I just don’t see any self-respecting gay man dressing like that other picture. Also, it is interesting that in India men hold hands all the time as friends, walking down the street. But homosexuality is not open (however, polygamy is legal up to 4 wives if you are Muslim), and even heterosexual kissing in public is not done. Every culture has different taboos and ascribes different meaning to things.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  62. MoHoHawaii on April 3, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    I want to add two links.

    The first is a story that definitely represents one step backwards. I don’t know what the stake president in this case was thinking.

    The second, while not specifically LDS, shows the tension between progressive and traditional views. Check it out.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  63. Jake on April 6, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    The Church will. If you have done serious investigation into all the things the Church has caved on through out the years in an attempt to avoid persecution from the world you will understand this is a certainly. Within 50 years, (more likely sooner) there will be a “revelation” saying that they are accepted as full members. All it will take is laws saying same-sex marriage is ok.

    I’ve been a member all my life. I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon is a true work of scripture. But I also will not put my head in the sand and pretend we are not changing. I’ve done my homework studying our history. Sure there is a lot of anti nonsense out there. But we have changed dramatically over the years in an attempt to be accepted by the world. Anyone who says differently needs to study our history more.

    God does not change. His words on homosexuality can be found in the scriptures. Christ loves everyone but also commands us to “go and sin no more”. You CANNOT openly embrace sin as a lifestyle and expect God or Christ to be ok with it. If you do, you really have been blinded by the world.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting

Archives

%d bloggers like this: