Mormons and Gays
Originally posted here: http://anonymousbishop.com/
The church now teaches it's okay to be gay as long as you are straight. Que?
The church now teaches it’s okay to be gay as long as you are straight. Que? Click on the link above to visit the site.
Since I mentioned this issue in my last post, I thought I would further address here. I am including a letter written by a bishop in the church to his stake president. I think the content is good. My belief is that the best way to “sustain the brethren” is to tell them precisely how we feel about important issues and hopefully to persuade them to the truth. I include this private letter with permission from this bishop. It was written in 2012, before the church cast its vote in favor of including gay scouts in BSA. I personally believe that the church is making a huge mistake by trying to tweak its “doctrines” to help change the church’s image. Enjoy.
Dear President XXXXXX:
I wish to respectfully share my concerns over the Church’s recent “Mormons and gays” website and the message, in my opinion, it will send to some.
On the website under the heading “Where the Church stands” it states:
The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
I agree with much of this statement and believe wholeheartedly that the Church and all its members should reach out to anyone who is struggling with sin.
As a bishop in the Church I frequently counsel ward members struggling with sexual sin. Like many other bishops I have discovered how important our thoughts are in this process. What we spend our time thinking about often determines what we do, who we are, and what we become. (Proverbs 23:7). What we think about ourselves and more importantly what we think about Christ will determine whether or not we overcome our sins.
The concept now advanced on the website that “the attraction itself is not a sin” appears to challenge the importance of containing our thoughts, appetites, and passions within the bounds the Lord has prescribed. After all many people are attracted to the opposite sex because they have entertained those thoughts. We teach our young men, for example, that their attraction to women is natural, that God made us this way to fulfill his divine procreative plan. I believe that this attraction in and of itself is not a sin, IF one’s thoughts, appetites, and passions (one might also say attractions) are pure and not allowed to dwell upon that which is carnal. This rationale becomes less logical when we take the same example of this natural attraction and apply it to a married person. Would we tell a married man, for example, that his attraction for another man’s wife is not a sin? When we expand this logic to same-sex attraction I think the argument loses its integrity entirely. The obligation exists as one of the most foundational parts of our faith that our “desires, appetites and passions” are to be confined to what “the Lord prescribes.” This is not confined to actions or deeds, but includes “desires” as well. Yet this website appears to now contradict that obligation and welcome desires, appetites and passions which are not prescribed by the Lord. Indeed, they are condemned by the Lord as an abomination.
Same sex attraction does not come from God. The Church teaches that homosexuality and other grievous sexual sins are next to murder in gravity. If one is attracted to this sin, then they are being enticed and tempted by the enemy of all righteousness, even the devil. Moroni explained that “…whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil is of the devil ” (Moroni 7:17). The very definition of the word attraction is intertwined in meaning with words such as persuade and entice.
To suggest that the attraction itself is not a sin, I believe, is far too broad a statement and could cause some struggling with same sex attraction to not be alarmed by what they think and feel. Or, alternatively, to dismiss it as normal and God-given. Would it not be better to say that “the attraction itself is not always a sin (especially when someone has been exposed to homosexuality before the age of accountability), but that the attraction itself is not from God and like any propensity or genetic disposition, we beseech Christ as our Healer and thank the Lord that men are not leopards and can thus change their spots.”
I also think it is overly broad and misleading to suggest that “individuals do not choose to have such attractions.” This may be true in some cases, but even many social and medical scientists would disagree with this broad statement. Some individuals may not have chosen these attractions, but many have. Others have these attractions as a result of being abused as a child or youth. As a bishop I have seen how pornography and “thought sins” as President Kimball called them, lead people down forbidden paths of immorality.
This statement also seems to indicate that “God makes people this way,” a common theme in society and amongst those telling their story on the Church’s new website. In fact those who are “Mormon and gay” by their own admission, and who are celibate, seem to celebrate having accepted themselves as they are. Is this the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world? To accept who you are and embrace it? Or is the message of the Gospel to never stop petitioning the Lord to help you overcome your thoughts and your tendencies and your attractions and your vices and anything and everything that keeps you from Him?
I am very concerned that these videos will be shown in church meetinghouses to both the young and old and will put unnecessary ideas into the heads of younger members already struggling with their identity. In three of the videos that I watched, all three candidates being interviewed admitted to “experimenting” with same sex attraction, in one case to the point of “infatuation.” In other words, all three of these individuals had gay sexual relations. And by the grace of God each of these three people have, for the time being, seemingly overcome their urges and are now either married (Ty) or celibate (Suzanne and Ted). How many who “experiment” with homosexuality are able to live to tell their story in a video sponsored by the Church? I don’t know the answer, but I feel very uncomfortable with my own children and the youth of our ward being exposed to these types of “success stories” that may give the wrong impression that it’s not a sin to entertain such attractions and that anything they might do or try will turn out okay for them in the end. Furthermore, the overwhelming impression left by Ted and Suzanne is that their lot in life is to never marry, that God made them this way, and rather than fight it, they have embraced it. Is that the message we want to leave with members? That our brokenness cannot be repaired by Christ?
In a recent training for bishops and stake presidents, Elder David A. Bednar counseled us to preach that men must learn to “act for themselves and not to be acted upon.” (2 Nephi 2:26). Teaching people that same sex attraction is not a sin and that it is not by choice that people are same sex attracted, seems to suggest that it’s okay to be acted upon. I know that the Church does not intend this, but I fear it will be the natural conclusion drawn by many. Wouldn’t it be better to teach people that if they are not acting on same sex attractions, that they are not gay? They may have same sex attraction, but they have chosen to act for themselves and not be acted upon by not limiting or defining themselves to a title or as a victim of a condition of nature.
I am also concerned over the way the Church now seems to be treating this particular abomination differently than other sins which are equally abominable before God. The Church’s new policy, for example, is that BYU students are allowed to “be gay” as long as they do not act out on it. Will this same standard be applied to aspiring young missionaries? Will the Church allow young men to serve who are gay, but who are currently chaste? Am I to recommend a young man for service who says he is attracted to other young men sexually? As a parent I would be very concerned about my own son or daughter’s safety if I knew his/her companion was sexually attracted to him/her. Are we to assume that these young men and young women will not falter or give in to their sexual urges while companions day and night with someone they are sexually attracted to? If a gay person’s urges are the same or stronger than a heterosexual’s urges, then we may as well allow young men and young women to be companions with the opposite sex, if in fact the church allows a gay person to serve a mission with a companion of the same sex.
I hope that the answer is that we will not allow anyone who believes they are gay to serve a mission. I am not suggesting that someone cannot successfully struggle with same sex attraction and resist sins of commission. I am suggesting that everyone should go through the normal repentance process and prove they can be trusted in the Lord’s service.
In my opinion, a person cannot be both gay and completely chaste. Chaste being defined as holy, or whole. Being gay is a sexual orientation which is abominable to the Lord. In other words, gay people are oriented to having or wanting to have sexual relations with someone of the same sex. The Church should teach that anyone who feels they are gay should and can work to overcome it. And that if such a person succeeds in not acting out on it and allows the Lord to change their hearts, they will not be left disappointed and will certainly not still be gay.
Will the BYU standard apply to those wanting to serve in Boy Scouts or with the youth? BSA’s own policy is to “not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals” without making exception for whether those individuals abstain from sexual activity. Our Church policy seems to now conflict with BSA’s policy as we are allowing openly gay members to serve, I assume, in any and all positions in the Church, if they are “worthy.” This concerns me greatly.
The Boy Scouts also state that:
Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics.
The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.
As a parent I would feel much more comfortable abiding by this policy within the Church. I agree that a setting must exist for those struggling with same sex attraction and other vices. I am told that less than 5% (some say 1%) struggle with SSA amongst Latter-day Saints. But I do not believe addressing this topic universally with the 95-99% should be incorporated into our mainstream daily Church organization. We appease the complaining small minority at the expense of alienating the greater majority who fear spread of this behavior. I do not want my kids exposed to such topics in any church setting in a way that may cause more questions than answers as I think these videos on Mormonsandgays.org do.
Will we offer the same deference to other types of sins or struggles? Is it correct to say that it is not a sin to want to kill someone as long as one does not act out on it? Or that it’s natural to be suicidal? Will we send someone on a mission who has suicidal tendencies or who admits to being tempted to murder someone? Do we say it is not a sin to be attracted sexually to animals or to little children? Would we ever in a million years place a calling to someone to serve in the nursery or in cub scouts who admits that they have a sexual attraction or orientation to little children, whether they have ever acted out on it or not?
In conclusion, I firmly agree with the general assertion that the Church should teach the world God loves all His children and members should try to emulate the same. I agree we should reach out to people who struggle with same sex or any inappropriate attraction by teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I agree members need to be generally more loving, forgiving and tolerant of all sinners. I agree bishops may need more counsel on how to sensitively deal with those who struggle with SSA.
But, I disagree the Church should accept that it’s okay to be gay or it should convey to any member these attractions are normal, God-given, and not sinful. I also do not believe the Church should have a website titled Mormonsandgays.org. I think the title alone is “racy” and sends the wrong message. Would we do the same with those who struggle with other pernicious sins? Mormons and pedophiles? Bestiality, adultery, or even kleptomaniacs? I do not think we should have videos with Church music in the background showing gays going on dates (as is depicted in Ty’s story). Nor should we allow someone, especially repentant, to refer to those experiences any more than we would want or allow a speaker in church or at a youth fireside or in a missionary discussion to mention their previous sexual sins.
I fully sustain the leadership of this wonderful Church. I pray for those who are tasked with grappling with these complex issues for the entire Church. I pray my confidential feedback is helpful. We love the Brethren and pray for the Lord to sustain them in these wicked and perilous times.