The following is a response to the blog post, “What I’ll Do With Myself Now: Thoughts on Gay Marriage and the LDS Faith” (hereafter “Thoughts“).
Most of the responses given are noted quotations of recent, relevant statements by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the scriptures, and from official Church content found on lds.org and newsroom.lds.org. Links are provided in each case for further study.
The particular function of this document is to clarify the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the matter of homosexuality, seeing that it was mischaracterized and misexplained in “Thoughts”. In no way do I want to give the appearance of vilifying the author of that article. There is a difference of opinion; but we both are searching for the truth- hopefully we both arrive at the ultimate truth at the end of our journey.
From “Thoughts”: “My heart feels strongly that God loves me regardless of who I’m attracted to. I don’t believe he expects or even wants me to be alone. Wasn’t it God who said it was not good that man be alone?”
Yes, God loves you perfectly, regardless of anything.
However, God’s love does not equate to Him excusing sin. It would be a difficult point to argue- for example, we would easily laugh at the pronouncement of a thief: “God loves me even if I steal things, so stealing is okay.” God’s eternal and boundless love does not correspond to His approval of sinful behavior. God has made it indisputably clear, through His Latter-day Prophets, that homosexual behavior is a sin. He still loves those that commit that sin. And it should be remembered that homosexual behavior is nowhere near the unpardonable sin. It is a sin ranking with other forms of sexual misconduct. A sin that is easily forgiven through Christ’s atonement with repentance.
You are correct that God does not want you to be alone; for that reason, He has ordained marriage as available to all. Marriage is defined as the union between man and woman. You are not required to be married if you feel it is not for you. Mortal life, by design, is not fair in numerous ways. For that very reason atonement was necessary in God’s eternal plan.
Not all of the effects of the Fall of Adam, nor all evil, will be corrected by the Atonement during mortality. Most of the correction of mortal unfairness will occur after mortal lessons and tests are finished. Indeed, mortal tests and lessons are dependent on unfairness existing- to teach and test faith. We should also remember that mortality is a small moment in the eternities, and that eternal blessings have been promised to all of God’s mortal children. There are differing degrees of glory, and although the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms are glorious, it is assumed that all members of the Church are hoping for a fullness of Celestial Glory.
Elder Oaks has given a thoughtful response to the following question: “If somebody has a very powerful heterosexual drive, there is the opportunity for marriage. If a young man thinks he’s gay, what we’re really saying to him is that there is simply no other way to go but to be celibate for the rest of his life if he doesn’t feel any attraction to women?”
ELDER OAKS: “That is exactly the same thing we say to the many members who don’t have the opportunity to marry. We expect celibacy of any person that is not married.” (Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: “Same Gender Attraction”)
Also, in response to the question: “Is heterosexual marriage ever an option for those with homosexual feelings?” Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman each answered, in turn:
ELDER OAKS: “We are sometimes asked about whether marriage is a remedy for these feelings that we have been talking about. President Hinckley, faced with the fact that apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage as the remedy for these feelings, made this statement: “Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.” To me that means that we are not going to stand still to put at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.
“On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate…”
ELDER WICKMAN: “One question that might be asked by somebody who is struggling with same-gender attraction is, “Is this something I’m stuck with forever? What bearing does this have on eternal life? If I can somehow make it through this life, when I appear on the other side, what will I be like?”
“Gratefully, the answer is that same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life. It is a circumstance that for whatever reason or reasons seems to apply right now in mortality, in this nano-second of our eternal existence.”
“The good news for somebody who is struggling with same-gender attraction is this: 1) It is that ‘I’m not stuck with it forever.’ It’s just now. Admittedly, for each one of us, it’s hard to look beyond the ‘now’ sometimes. But nonetheless, if you see mortality as now, it’s only during this season. 2) If I can keep myself worthy here, if I can be true to gospel commandments, if I can keep covenants that I have made, the blessings of exaltation and eternal life that Heavenly Father holds out to all of His children apply to me. Every blessing — including eternal marriage — is and will be mine in due course.”
ELDER OAKS: “Let me just add a thought to that. There is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband, a wife, and posterity. Further, men are that they might have joy. In the eternal perspective, same-gender activity will only bring sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities.” (Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: “Same Gender Attraction”)
“Thoughts” notes an excellent scripture that is very relevant on the issue. He paraphrases it as “(it) is not good that man be alone.”
Here is the latter-day revealed, Book of Abraham version of that scripture:
14 And the Gods said: Let us make an help meet for the man, for it is not good that the man should be alone, therefore we will form an help meet for him.
15 And the Gods caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and they took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof;
16 And of the rib which the Gods had taken from man, formed they a woman, and brought her unto the man.
17 And Adam said: This was bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; now she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man;
18 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
Review of that scripture in context reveals it is not a good choice of verse to support the premise of homosexual behavior being okay; rather, it declares that because God wanted Adam/man to not be alone, He paired him with a woman.
From Article: “Even in the New Testament in the 1st Epistle to Timothy Chapter 4, a warning is given to beware those who forbid us to marry. What you believe marriage to be is your prerogative, but currently there’s a lot of forbidding being taught.”
With respect to Paul’s very brief denunciation in 1 Timothy 4:3 of those “forbidding to marry,” it is useful to read the expounded, latter-day version of that ancient reprimand:
15 And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.
16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;
17 And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.
To the perception “that homosexual behavior is not specifically prohibited in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament,” Elder Lance B. Wickman said:
“For one thing, those who assert that need to read their Bible more carefully. But beyond that, it is comparing apples and oranges to refer to the love that the Savior expressed for all mankind, for every person, for every man and woman and child, with the doctrine related to marriage.”
“In fact, the Savior did make a declaration about marriage, albeit in a somewhat different context. Jesus said that “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and they twain shall be one flesh. What God has joined together let no man put asunder.”
“We usually think of that expression in the context of two people, a man and a woman, being married and the inappropriateness of someone trying to separate them. I think it may have a broader meaning in a doctrinal sense. Marriage of a man and a woman is clear in Biblical teaching in the Old Testament as well as in the New [Testament] teaching. Anyone who seeks to put that notion asunder is likewise running counter to what Jesus Himself said. It’s important to keep in mind the difference between Jesus’ love and His definition of doctrine, and the definition of doctrine that has come from apostles and prophets of the Lord Jesus Christ, both anciently and in modern times.” (Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: “Same Gender Attraction,” posted on 12 December 2012)
An analysis of what the Bible veritably says in regard to homosexual behavior is useful. Links to each of the scriptures below can be found at lds.org’s Topical Guide entry for “Homosexual Behavior.”
Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination:
Deuteronomy 23: 17 There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
“Thoughts”: “What do you believe is marriage? I believe marriage is the unification between two competent, consenting adults.”
“Marriage is sacred and was ordained of God from before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ affirmed the divine origin of marriage: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”
“From the beginning, the sacred nature of marriage was closely linked to the power of procreation. After creating Adam and Eve, God commanded them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” and they brought forth children, forming the first family. Only a man and a woman together have the natural biological capacity to conceive children. This power of procreation—to create life and bring God’s spirit children into the world—is divinely given. Misuse of this power undermines the institution of the family.”
“In view of the close links that have long existed between marriage, procreation, gender, and parenting, same-sex marriage cannot be regarded simply as the granting of a new “right.” It is a far-reaching redefinition of the very nature of marriage itself. It marks a fundamental change in the institution of marriage in ways that are contrary to God’s purposes for His children and detrimental to the long-term interests of society.” (Revised and updated version of “The Divine Institution of Marriage,” which was first published in 2008).
From Article: “What about children? Shouldn’t marriage focus on the rearing of children? How does gay marriage detract from this? There are thousands upon thousands of kids drifting through the foster system hopelessly. Are you insinuating that it’s better that kids stay in what is probably a more traumatic if not abusive situation than be given the opportunity at a good life just because they’ll have two dad’s or two mom’s or even a trans mom & or dad? Where is the focus on children in that?”
The document, “The Divine Institution of Marriage,” addresses well the issue of homosexual behavior as it relates to children, mentioning “children” 33 times. Here is a short passage:
“…While some same-sex couples will obtain guardianship over children, traditional marriage provides the most solid and well-established social identity for children. It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation. By contrast, the legal recognition of same-sex marriage may, over time, erode the social identity, gender development, and moral character of children. No dialogue on this issue can be complete without taking into account the long-term consequences for children.
“As one example of how children will be adversely affected, the establishment of same-sex marriage as a civil right will inevitably entail changes in school curricula. When the state says that same-sex marriages are equivalent to heterosexual marriages, public school administrators will feel obligated to support this claim. This has already happened in many jurisdictions, where from elementary school through high school, children are taught that marriage can be defined as a legal union between two adults of any gender, that the definition of family is fluid, and in some cases that consensual sexual relations are morally neutral. In addition, in many areas, schools are not required to notify parents of this curriculum or to give families the opportunity to opt out. These developments are already causing clashes between the agenda of secular school systems and the right of parents to teach their children deeply held standards of morality.” (See original source at link above for footnotes.)
From Article: “God said homosexuality is an abomination. You’re getting defensive now.
First off you need to look through biblical translations and how they hold up to the original Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek texts. Second, you need to look at who is saying what, in what context, and where. There is a thing called confirmation bias and you may be suffering from an acute case of it.”
While the Bible is not as clear on the issue of homosexuality as could be hoped for by those on either side of the argument, that is not the issue. Whether or not we believe we are truly led by Christ in our Latter-day Church is the preeminent question. And if so, through what channel does he lead us? Is it by blog-revelation by a random member of the Church who struggles with the issue at hand? Or is it by an official representative of the Church, a Prophet or President?
If it can be agreed that we are led correctly by the Prophet, the Lord’s chosen servant, then it can be clearly established that the present-day stance of the Church is against homosexual behavior, and for its categorization as a sin.
If we cannot agree on the point of the Prophet, then that should be the argument, instead of the topic of homosexuality.
From Article: “Funny enough, The Book of Mormon is completely silent about homosexuality.”
The Book of Mormon is completely silent about a host of things (3 Kingdoms of Glory, Temple Sealings and Endowments, etc.). But The Book of Mormon nowhere condones homosexual behavior.
The Book of Mormon is very clear about the need to follow the current Prophet. And if we are correctly following the modern Prophet in 2014, we will not be found supporting homosexual behavior.
1 Nephi 22:2 And I, Nephi, said unto them: Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh.
16 And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.
17 But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.
If these Book of Mormon scriptures are believed, then there would be no need to publish things in an attempt to persuade others that homosexual behavior is not a sin, or that The Church of Jesus Christ needs to change and accept homosexual marriage. The evolution or non-evolution of the entire matter could be left up to the Lord’s chosen Prophets, Seers and Revelators.
Helaman 5:18 And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did preach unto the Lamanites with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them—
Do we truly feel this way about President Monson? Do we feel that the Prophets receive their message from God?
In 1831, when certain individuals were rising up and teaching things that conflicted with the Prophet’s instruction, the Lord gave this revelation:
1 O hearken, ye elders of my church, and give ear to the words which I shall speak unto you.
2 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand.
3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.
4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.
5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;
6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.
7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.
The correct channel is to listen to and follow the Prophet of the Lord.
D&C 1:14 And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
The question of whether the Bible says homosexual behavior is a sin is largely irrelevant, because what matters now is today’s message from God through His contemporary Prophet.
To date, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as led by President Thomas S. Monson, has stated that is has no intention of ever changing its current moral standard regarding homosexual behavior as a sin.
The wrong approach would be to say like those of Helaman 9:2, that we do not know, “whether this man be a prophet and God hath commanded him to prophesy…Behold, we do not believe that he hath; yea, we do not believe that he is a prophet;”
The question is:
Either The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is rightly led by Christ’s Prophet, or it is not.
If it is- then a message board is not needed; there is not a need to call for changes; there is no urgency to awaken support for the cause of homosexual behavior.
If it is not- then should please state that pronouncement clearly.
“Thoughts”: “What (does) the LDS Church need to do to help its LGBTQIA members?
It could start by updating Mormonsandgays.org. Since the site launched it hasn’t seen a single revision.”
This website reffered to in “Thoughts”, www.mormonsandgays.org, was updated in 2012. It is extensive and includes links to the new Handbook 2 – Administering the Church (2010), and an Interview with Elder Oaks (December 2012), as well as numerous other sources of information.
Those are very recent documents. The need for frequent updates to the mormonsandgays.org website is minor, considering Elder Oaks statement on its homepage, where he advises that the basic doctrine on homosexuality will not be changing:
“This same topic was discussed with all of the general authorities of the church in April of 2012. We will not discuss any of the multitudes of other issues and questions. There is so much we don’t understand about this subject, that we’d do well to stay close to what we know from the revealed word of God. What we do know is that the doctrine of the church, that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married, has not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same gender attraction.” (What Needs to Change/Elder Dallin H. Oaks)
Elder Christofferson, also on the homepage, states:
“There shouldn’t be a perception or an expectation that the Church’s doctrines or position have changed or are changing. It’s simply not true, and we want youth and all people to understand that. The doctrines that relate to human sexuality and gender are really central to our theology. And marriage between a man and a woman, and the families that come from those marriages – that’s all central to God’s plan and to the opportunities that He offers to us, here and hereafter. So homosexual behavior is contrary to those doctrines – has been, always will be – and can never be anything but transgression. It’s something that deprives people of those highest expectations and possibilities that God has for us. That being said, it’s important to remember a few things that people don’t always understand or remember. And that is that homosexual behavior is not the unforgiveable sin. The atonement and repentance can bring full forgiveness there, and peace. And secondly, I’d say though we don’t know everything… we know enough to be able to say that same-sex attraction in and of itself is not a sin. The feeling, the desire is not classified the same as homosexual behavior itself. And the third point I would mention is that when people have those desires and same-sex attractions, our attitude is “stay with us.” I think that’s what God is saying “Stay with me.” And that’s what we want to say in the Church: “Stay with us.” Let’s work together on this and find friendship and commonality and brotherhood and sisterhood, here more than anywhere. It’s important that there be love, and that there be hope. Love is not to say acceptance or endorsement, but it is to say inclusion and not ostracism. We want to be with you and work together.” (Purpose of This Website/Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
“Thoughts”: “So what about The Family: A Proclamation to the World? How can I believe what I do and profess faith in the Family Proclamation? I believe there is room within its text for other unions to exist. It states marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. It doesn’t state everything else isn’t. It doesn’t say gay marriage is gross or an abomination. In fact, it’s oddly silent on the matter.”
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states:
“We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
“Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
In the very talk where he introduced “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
“There are those who would have us believe in the validity of what they choose to call same-sex marriage. Our hearts reach out to those who struggle with feelings of affinity for the same gender. We remember you before the Lord, we sympathize with you, we regard you as our brothers and our sisters. However, we cannot condone immoral practices on your part any more than we can condone immoral practices on the part of others.” (Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World, October 1995)
“Thoughts”: “Much remains to be revealed about the kingdom. We need to stop believing we know everything and realize we know little to nothing.”
While there may be some truth to this statement, the pronoun “we” should be designated. Hopefully, “we” does not refer to, or include the Prophets and Apostles. If so, it should clearly be stated. Instead, it is assumed that “we” in this instance refers to the average members of the Church.
Based upon that assumption, it can be contended that we do know that if we follow the 15 men we sustain as prophets, we will not be led astray. “Thoughts” seems to suggest that at some future moment, God will reveal that homosexual behavior is not a sin. Perhaps we should re-read Elder Christofferson’s comment at this point:
“There shouldn’t be a perception or an expectation that the Church’s doctrines or position have changed or are changing. It’s simply not true, and we want youth and all people to understand that. The doctrines that relate to human sexuality and gender are really central to our theology. And marriage between a man and a woman, and the families that come from those marriages – that’s all central to God’s plan and to the opportunities that He offers to us, here and hereafter. So homosexual behavior is contrary to those doctrines – has been, always will be – and can never be anything but transgression.” (Purpose of This Website/Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
Here is one excerpt from an “Official Statement,” the Church reaffirming its position on 10 January 2014:
“Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” (Church Instructs Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage – 10 January 2014)
“Thoughts” claims that the Church is okay with homosexual behavior, or at least, that it may move in that direction. These assertions are positively and plainly wrong.
Here are 2 webpages that give the Church’s position on the matter:
In view of “Thoughts” which inaccurately outlined and interpreted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s official doctrine on homosexuality, this paper was primarily an effort to portray that doctrine properly.