Mormonism and gender issues/Same-sex attraction

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The Church is accused of rejecting people who experience same-sex attraction.

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  • The Church is accused of rejecting people who experience same-sex attraction.
  • The Church is accused of rejecting people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to these questions

Gordon B. Hinckley, "Why We Do Some of the Things We Do," Ensign, (Nov 1999)

I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group. As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to these questions

Dallin H. Oaks, "Same-Gender Attraction," Ensign, (Oct 1995)

[W]e should always distinguish between sinful acts and inappropriate feelings or potentially dangerous susceptibilities. We should reach out lovingly to those who are struggling to resist temptation. The First Presidency did this in their 14 November 1991 letter. After reaffirming the sinful nature of “fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior,” the Presidency added: “Individuals and their families desiring help with these matters should seek counsel from their bishop, branch president, stake or district president. We encourage Church leaders and members to reach out with love and understanding to those struggling with these issues. Many will respond to Christlike love and inspired counsel as they receive an invitation to come back and apply the atoning and healing power of the Savior.

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The Church does not reject those who experience same-sex attraction. It is possible to experience same-sex attraction and be a faithful member in full fellowship. If those feelings take the form of an intimate physical relationship, then this is considered a sin in the same manner as when heterosexual feelings take the form of an intimate physical relationship outside of marriage.

FairMormon Perspectives offers answers to these questions

Joshua Johanson"Navigating the Labyrinth Surrounding Homosexual Desire," Proceedings of the 2012 FAIR Conference (August 2012)

There is a labyrinth surrounding homosexuality that is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. More and more it seems the two sides are talking past each other. I chose the title of Navigating the Labyrinth Surrounding Homosexual Desire because I think understanding the difference between having same-sex attractions and having homosexual desires is key to understanding how to navigate this labyrinth.

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Mormonism and gender issues: Same-sex attraction

  • Bullying and unkindness
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that LDS teachings against homosexual acts lead to bullying of gay youth or unchristian treatment of members or non-members with same-sex attraction. The Church has consistently taught that all people are children of God, and ought to be treated with love, dignity, and respect. They have specifically mentioned people with same-sex attraction, including those who act on their attractions. (Click here for full article)
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  • Are family members taught to reject their LGBT children forcing many of them to become homeless?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed the LDS church encourages families to reject youth who are attracted to the same sex, identify as gay or participate in homosexual behavior, leading to a higher rate of homeless youth among Mormon families. In fact, LGBT youth nationwide are homeless at a higher rate than other youth regardless of religious affiliation. No causal connection has ever been made between being LDS, LGBT, and homeless. Furthermore, LDS scripture makes clear that parents have a duty to care for their children regardless of the circumstances. (Click here for full article)
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  • Church support of non-discrimination ordinances
    Brief Summary: Since the Church teaches that homosexual conduct is sinful, does this mean it opposes efforts to protect those who engage in homosexual acts? The Church sustains the principle that all citizens are equal before the law. Members of the Church are particularly sensitized to this issue because of their long history of persecution at the hands of private citizens and government agents in the nineteenth century. Even though Church members may disagree with the choices made by those who engage in homosexual acts, the Church has endorsed various measures to ensure fair treatment and others who are attracted to the same sex. (Click here for full article)
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  • Difficulties
    Brief Summary: Church leaders have encouraged members to be particularly kind and compassionate to those struggling with SSA. What are some of the unique challenges or difficulties faced by such members? (Click here for full article)
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  • Persist beyond death?
    Brief Summary: Does attraction to the same sex persist beyond death? (Click here for full article)
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     [needs work]
  • Eternal fate of those unmarried?
    Brief Summary: In his article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, James T. Duke explains the LDS doctrine on this subject: "People who live a worthy life but do not marry in the temples, for various reasons beyond their control, which might include not marrying, not having heard the gospel, or not having a temple available so that the marriage could be sealed for eternity, will at some time be given this opportunity. Latter-day Saints believe it is their privilege and duty to perform these sacred ordinances vicariously for deceased progenitors, and for others insofar as possible." (Click here for full article)
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  • Marriage as therapy?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Church leaders have advocated that those with same-sex attraction marry those of the opposite sex as part of the "therapy" for overcoming their same-sex desires or inclinations. The prophets and general authorities have, in their written statements, long been clear that marriage is not to be seen as a "treatment" for same-sex attraction. (Click here for full article)
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  • Marriage as a possibility
    Brief Summary: It is claimed it is harmful for Church leaders to allow those with same-sex attraction to voluntarily enter into a marriage. The Church has warned against entering into a marriage under false pretense, but there is no evidence that when done openly and honestly, these types of marriages fair any worse than other types of marriages. (Click here for full article)
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  • Why do some people have same-sex attraction?
    Brief Summary: What have past and present Church leaders taught about why some people are attracted to the same sex? The Church does not have an official position on the causes for same-sex attraction. Many Church leaders have indicated that we do not know the cause(s), and that this is a question for science. (Click here for full article)
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  • President Boyd K. Packer's October 2010 conference talk
    Brief Summary: On October 10, 2010, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke during the Church's semi-annual general conference. Portions of President Packer's talk caused a firestorm of protest and, often, misrepresentation. This article examines President Packer's address, and compares it to past talks given by President Packer. As will be seen, President Packer's address has been misunderstood and misrepresented. (Click here for full article)
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    • Critics' tactics
      Brief Summary: Given that same-sex attraction is a charged issue with political overtones, it is not surprising that some sincerely misunderstood President Packer's talk. Just as there are those who could sincerely misunderstand President Packer's talk, there are those who choose, for whatever reason, to purposely misunderstand. (Click here for full article)
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  • Terminology
    Brief Summary: Why does FairMormon (and other LDS sources) typically refer to homosexual/gay/lesbian issues with such terms as "same-sex attraction" and heterosexual/straight issues with such terms as "opposite-sex attraction"? (Click here for full article)
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  • Can a person identify as gay or lesbian and still be a member of the Church in good standing?
    Brief Summary: It is asserted that: 1) Members are encouraged to lie about their sexual orientation, 2) This isolates them from other members, and 3) Denying your sexual identity is harmful. Those who identify as straight, gay or bisexual are welcome in the Church and can go on as all other members. When a person joins the Church, they take upon themselves the name of Christ. We are taught to shun any identity which conflicts with this identity. The Church recognizes that a person's orientation is a core characteristic, but emphasizes that it is not the only one. We are encouraged not to identify ourselves primarily by our sexual feelings, but this is different than being closeted. We are not encouraged to lie or pretend to have another sexual orientation. This counsel extends to all, regardless of sexual orientation. (Click here for full article)
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  • Aversion therapy performed at BYU in the 1970's
    Brief Summary: What was the history of BYU and aversion therapy for treating homosexuality in the 1970's? How did that relate to medical and psychological science as understood at that time? What was the role of the Church in BYU's treatments? (Click here for full article)
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  • Are members with same-sex attraction encouraged to be closeted or lie about their attractions?
    Brief Summary: Member with same-sex attractions are not encouraged to lie or hide their sexual attractions or to isolate themselves from others. All members are encouraged to avoid labels and not to identify themselves primarily by their sexual feelings. However, there is a difference between not identifying yourself primarily by your sexual feelings, and being "closeted". A person can be honest, share their feelings with others and be comfortable with who they are, including their sexuality, while still realizing that they are first and foremost a child of God. (Click here for full article)
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  • What are the ramifications from denying a gay identity?
    Brief Summary: Critics argue that in order to be happy and healthy, a person with same-sex attraction needs to identify as gay and have a same-sex relationship. The church encourages members to view themselves as sons and daughters of God, and discourages any identity that interferes with that identity. Members who refer to themselves as straight, gay or lesbian are free to go on as all other members, but are advised not to identify themselves primarily by their sexual feelings. (Click here for full article)
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  • Feelings versus acts
    Brief Summary: What have past and present Church leaders taught about the distinction (if any) between sexual temptations, desires, feelings, or inclinations, and sexual acts? (Click here for full article)
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  • Being able to associate with people with same-sex attraction
    Brief Summary: Does the church allow people with same-sex attraction to associate with each other? (Click here for full article)
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  • Did Christ teach against same-sex relationships during his mortal ministry?
    Brief Summary: Some critics have asserted that our stance on same-sex relationships are not substantiated by the teachings of Christ during his mortal minstry. This is not the case. Christ taught a very strict law for sexual morality. He taught against sexual relationships outside of marriage and that marriage was between a man and a woman. While he did not specifically teach against the modern concept of same-sex relationships, he was clear that the only legitimate expression of sexuality was in a marriage between a man and woman. (Click here for full article)
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  • Why wasn't the prohibition against same-sex relationships recinded when the rest of the law of Moses was recinded?
    Brief Summary: While the law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ, Christ specifically taught against fornication and adultery, which would include same-sex relationships. After Peter received a vision that the law of Moses had been fulfilled, the prohibition against fornication remained intact. (Click here for full article)
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  • Early LDS did not oppose homosexual acts?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith and other nineteenth century Mormons were not strenuously opposed to same-sex acts or intimacy, and that the modern Church's opposition to homosexual conduct is a later aberration. Historian D. Michael Quinn's book, Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example is almost solely responsible for this claim. Quinn's methodology and conclusions are shoddy, and have been severely criticized by LDS and non-LDS historians. (Click here for full article)
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  • False analogy between same-sex marriage and the priesthood ban
    Brief Summary: An examination and comparison of the differences between the way the Church approaches same-sex attraction as opposed to the Priesthood ban. (Click here for full article)
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  • False analogy between same-sex marriage and plural marriage
    Brief Summary: An examination and comparison of the differences between the way the Church approaches same-sex attraction as opposed to plural marriage. (Click here for full article)
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  • Latter-day Saints and California Proposition 8
    Brief Summary: The passage of California Proposition 8 during the November 2008 election has generated a number of criticisms of the Church regarding a variety of issues including the separation of church and state, the Church's position relative to people who experience same-sex attraction, accusations of bigotry by members, and the rights of a non-profit organization to participate in the democratic process on matters not associated with elections of candidates. (Click here for full article)
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Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

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