Mormonism and gender issues/Same-sex attraction/Association
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Is it OK to be friends with people who have homosexual feelings? Is it true that the Church teaches people with same-sex attraction should not associate with each other?
It would be more difficult for anyone to live the law of chastity if they choose to focus their time with people who flaunt their tendencies to break the law of chastity. Friends should be carefully selected, and there are many people with same-sex attraction who lead constructive, righteous lives to choose from.
No. This is not true.
Many members with same-sex attraction associate with each other through Evergreen. While the Church is not officially affiliated with Evergreen, it sends a general authority to its annual conference, and many bishops refer their members to Evergreen and attend themselves.
While we are not positive where this accusation comes from, it may be from this portion of the God Loveth His Children pamphlet.
- In addition to filling your garden with positive influences, you must also avoid any influence that can harm your spirituality. One of these adverse influences is obsession with or concentration on same-gender thoughts and feelings. It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion. It is better to choose as friends those who do not publicly display their homosexual feelings. The careful selection of friends and mentors who lead constructive, righteous lives is one of the most important steps to being productive and virtuous. Association with those of the same gender is natural and desirable, so long as you set wise boundaries to avoid improper and unhealthy emotional dependency, which may eventually result in physical and sexual intimacy. There is moral risk in having so close a relationship with one friend of the same gender that it may lead to vices the Lord has condemned. Our most important relationships are with our own families because our ties to them can be eternal.
There are plenty of people with same-sex attraction to associate with who lead constructive, righteous lives and are not inappropriate in their sexual display. This isn't advice not to associate with anyone who has same-sex attraction. In fact it says associating with people who are righteous is important. In a similar fashion, it would not be wise to spend time with someone who is obsessed with or flaunts their tendency towards pornography or promiscuity, especially if you are struggling with those tendencies yourself. There is a difference between associating with people who have a common tendency and who are working on overcoming that tendency, and associating with people who indulge in that tendency. It is like the difference between a person trying to overcome their tendency towards drinking alcohol by going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting versus a bar. In both places the person will associate with other people who have the tendency to drink alcohol, but in the first group, they are trying to overcome that tendency.
Another thing to keep in mind is that saying it is better to choose friends with similar standards does not mean you cannot ever associate with people who have different standards than you do. We often hear that we are in the world, but not of the world. Even if you have a family member, friend, or coworker who is inappropriate in their sexual display, that does not mean that you cannot ever associate with that person. There is a way to maintain your own integrity while interacting with people who have different standards.