Mormonism and gender issues/Same-sex attraction/Honesty
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Critics claim that:
- Members are encouraged to lie about their sexual orientation
- This encourages dishonesty
- This isolates them from other members
Honesty, inclusion, and fellowship are core values to the Church. No where is there counsel to hide, lie or isolate yourself from others. Members do not have to make their sexual feelings the subject of unnecessary attention in order to be honest with themselves and with others.
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. See Counsel given regarding sexual identity
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.
Counsel is always given within a context. Taking individual counsel out of context of other counsel is bound to lead to a misinterpretation of that counsel. It also helpful to look at which counsel is given the most emphasis, prominence and repetition.
Are members encouraged to be closeted about their sexual feelings?
Throughout LDS scriptures, members are given a commandment to be one. D&C 38:27 reads:
- I say unto you, be one; and if you are not one ye are not mine.
Isolating yourself interfers with the process of being one.
President Monson taught:
- It is important that we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute for it the strength of people working together.
Elder Robert D. Hales taught:
- Why is it that some of us fail to learn the very critical point that we did not come to this life to live it alone? You can’t hide your actions from self and others. Polonius’ advice to his son, Laertes:
- This above all: to thine own self be true,
- And it must follow, as the night the day,
- Thou canst not then be false to any man.
- Hamlet, I, iii, 78–80
- is valid, but must be qualified and expanded to include the concern for how to be true to yourself and your fellowman. The “isolated self” shut off from the Light of Christ makes us become fallible—open to delusion. The balance and perspective which come from caring about others and allowing others to care for us form the essence of life itself.
Not only are members counseled to care for others, but to allow others to care for them. Part of being one is mourning with those that mourn, and comforting those that stand in need of comfort.(Mosiah 18:8) This applies equally to those who have struggled with their sexual attractions, regardless of the orientation. Elder Oaks teaches:
- All should understand that persons (and their family members) struggling with the burden of same-sex attraction are in special need of the love and encouragement that is a clear responsibility of Church members, who have signified by covenant their willingness “to bear one another’s burdens”
Isolating yourself from others and carrying your burdens by yourself intefers with these other commandments. Not only are members allowed to disclose their sexual feelings to others, they are encouraged to share their feelings with the Bishop if they find these feelings to be a struggle.
Are members encouraged to lie about their sexual feelings?
The counsel not to give sexual feelings undue attention is very different than lying about it or completely ignoring it. There has never been any counsel given to members that they should pretend to lust after a group of people that they are not actually lusting after. There is a difference between being prudent in disclosing sensitive topics, such as struggling with lust for either gender, and being dishonest.
Honesty with others and with oneself has always been taught and encouraged in the church. In D&C 97:8, the Lord says the only ones that are acceptable before Him are those who are honest in heart. The 13th Article of Faith teaches that we believe in being honest and true. President Monson taught:
- The oft-repeated adage is ever true: “Honesty [is] the best policy.” A Latter-day Saint young man lives as he teaches and as he believes. He is honest with others. He is honest with himself. He is honest with God. He is honest by habit and as a matter of course.