Mormonism and gender issues/Same-sex attraction/Marriage
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- What is the Church's position on marriage for people with same-sex attraction?
- How does this correspond with modern research?
The Church does not recommend marriage for everyone with same-sex attraction. They recommend being and open and honest before marriage, which correlates with scientific evidence for successful marriages. Even outside the church, people with same-sex attraction are marrying an opposites sex partner at rates higher then those who are committing to a same-sex partner.
The Church encourages all of its members to be open and honest with their spouse. (See Same-sex attraction/Honesty) In particular, they have discouraged members with same-sex attraction from using marriage as personal therapy or from lying in order to get married. However, they have said marriage can be appropriate in certain situations. Elder Oaks stated:
- "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. (See Same-sex attraction/Marriage as therapy)
- 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.
- President Hinckley said that marriage is not a therapeutic step to solve problems."
Some critics have argued that by creating a culture which allows people with same-sex attraction to enter a marriage with a member of the opposite sex, the Church sets up its members for failure and heart-ache.
Some critics have claimed that it is impossible for a man with same-sex attraction to develop a "great attraction" for a daughter of God (or a woman with same-sex attraction to develop a great attraction for a son of God) and therefore marriage is impossible and the Church should stop talking about it.
We know from anecdotal evidence that many people with same-sex attractions have developed an attraction for their spouse. Some people have never had an attraction to the opposite sex, but develop an attraction for their spouse. Other people have always had some level of opposite-sex attraction. (The term same-sex attraction can be applied to anyone who is attracted to the same sex, regardless of intensity or presence of opposite-sex attractions.) Other people have done all they could and have never been able to develop an attraction for the opposite sex. There is a great variety of ways people experience their sexuality, but regardless of the attractions a person experiences now or in the future, everyone can live the gospel, either through marriage or celibacy. To say no one with same-sex attraction can develop an attraction for a potential spouse denies the experience of many people. It would be just as naive as saying everyone with same-sex attraction can develop an attraction for a potential spouse.
Marriages where one spouse is attracted to the same sex are more prone to divorce and dissatisfaction. The Church does not recommend marriage in all cases. For example, the Church recommends being open and honest with a spouse before marriage. Research by Buxton found that if a man with same-sex attraction were to enter a marriage without disclosing their attractions, the marriage had a 85% chance of failure within three years after the sexual attractions were discovered.
Most often, the couple choose not to stay together after the disclosure. However, for those who did try to make their marriages work, they found relatively high success rates after being open and honest. The study concluded:
“The significant finding is that about half of those who tried to make their marriages work succeeded, an important figure for couples who are dismayed by the fifteen percent figure to keep in mind. This low figure is based on all marriages where the husband came out.”
On the other hand, research by Kays found that open and honest communication lead to higher rates of stability and satisfaction in marriage. They found that some of the couples "report having a highly satisfying and stable relationship, similar to that of heterosexual marriages."
Prevalence of marriages
According to the Straight Spouse Network, there are two million opposite-sex marriages in the United States where one of the spouses is attracted to the same sex. According to The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, 3.5% of men married to women and 2.1% of women married to men reported same-sex attraction. Those are people who are actually married. Compare that with US Census Bureau's estimate that there are 646,464 same-sex couples in the United States. This includes both those who consider themselves married and those who do not. While marriage may not work for everyone with same-sex attraction, it seems that even in modern America, more people with same-sex attraction choose committed relationships with people of the opposite sex than with those of the same sex.
It is important to note that these figures include everyone who self-reported having same-sex attraction. It does not include those who did not self report same-sex attraction, nor did it report the degree of same-sex attraction. Same-sex attraction includes both those who only attracted to the same sex as well as those who have attraction to both sexes.