Some important resources for explaining the Church’s position on same-sex attraction

Most people reading this have had the awkward experience of trying to explain the Church’s standards of homosexuality and same-sex attraction. Let’s face it: it can often be very difficult.

The Church believes that same-sex attraction is not a sin but that same-sex sexual activity is a sin. The Church also supports traditional marriage.

A few stories and recent blog posts may help readers explain the Church’s position.

Most importantly, people should visit the Church’s web site on this issue.

There is an interesting case of two men who live together and were formerly lovers but who now maintain the standards of the Church and are both temple worthy.

As our relationship has changed, I feel a greater love for Kenneth—a love in the purest sense of the word “Christ-like”—than I ever felt when we were in a sexual relationship together. I’ve learned that no kind of love in this world can compare to the pure love of Jesus Christ, the love that is a gift bestowed by God upon those “who are true followers of his son” (Moroni 7:48). We truly love each other truly like I imagine Jesus Christ loved His disciples. I know that the Lord is blessing us and will continue to bless us as we continue to live in accordance with His gospel. There is no greater joy than when we join in prayer throughout our day. Also, being worthy to maintain temple recommends makes our hearts sing. We truly feel blessed in our love and brotherhood since I converted (and Kenneth re-converted) to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can read more about these two men here.

(Gay) Mormon Guy commented on this story today and said:

So the implications follow. The doctrines of the Church support friendship. They support “best” friendship. The commandments establish a standard of morality for those friendships to follow. And any friendships that follow those commandments and help people come into Christ are definitely ok. Including if the people involved were at some time in love.

If every man or woman in the Church had that – a friend who was totally and completely committed to them, who loved them completely and also loved the Lord and understood the role of God and His commandments in love… I think the world would be a better place. We’d have less infidelity in marriage, more love within and without. And fewer people would leave simply because they think that no one understands or cares. Do I think that young men with same-sex attraction should abandon the search for a spouse and instead find a best friend to spend life with? No. Marriage is ordained of God and a crucial part of His eternal plan. It also happens for some men with SSA and not for others. That’s between the individual and the Lord to figure out. Friendship, when it leads us to Christ, is always a good thing.

This story — and Gay Mormon Guy’s reaction to it — point out that we human beings are much, much more than just our sexual desires. The Church’s position — that people do not have to act on their same-sex attractions — seems to resonate with many people.

This was the point of this very interesting talk by Joshua Johnson at the FAIR conference last year. Joshua described himself as a man who has very strong same-sex attraction. He said he has only been sexually attracted to one woman, his wife Alyssa. Bro. Johnson said an overwhelmingly majority of people with same-sex attractions never act on these desires. But he has found a way to create an eternal marriage with his wife.

Last but not least, I would direct readers to LDS Philosopher’s excellent post on why he supports traditional marriage.

None of us should have any illusions about this subject. Believing Mormons will be pilloried and condemned by the world on the subject of same-sex marriage and same-sex attraction. But with some of these resources we may be able to at least explain ourselves well to some of our friends.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

13 thoughts on “Some important resources for explaining the Church’s position on same-sex attraction

  1. Very well said Geoff. We should be under no illusion as you say that our arguments provide any kind of satisfying response to the Gentiles on the question. They do not. Our position is a monastic one, not a pragmatic one, same as the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Tithing, a higher law given to the Saints, for which the rewards are spiritual and eternal in nature.

  2. A very interesting and moving story.

    What I’ve been surprised by over the last 30 years, is how the gay agenda has being trying to co-opt friendship, male companionship, and insisting friendship is only complete when there is a sexual component.

    Thank heavens for brave souls to stand up and say no, particularly those from the ex-gay community.

  3. I’m not so sure the doctrinal standard on chastity has been entirely consistent. As Geoff stated, “The Church believes that same-sex attraction is not a sin but that same-sex sexual activity is a sin.” With this statement, the Church makes a distinction between attraction and activity, where “attraction” is some kind of mental or emotional activity (thought) and “ sexual activity” is some kind of physical action (winking, touching, kissing, yada yada yada). I would argue that attraction often involves fantasy and lustful thoughts and feelings. Matthew 5:28 reads “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”. If you believe this scripture then it follows that committing adultery in one’s heart (lust) is a sin, and, by the same token, same-sex attraction (lust) must also be a sin. Unless you believe we’re no longer held accountable for our thoughts…

  4. Steve, you raise a very interesting point that all people should ponder. I do not claim to have the definitive answer on this subject, but I will take a stab at it. We all have fleeting thoughts that we should not. For example, a married man might meet a pretty young woman and start talking to her and then realize he is flirting kind of automatically. The issue is: what does he do when he comes to a realization that he is flirting? Does he start thinking about things he should not or does he correct his behavior and politely stop flirting? I would say that the first impulse, to flirt, is not a sin. However, it probably becomes a sin when you realize what you are doing *and still do it*. This is how I read Jesus’ admonition. It is not a sin to be nice to a woman if you are a married man. It is a sin to start imagining scenarios, fantasizing, etc.

    Now, here is another interesting point: you may find yourself fantasizing unconsciously. Is that a sin? Again, if you actively are doing it to the point that it interferes with your marriage and you are consumed by this fantasy, it definitely is a sin. But if you fantasize, realize you are doing it, and then stop, then perhaps it is not a sin.

    So, when it comes to people with same-sex attraction, I guess the ideal would be to learn to control your thoughts to the point that you stop fantasizing about the sin. So the initial thoughts may not be sins but if the thoughts take over your life then perhaps it is a sin, even if you don’t act?

    It seems that there is a continuum here from a fleeting thought that immediately goes away or is forced out of your mind (not a sin) to constant obsessive fantasizing (probably is a sin). Because we are all failed and fallen, the goal would be to get to the “not a sin” side of the continuum.

  5. Geoff, your explanation sounds reasonable. We can’t control every errant thought that enters our heads, but it probably approaches the sin threshold depending on the degree to which we entertain certain thoughts. Hopefully our God is reasonable too.

  6. Geoff, again in this instance I believe Church leaders teachings are clear and consistent. The admonition is for us to be in control over our own thoughts, rather than letting our thoughts control us. In the scriptures we are counseled to “…let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly…” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45) President Packer likens our thoughts to a stage performance…

    Have you noticed that without any real intent on your part, in the middle of almost any performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and attract your attention? These delinquent thoughts will try to upstage everybody.

    If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unrighteous thoughts.

    Boyd K. Packer, “Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts”, General Conference, October 1973

    I think the point is not that we are subject to the occasional entrance of such thoughts, but whether we choose to entertain them, and continue to dwell on them, which is obviously what the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament was referring to. This is nothing in particular to do with “same-sex” attraction. Control and direction of personal thought in virtuous channels is a personal challenge for everyone.

  7. For me it helps to remember that the brain isn’t entirely under our conscious control. A lot of its features are fully or partially automated for our convenience including various survival instincts and urges along with a strong tendency to stick to habit instead of pestering us for a brand new decision every three seconds.

    So having a bad thought doesn’t make you a bad person any more than having a car that tends to drift left makes you a bad driver. The real question is what your conscious mind decides to do with the output from the various less-conscious segments of the brain. Discarding an unwanted thought that you didn’t purposely generate is the mental equivalent of turning slightly right to compensate for your car’s flawed steering.

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