Addressing same-sex attraction
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that same-sex attraction is a sensitive issue that requires kindness, compassion and understanding. The website mormonsandgays.com strives to address, through interviews and videos from Church leaders and members, the issue of same-sex attraction as it relates to individuals and affected family members. The statements and stories emphasize the importance of Christ’s commandment to love one another and reaffirm the Church’s position.
The Church’s doctrinal position is clear: Sexual activity should occur only between a man and a woman who are married. However, that should never be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.[i]
In short, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms the centrality of doctrines relating to human sexuality and gender as well as the sanctity and significance of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.[ii] However, the Church firmly believes that all people are equally beloved children of God and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Church apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook stated: “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”[iii]
The divine institution of marriage
The Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and behavior. While maintaining that feelings and inclinations toward the same sex are not inherently sinful, engaging in homosexual behavior is in conflict with the “doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture … that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”[iv]
Because the Church believes that the sacred powers of procreation are “to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife, … any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family.” Accordingly, the Church favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. However, “protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not remove Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people.”[v]
The Church’s affirmation of marriage as being between a man and a woman “neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.”[vi] On the contrary, many Church leaders have spoken clearly about the love and respect with which all people are to be treated. Former Church president Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) told members who are attracted to the same sex: “Our hearts reach out to [you]. We remember you before the Lord, we sympathize with you, we regard you as our brothers and sisters.” President Boyd K. Packer affirmed: “We do not reject you. … We cannot reject you. … We will not reject you, because we love you.”
The Church has advocated for rights for same-sex couples regarding “hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.”[vii] In Salt Lake City, for example, the Church supported ordinances aimed at protecting gay residents from discrimination in housing and employment. [viii]
Gospel of love
The gospel of Jesus Christ is based on love, respect and agency. Mormons believe that all humans have inherited strengths, weaknesses, challenges and blessings and are invited to live, through the help and grace of God, the principles revealed by Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains that “God’s universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgment of our shared human dignity. We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.”[ix]
- A collection of conversations with Church leaders and others on the topic of same-sex attraction.
- Interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Lance B. Wickman regarding the Church’s stance toward same-sex attraction and marriage.
- The Church’s official response to a petition issued by the Human Rights Campaign.
- The Divine Institution of Marriage: a document produced by the Church that builds understanding of the importance of marriage.
- The Family: A Proclamation to the World. This proclamation, released by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995, emphasizes the importance of the family.
- Same-Sex Marriage and Proposition 8: a compilation of resources to help the news media, the public and Church members better understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ involvement in supporting Proposition 8.
- God Loveth His Children: a pamphlet produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that addresses those experiencing same-sex attraction.
[ii] Elder Christofferson, quoted on “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” mormonsandgays.com
[iii]Elder Cook, quoted on “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” mormonsandgays.com
[iv] “First Presidency Statement on Same-Gender Marriage.” http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/first-presidency-statement-on-same-gender-marriage
[vi] Mormon Newsroom: “Church Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Votes,” http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-same-sex-marriage-votes