Mormons preach love for LGBT members, but no doctrinal shift

Members of the Mormons Building Bridges march during the Utah Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City. June 2, 2013 | Photo by Rick Bowmer via Associated Press, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon leaders are telling gay and lesbian members in a new website launched Tuesday that attraction to people of the same-sex isn’t a sin or a measure of their faithfulness, but reminding them that acting on those feelings by having sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that will not change.

The message is part of a “Mormon and Gay” church website that includes dozens of articles, teachings, videos and stories from church members who identify themselves as gay and lesbian. It is a remake of a site first created nearly four years ago that marked the religion’s most significant outreach to gays and lesbians.

FILE -  Elder L. Tom Perry, left, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shakes hands with Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams after Utah lawmakers introduced a landmark anti-discrimination bill during a news conference at the Utah State Capitol. Mormon leaders are telling gay and lesbian church members that attraction to people of the same sex is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness. But they are reminding those members that acting on those feelings by having sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that won't change. The message is part of the Mormon church's "Mormon and Gay" website launched Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, with dozens of articles, teachings, videos and stories from Mormons who identify themselves as gay. Salt Lake City, Utah, March 4, 2015 |  AP Photo by Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News
FILE – Elder L. Tom Perry, left, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shakes hands with Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams after Utah lawmakers introduced a landmark anti-discrimination bill during a news conference at the Utah State Capitol. Mormon leaders are telling gay and lesbian church members that attraction to people of the same sex is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness. But they are reminding those members that acting on those feelings by having sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that won’t change. The message is part of the Mormon church’s “Mormon and Gay” website launched Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, with dozens of articles, teachings, videos and stories from Mormons who identify themselves as gay. Salt Lake City, Utah, March 4, 2015 | AP Photo by Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News

The website is designed to encourage compassion and acceptance for LGBT people and strike a softer tone on an issue that has led to criticism of the conservative Utah-based The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently.

“There is no change in the church’s position of what is morally right,” church leader Dallin H. Oaks said on the website. “But what is changing and what needs to change is helping church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other church members, or elsewhere.”

The Mormon church is one of many conservative faith groups staunchly upholding theological opposition to same-sex relationships amid widespread social acceptance and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in the US last year, while attempting to foster a compassionate stance toward LGBT people.

After the church suffered intense criticism for helping lead the fight in 2008 for California’s Proposition 8 constitutional ban on gay marriage passed by voters, the religion spent the next several years carefully carving out a more empathetic tone on LGBT issues.

That trajectory was interrupted, however, when the church last year adopted new rules banning children living with gay parents from being baptized until they are 18. The move triggered a new wave of outrage from LGBT members and straight members pushing for more acceptance.

The church is not changing that policy or its opposition to same-sex marriage with the new website, which is intended to be a resource and provide hope for LGBT members, their families and friends, said L. Whitney Clayton, a member of the religion’s second-tier world leadership council called the Quorum of the Seventy.

“We hope it will help people minister to one another,” Clayton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “That it will increase love, that it will help increase hope.”

FILE - People gather for a mass resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon leaders are telling gay and lesbian church members that attraction to people of the same sex is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness. But they are reminding those members that acting on those feelings by having sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that won't change. The message is part of the Mormon church's "Mormon and Gay" website launched Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, with dozens of articles, teachings, videos and stories from Mormons who identify themselves as gay. Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 14, 2015 | AP Photo by Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News
FILE – People gather for a mass resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon leaders are telling gay and lesbian church members that attraction to people of the same sex is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness. But they are reminding those members that acting on those feelings by having sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that won’t change. The message is part of the Mormon church’s “Mormon and Gay” website launched Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, with dozens of articles, teachings, videos and stories from Mormons who identify themselves as gay. Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 14, 2015 | AP Photo by Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News

The website includes stories of two young Mormons who identify as gay who have chosen to remain single and celibate despite hardship, loneliness and struggles so they can serve missions and remain as fully participating members of the church rather than risk being kicked out. They both say receiving unconditional support and love from family was vital for them.

The church also advises that sexual attraction does not completely define a person.

“There are active church members who experience same-sex attraction and never choose to identify themselves using a label. Our primary identity will always be as a child of God,” the website says.

The church acknowledges on the website that suppressing feelings about being attracted to the same sex can lead to shame and negative internal dialogue. But it advises people to “prayerfully” consider who they tell if they decide to come out.

“Sharing those feelings with a trusted confidant can be liberating and healing,” the website says. “Some, however, wish they had waited longer or at least limited the number of people to whom they disclosed their feelings, so this decision shouldn’t be based on yielding to pressure to ‘come out’ publicly or openly identify as gay.”

In a frequently asked questions section, the church poses the question, “If I’m faithful enough, will my attractions go away?”

“The intensity of same-sex attraction is not a measure of your faithfulness,” it answers. “Many people pray for years and do all they can to be obedient in an effort to reduce same-sex attraction, yet find they are still attracted to the same sex.”

It adds: “For some, feelings of same-sex attraction, or at least the intensity of those feelings, may diminish over time. In any case, a change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.”

Written by: BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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29 Comments

  • Pheo October 25, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    We love you. As long as you take a lifelong vow of celibacy.

    • Brian October 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      No, we love you no matter what you decide, but you have a choice to make: whether or not to act on your feelings. Either choice has consequences.

      This is no different than the choice a married person has to make when they find themselves attracted to anyone other than the person they’re married to, regardless of gender. Or the choice a single person makes when they have similar feelings. Feelings do not justify actions.

      Those struggling with same-gender attraction are in a very, very difficult position. I’m not denying that, and neither is the LDS church. But it’s OK for a church to have standards, and it’s OK for those standards to not change, even if many people change their view. Even if most people change their view.

      Gender plays a foundational role in Christianity, and especially in LDS doctrine. It’s completely foolish to think they’re going to change it. I think the position the LDS church has taken is completely reasonable and fair, but it does require people to decide where they personally stand on the issue.

      • Hunter October 26, 2016 at 8:33 am

        I honestly hope the cruelty in your suggestion is not evident to you, and that you don’t mean it intentionally. When the loving relationship of a spouse is one of the cornerstones to LDS theology, to suggest that anyone forego that because the person they love isn’t the “correct” one in the eyes of the church seems heartless. “Yes, we love you, but please go live a life devoid of the experience of having a loving, committed partner with whom you build a life and upon whom you rely and can rely on you. We think that is an amazing (and REQUIRED) experience…just not for you.”

        Their previous position of shunning you from the church was less cruel than reeling you in and saying you can continue to be a part of it as long as you deny yourself that fundamental human need. Of course, if they shun the person that means that tithing check won’t be rolling in each month…

      • Hunter October 26, 2016 at 8:42 am

        By the way, Brian…the standards have changed many times. To imply the LDS church has been unwavering in this matter is foolish. And, each time they change they tend to affect people in all sorts of new cruel ways. Many of us remember the days of the wonderful electroshock therapy at BYU, or what about when they used to tell us to just get married to a woman and the Lord would cure us (which still happens even though they say it doesn’t)? Those were very real positions the LDS leaders took, but that the church now says are not appropriate solutions. The problem with most apologists in this matter is that they make it black and white, but in reality people are all sorts of messy shades of grey and other colors…and honestly, so is the church. The sooner its leaders learn to embrace that, rather than fear it, they’ll be closer to the true doctrine of Jesus Christ than they’ve ever been.

        • Bob October 26, 2016 at 11:54 am

          you must’ve been a hardcore mormon believer. I agree with u, the LDS church should just blatantly say “gays are not welcome, period”. Stuff like this website just makes the LDS religion all the more dysfunctional

          • Bob October 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm

            there should be a ‘relief society’ class for the young women about how to avoid marrying a gay mormon man, also. I’ve read many stories about that ending in disaster, and it’s the kids from that dysfunctional setup that pay for it. Mormonism is dysfunctional enough without bringing gay agendas into the mix. Anyway, the entire foundation of mormonism is based on having hoards of kids(future tithe payers)–gays trying to fit into that fold just creates chaos.

          • Hunter October 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

            Often, they tell the man not to disclose this to his soon-to-be wife. Their statements are that it will be irrelevant because as soon as you pull her through the veil you’ll be “cured.”

          • Bob October 26, 2016 at 4:26 pm

            all the more reason the young ladies need the class i mentioned, lol. Straight women marrying gay men is one of the more bizarre things that happens within mormonism and its not as rare as one would think

          • .... October 27, 2016 at 6:29 am

            Actually people like you Bob make it dysfunctional

        • GuySmiley October 26, 2016 at 10:06 pm

          Well put, Hunter. The LDS Church just changes policy (and doctrine….and temple ordinances) to maintain its image with society and sustain its growth. Yet they say God does not change. Organized religion is just a mosaic of ancient, altered, scripture “mingled with the precepts” opinions, ideas and imaginations of influencial, practiced men.

    • Bob October 25, 2016 at 8:41 pm

      when u think about it, one who is celibate with same-sex-attraction isn’t actually gay or a homosexual. its the act not the thought

      • Hunter October 26, 2016 at 8:45 am

        So, the only thing that makes you heterosexual is the act of intercourse? What about cases where a man cannot attain an erection and have sex? What if a man or woman experienced genital mutilation and intercourse is not (or no longer) possible? Does that mean they are no longer heterosexual?

        • Bob October 26, 2016 at 12:21 pm

          its the act not the thought

          • Hunter October 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm

            That’s contrary to just about every scientific position on human sexuality. I get what you’re saying from a theological standpoint, but isn’t it true that Christianity often teaches that impure thoughts are a sin to be avoided?

          • Bob October 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm

            lol nope, i’m not being theological at all. can’t be a ‘real homosexual’ ’til they done the deed, lol. they might move their fantasies into reality and find they truly are not homosexual at all. Christianity teaches that everyone is a sinner, lol

          • .... October 26, 2016 at 11:49 pm

            Oh oh Dumbob is wearing his tin foil hat !

  • Sapphire October 25, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Mormons don’t allow smoking or drinking either… so what? Doesn’t mean they hate smokers or drinkers… if you want to be a Mormon there are certain things you do and don’t do just like any other religion. Gays, if you don’t like what a religion teaches, find another religion… maybe not Christian because the Bible is pretty clear on gays. Stop trying to force everyone to think the way you do. Talk about a narcissistic bunch of people. No one on earth has any rights but them. This one world order where everyone has to be approved clones has got to stop. Find someone with similar interests and leave others alone!

    • Hunter October 26, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Yes, go tell that to the 15 or 16 year old gay young man who was raised in the Church and whose entire family relationship, social circle and identity is built around being Mormon (not by choice, mind you…he was indoctrinated from birth). Tell him the answer is simple: just go find another religion. I’m sure that all the years of hearing from his family, church leaders and young men’s leaders that the ONLY way to be saved is to go on a mission, marry a woman in the temple, produce children, etc. won’t mean a thing. It will be an easy transition for him and his family, I’m sure.

      • Sapphire October 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm

        Well I guess you don’t believe in free choice. Much better to be a victim than be proactive in one’s life? There are certain behaviors I like to be around and others that I don’t, and I choose my company accordingly. I can think of more important things for a child to be worried about than who he or she is going to have sex with eventually. Teens of any preference should be concerned with education, developing skills, enjoying their remainder of their childhood and parents should encourage that. They need to be taught to make reasonable decisions and accept consequences for those decisions.

  • Bob October 25, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    gays don’t belong in mormonism. neither do “transgenders” or any other lgbtq-rstuvwxyz group. the mormon leadership is having to be very crafty about how they pander to the younger crowd, who by a majority are tolerant of homosexual lifestyles. in a way, its kind of funny to watch them squirm. religions are a dying thing in the west–go in any church besides mormons and u can usually count the younger folks on 1 or 2 hands.

    • .... October 26, 2016 at 12:37 am

      Awwwww poor little Bob the Mormons have hurt your feelings. ..!

  • ladybugavenger October 26, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    They should not change their stance on lgbtqwxyz and they should also love criminals too but take a stand that murder, rape, stealing and so on, is against God….seperation of church and state

    • Hunter October 26, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      I’m sure you maintained the same steadfastness on another key issue of sin leading up to 1978, too. And, my guess is even though God changed his mind, you probably haven’t.

      • ladybugavenger October 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm

        I have no clue what you just said. God doesn’t change.

        And in 1978 I was watching Saturday morning cartoons living in a house that never acknowledged God and went to the whole custody exchange every other weekend to people who went to Lutheran church every Sunday and I not once heard the name Jesus come out of their mouth either.

        So, what did you say? It makes no sense to me. And no I don’t go to church. Doesn’t matter what church I went to they all ended up the same clicks, money, and power- that ain’t Godly. Where’s the love for the broken little ladybug? It wasn’t in people that go to church. Amen. God Bless America! Trump for President!

      • ladybugavenger October 26, 2016 at 6:57 pm

        I went to the dark side so I could see the light. Nothing you say will make waiver from Jesus is Lord, Amen.

  • ProudAmerican October 26, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Hunter,
    You of all should know being raised young in the church that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. You can’t blame the LDS religion or any religion for the change of lifestyle you are feeling. You need to contact the LGBT COMMUNITY and find someone that can talk to you that understands what you are feeling. Contact your school counselor if you can’t talk at home but don’t blame your parents, religion or anyone for your lifestyle you are feeling. You are not alone. EVERYTHING DOESN’T JUST COME TO A SCREECHING CHANGE BECAUSE YOUR LGBT!!

  • ladybugavenger October 26, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I was hated for being born…true story

    Soooo, it blows me away how everyone is crying people hate them for this or that and they get a support group…and I totally know what hate feels like. Support group for ladybugavenger

    Its a miracle ladybug didn’t od on drugs, committ suicide, or spend life in prison…..Praise the Lord.

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