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In December 2012, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the launch of a new website, MormonsAndGays.org. The site was designed in an effort to encourage understanding and civil conversation about same-sex attraction, and to dispel myths regarding the Mormon Church’s stance on same-sex attraction.
But eighteen months after the launch of the site, many Church members are not aware of the site, and still get many facts wrong about the Church’s official positions. Entitled, Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction, the site features a number of videos from people who share real experiences from their own perspectives on what can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Because we don’t understand everything about this subject it is wise to stick to the revealed word of God as found in the scriptures. What we do know is that the doctrine of the Church—that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married—has not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same-gender attraction.”
“As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate,” Elder Quentin L. Cook said. “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.”
There are still many misunderstandings and myths regarding same-sex attraction. Sadly, these misconceptions can be very harmful to others. The following myths are all corrected on MormonAndGays.org or Mormon Newsroom. The information provided below is not paraphrased, but are direct quotes from the site, with the name of the General Authority that said it, or the section title on the site, or linked to articles on Mormon Newsroom.
Myth #1: Same-sex attraction is a sin.
Same-sex attraction is a reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. It’s important to remember a few things that people don’t always understand or remember. And that is that homosexual behavior is not the unforgiveable sin. The atonement and repentance can bring full forgiveness there, and peace. And secondly, I’d say though we don’t know everything we know enough to be able to say that same-sex attraction in and of itself is not a sin. The feeling, the desire is not classified the same as homosexual behavior itself. And the third point I would mention is that when people have those desires and same-sex attractions, our attitude is “stay with us.” I think that’s what God is saying “Stay with me.” And that’s what we want to say in the Church: “Stay with us.”- Elder D. Todd Christofferson.
Myth #2: Same-sex attraction is a choice.
Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
No one fully knows the root causes of same-sex attraction. Each experience is different. Latter-day Saints recognize the enormous complexity of this matter. – “Being True to Religious Beliefs”
“That’s where our doctrine comes into play. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman: Same-Gender Attraction.”
“Whether it is nature or nurture really begs the important question, and a preoccupation with nature or nurture can, it seems to me, lead someone astray from the principles that Elder Oaks has been describing here. Why somebody has a same-gender attraction… who can say? But what matters is the fact that we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important.” Elder Lance Wickman, “Interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman: Same-Gender Attraction.”
Myth #3: Gay is a disease.
We recognize in each other our common needs for intimacy and companionship and can discuss them without shame or rejection. Attraction to those of the same sex, however, should not be viewed as a disease or illness. – Elder Christofferson.
Myth #4: The Church has changed its position on same-sex attraction.
There shouldn’t be a perception or an expectation that the Church’s doctrines or position have changed or are changing. It’s simply not true, and we want youth and all people to understand that. The doctrines that relate to human sexuality and gender are really central to our theology. And marriage between a man and a woman, and the families that come from those marriages – that’s all central to God’s plan and to the opportunities that He offers to us, here and hereafter. - Elder Christofferson.
Myth #5: Gay men should marry a straight woman and have children.
We don’t counsel people that heterosexual marriage is a panacea. – Elder Christofferson
Myth #6: With counseling and/or effort, all individuals with same-sex attraction can be fixed.
You’ll see in some of these experiences that are related on [MormonAndGays.org] that [counseling] has been a successful experience in a few cases, or some have expressed the success they’ve found in marriage and in raising a family and in the joy and all that has filled out and blessed their lives as a consequence. But that, we know, is not always true. It’s not always successful. Sometimes it’s been even disastrous. So, we think it’s something that each person can evaluate and they can discuss, both with priesthood leaders and family and others, and make decisions. But we simply don’t take a uniform position of saying “yes” always or “no” always. One thing that’s always important is to recognize the feelings of a person, that they are real, that they are authentic, that we don’t deny that someone feels a certain way.