The Church’s new website dealing with the issue of same-sex attraction, Mormonsandgays.org, begins with a statement of the church’s official position on homosexual sexual activity:
The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even thought 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.
The website itself centers on the need for church members and families to extend compassion, love, and intelligent understanding of the internal feelings and perceptions we call “same sex attraction” and deal in a Christ-like manner with those under the influence of or susceptible to those feelings and desires. The comments and vignettes on the website are oriented toward the negotiation of our relations with those who perceive themselves as homosexual in orientation in a way that manifests both love and acceptance of these children of our Father in Heaven in an ontological sense; as individual souls of equal worth to Him as much as ourselves.
Beyond such fundamental ontological considerations of being as being, or, that is to say, as sons and daughters of God in his image comprising both our spirit and physical bodies and the fundamental intelligent essence or elemental nucleus of our consciousness and sentience, uncreated and co-eternal with God himself, there is the consideration of the accretions acquired in mortality that become a part of that eternal spirit entity in its journey of progression and experience through a “probationary” state in the mortal and fallen sphere. In this, the church, the organizational, societal, and governing Kingdom of God on earth responsible for and tasked through divine authorization with the perfecting of the Saints, the preaching of the gospel, and the redemption of the dead, is Zion, a place of safety and refuge, and an “ensign to the nations” of the truth and the requirements of salvation and exaltation, the purpose for which the church and its fundamental unit, the family, exists.
The website’s fundamental purpose is to express “the feelings of Church leaders as to how we should treat each other as part of the human family” and as a place where ” people who’s lives are impacted by attraction to the same sex can find inspiration to work through difficult challenges while remaining faithful to Church teachings.
This is key, because unlike either the surrounding politically correct popular and political culture, and unlike some within the church who are not seeking only compassion and Christ-like love in dealing with homosexuality but compromise with homosexuality itself as a state of mind, mode of relationship, and body of sexual practices, the church has articulated a clear and consistent demarcation line between love, understanding, and compassion, and tolerance, and between tolerance and the use of the terms love, compassion, and tolerance as weapons of capitulation to Babylon, which has its own distinctive interpretations of these terms and their meanings.
Despite all of the hopeful talk among those who see in the Church only another emerging golden calf forged in the fires of the generational and popular imperatives of popular political correctness about how the church is “evolving” and “changing” from within regarding homosexuality qua homosexuality, the website itself belies no change in doctrine or principle, but only approach and affect:
The Church’s approach to this issue stands apart from society in man ways, and that’s alright. Reasonable people can and do differ. From a public relations perspective it would be easier for the Church to simply accept homosexual behavior. That we cannot do, for God’s law is not ours to change.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in a now well-known discussion of the issue, clarified and articulated the gospel standards and church position on the subject:
Applying the First Presidency’s distinction to the question of same-sex relationships, we should distinguish between (1) homosexual (or lesbian) “thoughts and feelings” (which should be resisted and redirected), and (2) “homosexual behavior” (which is a serious sin).
Further, Edler Oaks distinguishes, for the purposes of gospel principles, between same-sex attraction (what has come to be called sexual “orientation” and homosexual practices:
We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.
Feelings are another matter. Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of “nature and nurture.” All of us have some feelings we did not choose, but the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts or to engage in sinful behavior.
The church then is not “evolving,” as per the statements of a recent prominent Mormon in the public square, as to its doctrine, principles, and core teachings regarding the law of chastity, which is applicable to all, heterosexual and homosexual, regardless of whatever complex innate biases may or may not be present from individual to individual, but modifying its approach or negotiation of the problem among it members and prospective members, a vast and critical difference.
The law of chastity itself is the foundation of all principles and standards relative to human sexuality, its purpose, meaning, and boundaries. As Elder David A. Bednar has made so succinctly clear, this principle is a part of the elemental foundation of the plan of salvation and essential to its ultimate purpose, the bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man.” Elder Bednar said, quoting Elder Oaks:
“The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan. …
“Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women”
The standard of sexual morality (not how we may feel or perceive things from a subjective point of view due to a complex, dynamic interplay of biological, psychological, emotional, or psychosomatic variables), is unvarying and eternal: (emphasis mine)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.
Now, as comparison and contrast, we might look at the fundamental propositions asserted by Affirmation, to see if their philosophy and standpoint is in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ and its core principles governing human sexual expression:
- We affirm that sexual orientation, identity, and expression are special gifts from God and that we are all children of loving Heavenly Parents
- We believe that our lives and relationships can be compatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation, and that LGBT individuals are a special part of God’s Creation
- We reject the concept that orientation and identity can be changed and believe that same sex relationships are entitled to the same recognition and blessings as heterosexual relationships
1. Sexual orientation (and by implication, any sexual orientation (LGBT) , identity (self-definition relative to sexual orientation as inherent features of the self), and the relationships, in an unqualified sense (emotional, psychological, and sexual) associated with orientation and identity, are “a special part of God’s creation.”
2. Homosexuals’ “lives” (this is unclear, but would seem to indicate a universal application) and relationships – and again, this must include sexual – are “compatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation” and the LGBT body of sexual orientations and/or, in theory, subsets or combinations of them, are here asserted to be “special” aspects of “God’s creation,” which seems to imply that homosexuality, bisexuality etc. were created by God as special or alternate human types as a matter of God’s purposes and intention.
3. Homosexual/bisexual/lesbian/transsexual “relationships” are “entitled” to “the same recognition and blessings as heterosexual relationships,” which would imply, for the church and its central truth claims that practicing homosexuals could be married, both civilly in church buildings by church ecclesiastical leaders and in LDS temples, could engage in sexual relations without concern for their membership or other religious discipline, be ordained and serve in church leadership capacity, such as bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents etc., and be recognized as faithful Latter-day Saints in all salient ways.
This group asks, in other words, that the law of chastity be negated, and negated absolutely, for themselves within the sphere of their own particular psycho-sexual perceptions and feelings and that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexualism be absorbed into the church as morally, culturally, and metaphysically equal to heterosexual relationships and the institutions central to it, principally marriage and the raising of children. This would, of course, require a thorough redefinition and reworking of church doctrine and standards as to gender, gender roles, and the nature, purpose, and meaning of both marriage and family that would have both deep cultural implications as well as, from a doctrinal perspective, eternal consequences, requiring as well further substantial reconceptualizations of central theological propositions.
The implications of this change, we shall perhaps explore in a future discussion.