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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Do Mormons “Gay Bash” more than others? » Do Mormons “Gay Bash” more than others?

Do Mormons “Gay Bash” more than others?

Don - March 11, 2008

I was talking with one of my sons about how Mormons treat gays. As I thought about and we talked it seems that Mormons in general have almost no tolerance for gays.

His time spent in Utah county re-inforced what he saw as the typical Mormon actions and feelings toward gays. It seems that because we recognize the lifestyle as being sinful, compounded with the doctrine of eternal families that gays are treated differently….than other “sinners”.

Smoking is a sin, but we welcome smokers. Not paying tithing is a sin, but we accept those that rob God. We seem to embrace other sinners, but shun gays….almost like they are contagous. We speak with our lips “hate the sin, love the sinner” but we keep our distance…as if we don’t want our kids exposed to them, or we’re afraid they’ll be looking at our kids with lustful eyes or something. Oh, and we don’t want to have to explain “that” lifestyle to our children either….so we avoid them so that won’t happen.

I had three theater managers that we gay. They were employees and friends. The only time I remember feeling uncomfortable around any of them was when we were at a resturant and one of them kissed his companion. The son I was talking with has had several gay friends. I know my other son has too. My daughter as a brother-in-law who is gay.

I think it’s time to evaluate what we think, why we think that, and how we treat gays. Then we should decide for ourselves how we should treat them, and what we are going to do about it.

My son and I concluded that we all have problems with different sins and if we don’t overcome them then we won’t be living with Heavenly Father. If gays don’t overcome their problems and we don’t overcome ours, we’ll both be on the outside looking in.

When will we overcome our sins should be much more important to us then when will they overcome their’s.

We as Mormons should understand that more than anyone else and should treat all sinners accordingly.

80 Comments »

  1. Yes–in answer to the post title, I think we do. Shame on us.

    Comment by ESO — March 11, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

  2. That depends, of course, on who you mean by “others”? Certainly there are “others” that treat homosexuals worse and “others” that treat them better.

    I think that there are certainly other churches that are harsher than the LDS church in terms of official policy (although I’m sure there are plenty of people that still consider it too harsh). But I do think there is a disconnect, in general, from official policy and the feelings of the general membership, but that gap is being closed, from my experience.

    As an anecdote, when I was a teenager I was driving in a car where another LDS youth was using the word “gay” over and over to describe things he didn’t like. Although at the time I hadn’t thought much about my own views on the matter, this made me uncomfortable, and so I articulated my feelings using the best vocabulary I knew, “Are you a homophobe?” His answer: “We’re Mormon. Don’t we have to be?”

    I hoped that he was wrong, and the statements that church leaders have made since then have comforted me as I realize that it’s not true.

    Comment by Mike L. — March 11, 2008 @ 6:25 pm

  3. This is one of those “whatever I say is going to offend somebody” questions, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at how little response you’ve had so far.

    I don’t know how any Mormon can really answer this, because it is impossible to separate the “sin/sinner” from all the other baggage that goes along with it.

    Most smokers know both that smoking is unwise for health reasons and offensive for social reasons, and although they might stand up for their civil rights (the right to buy and use tobacco), they generally don’t try to appropriate benefits that are reserved to those without that risky behavior (non-smokers’ savings in health and home insurance). Non-tithepayers know that tithing is the price of full participation in Mormondom, and either struggle to become tithepayers or accept their lesser participation; they generally don’t campaign to change the laws of the church.

    Gays, however, come with political baggage in addition to their personal behavior. Some protest that we have no right as a church to label that behavior as sinful. Some campaign to change the basic structure of society. Some attack the church and the gospel and Mormons as a class, regardless of the behavior of individual Mormon toward individual gay, and paint the most sacred of our beliefs and rites with a very ugly brush — one that is never used by smokers or non-tithepayers.

    Sometimes when Mormons react to the issue, we’re reacting as much or more to the additional political baggage as we are to the “sin/sinner.” That is mislabeled “gay bashing.”

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 11, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  4. Ardis, I do think you are right about the political baggage…something I hadn’t considered. We certainly are offended by those who seek to use the seperation of church and state as an agenda for a godless state. And I guess that same feeling carries over for the political agenda of gays. Therefore another reason for gay bashing.

    Comment by Don — March 11, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

  5. Every LDS person, gay, straight, and bi- should take the time to at least read about “No More Goodbyes” by Carol Lynn Pearson.

    It would be even better if we all read it, particularly if we’ve ever been concerned about “gay bashing,” “loving the sinner but hating the sin,” homophobia (and whether or not it’s required of LDS members), and how to love our sons/daughters/friends/ fellow saints regardless of who they are.

    In the words of Rabbi Harold Kushner, “Thank you, Carol Lynn Pearson, for reminding us that the task of any religion is to teach us whom we’re required to love, not whom we’re entitled to hate.”

    Comment by LRC — March 11, 2008 @ 9:06 pm

  6. We’re all going on anecdotal evidence here but I strongly disagree that LDS gay bash more than others.

    First of all, the evangelicals do enough real deal bashing (“God hates gays”?!) to make up for all the love coming out of NY and San Fran combined.

    Second of all, your average football watching, beer drinking good ole boy does a lot more gay bashing than your cry in testimony meeting, family guy. So…..still a problem in the church, but not any worse than the average American. Just my experience.

    Most LDS I encounter actually listen to the counsel of the brethren (and Jesus of course) to love thy neighbor. Sure – its not like the church is a bastion of hope for the gay community – or that we don’t have a long history of confusion about the issue(shock therapy?!) but we ARE getting better which is more than I can say for the “Christians”.

    Comment by cj douglass — March 11, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

  7. I would concur with cj that anecdotes data. I’m curious if Armand Mauss has done any studies contrasting LDS views about gays with those of other religions and populations in the US (he’s done that comparison regarding racial issues).

    I’ve had occasional gay friends and acquaintances ever since leaving college, including gay members of the Church. When I lived in Santa Cruz (1988-89), we had a member of the ward who had AIDS. He came to church as health permitted; when he was hospitalized during his final weeks of life, members of the ward (including myself) steadily visited him.

    After I moved to Washington DC in 1999, the first hair stylist I used (for a few years) was a gay (inactive) member of the Church. He had been married, fathered a few children, then came out and ended up getting divorced. Two of his kids were out on a mission during most of the time he was cutting my hair, and we often discussed them. After he moved away from DC, the stylist I settled in on for the rest of my 6 years there was also gay. We always discussed our respective families, and — after the first several visits — we always hugged when I got up to leave.

    So, does my experience prove that all Mormons are friendly towards gays? Nope, it’s just an anecdote. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — March 11, 2008 @ 11:09 pm

  8. Oops! That first sentence in #7 should read “I would concur with cj that anecdotes do not equal data.” I used the less than/greater than symbols for “do not equal”, which of course the editor interpreted as a null HTML tag. You’d think I’d remember this after 14 years of using HTML. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — March 11, 2008 @ 11:13 pm

  9. For what it’s worth, I teach at a school in Draper that’s 60% non-Mormon and ALL the kids use the word “gay” to describe things they don’t like.

    Comment by Bret — March 12, 2008 @ 12:19 am

  10. Not paying tithing is a sin, but we accept those that rob God.

    By accusing them of robbing God?

    “Brother Jensen, I missed you at tithing settlement last December. Anyway, welcome, you God-robber, you!”

    Comment by Peter LLC — March 12, 2008 @ 4:38 am

  11. Don – I think anyone’s (Mormon or not) position on gay bashing depends on their personal experience. Here in Northern Virginia I have a friend in the church who is a convert, along with her husband. The two of them are some of the most extremely right-wing people I know (but I love them anyway. ;-)) On the other hand, she has a sister who is gay and so she is completely accepting of gays and feels that most Mormons have a narrow minded attitude towards gays.

    I became acquainted with a gay man at an office I worked at 15 years ago. We became good friends and talked openly about our different beliefs. He helped me to become more understanding of his choices. Now, 15 years later, we’ve ended up working together for a different employer. He and my next door neighbor at work are both gay and we have an enjoyable time working together – sometimes making veiled reference to our differences but mostly enjoying each other’s company.

    And so I find myself in a dilemma. I accept the doctrine of our faith and the logic that justifies it. At the same time I wish there was a way to accept my two friends into the church (assuming they would make that choice) because they have helped me understand that their choice is not a perversion but simply the honest acceptance of who they really are.

    Comment by Lamonte — March 12, 2008 @ 5:10 am

  12. I have never had a smoker or a non-tithe-payer violate my person or my spirit.

    Comment by mondo cool — March 12, 2008 @ 7:42 am

  13. Interesting. I’m more apt to agree with #3 and #6.

    I’m curious as to Silus’ opinion…

    Comment by Cheryl — March 12, 2008 @ 8:02 am

  14. I agree with Mike’s comment in #2: It depends on which “others” we’re being compared to. I also think that society’s acceptance of homosexuality is often overestimated. Although gays are gaining wider acceptance on the aggregate, I think it will be some time before middle America begins to embrace them. Mormons are considerably more moderate than many of their peers, especially those belonging to the larger Christian community.

    I also think that Mormons’ treatment of gays varies along generational lines. Younger Mormons are more likely to at least be sensitive to and respectful of homosexuals, even if they disagree with their lifestyle. For instance, I’ve heard both my father and father-in-law use the word “dyke” in front of family members. In each case, they were met with the consternation of my siblings/siblings-in-law (even though some of them are very conservative Mormons). Such pejoratives just aren’t kosher these days.

    Comment by Steve M — March 12, 2008 @ 8:32 am

  15. #3:
    This is one of those “whatever I say is going to offend somebody” questions . . .

    I’ve used similar introductions to statements I’ve made in the past. If I’m honest with myself, I realize that I’m using such an introduction because I know full well that what I’m about to say is offensive to others, but I’m just trying to blame those others, instead of accepting responsibility for my own views. (Hint: It’s not the question here that leads to offense.)

    Gays, however, come with political baggage in addition to their personal behavior.

    At the risk of being one of those eeee-vil gays that Ardis refers to as having “political baggage,” I’ll point out that most any identifiable group has “political baggage.”

    Some protest that we have no right as a church to label that behavior as sinful.

    While I’m sure there are individual homosexual persons who make such a claim, I find they are few and far between. Most are reasonable adults, who fully recognize that any church has the right to define for its members what constitutes “sin” or unacceptable behavior.

    Some campaign to change the basic structure of society.

    In other words, Ardis, you’re just fine with “THOSE people,” so long as they don’t seek to have the same legal rights as “good, upstanding, decent folk,” right? That sounds much like those old time southerners, who were just fine with persons of African descent, so long as they didn’t become “uppity (repulsive word deleted)” who wanted to be treated like whites.

    Some attack the church and the gospel and Mormons as a class, regardless of the behavior of individual Mormon toward individual gay

    Unfortunately, there are certain LDS members (not all, since most LDS are more than capable of behaving like adults) who think their entire faith is being “attacked” if anyoen objects to political activism which is designed to limit the rights of homosexual persons. Somehow, I have a very hard time believing that anti-gay legislation is among the “most sacred beliefs and rites” of Mormonism.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 12, 2008 @ 8:58 am

  16. Thanks Ardis (3)

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 12, 2008 @ 8:58 am

  17. #3:
    This is one of those “whatever I say is going to offend somebody” questions . . .

    I’ve used similar introductions to statements I’ve made in the past. If I’m honest with myself, I realize that I’m using such an introduction because I know full well that what I’m about to say is offensive to others, but I’m just trying to blame those others, instead of accepting responsibility for my own views. (Hint: It’s not the question here that leads to offense.)

    Gays, however, come with political baggage in addition to their personal behavior.

    At the risk of being one of those eeee-vil gays that Ardis refers to as having “political baggage,” I’ll point out that most any identifiable group has “political baggage.”

    Some protest that we have no right as a church to label that behavior as sinful.

    While I’m sure there are individual homosexual persons who make such a claim, I find they are few and far between. Most are reasonable adults, who fully recognize that any church has the right to define for its members what constitutes “sin” or unacceptable behavior.

    Some campaign to change the basic structure of society.

    In other words, Ardis, you’re just fine with “THOSE people,” so long as they don’t seek to have the same legal rights as “good, upstanding, decent folk,” right? That sounds much like those old time southerners, who were just fine with persons of African descent, so long as they didn’t become “uppity (repulsive word deleted)” who wanted to be treated like whites.

    Some attack the church and the gospel and Mormons as a class, regardless of the behavior of individual Mormon toward individual gay

    Unfortunately, there are certain LDS members (not all, since most LDS are more than capable of behaving like adults) who think their entire faith is being “attacked” if anyone objects to political activism which is designed to limit the rights of homosexual persons. Somehow, I have a very hard time believing that anti-gay legislation is among the “most sacred beliefs and rites” of Mormonism.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 12, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  18. SO sorry for the multiple postings! I seemed to be having connection problems, and thought I needed to retry. Someone please delete the repetitions?

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 12, 2008 @ 9:15 am

  19. I think the amount of gay bashing Mormons do has more to do with where they live than their religion. My LDS relatives that live in Orem are more likely to talk about homosexuality being evil, and us the word fag more than my LDS relatives that live in Washington. Tolerance is a big part of this, those same Orem relatives are more likely to complain about “those dirty Mexicans” stealing jobs as well.

    Comment by jjohnsen — March 12, 2008 @ 10:39 am

  20. After decades of hearing the term “gay”, I’m still not sure what it really means. Based on the usage in this group, to me it seems like not a very meaningful label at all. So it seems even less meaningful to consider exactly what is meant by “gay bashing”.

    I assume people who identify themselves as “gay” must have something in common, but I question whether this group is as monolithic, unique, and unequivocal as we might be led to believe. And I doubt even more that everyone who ever engaged in some kind of homosexual behaviour considers themself to be “gay”.

    I have further doubts about how significant I should consider “gay” as a group. I’d like to know the demographics — for real. Who and what are you talking about, and how many are there? Are they like Republicans or Democrats? If I devoted any intellectual energy to such questions, I think it would take a lot more real information before I would even venture to formulate tentative answers.

    Perhaps for the sake of discussion about “gay bashing” in the Church, that response should suffice. I cannot very well be “bashing” if I don’t even know who to “bash” — can I?

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 12, 2008 @ 11:25 am

  21. Apparently the perception of some is that “gay” has some kind of association with a “political agenda”.

    I’m willing to use that assertion provisionally for the sake of the question about “gay bashing”.

    If I am opposing political activism to promote a “gay agenda”, does that constitute “gay bashing”? Because it seems to me that the Church is currently involved in a formal campaign to oppose the legalization or normalization of same-sex “marriage”. If I support the Church in that cause, am I “gay bashing”?

    What if I choose to go even further, on my own. Suppose I said I was rooting for Utah Senator Chris Buttars in his legislative efforts to oppose the “gay agenda”. Or, say I support the Eagle Forum in their political lobbying and public information campaign efforts. Is that “gay bashing”?

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 12, 2008 @ 11:38 am

  22. Jim, I think the original question could have been worded better. The term, “gay bashing,” usually is not used not refer to lobbying for anti-gay legislation. “Gay bashing” usually refers to physical violence against gays.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 12, 2008 @ 11:55 am

  23. Don, it is interesting that in the very post where you ask whether Mormons Gay Bash more or less than others, you twice use language offensive to gays: First, where you repeat the outrageous gay bash “we’re afraid they’ll be looking at our kids with lustful eyes or something.” As if gay are sexually interested in children.

    Then there is that tired old “we are all sinners” line where sexual orientation is equated with sin. Followed by the admonition that gays need to “overcome their problems” in order to be with Heavenly Father.

    Are these ill-informed remarks peculiar to Mormonism? No. But Latter-day Saints probably do have the most heterosexist soteriology of any faith. So LDS people are certainly more likely to object to homosexuality.

    The problem for people with a homosexual orientation within the LDS faith is that they have been effectively written out of the Plan of Happiness. Did Joseph Smith have any idea, when he established the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, that an entire segment of humanity would have a sexual orientation incompatible with that model of religious experience?

    Comment by Steven B — March 12, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

  24. Did Joseph Smith have any idea, when he established the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, that an entire segment of humanity would have a sexual orientation incompatible with that model of religious experience?

    Joseph Smith didn’t establish that; he only revealed it.

    To focus on the claim that the LDS church has written homosexuals out of the plan of happiness:

    My MIL’s cousin, who happens to be a Lesbian (and is married to her partner), once said “To be anything but a lesbian in the world to come would be Hell to me.” To which my very wise uncle replied:
    “Who’s to say that you won’t be a lesbian in the eternities and be very, very happy?”

    Who’s to say? Our Church leaders make no apology about same-sex attraction. But they are the first to defend them as sons and daughters of God that are loved and needed. Those who make fun of, abhor, or insult men and women who are gay just don’t understand this. I know, because I didn’t always understand it myself.

    Comment by Cheryl — March 12, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

  25. Steve, Maybe I didn’t communicate quite like I wanted to. The reason “we’re afraid they’ll be looking at our kids with lustful eyes or something.” was in quotes was to emphasize that this is veiwpoint taken by some to justify their gay bashing….not that it is a fact, which it obviously isn’t.

    My point about all being sinners must not have come thru well either. The point is: the church views homosexuals, who live a homosexual lifestyle are living in sin. They must repent. The church views those who drink coffer, lie, cheat and steal must repent. We all have problems (sins) eventhough each are different, they still need to be repented of if we want to conform with the doctrines of the church.

    I actualy take a bit of offense to your comment that Joseph Smith established the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage. If my church history serves me right, Joseph was a prophet and that covenant was revealed to him from God. God is the one who sets the rules, the covenants and the criteria for who can return and live with Him again, not Joseph, not me and not anyone else.

    Comment by Don — March 12, 2008 @ 1:40 pm

  26. There is something in us biologically that makes us more uncomfortable when we see a man acting feminine or a woman acting masculine than when we see someone smoking a cigarette. When we see a smoker, we think, “Gee, hate to see that guy’s lungs.” When we see a man on a stage dancing provocatively and wearing a few pieces of leather, well…you get my point. Biology kicks in. The way we are sexually hardwired kicks in. Perhaps a gay man feels the same thing when he sees another man acting in a a majorly heterosexual way. If he doesn’t, it may simply be because heterosexuality is more prevalent in our culture and therefore he has grown accustomed to it. We as members need to overcome this reaction if it hinders our ability to love others as we’ve been commanded to.

    Comment by sam — March 12, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  27. Perhaps a gay man feels the same thing when he sees another man acting in a a majorly heterosexual way. If he doesn’t, it may simply be because heterosexuality is more prevalent in our culture and therefore he has grown accustomed to it.

    Hmmm…the only thing I can think of that would be “another man acting in a majorly heterosexual way” would be that man having sexual relations with a woman. It’s fair to admit that I, as a gay man, would not wish to watch a man “acting in a majorly heterosexual way,” if this is what you mean.

    Of course, we both know that’s not what you mean. Rather, you think that “heterosexual male = traditionally masculine” and “homosexual male = traditionally feminine.” I have news for you, sam. Many very heterosexual men are extremely effeminate. Likewise, many very homosexual men are extremely masculine. Most gay men that I know are attracted to traditionally masculine gay men. In fact, many gay men find effeminate behavior very, VERY unattractive.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 12, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  28. Don and Cheryl, as much as I want to believe that all revelation is written by the finger of God and is free from cultural biases, the truth is that we simply don’t see that in the scriptures. Even the much venerated Ten Commandments were written from the viewpoint that women are the property of their husbands, much as a home or an ox. And Moses was the archetypal prophet. Do we really want to go back there?

    Don, I am sorry, I did not see quotation marks (still don’t). I didn’t really want to make you out as a bigot, but to communicate that it is widespread in our society for well-meaning people to inadvertently make hurtful and demeaning remarks about homosexuals, merely because such attitudes a deeply entrenched in our society.

    At the top of the list is the idea that we are all sinners and that homosexuals need to likewise repent. It simply pre-judges those homosexuals who struggle to find a place in a heterosexist religion.

    And then there is the phrase “that lifestyle.” If the church really wants to reach out in love to all people, including the homosexually oriented, it needs to drop that line like a hot potato.

    Comment by Steven B — March 12, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

  29. The term, “gay bashing,” usually is not used not refer to lobbying for anti-gay legislation. “Gay bashing” usually refers to physical violence against gays.

    Physical violence? Well if that’s the case then I’d argue that very few people (relatively) have ever “gay bashed”, Mormon of not. I’m not trying to minimize the problem of violence, but it takes some serious evil in a person to commit violence against someone else just because of their sexual orientation. So if that’s the case then I think this has nothing to do with Mormonism–it has to do with basic understanding of right and wrong.

    I’ll admit that I’m not certain were the line is drawn where acceptable behavior stops and gay bashing begins (and it probably depends on your perspective), but I’ve always thought gay bashing was more verbal than physical.

    And Steven, when I read the post I got the impression that Don was using the line regarding children as an example of the kind of gay fear that he is arguing against, not how he himselfs feels, quotes or no quotes. Sounds like there was some misunderstanding there.

    Comment by Mike L. — March 12, 2008 @ 5:17 pm

  30. I got the impression that Don was using the line regarding children as an example of the kind of gay fear that he is arguing against, not how he himselfs feels

    Yes, you are correct. Don was using the collective “we” to indicate people in general. My apologies. I did read it wrong initially.

    Comment by Steven B — March 12, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  31. I used the word “evil” in my last comment. I probably shouldn’t have as that’s a loaded word. What I should have said is “serious ignorance of what is right and what is wrong.” Not everyone who commits violence is evil, of course, in the strict sense of the word.

    Comment by Mike L. — March 12, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  32. Steven B,
    Of course revelation isn’t free from cultural bias and for that exact reason we still have living prophets. At the time of Joseph Smith homosexuality was universally understood and accepted to be an abomination, it was a foregone conclusion, it would have been like him saying, “don’t beat your mother.” He had no reason to address it because everyone agreed that homosexuality was a choice, wasn’t natural and obviously had no place in Heaven. Culturally we are in a different place now. Current prophets have addressed it, though they haven’t included homosexual sex into eternal marriage.

    At the top of the list is the idea that we are all sinners and that homosexuals need to likewise repent. It simply pre-judges those homosexuals who struggle to find a place in a heterosexist religion.

    No, you’re assuming Don equates “homosexual” with “homosexual sex”, which he doesn’t and neither does the Church. If you take issue with that distinction, take it with the Church, not Don. The Church calls selfishness a sin, calls homosexual sex a sin, calls lying a sin and calls gossip a sin. There are people who are prone to each one of these, acting on any of them requiring repentance. I don’t quite understand your beef here.

    Comment by Rusty — March 13, 2008 @ 9:03 am

  33. Rusty, thanks you’re more articulate than I am and what you have said is exactly what I meant and was trying to say.

    Comment by Don — March 13, 2008 @ 9:57 am

  34. No, you’re assuming Don equates “homosexual” with “homosexual sex”, which he doesn’t and neither does the Church.

    The rhetoric becomes a case of both sides talking past each other. The gays are saying, “We got written out of the plan of salvation because of our unchosen orientations.” The non-gays are saying, “You just need to repent, like the rest of us. Who made you above the law.?”

    Simply saying “we are all sinners” does not address the real problem. Rather, it tries to quench the discussion, inferring that it is simply an issue of individual obedience. Whereas it is not.

    Imagine you are a celibate never-been-married female, frustrated with the stigma of being single in a married church. Imaging being told repeatedly that you simply need to repent.

    Comment by Steven B — March 13, 2008 @ 10:23 am

  35. #32:
    At the time of Joseph Smith homosexuality was universally understood and accepted to be an abomination, it was a foregone conclusion, it would have been like him saying, “don’t beat your mother.” He had no reason to address it because everyone agreed that homosexuality was a choice, wasn’t natural and obviously had no place in Heaven.

    Rusty, I think you’re making a pretty strong assumption here. What evidence do you have that homosexuality was “universally understood and accepted to be an abomination,” or that such was “a foregone conclusion?” Sometimes it’s easy to assume that “in the good ol’ days,” society monolithically embraced the ideas taught by current conservative religious groups.

    Comment by Nick Literski — March 13, 2008 @ 10:40 am

  36. Rusty, thanks you’re more articulate than I am

    No Don, you articulated just fine. You basically asked, “if the church believes homosexual sex is a sin, and that lying likewise is a sin, why does the church collectively tend to be tolerant of liars, but not homosexuals?”

    And then you bravely suggested that perhaps we need to “evaluate what we think, why we think that, and how we treat gays.”

    I think that somewhere in the discussion I got that turned around into thinking you are others were throwing out that tired old argument that “we are all sinners.” But that is not really what you were saying in your original posting.

    Never-the-less, if we are discussing “how we treat gays” I believe the “we are all sinners” argument (not as you used it) does nothing to help make gays feel welcome in the church.

    Comment by Steven B — March 13, 2008 @ 10:49 am

  37. At the time of Joseph Smith homosexuality was universally understood and accepted to be an abomination, it was a foregone conclusion, it would have been like him saying, “don’t beat your mother.” He had no reason to address it because everyone agreed that homosexuality was a choice, wasn’t natural and obviously had no place in Heaven.

    Rusty, although Nick questions this assumption, if it is true, it reinforces my argument that Joseph Smith would have had no reason to even question or seek accommodation of those who clearly didn’t fit the heterosexual model of salvation. I see this as entirely similar to positions held about Black people before the civil rights era, where similar attitudes were simply considered forgone conclusions.

    We seem perfectly willing to excuse Moses for a misogynist attitude when delivering the Ten Commandments, but cannot consider that latter-day prophets might be similarly biased. And the attitude among church membership is “how can you question God, his Revelations or his True Prophet?” End of discussion.

    Comment by Steven B — March 13, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  38. Steven-
    The Ten Commandments were given because the Israelites proved they were not ready for more.

    See, that is the difference between you and me(or Don or Rusty, although I’m assuming a lot by saying that). You don’t seem believe in revelation from God. And if you do, you are angry that God would choose to reveal the way He wants to reveal, i.e. line upon line and differently in different times. That’s fine. But just admit it. There’s no way we can agree on any of these issues if the core belief system is so apparantly opposite.

    Comment by Cheryl — March 13, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

  39. …it’s easy to assume that “in the good ol’ days,” society monolithically embraced the ideas taught by current conservative religious groups.

    Ah, but how much easier for those who favor popular trends to filter thier own views of social norms.

    The difference is that values and views which are manifestly so plastic and variable are simply reflections of social and cultural invention and evolution, while absolute values are derivative from the commands of God. The former are mutable and ephemeral; the latter are absolute and eternal.

    We’d better be able to tell the difference.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 13, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

  40. We seem perfectly willing to excuse Moses for a misogynist attitude when delivering the Ten Commandments, but cannot consider that latter-day prophets might be similarly biased.

    You confuse the message with the messenger — a common mistake.

    Moses did not invent the foundational rules upon which the Ten Commandments are based. Even stipulating your politically-correct assumptions does not change that fact.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 13, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

  41. You don’t seem believe in revelation from God.

    Cheryl, you have only served to reiterate my point. That if one merely questions a revelation, then one is readily judged as a non-believer or apostate.

    And therein lies the problem.

    If we are to evaluate “what we think,” and ” why we think that,” as Dan suggests in his original post, then surely we ought to be free to discuss the foundational doctrines related to the problem of gays in the church.

    I do believe deeply in revelation and in the prophetic work of Joseph Smith. But when I observe that an entire segment of humanity is effectively outside of the parameters of full salvation, through no fault of their own, I wonder whether Joseph grasped the full scope of his revelation.

    Comment by Steven B — March 13, 2008 @ 7:42 pm

  42. You confuse the message with the messenger — a common mistake.

    Moses did not invent the foundational rules upon which the Ten Commandments are based.

    Moses did not invent much of what was codified in his name. Although many of the Mosaic statutes derive from specific situations which were presented to the LORD (such as the inheritance question of Num. 27:1-11), it is widely held by students and scholars of the Bible that some of the Law of Moses had its origin in previous legal codes and nomadic customs of the Middle East, such as the Laws of Eshunna, Code of Hammurabi and Middle Assyrian Laws. So it is very plausible to conclude that a portion of that canonized material is culturally biased.

    But does it really matter who the messenger was? I am more concerned with the message itself. In the case of the Decalogue, I thought the LDS church had moved beyond treating women as property. Can the Church likewise transcend the anti-gay message foundational to the Restoration? I don’t know, it may be that animosity toward homosexuality is too deeply rooted.

    Comment by Steven B — March 13, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

  43. But see, Steven, I feel you are still seeing only one side to this: you don’t agree with the current state of things, i.e. that Joseph Smith knew what he was doing. You said:

    I wonder whether Joseph grasped the full scope of his revelation.

    If one only accepts some revelation, then what does that say? To pick and choose what serves our purposes and then ridicule and/or reject the uncomfortable? As I read your words, all I saw was “Moses was a mysoginist and Joseph Smith hated gays.” I didn’t see any room for “Moses and Jospeh were literally prophets of God and thereby, received revelation necessary for the people of their times.”

    Which brings me to this:

    Can the Church likewise transcend the anti-gay message foundational to the Restoration?

    Why is there a need to separate the church from revelation? I’m positive that when God reveals to our Prophet that gays are to receive all the blessings of celestial marriage, that our leaders will make it known. But they haven’t, yet.

    This is how dissent begins. One small rejection to something that makes us uncomfortable. And then another, and another, and it builds until no belief exists because all that is left is doubt.

    Comment by Cheryl — March 14, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

  44. Cheryl,

    I really do see both sides to this issue. I realize that many people visit the Mormon blogs seeking positive conversation and experience to strengthen their faith. I understand that and respect that. But on this topic, I have to be honest and express my thoughts. This is a serious matter. People are taking their own lives over this issue. And thousands of believing members are leaving the church because they do not feel welcome.

    I’m only exploring the possibility that perhaps our theology was formulated and limited by the culture from which it emerged, as it relates to homosexuality and Mormon doctrine. If we cannot discuss these things openly, then there is really no reason to come together in this forum. Clearly God speaks to his servants and the thinking has been done.

    Comment by Steven B — March 14, 2008 @ 9:16 pm

  45. Steven-
    Thank you. I sincerely appreciate the clarification.

    Comment by Cheryl — March 15, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  46. Cheryl-

    Since you brought up the LDS staple that God reveals “line upon line,” there are those who would ask, “why does God not take a proactive leadership role when it comes to human rights?” In other words, “did not God object to the oppression of women for 4,000 years?”

    Yet when we look at Mosaic law, compared to the Code of Hammurabi, Middle Assyrian Laws and legal codes of Israel’s neighbors, we note that the Mosaic code was a kinder, gentler, even progressive, set of laws. An example would be the statute commanding that the farmers leave the corners of the field unharvested so that the poor could glean a portion of the harvest.

    Perhaps some aspects of that society were so entrenched that it would have been unthinkable and incomprehensible to make such a radical change to the status of women, much as it was incomprehensible to society at the time of Joseph Smith for God speak out on gay rights.

    Yet, one has to wonder why Joseph didn’t give a more definitive revelation on God’s position on slavery, considering that the country was bitterly divided on that matter. Perhaps God’s thinking was that the message was all there in the revealed scriptures, if we would but only see it.

    Comment by Steven B — March 15, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  47. In the case of the Decalogue, I thought the LDS church had moved beyond treating women as property.

    I am not quite sure how you could think that the Church “moved” beyond something that never seemed to be an issue. Did the Church merge with NOW while I wasn’t looking?

    As far as Moses and his culture, I’ll let him speak to that question. I personally believe my own views on such historic matters represent the agnostic position. But next time I get to speak with Moses and Aaron, I’ll be sure to get the word on their treatment of women.

    Can the Church likewise transcend the anti-gay message foundational to the Restoration? I don’t know, it may be that animosity toward homosexuality is too deeply rooted.

    I am not sure the Church has any interest in “transcending” fundamental values that are based on the commandments of God. When God speaks further on the matter, through his servants, the prophets, I for one will be listening. I suppose whether or not discussions on this blog or other media make any difference in the meantime is an open question.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 15, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

  48. I am still considering the original post, and asking myself what the question is really supposed to address.

    I have never asked anyone at Church if they consider themselves “gay”. Not as if anyone wears a badge or a tattoo on their forehead. We don’t share a ward list with each other that elaborates each of our sexual behaviors.

    Why should I know or care?

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 15, 2008 @ 12:24 pm

  49. Jim, I think my original post was directed to those who do know if someone is gay and how they treat that person. If we don’t know who is gay, then we probably do treat them well, if we find out that they are gay do we treat them differently. And as Mormons do we do that more or less than other non-mormons? If we do then why?

    The ideas and or doctrine that there will or won’t be gays in heaven, or will the doctrine change to accommadate gays, or …..are all subjects for someone else to tackle and some other post….not me!

    Comment by Don — March 15, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

  50. I am not quite sure how you could think that the Church “moved” beyond something that never seemed to be an issue. Did the Church merge with NOW while I wasn’t looking?

    Apparently it was a big enough issue for the church to make related changes to the temple endowment ritual.

    As far as Moses and his culture, I’ll let him speak to that question.

    I think it is clear that when Moses wanted to reveal the fundamental moral principle that we should not covet another’s property, he looked for real world examples, which to his culture, and presumably to Moses himself, included women as property of their husbands. Such was apparently recognized, without question, as a logical and accepted truth by the culture to whom Moses presented the commandment.

    Now, by 21st Century cultural thinking, Moses would be thought of as having a misogynist attitude. But for the time, such thinking was simply the way things were and no one thought twice about it. Moses was delivering a revealed truth, and couched it in a language that was considered entirely correct and appropriate within the context of his time and place.

    So, in light of the cultural biases that we discover throughout the scriptures, if we are to examine how we deal with homosexuals in the church, we need to consider what we now know about homosexuality, most of which was unknown 50 years ago, much less 150 or 3000 years ago. And then ask what fundamental moral principles apply.

    For example, we now know that homosexual orientation is not chosen, and that it is difficult, if not impossible to change. We also no longer consider it a pathology, psychosis or mental illness requiring treatment. We also know that homosexuality appears in all cultures, races and geographies, generally comprising between 2%-5% of the population or even higher. That is a sizable number of people. In any given congregation, statistically about 1 in every 20 people have a homosexual orientation.

    So if we consider the fundamental moral principles governing human relationships, across the board, the concern has been related to responsible procreation. But now that we (society as well as the LDS church) are beginning recognize the immutable and widespread existence of homosexuality, what moral principles apply? What is an appropriate moral paradigm for the homosexual?

    Comment by Steven B — March 15, 2008 @ 7:12 pm

  51. Apparently it was a big enough issue for the church to make related changes to the temple endowment ritual.

    An interesting spin, but I am not aware of any Church-published rationale for temple changes, nor do I see a basis for inventing one.

    The idea should be easy enough to substantiate. A relevant quote from one of the General Authorities would suffice.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 15, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

  52. Apparently, gay-bashing we deplore, but open season on Moses and his benighted culture.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 15, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

  53. What is an appropriate moral paradigm for the homosexual?

    Chastity.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 15, 2008 @ 9:29 pm

  54. And the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

    Comment by Steven B — March 16, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  55. #54-

    Exactly. He then went on to explain how a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his WIFE.

    I see no verse/s or speech where it says: “And if you don’t like the chastity thing, do whatever you want and make the rest of humanity feel like bigots if they don’t agree with you.”

    I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that homosexuals in and out of the church are experiencing. But I also cannot dismiss revelation from God, nor can I question Celestial Marriage. It is truth and it is eternal. It has been since the beginning of time; marriage was the very first commandment given to Adam and Eve. It is the last commandment in our “ascension” through the gospel ladder of ordinances and covenants.

    Why are there so many that suffer with something that would take them away from it? I have no flippin’ idea. But like I said before, until God tells us something different (which He may never tell us something different, you know? What then?), I think many would be wise to carry their cross and do the best they can without painting the rest of us (or past prophets) as self-serving and/or bigoted. We’re just doing the blasted best that we can, you know. It doesn’t make one a “gay-bashers” to agree with the commandments God has set for us all.

    Comment by Cheryl — March 16, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

  56. marriage was the very first commandment given to Adam and Eve.

    The fact that the binary model of human relationships (becoming one flesh) was presented in Genesis did not forbid every marriage model different from Adam and Eve. It was certainly not used to forbid Polygamy.

    It is the last commandment in our “ascension” through the gospel ladder of ordinances and covenant

    Rightly so. And that is why those ordinances and covenants ought to be extended to include committed, monogamous homosexual couples. The current position of the church is that, in most cases, homosexuals should not marry a person of the opposite sex, but should remain alone and celibate. So gay Mormons are effectually denied the full “gospel ladder of ordinances and covenant.”

    It becomes a situation where men and women are saved not by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but through heterosexual matrimony. Is this the Church of Jesus Christ or is it the church of the Almighty Family? I know that seems harsh, but wasn’t it a big surprise to discover this month’s Ensign to be a “special” issue focused on Christ?

    We’re just doing the blasted best that we can, you know. It doesn’t make one a “gay-bashers” to agree with the commandments God has set for us all.

    And these heartfelt words really bring us bluntly to the heart of the topic Don raised.

    Perhaps the reason God doesn’t stop making gay people is to give us all an opportunity to learn to love those who are different, who live on the margins of society. Those whom society for millennia has perceived to be sinful, perverse, predatory and a danger to children and family. The Unkept and Unshaven. The Prostitute. The Samaritan.

    Comment by Steven B — March 16, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  57. Polygamy? Touche. But you must know that it’s still celestial. That, too, had revelation on it’s side.

    Perhaps the reason God doesn’t stop making gay people is to give us all an opportunity to learn to love those who are different, who live on the margins of society. Those whom society for millennia has perceived to be sinful, perverse, predatory and a danger to children and family. The Unkept and Unshaven. The Prostitute. The Samaritan.

    For sure! I never said I disagree with the idea that we love everyone as Christ taught. I’m just re-emphasizing the fact that until our Prophet reveals to us that homosexuals may have a part of celestial marriage, then I am not going to speak ill about our leaders. Or about the doctrine. That doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for those who have a differing sexual orientation than I. What is, just is. Whether it is sexual orientation, or doctrine on celestial marriage.

    But when you said this:

    And these heartfelt words really bring us bluntly to the heart of the topic Don raised.

    About what I said:

    We’re just doing the blasted best that we can, you know. It doesn’t make one a “gay-basher” to agree with the commandments God has set for us all.

    I laughed out loud. Too funny! I’ve only disagreed with your stance that somehow Prophets from Moses to Joseph Smith (to today!) erred in their revelations and should have thought about anyone who could be gay. As if they didn’t heed something. As if they forgot something. As if they weren’t listening to God, but following their own beliefs. I just find that laughable!

    So, here’s my question:

    What is a “gay-basher” to you? Anyone who believes that homosexual sex is a sin?

    Comment by Cheryl — March 16, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  58. Perhaps the reason God doesn’t stop making gay people is to give us all an opportunity to learn to love those who are different, who live on the margins of society.

    Perhaps. But I see no compelling reason to attribute to God such motivation, particularly not with a specific attitude toward the the existence of “gay people”. Every person faces the challenge of “love thy neighbor”.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 16, 2008 @ 6:31 pm

  59. What is a “gay-basher” to you? Anyone who believes that homosexual sex is a sin?

    Cheryl,

    First, I think we both recognize that Don did not intend the term “gay-bash” to be understood in a harsh or violent sense. Second, I do not hold that “anyone who believes that homosexual sex is a sin” is a gay-basher. Nor do I think that of you. But I’m gonna side-step this question somewhat, and I’d like to outline some guidelines for dealing with gay people in the church, regardless of whether or not we believe homosexual activity to be sinful. (I hope you will forgive me for the length of this reply, but your brief question spoke volumes.)

    1. Be Welcoming
    Homosexuals do not feel welcome in the LDS church. It is difficult enough to be a single adult in a church which places so much focus on family and marriage. For gay people, to be considered second-class saints, and to be expected to go through life celibate and without loving companionship, can be more than some are able to endure.

    If homosexual members feel shamed by the current theology and feel that they clearly do not “fit” into the Mormon paradigm, they will simply withdraw. Some will find other, more welcoming, faiths to serve their spiritual needs. Others may not replace the church with any substitute and simply loose all faith in God.

    2. Use Responsible Rhetoric
    Just last week, an Oklahoma state representative referred to homosexuality as a cancer on society, needing to be eradicated, and said that the homosexual agenda is the greatest threat to our nation, greater than terrorism. One young man responded with a letter to the representative which stated, in part:

    On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would’ve likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

    That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn’t live up to them pay with their lives.

    As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism…

    Or consider the words of Ken Hutcherson, the pastor and reverend of Antioch Bible Church near Seattle, who several weeks ago preached from the pulpit:

    “God hates soft men” and “God hates effeminate men.”
    “If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I’d rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end.”

    Words matter. Homosexuals have experienced centuries of hostility, both from government, religion and society and are highly vulnerable to those who think they should be bashed or eradicated. So far this year, a gay, lesbian or gender-variant person has been killed every eight days in the United States. Words from the pulpit teach our young people how to view and treat gays, lesbians and gender non-conforming people. In the LDS church we have a lay, non professional, clergy and we need to be careful and responsible about what we say and communicate from the pulpit. It is not often mentioned, but one of Matthew Shepherd’s murderers was raised LDS.

    Now that we know a lot more about homosexuality than we did 50 years ago, or during the entire period from which our canon emerged, we need to take a cautious approach, and follow the Brethren by toning down our rhetoric regarding gay people.

    3. Do Not Judge

    The Savior gave us a good lesson about judging those we consider sinners when the religious extremists of the day brought a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus taught them, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” When we judge those who are homosexual or those who may smell of tobacco, or who may not wear fine linens to church, we are being self righteous and are transgressing.

    4. Love Thy Neighbor

    “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

    If Jesus taught us to love our enemies, then surely he expects us to love our gay brothers, sisters and neighbors, who are neither our enemies nor our persecutors. To do that we must seek to see the good in the lesbian couple down the street with the two kids. We must care about the inactive LDS man who “flaunts” his sexuality by being “openly gay.”

    It is not enough that we tolerate those among us whom we may consider “sinners.” We must not only care and look for the good in them; we must love them.

    Comment by Steven B — March 16, 2008 @ 11:03 pm

  60. … must seek to see the good in the lesbian couple down the street with the two kids. We must care about the inactive LDS man who “flaunts” his sexuality by being “openly gay.”

    You identify an issue that sits somewhere on my list of things to work on. I confess my priorities are generally assigned to other concerns. And, as I indicated, I have never gone out of my way to determine if anyone in my aquaintance feels “gay”, so the point is generally moot.

    With regard to prescription for Church members, I trust and support the counsel of leaders who are authorized to represent the Church. Elder Oaks has addressed these questions with an authoritative voice — Dallin H. Oaks, “Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, Oct 1995, 7

    I note in particular from Oaks:

    The gospel applies on the same basis to everyone. Its central truth is our Savior’s atonement and resurrection, that we might have immortality and eternal life. To achieve that destiny, an eternal marriage is the divine and prescribed goal for every child of God, in this life or in the life to come. Nevertheless, this sacred goal must come about in the Lord’s way.

    Each member of Christ’s church has a clear-cut doctrinal responsibility to show forth love and to extend help and understanding. Sinners, as well as those who are struggling to resist inappropriate feelings, are not people to be cast out but people to be loved and helped (see 3 Ne. 18:22–23, 30, 32). At the same time, Church leaders and members cannot avoid their responsibility to teach correct principles and righteous behavior (on all subjects), even if this causes discomfort to some.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 17, 2008 @ 10:07 am

  61. I also think that your heading is misleading. I have no doubt that Mormons do not like or want gays in their congregations. They want to marginalize them so they don’t have to live with them. But I challenge anyone (Ardis, Jim, Cheryl) to thoroughly read the new pamphlet “God Loveth His Children” and then tell me how it works to include gays in a Mormon congregation. Read Elder Holland’s Ensign article on that subject, and then explain to me how a ward can make a gay man or woman feel welcome.

    All the new rhetoric from the apostles is logically sound but ultimately empty because there is no practical way to accomplish what is described, except to keep gays single, alone, and second-class. They are described now as flawed humans, handicapped by their sexuality. Elder Wickman made that clear in his “interview” in which he compares gays to his mentally handicapped daughter.

    Jim, you quote Elder Oaks as saying “Sinners, as well as those who are struggling to resist inappropriate feelings, are not people to be cast out but people to be loved and helped” — but how? What “help” can you give them that still allows them to be fully human?

    I like Steven B’s take on this question: “Perhaps the reason God doesn’t stop making gay people is to give us all an opportunity to learn to love those who are different, who live on the margins of society.”

    Comment by no-man — March 18, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

  62. As a Mormon Homosexual, may I add a few comments:

    Steve B wrote:

    “The fact that the binary model of human relationships (becoming one flesh) was presented in Genesis did not forbid every marriage model different from Adam and Eve. It was certainly not used to forbid Polygamy.”

    I beg to differ here. There isn’t a SINGLE scripture in any of the standard works that support homosexual marriage or homosexual sex. In every instance where homosexuality is explicitly mentioned, it is clearly condemned. And the clarification on “one flesh” can be found thusly, straight from the mouth of Christ:

    ” 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
    5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
    6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.”

    Verse 5 is also found in Genesis. There is no ambiguity here. Marriage is clearly defined as a heterosexual union.

    Steve again:

    “… And that is why those ordinances and covenants ought to be extended to include committed, monogamous homosexual couples. The current position of the church is that, in most cases, homosexuals should not marry a person of the opposite sex, but should remain alone and celibate. So gay Mormons are effectually denied the full “gospel ladder of ordinances and covenant.”

    Again, there isn’t a single utterace from any modern day prophet that gives the slightest indication that homosexual unions have been, should be, or ever will be acceptable to the Lord. They are not. They are not a part of His plan; they can produce no offspring – mortal or immortal. They are clearly a violation of the Law of Chastity. Homosexuality neither existed previously in the Spirit World nor will it exist in the next life. Homosexual relationships are a dead end.

    And no one is denied the “full ladder of Gospel ordinances and covenents”. Those who do not recieve them in this life who are faithful will have that opportunity in the next. Not having a sexual partner is not a death sentence or banishment to misery. This life is a probationary state where we are each tested and tried in whatever way the Lord sees fit. We came here with no gurantee of comfort, fairness, opportunity or status. I think this verse from Mosiah sums it up:

    “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a Saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

    The Lord and His Church are not here to submit to the demands of those who think they have been dealt an unfair hand. Rather just the opposite. We all knew the possibilities when we agreed to be dealt into the game.

    Regards,

    Neal

    Comment by Neal — March 19, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

  63. Neal

    I’m not sure if my reaction is one you intended, but when I read your comment, I just started crying. I’m not sure why it affected me so much. Was it because someone who actually has some authority on the subject can be so strong in the face of such opposition? That you oppose the idea that if you don’t give into your sexual urges you are denying everything about yourself? Probably. It’s just so refreshing to see a different stand. A different point of view. One without malice. Pain? Maybe. But no hate. No hate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No hate for the situation of life.

    Thank you so much, Neal.

    Comment by Cheryl — March 20, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  64. I have no doubt that Mormons do not like or want gays in their congregations.

    Indeed. I seldom see specific welcome signs seeking out or recruiting “gay” members, if that is your meaning. And there is an understandable degree of antipathy against those who campaign for the Church to compromise doctrines or policies specifically in order to cater to dissident voices — though this tendency has never been exclusively directed at “gays”.

    …explain to me how a ward can make a gay man or woman feel welcome.

    By offering the principles and ordinances of the Gospel, without equivocation, partiality, or respect for persons.
    I suppose those demanding that God accept them still encumbered with their sins will never feel welcome — though this has nothing in particular to do with “gays”.

    What “help” can you give them that still allows them to be fully human?

    We will continue striving to teach them the Gospel, along with the rest of Adam’s posterity.

    Reiterating from Elder Oaks:

    The gospel applies on the same basis to everyone. Its central truth is our Savior’s atonement and resurrection, that we might have immortality and eternal life.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 20, 2008 @ 10:48 am

  65. So, Neal (62), assuming that you are homosexual in orientation, un-partnered, and an active, believing member of the church (which I am reading into your post — correct me if I’m wrong), you are willing to find fulfillment as a single member with no sexual relationships. From my experience, there are a number of similar men in the church (some of whom participate in Evergreen, which is where I’ve met them), and they choose to live with this trade-off in their lives. You are doing what the current apostles describe as the acceptable thing for someone who has homosexual orientation.

    My question, then, is how do members of the church support you in your choice? My experience is that, no matter how completely a gay man lives the law of chastity, other men in the church treat him differently when they learn of his orientation. Their reaction becomes part of the pain that he lives with. They assume that because of that orientation, he wants same-sex marriage and all the rest, and it is rare that they will get to know him and try to understand his life experience. They are afraid to be close to him, show affection to him, or include him in anything but the more superficial activities of their lives.

    You are willing to live a sexless life. Are you also willing to be a special case, someone who is treated differently (sometimes with disgust or contempt), someone who will not be considered “normal” in spite of temple worthiness and full church activity? Or is your experience in the church different than what I’m describing here?

    I’m sorry if anyone read into my previous post that I am in favor of gay marriage or am opposed to church policy. I am only extremely frustrated that the Mormon culture is hateful toward homosexuals, and that church members oppose any kind of loving same-sex relationship based on the assumption that it is inevitably sexual and therefore sinful. Jim (64) assumes that gays want to “campaign for the Church to compromise doctrines or policies”, which is not what I am doing. I am in favor of considering that homosexual men and women are equally as human as the heterosexual population. My experience is that church members do NOT treat them “without equivocation, partiality, or respect for persons”. That’s the ideal, but the reality is still far from it.

    Comment by no-man — March 20, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  66. Cheryl – you’re welcome! :)

    No-man – So far I’ve been blessed with an outpouring of love and affection from those I came out to. I am not out to the general Ward membership, but a number of people know and have been wonderfully supportive. None of my friends changed a bit when I told them, and I have many wonderful associations. There are several families in the Ward who treat me like one of their own, include me in their lives, and their children adore me! This is incredibly helpful from an emotional point of view.

    That being said, there are many – in and out of the Church – who I would not come out to. There is still a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding GLOBALLY on this subject. Things are getting better, but we do have a long way yet to go.

    I think one of the barriers we face in the Church is that homosexuality is such a foreign concept. Church is family oriented and conservative, so this isn’t something that comes up as a topic of discussion very often. Its not a point of focus. Many Mormon homosexuals don’t even realize they’re homosexual until later in life. I know this was the case with me. I was a faithful young man who had a strong testimony and wanted to serve a Mission. I didn’t realize what my same-sex attractions were, because I really didn’t have a frame of reference for them. I dated girls in my youth because that’s what we all did, but these were normally group dates and we were encouraged not to get too physically involved until after our mission service. So I never really “got serious” with a girl. I even did some “gay bashing” with my friends, because we all thought that was the thing to do. My teenage understanding of “gay” was that you were a boy who wanted to be a girl, and we thought that was totally disgusting! Little did I realize that homosexuality had little to do with being effeminate, but again, I had no frame of reference or experience to tell me otherwise. So, I dated girls and acted like the other kids and thought I was “normal” like everyone else. What I now realize were same-sex attractions, back then I thought were just strong ties of friendship. You tend to plug your personal feelings and experiences into the frame of reference you DO have, and for me that was the Church frame of reference.

    So it wasn’t until after I had served my mission and the pressure was on to date seriously that I began to realize what my attractions really were. I was devastated, really. It’s like the story of the Ugly Duckling, but in reverse. You think you’re one of the beautiful swans, only to discover you’re the Ugly Duckling! I truly thought I was lost as a human being, and that I could never be loved if anyone really knew. I went into a form of denial for many years, but as you know, eventually you have to face these things. I never lost my testimony, however, and I think thats what saw me through the difficult times.

    So, I do wish the general membership would become more aware and better educated on this subject. I think my life would have been vastly different if I had been able to identify my homosexuality earlier and had felt comfortable talking with others about it. I think the Church has made some significant strides lately to educate and preach tolerance, but I think its going to take time for the general membership to catch on and loose the current pervasive prejudice on this issue. I’m praying for that day to come sooner rather than later!

    Regards,

    Neal

    Comment by Neal — March 22, 2008 @ 9:23 am

  67. Neal, there are a few prejudices that may have been completely erased from mankind. But as a whole, you can only try to educate and must realize that there will usually be some that hold prejudice towards people unlike them in society. And maybe people are prejudice towards people like them too.

    I do hope that the day will come where a young man will not feel ashamed of sexual orientation. While I believe it is important to be celibate unless you are a man and a woman in marriage, I believe that having whatever orientation you have is normal for a person. It does not make you good or bad to have sexual attraction to the same sex or the opposite sex.

    I am sorry that it was so hard for you to come to terms with your sexual feelings. I hope that you identity with a great many things as well. As a single woman who has at time longed for a man and yet has many other things to occupy my existance, I think it is bad the message that society places on sexuality as a need. Although it can seem so powerful a pull at times, I believe we are blessed when we abstain from Sex when we are not married.

    Comment by Barb — March 22, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  68. Jim (64) assumes that gays want to “campaign for the Church to compromise doctrines or policies”, which is not what I am doing.

    To the contrary, no special assumption was necessary on my part. I am simply sending back what I have heard, consistently, from many of those who claim to be advocates for “gay rights”. These do campaign in behalf of everyone associated with homosexuality. I would have to have been blind and deaf to not have noticed.

    In my first comment on this thread, I remarked that the very semantic we associate with “gay” is quite ambiguous. For reasons of their own, a particular collective has co-opted this term to a specific meaning of their own.

    When I was in grade school, “gay” had a specific meaning that had nothing whatever to do with sexuality. Today the term has a new meaning associated with it, a meaning assigned by those who presume to represent “gay” — this is what I presume to understand. If my understanding is wrong, if the true meaning of “gay” is misrepresented, it is certainly not through any fault of mine.

    I note further the specific comments here that outline the kinds of challenges certain Church members face, in particular because of the supposedly poor attitude of other Church members. While I fully sympathize with those who experience these problems, I again assert that this is not unique to anyone identifying as “gay”. As far as I can tell, I do not feel “gay”, yet I face the same issues with regard to being a single male, voluntarily restricting my own sexual expression, living in chastity, feeling accepted in the general community and among Church members, etc ad infinitum.

    In short, very little of what comprises so-called “gay bashing” seems to have anything specific to do with “gay”. Rather, it is a general manifestation that we have a difficult time living up to all the high ideals we preach and aspire to.

    No great surprise, that.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 22, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  69. Jim,

    Hmmm. Not unique?? While you may, as a single male, face SOME of the challenges homosexual members face, you certainly don’t face many of the most daunting ones. You can date if you choose to – we can’t. You can hold hands with someone you feel attracted to – we can’t. You could kiss them if you got the urge – not us. That could land a homo like me in front of a disciplinary council. You can attend singles activities, dances, etc. and participate without feeling fake. Not us homos! When someone asks you why you’re single, you can be candid without much fear of reprisal. Us homos – well… Tell ya what, why don’t you try an experiment the next time someone asks you that question and just flat out tell them you’re gay? Might be educational.

    As far as acceptance goes, how would you feel if the members of your priesthood quorum had a discussion about people like you and felt that the best way to deal with “your kind” was to stuff them into a barn, lock all the doors, and burn them alive? Ever felt that kind of love and acceptance from the Ward?

    You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Neal

    Comment by Neal — March 22, 2008 @ 5:30 pm

  70. Barb,

    Thanks for the comments. I agree that education is the key to defeating prejudice. I’ve written the General Authorities urging them to put some of the recent material on Same Sex Attraction (October 07 Ensign article by Elder Holland, new pamphlet called “God Loveth His Children”, etc.) into the Church Curriculum. Until the revealed principles surrounding this issue are taught in a mainstream way, we will continue to lose the majority of our homosexual membership.

    Its estimated that 5% of the Church is homosexual, and that 25% of the Church membership knows or is directly involved with a homosexual member. Of the 5% that are homosexual, three quarters of them will eventually leave the Church. Homosexual members, especially youth and young adults, have the highest suicide rate in the world. These and other statistics are just appalling.

    I once asked a question on a very large LDS discussion site (thousands of participants) how many people there would invite a gay person to come to Church with them? I also asked how many would invite a gay person to hear the missionary discussions in their home. I got no responses – not one. Clearly, we have forgotten the admonition to “leave the ninety and nine, and go after the one” when it comes to homosexuals. Perhaps people put a subliminal qualifier on that scripture “leave the ninety and nine, and go after the one – as long as they aren’t gay!”

    I hope the general membership is beginning to realize that people don’t choose their attractions. They do choose how they’ll behave, but they don’t choose their attractions. I think a lot of people are still under the impression that you choose to be attracted this way, and that’s the basis for their prejudice. These ideas are slow to die.

    Thanks again for the comments. I agree with everything you said.

    Regards,

    Neal

    Comment by Neal — March 22, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

  71. As far as acceptance goes, how would you feel if the members of your priesthood quorum had a discussion about people like you and felt that the best way to deal with “your kind” was to stuff them into a barn, lock all the doors, and burn them alive? Ever felt that kind of love and acceptance from the Ward?

    In fact, I have.

    QED.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 23, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  72. Perhaps Ardis or one of our other historians can help me here or point me to an article on the subject. I do not recall any passages in the D&C, BofM or PofGP explicitly dealing with homosexuality. I have a pretty good idea of the Church’s teachings today. What is the history of revelation during this Dispensation with respect to homosexuality, or what is the history of prophetic or apostolic teachings on the matter?

    Comment by DavidH — March 24, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

  73. David,

    Although you mention that you are clear about the current teachings, Ron Schow has lucidly summarized the gradual changes in the Church’s position over the past few years regarding homosexuality. His article is based on recent authoritative pronouncements and official releases from Church headquarters, but does not really address earlier attitudes or positions.

    Comment by Steven B — March 24, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  74. David,

    Searching the http://www.lds.org gospel library on this topic will give you a ton of links to various articles on homosexuality. There aren’t any direct BOM or D&C references that specifically mention it, as far as I know.

    There are a few references to the subject before the era of Spencer W. Kimball, but not many other than the typical mention of Soddom and Gomorah. His book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, seems to have set a new tone on the issue. Many of the ideas from that book became pervasive in Church leadership, and as Ron and Steve have mentioned, only recently have statements been made that correct some of the misperceptions of the Kimball era.

    Regards,

    Neal

    Comment by Neal — March 25, 2008 @ 8:06 am

  75. Hope you all had a good Easter weekend. I’ve been thinking about Jim and Neal’s comments, and they both support my point. Jim’s reaction towards discussions that use the term “gay” assumes that those who use the word are activists and want the church to provide some form of sanctioned same-sex partnering. That is not a correct assumption.

    I don’t refer to myself as “gay” and don’t like the term, but I like SSA/SGA or other convoluted terms even less. They are attempts to turn identity into something that is not so immediate. “Gay” is a short word, and short words are words of might. (I forget who wrote that essay, but I’ll quote the title anyway.) “Same-sex attracted” is a long, vague term that slows down the ability to relate to the person. If you’re the Ensign and are afraid to use the word “sex”, then “same-gender attraction” is even less direct. (I understand that when Elder Oaks wrote his article back in 1995, he used “same sex attraction” but the Ensign editors overruled that usage.)

    So my point, which Jim supports in post 68, is that church members assume things about homosexual members and their assumptions prevent them from relating to those members in a meaningful way. Jim also refers to a common complaint, that gays should not be given any special consideration because it feels like favoritism toward one minority among many. And as Neal pointed out, this is reasonable, but the truth is that gays are a singled-out minority who have no hope of being anything but defective in the church’s perspective. And that, I think, was the original point of this thread. We do give gays special status, a negative and hopeless status, in the church.

    My challenge for Jim (and anyone else who cares) is to read the new pamphlet “God Loveth His Children” and then try to understand how it is possible to love and accept a gay person who is not sinning. The church leaders now say that behavior, not inclination, is the only sin.

    I would also like to invite anyone who makes it that far to understand how it is possible to love and accept a gay person who does sin. Is that any different than a straight person who sins? Should we be like the stake president who excommunicated a gay man, then refused to assign a high counsel member to work with him through the repentence process because “he’s just not worth it”?

    My experience, which Neal has also found to be typical, is that church members have a very long way to go before they (in general) show a Christ-like love for gay sinners and attempt to win them back to the gospel. The very painful thing is that many church members have an equally long way to go in accepting gay non-sinners who want to feel accepted by church members without stigma. As Neal points out, you have to choose very carefully who you reveal your true self to. What kind of life is that?

    I personally don’t find it fulfilling to see oneself as a valiant soul who is enduring the mortal trial of same-sex attraction, and even more so when to reveal the truth of my experience leads to hatred, disgust, and ostracism from the supposedly Christ-like members of the church. Should I then try to feel valiant for being despised by the body of Christ, his true church on earth?

    I’m afraid that all too often, in congratulating ourselves on our righteous living and the walls we put up to protect ourselves against “sinners”, we lose the very ones we are called to bring back to Christ. But we do it in a self-congratulatory way. It’s always “their” fault they weren’t willing to live the gospel.

    Neal, thanks for your comments. May I recommend the writings of the Catholic priest Henri Nouwen, who writes eloquently about the real work of ministering to those who are broken by realizing that none of us are anything but broken in this life. On days when I’m sick of Mormon preaching, Henri’s writing is a balm to my soul.

    Comment by no-man — March 25, 2008 @ 11:04 am

  76. no-man,

    I think you have a lot of valid points. But I’ve gotten to a place where I really don’t feel any bitterness about some of the negative aspects of this topic. People are human and change takes time. My testimony is independant of the opinions, prejudices and hatred of others. Ultimately the relationship in my life that counts the most is with God and His Son. If they think I’m OK, then the rest really doesn’t matter – to a point.

    The point that it does start to matter is the continuing negative impact prejudice and ignorance like this has on others. It drives good people from the Church. It causes families to reject their loved ones. It becomes a stumbling block for youth who already struggle with enough problems as they try to find their place in this world.

    So, because of this I’m pretty active on-line in these types of discussions. I think education is the key to it all, and I’ve had the opportunity to educate quite a few. I also have an outreach program through my web site to help homosexual members who want to remain faithful, or who tried the gay lifestyle and want to come back. I hope through these means I can make a difference in someone’s life.

    If I had anything I would want the membership of the Church to know its that we’re really just like you. If you saw me and talked to me you would have no clue I’m a homosexual. I don’t wear pink tennis shoes, carry a purse, or have a limp wrist. I like the outdoors and other “manly” pursuits. Chances are there are a handful of homosexual members in your Ward just like me, and you don’t even know it. Over 50% of them are married and have families. We teach you in Sunday School, play the music in Sacrament, give you Priesthood blessings, visit you as Home Teachers, and serve in leadership positions. We’re not an alien species. We’re just normal people with a difference in our sexual wiring – one we didn’t ask for or choose to have. To us it DOES seem normal. Just as normal as you feel being straight. And just like you, we need to feel loved and accepted. We want a chance. We have so much to give! God loves us, so why can’t you?

    Comment by Neal — March 25, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  77. My challenge for Jim (and anyone else who cares) is to read the new pamphlet “God Loveth His Children”

    Yes, thanks, I have read it, and I do care.

    …and then try to understand how it is possible to love and accept a gay person who is not sinning

    My understanding is that as a disciple of Christ, I simply strive to treat everyone the same, without respect to whether they are subject to any particular set of special feelings or circumstances. This is convenient counsel, because it does not require me to determine apriori whether someone feels “gay”, has committed any particular sin, or has some other unique circumstances that require special treatment or handling. Fortunate for me — I don’t feel qualified to make such judgements. This attitude basically frees me to consider that all are unique and special before God, and as far as I am concerned, none are more or less deserving of God’s love.

    Thus I do strive.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — March 25, 2008 @ 10:33 pm

  78. Neal, which web site is yours?

    Thanks for your thoughtful replies.

    Comment by no-man — March 26, 2008 @ 8:56 am

  79. “There are a few references to the subject before the era of Spencer W. Kimball, but not many other than the typical mention of Soddom and Gomorah. His book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, seems to have set a new tone on the issue. Many of the ideas from that book became pervasive in Church leadership, and as Ron and Steve have mentioned, only recently have statements been made that correct some of the misperceptions of the Kimball era.”

    Neal (and StevenB),

    Is it fair to say that the roots of the tough stance (including its disciplinary position) the Church has taken on homosexuality and homosexual behavior derives largely from the Miracle of Forgiveness (see chapter: “The Crime Against Nature”)?

    Comment by DavidH — March 26, 2008 @ 2:06 pm

  80. no-man:

    http://www.lds-ssa.org

    David:

    Its the earliest publication I know of that talks in depth about the subject, and the only one I know about that discusses how “changeable” homosexuality is. I think some of the language used in that book has been very detrimental. I also think people read more harshness into it than was probably intended. Kimball’s choice of words, like calling it a “crime” against nature and using the word “pervert” to describe us were indeed unfortunate, and certainly did not help dispel prejudice or misunderstanding. Perhaps the most damaging idea he promulgated is that if you aren’t “cured” of your homosexuality through prayer, fasting, priesthood blessings, etc., its because you didn’t try hard enough. Kimball’s attitude is generally reflective of the limited understanding of homosexuality, from a scientific standpoint, of his day.

    I think the most unfortunate thing about the Miracle of Forgiveness is that many people (including a former Bishop of mine who handed out paperback copies like candy) literally consider it “scripture”. It clearly is not and was never intended to be.

    Other Church leaders have made additional remarks that have served to engender prejudice and misconception in the Church. Boyd K Packer used a story about a missionary who was “approached” by a homosexual companion in a highly controversial conference talk. The missionary slugged his companion, and Packer’s comment was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way” (the Tabernacle audience erupted in laughter at this comment, but the way). This has been viewed as an endorsement for homophobia. In another Church pamphlet directed at homosexuals, Packer assigns the reason for homosexuality as “selfishness”. These and other earlier statements have served to inflame the gay community against the Church, and have become a stumbling block for many Mormon homosexuals trying to find their place in Mormon culture.

    Other Church publications, including the General Handbook, gave advice such as not letting homosexuals around the youth, or not giving them callings at all. These materials and a number of Church pamphlets on the subject have now been removed from print, but their effects will unfortunately linger for many years to come.

    Its sad that many negative and erroneous ideas of the past were allowed to permeate the Church and poison the attitudes of leaders and members. Many good people have been lost as a result. Some, like Stuart Matis, took his own life because of the conflict and rejection he experienced (read “In Quiet Desperation” – Deseret Book). I’m grateful for the new, more accurate materials the Church has recently publised, and hope we will continue to see the doctrine on this subject clarified in mainstream Church educational materials. And I especially hope members will continue to become more loving, aware and tolerant of those of us who deal with this issue in our lives.

    Regards,

    Neal

    Comment by Neal — March 30, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

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