|Frequently Asked Questions||WhyProphets.com|
Reponses to claims on this site. Not official statements of church doctrine!
Introduction, and the LDS view
Gay men are not much different from any other men apart from being gay. They do their share of good things, and deserve as much respect as anyone else. Bigotry is (in my opinion) a worse sin than being gay. In my experience, gay men often become gay for apparently good reasons - heterosexual culture can seem pretty cruel, and sometimes has no place for sensitivity and creativity.
Unless specified, quotations are paraphrased from various articles in Sunstone. Sunstone is a magazine that publishes material relating to LDS culture and belief, both for and against. I have not identified 'chapter and verse' in each case, because the statements seem to represent common feelings and experiences, not scholarly arguments.
The LDS ('Mormon') view is that homosexuality, if physically expressed, is strongly condemned by Church policy. See "The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball" chapter 10, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Leviticus 20:13, and Leviticus 18:21-25 (note the context!)
However, marriage is definitely not recommended as "therapy for homosexual relations." AIDS victims applying for Church membership, temple recommends, and other Church privileges are to be treated by the usual standards and not singled out; but victims contemplating marriage must inform potential spouses of their condition. For more details, see the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, or "All About Mormons".
Suppression is recommended?
Church doctrine does not recommend a particular solution, but only says that homosexuality is wrong. Personally, I think that suppression is a very bad idea. A much better solution is to divide the problem into its component parts, and redirect each part to more worthwhile ends. That way, our weakness can become a collection of strengths. See the page on sexual orientation for details.
The Church may change its view?
I think that is highly unlikely, but I am not the prophet. Sometimes requirements are diluted when members are too weak to live a better life (as with the Word of Wisdom, "adapted to the capacity of the weakest of saints.") But whatever the church says or does, this does not change the fundamental problems with homosexuality. However, church leaders do preach openly against the evils of bigotry against gays.
Some church leaders have promoted dubious theories, such as the "dominant mother / passive father" idea
Church leaders are good, but not infallible. When something seems wrong, it is worth checking what the President of the church says. This is from a bishop of a singles ward with a high proportion of gay men:
"As soon as I started listening and started relating what I heard from homosexuals with what I read in some books by the Brethren I thought that isn't what I am hearing. For example, I was reading about the dominant-mother/passive-father families but I was hearing different things from these children and, on occasion, their parents. I didn't say, "Well, the Brethren are wrong," because I really believe in sustaining a living prophet. So I started to search what the living prophet had said while he was the living prophet about some issues, and I felt okay about what I read there."
Should all 'sinners' be kicked out of the church?
If so, the church would be empty! We are all sinners in some way.
Is unusual strength required of gay men in the church?
Some point out that the Lord asks no more of its members who are tempted toward homosexuality than it does of its members who never marry. But personally, I think that suppression is not the best option. Reevaluation and reinterpretation of causes and desires is better.
Church members are trying to improve
May people have observed that the church is becoming more sensitive to gay members. For example, no-one now suggests that gay men get married as therapy. But we still have a long way to go. As church members learn more, understanding will improve. Hence, for example, most people now know that it is safe to be around a man who has AIDS. In earlier years, there was an unfortunate incident where a bishop advised a gay man (who was dying of AIDS) to leave his partner, but he bishop did not provide any church support because he (wrongly) thought that church members would be in danger of catching AIDS too.
But learning takes time.
"The church makes gays miserable by teaching them to want things they cannot have"
One writer told of a gay man, a Mormon, who felt he who could not be happy in Mormon culture, "being an outsider, permanently cut off from what his religion had taught him to desire. The family and children he had always wanted were inaccessible, for he now felt he could never in good conscience ask a woman to marry him. With reduced possibilities before him, he sometimes wondered if clinging to life was really worth the effort."
This is a tragic account, but it does illustrate that deep, identity-forming feelings can be taught. So why are some people so sure that homosexuality is not learned?
"My searching took me away from BYU to a community in the East known for its large lesbian population where, in the company of women-identified-women, I felt euphorically validated in essential parts of my psyche. It was here that I eventually fell deeply in love with a woman to whom in another context I could have easily, joyously, committed myself "for time and all eternity." However, for no convincing doctrinal reason, nor due to any internalized shame or fear of retribution by a homophobic god (such as being plagued with AIDS), I painfully ended my lover relationship with Carol. For some profound reason I don't understand, but which I attribute to a guiding spiritual voice, I personally could not be at peace as a lesbian."
What is the problem?
The problem is ignorance. Straight men who see gay men as evil, and gay men who see gayness as a single condition (either good or bad) rather than a number of attitudes that each have potential for good. Understanding is the solution to most problems.
"I am greatly alarmed at the response of some members of the Church... we find individuals justifying their bigotry towards homosexuals and persons with AIDS because of the Church's policy on homosexuality."
I agree. If church members would only remember that love is the golden rule! Just as the 'publicans and sinners' would get into heaven before the hypocrites, so I think that homosexuals are closer to heaven than people who claim to be religious, yet use it as an excuse to hate.
"From their youth they hear from both adults and peers the deprecating epithets"
This is plain old sin. Anyone who reads the scriptures can see that. The solution is to listen more to the scriptures, and less to other people. Then when people do sin, we can feel sympathy for them, rather than thinking bad about ourselves.
"Our culture had encouraged him to hate himself"
This is tragic - it sounds like the culture was bad. One solution is to reject the culture. We are each children of God, and entitled to form our own view of ourselves, regardless of what others say. But it is important to distinguish between culture and truth. For example, I am British, and I am not interested in a lot of Mormon culture, because much of it is just American culture. This is unavoidable, since the truth is often filtered through American minds and American experience. But the truth itself is something different, and that I love.
Another solution is to reject the pseudo-scientific nonsense about identity. We all have problems that we are working on. There is no need to see these problems - no matter how deep rooted - as our identity. For example, if I have a problem with my weight, it is not because my identity is as a fat man. My identity is as a child of God, and I just happen to be working on something.
The idea that "I feel strongly therefore I cannot change" is one solution to the problem of temptation, but it is based on falsehood, and so leads to worse problems.
"Consider the psychological burden borne by some homosexuals."
When this burden is described, it does not sound unique to sexual identity. It is a more severe form of very familiar feelings:
- Feelings of being different (which we have all felt at some time)
- Feelings of wanting something forbidden (ditto)
When we understand them, they cease to be such a burden:
- Everyone is different in some way. When we break a difference down into its component parts, we find that we are not talking about our nature at all, but about a collection of attitudes that can be strengths when used in the right way. See the discussion of identity and "being different."
- If what we want is not wrong, we need to practice having the courage to accept it. If it is wrong, we need to have he courage to adapt it (not necessarily suppress it) until it is no longer wrong.
These feelings are not uncommon, and can lead to many different "identifies," not just homosexuality.
- Once you begin to feel you are different, if you consider this as a possibility, it can be used to explain all your feelings of being different.
- Consider the middle aged man who enjoys the company of his female work colleagues more than his wife (even though he may never have an affair). The classic belief is that "people do not understand me."
"He could not deny the legitimacy of his inner self"
What does that sentence actually mean? Simply that we have strong feelings and we don't want to pretend otherwise. We don't have to! We just need to understand those feelings in order to see what causes them and how they can be channeled into the most satisfying direction. See the section on "what is sexuality?" in the page on sexual orientation for details.
"I will not violate my identity"
What is our identity? Just how we see ourselves at a particular time. How we see ourselves changes with time - it is not set in stone. As we come to feel differently about something, or identify ourselves with another group, it changes. We usually have many identities - in terms of family relationships, religious convictions, work responsibilities, how people recognize us,. etc. we do not need to violate any identity as if it is some separate person who might get offended. But it might help to understand who we see ourselves, why, and where we want to be.
"I had to discover and test the truth of my unique identity"
This statement is based on the fallacy of reification - treating some aspect of ourselves as if it had an independent existence. In fact, identity is something we make, not discover. We do not need to put ourselves into a situation to see how we respond, as if we were some kind of robot, a slave to our genes. We can decide to take control and put our minds in charge.
"it is impossible to like yourself until you quit trying to change yourself."
Does trying to change automatically make you hate yourself? Of course not. Does a competitive athlete hate himself? Does anyone with high goals automatically hate themselves? No, they take pride in their achievements so far.
The problem is not in setting goals to change. The problem is in confusing actions and identity. We are told that what we do, rather than being a series of actions and behaviors that can be adapted to something better, is a monolithic, unchangeable label for what we are. The problem is in being told "you are deeply and fundamentally gay" rather than "you are a complex individual with a lot of strengths and potential for even more strengths. Some church members must no doubt share some blame for this naive view, but it is also encouraged by the gay lobby.
"Repression is as spiritually disfiguring... The Scriptures condemn repression (1 Timothy 4:1,3)."
Actually, 1 Timothy 4:1-3 talks about "seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" and then lists good and wholesome things that Satan attacks (such as marrying and eating). But I agree that repression is harmful. It is better to understand and change inappropriate behavior, not just try to squash it.
"It was Satan who wanted everyone to be alike. We all chose to be on God's side, and fought for the right of diversity."
This is true. But living with someone of the same sex, by definition, means avoiding diversity. "Hetero" means "different." "Homo" means "the same."
"The prohibitions against male-male sex in Leviticus refer to sexual acts within the context of idolatrous worship."
That does not seem to be the case (see for yourself - the text is Leviticus 20). Idolatry is mentioned, but only as one of many sins, including men lying with men, and men lying with animals.
"If the intent were to outlaw homosexuality in general, it is odd that there is no symmetrical proscription of female-female sex, idolatrous or otherwise, in the Bible."
The social structures (a male dominated society) probably meant there was less opportunity for women to do this, so it would have been seen as less of a problem. Also, it does not take a genius to see that if male-male sex is wrong, female-female is probably wrong as well.
"Modern prophets and apostles have not condemned homosexuality on the strength of prophetic authority, despite their generally negative opinions of it."
It is a common mistake to think that a prophet must say "thus saith the Lord" before saying anything from God, or that a message that was clearly understood from the Bible needs to be re-revealed as if it had been lost.
"Homosexuality is good!"
"It wasn't until Greek culture had again adopted avidly and pointedly heterosexual norms that it fell into political and military decline."
If political and military decline means that they stopped conquering and butchering other nations, I would say that this was a good thing.
"Here is a list of good people who were also homosexual"
No-one argues that someone is homosexual man can also do good. People are complex, and sexual orientation is just one part of life. But the argument is not valid, because it is possible to choose any behavior - good, bad and indifferent - and produce a list of good people or bad people who practiced it. So what? Nobody is a pure collection of just good things or just bad things.
"[if] homosexual inclination is a matter of biochemistry [then] it originates outside the arena of moral choice."
This is not logical.
First, the conclusion does not follow from the premise. For example, all my physical characteristics are a matter of biochemistry, yet I can change nearly all of them if I wish. (Some aspects - such as a chemical imbalance that cause me to harm others - might almost demand change purely on a moral basis).
Second, it conceals he fact that what we call homosexual inclination can have a number of causes.
Third, even the strongest dives (such as to eat) are subject to moral choice. Some people chose not to eat for moral reasons - perhaps a hunger strike to make a political or moral point.
Fourth, not all biological drives are good. Some researchers believe that males are biologically programmed to use force to have sex - "all men are rapists" is the controversial conclusion. As another example, pedophiles could claim the same rights that gay men claim. Biology does not make something right.
Loaded words "honesty" and "courage"
When reading accounts of gay men's lives, I frequently come across words like honesty and courage. These are to be applauded, but with caution. It is possible to be honest, but wrong. For example, I could honestly say that I genuinely believe that the moon is made of cheese. Also, it is possible to be courageous and wrong. It would take a lot of courage, for example, for me to make a big sign "the moon is made of cheese" and walk through the city all day, holding it up high.
"You cannot ban homosexuality!"
I agree. But is it wise to spend public money on promoting something that is harmful?
"Don't legislate morality"
This is a silly thing to say. Legislation does nothing else! All legislation is ultimately based on some idea of morality - e.g. life, freedom, etc., are moral issues.
"It's all about freedom"
This is true. One of the reasons that I disagree with homosexuality (all the reasons are detailed on the page on sexual orientation) is that it restricts freedom. Some of the other reasons are because one person's freedom can cause harm to another person.
"You cannot legislate something that is done in private"
This is true (obviously). However, not all things done in private are harmless.