Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Church Statements on Homosexuality

LDS Resources is designed for and by believing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All are welcome here who experience homosexual or same gender attraction (SGA) or who have friends or family members who do. The purpose of this site is to provide resources and discussion to help any who have questions or challenges associated with this topic. All who post here are asked to honor the teachings and ideals of the Church and keep the discussion so it is comfortable for and respectful towards believing members of the LDS Church.

This web site is organized around the 2006 interview of Elder Oaks and Wickman and the new Church pamphlet called "God Loveth His Children."

I think perhaps the most interesting statement in the 2006 interview is the one wherein Elder Wickman says that "There's no denial that one's gender orientation is certainly a core characteristic of any person,..." I believe this is very important because it marks a departure from a time when homosexual attraction was thought to NOT be a core issue, but instead everyone was assumed to be heterosexual and if there were homosexual feelings present, then this was considered to be a troubled kind of heterosexuality. However, it was assumed that when the problem was addressed then the person could be healed and come back to the core heterosexuality everyone was expected to experience.

In fact, at one time I was meeting with an official from LDS Family Services and he told me there is no such thing as a scale like the HH or Kinsey Scale going from homosexual to heterosexual. There were, he said, only heterosexuals with a homosexual problem. That same man told me he had a major role in developing the 1992 Church statement which was replaced by the new "God Loveth His Children." I believe this statement from Elder Wickman has finally moved us away from that 1992 mentality. The new pamphlet also has moved away from the 1992 position. It says "Attractions alone do not make you unworthy." (p. 6) This reinforces the idea that homosexual attraction certainly can be a "core characteristic" for some persons and is not considered a sign of unworthiness.

Do you find this statement interesting or are there other ideas of interest in these new Church statements?

4 comments:

Debi said...

Nearly four years ago, my husband of 26 years told me he "may be gay." It was a moment that forever changed our lives. We had always been active in the Church, both returned missionaries, married in the temple, and in spite of some problems in our marriage, we appeared on the outside as the "perfect" LDS family. That changed forever in early 2004 when J and I amicably divorced.

We remain close friends to this day. He is excommunicated. Our four children, ages 20 - 28, no longer attend Church. I am still active. But our family is still close, and the love we share is stronger than ever.

I am grateful for Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman's loving tone and acknowledgement of the complex factors determining sexual orientation.

Yet I am frustrated that the 'rest of the story' is not being told - where is the support for parents and spouses, and the real world guidance for those who are same-sex attracted in the Church and yearn to feel that they 'fit in' and are worthy in every way?

I believe that one of the Church's missions is to teach the "ideal" as far as culture and values go. Sadly, not one of us will ever live the "ideal" life... none of us has our genealogy, food storage, home teaching, missionary work, etc. etc. caught up. Nor are ANY of us free from the many sins "which do so easily beset us" every day.

But the Church is not centered in the ideal cultural and moral values such as the Word of Wisdom, chastity, honesty, etc. - in spite of how important they are. Instead, the Church is centered on our Savior Jesus Christ, His infinite Atonement, and His power to save and exalt.

In getting to know many gay and lesbian friends these past few years, I am a witness of the total impossibility that these deep, sensitive, artistic, caring, friendly souls could possibly be evil or sick or damned. But how do we, as a Church, help those who are crying themselves to sleep tonight?

In Christ's time, leprosy and blindness were thought to be the result of sin. If that had been so, all the Sanhedrin, Sadducees, Pharisees, and the entire Roman legion would have been afflicted! Indeed every human creature is sinful, and ever will be, until we are born again, healed, made perfect though the Savior.

When will we quit shunning our "latter-day lepers?" They may be our gay brothers and sisters, or even those who show up at church with tattoos, or who have been in prison, or who are anything less than Seminary video perfect. Over and over Christ teaches us this. But many just don’t see it. I didn’t until this experience.

Now I am very open with people about my experience, simply because I know that we all need to talk to each other and support each other. THAT is my baptismal, sacramental, and temple covenant. NOT just to ‘be good’ -- but to love as He loves. "Love the Lord God... and love your neighbor as yourself."

I feel like the greatest blessing in my life is my gay ex-husband. He has shown me true compassion and courage. He has shattered my judgmental bubble and helped me to see the light of Christ in the eyes of all Heavenly Father's children.

When I asked him lately why he thought he is gay, he said without hesitation, "To help others to love unconditionally." He has taught me that by example. Not all things will be cured or fixed or even revealed in this life... not my fear, or his self-doubt... but we can all love unconditionally if we, as Moroni invited, 'pray with all energy of heart to be filled that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ." I feel that my gay brothers and sisters have been blessed with an extra heaping portion of that love.

I hope that this latest dialog from Church leaders will encourage the Saints to begin to talk about LOVE - not about SSA or gay rights.

In fact, I am on this site tonight because my Bishop, knowing my situation, has asked me to put together some info for him to talk about Same Gender Attraction in our combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting at the end of the month. I am SO grateful for this site, the honest research presented, and the bridge you offer between the Church and those blessed with homosexuality in their lives. It may not seem like a blessing to some, but I can’t help but believe that someday, as we see with eternal eyes, we will see it as the magna cum laude graduate school course in mortality. Someday it will all make sense, but for now, it just takes love.

Debi in Dixie

Ron Schow said...

Debi

I appreciate your comment that suggests that through love we who are in the Church should be able to find a way to reach out to those who are not currently there but need our love and support.

As you say many families are hurting and it is wonderful that bishops like yours are seeing this opportunity to employ this new Church statement to extend the understanding of many good souls who are in the Church who will want to help when they know more how to do so.

Anonymous said...

In answer to one of the questions, Elder Wickman said:

"Gratefully, the answer is that same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life. It is a circumstance that for whatever reason or reasons seems to apply right now in mortality, in this nano-second of our eternal existence."

I've studied the scriptures and attend church, but haven't found anything in our doctrine that speaks to my soul that this condition is limited to mortality. Can you give any additional background behind Elder Wickman's statement? Do you know if the Prophet has received any revelation in this area, or if he has asked about it?

As someone who has SSA feelings and strives to be a faithful member of the church, Elder Wickman's statement that the feelings will go away at death sounds like wishful thinking to me at this point. I wonder if the above statement is an opinion, such as Elder McConkie's former opinion that blacks would not receive the priesthood in mortality, or if the statement holds more weight than that.

If we don't have a definitive answer at this point, I'm okay with that, and hope that some day we will know more. If we aren't sure, though, then I think Elder Wickman's statement should be softened. If it has definitely been revealed that this is a mortality-only condition, though, it would help strengthen my belief and hope if I knew more of the background... such as an official explanation (or even a semi-official explanation from Elder Wickman) of what experiences and/or scriptures form the basis for the above statement.

Any further insight would be appreciated, and if we could get clarification from the author of the statement, that would be even better! Thanks.

Ron Schow said...

I have commented more about this in a new post as of today (10-15-07). It is clear that all three of the new statements make reference to SGA being a condition which will not be present in the next life. In addition to Elder Wickman, Elder Holland says this in the new Ensign article and so does the recent pamphlet as issued by the First Presidency and the Twelve. Other interviews of leaders (such as Elder Marlin Jensen for the recent PBS documentary) say essentially the same thing.

I am unsure when this was first taught, but I believe this new pamphlet is the first place where it appears to be supported by all of the highest leaders speaking with one voice.

The fact that revelation is ongoing could mean that some interpretations on SGA may change in the next 15 years as they did compared to the previous pamphlet on this subject from 1992, and something appearing in a new pamphlet probably is not considered to be a "settled permanent doctrine." At present, however, it seems the Brethren are in strong agreement about this new teaching.