LDS Church revisits position on homosexuality

Interesting article today from the Salt Lake City Tribune regarding the LDS church and its position on homosexuality. Not sure if Evergreen is really as at odds with this stance as the article portrays. I know Dave Pruden (Exec. Director) is not a reparative therapist, nor does he think many of their referral therapists are such. Also, Jeffrey Robinson, popular in LDS circles, takes a more contextual view.

20 thoughts on “LDS Church revisits position on homosexuality”

  1. Eddy –

    I think I found the problem – I was working with browser tabs and posted this response in the wrong place – It is loosely tied to something you said in the Jones and Yarhouse Release Study thread. Your post number was 48302, and you just made a comment about a comment I had made. I was trying to elaborate a little more on my earlier position – that’s all. I think it has lost some of its urgency now 🙂

  2. Eddy,

    To be perfectly honest – I am as confused as you must be. I’ll let you know when and if I get this cleared up – until then – sorry for the confusion 🙂

  3. Jayhuck–

    I’m puzzled why you directed post 48312 to me. My only comments were to Pam and words of support and encouragement to Ty Ray. I couldn’t find a connection in your comments to mine. Were you responding to someone else?

  4. Ty Ray and Eddy,

    Not to derail the discussion, but I have to tell you both that I thoroughly enjoyed “Ender’s Game”, by Card. And even though I’m not a Mormon, I do have a Mormon roommate and a friend who is an Ex-Mormon, so I do have some insight into the faith – just no firsthand experience 🙂

  5. Eddy,

    Just so I’m clear on this – I DO realize that the discussion going over on Box Turtle is not being done by peers of the researchers. What I meant by saying that is that the part of the discussion (on BoxTurtle) that is rationale is helping bring some perspective to the study.

  6. Thanks, Jayhuck, for your thoughts and for acknowlegding my clarification. As for the marriage question, it’s not something I could articulate well in a blog comment, so I don’t think I’ll try, but I’m not bothered at all by the question. It’s rooted in both religious beliefs and some personal spiritual experiences.

    Eddie, thanks for the welcome. If you like Card’s writing, you may be interested in a recent BeliefNet debate he participated in with Dr. Albert Mohler, head of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

  7. Eddy,

    The fact of the matter is – the state of ex-gay studies is such that there IS no true objective way of measuring the results in this study – all that can be done, as with other studies, is to use the self-reports of “highly motivated” individuals who belong to a group with a strict conservative agenda – reporting to a group of researchers with an unapologetic conservative Evangelical Christian bent.

    I’m really looking forward to one of their (the researchers’) peers critically analyzing the study. Not necessarily to disprove everything, but to bring everything into some perspective (I do think they’ve done some of this over on Box Turtle). I get the sense that this study is to the Evangelical world what the iPhone was to most of the tech geeks in the world. We may come to find out that while its interesting, and better than some – not all – previous studies on the subject, its still over-hyped and has a great many flaws.

  8. Welcome Ty Ray!

    Pam: I, too, appreciated your humorous posts. My favorite author (Orson Scott Card) is a Mormon. I love his writing so much that I’ve even found some of his Mormon writings. The church vocabulary was quite intriguing.

    Ty Ray: I wish you a satisfying journey! It sounds like ‘you have your head on straight’. I have a feeling that some might not understand that in Mormon experience even a casual relationship is far more ‘intimate’ than most of us experience…there’s an openness within the community that is incredibly supportive. So, the ability to move to a deeper level with some would likely be tremendously rewarding.

  9. Ray,

    My sincerest apologies. Thank you for clearing those things up. I often get into trouble for jumping to conclusions, and that appears to be the case in this instance as well.

    For the record, I am, technically speaking, an ex-gay man – although I dislike the word. You could just say I’m a non-practicing homosexual.

    I wanted to address something else you said though: “But we simply can’t set up the argument upon the premise that same-sex attracted people are going to be lonely, isolated and desperate unless we endorse homosexual relationships.”

    — I agree with this to a point. We also shouldn’t (and I fully realize you didn’t suggest this) ask the secular world NOT to endorse homosexual relationships. Homosexuality and Heterosexuality are seen, by the world, by science and by some faith traditions as being the norm. We wouldn’t suggest that straight people change their orientation and we shouldn’t suggest that gay people do either – in schools or in any other secular setting. The secular world should not have to cater to the whims, beliefs and desires of the religious world. – That being said, though, we must give the religious community the ability to address, for those few who have a problem with their orientation and their value system, a place to go for healing. Not being healed OF homosexuality necessarily, but healing nonetheless! You had made a few comments regarding this above, but we need to learn to keep SOME religious people from trying to legislate their beliefs onto the secular world, just as we would keep the secular world from impinging on the religious one.

    Jag is married to a person of the same sex – and that is a right that needs to be afforded to all same sex couples should they so desire it –

    I do hope this question isn’t too personal – I’ll understand if you don’t want to answer it, but I’m curious why you feel a desire to marry? What do you believe marriage would offer you?

  10. Jag,

    I appreciate your points. They’re good questions that don’t invite easy answers. I think that’s something each individual is going to have to work out individually. And there are two different questions here: how should the church respond? and How should civil government respond? Each of these questions needs to be answered independently but too often they get messily entangled into the same question. Whether or not the civil government recognizes same-sex relationships, including the right to adopt children, as a matter of respecting peoples right to choose how they live their life… is a different question than those the church must face. And how various faith traditions respond is going to depend upon a matter of belief in, and interpretation and understanding of, God’s plan and will for His children.

    The important point, imo, is recognizing the distinctness of those questions, and then responding in kind.

  11. Jayhuck,

    My comments were not intended to be offensive or to raise stereotypical criticisms. With all due respect, however, you’ve made some assumptions that I believe are entirely inaccurate. First, I never said openly gay men cannot or don’t experience deep and satisfying non-sexual intimacy with other men. What I referred to was the fallicy that homosexuals cannot experience love, connection, or intimacy outside of a gay relatioship and therefore it’s unjust for society–or even God–to deny them that. After all, they’re all going to be desperate, isolated, and suicidal if they don’t, right?

    My point was that within MY value system, homosexual relationships are not an option, but I’m not desperate or lonely or isolated or unhappy, because I’ve found deep connection and intimacy outside of those relationships. I don’t NEED that kind of a relationship to be happy. If someone WANTS that kind of relationship, feels happy and satisfied there, and it’s not against their personal or spiritual value system, that’s an entirely different story. But we simply can’t set up the argument upon the premise that same-sex attracted people are going to be lonely, isolated and desperate unless we endorse homosexual relationships. THAT was my point. The statements I quoted from a previous comment–“*never* have an intimate relationship with someone they are attracted to.” “We know the benefits of healthy, happy, intimate connections with others.”–were an effort to demonstrate what I see as a fallacy in judgment. These statements make it sound as though intimacy and romance or sex are synonymous; they are not. And I suspect most openly gay people would agree. They also give the imprssion that the benefits of “healthy, happy, intimate connections with others” for homosexual individuals can only be experienced within homosexual relationships. That, too, is false.

    As for marriage, “desperate need” were your words, not mine. What I said was I still HOPE to marry. Within MY value system marriage to someone of the opposite sex is something I DESIRE and WANT–not deperately need. I also feel it’s something God wants for me. But I don’t feel the “desperate need” to achieve it on any timetable other then the one I work out personally with God.

  12. Ray,

    You said: “But I DO experience very deep and satisfying intimacy with other men in ways that are non-sexual and non-romantic.”

    To be honest, every gay man I know has deep and satisfying non-sexual intimacy with other men – just because you are gay doesn’t mean you can’t have great friendships with other men – to suggest you can’t is a fallacy perpetuated by organizations like NARTH and some other Christian groups.

    My question to you is – Why the desperate need to get married? Would you get married and have kids with a man if you could, or are you – as I think you are – simply talking about marrying a woman? If this is the case, what about your value system makes you believe you MUST get married? – being married and/or having kids doesn’t make ANYONE holy – we only have to look around at the world to see that – so why marriage to the opposite sex? You seem to be expressing this need to do that, but I don’t understand why. Even the apostle Paul thought that marriage was secondary to celibacy. Personally, I think we elevate the institution of marriage more than we should – not that it isn’t a good institution, but like so many things in this world, I think we often feel we NEED it when what we really mean is that we WANT it.

  13. Ray –

    Thank you, and I respect your position – I appreciate you clarifying this. You stated that:

    “I do still hope to alter my attractions enough to marry and have a family that is important to my value system, but I certainly don’t feel lonely or desperate in the meantime until that happens.”

    For women, you have only a limited window of time to have a family, if you wanted to give birth to a child. This is one of the issues that I was speaking of. For the women who has same-sex attractions, but wants to alter these – is she to forego her chance at biological motherhood if these changes do not happen fast enough, or at all?

    I am not saying that someone who is in the midst of the ex-gay struggle cannot be happy or that they are in any way in despair…I am suggesting that telling individuals that they cannot have an intimate relationship until it is the “prescribed” one (with someone of the opposite gender) is a bit cruel, given what we know about human nature. Most individuals do have the need and/or urge for romantic, intimate connections with someone they love – a type of pair-bonding. For some people, telling them they cannot have an intimate relationship until it is the “correct” one, is telling them they will never have a relationship at all – since we do acknowledge that there are some, that despite their best efforts, will not change in their attractions.

    I hope, for your sake, that you are one of those who can change their “attractions enough to marry and have a family that is important to my [your] value system.”

    You are hopeful, and should be…I wish you well. But think of those for whom that time will never come…what are they to do? Never have children, never have a family because this is “God’s plan?”

    I am obviously in support of same-sex relationships, and a Christian and see many same-sex couples and families in my church. In my opinion, because we know that there are some that will never change, despite their efforts, even the church will need to come to a place where they recognize and support those relationships – rather than telling individuals that to be good in God’s eyes, they have to not only go against their attractions (same-sex) but go against their nature (bonding, coupling, having a family, etc).

    It’s a position I predict the church will evolve to, just as it has evolved to so many other positions in history.

  14. To respond to JAG’s question about the call for celibacy, I think there are two important things to note: first, each faith tradition is going to have to respond to that question within the framework of their own worldview. While Latter-day Saints and traditional Christians have several similar beliefs when it comes to the “gospel,” the larger cosmological context of mortal life and of the nature of eternal life is quite different. For a believing Latter-day Saint, it’s not just “if” one marries and has a family, it’s “when,” since we believe that marriage and family are eternal institutions. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” Paul said. While the LDS Church will not change it’s doctrinal position requiring individuals who are not able to marry to remain celibate, the doctrinal framework does provide the expectation that those opportunities will come. That’s stated clearly in the new pamphlet that the Tribune article mentioned.

    The second point is concerning your statement that those who have been unsuccessful in their efforts to change their orientation—or to the degree to which they would like—can “*never* have an intimate relationship with someone they are attracted to.” “We know the benefits of healthy, happy, intimate connections with others.” As someone who deals with this issue, I think there are some serious flaws in this argument. While I’ve made significant efforts to alter my feelings, and have had some success, I do still experience some attraction to men. But I DO experience very deep and satisfying intimacy with other men in ways that are non-sexual and non-romantic. I fully agree that there are important positive and healthy benefits from intimacy connection with others, but to assume that one cannot experience much of that same benefit from forms of intimacy that are non-sexual or non-romantic is an error, imo. I’m single, quite happy, and quite satisfied with the connections I feel with others. I do still hope to alter my attractions enough to marry and have a family that is important to my value system, but I certainly don’t feel lonely or desperate in the meantime until that happens.

  15. I personally think this revisitation was a good thing. The LDS church sounds like it is much more grounded in reality with these statements than in anything it has said in the past!


    I did appreciate the humorous statement earlier – and while I didn’t see it as such on my first reading, after your post and having a second reading, I could definitely see why you felt the way you did 🙂

  16. Among all that ambiguity that the LDS has been espousing concerning homosexuality, I wonder what Rich Wyler, executive director of People Can Change, will come to say. Since his group published that survey [] of 200+ of its clients, almost all of whom mentioned daddy-issues.

    Then there is Kristen Johnson of One-By-One which considers any non-straight missionary sexuality to be fallen mankind’s “brokenness.” It seems the LDS Is hedging its bets to stick to the old ideas.

  17. Thanks for knowing my heart and taking that into account….I really was saying it in a “good humored” way….because I have made some LDS friends over the years.

  18. News is a little slow these days and so I put this up. I am an evangelical so I probably lean toward news that is relevant to evangelicals but as one who works with folks from a variety of traditions, I like to stay informed about lots of views. Pam, I almost didn’t post that comment but I know your heart. I suppose many churches have interesting titles for their ruling bodies. It took me awhile to figure out what a “Session” was for instance.

  19. I don’t really mean to make light of the LDS thing, even though this is exactly what I’m doing with this comment…but…did anyone else feel like maybe you were reading a fictional news story from maybe some sort of Star Trek museum exhibit???

  20. I appreciated this article, thanks for posting it. It is interesting to witness how faiths outside and within Christianity are attempting to reconcile homosexuality and its congregation. In this case, it illustrates, at least to me – the slow progression of the church toward a more reasonable, and scientifically sound stance. They seem to be softening their hard line from years past.

    A few areas they do this: They seem to note that despite prayer, faith, etc…there will be those who will always have same-sex attractions (not an “everyone can change” message), they point out that simply marrying someone of the opposite gender will not resolve the “issue” of attraction (noting that sometimes this has disasterous consequences on the family), etc…

    I have a few thoughts. Despite the fact that both have efforts in ministry to “correct” or “change” homosexuality…the mormon faith (with evergreen) and the christian faith (with exodus)…both are now acknowledging that there is a group that will not change and both of these groups advocate for these individuals to remain celibate.

    If there is a consistent group of people who we acknowledge cannot change – despite prayer, their efforts, etc…is it morally acceptable to tell these individuals that to remain good in God’s eyes, that they should and can *never* have an intimate relationship with someone they are attracted to?

    We know the benefits of healthy, happy, intimate connections with others. But to feel like a sexual outcast, having urges and inclinations for closeness but having no outlet for one’s entire life seems cruel. How can this be recommended?

    I also wonder how, if both churches truly believe that there is a group that will not change, despite their genuine efforts to do so, that they could advocate against basic rights in housing and employment for these groups.

    What would a same-sex attracted Christian or Mormon who desparately wanted a family, children, Telling a woman, for example, that she should just remain celibate is not only telling her that she cannot have a husband…but that she will never be a mother.

    There is something that just doesn’t sit right about that to me….anyone else have thoughts?

    Warren, I hope you continue to post on how different faiths within our country are viewing this issue..including reconciling churches, the unitarians, and those who might take a different stance.

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