Monday, July 30, 2007

New Pamphlet on Homosexuality

PrideDEPOT July 28, 2007
The LDS Church's new pamphlet on homosexuality posted this week on the
church's Web site is an improvement on the last three, but doesn't go
far enough in embracing those with same-sex attractions, a longtime
advocate for gay Mormons said Friday.

The piece, titled "God Loveth His Children," reiterates the church's
long-held distinction between same-sex attractions and actions,
suggesting that only the latter are immoral. According to LDS
doctrine, sexuality is only appropriate within heterosexual marriage.
Everyone else is expected to be chaste.

It suggests that the church doesn't know what causes homosexual
feelings, but it's not abuse or sexual experimentation. The pamphlet
acknowledges that not all gays can change their orientation.

These are positive developments, said Gary Watts, who recently stepped
down as co-chairman with his wife, Millie Watts, of Family Fellowship,
a support group for gay Mormons.

The first such pamphlet, published in 1974 suggested homosexuality was
"evil" and "blamed parents for their children's homosexuality," said
Watts, a Mormon father who has a gay son and lesbian daughter among
his six children.

The 1983 revision de-emphasized the "psycho-social causes" of
homosexuality, he said, and the 1992 version eliminated parental blame
altogether, pointing to the possibility of biological factors. By not
speculating on causes, the new pamphlet shows "incremental progress,"
he said.

To Watts, however, the piece's negatives far outweigh its positives.
It implies that those who are able to change their orientation do so
through faith and self-mastery, and are therefore superior to those
who don't.

"If I'm a gay guy who's struggled for 10 years to change and can't,
I'm going to ask: what's wrong with me?" Watts said.

It is not clear how the new pamphlet will be distributed and used. LDS
spokesman Scott Trotter declined to comment on reports that it is
being sent to all Mormon bishops and stake presidents.

LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley and others have acknowledged they
don't know what causes homosexuality and have urged members to be more
accepting of those who experience same-sex attraction. Despite this,
LDS homosexuals still face what many call religious abuse from the

"God Loveth His Children," recommends that homosexuals continue to be
active in the church, contributing money and time.

Watts thinks that is unrealistic, given the fact that up to 90 percent
of gay Mormons leave the church.

Watts charges that LDS leaders are setting up an impossible situation
for gays and lesbian to essentially be celibate or change.

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