Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Can the LDS Church Maintain Its Core Values and Help Those Struggling with Same Gender Attraction

Excerpts of  Guest Post: How Can the LDS Church Maintain Its Core Values and Help Those Struggling with Same Gender Attraction by D. Michael Quinn at


And so what can an institution like the LDS Church do to aid those who are struggling with same-gender attractions, while the Church still maintains its core values?

First, acknowledge officially that this struggle is not a choice. It arises spontaneously in a small minority of humans from a combination of genes, hormones, and environmental influences that are fixed before the age of eight–when each homosexually oriented child is "innocent" by LDS revelation.

Second, LDS leaders should frequently urge those with this struggle to choose life on earth, not suicide.

Third, frequently urge parents not to reject or kick-out-of-the-house their children who are struggling with same-gender attractions.

Fourth, frequently urge parents not to reject their children who have decided to act upon those attractions. While maintaining a not-in-our-house rule, few parents of heterosexually active teenagers kick them out.

Fifth, LDS leaders should frequently encourage all parents to be long-suffering, emotionally available, verbally kind, and non-violent with their sexually active teenagers, so as not to force these vulnerable kids onto the streets as abandoned children or run-a-ways.

Are these things too much to ask of the compassionate men who are prophets, seers, and revelators of the LDS Church? I hope not, because none of the above recommendations violate any commandment or revelation of God.

Do LDS Policies Need to be Altered?

Next is the more difficult question of altering LDS policies–whether traditional or recent, formal or informal. At the most fundamental level, I recommend changes which are absolutely consistent with all the commandments and revelations of God.

First, change the General Handbook of Instructions to specify that there should be no punishments nor sanctions of any kind against Latter-day Saints who are struggling with same-gender attractions, without having engaged in sex acts. There should be no restrictions on Church service–including full-time missions–for simply being seriously tempted.

Second, the General Handbook should specify that the consequences of same-sex intimacy should be no more severe or long-lasting than the consequences for opposite-sex intimacy.

Third, the General Handbook should specify that, just as there are no penalties for male-female kissing by the unmarried, there should be no penalties for same-gender kissing in public or private.

Fourth, the General Handbook should specify that physically attacking persons suspected of being bisexual, homosexual, lesbian, or transgender is as serious a transgression as physically attacking anyone else, including battered spouses and abused children.

Fifth, at least once during each general conference, a speaker should restate the above changes during the first ten years after they are added to the General Handbook. Every one of them is completely consistent with the Gospel, and I hope I am mistaken in thinking they have not been added to General Handbook during the years since I last read it.

What about marriage?

Now, as to marriage. First, despite President Hinckley's emphatic statement in 1987 and despite the dangers of unhappy spouses and of children living with divorce, most LDS leaders and members believe that it would violate God's will if they do not encourage every homosexually inclined person to enter heterosexual marriage. Rather than a change in Church policy, I ask all Mormons two questions: "Would you advise your daughter or granddaughter to marry a homosexually oriented man? Would you advise your son or grandson to marry a homosexually oriented woman?" If you cannot answer "Yes" to both questions, then you should not counsel Mormons in general to do so. Make this your personal decision, and leave the rest to God and His revelations to each individual struggling with same-gender attractions.

Second is the question of civil unions or legal marriage for persons of the same gender or same sex. I ask all LDS leaders and members with pioneer Utah ancestry to remember that the plural marriages of their Mormon ancestors had no detrimental effects on "the institution of marriage" or "traditional marriage" in Boston or anywhere else during the nineteenth century. The same is equally true for the legalized same-sex marriages now being performed and lived in New England, in Iowa, in Canada, and in much of Northern Europe. Historically, and to the present, the unusual marriages of a very small minority have not damaged the traditional marriages of the vast majority.

Let civil proceedings occur in "the land of the free" without interference by religious groups. After the legalization of same-sex marriage, religious officials can still decline to perform those marriages, just as Southern Baptist ministers were not required to perform interracial marriages after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia. Ministers have the privilege to perform civil marriage, not the obligation to do so–even after being licensed with that authority. A licensed minister can decline to perform any marriage. ...


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