The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has published a new resource addressing the issue of homosexuality that has some commendable changes, but many of the same stigmatizing problems as before. Framed under the title of “Love One Another,” the new collection of text and video testimonies advises the following important improvements to how Mormons understand and respond to gays and lesbians in their lives:
- NOT A CHOICE: “The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.”
- DO NOT SHAME OR REJECT: “We recognize in each other our common needs for intimacy and companionship and can discuss them without shame or rejection.”
- NOT A DISEASE: “Attraction to those of the same sex, however, should not be viewed as a disease or illness. We must not judge anyone for the feelings they experience.”
- GAYS SHOULDN’T TRY TO FAKE IT: “Unlike in times past, the Church does not necessarily advise those with same-sex attraction to marry those of the opposite sex.”
Indeed, these improvements over blatant ostracization and condemnation could very well save the lives of many young people and help keep families together. However, with this approach, the Mormon Church has essentially only caught up to the “hate the sin, not the sinner” approaches of the Catholic Church and many evangelical Christians, which are still incredibly problematic.
According to the new guide, gay Mormons can only stay members of the Church if they practice chastity, forcing a choice between a life with love and a life with faith. The acknowledgment that sexual orientation is not malleable is worthless if individuals are still shamed by “sin” to repress that sexuality — often through ex-gay therapy — and spend their lives alone. There’s also something insulting about the Church’s suggestion that maybe gay people will be lucky enough to marry someone of the opposite sex in the next life:
We believe that with an eternal perspective, a person’s attraction to the same sex can be addressed and borne as a mortal test. It should not be viewed as a permanent condition. An eternal perspective beyond the immediacy of this life’s challenges offers hope. Though some people, including those resisting same-sex attraction, may not have the opportunity to marry a person of the opposite sex in this life, a just God will provide them with ample opportunity to do so in the next. We can all live life in the full context of who we are, which is much broader than sexual attraction.
This reliance on reincarnation does not take accountability for God’s inherent cruelness requiring such a “test.” Instead, the Church merely encourages individuals to have hope that “God will work out all the confusion and contradiction.” It is sadly ironic that the Church is using the frame of love to justify depriving individuals of love, and even sadder that this can be called an improvement over its previous position.
Watch a video introducing the new website: