Monday, August 20, 2007

The Mormon Church Calls for Tolerance of Homosexuality

The attempted coup against the Montgomery County school board started in 2004 with a group we lovingly called the Recall Group, who had a web site Pretty quickly the smarter ones there realized that the direct approach just might turn people off, so they chose a snappier name: Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, and a new URL that sounded like they were part of the school district. (When we started as, they also bought the domain name and pointed it to their site, but that's another story).

Last year there was some kind of shake-up over there, they switched presidents, and another group joined up with them. The new group was a branch of the Family Leader Network, a nationwide Mormon group. The FLN has joined the CRC and PFOX in a couple of recent legal actions. The former president of CRC, Michelle Turner, is Mormon, as is their resident physician, Ruth Jacobs, and at least one PTSA-President-slash-parent who speaks for them sometimes.

So I'll be interested to see how the Family Leader Network and the Mormon CRC members react to a recent shift in policy by the Mormon Church on the topic that they call "same-gender attraction."

The LA Daily News has the story:
The Mormon Church has quietly moved further from defining homosexuality as evil and the result of faulty parenting.

An unheralded new church publication, "God Loveth His Children," says gay feelings are neither learned nor chosen, and it counsels against rejecting a gay child.

Seemingly aimed at young people, the statement gently counsels individuals who feel attraction to and love for same-gender people to trust in God's plan and not act upon the transitory desires of mortal life - a period of "probation during which we face a variety of temptations and challenges."

"Attractions alone do not make you unworthy," the pamphlet says. "If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction."

It also says: "The Lord's command to `forgive all men' includes the requirement to forgive yourself."

Spokesmen for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would not say what led the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency - the two highest governing bodies of the church - to publish the pamphlet at the end of July.

"I don't know either," said Jan Shipps, a scholar and historian specializing in Mormons. But its placement on the church's Web site makes clear "that it would have to have been approved by the general authorities of the LDS Church." Mormons soften stance on homosexuality

You can see the pamphlet online HERE.

It's actually quite interesting. The pamphlet makes a point that having a homosexual orientation is not itself a sin, though it is God's will that you not act on your feelings. The overriding point is, as the title says, "God loveth His children" -- all of them. Even the gay ones.

Here's a passage that addresses the perceived problem that God wants people to marry and multiply, and some gay people are uninclined to marry someone of the opposite sex. Does the Church urge them to become "ex-gays" and marry anyways?

Heaven is organized by families, which require a man and a woman who together exercise their creative powers within the bounds the Lord has set. Same-gender relationships are inconsistent with this plan. Without both a husband and a wife there would be no eternal family and no opportunity to become like Heavenly Father.

In some circumstances a person defers marriage because he or she is not presently attracted to a member of the opposite gender. While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life. However, the perfect plan of our Father in Heaven makes provision for individuals who seek to keep His commandments but who, through no fault of their own, do not have an eternal marriage in mortal life. As we follow Heavenly Father’s plan, our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children.

So, maybe you don't marry in this life, you'll get another chance.

The LDS Church takes a firm stance against homosexual behavior, but they accept the fact that some people feel that way.
Many people with same-gender attractions have strong testimonies of the gospel and, therefore, do not act on those attractions. Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction. The First Presidency stated, “There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior” (letter, Nov. 14, 1991).

I don't think there's anything in the MCPS curriculum that conflicts with the Mormon Church's position.

We will be watching to see if the Family Leader Network and Mormon CRC members are going to conform to these expectations of the Church:
Some people with same-gender attraction have felt rejected because members of the Church did not always show love. No member of the Church should ever be intolerant. As you show love and kindness to others, you give them an opportunity to change their attitudes and follow Christ more fully.

If you're interested, follow the link and see what they have to say. This is an official LDS publication, found on the website.

The Mormon Church is taking a strong position here, that "No member of the Church should ever be intolerant," and recommending that the intolerant ones need to "change their attitudes and follow Christ more fully." Will the Family Leader Network and the Mormon CRC members go along with these policies of the Church, or will they rebel against Mormon leadership? Let's watch and see.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mormon church has a double standard. Fighting against homosexuality may be doctrinally incorrect, but CULTurally, it is perceived as the right thing.

Teaching tolerance of homosexuality go t me in trouble in church...even though I was teaching directly out of an article written by Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of 12 apostles.

August 20, 2007 8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim,thank you for linking the LDS pamphlet.

I have no doubt the authors are sincere in their theological views. They believe they understand what God wants gay people to do. And, based on that seemingly unalterable premise, this is as humane an approach as is possible.

I am sure it is quite comforting for the authors to tell their gay congregants that God will change their feelings in the next life so that they will live in heaven with their male/female headed families.

I am sure it is quite comforting for the authors to tell their gay congregants that this world is only transitory and that if gay people will just remain celebate and avoid the close spiritual and sexual relationships available in this world to straight people, then they will be just fine in the long run.

I am not so sure that gay people who are born into LDS families are so comforted.

The authors do not explain why gay people should not have the joys in this life that straight people may have -- other than to say it is God's will.

Thankfully, other faith communities have very different views.

I suggest that more humility in asserting certainty about God's will would be a good thing.

A question for Governor Romney: Given the position of his Church, why was he in favor of civil unions just a few years ago? And given his view a few years ago, why is he now opposed? He can't really attribute THIS change to a revelation involving stem-cells. Will anyone ask him that question in a public forum?

August 21, 2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

This seems to be similar to the direction of the Catholic Church to same-gender-attracted members.

It would be interesting to see what approach the LDS church would recommend towards people who don't accept closetedness, or celibacy. Do they recommend tolerance, or castigation?


BTW, I suspect one of the reasons the Boy Scouts don't tolerate gay leaders or members is the preponderance of Mormons on their governing boards.

August 21, 2007 1:39 PM  

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