Homosexuality, or really any sexuality for that matter is not a choice. And it is not something that people can simply change about themselves. The options for a gay member of the Church are not either to ignore it, and in so doing ignore a part of their identity, or live according to their sexual attractions and renounce the Church. There is a solution—and it is to pray, read, and attend church as often as possible. Discover what the Lord’s individual plan is for you. There is no right answer and no perfect way to live as a gay member of the Church, but it can be done.
Both being gay and being active in the Church are possible. In fact, being a gay Mormon is not an oxymoron as it may appear to some people. It’s possible to acknowledge and even celebrate your sexuality while remaining a faithful and temple-recommend-holding member of the Church. There are a variety of resources for those individuals and families that are struggling with this. Through the help of inspired leaders, the scriptures, prayer, and even qualified counselors, many have found relief and peace.
It is also possible for those parents and loved ones of LGBTQ youths to support diversity and still maintain your testimony and belief in the Church. Attempting to bury the feelings that come naturally can be damaging to any individual and to their future relationships. Trust that even though it may not be readily apparent to you how you may fit into the Plan of Salvation now, all truths will be revealed to us eventually. Until then, hold to the rod.
I realize that my authority on this subject may appear rather flimsy because I myself identify as straight, but I have many friends and acquaintances who are a part of the LGBTQ community and I love them. This is an issue that I have sought to demystify for quite a while. And so, I plan to rely heavily on the words of a reliable authority figure on the subject, brother Tom Christoffersen. He recently wrote an amazing book about his experiences as a gay member of the Church called “That We May Be One.”
Growing up, I never felt that I fully agreed with what appeared to be the Church’s stance on homosexuality. I struggled and prayed to know how to feel about the matter, and the undeniable answer that I have received is that it is imperative that we love our LGBTQ members of the Church. I also found that I was completely mistaken about the Church’s stance.
The Answer is Love
There still may be many things that are unclear, as the Lord doesn’t reveal to us all the answers at once, but one thing is clear, the Church preaches that we must love everyone unconditionally. No matter a person’s lifestyle choices or how they decide to conduct themselves, love them. The Lord does, and there is no appropriate reason not to.
There are many resources available to gay members of the Church. We should not let divisions enter our families. If we are unsure about how to proceed when an individual comes out, remember that love should come first and foremost. The future and how eternity will play out might remain unclear for a long time, or even for the entirety of this mortal existence, but this should not dishearten us. Uncertainty is simply a side effect of living.
The Difference Between Gender and Sex
One important distinction to make is that a binary exists in sex, but not gender. Sex is biological while gender is more connected to identity. Gender has broadened to a spectrum, and this fact need not be offensive to us. Just because it may be something that we don’t understand, does not make it ok to write it off. The Lord intended us to be diverse and unique individuals, and that is what we are. If this was not what he had intended, then he would not have given us agency.
People reserve the right to define themselves however they may, no matter how we may feel about the issue. As Latter-day Saints, we are so lucky to know that in the beginning, He created two sexes; male and female, and as such, we have distinct responsibilities and capabilities. In this way, the binary exists, but this does not mean that the fact that we are either man or woman dictates everything about who we are or how we choose to be.
We are all supremely unique, and although we all have different capacities and responsibilities according to our sex, our personalities may not conform to a lot of gender norms and that is ok. It’s possible to not be what the world views as a “typical man” or “typical woman” and still remain true and faithful.
Because doctrine so clearly explains that the Lord created us as either man or woman, many of us, as a result, will have a much clearer sense of identity as either a man or a woman. However, for those members that are among the LGBTQ community, this may appear less clear. Despite this, the Lord does not love you any less and desires that you prayerfully move forward. He will tell you what you must do, but in order to have spiritual ears to listen, you must seek His counsel, rather than the counsel of others, always.
To Those Who Have Left
I would also like to address those individuals who have made the choice to leave the Church as a result of feeling unable to resist acting on their same-sex attractions. Resist the urge to have bad feelings about the Church. It is important to remember that the Church is made up of imperfect people. The doctrine is perfect, but the people are not.
Over the years, there may have been people who have made comments that have hurt you. Do not dwell on these. The adversary will work hard to poison you against the Church and its members. If you have left the Church, know that the Lord still loves you. He will never forsake you. Even if you find it hard to believe in other church doctrines, know that his love for you will never change.
Whether you believe it or not, there is a place for you here. You may not believe it now, and it may take a very long time before you feel ready to begin embracing any aspects of the Church again. Take your time and do your best to lean on the Lord, and do not give in to the world’s constant insistence that He does not exist. He lives and he loves you no matter what you do.
Be Accepting of All People
In Primary, we are taught to love one another, but there are many of us that somehow think this applies only to the people that it is easy for us to love. Many of us may find it hard to love individuals of the LGBTQ community, simply because we may not understand/agree with the lifestyle that they have chosen for themselves. Understanding is not the issue here. There is no need to understand in order to be able to love.
Among some members of the Church, there is also a lot of confusion about what a gay person is or isn’t. To put it candidly, a gay person is not a broken straight person. That would be similar to saying that an alcoholic is a broken sober person. I realize that this comparison may not be the most accurate, as sexual orientation and addiction have nothing in common, but it is meant to prove a point rather than offend. We all have different things we are drawn to and attracted to, and there is nothing wrong with that.
It is important to know, though, that identifying as a member of the LGBTQ community is not a sin. The sin comes when we act on and give in to those attractions. This, to many, can seem very harsh, and even to me, this has seemed very problematic. For many, the idea of choosing to live their entire lives according to the Church’s teachings rather than giving into their sexual attractions seems impossible.
Living the gospel may be what their heart wants, but their bodies almost certainly will protest, possibly to the point of giving in. Walking the path of righteousness is not easy for anyone. The lot of the righteous is hard. Work closely with your bishop and the Lord to figure out the way for you to be your best self and to live your life in such a way that you can be happy.
Some spiritual ambiguity may remain as you seek to remain faithful to the Lord and to yourself. Tom Christoffersen is more familiar with the difficulties this presents than many other individuals. His counsel is to take things a day at a time rather than seeking to have all the answers now. In his book, Christoffersen quotes President Harold B. Lee:
“Dont try to live too many days ahead. Seek for strength the attend the problems of today…do all that you can do and leave the rest to God.”
It is easy to become so overwhelmed by all the unanswered questions and the uncertainty of our future that we forget where we live; in the present! We should live for our daily bread—looking no further than the day ahead of us. If we do this, it will all seem more possible. We must choose the Lord every day. Making a commitment to him once will not be enough to keep us on the right path. We must recommit ourselves to living the gospel daily because there will be days where it may feel almost impossible.
Horray For Modern Revelation!
I don’t have all the answers. I trust that there will be more revelation concerning this issue as time goes on. One of the things I love most about this church is that we believe in modern revelation. The doctrine can be added upon. This does not mean that the doctrine changes, but that the Lord understands people change as the times change. Continued revelation is what will help us cling to the iron rod.
There is still so much we don’t know. The Lord will reveal it to us individually and as a church when we need it most. We must trust in the Lord’s timing. There is hope for us all. Pray to the Lord for guidance if you struggle to be true to yourself while at the same time living in accordance with the gospel. It will not be easy, but it is possible.
Treating those of the LGBTQ community with love and kindness does not mean we are condoning whatever sins they might be committing. We must not judge others because we sin differently than they do. Let us all love one another, that we may be one, and leave the judgments to the one who knows us best—The Lord.