Excerpts from a 1981 LDS Booklet Addressing ‘Homosexuality’, published as a guide to be used for local leaders when working with homosexual members: 1
Homosexuality is of grave concern to the Church because-
1. It violates the Lord’s eternal plan for man’s progress by perverting the proper use of procreative powers and loving relationships.
2. It deprives God’s children of the happiness and fulfillment possible only in family life.
3. It debases and demeans those involved.
4. It is as sinful as heterosexual adultery and fornication.
5. It may involve violent or criminal behavior.
Homosexuality is erotic physical contact or attractions between members of the same sex, including erotic same sex fantasy. It may include thoughts or emotional attractions without outward sexual behavior, or it may include complete emotional, sexual, and genital involvement with a member of the same sex. Homosexual activities may range from childhood experimentation to adult obsession. Some participants are unwilling victims of sexual assault or incest and bear emotional scars. Others who have willfully rejected the gospel and morality are trapped by habits of sexual indulgence. Sexual misbehavior, however, is almost always a symptom of serious social or emotional problems.
A. The Position of the Church on Homosexuality
The First Presidency has issued the following statement to priesthood leaders:
As we have previously stated, homosexuality is a sin in the same degree as adultery and fornication. Powerful forces are seeking to establish this sinful practice as an accept- able way of life. Homosexuality in men and women runs counter to divine objectives and the intended destiny of mankind. The Lord has declared, “For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Some claim homosexuality is incurable, therefore they seek to be considered a legitimate minority group protected by law. We should not be deceived by these false rationalizations. We must never lose our perspective amidst the world’s clamor to justify and normalize immorality. According to the Lord’s revealed word, the only acceptable sexual relationship occurs within the family between a husband and a wife.
B. The Causes of Homosexual Behavior
Professionals do not agree on the causes of homosexual behavior. However, most professional research supports the view that homosexual behavior is learned, and is influenced by unhealthy emotional development in early childhood. This explanation is most consistent with what the Lord has revealed concerning the eternal nature of man as the offspring of divine parents.
The Church’s unequivocal position is that any rationalization of homosexuality is wrong.
Homosexual behavior is learned. Homosexual behavior is learned and can be overcome. To believe that immoral behavior is inborn or hereditary is to deny that men have agency to choose between sin and righteousness. The Lord has given man the freedom to make moral choices, and this agency is the cornerstone of his plan for exaltation. He has revealed that the ultimate goal for man is eternal life. It is inconceivable that as some involved in homosexual behavior claim he would permit some of his children to be born with desires and inclinations which would require behavior contrary to the eternal plan.
A key factor in the development of both male and female homosexuality seems to be the lack of a warm, supportive, affectionate relationship between the individual and his father. Many times the father is either physically or emotionally uninvolved in his child’s life or is punishing and authoritarian.
Early masturbation experiences introduce the individual to sexual thoughts which may become habit forming and reinforcing to homosexual interests.
Members with homosexual problems often feel trapped and alone and believe that change is impossible … Despair prompts feelings of hopelessness, and hopelessness, combined with the burden of unresolved sin and guilt, may lead an individual to contemplate or attempt suicide. Repentance and the Lord’s spirit can lift him from the thoughts of suicide to peace of mind.
Probably the most crucial single factor in the rehabilitation of a member with homosexual problems is his attitude. When he is willing to solve the problem in the Lord’s way, with a priesthood leader’s counsel and direction, he can change. A rebellious attitude is almost always a clear indication of the need to be sternly disciplined.
It is essential that you offer a cordial handshake and be friendly and positive. Your acceptance of the person does not mean you agree with his incorrect behavior.
Modern day prophets have clearly promised that homosexuality can be changed. You should convey this positive attitude because it encourages change.
Discourage homosexual associations.
Successful change requires that a person remove himself from temptation. Many times individuals in the process of overcoming homosexuality cling to past homosexual friends in a sympathetic effort to help them. The individuals will gain nothing and lose much by such continued association.
Those who feel inadequate, have few
if any friends, have dated little or not at all, and are generally lacking in social skills (communication, manners, etc.) will find it difficult to overcome homosexual behavior until their social skills and behaviors are developed more fully.
The individual can more easily eliminate all overt homosexual behavior, friends, and places by replacing them with more appropriate friends and activities. Without violating the person’s confidence, you could assign a mature member of the ward or stake to tutor him in social skills improvement.
Masturbation is a sin, but is not homosexuality when practiced alone. When individuals of the same sex masturbate each other, it is a homosexual act. Self-masturbation is almost universal among those who engage in homosexual behavior, and is a very difficult habit for most to overcome. The fantasies that attend this behavior are often the most powerful aspects of the act.
It is particularly important that parents promote loving relationships in the home and help their children develop the internal strength necessary to guard against homosexual and other temptations. These qualities in the home will help reduce the chances that homosexual behavior will develop, as well as help prevent other social and emotional problems.
Service in the Church is both a responsibility and a privilege. The member who has repented of homosexual problems can receive strength from seNing in ” safe ” callings . Assignments should never place him in a position of temptation. A man previously involved with young boys, or a woman with young girls, should not be used in youth programs.
Bishops and stake presidents are expected to clearly inquire into sexual behavior when they are considering youth for missions.
Interviews for attendance at Church schools may also include questions about homosexual behavior. Applicants are not to be approved if they are involved in these practices. All with homosexual problems, including those who apply to Church schools, should be dealt with as would those who have committed fornication or adultery.
The bishop or branch president may need to make special confidential evaluations and inquiries of members who have been identified as homosexual contacts by other members or by priesthood referral. He should interview these individuals carefully, and if they are involved, invite them to confess and ofter them a program of repentance and change. Church judicial system procedures should be followed as t he situation warrants .
Since homosexual behavior is possible only with others , the individual should disclose his sexual partners as an essential part of repentance. The purpose is to help save others. The leader to whom the names are disclosed should refer the names to the individuals’ priesthood leaders tor follow-up action. Priesthood leaders must be careful not to reveal their sources as they make contact with those whose names they are given.
Many written testimonies have been gathered from individuals who have overcome homosexual problems and found peace and success in dating, marriage, and Church activity. In these testimonies, members speak without exception of their deep sense of having sinned. One individual said, “Finally I became aware very strongly (and I’m sure it was the Holy Ghost bearing witness to me) that what was being done in my life was abhorred in the sight of the Lord.”