Q&A with LDS General Authorities: Same-Gender Attraction

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published what I consider to be an very important interview with Apostle Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy, on the topic of Homosexuality and the Church.

Some Excerpts:

Yes, homosexual feelings are controllable. Perhaps there is an inclination or susceptibility to such feelings that is a reality for some and not a reality for others. But out of such susceptibilities come feelings, and feelings are controllable. If we cater to the feelings, they increase the power of the temptation. If we yield to the temptation, we have committed sinful behavior. That pattern is the same for a person that covets someone else’s property and has a strong temptation to steal. It’s the same for a person that develops a taste for alcohol. It’s the same for a person that is born with a ‘short fuse,’ as we would say of a susceptibility to anger. If they let that susceptibility remain uncontrolled, it becomes a feeling of anger, and a feeling of anger can yield to behavior that is sinful and illegal.

We’re not talking about a unique challenge here. We’re talking about a common condition of mortality. We don’t understand exactly the ‘why,’ or the extent to which there are inclinations or susceptibilities and so on. But what we do know is that feelings can be controlled and behavior can be controlled. The line of sin is between the feelings and the behavior. The line of prudence is between the susceptibility and the feelings. We need to lay hold on the feelings and try to control them to keep us from getting into a circumstance that leads to sinful behavior.

The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.

…merely having inclinations does not disqualify one for any aspect of Church participation or membership, except possibly marriage as has already been talked about. But even that, in the fullness of life as we understand it through the doctrines of the restored gospel, eventually can become possible.

In this life, such things as service in the Church, including missionary service, all of this is available to anyone who is true to covenants and commandments.

…same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life. It is a circumstance that for whatever reason or reasons seems to apply right now in mortality, in this nano-second of our eternal existence.

The good news for somebody who is struggling with same-gender attraction is this: 1) It is that ‘I’m not stuck with it forever.’ It’s just now. Admittedly, for each one of us, it’s hard to look beyond the ‘now’ sometimes. But nonetheless, if you see mortality as now, it’s only during this season. 2) If I can keep myself worthy here, if I can be true to gospel commandments, if I can keep covenants that I have made, the blessings of exaltation and eternal life that Heavenly Father holds out to all of His children apply to me. Every blessing — including eternal marriage — is and will be mine in due course.

I think that this interview is groundbreaking in that it establishes the framework which, if the membership will follow it, allows those members of the church who suffer from same-sex attraction to participate in the church and contribute their valuable gifts and characters to building up the kingdom, as long as they remain celibate.

Hopefully the heterosexual members of the church can come to value those individuals and the contribution they make and encourage and support them in their celibacy, and even admire them for their commitment to the gospel and their personal sacrifice to be obedient to the Lord.

They struggle with a difficult temptation. The church membership should lend strength and fellowship to them as they bear one another’s burdens while at the same time standing firm on those standards of chastity and the definition of marriage consistent with the plan of happiness that God himself has ordained.

Read the entire interview .

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