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New Mormon Tract on Homosexuality

Timothy Kincaid

July 30th, 2007

With about eight million members, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) is among the ten largest denominations in the country.  It is also one of the largest funding sources of anti-gay initiatives and a strong lobbyist against fairness and equality for gay citizens.

Some would look at the history of discrimination against Mormons and find it sadly ironic that they would seek to demand conformity on issues of religion and marriage.  But sociologists tell us that it is not uncommon for those who face social inequalities to be among the most ardent at upholding inequalities against others.

This week the Mormon Church issued a publication on homosexuality that is, in some ways, an improvement on previous positions but which are far from the welcoming or reconciling traditions adopted by some mainline churches.  In synopsis, the LDS church states that same-sex people are welcomed but that such persons should avoid “inappropriate thoughts” or “sinful behavior”.  The church also recognized that reorientation is not necessarily to be expected in this life but demands celibacy and a rejection of “flauting homosexual tendencies”.

Some statements of the pamphlet could be taken right out of the writings of any conservative mainstream Christian church:

God has provided the plan of salvation, or plan of happiness, to help you receive the blessings of eternal life. This plan is set forth in the scriptures; men and women cannot rewrite it to accommodate their desires. … Eternity is long, and mortality is short.

Others have concepts that are foreign to those who are not familiar with Mormon theology:

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. … Without both a husband and a wife there would be no eternal family and no opportunity to become like Heavenly Father. … 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.

The new writings reflect the recognition that regardless of effort many people cannot reorient, but it still states the unsubstantiated (and in my opinion cruel) claim that “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”.  Not only does this claim appear to be without ready example, but I believe it reinforces the notion that a failure to reorient is as likely to be due to a inadequate individual effort or faith as it is the will of God.

Overall, I find this tract to be more compassionate than some by other conservative denominations. However, it makes assumptions and recommendations that I believe are more likely to result in isolation and misunderstanding than in peaceful resolution: no gay friends, immersion in church activities, avoiding too close of friendships, showing “love and kindness” to church members who are rejecting you.  Further, when coupled with such hostile and agressive language as is found elsewhere (e.g. “But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation.”), I don’t see it as any indication that the church will cease to fund its attack on my life.

I cannot forgive the Mormon Church for its multi-million dollar efforts to deny civil equality to non-LDS gay citizens. But this tract did help clarify some of the motivation behind their anti-gay activities and some has given me some compassion for those raised in this church.  With a theology that requires heterosexuality and procreation in order to become like God, there is little wonder that so many gay men that I have met who have had a Mormon upbringing are so deeply conflicted about their sexuality.

ADDENDUM: For an interesting discussion from the perspective of LDS members, see here.

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Northern Lights » Blog Archive » Two non-LDS gay-themed blogs on the new Church pamphlet
July 30th, 2007 | LINK

[...] New Mormon Tract on Homosexuality Box Turtle Bulletin – July 30, 2007 [...]

Todd
July 31st, 2007 | LINK

I grew up in the LDS church and lived a Mormon lifestyle for 38 years. I am familiar with the church’s stand on homosexuality and did all I could to overcome my same sex attraction. I served a mission, got married in a temple, and served diligently in all my callings. I worked with my bishops and the therapists and counselors they referred me to. I had few friends and almost none outside the church. I was supposed to be happy knowing that I was living according to God’s word. Instead I felt lonely and isolated and craved the love and closeness of someone I was attracted to. It was not even about sex, it was about having that emotional bond with another man that I missed even though I had never experienced it.

After twelve years of marriage, I got a divorce. My wife and I had dealt with my homosexuality and the lack of an intimate relationship, but we were not happy, and I finally came to accept that my feelings for my wife, while loving, would never be what she deserved. I could not stay a member of a church with a God that asked me to remain unhappy and unfulfilled in this life. I realize that in some ways, the LDS church does try harder to ensure that their gay members feel accepted and loved, however, they are only accepted as long as they deny themselves and who they are. I am much happier and do not regret leaving the church. I have read the new pamphlet, and while somewhat softer in tone, overall, it is not a huge change from what they have been saying all along.

missionaryway
August 1st, 2007 | LINK

I’m not Mormon & I’m not a Christian, but what Tim Kincaid overlooks in his predictable editorial is that people have to be consistent with their religious beliefs. Islam & Christianity both say that certain sexual behaviors are bad. Islam forbids oral sex & sodomy.

But the point is that if you regard a sexual behavior as bad, then you must decry it. In Hinduism it’s a sin to eat beef (I happen to be a vegetarian). Christians & Muslims decrying homo&lesbian activities is synonymous to Hindus decrying eating beef. In India, it’s a crime to kill a cow. If Mormons want to enact laws which make it a crime to engage in certain sexual activities, then it’s their right to legislate against sexual activities they consider bad, just as it’s the right of Hindus to legislate against cattle slaughter.

Finally, Tim Kincaid gave another rehash of sexual orientation in his editorial, but he is being dishonest. He knows that H&L haven’t been punished by the Mormon Church because of sexual orientation-they have been punished because of same sex behaviors.

Emily K
August 1st, 2007 | LINK

If you’re not a Christian, why is your name “Missionary Way?” Weird. Anyway…

In a democracy like America, where the founding fathers were Deists (more like today’s Unitarians, a far cry from Christian fundamentalism) religious freedom and wariness of the tyranny of the minority as well as the majority were paramount. That is why the US is and SHOULD REMAIN a SECULAR society. People should be allowed to worship and live the way they choose, as long as they are not hurting anyone. Unitarians, Reform Jews, many Conservative Jews, Reconstructionist Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, and liberal Christians such as the United Church of Christ find homosexuality acceptable. Are their opinions less important and less pertinent to the moral structure of this nation? Not if they’re tax-paying, law-abiding citizens.

missionaryway
August 2nd, 2007 | LINK

Emily K, you’re rehashing & not offering anything new. Yes, H&L activities are legal in the U.S. as laws against these sexual behaviors have been repealed. The laws were repealed because of the liberal Christians, Jews & atheists you mentioned who don’t see anything wrong with H&L activities.

I realize that what Tim wrote usu. preaches to the choir as most people who will post already agree with him. However I don’t.

As noted, in predominantly Hindu nations of India & Nepal, killing cattle is illegal, though other religions don’t consider cows sacred. In Muslim nations of Iran, Afghanistan & Saudi Arabia, H&L activities are a crime. In those nations, a man & his wife can go to jail for performing oral sex & sodomy. Islam like Mormonism considers H&L activities, sodomy & oral sex to be bad & that’s why those nations have laws against it.

Incidentally, I use the name missionary way (I’m not Muslim & I’m not even religious) because as noted, I believe that the only acceptable sexual activitiy is missionary sex & if they made it a crime again to engage in sodomy & oral sex, then that’s fine with me.

But since Tim K. wrote about Mormonism, the fact is that he is being unjust, because he is asking that Mormons accept sexual behaviors that they regard as bad. I know that Tim Kincaid sees nothing wrong with H&L activities. Now OK, Tim’s an adult & he’ll do as he sees fit. However in fairness to the Mormons, they always regarded H&L activities as bad, long before the discussions arose over the causes. There’s no other topic which gets as much blind faith as the topic of homosexuality does. Tim Kincaid has no right to force Mormons to listen to the view that H&L activities are OK.

Given that Mormonism considers H&L activities as bad, then it’s their duty to speak against H&L activities or seek legislative actions to make these sexual behaviors illegal. If you regard a sexual behavior as bad, then you must decry it or make it a crime if you can. Not to be reduntant, but while H&L activities are legal, Tim Kincaid has to understand that not every1 is going to agree with his sex life & he has no right to force Mormons to support his sexual activities.

Timothy Kincaid
August 2nd, 2007 | LINK

Missionaryway,

While you are entitled to your opinion, most of us here in the US highly value freedom – including the freedom to live in the way found unacceptable by someone else’s religion.

cowboy
August 2nd, 2007 | LINK

Missionaryway states: [Tim Kincaid] has no right to force Mormons to support his sexual activities.

No. Yet Mormons should be beholden to the laws of the land. When the U.S. Supreme Court rendered sodomy laws moot, why is it that Utah still has sodomy laws on its books. Yet, even when Sen. Scott McCoy (a outspoken gay legislator) tried to repeal or modify the sodomy code in our last legislative session it was soundly defeated. Utahns (or Mormons who are running the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government) are just being spiteful to its gay populace. To a large degree, Mormons are forcing gays to support their brand/style of sexual activities via a theocracy.

Who is forcing whom?

Ken R
August 2nd, 2007 | LINK

missionaryway,

You said,

Given that Mormonism considers H&L activities as bad, then it’s their duty to speak against H&L activities or seek legislative actions to make these sexual behaviors illegal. If you regard a sexual behavior as bad, then you must decry it or make it a crime if you can. Not to be reduntant, but while H&L activities are legal, Tim Kincaid has to understand that not every1 is going to agree with his sex life & he has no right to force Mormons to support his sexual activities.

If the US adopted all religious beliefs and doctrines into law and enacted them you’ll find a very restrictive country that could arrest you just by cutting your hair too short. Emily, Timothy, and I do not object to religions wanting to practice their faiths. What we do object to is these faiths trying to force or pass laws to impose their own beliefs upon the rest of us. The Mormon church can do whatever it wants behind their own doors and if they reject homosexuality then that is their belief.

I find that if certain Christians had their way and the power to do so you’d be forced to accept Christ as your Savior. Many Christians would see you as a sinner and in need of salvation. Face it, it would be a crime NOT to be a Christian. You could be arrested by just being Non-Christian. Would you feel differently then? They would only be decrying what they believed was wrong and that was you not being a Christian.

missionaryway
August 2nd, 2007 | LINK

Thank you for your thoughts. Since laws have been repealed in the U.S. against H&L activities,sodomy & oral sex your point’s moot.

But you are implying it’s just Judeo-Christians, Muslims & Mormons who are against H&L activities. Yes, the Bible & Koran do say that certain sexual activities are bad & Mormons use the Bible & Book of Mormon to justify passing laws against certain sexual behaviors. But you don’t have to be religious to be against H&L activities. You can be non-Christian or even an atheist & be against H&L activities.

Though Hinduism is neutral on homosexuality,sodomy & oral sex- kamasutra originated in India, most Hindus regard sodomy & oral sex as kinky. Many Hindus believe that if a woman engages in sodomy & oral sex with her husband, then she is loose. I’ve been to India many times & I know that many Hindus have views of sex similar to devout Mormons. Mormons & Hindus would differ on other topics such as food-most Mormons eat meat while many Hindus are vegetarians.

India as of 2004 has laws against certain sexual activities & they are illegal for reasons unrelated to religion. Yes, it has been under the rule of Muslims, British, French, & Portuguese (Goa), however colonial rule ended a long time ago & many Hindus consider it taboo.

My point here is that you can be non-Mormon & still agree with them on the issue of sex. Mormons are also citizens & if they want to go through the legal process to make certain sexual behaviors illegal, then I will support them on it. I realize this is repetitive, but as I see it, having laws against certain sexual behaviors is the same as having laws against eating certain foods.

Emily K
August 2nd, 2007 | LINK

Yes, and in a country where both Mormons and Hindus co-exist peacefully as equal citizens, people should be able to have anal sex while eating lentils AND have intercourse within marriage while eating beef.

Timothy Kincaid
August 2nd, 2007 | LINK

Missionary,

The fact that there are some countries that have dietary laws and some countries that have sex code laws and some countries that are governed by Sharia laws is not justification for THIS country to have those laws. We consider (and rightly so) those countries that are theocratic to be backward and enemies of freedom.

You may certainly argue that freedom should be curtailed and that everyone should be subjected to the whims of religious mullahs of various sects, but I think you will find most Americans will dismiss such arguments out of hand.

Ken R
August 3rd, 2007 | LINK

When laws are passed and enforced based on “religious beliefs” you get what is known as “conflict” because everyone’s beliefs and interpretations will differ. And that missionaryway can all be summoned up as the dominant reason for the ongoing problems in the Middle East.

missionaryway
August 3rd, 2007 | LINK

Thanks, but again, but it’s not only theocracies that have laws regarding sex & dietary laws. For eg. Nazi Germany & later Austria passed laws re. animal welfare. Dictator Hitler signed laws on among other things, the fastest way to kill crustaceans. Yes, the Nazis later engulfed Europe in a bloody war that killed millions, but the Nazis deserve credit for passing animal welfare laws which were ahead of time.

I agree with Mormons on other topics. I believing in abolishing sex change surgeries & in the past I’ve tried to get legislation enacted to make these abominations illegal. I also believe that most plastic surgeries are useless. I also believe in abolishing vasectomies-they incr. the risk of prostate cancer & there are safer birth control methods such as condoms, pills & the Rhythm method. I also have no problem if they outlaw Viagra-if you can’t do it anymore, well that’s too soft. Viagra has been shown to incr. risk of heart attacks & Viagra doesn’t cure diseases.

Now I don’t agree with devout Mormons on everything. I’m neutral on the death penalty. I support mercy-killing for the terminally ill & handicapped if they choose, though I don’t want Drs. involved in such decisions. If a family member wants to pull the trigger on some1 who requests to be killed because he or she is suffering from cancer, I’ll acquit if I’m on jury duty. I’m pro-choice on abortion only because if I were born w/o arms & legs, that I would rather be aborted. But I understand that Mormons regard abortion as bad & I support their legal right to legislate against abortion, though I support abortion & will counter them on it.

Finally, they must pass legislation which forces old musicians who already have had their fame & fortune such as Ozzy Osbourne to retire by forbidding contracts to them as they peaked a long time ago-like term limits for politicians. Music is best when it comes out for the 1st time & Ozzy has millions + Parkison’s Disease. Giving recording contracts to old musicians who peaked out a long time ago is unfair as it makes it harder for younger musicians with dreams to get in. You may think it’s curtailing freedom, but it’s to make it easier to allow new creativity-to allow dreams of younger unknowns to become rich & famous.

Jim Burroway
August 3rd, 2007 | LINK

And on that note, I think we know what kind of society missionaryway would wish to impose on everyone else.

I think her comment pretty much speaks for itself.

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