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The LDS church has been greatly affected by this issue, garnering much negative attention in the media due to its public fight against same-sex marriage and the perception that it treats LGBT people unfairly. Its positions and policies, particularly the November 2015 policy that labels members in same-sex marriages apostates and prohibits their children from receiving church ordinances, have caused some members to question the church’s stance and others to actually leave the church.The purpose of this article is to examine the LDS church’s position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage from a doctrinal, moral and empirical perspective. It is hoped that through such an examination the thoughtful reader may: (1) gain a better understanding of the church’s justifications for this position even as it faces mounting criticism and membership loss; (2) gain a more empathetic understanding of what it means to be LGBT in our church; and (3) sincerely and humbly consider our current state of knowledge about what we as a church believe to be God’s will for our LGBT brothers and sisters., on the history behind the priesthood and temple ban on people of African descent. This article, and the long-forgotten history it brought to light, had an incalculable effect on events leading to President Kimball’s 1978 revelation that overturned the ban.While I feel inadequate comparing my effort to Lester Bush’s work, his article was a guiding light to me as I set out to write a “Lester Bush” article for LGBT members of the church.In the 19 century, homosexuality was generally viewed by society, including the medical profession, as a mental disorder or a sexual deviancy.By the 1900s, most states criminalized homosexual behavior by enacting sodomy laws, which drove homosexuals deeper into the closet.More importantly perhaps, I have gotten to know hundreds of LGBT people on a very personal level.
The church’s current official position on homosexuality is perhaps most concisely summarized in its recently updated gospel topic entry on homosexuality (which redirects to “same-sex attraction”) on LDS.org: The Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior.We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us.How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?While the curability mindset has since been mostly abandoned by the church, it still lingers on in the minds and beliefs of many who cannot believe that God would create people as homosexuals – people who seemingly have no place in our theology or God’s eternal plan for families – and not give them a means to be cured.
Elder Packer, who was one of the last public holdouts of this mindset among the brethren, famously expressed this sentiment in his October 2010 conference address, wherein he asked, “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? ” (Kimball, “There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it.In the 1970s the psychiatric community began to acknowledge that there was no basis for characterizing homosexuality as a disorder and removed it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.