The new resource, which is being announced through a letter to LDS bishops and stake presidents, seeks to assure troubled church members of God's love despite challenges and questions, "including some related to same-gender attractions, (that) must await a future answer, even in the next life."
It does not touch on scientific theories about homosexuality or its origins but addresses how to deal with it from a spiritual perspective. The text uses the term "same-gender attraction" rather than "gay" or "homosexual" to distinguish between a lifestyle choice and an attraction only.
Click HERE to view the pamphlet. If this link doesn't work, then go to go to http://www.lds.org/, click on "Gospel Library" then search under "Support Materials."
Church leaders were unavailable for comment on Thursday.
Public reaction has been scanty so far, since few people have had a chance to study the new text. However, David Pruden, a therapist who also serves as Executive Director of Evergreen International, characterized it as a valid attempt by church leaders to reach out to gays. Evergreen International specializes in counseling Latter-day Saints on the topic. However, the primary advocacy group for gay Mormons, Affirmation, has not yet officially reacted to the Church's announcement. Affirmation believes that the Church should fully recognize gay members and allow them complete service rights and privileges, including Priesthood membership and temple access, even if they practice homosexuality. They maintain that monogamous homosexual relationships are equal in value to monogamous heterosexual relationships because they claim that heterosexuality is "unavailable" to gays. They've been critical of Evergreen because Evergreen strives to lead gays out of homosexuality.
The three-page document, expected to be made available soon in print form at the church's official Distribution Centers, is written in much the same tone as that used by top church leaders within the past decade, seeking to reach out and reassure Latter-day Saints that such "attractions alone do not make you unworthy." The pamphlet further states that "If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed (God's law of chastity) even if you feel such an attraction," it states, a point that has been emphasized by church President Gordon B. Hinckley and other top church leaders. The new document re-emphasizes the difference between attraction and behavior, citing the importance of faith in God, self-control and obedience to the church's law of chastity for members. "The desire for physical gratification does not authorize immorality by anyone," it states. The pamphlet also is critical of public advocacy on behalf of homosexuality, stating that "it is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion".
Analysis: The LDS Church takes primary issue with the practice of homosexuality, characterizing it as another form of sexual misconduct, rather than the mere declaration of affinity or even the legislative advocacy of gay rights. Former Arizona state lawmaker Steve May was openly gay, and used his position in the legislature to advocate on behalf of gay rights, but was not stripped of his service privileges through disfellowhipment, nor severed from the Church through excommunication, because he practiced celibacy. So this new pamphlet merely reaffirms this dual approach.
Here is a key statement from the pamphlet, effectively initializing the LDS doctrine on homosexuality with other aspects of LDS doctrine:
In some circumstances a person defers marriage because he or she is not presently attracted to a member of the opposite gender. While 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, others may not be free of this challenge in this life. However, the perfect plan of our Father in Heaven makes provision for individuals who seek to keep His commandments but who, through no fault of their own, do not have an eternal marriage in mortal life. 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.
This shows that Latter-day Saints people believe that any right, power, or prerogative denied to you in this life through no fault of your own will be offered to you in the next life. The use of the clause "our bodies, feelings, and desires will be PERFECTED in the next life" strongly implies that the Church agrees with my premise that homosexuality is an emotional disability triggered by "crossed emotional wiring upstairs", so to speak.
The doctrine of eternal marriage may seem to fly in the face of the Biblical scripture "there shall be no marrying or given in marriage in heaven". However, the fact that both terms "marrying and giving in marriage" are used implies that only the marriage ceremony itself cannot be performed in heaven. It does NOT imply that marriages themselves will not be recognized. For reasons that have not been given us, marriage ceremonies can only be performed in a mortal environment.
This is why Mormons solemnize eternal marriages in their temples, not only for themselves, but vicariously for the dead. The dead then have the choice to accept or reject the ceremony performed on their behalf.
The LDS Church is to be commended for its faithfulness in preserving the sanctity of marriage and its characterization of homosexuality as a form of sexual misconduct, as are all churches which defend these priniciples. It is most unlikely that the Church will change its mind on this issue, as they changed their mind in 1978 on the racial issue under the influence of divine revelation. The proscription against blacks holding the Priesthood was evidently intended to be a term ban only, based most likely upon a transitory curse imposed upon the descendants of Cain. The proscription against homosexuality appears to be eternal, since according to our Heavenly Father, the primary purpose of procreation is to reproduce our own kind, and homosexuality does not lead to reproduction.