Mormon and/or Gay?

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Rebekah Perkins Crawford has a PhD in Communication Studies from Ohio University. Her research centers on the ways religious communities communicate about mental health, sexuality, and sexual violence. Her favorite calling at church is the primary chorister and she loves reading, gardening, and exercising in her spare time.

My friend who sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir recently told me about his experience performing with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on their recent tour in June. A considerate, thoughtful man, he said, “It was great to share the stage with them, to build bridges between our two communities and to show the world that there doesn’t have to be animosity between the Latter-day Saints and LGTBQ folks.”

It wasn’t until later that evening, after our conversation, that I figured out what it was about his statement that had unsettled me. It bothered me that his words assumed that the Latter-day Saint and LGBTQ communities were two separate entities, that “they” were gay while “we” were Mormon.

Statements like these are hurtful because they subconsciously erase or diminish the existence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer/questioning or transgender members of our religious community. What’s more, these kinds of statements—accidental and well-meaning though they be– reflect a problematic way of thinking in which we subconsciously assume that someone must choose to be either Mormon or gay. Even though the Church’s official website, mormonandgay.org argues otherwise, my dissertation research with LDS religious leaders and professional mental healthcare providers reveals a pattern of communication and interaction that constrains some Latter-day Saints’ opportunity to simultaneously express their sexual and religious identities.

In my interviews I noticed, and it concerned me, that much of our communication to or about LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints constructs an understanding of “them” as separate or excluded from the rest of “us.” This type of communication is problematic because it gets translated into action, creating behaviors and attitudes that are, in essence, self-fulfilling prophesies. Indeed, every time we talk about LGTBQ+ folks as separate from Latter-day Saints, every time we hold them to standards that have significant long term physical, mental and emotional effects not generally shared by others and every time we reject and isolate them for expressing their sexual desire, we cut them out of our religious communities, performing an amputation that damages all members.

Discursively Constructing the “Other”

My singing friend is not the only one to fall into an “us versus them” mindset. One bishop I interviewed said, “The LGBTQ+ didn’t like us before, they still don’t like us now.” I didn’t know enough at the time to ask him, “But what about the LGTBQ+ folks who are among us?” but I do wonder now what it must be like to be caught in the middle of this conflict. Another bishop admitted that there were attitudes in his student ward that got in the way of ward members accepting and loving their LGTBQ+ brothers and sisters. He said, “I think that there are generic, bigger attitudes that exist within the community and among their generation that they hold onto” that interfere with including LGBTQ+ members.

A third bishop admitted to feeling like he was left without explanations or ideas for members who come asking for help with same-sex attraction. As he put it, “Sometimes there are some really, really difficult . . . where sometimes I sit back and scratch my head and go, ‘Man, I don’t even . . . I don’t know how, what I can do to help this person.’ Like, for example, same-sex attraction is a big one. Sometimes you look at them and I get a sense . . . like there’s not a lot you can say. [chuckle] Do you know what I mean? Those are hard issues to deal with as far as . . . that’s hard.” This bishop seemed to be troubled about the set of ideas he had to work from because they did not provide adequate solutions for LGTBQ+ Latter-day Saints. He and other bishops expressed a vivid understanding of the divide between gay and straight members, an “us versus them” feeling that got in the way of accepting and connecting with some Latter-day Saints.

A Celibate Life

Perhaps the divide that is constructed between gay and straight Latter-day Saints is the most pronounced when it comes to celibacy expectations. While we expect straight members to remain celibate until they are married, we expect our LGTBQ+ members to give up the hope of ever having a sexually intimate partner or a family of their own. Though the church argues that the law of chastity applies [equally] to all of God’s children it in fact does not. When we define marriage as a relationship that is only sanctioned between one man and one woman, and when we allow sex only within marriage, we create a life of perpetual celibacy for LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints.

One faithful psychologist who works with gay Latter-day Saints described the lived realities that come with trying to remain celibate for an entire lifespan. He told me about one gay man that “had been struggling for a long time, really severe depression, difficulty in school, really disconnected from many folks, and just really worried.” When this gay man came out to his bishop the psychologist said that “the bishop handled it great. And really sat with the kid, worked with him.” He described the bishop’s words: “’Hey, this is hard, there are going to be some slip-ups if you’re trying to live a celibate life and repress every sexual impulse you’ve ever had.’” To this comment the psychologist added his own perspective, acknowledging that remaining celibate for your whole life is “really hard . . . and some might say impossible.”

We place different expectations on LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints than we do on other members of the church, allowing married straight members to have sexual relationships and the families they create but expecting gay members to live their whole lives as celibate individuals. These different expectations are a form of exclusion because they make it much harder to be a faithful Latter-day Saints for some folks than for others. In effect, having a double standard in the way we implement the law of chastity makes the cost of church membership much higher for those who are not in the majority. This cost becomes burdensome to the health of many LGTBQ+ Latter-day Saints who love the church, love their testimonies, wards, and families, and who don’t want to leave.

The (Health) Problems with Ostracization

People who study what I study are concerned with how we talk about and to each other because research in this field demonstrates how communication accumulates. Our words and actions add up to form our understandings of who we are both as individuals and as a culture. I am firmly convinced that when we conceive of and talk about a subgroup as “other” or separate from “the rest of us,” actions follow that create material consequences. Research done by The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University proves this point. When families and home communities behave in highly rejecting ways towards young people who identify as gay or who feel same-sex attraction, those youth are eight times more likely to commit suicide, experience substance abuse issues, or engage in risky sexual behaviors. (Go here for their free pamphlet that explains research-based best practice for suicide prevention.)

Unfortunately, my research has corroborated the problems that come from communicating in ways that separate LGTBQ+ members from the rest of the Church. One psychologist shared a story with me that put a haunting face on the statistics explored by the Family Acceptance Project. He told me about one young gay Mormon man who was so thoroughly rejected from his family, community, and university because of his sexuality that he felt like he had nothing left to live for.

As the psychologist put it, once the young man confessed his sexuality to his bishop the “bishop was immediately telling Honor Code . . . They do a little bit of investigation . . . They look at Facebook and Snapchat . . . So, it gets really, really ugly, kinda quick, and he ended up being dismissed [from school]. Left the church, really suicidal, really isolated, family kinda distanced themselves from him . . . I mean it was kind of the worst-case scenario.”

We all can agree that we don’t want any more of these “worst-case scenarios” to happen to our children, siblings, cousins, or friends. These brothers and sisters are too precious to sacrifice as cannon fodder in the culture wars. When we enact an “us versus them” mentality we may have no idea who we are accidentally cutting out or what our communication means for their identity and mental and physical health. Even though LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints are conspicuously absent from many official venues, we can each work to include them in our local religious communities in thought, word, and actions. The first step to inclusion, healing, and prevention is acknowledging that the LDS and the LGTBQ+ communities overlap in the bodies of some of our most beloved members.

*Photo by Jordan McDonald on Unsplash

Comments

  1. Thank you for this. Wer have so far to go. Yesterday after a wonderful and bold sermon on inclusion during Sacrament meeting, the Sunday School teacher tossed into his lesson on Proverbs that we did need to be more loving towards others, even though we don’t believe homosexuality is normal or natural. I wanted to bang my head on a chair.

  2. I’m not sure how to best respond to this. I absolutely agree with the often unseen attitudes of “us vs them”, but your point on celibacy is only one of many barriers which doesn’t effect all of the LGBT+ community and can be (and likely will be in further comments) compared directly with the chastity requirements of singles, dismissing their feelings because they “have some chance of non-celibacy in the future”. All in all, you’ve fallen into thinking of part of the LG community and not at all thinking of those who are BT+ who are not in the position of “forced celibacy”.

    We have LGBT+ members who are forced to stay in the closet because they happen to be in a “traditional” marriage who feel pressure to appear perfectly straight so other apparently straight members do not shut them out, as well as pressure from the LGBT+ community in telling them that their marriage is doomed to fail. We have gender non-conforming members who are told they are welcome at Church but are also told they cannot use the restrooms or attend Priesthood/Relief Society. (I even have a story now of a non-member trans woman being told she couldn’t attend RS anymore).

    We need to get out of this liminal space and into just welcoming each other as Spiritual Siblings, each of us having our own struggles that may or may not have anything to do with being LGBTQAI+.

  3. Maybe it’s just time Mormons stopped worrying so much about what so and so (someone else) is doing in their private lives and focus more on what we’re SUPPOSED to be working on…ourselves. Cast no stones and all that. A greater lesson might be learning to mind one’s own business. As long as any member views another as ‘different’ (for whatever reason), inclusion of ALL people is merely a concept. In my opinion of course. Not that it’s any of my business..

  4. I appreciate Frank’s comment and the understanding that it is not even as black and white as this very well-thought-out article gives the appearance of.

    We certainly can do more to stop seeing it as us vs. them. We also can help people to realize that a lifetime of celibacy is not something that God or the Church has said is what LGBT+ can expect…it’s something that **those who believe that sexuality is fixed and prevents someone from still being able to have a marriage relationship with someone of the opposite sex** end up saying to LGBT+ members that they are somehow doomed to live.

    Those who don’t believe there is a place in the plan of God for LGBT+ people, those who believe that a working, happy marriage is apparently about sexual compatibility and nothing else, are the ones that I always hear pushing this narrative that the only choice LGBT+ people have in the Church is to remain celibate. They also push this idea that the only thing celibacy can lead to is loneliness, depression, and other mental health issues.

    I’m a member who is attracted to the same sex, and very much carried a lot of these ideas and assumptions with me in my journey of faith. Thankfully, God saw fit to help me see things a bit clearer in my life, and to help me see what happens when I remain true to that part of myself that is a child of God. I am now married to the woman that I love and to whom it was revealed by revelation to me that I am meant to be with. I still have same-sex attraction. Some people would say that I’m living a lie. Some people would say that it’s doomed to fail. But I am telling you, as someone who is living this experience, that so much of what I feared because of those who told me I should fear has been turned on its head. My marriage has been a source of continual joy, especially as I have made the Savior the center of it.

    I think it’s time we expand our notions of what options there are for LGBT+ people in the Church, while always being charitable and respecting their agency. I think it’s time that we humble ourselves and stop thinking that we know all there is to know about the LGBT+ experience and its purpose in mortality, and stop thinking that there is only doom, gloom and heartache in store for them.

    For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

  5. I’m curious about what is going to happen when gay members marry the opposite sex, have children and wait it out until all the kids are off to college and then come out as gay and leave their spouse to live their true identity. The reason I am thinking about this is a friend’s nephew is gay and dating in the Provo/Orem area of Utah and this is what most of the gay men he has dated are planning to do (they are not leting the girl they marry in on their secret either) How is this solution so much better than letting LGBTQ have a sincere relationship with someone they love vs someone who fits the mormon mold?

  6. Thank you for this post. I’m so grateful to those like you who are working toward making our church safer for LGBTQ+ people.

  7. PCHiker – any marriage that begins with a deception is going to be much, much harder to maintain. Not only that, but it’s going to cause other psychological problems to spend two decades holding in such a big secret.

    That being said, not everyone is fortunate enough to work out that they are LGBT+ before they are married. I’d only worked it out for myself about 2 years ago, having been married for 14 years. If I transition, I’ll be subject to church discipline for transitioning and my wife will be at risk for excommunication if we don’t separate and dissolve our marriage. No matter what, neither of us wants to leave our marriage, nor do either of us want to leave the Church. We don’t know what our eternal status will be, but we’re going to hold on tight in the mean time.

    There are many LGBT+ members, married and unmarried, who remain strongly rooted in the Church because they believe in it despite the messages, from both within and without, that they have no place. Please do not declare us doomed simply because you don’t believe it’s possible.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Thank you for this excellent framing of our tendency to default to an us v. them pattern of thought in this sphere. Well articulated.

    If I were gay and my choices were a life of celibacy, a MOM, or to leave, I would leave. Celibacy was hard enough as a teenager and up until almost 22 when I married, but it was possible because hope was always there. To be looking at a lifetime without sanctioned intimacy with another human being would have been more than I could take, and even though I’m not gay I know myself well enough to know that about myself. To me it’s a fundamental failing of empathy for some Church leader to tell a young person they need to live the rest of their life without human physical intimacy and then go home and crawl into bed with his wife. It’s easy to tell other people to do that when you don’t have to do it yourself and haven’t done it for most of your adult life. I think many of our leaders don’t fully recognize what it is they are asking young gay Saints to do. And I’m quite confident that ask is not something I could have done.

  9. Furthermore, if you’re talking about the [tentative on name] Tabernacle Choir I am 99% confident that the facts are not us and them. (If I knew names—but I don’t—I wouldn’t say.)

    More to the point, and excluding myself from the rest of the conversation, I dream of a setting in which 30-year-old people near sexual prime of all stripes could hash out the vocabulary and inclusive/exclusive issues. The idea of grandfathers (like me) and great grandfathers (like many of the GAs) working this out is disturbing.

  10. The church is unlikely to change how it views chastity, including it’s teaching that sex other than married hetero sex is sinful. But regardless, it becomes a real problem when we think of any sins or temptations as completely or even largely outside that which church members experience. It limits our ability to minister to those among us that do experience them, and it limits the church’s ability to live up to its mission to bring the gospel to all the world.

  11. While I completely agree with the need to dispel an “us vs. them” attitude, I get a little weary of people saying that the celibacy requirement for gay people is so completely different from the same requirement for hetero singles. It’s not so different. There comes a point at which a single woman knows she will not marry in this life. Don’t say “they always can hope” because that is not reality, especially if the woman is overweight, has a physical defect, or is not pretty. So many single women are looking at the same choice: a lifetime devoid of human intimacy, or leave the church’s teachings behind. Like gay folks, they are told that they should not act upon their sexual feelings. Yet they are criticized if they point out that the dilemma is the same.

  12. Kevin Christensen says:

    How about the existence of sex-addicted LDS? Mormon and/or sex addicted? Though a few things about that diagnosis (a word I find more rhetorically even-handed than “pathologize” in this case), are that it doesn’t concern itself with the direction of a person’s desire or acting out, but with the obsession. And the diagnosis offers not just a set of options, but a responsibility to commit to a path of recovery. The essence of addition is increased craving combined with impeded judgement. Two of the key diagnostic issues are the personal conviction that sex is the person’s most important need, and that addicts tend to lubricate their behavior by focusing on personal resentments and grievances rather than any beams or motes in their own eyes. So a result of 12 step recovery is that the addict no longer feels that their cravings are the central and defining issue in their life, and finds it easier to make good decisions, since sexuality is no longer experienced as compulsory and primary, but as optional. I do not believe that being gay is the same thing as sex addiction, any more than being heterosexual is sex addiction. But there is also no reason to suppose that addiction cannot be a key factor in individual cases, straight/gay or whatever. Indeed, I know many instances in which that is an acknowledged factor in behavior, straight/gay, and whatever, and I know many people who have experienced crucial changes in their experience of life, regardless of the direction (or quantity) of their acting out. Celibacy is far less troubling to a person is not addicted or recovered than to a person who has never even considered the possibility that “this is just the way I am” may not actually be the best assumption about themselves. The question may not have the same answer for everyone, but the existence of the question is legitimate. A carefully considered answer may provide helpful possibilities.

  13. @brotherdiaz
    Thank you (and Frank Pellett) for sharing your experience, . I always appreciate a reminder to not oversimplify anyone else’s experience. I’m concerned that you are doing that very thing though when you state that:
    “Those who don’t believe there is a place in the plan of God for LGBT+ people, those who believe that a working, happy marriage is apparently about sexual compatibility AND NOTHING ELSE, are the ones that I always hear pushing this narrative that the ONLY choice LGBT+ people have in the Church is to remain celibate. They also push this idea that the ONLY THING celibacy can lead to is loneliness, depression, and other mental health issues.” (emphasis mine)
    A binary is rarely the case in reality- I think the real discussion doesn’t simplify it to the binary you seem present though. The vast majority of thoughtful discussions on this topic recognize that the available choices within the church, (mixed orientation marriage (MoM), celibacy, live a double life, leave) are hardly hopeful ones. Bolstering this understanding are the statistics of the success rates of a MoM, as well as the statistics related to celibacy (both within our church and elsewhere), and the data that the author references from the Family Acceptance Project at SFSU. Now I will never deny that anecdotal cases show that a MoM may be happy and successful, or that celibacy can be fulfilling, but I will strongly push back on a few things.
    1) Your use of the phrase “sexual compatibility and nothing else” seems to be a gross oversimplification. A lack of sexual attraction is a little bit more than just a problem with “sexual compatibility.” Even with a recognition that sex, while important, is not the MOST important part in a marriage, I would hardly expect to find a bunch of straight guys jumping at the chance to marry one of their straight guy friends, call them their husband, and sleep in the same bed, since “sexual compatibility” is apparently the only thing stopping them.
    2) The church does not even recommend mixed orientation marriage as a solution. While I would never deny that sexuality can be fluid in certain cases, the data show that in the majority of cases (particularly in men) it is not, and as such, hardly a reason to encourage others into a MoM.
    3) Along those lines, it’s difficult to expect a gay individual, having internalized decades of weekly lessons on the vital importance of marriage in this life, to say that celibacy is a delight. In that line of thought, celibacy specifically needs to be regularly presented in church as an awesome life option, and not a “fill your life as best you can” consolation prize. Even current celibate members who have returned to full activity in the church have honestly stated that they “couldn’t recommend celibacy” when asked by younger gay individuals seeking guidance.

    Now I won’t ever deny the reality of your lived experience. I also fully agree with you that we truly need to “humble ourselves and stop thinking that we know all there is to know about the LGBT+ experience.” I also fully believe that God has given us “the spirit of…power, and of love, and of a sound mind” to recognize the current messy situation for the “tobacco-stained floor in the school of the prophets” that it is.
    The author’s encouragement for inclusion is so important in this regard- “we can each work to include them in our local religious communities in thought, word, and actions,” earnestly listen to their lived experiences, and ponder what the Lord would have each of us practically do going forward.

  14. The real problem isn’t the celibacy itself, I don’t think, but what it represents. It’s an eternal othering. It’s the message to LGBTQ members that their relationships can never be legitimate, that their orientation is eternally invalid. Yes, there are practical struggles to celibacy, and those are real, but you mire yourself by thinking that that’s the only problem with disallowing same-sex relationships (not least because it dismisses unmarried hetero members). It’s actually much bigger than that, and has more to do with the “us vs them” message otherwise discussed in the OP.

    It also, as Frank points out, leaves out the issues with the “TQI” part of LGBTQIA. What if you’re a trans woman who’s attracted to men? Then you’re not after a same-sex relationship, right? Well, if the church doesn’t recognize your gender identity, then what you want is wrong too. And who you are is fundamentally wrong according to most church leadership as well. Even the progressive Mormon spaces I’ve seen make a theological case for trans identity still leave out non-binary, intersex, and “third gender”/genderfluid folks. If you’re going to use the full LGBTQ+ acronym, don’t leave them out.

    The real issue, in my opinion, is very much reflected in Elder Bednar’s “There are no homosexual members of the Church” comments (a little surprised these weren’t in the OP). On a fundamental level, the Church still struggles to accept LGBTQ identity in the first place. They’ve tried, but it still sits outside their worldview somehow. There may be statements now acknowledging that “same-sex attraction” is inborn and likely unchangeable, but the behavior and rhetoric doesn’t own that.

  15. TheOtherTiberius says:

    A few items:

    “The church does not even recommend mixed orientation marriage as a solution.”

    Yes, but neither does it have a position against it or counsel against it, either. In this live-and-let-live worlds for liberals to see a chosen-with-eyes-open and fully honest MoM as somehow inauthentic is hypocritical.

    Also, somehow the Family Acceptance Project is always trotted out as in these discussions even when those studies didn’t even mention the Church and only make the most general, no-duh conclusions about people having more issues if their families are jerks to them.

  16. @Frank Pellet, I appreciate your point that identity isn’t always something a person identifies early in life. I would argue that the Church’s rhetoric makes it more likely that people will come to terms with themselves much later than they otherwise would have. I’ve seen similar experiences with homosexuality and especially bisexuality in the church — you don’t grow up with the tools to sort out your own sexual feelings, so you have to put it together slowly over decades (I see this especially with women, since female sexuality is rarely acknowledged at all in the church even for hetero women). I suppose that’s part of the point in eschewing labels — maybe the leadership thinks if we don’t teach young people the language for themselves, they’ll somehow not adopt the identity, as if orientation doesn’t become real until you put words to it.

  17. Rexi- “On a fundamental level, the Church still struggles to accept LGBTQ identity in the first place. They’ve tried, but it still sits outside their worldview somehow. There may be statements now acknowledging that ‘same-sex attraction’ is inborn and likely unchangeable, but the behavior and rhetoric doesn’t own that.”

    Totally agree. Until the Brethren make room for LGBT somewhere in our cosmology this population will remain outside. Frankly I see zero inspiration in the leadership’a handling of this issue, only a grudging admission that this orientation is not necessarily a conscious choice, and a kind of outreach that seems mostly PR.

  18. ” a chosen-with-eyes-open and fully honest MoM as somehow inauthentic is hypocritical.”

    I’m not sure the critique is that such marriages are inauthentic–it’s more that, statistically, they’re not very durable, and they cause a lot of collateral damage when they fracture.

  19. The Church has been taking some positive steps forward to be more inclusive, loving and understanding of our gay brothers and sisters (and of course some steps backward with the POX being made part of CES curriculum). I think it realizes that it has created a large divide and as Elder Ballard has expressed, it wants to bridge that gap and claim there is a place for our gay members in the Church. However, as expressed so well in the OP, the elephant in the room is this fundamental doctrine: “being gay (or trans) is not a sin but acting on it is.”

    By my observation, no matter how much the Church tells gay people they are loved and included, as long as it teaches them that there is no sin in being gay, but their deep inner desire for love and companionship is considered a defect, like a susceptibility to alcoholism, this message will continue to result in intense inner conflict, hopelessness, depression, suicide and loss of faith. As so many faithful LDS parents of LGBTQ kids have come to learn, this message is toxic to the mental, emotional and spiritual health of their kids. As long as gay members are taught from the time they are children that their core natures are evil if expressed – even in a legal, committed marriage – and that they must bury this fundamental aspect of their humanity, the majority will leave the Church to preserve their mental and emotional health. Can we really expect otherwise? Would those of us who are cis-gender/heterosexual act any differently if we were required to make this sacrifice?

  20. Thank you, as a 63 year old inactive lesbian, your article was wonderful. I didn’t leave the Church because of my sexuality but because I began questioning my belief in God and life after death. This was 23 years ago but in all this time, I never completely emotionally and mentally separated myself from the Church.
    In the last year, I have reconnected with member friends from the past and made new ones as I work on my genealogy at the local Family History Center.
    But I also do not carry the emotional burden of being a gay member of the Church. I have never felt that I was sinning and never felt that I was different than any other member of the Church.
    The scriptures repeatedly tell us that we are all God’s children and that he loves us unconditionally, and that we are to love others as he loves us.
    God is bigger than any of us can really comprehend so it’s foolish to think that we know exactly what he wants for his children.

  21. MikeInWeHo says:

    Being LGBT and a member of the Church is like being a Psychiatrist and a Scientologist. There is a fundamental incompatibility under current doctrine. Kevin Barney is right that the only healthy path for LGBT members is out of the Church, and as soon as possible so healing and rebuilding can begin.

    “The first step to inclusion, healing, and prevention” is for well-meaning members to publicly, consistently and forcefully DISSENT against doctrines and policies they know are wrong. Until a viable reform movement emerges within the Church, nothing is going to change and LGBT members will continue to die.

  22. “statistically, they’re not very durable, and they cause a lot of collateral damage when they fracture”

    Statistically, boys (and girls) do better when they have a father and mother in the home – and particularly more so for the father. Most mass male shooters didn’t have a father in the home. 85% of boys in prison are from fatherless homes. Fatherless boys are more likely to be alcoholic and addicted to drugs, sexually victimized, unemployment and 4x more likely than girls to commit suicide. 40% of trans/queer/cross attempt suicide – irregardless of how they are accepted. Surely statistics without your biological mother are similarly dismal.

    There are serious societal issues at foot here and there’s a serious case that a lot of lgbtqetc is one of the symptoms of the broken family that has been run though the meat grinder over the last generation or two.

    And certainly, the solution is not to start creating even more alternative families because we’ve broken so many of the existing ones.

    The reality here is we are all God’s children and we all (I hope) deeply feel for those who are marginalized, victimized, and suffering. But we can’t call darkness light because we’re uncomfortable with telling someone their life choices will lead to sorrow for them and future generations.

    The cure that is being promoted (embrace or accept who you sexualy believe or feel you are) is not actually the cure but rather like applying more leeches and bloodletting to cure a fever. Lqbtq promotion is certainly one of those issues where the accepted wisdom is actually going to exacerbate social problems.

    Surely there are heroic cases where people persevere and thrive, but that is not the average case and certainly not the likely one when we look at the generational impact.

    If it’s a matter of statistics, it’s clear – biological parents matter. If it’s a matter of religion, it’s clear – man and woman united in marriage. If it’s a matter of social policy, it’s clear – society organized around the family are more stable and successful across generations.

    If it’s a matter of loving your neighbor and not casting the stone; do both, but don’t forget the key injunction to point to Christ who heads this church and go and sin no more.

  23. Cs–your argument is precisely the reason we should not encourage marriages that are more likely to break up than most.

  24. Ce, the consensus is that children raised by gay couples fare on par (even better) at times than those raised by heterosexual parents. I don’t think (based on your comments) that you you really want to be arguing by science anyway. You are trying to use science to back up what you want to believe. But that’s near impossible. You are manipulating the facts (either maliciously or ignorantly) to reach your end. The result is the opposite of your hope. You aren’t wining people to your cause, but, by weakening your ethos through poor logic, are convincing people to reject your claims. Which is fine by me, so . . . carry on, I guess? But I’ll still point out that your clear science and statistics don’t reflect what you imply that they do.

  25. Ce, to clarify, my first line there should read “fare on par (even better at times) that those raised by heterosexual parents.” They don’t far on par at times. They fare on par across the board. But even better at times in some criteria. If one were to go on statistics alone as the best option for children, we would all be promoting healthy marriage for gay couples (especially men), perhaps even over heterosexual partners.

  26. Fascinating discussion. Frank, Brotherdiaz, Janna, and Barb–thanks for sharing. Your personal stories gave me new perspectives. All of the best to each of you.

  27. Not a Cougar says:

    One issue I haven’t seen raised in these types of discussions as it relates to transgender members. In the few discussions I’ve ever had with other Mormons on trans people and issues, my take is that a majority of active members see trans people as merely cis people with severe mental health issues, no different from the person who talks to walls or wears a tin foil hat.

    Perhaps the “severe mental health issue” view mirrors Mormon majority views of LGB people in the past (I’m only in my late 30s so my lived experience doesn’t go back all that far), but acceptance of trans people seems like an order of magnitude more difficult for your average member today to accept compared to openly to LGB people where we’re already not very welcoming (and I say that knowing that we have no openly LGB people actively attending in our ward and so can only speak hypothetically).

  28. Ce – “40% of trans/queer/cross attempt suicide – irregardless of how they are accepted.” Incredibly untrue. Acceptance greatly reduces depression, suicidal attempts, and suicide. Growing up a child in a strong mixed-gender marriage had no relation on my being transgender. You need to find more sources for your statistics and assumptions.

    MikeInWeHo (and Kevin Barney) – “. . . the only healthy path for LGBT members is out of the Church . . . “. These statements I put on the same level as the trolls who come through to tell people that they’re being deceived to believe anything about the Church is true at all. It’s only slightly higher than those in the Church who tell us we have no place with them, cause our “sins” are too much. Many of us have worked out how we fit in the theology and in the Church. We don’t need anyone, on either side, to tell us we can’t do it.

    Rexicorn – it’s only been very recently that the tools and knowledge of what it’s like to be LGBTQI+ has begun seeping into the mainstream. I grew up in the backwoods of California in the 80s, where being gay was just something to be mocked and feared, and transgender was literally unheard of. I do wish the Church would be more at the forefront of working out how everyone who doesn’t fit the married, hetero mold fits, rather than halfheartedly moving out of the isolationist and conformist pit we’ve dug for ourselves in the 19th and 20th centuries.

  29. And here I thought Ce was as low as we go. Sorry, I just can’t right now. :P

  30. Leo, do you have any sources for these expansive statistical claims? I’m guessing it’s not actually an HHS report, since “fatherless children” is not the sort of language that an educated health professional would use…

  31. I see a lot of conflation between “fatherless” homes and single-parent homes going on here. Is that coming from somewhere specific? That’s some idiosyncratic wording for both Leo and Ce to use, so I’m curious if they have a common source.

  32. Also, they are both missing the point that insisting on heterosexual marriage as the only alternative to celibacy, even for homosexually-attracted people, encourages the formation of families that are very likely (more likely than families headed by married homosexual partners, for instance) to create the single-parent households they decry.

    And if it’s “fatherlessness” that is the problem, then two fathers seems like an ideal solution!

  33. Having following the marriage litigation closely, my opinion is that confusion about single-parent/ fatherless/same-sex/adoptive/opposite-sex parents is intentional (i.e., the confusion is intentional) as advocates cherry-picked studies and arguments to make their case. While I am not dispassionate, I think it is widely recognized now that the case for two same-sex parents being a problem or less good for children or something the state has a legitimate interest in preventing, was weak in a lot of ways, and extraordinarily weak on the statistics.

    Judge Posner had this to say (Baskin v. Bogan):

    “[H]omosexual couples are five times as likely to be raising an adopted child as heterosexual couples in Indiana, and two and a half times as likely as heterosexual couples in Wisconsin.

    If the fact that a child’s parents are married enhances the child’s prospects for a happy and successful life, as Indiana believes, not without reason, this should be true whether the child’s parents are natural or adoptive. The state’s lawyers tell us that “the point of marriage’s associated benefits and protections is to encourage child-rearing environments where parents care for their biological children in tandem.” Why the qualifier “biological”? The state recognizes that family is about raising children and not just about producing them. It does not explain why the “point of marriage’s associated benefits and protections” is inapplicable to a couple’s adopted as distinct from biological children.”

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