If the gospel is about love, why is some love taboo?
Answer: It’s not! No love is taboo. Let me explain though. Being in love is different than just love, in that it is a mixture of that love and sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is also not necessarily taboo, however, the actions that come from that attraction might be.
E.g. Is it a sin to be in love before marriage? Heavens no. Is it a sin to have sexual intercourse with that person before marriage? Heck yes.
Just as a man and woman, following God’s law, may not have sex outside of wedlock, a man and a man or a woman and a woman may not either. However, since same-sex marriage is not valid under God, that’s always seemed a little unfair to me. Through a lot of study and prayer, though, I have found a little peace on the subject and hopefully, someday all will be made clear.
Love is love
First off, I have met many people who don’t seem to believe that same-sex attraction is real. They seem to believe that being gay is a choice. If there’s one thing I have learned in this life, it is that you never know what someone is going through EVER and just because someone is feeling something you’ve never felt before, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. For several months I struggled with severe anxiety. I lived my life in constant fear. The people around me had no way of even imagining how it felt. I know this because now that that terrible time of my life has passed, I can hardly imagine how it felt myself. This experience is where I learned that everyone’s minds and lives are different and no matter how well informed we think we are, we should not make assumptions about other people’s actions.
Sure, someone could totally fake being gay, but I don’t see why someone would want to. What the gays feel for each other is as real, if not more, as what I feel for Heath Ledger’s beautiful smiling face. (He’s soooooo hot.) Also, same sex attraction IS NOT a sign of disobedience. It could come to even the most righteous. A question and answer article on the Mormon and Gay website (which is an amazing resource btw) states:
“The intensity of same-sex attraction is not a measure of your faithfulness. Many people pray for years and do all they can to be obedient in an effort to reduce same-sex attraction, yet find they are still attracted to the same sex. Same-sex attraction is experienced along a spectrum of intensity and is not the same for everyone. Some are attracted to both genders, and others are attracted exclusively to the same gender. For some, feelings of same-sex attraction, or at least the intensity of those feelings, may diminish over time. In any case, a change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.”
Even the leaders of the church believe that feelings of same-sex attraction are real and are very much a part of a person as anything else. Just like any other feelings, these should not be suppressed or ignored. (I mean, have you seen Imitation Game? Awful stuff.) Don’t be afraid to come out and don’t be afraid to look for support.
Speaking of which, to those of you looking for support, there’s a group called Affirmation that offers support for the Mormon LGBT community that I have heard good things about. They have conferences, spiritual retreats, and pride events all around the world. It seems like a great place to start!
As far as non-religious support groups, there is a Utah-based one called Encircle that is specifically for LGBT youth and their families. One of their focuses is helping straight parents understand the feelings of their children. There are plenty of other support groups like Encircle around the world. Be on the lookout for one near you.
Also, know that even though your church leaders might not know how you feel, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, does and he can work through them for your benefit. Don’t be afraid to seek help from them.
Choosing the Right
So, if same-sex attraction is real, why can’t people who feel it act on it? This commandment isn’t something we’ve made up in our modern church. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their homosexuality (Gen. 18:20). The city of Corinth was chastised on multiple occasions for it by Paul. (TG Homosexual Behavior) Homosexual behavior is not new to the world, but it has always been and always will be a sin.
Why? Marriage between man and woman is an integral part of God’s plan. 1 Corinthians 11:11 says, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” Gender is eternal and important, and the partnership between one man and one woman irreplaceable. After going through the temple, I have come to a greater understanding of the importance of eternal marriage. As the Corinthians verse supports, a man may not enter the highest degree of glory without a woman, neither may a woman enter without a man. That’s just the way things are and there’s a deep eternal purpose to it.
Another answer to that “why?” question, is the classic parent answer, “Because I told you so.” God has asked us to do a lot of difficult things and through doing those things, we show faith in him. An article written in response to the video of a twelve-year-old girl coming out in sacrament meeting explains this better than I could:
“But does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that members who experience same-gender attraction should refrain from acting on those feelings? Yes. We stand in firm support of the belief that marriage, as an eternal principle, is between a man and a woman. But that’s more controversial than it should be.
You see, we are a sacrificing people. Regardless of the deep feelings of sexual attraction that all of our members feel, we are taught to abstain from:
- Sex before marriage
- Sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman
To understand our doctrine, you must also realize that, to us, marriage is an eternal principle which is separate from modern notions of “romantic love” that have only developed in recent centuries.
To Latter-day Saints, marriage is about an eternal and sacred partnership between a man and a woman—united in the work of our Heavenly Father.
And yes, any member who refuses to live by our doctrine, including by maintaining a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender, may lose their membership in our Church.
But that of course does not preclude them from participating in our meetings with us—where true Latter-day Saints will treat them with nothing but love and respect.”
Everyone has their trials. Our religion is easy for none.
Also, we should briefly discuss the decision to not let children of parents in homosexual relationships be baptized until they are 18. The intention of this was not to exclude people. The intention was to keep families together.
Families in our religion are so vital. Our church recognizes that families are families. Whether you have a mom and a dad, or two dads, or two moms, that is family and it needs to be protected. In order for a child to be baptized he or she must state that they believe the teachings of our church including that marriage is between a man and a woman; therefore, discrediting what their parents are doing if their parents are gay. This, we believe, is something a child shouldn’t have to do, so children of gay parents may go to our church meetings and participate in our activities and be fully fellowshipped, but cannot be baptized until they have come of age.
In an interview on this subject Elder G. Todd Christopherson said:
“It originates from a desire to protect children in their innocence and in their minority years. … We don’t want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the Church are very different. … [After the child reaches maturity, he or she can make an informed and conscious decision about their own Church membership] Nothing is lost to them in the end if that’s the direction they want to go. In the meantime, they’re not placed in a position where there will be difficulties, challenges, conflicts that can injure their development in very tender years.”
Of course, I am in no place to compare trials. Certain things may be hard for some and easy for others. However, I personally can’t help feeling, that those with same-sex attraction are some of God’s strongest children. The feelings that they feel are not only real, they are feelings that are typically natural, good, and even Godly. Avoiding what those feelings ask of them must be so difficult. God has great trust in these individuals.
That all, though, is not to say that if someone does participate in homosexual activity that he or she is damned to hell. God loves all his children. The worth that he sees in you and everyone will never change. Of course, there are rules that must be followed, but know that he is always there for you. You can turn to him for anything.
And to those of you still struggling with close-mindedness (for a lack of a better word) you can turn to him for anything, as well. He can help you understand and know how to love those who are different than you.
Let me re-iterate, that the gospel is all about love. Never deny anyone your kindness for any reason. We should love and accept people for all that they are.