In an effort to encourage understanding and civil conversation about same-sex attraction, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched the website “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction” (www.mormonsandgays.org). It features a number of videos from people who share real experiences from their own perspectives on a sensitive and sometimes emotionally charged topic.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says the website is important because it seeks to further understanding.
Elder Oaks said that because we don’t understand everything about this subject it is wise to stick to the revealed word of God as found in the scriptures. “What we do know is that the doctrine of the Church—that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married—has not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same-gender attraction,” he said.
Church apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook stresses that Latter-day Saints, who devote their lives to following Jesus Christ’s teachings, should be an example to the world of expressing love and hope for those with same-gender attraction.
“As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate,” Elder Cook said. “Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
The website is a collection of conversations with Church leaders, Church members who are attracted to people of the same sex, and family members and friends of those who experience same-sex attraction. The website’s various sections discuss important topics such as our common ground as human beings, our family relationships, our identity and potential as children of God, how members of society treat each other, and what it means to be disciples of Christ. While the website does not endeavor to address every issue that could be addressed in relation to same-sex attraction, these candid and sincere expressions show the many human facets of a sensitive matter. Compassion comes from understanding.
One of the participants in the website explains why it’s important to address this topic:
“This is a dialogue that I feel very passionately about and one that I think we’re not used to having in the Church. It’s a dialogue that needs to come from a place of understanding and empathy rather than fear and misunderstanding.”
“I hope we will give ourselves the time and have the patience to listen and understand and not insist on everything being resolved within a certain framework of time,” Church apostle Elder D. Todd Christofferson said.
Regarding the timing of the announcement, Church spokesman Michael Purdy said, “Too often these types of big, important issues are dealt with in sound bites and often by individuals who do not have the complete picture of what the Church is doing. This website was produced over two years and puts the entire issue in context.
"The attention the Church received during the presidential election period highlighted areas of Church belief and practice that are poorly understood by the general public. We think additional context will help people better understand the Church’s position on a number of issues. Over the next few weeks we expect to be publishing more resource materials that will help address other topics.”