SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 25, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tuesday went live with a website, MormonAndGay.lds.org.
The site says it is aimed at LDS Church members who are gay, but striving not to act on their same sex attractions — something the church maintains is a sin and against God’s will.
LDS Elder L. Whitney Clayton, a General Authority Seventy of the LDS Church, offers an introduction in a video posted on MormonAndGay.lds.org.
“We have given much thought and care to better understanding the experience of same-sex attraction, and making sure individuals who feel such attraction, and their families, feel welcome and part of the great worldwide family that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Clayton says.
“I now speak directly to members who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual: We want you to know we love you. You are welcome. We want you to be part of our congregations. You have great talents and abilities to offer God’s kingdom on Earth, and we want to recognize the many valuable contributions you make.
“If any of you are unclear about where the church stands on any of these issues, we invite you to please take the time to review the material published at MormonAndGay.lds.org. Prayerfully seek the spirit to provide the answers you seek, and be assured that God loveth his children.”
The second link on the site shares the story of a gay Mormon identified as Josh, who talks of feeling same-sex attraction since childhood, and viewing gay pornography at age 12. He went to college, completed an LDS mission in Taiwan, and started dating women, the site says.
After his mother’s suicide death and his own unemployment, Josh began dating men, and experienced love, he said. He then repented, and undertook therapy, which he said allowed him to love and respect himself.
“Through several sacred experiences with Deity, I learned that a relationship with a man was not God’s will for me in this life,” Josh said.
“There are sacrifices made, lonely nights felt, and sorrow that the eye cannot see. But God has blessed me with moments where I emphatically say I am here to stay the course.”
The site also shares the story of Laurie, who felt same-sex attraction as a teenager, and who was molested by a cousin and raped by a family friend in her youth. The rape left her feeling guilt and unworthiness, she said.
She began to drink and use drugs, then fell in love with a woman despite conflicting feelings that what she was doing went against gospel teachings. She found her assigned LDS ward, and sought counseling from her bishop.
“Being in love with a woman had a very strong sense of ‘this is right,’ and there was so much good in that relationship. So the impression ‘this is wrong’ was difficult to believe, much less act upon,” Laurie says, in her account.
Laurie said she chose a life of celibacy, but later found a man she enjoyed being with, and married.
The website does not address issues in an LDS handbook released in November of 2015, which suggested that people in sexually active gay relationships were apostates, and that children raised by gay parents could not be baptized or blessed until they moved from their parents’ home and disavowed homosexuality.
News of the handbook’s controversial content sparked a mass LDS resignation event in Salt Lake City.
A Frequently Asked Questions part of the site did address the question of whether the LDS Church will ever accept gay relationships or legal same-sex marriages as legitimate:
“As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” the site states.
“Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.4.10).