As a family, we prayed every day before the election for the passage of Proposition 8 in
We had many discussions about the necessity of marriage, between a man
and a woman, being the best possible way to have, love, and raise
children. The social institution of marriage is a key foundation of a
civil and healthy society.
talked about how the attempts to redefine marriage would have damaging
implications not only for marriages, families and morality, but also
for our freedom of speech and ultimately the freedom of religion, upon
which this great nation was founded.
the election, my mind has been in a stir regarding the institution of
marriage, and how to address the conflict that surrounds it. But, in
striving to stand for marriage I am also concerned for those who
perceive that Mormons "hate" homosexuals, when we are only seeking to
preserve what we know to be the divine order of marriage.
do we continue to go about doing what needs to be done to preserve
traditional marriage without alienating gay-marriage advocates even
further? Or is it even possible? I sincerely wish I better understood
how those who are intent on redefining marriage see this conflict to
figure out what I may be missing.
in California who identify themselves as gay and lesbian already have
access to the protective rights they need to live with the freedom they
desire. Redefining marriage seems only to force society to morally
elevate same-sex relationships to the same level as opposite-sex
do you say, "I'm sorry, but redefining marriage is simply not an
option," without adding to their anger? I wish I knew. I long to
understand more fully how God sees this battle as well, not only
regarding the preservation of marriage, but for the greater scope of
cultural morality, and what He would have us do about it.
faithful and committed followers of Christ, how do we stand strong for
the divine order of marriage, while also conveying God's love and
concern for all His children — our fellow brothers and sisters? What
will be our role in promoting marriage and morality, as society strays
further and further from the things of God?
I freely admit I dont fully understand all the issues or have all the
answers, I wish to share some of the ideas that have been weighing
heavy on my heart and mind.
only is there a concerted effort to redefine marriage, but morality is
being redefined as well. Morality used to mean living a virtuous life
based on standards of right and wrong. God has set those standards to
which we strive. They are not negotiable. Maybe that is what is so hard
for some to understand. God's principles of sexual relations being a
gift reserved for marriage, and marriage being a covenant relationship
reserved for a man and a woman, are still in force.
an increasingly secular society works to eliminate God from public
discussion, some seem to think that standards of morality are up for
grabs to include only the virtues of their choosing. George Orwell
suggested that if people can get rid of God, then everything and
anything can be permitted. For many of us, getting rid of God is simply
not an option.
popular politically correct "morality" — a culturally mandated moral
relativism — promotes virtues like tolerance and diversity over Gods
laws of right and wrong. Politically correct morality misuses the
virtue of compassion to excuse those who prefer not to follow Gods
is defined as allowing, letting, or enduring something or someone. It
does not mean approving or sanctioning behavior, especially with the
time-honored designation of "marriage." Those who stand for traditional
do exhibit tolerance — just not approval.
is defined as having empathy for anothers experience or suffering.
Maybe that has been lacking on our side, and I hope to see that
compassion grow in all of us, including myself, but compassion does not
necessitate condoning behavior. Compassion means loving and embracing
the sinner, even as we disapprove of the sin.
people would likely agree, regardless of the angle from which they
approach this issue, that factors influencing homosexuality are a
mixture of nature and nurture. A concern with the normalization of
homosexuality is that it may encourage those who already have a
vulnerability to same-sex attraction to fully pursue a homosexual
identity when a healthy heterosexual identity and attraction could have
of the pro-gay messages of the homosexual movement could be dangerous
for those in a vulnerable place with regard to their sexual identity
light of the increasing battle between good and evil, the scripture in
Matthew 10:16 comes to mind, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of
wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
Traditional marriage advocates must be wise to make effective their
efforts to help people understand the importance of traditional
marriage, not only for the benefit of families and society, but also to
protect our freedoms of speech and religion.
marriage advocates must work to catch up if they hope to compete with
the years of daily pro-gay messages that viewers have been fed in the
media. In fact, the same can be said for combating the pro-immorality
messages that viewers are continuously fed.
about how many pro-gay TV shows, movies and other media the average
viewers have ingested compared to pro-traditional marriage and morality
messages. The years of such programming, with the help of secular
media, have taken their toll.
long ago it was inconceivable that so-called "gay marriage" would ever
even be taken seriously by anyone. Now it is reaching a 40 to 50 percent approval
rate in some areas. I suspect the flood of messages promoting that
perspective have been successful in desensitizing many.
hope we will all be more wise as we engage ourselves more effectively
in the public discourse regarding issues of marriage and morality.
Hearts and minds can be changed when they can see the positive fruits
of following Gods way.
Compassion with conviction
discussing the battle over marriage with a friend, he made the
observation that one side of the debate tends to err on the side of
compassion while ignoring moral conviction while the other side tends
to err on the side of convictions while ignoring compassion. Somewhere
in between is the better way. I seek that better way.
heart goes out to those who wrestle with feelings of unwanted same-sex
attraction. I know many for whom this issue is a daily reality. My
concern is that they know they are loved both by God and those who
claim to be His disciples.
of these individuals may be able to overcome or diminish their same-sex
desires, whereas others may not — at least in this lifetime. There is
much still to be learned. Its critical, however, that they feel loved
and accepted just for
being. Its especially critical that all of our brothers and sisters feel welcome to worship with us.
Some latter-day saints may be concerned that their embrace of homosexual
individuals would be perceived as promoting homosexual behavior,
especially within the church, but a great many who have these feelings
desire to live their lives according to His revealed word. Even for
those who do not, the most important thing we can do is build
relationships with them and seek to make God's love more real than the
love of those in the world. Only then will hearts be softened and
penetrated by His Spirit.
all struggle to live up to God's laws in numerous ways. The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for all who desire to come
unto Christ regardless of our mortal difficulties. We all have sins,
weaknesses, and thorns of the flesh with which we wrestle daily. The
gospel of Jesus Christ ought to be where we can all find loving
support, even as we strive to live up to the Lords standards.
I like the concept of a "mortal overlay" coined by Dr. Allen Bergin in his book "Eternal Values and Personal Growth."
He suggests that we all have some kind of mortal overlay that clouds
our eternal identity and gives us opportunities to learn and grow. I
can imagine how same-gender attraction may be one of many mortal
overlays that human beings may experience here in mortality, providing
opportunities for learning and growth not only for themselves, but also
for those around them.
men and women can either live among the body of Christ while working
out their own salvation with God or, if we close our hearts and turn
our backs, they can leave us and go into the world to look for answers.
I would imagine it would be better to encourage them to stay close, and
to invite them back if they have strayed. I imagine it would be a
worthwhile pursuit for every latter-day saint to seek out that delicate
balance of loving each individual among us while still maintaining
fidelity to the teachings of the gospel.
all engage in daily efforts to master our mortal or "natural"
tendencies that could otherwise lead us to engage in sinful behavior.
This is at the heart of our purpose in life — to master the natural
man, to overcome, to lean upon the Lord to make up for what we lack,
and to receive the grace and strength, which helps us endure lifes
Understanding how homosexuals see the battle
an effort to better understand those on the other side of this marriage
conflict, I sought out a dear friend who experiences same-gender
attraction and who has chosen to live in accordance with Gods laws. As
an active and believing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, and a source of support to many gay members, he
shared some interesting insights.
suggested that those who seek to stand for marriage also consider and
seek to empathize with those individuals who are affected on the other
is hard for many in the gay and lesbian community is that they see what
seems to be latter-day saints and other religious conservatives doing a
victory dance over the wounded hearts of those who feel like they've
just been told that they don't have value, that they are subhuman at
worst or are second-class citizens at best. To many, this is about more
than marriage or receiving legal benefits — it's about feeling like
their very existence is less valuable than others, or that the genuine
affection and love they feel for their partner is somehow less real or
meaningful than it is to men and women in heterosexual relationships.
To them, being gay is not just about behavior. It's such a core
part of their identity that the behavior and identity simply can't be
separated. Latter-day saints may not share that belief, but this isnt
about sharing beliefs; its about empathizing and seeking to truly
understand the perspective of another and how they experience the
world. Its about understanding what it means to be human from the
perspective of another.
that reason, I believe the latter-day saint response needs to be three
parts 'personal ministry' for every one part of 'preserve marriage.'
Without the personal ministry — the 'and then showing forth afterwards
an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved,' (D&C 121:43) —
we as latter-day saints become the enemy. And
right now latter-day saints are perceived as the enemy. We might be
seen that way regardless of how much love we have tried to show, but it
genuinely feels — even from my perspective as a latter-day saint who
is on the same side — that most of the love and compassion that latter-day saints have expressed is merely lip service. We are too busy
celebrating political victory to truly hear and feel how this has been
experienced by the gay and lesbian community — to genuinely empathize.
There have been a few exceptions, but for the most part, I have yet to
witness genuine reaching out — genuine personal ministry. I've only
seen the preserving marriage part. That has to change if this will ever
be as much about saving souls, our Fathers beloved sons and daughters,
as it is about preserving the divine order of marriage."
conversation was quite eye-opening to me. To be honest, I still
struggle with the balance between compassion and living my convictions.
I also dont understand how the gay and lesbian community cant see
that what we are trying to do is simply preserve the time-honored,
time-tested and divinely ordained institution of marriage. I dont see
how this has anything to do with their perceived value as a human
being. But that just goes to show that I still have a lot to learn on
battle is about upholding deeply held religious principles regarding
marriage. Surely the gay and lesbian community can see that people of
faith are not going to just surrender something so pivotal to our
faith. This isnt about disliking anyone. Though it does seem that no
matter what we do or say we will be accused of "hate speech."
guess where we can all do a little better is to engage ourselves more
in the personal ministry side of this issue to be sure we are not just
giving lip service to our fellow travelers. We need to figure out how
to genuinely love and seek to understand any individual in our midst,
regardless of their personal beliefs or lifestyle.
Some things we might do to better minister to those around us include:
individuals in our family, workplace, or other areas of our life whoexperience same-gender attraction, whether they are active, believing latter-day saints, or whether they are in gay or lesbian relationships.
some time pondering various issues regarding homosexuality — including
the theological, scientific, social, or political — to identify whatwe know and what we dont know, and the questions we may have.
ourselves with the issues and internal conflicts homosexuals face byNARTH (The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals).
books and other resources about the subject from multiple perspectives.
Given the variety of perspectives, there will surely be those with whom
we disagree, but even so, there is value in understanding the
perspectives from which others are coming. (See a list of resources atthe end of this article.)
up a dialogue with someone you know who is same-gender attracted,
and/or is openly gay, to sensitively learn more about what their life
experience is like, and how you might be a source of support. Seek to
build a meaningful relationship with them, free of agenda or efforts to
change them. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.
Gods designs for sex and marriage
surely has a plan for those who experience same-sex attraction, as He
does for all of us. Either homosexual tendencies can be overcome, or
they can somehow be managed well enough to yet live meaningful lives
that are in harmony with Gods laws. God has promised that He will not
require more than we can endure.
any discussion of God is where the debate gets tricky again. For those
with whom we share a common belief in God and a commitment to his
teachings, there is room for discussion regarding how to best address
when someone wants to live contrary to Gods laws, and insists that
their behavior or lifestyle choices be given social or political
license, then thats when we encounter problems. Navigating the
boundaries between religious beliefs and civil rights in a pluralistic
society is no simple matter.
realize that not everyone believes in God, or understands Him and His
plan for his children the same way we do, nor is everyone particularly
concerned about keeping His commandments. This is where all I can say
is, Now what?
fact, it's difficult to know how to even have a productive discussion
about some of these critical issues when one side understands that God
has already spoken on the matter, and is committed to that, while the
other side doesnt have the same reference, and is therefore more
amenable to the winds of personal preference and political fancy.
had just such an experience when a woman took one of the last remaining
seats next to me on a long flight to the east coast. She was a liberal
activist and outspoken lesbian. We couldn't have been more different in
our views! I kept myself busy with my textbook readings for some time,
as I absorbed some of her conversation with the guy in the other seat.
I thought I might not ever have such an opportunity, I decided to see
what I could learn from her. From our discussion, I did learn quite a
few things. I could certainly see how she did not want to be judged for
something over which she believed she had no control.
I could see that she believed my religious beliefs were merely
intolerant and closed-minded. Im often saddened by the fact that what
some see as intolerance and closed-mindedness others see as having
moral convictions and the integrity to try to live by them.
new friend told me she used to believe in God, in fact we previously
shared the same religion, but she had adopted some new views that
seemed to make her feel better. I wonder how a lack of understanding on
the part of those with whom she associated in the church may have
played into that. I imagine we as church members can do better.
was pleasantly surprised at how I enjoyed our conversation, though. She
was a good person, and was gracious enough to answer my genuine
questions without getting defensive or offended when she could see my
honest interest. Im pretty sure it would have turned out differently
if my approach had been different.
Having this discussion with someone who
used to believe as I do caused me to wonder how people I know that
currently believe as I do, and who hold similar respect
for God and his laws, seem to buy into the notion that tolerance or
diversity or so-called compassion can supersede God's word.
that perfect harmony between compassionate empathy and fidelity to
moral conviction is certainly difficult. I suspect, however, that such
a harmony would be an important pursuit of any follower of Christ. When
we know someone personally, or even have a family member who is
homosexual, its difficult to watch the pain they experience, but our
compassion can never veto what God has said about his plan for sex and
As latter-day saints, if we have a close family member or even a child who
struggles with such feelings, its important that we live faithful to
what we know and encourage them to do the same. Should they choose to
follow other paths for a time, the best thing we can do is reach out to
them in every way we know how, expressing our love and affirming their
numerous gifts and virtues, and seek to be supportive of them in ways
that do not affirm a course contrary to Gods designs for our eternal
progression and happiness.
What would you do?
often tried to imagine what I would do if it were me, or someone I
loved, that struggled with homosexual feelings. I've seen many
individuals each take a variety of different paths with their
attractions. Some resist for a while, and then give in to the
temptations. Some marry and do their best to create a stable marriage,
while others remain single and celibate.
imagine that for me it would be similar to if I were not able to marry
in this life, since many of Gods children may not. We can all imagine
how difficult and lonely that might be. But if that were the hand
which the Lord hath allotted unto me (Alma 29:3), and if I had
determined to live a chaste life, then I imagine I'd figure out a way
to live virtuously regardless of the sacrifice. Granted, I certainly
realize thats a lot easier said than done.
been amazing, though, to hear from many individuals who have feelings
of same-sex attraction, and yet have committed themselves to living a
godly life to the best of their ability. What great faith and moral
fortitude that would take.
seek out many sources of strength, support, and fulfillment in their
lives to help them weather lifes storms. I am humbled and in awe of
them. I applaud them, especially given the heated context of their
Many questions remain
whole debate over same-sex marriage has sparked a lot of spiritualponderings in me. I admit I yet have many unanswered questions:
would God have us do to protect His sacred institution of marriage, andyet not have others feel that we do not have compassion for them?
- Is the fight to preserve traditional marriage simply one of many coming battles between good and evil?
- Is there something important about the struggle of same-sex attraction that we have yet to learn?
- Does God see the issue of same-sex attraction differently than He sees the many other crosses that people are called to bear?
homosexual tendencies in an individual designed as an opportunity for
God's grace to carry and heal, just as are the many other painful and
seemingly unfair human conditions?
now, we may have won this battle to preserve traditional marriage. But,
I wonder how long it will hold. There are certainly more battles to be
waged. With so many outspoken voices intent on redefining marriage, I
wonder how long we will be able to hold back the tide of moral decline
in this nation.
have to remind myself that this is not simply an issue between people
with differing personal opinions. This is one of many well-orchestrated
battles by Satan and his minions to weaken marriage, morality and the
he could have orchestrated such a stealth attack on society, and
accomplished so much in so little time. He has been amazing indeed. In
some ways, it is helpful to recognize the underlying author of all the
conflict, and to know that God is still in charge.
me, I am deeply committed to upholding the institution of marriage as
the divinely ordained union of a man and a woman. I will continue to
work personally and professionally to strengthen marriage and the
quality of marital relationships. I am grateful to the Lord for His
role in the passage of the constitutional amendments protecting
as much as I hope to continue to work to address the moral decline of
society, I also feel newly committed to learning more about those who
experience same-sex attraction. My hope is that we all might work
together, strengthened and nurtured by one another, to be a better
refuge from the world.
Resources for better understanding the various perspectives on homosexuality:
- "Born that Way" by Erin Eldridge
- "No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones" by Carol Lynn Pearson
- "Setting the Record Straight: Mormons and Homosexuality" by A. Dean Byrd
- "Resolving Homosexual Problems: A Guide " by Jason Park for LDS Men
Values & Personal Growth"by Allen E. Bergin
A Slippery Slope that Limits the Atonement:Review of In Quiet Desperation by A. Dean Byrd, Shirley E. Cox and Jeffrey W. Robinson
- The Anchor of the Soul: Ultimate Hope vs. Proximate Hope: Author's Response to A Slippery Slope that Limits the Atonement
- Review of Book Review: "A Response to A.
Dean Byrd, Shirley Cox and Jeffrey Robinson's 'A Slippery Slope that Limits the Atonement'"
- North Star
- Northern Lights blog (sponsored by North Star)
- Evergreen International
- NARTH.com (The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality)
- LDS Resources for those dealing with homosexual attraction
Homosexuality 101: What Every Therapist, Parent, And HomosexualShould Know by Julie Harren
- Born That Way? Facts and Fiction about Homosexuality (Parts 1 and 2), by A. Dean Byrd