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Same-sex attraction

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Same-sex attraction (SSA) or same-gender attraction (SGA) is an intense interest in members of the same sex. This interest may include desires for their attention, friendship, intimacy, and/or a fascination with their bodies and other gender traits. It may also include erotic thoughts and sexual behavior with others of the same sex.

Terminology

The term homosexuality refers to the entire complex that includes attractions, feelings, desires, sexual behavior, identity, and all its associated aspects.

Some people prefer to use the terms same-sex attraction (SSA) or same-gender attraction (SGA) to avoid the clinical and psychiatric misunderstandings that may come by using the term homosexuality. A person who experiences same-sex attraction or same-gender attraction may experience

  • Intense attractions (which may or may not be sexual or erotic) without sexual behavior or
  • Complete emotional and sexual involvement.

The words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. They should not be used as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons.

Those who refer to themselves gay or lesbian are welcome in the Church and can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

Unwanted same-sex attraction

For some individuals, same-sex attraction is at odds with their personal values and moral and religious beliefs. They do not wish to act on these impulses nor embrace a gay lifestyle. They may seek help to diminish their same-sex attractions and avoid same-sex sexual behavior.

Marriage

Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. No other form of marriage is recognized by the Church. Marriage between a man and woman is not just the basis for a healthy society; it is central to the true gospel. The highest level of exaltation in God's heavenly kingdom is for those who are eternally married.

Members of the Church are counseled to marry the person they love and love the person they marry. Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to become straight. It should be put off until the person has developed a real attraction for a member of the opposite sex. Some may never be able to do this in this lifetime, but if they are faithful, they are promised all of the blessings given from God to mankind. Others have been able to develop a sexual attraction for someone of the opposite sex and have gone on to create faithful and fulfilling marriages.

Those who enter a same-sex marriage may face church disciplinary action and lose their membership in the Church, but are welcome to attend services.

Causes of same-sex attraction

The church does not take a position on the cause of same-sex attractions. It considers these to be scientific questions for experts in the field to answer, not religious questions. It has made clear that neither the person dealing with the attractions nor the parents should be blamed for the attractions. The focus is on living the commandments of God. All people, regardless of the orientation of their attractions, can learn to control their attractions and live a chaste life.

Researchers have not been able to find a cause for same-sex attractions. Most major psychological associations believe it is a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.[1] Many think both nature and nurture play a major role. They have recognized that sexual orientation is not fixed. The American Psychological Association has stated "Some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person's lifetime".[2]

The LDS Church's website Mormons and Gays.org shows that those who focus on their personal relationship with God, even when their same-sex attraction had once defined and consumed them, felt a gradual lessening of its centrality in their lives, to the point that it moved almost out of the picture, enabling them to live God's commandments and move forward with their lives.

Therapy

The Church rarely takes a position on what treatment techniques are appropriate. The focus of the church is not on the clinical side of things, but on encouraging people to obey the commandments of God. In some cases, people have found that therapy helps them obey the commandments of God. In other cases, they have not been successful.

Many people with unwanted same-sex attractions have sought for help from therapy. The American Psychological Association has stated that sexual orientation identity exploration can be beneficial for those with unwanted same-sex attractions. It can help change a person's sexual orientation identity, behaviors and values.[3] With the help of such therapy, patients have formed a heterosexual orientation identity. No indication has been found of any negative effect in rejecting a gay identity.[4]

Others have sought help from ex-gay groups. Research has found that such groups help counteract and buffer minority stress, marginalization, and isolation. They also have found that ex-gay groups appear to relieve the distress caused by conflicts between religious values and sexual orientation and help participants change their sexual orientation identity.[3] North Star is an ex-gay group for members of the Church.

Church Teachings

Main article: Law of Chastity

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that gender is an essential part of our eternal identity and purpose. Another principle of the Church is that God commanded His children to multiply and replenish the earth, and that the sacred powers of procreation should be used only between a lawfully married man and woman. These commandments were given by God because the family unit is a crucial part of Heavenly Father's plan for His children. All children are entitled to birth within marriage and to be reared by a father and a mother.

These principles explain some of the reasons why violations of chastity such as homosexual activity are such serious sins. It is a distortion of God's plan for his children. Homosexual activity prevents people from receiving the blessings of family life and deprives spirit children of our Heavenly Father from receiving mortal bodies.

The Mormon Church's position on same-sex relationships has been brought up more recently because of same-gender marriage issues in the public arena. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said,

"This is much bigger than just a question of whether or not society should be more tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle. Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like 'homophobic.' In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful. Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach."

Engaging in a same-sex relationship is a serious sin because it ignores God's first and great commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. It is important to note that the Mormon Church encourages love of everyone, including those who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle. While the Church may not agree with their actions, they are still children of our Heavenly Father and must be treated as such. The Church has upheld the civil rights of same-gender couples, including the rights incorporated into "civil unions" under state laws. The Church stops short, however, of allowing marriage and adoption rights.

In late 2012, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published an official website about same-sex attraction, MormonsandGays.org.


1 Many environmental studies have proven that exposure to various "xenohormones," chemicals which the body reads as hormones, but which are not, can cause transexuality and homosexuality in animals, reptiles, fish, and birds. Examples are feminized male fish in the Hudson River from PCB exposure (EPA.gov), transexual birds found in the Hudson River Valley from the same PCB exposure; transexual bass in the Potomac (MSNBC.com) from chemical pollutants; transsexual fish found off the coast of Southern California from effluent exposure (article also cites similar findings in frogs, alligators, and other wild animals) (L.A. Times, Monday, Nov. 14, 2005). Also influences on how genes behave may make babies very susceptible to hormones of the opposite gender in the womb. [1]

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics:Sexual Orientation and Adolescents
  2. AGLP Fact Sheets
  3. 3.0 3.1 Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation
  4. A New Therapy on Faith and Sexual Identity: Psychological Association Revises Treatment Guidelines to Allow Counselors to Help Clients Reject Their Same-Sex Attractions

For Everyone

For Men

For Women

  • Heart of the Matter: The Roots and Causes of Female Homosexuality by Davies & Rentzel (booklet)
  • Developing Genuine Friendships by Shirley E. Cox, Ph.D. & Doris Dant (booklet)
  • Out of Egypt by Janette Howard

For Friends, Family, and Church Leaders

  • Helping LDS Men Resolve their Homosexual Problems: A Guide for Family, Friends, and Church Leaders by Jason Park Century Publishing
  • God Loveth His Children by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

External links and LDS Resources

  • MormonsandGays.org
  • Thoughts from a gay Mormon
  • North Star. A place of community for Latter-day Saints dealing with issues surrounding homosexual attraction who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the values and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Gospel Topic about same-sex attraction on LDS.org.
  • Mormon Newsroom. Article about same-sex attraction, including an interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman.
  • LDS Family Services. Provides counseling help to LDS members. Help for same-sex attraction may not require a bishop's referral.
  • Brothers Road. A site for people who want to discover and address the underlying environmental and relational issues that may have led to feel unwanted and incongruous same-sex attractions.