'Even though I still don't understand everything, I know that I don't have to. All I am asked to do is love as God would love.'
This comment, and many others like it, is included in an updated version of 'Mormon and Gay,” an official website from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site reinforces the reality that, in the words of one Mormon scripture, God “…loveth his children;…” (1 Nephi 11:17), and seeks to help everyone better understand same-sex attraction from a gospel perspective.
The first version of this website launched in December 2012 under the title 'Mormons and Gays.' The new appellation, 'Mormon and Gay,' reflects the reality that a person doesn’t need to choose between these two identities — one can, in fact, be gay and live faithful to the teachings of Christ.
The Church acknowledges that Latter-day Saints experience same-sex attraction in a variety of ways. Some strive to remain celibate and others marry. Some identify as gay or lesbian while others do not.
Personal Accounts and Comments from Church Leaders
Mormonandgay.lds.org features five personal accounts from multiple perspectives — including those who experience same-sex attraction, as well as their family, friends and ecclesiastical leaders. Each story is unique and vulnerable and ultimately hopeful, reflecting the complex and uncertain reality that it is to experience same-sex attraction or know someone who does.
The website is “a place where the people whose lives are impacted by attraction to the same sex can find inspiration to work through difficult challenges while remaining faithful to Church teachings,” says Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The site “does not offer a comprehensive explanation of everything related to same-sex attraction,” he adds, “but it does reflect the feelings of Church leaders as to how we should treat each other as part of the human family.”
In addition to firsthand narratives, the new site includes encouraging comments from Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy. Speaking directly to Latter-day Saints who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, Elder Clayton says, “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 recognize the many valuable contributions you make.”
What the Church Believes About Same-Sex Attraction
Visitors to the website can find outlines of official Mormon beliefs about same-sex attraction and key concepts, themes and vocabulary to help Latter-day Saints engage in healthy conversations about this topic.
Key beliefs include the following:
We should love everyone.
Feelings of same-sex attraction are not a sin, and we can choose how to respond.
People who live God's law can fully participate in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The belief section also includes information about God's plan, Christ's infinite capacity to change hearts, and our eternal and core identity as God's children.
Materials on Mormonandgay.lds.org make it clear that it is possible to be both gay and Mormon and that God loves those who are. Resources include helpful answers to frequently asked questions, tips for parents, new videos, and firsthand accounts from gay members, spouses, family, and ecclesiastical leaders
Engaging in Healthy Conversations About Same-Sex Attraction
Other portions of the website include frequently asked questions, explanations of sexual orientation, tips for parents, guidance for responding to depression and suicide, and information about self-mastery and sexual expression.
One question addresses the use of “same-sex attraction” instead of “gay.” The site says “same-sex attraction is a technical term describing the experience without imposing a label. Church leaders have typically used this term to be inclusive of people who are not comfortable using a label, not to deny the existence of gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity.
Translations of two sections of the website—Church Teachings and Frequently Asked Questions—as well as the Same-Sex Attraction entry in Gospel Topics at LDS.org are in progress for Spanish, Portuguese and 35 other languages.
Learn more at mormonandgay.lds.org.