|Gay Latter-Day Saints: The Ultimate Oxy-“Mormon”?|
|by an 18 year old gay Latter-Day Saint. Unpublished Copyright 1999 All Rights Reserved.|
| by an 18 year old gay Latter-Day Saint.Mention “Latter-day Saints,” and an image of two well-dressed, clean-looking young men in dark suits comes into people’s minds. Mention it in gay circles, and the words oppression, ultraconservative and intolerantcome up. Certainly, Latter-day Saints are almost universally seen as “peculiar” people, weird people. But, it gets weirder: there are actually gay Latter-day Saints.In general, there are two types of gay Latter-day Saints: those not faithful to the Gospel, and those who are faithful to the Gospel. Herein, the latter group will be dealt with, to show what they believe, how they live, and how they reconcile their religious beliefs with their sexuality.Now, first off, the Church’s general policy towards homosexuality, often called same-sex attraction (or SSA) by the Church and its authorities, is quite well known. Like most conservative Christian religions, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not approve of homosexuality.
However, this policy is far from universal. Inside the Church, the applied policy, rather than the stated policy, may be different. It depends on the bishop’s mentality and exposure to the issue.
Before we get into that, let us explain one thing about the “clergy” in the Church. Unlike in most Christian religions (and even non-Christian religions for that matter), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no paid clergy. All the local Church authorities are laymen, who devote much of their time to serve in their callings. Thus, bishops can come from a very wide range of personalities, from those who work in places were tolerance is accepted and norm, to those who espouse and practice rigid conservatism. No matter where or how they work, most Latter-day bishops are conservative to a degree.
There are three basic policies among the bishopric of the Church concerning same-sex attraction: either the bishop believes having same-sex attraction in and of itself is sinful and should be removed, or he believes that having same-sex attraction is not good but not sinful in and of itself, and the person should try to change their sexual orientation, or the bishop would believe that being gay is okay as long as the person does not commit immoral acts. Whatever the policy is, gay sex is completely out of the question. Unless they are allowed to get married, which is unlikely to happen in the near future.
Some people may wonder to as how gay Latter-day Saints would reconcile the rigid and conservative doctrine of the Church with their being gay. Some gays rest on the point that the Scriptures are unclear to as what they say concerning same-sex attraction. Certainly, some forms of gay sex are condemned, but love between men, which same-sex attraction is all about, is certainly not condemned. As a matter of fact, there is much speculation that David and Jonathan were more than just friends. And, another factor which supports this view is that of the four books of scripture which the Church accepts as such, only one condemns gay sex of some sort. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price are all silent on the subject. Furthermore, Latter-day Saints look upon the Bible with some caution as it is, since there is proof that its contents have been tampered with.
Other gays would say that, concerning statements from the First Presidency, the Lord has given no direct revelation to the Prophet of the Church (whoever it may be at that time) concerning same-sex attraction and gays. And some even hope and pray that, just like the issue of people of color and the priesthood, the Lord will reveal that it is okay to be gay. Such an event is likely, though in a long time, if ever. A few people, who claim to be “in the know,” claim that the Prophet Joseph Smith was tolerant of gays. More about this later, but the basic point is that if the Prophet Joseph Smith could be tolerant of gays, so should everyone else. And other gays would say that they are not violating any commandment of the Lord by taking to themselves a husband and living with him, faithfully, all the rest of their lives. The fact that both are men in the relationship, they say, should not matter. These gays, as well as most gay Latter-day Saints, believe this was the way they were in the primordial existence, as they waited to be born.
Faithful gay Latter-day Saints often lead a life of either monogamy or total chastity. Forbidding all gay sexual relations is not a very easy thing for a gay person to handle and live through, so most gay Latter-day Saints might get around that by having sex with solely their partner, whom they might have married in a ceremony of some sort, though it’s taken for granted it was not sanctioned by any member with authority from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and gay temple marriages are certainly out of the question.
Others, though, would sweat it out and try their best to remain chaste, repenting when (or if) they break their chastity. This is often the most difficult path to tread, but certainly one which is held as admirable in the Church’s eyes.
Usually, the option to not go all the way is not the best, since sexual relations is what is being condemned, and not the act of sex. Then again, some gays can be like Clinton and challenge the definition, which is not done often because it is understood that it is the spirit of the commandment and not the actual words thereof that’s important. To understand this, consider that the Church heavily discourages heavy petting and necking. Anything remotely sexual qualifies for sexual relations.
Of course, if gays wanted to do exactly what the Church would want of them, they would join an organization like Evergreen (http://members.aol.com/evergrn999 ), which exists to help people change their behavior and attitudes concerning sexual orientation. In other words, it strives to make gay people straight. Such therapy is usually not held in high esteem by respected psychological and psychiatric groups and organizations and usually condemned by more tolerant gay organizations, such as Affirmation (http://www.affirmation.org/ ).
And now, the history of same-sex attraction in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People would be surprised to know that the Church was, in the beginning, quite tolerant of gays. This would be no surprise to anyone who knew the history of the Church. Back in its days, it was the most liberal church around, with unpaid clergy, anti-slavery beliefs, cooperation with the Native Americans, and empathy for any persecuted group, of which gays are one. As a matter of fact, the Prophet Joseph Smith is on record for speaking at a gay man’s funeral, praising the love the two men had. And, a close friend of his, Levi W. Hancock, is on record for having a dream/vision in which he saw men paired with women, men paired with men, and women paired with women. It comes to no surprise that the documents verifying these are hidden in the Church Archives, out of the reach and access of the public, whether Latter-day Saint or not. This is why more people don’t know of such policies and things.
The Church’s tolerance of gays ended, however, with the Prophet Brigham Young, who wasn’t so keen on gays. From that period on, heterosexuality was the Church norm and sole accepted norm.
Yet, there is hope . .
. On June 8, 1978, the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball issued what is known as the second Official Declaration (a revelation which was “canonized” and added to the Doctrine and Covenants as Scripture by the general voice and approval of the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). This Official Declaration basically stated that all men, regardless of race or color, are eligible to hold the priesthood. Prior to the Declaration, non-white people could not hold the priesthood. This opened the doors of Heaven even wider for all men. Gays hope and pray that, one day, a declaration would be made by the First Presidency (which contain the Prophet/President of the Church and his two counselors) and sustained by the General Authorities, a declaration that would open the Heavens and its eternal covenants to those with same-sex attraction.
“And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth: I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh; for I am no respecter of persons” (D&C 1:34-35).