Friday, March 26, 2010

I support homosexual members of the LDS church

The average person on this earth has a tenfold better chance of having strong homosexual tendencies than to be a member of the LDS church.

Why do I support homosexual members of the LDS church?

Consider the following.

1) Homosexual members are children of God.
2) Statistical analysis points to the conclusion that homosexuality is about 62% heritable (heritable factors, not including steroid hormones and other epigenetic influences, account for 62% of homosexual variation).
3) Sexual orientation isn't limited to lust. Many homosexual people have physical and emotional romantic feelings toward members of their own sex, and often desire the stability and social validation that comes from marriage. I'd imagine that homophobia/heterosexism and bars to homosexual marriage create a lot of regrettable difficulties for homosexual people.

Animated educational vid my friend described as an "amazing, heartfelt film": Homosexuality: Is It A Choice? [For the Bible Tells Me So]

See "Embracing Our Homosexual Children" vid
and the paper by Bill Bradshaw which includes:

(Link to the full text of this excerpt)

"Greater sensitivity and a reduction in hurtful disapproval might also be achieved as we review
and evaluate pertinent LDS doctrines. I would like to suggest that it is appropriate for members of the Church to withhold judgement about the implications of some religious principles in humble recognition of the uncertainty that accompanies our relative ignorance. Isn’t it likely that much (perhaps even most) of what God knows He has not yet shared with us? For example, we worship a heterosexual Father In Heaven and accept on faith that gender is an intrinsic feature of the character of every individual [160], but it is not clear how to interpret anomalies such as the existence of intersex and hermaphroditic persons, exceptions to the rule whose mortal lives are severely impacted by gender uncertainty. There is a very large number of questions that we are unable to answer about such fundamental issues as the detailed pre-mortal history of spirits, our relationship to Heavenly Mother, the eternal meaning of race, the post-mortal organization and operation of families, and the nature and mechanisms of eternal increase. The ideals we espouse provide wonderful general guidelines for the heterosexual majority in their quest for exaltation, without ruling out the possibility that there will be equivalent eternal possibilities for the homosexual minority. If we find out when we pass on that homosexuality is a temporary condition – the result of the fragile conditions of mortality, or part of the eternal character of some of God’s spirit children, then we will learn to adapt to that new reality. Until then, however, it would seem most appropriate to love and support our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in their efforts in this mortal sphere to acquire as much as they can of godliness.

It is also my belief that our Heavenly Father has in store special blessings for his homosexual
children in recognition of the successes they have made of their mortal lives in the face of
undeserved hostility.

IV. Summary
The existing evidence leads to the conclusion that homosexuality is a normal minority variation in humans the origins of which are biological. A more complete picture of the responsible biochemical mechanisms is being uncovered by rigorous laboratory research. Data are lacking to validate putative social or psychological causal factors. Imperfections in parenting are not responsible. Homosexuality is not a choice. It is not a disease, a mental illness, or an addiction. Homosexual people are not pedophiles. Heterosexuals cannot be seduced into assuming a homosexual orientation. Evidence does not support the claims that homosexual orientation is subject to change. Some accommodation may be possible for those who are intrinsically bisexual. Homosexuals are good people who share with the rest of humanity the need for love and physical intimacy, and the capacity for living honorable, moral, commendable lives. Gay and lesbian Latter-day Saints are less likely to opt for a celibate resolution of their sexual orientation, and most likely to seek a loving monogamous relationship in which they hope to cope with the challenges and realize the blessings of being in a family. Disapproval, mistreatment, and alienation of homosexual children by family members has disastrous personal and societal consequences. Especially in the light of our ignorance about fundamental aspects of the eternal nature and possibilities of God’s spiritual children, it behooves Latter-day Saints to extend love, understanding, and support to our homosexual brothers and sisters." (video and blog resources)

The average person is 10 times more likely to have homosexual tendencies than to be a member of the church.

(assume 14 million church members and 6.8 billion people: .21%)
"there is a general consensus that about 3% of men and 2% of women
of women are homosexual (non-heterosexual). The number may be somewhat higher
(perhaps 4% overall) if people are included who acknowledge at least occasional
same-sex attractions, desires, or fantasies, but are reluctant to identify themselves as
homosexual [23, 24]."

Mishmash of thoughts and correspondence follows.

Negative attitudes toward homosexuality harm:
 Attitudes about homosexuality are not without heavy consequences, in either direction.  Many homosexually oriented people have experienced depression and/or committed suicide because of misunderstanding and maltreatment from others because of their homosexual orientation.
"According to a national survey conducted in 2000, 74 percent of [gay persons] and bisexuals reported having been subjected to verbal abuse because of their sexual orientation and 32 percent reported being the target of physical violence. [See] ... Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Inside-Out: A Report on the Experiences of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals in America and the Public's View on Issues and Policies Related to Sexual Orientation (2001) pp. 3-4...."; see also D. Satcher, supra ("[a]veraged over two dozen studies, 80 percent of gay [persons] had experienced verbal or physical harassment on the basis of their orientation, 45 percent had been threatened with violence, and 17 percent had experienced a physical attack"). Compare Partners Against Hate, "2000 Federal Bureau of Investigation Hate Crime Statistics," with Partners Against Hate, "2004 Federal Bureau of Investigation Hate Crime Statistics."  Crime Statistics, Sexual Oriented Related Hate Crimes by State."

In addition to craving marriage, I'd imagine many homosexually oriented people also appropriately crave being open, being authentic, being loved as they are:

Look at me
You may think you see
Who I really am
But you'll never know me
Every day
It's as if I play a part
Now I see
If I wear a mask
I can fool the world
But I cannot fool my heart

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

I am now
In a world where I
Have to hide my heart
And what I believe in
But somehow
I will show the world
What's inside my heart
And be loved for who I am

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection
Someone I don't know?
Must I pretend that I'm
Someone else for all time?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

There's a heart that must be
Free to fly
That burns with a need to know
The reason why

Why must we all conceal
What we think, how we feel?
Must there be a secret me
I'm forced to hide?
I won't pretend that I'm
Someone else for all time
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

Recent email correspondence with a friend (my responses in blue):
1) I agree with your message of loving all people--no matter their disposition. truly, we, in our finite mortal minds, do not understand what all these humans are going through or the implications of their tendencies. Thus, we must always love and accept people--no matter what their tendencies or history. Yes, good call.2) However, you might want to clarify your position on the issue. From reading your post, it sounds like you are in favor of eliminating all forms of discrimination of them in the Church. For example, allowing them into the temple, taking out ordinances, and other matters--such as adoption rights...redefining the definition of the family in their behalf? That's a good suggestion. I didn't think my post would result in the conclusion that I advocate eliminating all forms of discrimination against homosexuals in the church, but perhaps I should re-read it with that in mind and clarify that I am fully in line with the church's official position on this issue.That is kind of an extreme extrapolation--and not one that I really think from your otherwise kind and open thoughts--but one that others could pull from your stance. Yes, that is a risk worth mitigating.3) There are some untrue facts on the post. The data you obtained about it being 62% heritable--is still an unproved and controversial subject. Most of my friends and cousins who are gay--said it was because when they were young their father's guy friends would often molest them. This aroused some feelings, made the confused, and triggered their gay identity. Though the claim that the numbers I cite are untrue may be correct, I would expect some solid data supporting that claim (i.e. how do you know 62% of the variability for sexual orientation is not accounted for by heritable factors?). If, on the other hand, you claim that the 62% heritability figure is unproved, then the conclusion should be that the heritability of sexual orientation is uncertain rather than that it is false. Insufficient evidence results in uncertainty, not support of the counterclaim.

The evidence you cite (the friends and cousins' reported experience of what led to their identity) is at least equally susceptible to criticism because of 1) the scant empirical evidence supporting the model that social and psychological factors are primarily responsible for homosexual orientation, 2) the lack of foundation for the presumption that "gay identity" can be triggered by experience (presuming identity is synonymous with orientation), 3) the evidence supporting the claim that heterosexually oriented people cannot be seduced into a homosexual orientation (though importantly, not homosexual behavior), 4) the small sample size, 5) the high incidence of homosexually oriented people whose attractions don't reverse gender after heterosexual molestation or experience, 6) the prevalence of
homosexual behavior among animals who are presumed to be incapable of confusion and molestation, and 6) the consistent rates of homosexual orientation in the population subset where molestation was not present. (see this paper for more details on some of these criticisms)
The church has adopted a neutral position as to the causes of homosexual orientation ("The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on." -Elder Oaks), so religiously it's okay for LDS members to disagree/debate on the causes of homosexual susceptibilities and inclinations, and also to discuss them using scientific approaches. (go us!)
Furthermore, from the Proclamation to the Family, we know that gender is "an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. Basically, not only were our bodies formed differentely, but our spirits and perhaps even our intelligences. That may be true, but many of God's children are born on this earth without a distinct gender biologically (see my post). It would seem, then, that for these people an essential gender identity is limited to their spirits.
Sexual orientation appears to be a biological, rather than a solely spiritual, phenomenon. Thus, a conclusion that gender identity is certain and predetermined does not advance an argument supporting the claim that homosexual orientation is not heritable.
Additionally, not all men and women are equally male and female as measured by some traits- i.e. at least for many sexually dimorphic traits (such as 2D:4D ratio, mentally rotating objects in space, remembering the location of objects on a page, and the volume of the third interstitial nucleus of the hypothalamus), homosexual males and females are atypical for their gender compared to heterosexual means. 
Although--again I agree, we do not know all things in this short world--and things can always change--that statement sounds pretty unchanging and an eternal principle. Yes, the gender characteristic statement sounds pretty clear and unlikely to change. Lastly, although again, I think your view on promoting a more encompassing and understanding view is RIGHT--and a lot of members need to take a more calm, open, and unbiased approach to the issue and especially those individuals who suffer so much internally and externally--it is essential that society is not so open that it evades societal moral and legal boundaries--in the goal for "equality" and anti-discrimination. I agree that moral and legal boundaries are useful. For, if we modified the definition of the family--the concept of fidelity and one partner would be destroyed. Not necessarily. What would preclude a person from making and keeping vows of fidelity to a single homosexual partner? Are there not examples of homosexual couples that are sexually faithful to each other? Also, the "would be destroyed" statement predicts the future with unmerited certainty. For, as the gay community has just recently finally acknolwedged, very few gay couples stay "loyal" to the other. There is little concept of fidelity. In the gay community--it is known as "sharing" and "playing" with multiple sexual partners. 1) the practice of promiscuity you reference is hardly limited to homosexually oriented people- many heterosexually oriented people, included married ones, are sexually unfaithful and/or promiscuous. 2) the gay community you refer to that acknowledges a low incidence of fidelity does not have the power to speak for or control the behavior of all homosexual people either now or in the future. 3) The reality that many jurisdictions and, indeed, cultural norms withhold the permanence of marriage from homosexual couples might be a contributing factor to low fidelity levels among the homosexually oriented population. Irrespective of the influence of this factor, the current frequency of infidelity is a behavioral reality, and therefore subject to change by means of cultural change and individual choice. Anyways, sorry for my blast of opinions! I hope it didn't come across as harsh--for all in all--I thought your insights to this issue are very needed. No worries, I value the dialog. It opens our finite minds to possibilities and allows for greater compassion and understanding--not meanly judging. I just get carried away with this issue--because I have read quite a few legal articles recently on this subject and recognize the valid argument points from both sides. Cool- it's an important one, I think.

A summary of some brain research bearing on gender identity and sexual orientation, from Brizendine's 2010 The Male Brain:
> Gay male hypothalami are stimulated in response to a pheromone found in male perspiration, but straight male hypothalami are not - Savic

> Identical twin pairs (who share all the same genes) are much more likely than fraternal twin pairs (who share much fewer genes) to have the same sexual orientation - Langstrom
> Gay men perform more like straight women on spatial tasks than they do straight males
> The anterior commissure (the superfast cables connecting the brain hemispheres) are larger in gay than in straight males
The suprachiasmatic nucleus (part of the hypothalamus) is twice as large in gay males than straight males.
> Gay males, like females, have better verbal abilities than straight males
> Size asymmetry of hemispheres, which is present in straight male brains, is not present in gay male brains, which in this respect look more like female brains.
> Viewing a female face produced a strong reaction in the thalamus and medial prefrontal cortex of straight men but not of gay men.  Gay male brains reacted more strongly to the face of a man.

For summary and fairly balanced commentary on other studies which bear on the biological basis of homosexual orientation, see Simon LeVay's webpage (updated as of April 2009 when I checked in August 2010).  Topics include: sibling studies, genetic linkage, twin studies,  X-inactivation, adult hormone levels, prenatal hormones, DES exposure, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, penis size, finger length ratios, suprachiasmatic nucleus, auditory system, odor responsed, visuospatial tasks, verbal fluency, handedness, aggressiveness, and birth order.  LeVay seems to find the prenatal hormone theory of homosexual orientation the most persuasive of purported theories (both biological and non-biological).
Recent email correspondence with my brother Trye (my responses in blue- PS to Trye: you can click "comments" below and post your own comment if you'd like as 5-6 others already have).  I have added to/edited some of responses subsequently:

I read your post on accepting homosexuals in the church. Besides the fact that the unchanging, everlasting God commanded that gays be burned, or just killed by any effective regular method, in the old testament, I'm pretty sure the church has come out pretty strongly against gay rights, especially marriage. 
Three responses.  First, it is requisite to conclude that A) God exists, B) God expressed His will through the Old Testament, and C) God expresses His will in the LDS church today in order for that fact to support an argument that God has and currently opposes gay rights, especially marriage.  Do you conclude that A, B, and C are true?  Second, strong arguments (see pages 33-37) refute the deduction that the Old Testament Mosaic code, Sodom story, etc. penalize homosexual behavior- for instance, based on an argument that heterosexually oriented people engaging in homosexual behavior is the proscribed conduct, rather than homosexually oriented people behaving homosexually (since the concept of homosexual orientation probably didn't exist then).  Third, despite His unchanging nature, (and assuming the LDS church is generally true) God frequently issues circumstance and time-specific commandments that appear contradictory in retrospect (see Jacob 2 and the Official Declaration about polygamy; consider blacks and the priesthood; D&C 56:4 "I, the Lord, command and revoke, as it seemeth me good" 
Why wouldn't this be the case though? Religions don't do a good job of respecting minority rights. In fact they were set up in quite the opposite way. They were a method to bind disparate tribes into larger groups.  
I think that view finds additional support in some sociobiology literature (e.g. in Sociobiology: The New Synthesis or Consilience by my favorite scientist, E.O. Wilson, or Ă‰mile Durkheim's ideas. However, though a religion may be a social institution or function as a tool to a specific end, it need not only be that tool or institution- for instance, a particular religion may also be a revealed way of life and belief).   
Plus, lets be honest, good old fashioned monogamy just happened to be the most successful societal structure from an evolutionary point of view (or monogamous marriage happened to be practiced in Western Europe which through Jared Diamondesque factors came to dominate the world. This doesn't explain east asian monogamal success though).  
Hmm- yes, monogamy is highly conserved historically and cross-culturally, indicating its evolutionary fitness as an institution.  Counter examples (such as the matrilineal Musuo in China) are few. On the other hand, polygyny seems to have been fairly common: According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of 1231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry", and interestingly the males in those relationships tend to live on average 12% longer.  
Religions are often years behind social changes, one reason why they are referred to as being conservative.  
I've thought about the concept of conservative religions many times since I read it.  The following could suffice as it's own post:
It seems strange that religions should be years behind societal changes- you'd think instead that at least a revelation-based religion would be light years ahead on important issues of social justice and truth because of their access to a source of omniscience.  Though I can see the wisdom of non-revelation based (unsupported by direction from heaven) religions using a conservative (old ways are better than new) administrative  approach similar to that of the judicial branch, it seems that a revealed religion would be fresh, bold, fearless, and progressive.  A conservative church seems slow to change and risk averse, like an old man, more than strong and fearless and benefit-seeking and truth-filled, like the strapping prophet Joseph.  But, perhaps there's a sensible explanation for the apparent disjoint.  An example of being years ahead of society that comes to mind would be the Word of Wisdom (other examples include progressive recognition of racial and gender equality, in doctrine at least if not in practice- ""all are alike unto God, black and white, male and female"- 2 Nephi).  A riposte would be blacks and the priesthood, which in 1978 was not only over a decade behind the civil rights movement but over a century behind the Emancipation Proclamation.  Perhaps church members and leaders are too quick to presume that we already have all the truth we need (a sin we typically charge the Jews with for stopping at the Old Testament instead of accepting Christ and the New; or that we find modern people culpable of for stopping at the Old and not accepting the Another [Book of Mormon: Another Testament]).  Just last Sunday, a bishopric member advocated that I cease my line of questioning.  He made the "it's not important to your salvation" bromide in response to my discussion of some church policies.  Article of Faith nine: "We believe... that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven."  Also, Joseph Smith: "... it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.  Given the doctrinal support for the idea that God doesn't work among men save according to their faith and doesn't reveal until His children ask (e.g. the Doctrine and Covenants sections are almost wholly answers to interrogatories), it would seem to make sense for church members and leaders to be knocking down the doors of heaven to obtain answers to tough questions such as homosexual privileges, surrogate motherhood, and social justice, rather than shutting their  praying mouths on a "we've received all we need" basis like the Jews did to Jesus and many today do to President Monson.  (Proverbs 2: 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;  4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;  5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.)  President Kimball's worrying, praying, and raising of the issue likely resulted in the lifting of the priesthood ban against blacks ("God rarely—if ever—uses his prophets as "teletype machines" who mindlessly transmit God's will word for word—he requires his prophets to inquire with some thought as to potential answers").  Perhaps if prophets a century earlier had cared to pray about and resolve the issue the ban would have been lifted then (see especially Circumstances which preceded the 1978 revelation).  On the other hand, the Lord didn't lift the ban until about 10 years after President McKay and Hugh Brown's attempts to move in that direction, thus implicating some wise purpose(s) in the Lord's forbearance.  It is likely that much truth is withheld because people are so steeped in their traditions (which are acutely manifest by symptoms of conservatism):
“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger [a piece of corn bread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [a wooden mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.
“I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen... Why be so certain that you comprehend the things of God, when all things with you are so uncertain?... Some people say I am a fallen Prophet, because I do not bring forth more of the word of the Lord. Why do I not do it? Are we able to receive it? No! not one in this room.” - Joseph Smith  On the other hand, perhaps the revelation in this area is cohesive, comprehensive, and correct.  Anyway, to conclude I haven't yet resolved this tension between a revealed religion and its apparent conservativeness as compared to secular society.   
Society changes but religion often lags far behind. An example is the infamous case of blacks not being able to receive the priesthood. This was a blatantly racist practice that had no base in the written works. There was even an apostle who said that blacks would never get the priesthood, as god himself was inherently racist (Good 'ol Bruce R. if you were wondering).  
Yes, in retrospect that statement seemed unwise.  I've heard similar language that makes me cringe a little about how homosexual behavior will never be approved in the Church because to do so would be counter to the Plan of Salvation.  That conclusion is based on the presumption that homosexual behavior is malum in se rather than malum prohibitum - which is a conclusion frustrated by the simple difficulty of reconciling the Plan with the reality of homosexual orientation.  Permit a comparison.  
One: Sexual behavior itself isn't wrong- in fact to a faithful LDS member though it's a sin at one point, it is then condoned and encouraged fifteen minutes later, provided a marriage ceremony intervened (thus heterosexual behavior in a certain category is malum prohibitum, but not malum in se- the same might be the case for homosexual behavior).   Sublata cuasa, tollitur effectus- "the cause being removed, the effect ceases."
Two: McConkie's afterstatement: "There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, "You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?" All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.  It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.[6]" Again, it's only the most recent revelation that counts.  
Three: Similarly, the priesthood used to only be extended to males in one of Israel's twelve tribes- now, by dictate, it's extended to all worthy males.  It might later be extended to women or sheep: who's to say?  The euthyphro dilemma ("Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?") can thus exhibit a temporal aspect in that what is morally right is merely what has been most recently commanded by God- thus the seeming folly in making future predictions such as "women will never be bishops" or "homosexual marriage will never be approved by God."  Many church members and leaders mistook the prohibition against blacks holding the priesthood as doctrine. It seems more likely in retrospect that it was a practice whose doctrinal foundation ultimately failed.  Similarly, were church leaders to alter their stance about the sinfulness of monogamous, committed homosexual relationships in addition to their current altering of the language they use in discussing such matters (e.g. you don't observe the demeaning "so-called" and derogatory "chosen homosexual lifestyle" -like language as much in the last decade), it would seem that the church's policy once again reflected practice more than doctrine.  When the world changed and civil rights happened the church realized, years later, that they had to change or become marginalized in American society. Perhaps- though arguably the Church relied on revelation rather than the realization of marginalization risk regarding polygamy and blacks/the priesthood.  Otherwise they would likely have changed much earlier than they did.  What seems strange is why the revelation didn't precede the persecution and marginalizing effects, given God's foreknowledge.  "This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed"- Joseph Smith.  A test of faith?  Because His servants didn't ask?  I dunno.   
Another good example is women's rights. In the church women don't have any rights. 
Counterexamples- the right to pray, the right to read scriptures, the right to believe as they choose, all civilly-guaranteed rights, and the right to repent.  If you argue that they only have these rights through men (e.g. scriptures because they were revealed through a man or they have the right to pray because a male told them how), you might similarly argue that any rights men have come through women because none are born except to a woman.  My point is that you might have a solid claim here, but it's not yet well supported or sufficiently narrow.   
Any rights they have come through a man. This is understandable as it was the way society was run in the not too distant past. 
 I agree generally.  Many religions, including ours, have their roots in a man-centric milieu (e.g. 19th amendment wasn't until 1920).   
Women couldn't own property, they couldn't vote, and they were basically add-ons to their husbands. If you lived in a society like this today you would be labeled a patriarchial society. This is how the church still operates. Women are barred from holding the power of god, counterexample 1: officiating women in the temple. counterexample 2: any women exercising faith in the magnifying of her calling.  
 they're barred from taking part in any leadership role that doesn't involve other women or children,
I'm struggling to conceive of counterexamples here- e.g. a Sunday School secretary isn't a classic leadership role, and a mother role, though a leadership position, is mostly relevant to children, i.e. her role diminishes even in a family of only sons as the males become adults- so good point as far as I can tell.  
they're even technically barred from heaven if they don't have a man to let them in (see temple ritual). 
True, although that bar applies equally to men, i.e. neither men nor women can attain the highest degree of exaltation but for sealing to an opposite-gender spouse. 
Does this make sense in a modern context? Not really.  
I agree in that the restrictions do seem deleteriously and unnecessarily limiting.  Those restrictions may not exist forever- as others, the policy might feasibly change in the future (presuming the policy is either A) merely a practice like blacks and the priesthood or B) malum prohibitum only, like polygamy). I observed an all-female clergy in an episcopal church a month ago and they seemed competent for the pastoral role.  Given the opportunity, I see few skills women couldn't develop that are relevant to current male-only roles in the church.  Also, since growth and progress are important aims for men and women, it makes a lot of sense to open up traditionally male-only leadership roles to women (except for the presumed fact of current contrary revelation).  Difficult as some church leadership roles such as bishop are, they offer unparalleled outcomes for those who fulfill such roles (examples include understanding principles and refining skills of change, government, judgment, gentleness, love, stewardship, accountability, and leadership more generally).  There is little reason to conclude that women, though they might fulfill these roles differently, would do a worse job than men.  Nor does it seem likely that men have more need than women for the lessons gained from fulfilling these roles outside contrived gender distinctions.   
 Women have been proven to be just as smart, effective, and competent as men. Does it make sense in a society where raw strength and the ability to kill another
human being is what counts? Yes it does. Men are clearly superior in that respect.  
Good call, they are on average bigger, stronger, and have more testosterone, all of which are conducive to raw strength and killing capability.  
 I suppose heaven could be a free for all brawl where anything goes and women get the crap kicked out of them if a man doesn't protect them but I doubt it.  
 Aside from my chuckling at trying to picture that scene, I'm inclined to agree.  
So now we'll come full circle back to the gays. Back in the day there was a huge barrier to any gay couple who wanted to have a family and raise children, they couldn't get each other pregnant (kind of the definition I think)  
Good call, that has been and still is the case, though the getting each other pregnant barrier may not prove insuperable in the future.  (e.g. I know of a gay couple, with at least one set of LDS in-laws, who mixed their sperm, inseminated a donated egg, then had the zygote implanted in the womb of a charitable woman who knew the couple and volunteered to act as surrogate- resulting in the gay couple's child.)   
Hence they were genetic dead ends. In the cold world of evolutionary math they were a minus and thus persecution made sense.  
Being a genetic dead end doesn't necessarily justify persecution- Down's Syndrome, severely autistic, and infertile people often prove dead ends as well but persecuting them doesn't make sense.  Also, the high incidence of homo- and bi- sexuality in animals belies the conclusion that homosexual genes, if not also homosexual individuals, are dead ends.    
In this day and age that is no longer the case. Sex and procreation have been almost entirely separated.  
That is a significant difference from the past- both affirmatively and passively (i.e. two people can have sex consistently without reproducing and they can reproduce together without having sex).  Now a homosexual couple can easily have a child who is half theirs, or adopt if they choose.  
Yep, and perhaps not too far in the future can have a child that is fully theirs, e.g. by nuclear transfer (a mammalian cloning procedure) or inducing a stem cell to follow an opposite gender germline development path.  
Now, how are they different from a heterosexual couple?  
They're the same rather than different genders.   
Maybe there are some slight disadvantages  
yes such as earlier onset of menstruation and sexual activity for the girls, and a higher incidence of delinquency for the males during adolescence in the absence of a father.  Benefits of breastfeeding are generally lost to male homosexual parenting couples.  The unique negotiating parenting style of the average man (as opposed to the average woman's playing/nurturing parenting style) is lost to female homosexual parenting couples. Inferior outcomes of babies in infancy raised by one other than the biological mother in the case of two male parents is another disadvantage.  Gender noncomformity also seems to result more on average.  Increased promiscuity on average compared to heterosexual relationships (based on some research in the Netherlands, one of the most gay-affirming countries out there) may have deleterious impact as well.  I've named but a few of the disadvantages.  For a more scholarly exegesis of the consequences of both legalizing and prohibiting SSM, see Lynn Wardle's What's the Harm 
but tell that to all the children born in poverty to heterosexual parents.
 The comparison of a loving, affluent homosexual couple (either male or female) to the condition of impoverished orphans or children born to one or both indigent biological parents is a compelling one.  Certainly there are significant advantages the former could confer that the latter is ill-positioned to provide, such as adequate nutrition, education, and health care.  However, the argument holds for advocating affluent parents in lieu of impoverished ones and would also argue against impoverished heterosexual couples bearing and/or raising kids, which unsavory idea contradicts the assertion somewhat.     
Technology has changed the base equation and society is changing to meet it.  
l agree.   
Do I think gays should be able to marry? Yea, I do.  
Thanks for revealing your conclusion.  
 Will the church decide they can and also be allowed in? I have no idea.  
Me either. The fabric of the future proves as foggy and impenetrable as ever. 
 If they do it will be long after it has become a societal norm 
 judging from comparable past issues that prediction seems likely
 and through intense social pressure (err what I meant was by divine revelation).  
Either one works for me if the outcome is the most ethical one (and does not contradict revelation).  Anyways good post.

My response to an email from a church member: 

Thanks for airing your feelings and perceptions.  In response to your request for insights, I'd direct you to my blog post (careful- I've updated it lately and it's pretty dense and lengthy).  Did you read Bill Bradshaw's paper from the link on that post, or did you get a .pdf of his paper?

I'm glad that you know ****- I've gotten to know her a little over the past month and she is a very neat person. 

I've included a few responses in blue below to some of your questions.

I care about you even though I don't know you yet.  I also care about homosexually oriented members of the church.  I also have a testimony that the LDS Church is the Savior's Kingdom on the earth, that Joseph Smith was God's chosen prophet to restore the church, and that we're led by an authorized prophet today as well.  I feel the Spirit testifying of these truths and the reality of Jesus's sacrifice for me, and I have hope to join Him in heaven someday.

Know you're in my prayers,

Brad Carmack

My name is ***. I am friend of **** who is a friend of Brad Carmack. Actually, **** was my missionary back in 2007 and has turned into a very dear friend. I am writing because I would like some opinions on the subject of same sex involvement including marriage. I was raised by lesbians and that was the main reason I did not want to be part of the church after knowing their feelings of gay people and marriage. ( I grew up in a non-denominational church led by gays) After some serious talks with ****, I was convinced that maybe I did not need to understand or even believe every single thing the same as the church teaches. I eventually got baptized. I had been going to church for a couple of months and about a week after I got baptized **** got transfered. I quickly went into panic mode. I no longer had 'my missionary" there by my side to talk to very day. I still went to church but about a month after that all happened Proposition 8 in California was going on in regards to same sex marriage. My bishop started talking about it one Sunday and I got up and left. The next day I saw the news reports of how much money the LDS church was giving to campaign against same sex marrige. I was done with church. ( I know it wasn't just the LDS church giving money...but that was the church I was tithing to so in essence...I was helping to pay for something that was way against my beliefs)  I can see why that experience would be hard.

About a year later I started missing the feelings I got while I attended the church so I went back but only once. I again started getting angry about the church's stance on the subject as it was brought up AGAIN in church that day. I have never been back since.

I have since started getting into universal happiness and karma to put it simply. However, when I try to think that maybe there isn't a God, I get a strange feeling. When I try to believe in giving good to the universe gets me good back....something happens and I end up "praying to God" even though I have sortof denounced him in a way. Obviously something isn't right. So when I think about....Is there a God?....I can only come to the conclusion that the LDS church seems to be the lessor of all "the religous evils" if that makes any sense. I think it does.  Still I can not come to terms with the gay issue. Okay, I follow you.

I am married to a man....not gay. However, my mom wanted nothing else but to be happy with her lifetime partner. When she was on her death bed, she was not able to get the rights with her lover that heterosexual couples got. This hurt me so bad. I would imagine!  i'd probably feel about the same way in your shoes. I also know people this has happened to as well. A long time friend of my moms was with her lover for 38 years and after she died, her lover got no rights, lost their house, and was not even allowed at the funeral. That is a very rough outcome.There have just been so many terrible things that go along with makes me cry to think of them. As you can see, it is not easy for me to go to a church that ex-communicates (from what I've heard) gay people that act on it....but re-enacts ex-communicated members that are child molesters (my husbands 2 uncles). I don't know for sure but I'd imagine that an individual that is excommunicated for homosexual conduct could also regain his or her membership and fellowship in the church after repentance, much like child molesters. How do I get over this? How does a gay man or woman stay in a church that doesn't 'want" them? I for one want them.  I think the Lord wants them.  Though duty-bound to take a hard line against what God has declared as sin, there are some strong statements from church leaders that the church wants them.  (See "Helping Those Who Struggle With Same-Gender Attraction:" “What’s more, I love you. My Brethren among the General Authorities love you. I’m reminded of a comment President Boyd K. Packer made in speaking to those with same-gender attraction. ‘We do not reject you,’ he said. ‘… We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.")  How do I follow the right path (if it is indeed the right path) along side people that would not have allowed my mom to be a member or even say she was wrong to be happy in an "unconventional" way? By following that path.  The people in the church are no more perfect than you, me, or your mother.  If people in the church commit uncharitable errors, it seems more appropriate to love, forgive, and associate with them than to part ways.

Brad mentioned one of you lead a same sex marriage talk group on there any blog about this stuff? Good question- I'd imagine there is such a blog, and on my post I included links to a couple similar resources.  He also mentioned one of you were openly gay? I would really appreciate your guys take on all of this. I so bad want to be were I belong....I just don't know where that is. I pray you'll find it.  Though I don't know how or when, because you're seeking, I think you will find where you belong if you have real intent (see Moroni 10:3-5 or D & C 14:5) and ask God.  I hate to think it is in the LDS church and I will miss out on the Celestial kingdom (if, again, I believe that) because of this when it doesn't even affect me directly. However, I would never change how I grew up. The way you grow up is a dangerous foundation for deciding how to believe and live. There are many scriptural examples of individuals who were raised with at least some false traditions (e.g. the Lamanites).  If these people always followed the way they were raised, then none would forsake their lives and take up their cross to heed the Savior's invitation to "Come, Follow Me."  It is better to seek and conform to truth even at the expense of abandoning beliefs or practices you were raised with if necessary (or, conversely, embracing correct beliefs you were raised with even if they're unpleasant).  How this principle applies in your case I don't know.  And I will fight right along side of the gays and lesbians for equal rights for my moms sake, as well as human rights sake, as long as I live. Again, the fight may be a just one, but it is not made so merely because of your mother's choices- for though of course you love and respect her immensely, she is no less human/imperfect than you or me.  I don't conclude as to the correctness of her choices: but I do claim that if they are correct, they are so not merely because the choices were made by her- but instead because they are in harmony with independent principles such as justice and equality.

I read the article by Mr. Bradshaw and found it very interesting. Actually...much of it I agreed with. I don't know if it was meant as controversal but I especially liked the part about the scriptures being misunderstood and even how so many scriptures in the Old Testament are not followed but the "gay" one is. That is what I was taught growing up in the "gay" church.

This is all very hard for me. Fair enough- given your experiences in life and the issue that makes a lot of sense.  I need answers and I don't like the ones I am getting. HAHA. I am not naive enough to think that any "religion" would say it is okay to be gay. But I do believe that many people are pushed away from "God" because they are gay. If memory serves me right, I was taught that God loves everyone and no one should judge. So if that's true....why do people that follow Gods' word judge? For some, the answer is because God has charged them with that responsibility.  For instance, Bishops are common judges in Israel, and are tasked with, among other responsibilities, judging and punishing certain sins.  God does love everyone, but He does not endorse sin, and it would be wrong for His servants to refrain from fulfilling a duty God has laid upon them.  Fortunately in my view, most members don't have this burden/responsibility of judging.  Plus, it is valuable to remember as God reminds us so often in the scriptures that He will judge us at the last day and hold us accountable for our choices- and that even though He loves us, He will not shield us from the consequences of our choices, positive and negative, without our exercise of agency.  Thus, church members should judge themselves, identify errors, and repent of them.  Thus, I've identified two categories where people should judge.  Isn't the point of our lives to live happily and do good to people? To help people? To show generativity (people nurturing the younger generations)? To unselfish to our own needs and wants? To raise a family with good values and morals? Yes, there's lots of scriptures supporting these points you make. And that is a whole other subject. There are so many children out there that don't have homes. They are living in group homes or on the streets. Why is it not okay to have these children placed in good homes if those homes consist of gays and lesbians? The church would rather those children grow up without a loving foundation? I just don't get it. Please help me understand. I address these last thoughts in my blog post.

Thank you for any insight you can give me.


My post on another's blog.  
(I've since made some edits)

Nice post, Kendel.  A few responses- some of them "devil's advocate"-like.

"So if I admit that there exists stable, committed, and functional same-sex households I have to concede that same sex marriage wouldn't harm children?"  

No.  The stable, committed, functional same-sex households might A) be outliers to a more deleterious statistical mean or B) still less on average than the outcomes of two biological parent households.  Of course, the argument of harming children has two major flaws: 1) it argues against step-parenting, single-parenting, co-habiting before marriage, and other family arrangements short of two biological parent households in addition to arguing against homosexual marriage.  Therefore, on that argument alone, an anti-same-sex marriage advocate would conceivably need to advocate against remarriage (that results in a step parent) as well.  2) if a particular child will not be conceived but for the homosexual relationship, it is very difficult to argue that the child is harmed.  How do you compare a blighted life to no life at all?  Picture an empty bench- on it sits Greg, the child that was never born because the ban on gay marriage resulted in his mother choosing a single life over the homosexual union he would have been born into (e.g. via a sperm donor). As much as life sucks for some people, most nonetheless overwhelmingly prefer to exist

"First problem: one of them isn't a parent in the technical sense.  By definition, two people of the same sex cannot both be "a genetic progenitor" of a child."  

Will this problem disappear with the obstacle?  That is to say, when it becomes feasible for a homosexual couple to reproduce together (say, via somatic cell nuclear transfer, or by inducing opposite gender germline development of one partner's stem cell), will you cease to use this genetic progenitor argument against same-sex marriage?

"Again, I concede that non-genetic progenitors can and have prove themselves to parent children without any deep apparent harm to the child."

Yes, although there are some benefits that children forfeit without the biological parent- e.g. the teenage girls experience earlier menarche in the absence of the biological father.
"But let's take a few steps back and try to see the longer view—one in which children haven't come into the picture yet, but face a world which has changed the rules about the where, when and why of their existence."

The rules have already significantly changed, and will likely continue to do so.  For instance, sex and reproduction used to be tightly correlated.  With birth control two people can have sex thousands of times with no offspring.  Similarly, couples can reproduce prolifically without ever having sex (e.g. via IVF).  Your argument would be better if based on the consequence bundle of a particular change rather than changing the rules generally.

"The entire premise of same sex "marriage" is that we can't discriminate against couples who are of the same sex--am I correct?  We have to treat heterosexual unions and homosexual unions by exactly the same rules for both.  If this is true, many things in society will have to change--changes that will go way beyond even the most well-intentioned efforts to reach out to an oppressed or hated minority."

Okay, I follow you so far- but change is not always bad (e.g. Civil Rights movement of the 60's, or the passage of the 19th Amendment).  Let's see if you highlight negative impacts of a specific change.

"When traditional marriage is upheld, we assign parenthood by the obvious, natural principle: biology.  Every child has a mother and a father.  This is a biological reality."

Again, that may not always be true.  It is conceivable in the future to have, for instance, two men reproduce.  A naturalist argument (what is natural is right and what is unnatural is wrong) is weak absent additional support- see my post.

"What, then, do we do to assign parenthood when a same-sex couple is involved?"

One candidate course of action is to have a "parent 1, parent 2" designation at birth.

"No matter how you answer the question, you are not only saying that you know better than natural law,'

Not necessarily.  What is natural law?  What about examples in nature of non opposite-gender reproduction?  Is there some moral standing to what is natural?  It is natural for humans to commit genocide, but also immoral.  It is natural for those who are strong to exploit the weak, but enforcing a man-made criminal code against such offenders is a better law.  It is unnatural to administer lab-produced antibiotics, but also moral.  Again, see my post on the naturalistic fallacy.

" you are not only saying that gender is irrelevant or that men and women have completely fungible roles and abilities,"

Again, not necessarily.  An advocate of homosexual marriage could acknowledge the relevance of gender differences and the value of opposite gender parenting, yet still advocate on other grounds such as fulfilling the duty to bring children into the world in two parent households or on the basis of providing for a right to marry.  Or in the alternative they could argue, as Biblarz and Stacey did in 2010: "Contrary to popular belief, studies have not shown that ‘‘compared to all other family forms, families headed by married, biological parents are best for children’’ ... Research has not identified any gender-exclusive parenting abilities (with the partial exception of lactation)... ‘‘very little about the gender of the parent seems to be distinctly important.’’  Also in 2010 in Applied Development Science: "Our findings revealed, for the first time, that young children adopted early in life by lesbian and gay parents were as  well-adjusted as those adopted by heterosexual parents. Our results suggest that lesbian and gay adults can and do make capable adoptive parents. We found no significant differences among families headed by lesbian, gay, or heterosexual parents in terms of child adjustment, parenting behaviors, or couples’ adjustment."

"and the  you are not only designing the isolation of a child from having a relationship with at least one of their biological parents—and all the identity issues that come with it,"

Though a significant consideration, many children never know their fathers either because they skip town or they were conceived IVF by an anonymous donor, but your complaint doesn't also target them, which it should on a basis of opposing action that induces identity issues.  

"you are not only  aiding the idea of breaking up parental roles into multiple, separate spheres (biological, legal, caregiving, etc...),"

That already happens (as evidenced by arrangements made for many broken families by the courts, or the role-playing by mothers and fathers in whole homes)- but you are right, same-sex advocacy does aid the idea of discretizing some parental roles. 

"not only are you saying that it is more important to support private indulgences than public institutions,"

Not necessarily.  As argued above, there are legitimate grounds for advocating same-sex marriage as a public institution (e.g. homosexual couples are more likely than homosexual singles to bring children into the world, and many of the public benefits of marriage and family are not limited to the opposite genderness of marriage).  It is inappropriate to characterize same-sex marriage as a private indulgence- this appellation reflects a sex-centered conception of the proposed institution that fails to acknowledge the richness that same-sex marriage can provide two people that are committed to and sacrifice for each other.  Generally we don't consider heterosexual marriage to be a private indulgence or all about sex- is there a basis for an opposite conclusion about homosexual marriage?  Especially since homosexual people can privately indulge without marriage?

"you are also saying that--by rule of law—that adults get what they want and children only get whatever we say they get.'

Somewhat, but to the extent that's true it is equally true before institutionalizing same-sex marriage. Many children are born in countries with few civil rights and a bleak economic outlook- but they get what the adults of their community give them and no more.  In our country we attach citizenship and constitutional rights to people- lucky them.  Either way (what they're given or not given) is adult chosen- and that profile of privileges is independent of the existence or absence of the institution of homosexual marriage. Frustra probatur quod probatum non relevat "that is proved in vain which when proved is not relevant."

"Now, I don't know about you, but I am grateful to have a relationship with both of my biological parents."

The relationship of children in homosexual families with one of that child's biological parents is likely to be absent or abrogated as compared to a two-biological parent household- so you imply a strong point. 

"I sleep better at night not having to wonder if a core part of who I am was mortgaged at my conception because two people wanted to be “like all the other marriages.”"  

I don't get this argument.  What exactly was mortgaged?  

"Same-sex marriage turns children into commodities, when I say that no one has the right to do that."  
How are children turned into commodities more than in other family structures (such as cohabitation, single parent, step-parent, and two biological parent)?

"They are people.  If the purpose of this nation is to promote the general welfare, why not start with those people who have no voice in court or the law—who literally only have the ability to cry if the people charged with their care decide that there are other, more important, more "enlightened" things than their welfare."  

A persuasive point, though it advocates against premarital reproduction, divorce, drug use, and other factors as much as homosexual marriage, and there still is little data about child outcomes in homosexual marriage since only a few countries (such as Spain) have recognized homosexual marriage for a significant amount of time.  Also, one should remember that class of people who will likely be brought into the world that, but for homosexual marriage, would not.  Though in my view not the strongest argument in support of SSM, it is nonetheless a valid one.  Example: Lisa and Jennifer are single lesbians.  They choose to not become a couple unless their jurisdiction recognizes same-sex marriage.  Their jurisdiction does so.  They marry, then use donor sperm to fertilize Lisa's egg, which Jennifer then gestates, and they raise Timothy to adulthood.  Why not start with Timothy, who as "no voice in court or the law," and who doesn't even have the capacity to cry unless adults decide to recognize SSM?

"If we care about childrens' rights at all, we must admit that same-sex marriage is a two-sided stick." 

You mean we must admit that same-sex marriage affects children?  I agree.  Does it affect them differently than many other family setups?  Probably.  I predict there will be significant comparative research on these effects by 2020. (months after I made this prediction, this came up)-

A study about lesbian parenting

"According to their mothers' reports, the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts in Achenbach's normative sample of American youth." 17-year national longitudinal lesbian family study
Also in 2010, "children raised by lesbian parents (mostly comothers) have been found across a large number of tests to be generally similar to children raised by heterosexual parents on dimensions of psychological well-being, peer relations, and social and behavioral adjustment."  I presume the  inconsistent findings (same vs. superior outcomes) are attributable to the separate metrics.

"Who are we to say that children must be left with the short end?  I say, better not to pick it up."

Careful- there are many sticks in the consequence bundle of same-sex marriage, and many of them are benefits.  Similarly, there are many sticks in the consequence bundle of opposite-gender marriage, some of which are costs.  What matters is comparative net benefit, and whether there are grounds to prohibit same-sex marriage even if it does seem likely that its net benefit (adding up all the sticks in the consequence bundle) is inferior to that of opposite-gender marriage.  Just because there may be some costs for children doesn't result solely in a conclusion against same-sex marriage. 
For instance, if costs for children could be averted by more efficient means (such as reducing drug use or divorce), then perhaps those more narrowly tailored (fewer negative side-effect) means should be pursued before blocking the same-sex marriage movement.  

My responses to some facebook comments on this post (look below my response to see their statements)

Brad Carmack Wow, 20 comments! Thanks for the input everyone.
@Tim - Yes, I think the law of chastity applies to all of God's children. What do I mean when I say 'support?" That I acknowledge the scientific consensus indicating these likely realities:
-the significant, substantial, and dare I say predominant influence of heritable and epigenetic factors on homosexual orientation
- homosexual orientation is not a choice but rather a normal minority variation with biological origins
- heterosexuals cannot be seduced into assuming a homosexual orientation
- evidence for social and psychological causal factors accounting for variability of sexual orientation is mostly lacking
- evidence does not support the claim that homosexual orientation is subject to change for the vast majority of homosexually-oriented people
Also, that I recognize the difficult situation facing my homosexual-oriented LDS brothers and sisters (i.e .they have primarily four choices- to marry heterosexually, remain single/celibate, partner promiscuously with other homosexuals, or enter a committed, monogamous homosexual relationship). None of these four options is bereft of significant difficulties and heavy negative consequences. That I find it likely that a homosexual person experiences some unmerited loneliness and rejection as a result of misunderstanding, misguided opinions, and homophobic responses to their orientation. That I feel compassion for suffering that the homosexual LDS demographic is more at risk for than their heterosexual counterparts. That there is anguish likely to result from the apparent conclusion that "I don't fit into God's Plan." That I care about you as a child of God and my spiritual brother or sister. That's what I mean by "support." (duh, wasn't it obvious? ;-)
@Patrick- I agree if you assert that characterization of homosexual orientation as a "lifestyle choice" evidences a false assumption.
@Robert- "because some people are strongly tempted by a particular sin does not mean that excuses should be made for them." I agree.
@Erica- " But it is ultimately a choice." I disagree. Imbibing alcohol is a choice; alcoholic orientation, if you will, is not. Similarly, homosexual conduct is a choice; homosexual orientation is not, anymore than is heterosexual orientation.
@Erica- "We learn to put our spirit in control of our body." Yes, good point. But the spirit loses when the body mandates infertility or autism or diabetes (AGT [abnormal glucose tolerance] heritability is about .6, i.e. heritable factors account for .6 of AGT variance) or old age. Precious few "will" or "pray" themselves out of these conditions, strong spirit & corruptible flesh notwithstanding. I classify homosexual orientation (though, importantly, not homosexual behavior) alongside these heritable or biologically determined conditions.
@Noel- I didn't know you struggle with anorexia (maybe I'm dense- sorry if so). Thanks for sharing, let me know if I can help at all. Interestingly, heritability estimates for anorexia nervosa are between .54 and .84- which overlaps the range for homosexual orientation.
@Erica- " I'm not implying they choose their orientation, merely that whatever they feel that is, they have choices in how they behave." I agree.
@Patrick- "assuming that one can choose one's sexual orientation as easily as one can choose whether or not to drink alcohol, or saying that "everything is a lifestyle choice," is a huge misunderstanding..." I concur. Only "choices" have the potential to be classified as lifestyle choices- autism and homosexual orientation and anorexia do not qualify.
@Robert- "Choosing to do what is right..." comment. Aye.
@Noel- "But praying for alcoholism or depression or anorexia to be cured (overcome) is never going to work." I mostly agree. As to homosexual LDS members who have tried to reverse their sexual orientation through prayer, fasting, change therapies, abstinence, effort, and willing the orientation away, thus far it seems the vast majority experience disappointment, spiritual anguish, and substantive long-term failure. This is the same type of outcome expected from previously referenced comparisons such as Autism (.9ish heritability), Anorexia (.7ish heritability), and alcoholism (.4ish heritability).
@Erica- "As for the celibate comment for non heterosexuals.... well its the same rule for unmarried people so I don't feel a great injustice in that." I think that justification is consistent with the Oaks/Wickman press conference you referenced earlier. I'm persuaded as to that justice conclusion so far. That is a lot of people duty-bound to be celibate, though, which is a rough outcome (the average person is over ten times as likely to be homosexually oriented than to be a member of the LDS church- about 140 million people). I think duty-mandated celibacy is rough, multiplied by 140 million is a lot of roughness. However, rough outcomes shouldn't upset a justice conclusion unless those outcomes are also unjust, so I'm with ya for now on that point.
Peace out 'til next comment,

Etiology of Adverse Outcomes for Children:
Presume it is established that outcomes for children in SSM families are comparable to single or divorced parent households (and thus less than heterosexually married families).  I wonder what the research would indicate about the causality of that correlation.  Is the legalization of SSM largely responsible?  Could society's stigmatization of homosexual orientation be a suspect as well? 
"The Canadian Psychological Association has stated in 2006[150]:
The literature (including the literature on which opponents to marriage of same-sex couples appear to rely) indicates that parents’ financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally-recognized union. As the CPA stated in 2003, the stressors encountered by gay and lesbian parents and their children are more likely the result of the way in which society treats them than because of any deficiencies in fitness to parent."

Interesting timeline of significant events regarding same-sex marriage and legal recognition of same-sex couples worldwide in modern history.

A Quote: 
"Free agency can be unfettered, yet still have  parameters."  To conclude that homosexual orientation is immutable or unchosen is not a violation of the principle of free agency.  I think freedom is the range of alternatives one has to choose from: agency is one's capacity to select from within that range.  Thus, a Down's Syndrome child may have less freedom than a developmentally normal child, but no less agency. 

A point:
Homosexual behavior and SSM don't seem to fit into the Plan of Salvation- but then neither does severe mental retardation or early death or living one's whole life as a single sister.  Importantly, homosexual orientation doesn't fit into the plan either (if it results in a person not marrying heterosexually).  Yet all four categories seem involuntary- so what is to be done for these misfits?  Contra non valentem agere nulla currit praescriptio - "no prescription runs against a person not able to act." They are all children of God as well, and it seems certain that God has made provision for them somehow.  Justitia nemini neganda est - "justice is to be denied to no one." 

A seeming hypocrisy related to the same-sex marriage debate:It's generally appropriate for an institution, such as a church, to take a stand on a consequential issue such as the definition of marriage, provided they're consistent.  For instance, it'd be appropriate for the First Baptist Church to declare, "The only definition of marriage should be/is one man and one woman."  What's not internally consistent is to say "the only definition of marriage always has been and always should be one man and one woman," (for instance, because that's God's unchanging, unqualified position on the matter) then later expand or contract the definition.  The LDS church, for instance, has a vitiated, or at least qualified, foundation from which to declare that marriage is only between one man and one woman.  Why?  Because in the recent past they officially maintained a broader definition (one man and one woman OR one man and several women).  Polygynous marriages had only two genders, but more than two partners; now, the official definition the LDS church supports is only two genders and two partners.  At first blush these two positions manifest a glaring hypocrisy.  Having so recently received such bitter government persecution for practicing an unpopular minority definition of marriage, one might reasonably predict that the LDS church would instead support those who, due to deeply-held beliefs, also desire government recognition and societal tolerance of their practice of an unpopular minority definition of marriage. 

An interesting study:
Can we determine the will of God through prayer?

"We published a notice on our web site encouraging visitors to take part in our study to assess the will of God. We E-mailed a form to each visitor to our web site who had asked to be included in the study. Subjects were thus self-selected. The form asked the recipient:
bulletWhether they were currently in favor of or opposed to same-sex marriages (SSM). 
bulletSome personal data -- their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and which "wing" of that religion that they followed.
bulletTo seek God's will for same-sex marriages through prayer.
bulletTo continue praying until they received a response from God or felt that they could not assess the will of God.
bulletIf they were successful in assessing God's position on SSM, then we asked:
bulletwhat God's will is, and 
bullethow certain are they that they correctly assessed God's will."
Results from the preliminary study
Although the sample size was small, one result was striking: Of the 68% of the participants who believed that they assessed the will of God, every person found that God agreed with their stance on SSM:
bulletAll of those who are personally opposed to SSM reported that God agreed with them.
bulletAll of those favoring SSM also reported that God agreed with them.
bulletNone found that God took a compromise position, saying that God supported or opposed SSM depending upon the specifics of each individual case.
Design of study

Summary of the study:

bulletThe most significant result, in the author's opinion, is that:
bulletThose who personally favored SSM found that God also favored it.
bulletThose who personally opposed SSM found that God also opposes it.
bulletGod did not disagree with any of the participants' beliefs, even though they are in conflict.
bulletWith few exceptions:
bulletReligious liberals favor SSM.
bulletReligious conservatives oppose SSM.
bulletWith no exceptions:
bulletHeterosexual conservative Christians oppose SSM.

See also an article relevant to the polarizing effects of increasing scientific evidence about homosexual orientation (two pages).  

LDS Pamphlet, "God Loveth His Children"
Overall, I was impressed with the church's pamphlet about homosexuality.  I felt the Spirit as I read it, and I believe it contains many truths and mostly promotes love.  I also found some troubling/problematic pieces.  Three positive excerpts (presuming they're true):
> Notwithstanding your present same-gender attractions, you can be happy during this life, lead a morally clean life, perform meaningful service in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with your fellow Saints, and ultimately receive all the blessings of eternal life.
> As we follow Heavenly Father’s plan, our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children.
> Same-gender attractions include deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. All of Heavenly Father’s children desire to love and be loved...

Some other thoughts:
A faithful LDS homosexually-oriented member has primarily four lifestyle choices: 1) heterosexual marriage, 2) fidelity to a single homosexual partner, 3) celibacy, and 4) homosexual promiscuity. In past decades, I've heard that some church leaders prescribed heterosexual marriage as a remedy for homosexual inclinations. Now, "Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith" seems to be more of the stance. Thus, if options 2 and 4 are out, and 1 is also advised against, the homosexually oriented person is left with celibacy as the only acceptable means for moving forward. The church position on homosexuality as evidenced by the Wickman/Oaks press conference is treading a fine line between some weighty doctrine-induced duties.  The first is to forbid homosexual behavior.  The second is to refrain from fobidding to marry: "15 And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man." One might wonder if homosexual men, to use an example, are not also men in the usage of that verse- in which case advising against heterosexual marriage for those homosexually inclined appears to be inappropriate on its surface. If homosexual orientation does not exist, is not significant, is chosen, and/or is changeable, then there seems to be little unjustified risk in a homosexually oriented person obediently entering heterosexual marriage. What relative risk increase exists if behavior is all that matters, and each person has total control over his or her behavior? Also, this counsel, which uses the language of "challenge... that they cannot control" seems almost to contradict the theme of the press conference about "we do not accept the fact that conditions that prevent people from attaining their eternal destiny were born into them without any ability to control" and "One of the great sophistries of our age, I think, is that merely because one has an inclination to do something, that therefore acting in accordance with that inclination is inevitable" and "we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important.'  (see also my post about inclinations/behavior/dispostion.)  I'm not fully convinced about the significance of this inclination/behavior distinction.  Take two 10 year olds- John, who's normal and Mark, a very low-functioning autistic person with an inclination toward flailing about and throwing tantrums.  John and Mark can both control their behavior, and despite his inclinations in any particular instance Mark can, and sometimes does, refrain from throwing a tantrum.  If John flailed about in class and threw a tantrum, you might discipline him somewhat severely.  If you punished Mark the same amount for the same behavior, he'd spend his life in the corner.  Despite Mark's agentic control (i.e. the reality that any particular instance of misbehavior is not inevitable), it's absurd to hold him as responsible as John for an outburst- and it would be foolish to expect Mark to regulate his behavior to the same level of mellowness as John.  

To read a more thorough/thoughtful analysis of the Oaks/Wickman talk, see the 33 page Family Fellowship's assessment.  I found the response very insightful- though I didn't come across it until a few months after I first published this post.  Also, I asked Elder Wickman in person in September 2010 about the press conference- he said the transcript was pretty raw/unedited but for grammar and such.  I asked what he would change in retrospect.  He said, "not a thing, it was spot on." 

Though both I and I would presume the church disagree with his reasoning, no less an authority than a Supreme Court Justice rejected the significance of a distinction between behavior and orientation: "Following the Supreme Court's decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez on June 28, 2010, the plaintiffs in Perry cited the decision by Justice Ginsburg's  as Supreme Court precedent that sexual orientation is "an identifiable class" in opposition the defense's argument that sexual orientation is "behavioral".[72]  Christian Legal Society had asserted that it did not restrict membership based on sexual orientation but based on "conduct and belief that the conduct is not wrong". Ginsburg rejected that distinction, noting that with respect to sexual orientation the court has "declined to distinguish between status and conduct" and offering the parallel from an earlier case: "A tax on wearing yarmulkes is a tax on Jews."  emphasis added). 
Also, it's interesting that in the Wickman/Oaks address, homosexual orientation was identified as affirmatively unique to mortality (i.e. was not an aspect of pre-mortal existence and won't be an aspect of post-mortal existence). Aside from the ideas 1) that we should avoid feeding mortal addictions such as drugs and pornography because that appetite will remain with our spirits after death to the addicted one's torment and 2) that our relationships persist after death, it seems that this fact suggests the permissibility of a mortality-only remedy for the homosexually oriented. If we are willing to "throw up our hands" and say "the Lord will work it out in the afterlife" in difficult situations (e.g. two faithful LDS members marry. The young wife's husband dies. Few LDS men want to marry her, fearing that they can't be sealed because a woman can only be sealed to one man and it would be unfair to the first husband to cancel the woman's first sealing. If the woman marries a second LDS husband, will the children be sealed to the woman? to the first husband? to the second husband? Second example- a child with Down's syndrome. Third example- a woman who goes through life without receiving a marriage proposal), why not carve out a similar short-of-heterosexual marriage, mortality-only remedy for the homosexually oriented? Perhaps a remedy that would encourage greater obedience to the law of chastity, which is also about 1) {cleaving to a single spouse} and 2) {behaving with fidelity} in addition to restricting sexual behavior to one's opposite gender? It seems that promiscuous homosexual behavior is more immoral than fidelity to a homosexual partner (LDS statement about marriage in an article about family: "united spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, taking full responsibility for nurturing each other, they are truly married")- but if the repercussions of each behavior class is equal, there seems to be little incentive for treading the more moral of two paths both deemed to be immoral.  Though the church's teachings are very appropriate for the heterosexual majority, on what basis does a homosexually oriented member have faith in the ability of the church to help him or her be happy and prosperous during mortality?  Certainly there is the promise of full opportunity and felicity after death- but "it has always been a cardinal teaching with the Latter-day Saints that a religion which has not the power to save people temporally and make them prosperous and happy here, cannot be depended upon to save them spiritually, to exalt them in the life to come." - Joseph F. Smith.  

I condemn homosexual conduct as sinful.  However, If a prayerful homosexually oriented member of the church took a teleological rather than a deontological ethical approach (arguably as Adam did in consciously and intentionally violating a commandment of God to bring about a worthwhile end, namely "that man may be") and concluded that s/he could obtain more of godliness through getting as close to marriage as s/he could with a partner of the same (or, for that matter, opposite) gender than through a long life of lonely dinners and little family purpose, one might be hard pressed to find that judgment grossly erroneous.  Both religion and culture generally extol marriage (the LDS church preaches marriage and family ad nauseum.  It's hard to beat marriage as far as its value in practicing to become like God, and the opposite genderness aspect of marriage is not the only cause of those valuable effects).  As one friend of mine said, "no matter how many puppies you save and battered women you help, you're still alone at the end of the day."  Though the God Loveth His Children pamphlet points out "Partaking of the sacrament, singing the hymns of Zion, and listening to uplifting talks all contribute to your spiritual growth," General Authorities consistently couch happiness in terms of spouse and children and preach the central role of the family in God's plan in mortality.  Comparing service and endeavors outside the home to motherhood, President Hinckley taught: "There is no other thing that will compare with that regardless of what she does."David O. McKay taught, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home."  Might this principle include, for those that are capable, "No other success can compensate for failure to have a home," meaning spouse and/or children? 

Because it is unlikely or impossible for a Down's Syndrome child such as Jackie Junot to graduate from high school, let alone college, this fact does not imply that one should prohibit her from going to elementary school.  Similarly, even presuming a homosexual union does not qualify as a first-place ideal, why prohibit the homosexually oriented from approximating the ideal of marriage and family?  Take a look at a class of individuals- namely poor, uneducated Americans who grow up in divorced homes.  (I choose this class because their category is chosen about as much as is homosexual orientation).    Despite their elevated likelihood of themselves divorcing and thereby disadvantaging their own children (i.e. failing to reach the first-place ideal), one would nevertheless refrain from prohibiting their marrying, and would perhaps even try to assist them in building a stable marriage and family.  Since according to the presumption homosexually oriented people can hardly if ever make the ideal family, one should help them get as close to that ideal as they can rather than hedging up their way.   Family is central to the Creator's plan for His children during mortality.    

Because family is so central, individuals understandably exhibit a certain fierceness in marriage's pursuit.  A marriage or marriage-like relationship can, like almost no other relationship, context, or experience in life, help one to develop attributes of godliness such as patience, love, mercy, and the host of relational virtues unavailable to non-family experience (see my marriage post).  Even if a prayerful homosexually-oriented member of the church mistakenly fails to account for the primacy of earth's purpose to "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" in choosing to develop attributes of godliness through a marriage-like homosexual relationship, that mistake seems somewhat small ethically.


  1. Hey Brad....I found your blog yesterday. I like it, for one because it is thought provoking, sincere, and given good effort.

    One comment right now....I've previously read over the results/conclusions from those twins studies, and from that, find it hard to figure out how the statistical analysis on heritablity was conducted to arrive at the figure you, via Prof. Bradshaw, mentioned. I want to read into it look into that part of the study.

    Good blog, though. It comforts me to know you find a need to work on being "out of the box" and focusing on others as individuals, rather than objects (prev. blog entry of yours, I think). I do too...

  2. Thanks, Philip!

    Good question on the heritability figures. I'm browsing the 88 references on the "Biology and Sexual Orientation" wikipedia article and the 160 references at the end of Dr Bradshaw's article. I think the 62% figure derives from "The Heritability of Gender Identity in a Child and Adolescent Twin Sample" by Coolidge, Thede, and Young. The "heritability of sexual orientation" section of "Heritable Factors Influence Sexual Orientation in Women" by Bailey et. al is also relevant.

    Have we met?
    Thanks for reading and take care,

  3. Brad - I loved-er-adored!! this post. :)

  4. Great post, Brad. If you haven't read it, you need to read "In Quiet Desparation", which was published by Deseret Book. When you're done reading, give me a call and I'll give you some awesome news about the author.

  5. Hey Bradley!

    Long time, huh?

    I saw this link on your facebook and was intrigued. I've thought a lot on this topic over the past few years ever since one of my cousins came home from his mission, came "out of the closet", and subsequently left the church. I've always thought of homosexuality to be one of the toughest challenges anyone could be face with when simultaneously believing in the gospel of Christ where a heterosexual marriage and resulting family are so resoundingly central.

    My day to day life has been pretty routine lately and I really appreciate your blog giving me something new to ponder. Your brain is fancy. I've always appreciated your unique voice. (How's that for some affirmation?) Thanks for writing down your thoughts. I hope you don't mind my reading.


  6. Bree! I don't mind at all, I'm very glad to hear from you!

    I remember some of your statements about homosexuality and the prop 8 when that issue was hot. I'm not sure why I haven't really pondered/researched the issue deeply until now. I remember reading Dr. Bradshaw's paper a few years ago and being affected by it, but I have a lot more to say this time around. I learned in the last 24 hours that a very, VERY close friend of mine is bisexual, and also that another friend of mine is homosexual. I'm guessing I know probably a dozen or so more people fairly well that are homosexually oriented but I don't know it yet. I feel glad that I've taken the effort to understand this issue more fully (though I still have far to go).

    Thanks a bunch for your affirmation! :) I wish you the best,

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I agree that all of God's children should be loved and treated with kindness and respect, despite the habits and sins we all commit. Each of us struggle with different things...we're all meant to learn to love each other, get along and help each other get through this life as well as we can. Loving someone despite the issues he/she has does NOT mean you have to agree with the way they choose to act or live, but it does mean that you love the person regardless of their differences. The Savior loved all mankind. He didn't choose who He would love. He didn't agree with sinning but He always loved the sinner...ALL SINNERS.

  9. First I want to thank you Brad for a fantastic post. You have brought up some thought provoking ideas. Upon reading some of the commenst I have come to the conclusion that there are far too many misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to homosexuality, same sex attraction, SGA, Gay-ity or whatever one chooses to refer to it as. These misunderstandings even exist amongst the brethren themselves. From their public comments alone we know that disagreements exist even amongst the twelve in regards to this issue. Perhaps the real issue to be considered is not whether it is nature or nurture, but that it is real and many members of this church deal with it on a daily basis. I am often amazed at how much attention members of the church will focus on the "commandments" when it comes to chastity labeling them as the "most important", when in reality God has told us that the two foremost important commandments are to Love God and to Love our fellowman. Often we as members of the Church claim to "Love" but what do our actions say? It is our place to love regardless. Once again many claim to do this, however just look at how we as members of Christ’s church treat not only our Gay brothers and sisters but most anyone who is different than ourselves. I imagine our Father in Heaven is often displeased with our actions, even those of "some" of the members of the twelve. If only we could truly come to understand the concept of the "Pure Love of Christ".

    Another thought for the readers of this post: As I read many of the comments I had to ask myself, “out of all the commentors on this post, how many deal with Same Sex Attraction?” You will notice I said "deal with" and not "suffer from”.

    ". . .I show unto you the way to judge"
    ". . .see that ye do not judge wrongfully"
    ". . .with that same judgment with which ye judge, ye shall be judged"

    Perhaps the Bigotry comes not in how one views a thing but in how one acts or in most cases re-acts. I am a Gay Latter-day Saint who strives to live the life of a righteous son of God. Where and what my judgment will be at the end I have no idea. However I pray that many in my family and in my church will not receive the same “judgment with which they judged” at the final judgment bar as the Lord looks upon how they have "CHOSEN" to judge others in this life? ".

    Just food for thought folks!

  10. Sorry for the second comment but a couple more ideas that are important to me:

    If I have an alcoholic brother, is it my duty to continually remind him of the evils of his nature and his actions (things that he already knows) or is it my duty to love him unconditionally and help him in any way I can? Granted I am not going to hand him a drink but do I have the responsibility to treat him with love and respect.

    Attending church has become a soul draining experience for me. I can't begin to count the number of times I have sat in Priesthood and Sunday school and heard the most hate filled bigoted comments coming from brothers and sisters who know their are gay members present. In some ways it has become poison to my soul and yet I continue to subject myself to it time and time again. There are no excuses when one is made to feel this uncomfortable amongst followers of Christ? I am often no longer proud that I am a member of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" but I shall forever be proud to stand as a witness of Christ and the His Gospel contained within said Church.

  11. To the guy who left the comment above: I'm sorry on behalf of all LDS people. I can only urge you to have patience with people who are not yet understanding of how to unconditionally love those who are not like them. The gospel is absolutely perfect...without blemish...however, the people in it are not. There is no excuse for speaking or acting against a follower of Christ or any human being...but I must plead on their behalf as they do not yet understand. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering you must endure on a regular basis. Its not ok for anyone to have to go through such persecution for any reason. I only hope that you may be able to love them and accept them more fully than they do for you at this you may be at a higher level of understanding what forgiveness and unconditional love truly mean. I know there isn't much I can do to change things for you, but I hope you can feel the love that the Lord has for you through others around you. I know its there with some...the rest will come with time...


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