The Church just published online a resource entitled "Bishop's Guide: Same-Sex Attraction." Below is my Facebook comment responding to the same, which I also submitted to the site under my own name as feedback.
There's a lot to like. For instance, the emphasis on "expressing love
and acceptance to the individual is an important step to minister to
him/her" is appropriately central. Also, placing primacy on the "seek to
understand" step is productive.
downsides, however, are many. As Edward pointed out, several old and
largely counterproductive myths are underscored, such as (a) the
positive correlation between loneliness/rejection and the strength of
homosexual feelings, (b) the utility of avoiding triggers, (c) the
relationship between lack of emotional connection and homosexual
feelings, and (d) a connection between homosexual orientation and
addiction, abuse, or emotional health.
The additional resources links also in many cases provide tired, inaccurate anecdotes which:
compare homosexual orientation to "alcohol, tobacco, pornography,
gambling, or other serious sins." In addition to failing to distinguish
between temptations and actions, this depiction grossly misrepresents
the value of same-sex romantic relationships
repeatedly depict homosexual orientation as a "problem," "burden,"
"trial of faith," or "challenge." E.g. "many of us are developing
spiritual muscles through the calisthenics of adversity. This is a fight
that can forge a profound closeness with Heavenly Father and the Savior
because victory hinges on our ability to rely on Them completely."
fail to use terms such as "gay" and "homosexual orientation," opting
instead for the "same-sex attraction" phrase that fails to match the
permanence, depth, or centrality to identity that most homosexuals (and
their heterosexual counterparts, myself included) would ascribe to their
inappropriately burden homosexuals with the unrealistic and unhealthy
expectation that they fight same-sex sexual fantasies (" we still have
the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure
that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts"). Though
extreme frequency of sexual fantasizing can become as a mental issue,
for the majority of naturally sexual people this type of expectation has
caused and will continue to cause unneeded and regrettable distress.
suggests "victory," "overcoming same-sex attractions," "battle," and
"healing" to those who are righteous enough, a pernicious idea that has
caused untold damage to thousands of gay Mormons over the past 4 decades
advises a host of unhealthy responses to homosexual orientation,
including in addition to those above isolation from those with more
positive views about the value of same-sex romantic relationships and,
incredibly, quitting your job ("I urge you to distance yourself from
those who see nothing wrong with same-sex attraction. Avoid places
frequented by those who are involved in this lifestyle. Quit your job if
need be. This is a battle for your eternal exaltation—and battle is a
sidesteps the majority experience by highlighting minority cases, such
as successful mixed-orientation marriages where the gay spouse feels
diminished homosexual attraction.
found that my burden had been lifted sufficiently to pursue marriage.
My struggle with same-sex attraction rarely comes up these days. She
knows of my challenge—something I still face from time to time but am
able to manage—but it doesn’t define our relationship. " Also,
know some people who struggle with same-sex attraction experience the
burden being lifted entirely; they’re able to overcome it. That’s not
the case for me. I still struggle with emotions or thoughts from time to
time, and it takes strength and energy to manage them. I also know
people who may not have the blessing of having it somewhat alleviated,
as I have. I don’t know why people face challenges—this one or any
other—with such different outcomes, but I do know that our God is not a
cruel god. And I know that obedience brings peace."
in the form of avoiding same-sex romance has not brought peace to
countless gay Mormons who, unsurprisingly, find celibacy or
mixed-orientation relationships anything but peaceful. Would the
majority of us (i.e. the straights, myself included) expect to find
peace if we avoided all romantic and sexual relationships with a member
of the opposite sex?
repeatedly suggest that dating and marriage can or should be pursued
when same-sex attractions are sufficiently diminished (the latter being
an independently problematic proposition)
"I hope to one day sufficiently curb my attractions to make the first tenuous steps toward dating" also,
should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as
homosexual inclinations or practices, which first should clearly be
overcome with a firm and fixed determination never to slip into such
practices again.' The ability of individuals with same-sex desires to
date and marry depends on their progress made with the Lord’s help in
overcoming these attractions—an effort that is neither easy nor quick."
- perpetuates the twin, false/unfounded, and insidious propositions that
(1) sufficient faith and effort has resulted, for many, in overcoming homosexual orientation, and
gay Mormons should focus on the next life, at which point they will be
made straight and can then be a spouse in a straight, opposite-sex
"While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise
of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement,
overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of
this challenge in this life. However, the perfect plan of our Father in
Heaven makes provision for individuals who seek to keep His commandments
but who, through no fault of their own, do not have an eternal marriage
in mortal 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."
is difficult to imagine a teaching more conducive to suicidal ideation.
Given (1) the centrality of man-woman marriage to God's plan, and (2)
the practically non-existent odds of a gay person becoming straight in
the next few decades of his/her life, it is unsurprising that a
significant proportion of gay Mormons have considered, attempted, or
succeeded at killing themselves.
contributing towards the continued push of gay Mormons towards the
suicide ledge, I'd say the resource is a step in the right direction.