I have been thinking about this for some time and a friend recently posted the link below to the Mormon and Gay Facebook group. I am so grateful to hear our church leaders to continue to teach that Christlike love is always the most important thing.
I believe that my Heavenly Father wants me to marry a woman and not act on my attractions to men. But I also believe that those who do live a gay lifestyle should still be treated with love and respect, and should they choose to come and worship with us, they should be welcome. I hope that the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can learn to love and accept those who choose to live differently than we do.
I do want to say,and I am grateful for this, that I believe that those in the Church who do not show love and kindness to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are in the minority. I hope this attitude of Christlike love will spread.
Below are excerpts from an interview of an Oregon Stake President. Allen Oyler put together presentations and a panel discussion about keeping families together when a son, daughter or other member comes out to their loved ones. The church considers it a sin to act on a same-sex attraction, though the attraction itself is not necessarily a sin in Mormonism. Link to full text here.
Q: What was the inspiration behind these events?
A: Each congregation is headed by a bishop, and the stake president is responsible for a group of congregations. In my case there are eight separate congregations, so eight separate bishops I’m responsible for. As a bishop, I had what I would consider to be one of the best young men I’ve ever met, and he came to my office one day and expressed that he was gay. I found myself not being able to know how to advise him, or how to talk to him, or how to help him work through his issues. So I decided to learn what I needed to know in terms of individuals who experience same-gender attraction.
Q: What message were you trying to get across in your presentations?
A: The doctrine hasn’t changed as far as the church is concerned, but what needs to change is how we as members deal with and address people who are experiencing same-sex attraction.
I wanted to convey to families that irrespective of what happens, whatever life’s challenges are, the family unit is the most important thing. And under no circumstances should they find themselves ostracizing or disrespecting members of their family. I think if individuals experiencing same-gender attraction knew within their hearts that their parents would love them and accept them no matter what, there would be much more love and acceptance and less suicide and mental struggles.
The piece of the message I want to make sure our congregation understands is that as members of the Mormon church, we should be in the forefront of compassion and love and outreach to others. It’s not good enough just to be aware of it; we need to be at the forefront of love and acceptance, of love and respect and outreach to those experiencing same-gender attraction.
Q: What kind of response did you get after the presentations?
A: Whether it was out of kindness or whether it was heartfelt, I never received any negative comments. I had several people indicate that they had a completely different perspective, and that it was good to see the leadership of the church make statements that gave them hope and understanding. I had members in the audience who sent me emails, some anonymously, saying, “Thank you, I have struggled with this all my life. I’m glad to see that we’re taking this kind of approach.”
Q: Do you think this is something you might do again in the future?
A: It certainly may come up. I think it’s fresh enough in people’s minds that it probably wouldn’t occur relatively soon. But yes, I would consider it in the future.
Q: Going back to the city’s Human Rights Award, what are some things you think the Beaverton community could do to advance human rights as a whole?
A: I think central to the theme is that families need to make sure they understand their significance, and that no one should be ostracized. We have differences; we’ll deal with differences. But you can’t deal with them with hate or rejection. You can’t make your way back to God through hate.