Background and Suggestions for This Site
In organizing this site, we obtained input from professionals at BYU and other universities and the support of a number of bishops or former bishops. Consistent with these Church documents we include here a guide for families who have a family member with homosexual attraction. It should provide a handy summary to be used by bishops and other church leaders.The task of writing this guide was undertaken by Bishop Robert Rees who was the bishop for the Los Angeles Singles Ward for a five year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The statement was later endorsed by most of the families whose names appear on this site. Several professionals also worked with Bishop Rees in the writing of this guideline. They include Marybeth Raynes, marriage and family therapist in Salt Lake and adjunct instructor at the University of Utah, and others. The statement is also endorsed by a wide range of professionals whose names appear on this site.
Suggestions to Consider While Reading on This Site
Church leaders and members who look for direction on this site should be aware that "A Guide For LDS Families Dealing With Homosexual Attraction" supports those individuals with attraction to the same gender who choose to harmonize their lives with the Church., including the choice to live a life of celibacy and not marry someone of the opposite gender. The statement also is written in such a way that any Bishop could be comfortable in recommending it to a Church member.
Professionals on this site, consistent with Church Guidelines, support the proposition that those young people who have persistent same sex feelings into adulthood should be extremely cautious about marriage. Professionals here counsel that those who have a mid position on the homosexual-heterosexual Kinsey Scale and are able to sustain strong opposite-sex romantic relationships could consider marriage, but those with stonger homosexual attraction should consider marriage only after prayer and counseling. Those considering marriage should be able to demonstrate significant and sustained opposite sex attraction, get the counsel of a qualified marriage counselor, and reveal their same sex proclivities to prospective spouses.
Most parents who have statements on this site have gay or lesbian children who no longer affiliate with the Church. Bishops and Church members should be aware that these parental statements are from faithful members of the Church who, consistent with gospel principles, have sought to maintain good relationships with their children even when their children do not adhere to Church standards relating to sexual intimacy. Many good members are, in fact, in this position and Church leaders should be sensitive to their situation and in certain cases direct members looking for understanding to learn from the experience of these families.
Bishops and Church members should be willing to fellowship inactive homosexual members with the same degree of care and concern with which they fellowship inactive heterosexual members. Those who have been home or visiting teachers to members long separated from Church activity and standards for a variety of reasons know that as a Church we work hard for years to nurture such individuals and families and consistently attempt through loving relationships to bring the strength and Spirit of the Gospel message to them. As the scriptures say, “all are alike unto God.” Like heterosexuals, homosexuals need the united love and compassion of their fellow members. Ostracism and harsh judgment too often predictably result in their retreating from a major source of peace and growth into lives of loneliness, despair and, much too frequently, suicide.
Many homosexual members may eventually realize that their strong and persistent same sex attraction does not allow them the option of marriage. A certain number of these will feel they want to maintain their good standing in the Church through living a life of celibacy with the idea that they may be able to have this matter resolved in the next life. Some material on this site recognizes celibacy as a viable alternative and provides support to those who choose this option.
While Church leaders understandably favor the choice of celibacy, most recognize that a certain number of homosexual members will not choose this option. Many of those working with this website hope that, with increased understanding and compassion of family and church leaders, progress will be realized when homosexual members who feel they cannot live celibate lives can still otherwise honor their Christian and Mormon traditions. It is the position of those working with this website, that it is important for us to continue to honor our Christian responsibility for such individuals. This means fellowshipping them, loving them, and helping them in whatever ways we can. We should maintain warm ties with these members just as we do with heterosexual members who choose to live in non-marital relationships. It is good to maintain warm relationships in our families so these persons can stay connected to their spiritual roots and religious heritage. We take the view that it is important to affirm that God loves all of his children, and we believe that, like heterosexuals who choose to live other than celibate lives, homosexuals may live good and productive lives even if their lives are not in full harmony with Church teachings.
Our challenge today is to respond to homosexuals with the same compassion and love we have learned to practice with others living outside the standards of the church. Regardless of whether persons act on their feelings in non-approved ways or not, we should not close our hearts to any, since all deserve the gentle love we give to those struggling with other challenges, such as word of wisdom. We hope the experiences expressed on this site will provide a basis for increased understanding and wisdom, and for more compassionate responses to the challenge of homosexuality.