Today is Sunday — a good day to talk about faith.
Leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have unveiled a new website titled, “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” which encourages compassionate discussions about homosexuality. The website was two years in development.
Although senior Mormon leaders maintain they haven’t changed the church’s official teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that same-sex relationships are sinful, the website says that members should be “loving and respectful” toward homosexuals, while appealing to such Mormons to stay in the church.
“Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma,” church leaders write. “Anyone who lives in both worlds can attest to its difficulty. But with faith, love and perspective, it can be done. Same-sex attraction itself is not a sin, but yielding to it is,” the website states.
In the presentation, church leaders say Mormons with such attractions who are not in same-sex relationships can have “full fellowship in the church,” including holding the priesthood and participating in temple rituals — a privilege reserved solely for church members in good standing. The church said it would no longer “necessarily advise” gays to “marry those of the opposite sex.” In the past, excommunication from the church was routine for those who confessed to homosexuality.
The LDS church faced unwarranted criticism after leaders helped fund and lead the fight for California’s traditional marriage initiative known as Proposition 8 — a constitutional ban on same sex marriage that voters adopted in 2008 after the state Supreme Court ruled that homosexual Californians could marry. But by 2012, the church took no public role in state ballot measures on the issue.
The church was correct to hold firm to its religious convictions in 2008. Our faiths are not menu boards in a cafeteria, where the selection de jour takes front stage. This was the unequivocal position of the LDS Church in 2008, as it referred to “The Devine Institution of Marriage,” including these words: “The Church has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a husband and a wife united in the bonds of matrimony.”
A bible verse posted on the new website, is central to the more tolerant position: “We must not judge anyone for the feelings they experience,” church authorities write. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” John 13:34
Conspicuously missing are the numerous biblical prohibitions against homosexuality.
Although it’s tempting, we won’t even touch this line from the website: “We live in an imperfect world. Not all the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit. But having an eternal perspective and believing in a just and merciful God gives us hope that all will work out in the end.”