Question: Why do Mormons typically refer to homosexual/gay/lesbian issues with such terms as "same-sex attraction"?

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Question: Why do Mormons typically refer to homosexual/gay/lesbian issues with such terms as "same-sex attraction"?

LDS doctrine emphasizes that people are not the sum of their desires, temptations, or sins

Why do Mormons typically refer to homosexual/gay/lesbian issues with such terms as "same-sex attraction" and heterosexual/straight issues with such terms as "opposite-sex attraction"?

LDS doctrine emphasizes that people are not the sum of their desires, temptations, or sins. Secular evidence suggests that those who self-identify with their desires in this way are more likely to engage in acts which the gospel of Christ teaches are sinful.

Our choice of terminology should not be construed to deny others the privilege of choosing their own acts or self-labels

Our choice of terminology should not be construed to deny others the privilege of choosing their own acts or self-labels. When labels such as "homosexual," or "heterosexual", and labels such as "gay," "lesbian," or "straight" are used by Mormons, this terminology should be understood to:

  • reflect the self-understanding of those referred to; or
  • serve as an adjective (e.g., "gay activists" are those working politically on behalf of those who self-identify as gay or "heterosexual marriage" is a marriage between two people of the opposite sex regardless of sexual orientation).

The language used to describe people or phenomena can influence how we perceive or think about such matters.

LDS doctrine teaches that "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." [1] Marriage between a husband and wife, and sealing into eternal family units is the foundation of heaven in LDS theology, and Church leaders have repeatedly taught that no child of God will bear the burden of erotic desire for the opposite sex after death.

Attraction to members of the same sex, like heterosexual temptation, is not a sin. Sin only occurs when we encourage or seek out such attraction outside of marriage, or act upon it.


According to the American Psychological Association: "Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors." [2]

Having same-sex attractions, participating in same-sex relationships, and identifying as gay or lesbian are three separate things. A study by the Social Organization of Sexuality found that 60% of men and 68% of women who were attracted to the same gender have never engaged in homosexual behavior. This number differs from those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. For them, only 13% of men and 4% of women have never engaged in homosexual behavior. [3] This lead the researchers to conclude that sexual identity (i.e., how people label and conceive of themselves) was a stronger indicator of sexual behavior than sexual orientation (i.e., the feelings or inclinations which people have). </blockquote>

Our true identity

Elder Dallin H. Oaks noted a natural human tendency to use a single facet of our personality or experience as a large part of a self-definition:

I think it is an accurate statement to say that some people consider feelings of same-gender attraction to be the defining fact of their existence. There are also people who consider the defining fact of their existence that they are from Texas or that they were in the United States Marines. Or they are red-headed, or they are the best basketball player that ever played for such-and-such a high school. People can adopt a characteristic as the defining example of their existence and often those characteristics are physical.

We have the agency to choose which characteristics will define us; those choices are not thrust upon us.

The ultimate defining fact for all of us is that we are children of Heavenly Parents, born on this earth for a purpose, and born with a divine destiny. Whenever any of those other notions, whatever they may be, gets in the way of that ultimate defining fact, then it is destructive and it leads us down the wrong path. [4]

Some use a self-identity as "homosexual" to imply or argue that acting on homosexual desires is an inevitable or proper outcome, since it is simply "who I am." The Church teaches, rather, that our temptations, unhealthy desires, or sins do not define who we are as children of God.

Notes

  1. The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, The Family: A Proclamation to the World (first presented 23 September 1995).
  2. [citation needed]
  3. Laumann, Edward O. , The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States 299
  4. Dallin H. Oaks and Lance B. Wickman, "Same Gender Attraction," interview with Church Public Affairs (2006). off-site