Question: Do Mormon leaders recommend marriage as "therapy" for those with same-sex attraction?

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Question: Do Mormon leaders recommend marriage as "therapy" for those with same-sex attraction?

The prophets and general authorities have, in their written statements, long been clear that marriage is not to be seen as a "treatment" for same-sex attraction

It is claimed that Church leaders have advocated that those with same-sex attraction marry those of the opposite sex as part of the "therapy" for overcoming their same-sex desires or inclinations.

Like members of all faiths, all Latter-day Saints do not live up to their ideals and principles perfectly. Some members and leaders have doubtless encouraged some people with same-sex desires to marry someone before they were ready. Such a practice has been discouraged by statements by the Church's highest authorities.

As with all decisions relating to marriage, such matters are ultimately the responsibility of the parties involved.

1970s

President Kimball wrote a pamphlet entitled "Hope for Transgressors", in which he addressed leaders who were helping men who were involved in homosexual behavior. He said:

When you feel he is ready, he should be encouraged to date and move his life towards the normal. It is proper that a girl should be interested in a boy and a boy should be interested in a girl.

While marriage was mentioned as a possibility, it was not presented as a part of the repentance process or a cure. The idea of marriage was to be introduced only when the young man was ready, not as a means to be ready. There have been disastrous marriages that have resulted from people getting married before they were ready, but there are many marriages that have been very successful, especially those who have headed President Kimball's advice to wait until after you are ready before marriage.

1980s

In 1986, Elder Oaks had an interview with CBS. This was the discussion:

CBS: The Church has recommended in the past marriage as a part of repentance, when you're engaging in homosexual...

ELDER OAKS: I don't know whether that has been recommended by individual bishops or priesthood leaders counseling persons in individual circumstances. I just don't know that. Marriage is not usually thought of as an act of repentance.

CBS: As part of repentance from ...there have been several cases cited of when a homosexual who wants to remain within the fold and is fighting his feelings will go to a bishop or will go for counsel and what is recommended is that you repress those feelings and get married and have children and that will set you on a better path. Is that foreign to you? Does that sound...

ELDER OAKS: I don't know whether that has been recommended or not because the counseling sessions you refer to are very confidential counseling sessions and when the bishop comes out of that counseling session he doesn't report to anyone. When the person he's talking to comes out of that session they're free to talk to anyone and say anything without fear of contradiction. So I don't know. I just don't know what has been said in such sessions. [1]

In 1987, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

The Lord has proclaimed that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and is intended to be an eternal relationship bonded by trust and fidelity. Latter-day Saints, of all people, should marry with this sacred objective in mind. Marriage 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 to such practices again. [2]

1990s

In Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems, the Church stated:

Marriage should not be viewed as a way to resolve homosexual problems. The lives of others should not be damaged by entering a marriage where such concerns exist. Encouraging members to cultivate heterosexual feelings as a way to resolve homosexual problems generally leads them to frustration and discouragement. However, some people have reported that once they are freed from homosexual problems, heterosexual feelings have gradually emerged. [3]

2006

Elder Oaks said:

We are sometimes asked about whether marriage is a remedy for these feelings that we have been talking about. President Hinckley, faced with the fact that apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage as the remedy for these feelings, made this statement: "Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices." To me that means that we are not going to stand still to put at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.

On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity - that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate. [4]

2007

Elder Holland said:

For various reasons, marriage and children are not immediately available to all. Perhaps no offer of marriage is forthcoming. Perhaps even after marriage there is an inability to have children. Or perhaps there is no present attraction to the opposite gender... Recognize that marriage is not an all-purpose solution. Same-gender attractions run deep, and trying to force a heterosexual relationship is not likely to change them. [5]


Notes

  1. An Interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks on Homosexuality and AIDS
  2. Gordon B. Hinckley, "Reverence and Morality," General Conference (April 1987).
  3. Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems
  4. Dallin H. Oaks and Lance B. Wickman, "Same Gender Attraction," interview with Church Public Affairs (2006). off-site
  5. Jeffrey R. Holland, "Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction," Ensign (October 2007), 42-45. off-site


Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims