Monday, May 27, 2013

A friend of mine, who is active in another religion, e-mailed me to ask my opinion on the Church’s endorsement of the Boy Scouts of America ruling to allow homosexuals into the organization. She also wanted to know how I felt about the Church’s stand and whether or not the Church ordained homosexuals to the priesthood. Here is my response…

As for your questions about the Church and homosexuals, the Church has long been concerned about homosexuals and have spoken out on their behalf. I remember almost 30 years ago reading a tremendous talk by Boyd K. Packer, one of the 12 Apostles of the Church, wherein he spoke with kindness and concern to those in the Church struggling with same-gender attraction. It was a talk ahead of its time.

Do not mistake the Church’s love and concern for homosexuals as approval for their lifestyle because that is not the case. I, the Church’s leaders, and the main body of Church members, see those struggling with same-gender attraction as beloved sons and daughters of God and our spiritual brothers and sisters who need love and not rejection. We teach and truly believe that God’s love and Christ’s example charges each of us to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.

As for the act itself, the Church has said their “doctrinal position is clear. Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married. However, that should never be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality but never cruel. His interest was always to life the individual, never to tear down.”

In the political arena, the Church is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, but it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

Within the Church, we have always recognized that attraction to the same sex is not inherently sinful, but engaging in homosexual behavior is. That is the difference. Acting out on those desires is in conflict with God’s commandments (based on scripture) that sexual relationships are to be reserved for those who are married and marriage is between a man and a woman.

HOMOSEXUALS AND THE PRIESTHOOD. Do we ordain homosexuals to the priesthood? I guess that depends on how you define homosexual. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings of chastity and morality are allowed to take part in services and serve within the Church. They can—and do—enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God. It is when they fall and break the commandments that they lose blessings. We don’t withhold opportunities and blessings based on what ‘could’ happen. If that was the case, none of us would be worthy to partake of spiritual blessings for all of us are susceptible to sin.

Obviously, no matter what I or the Church say, some will disagree but, as the Church states, “we hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position and not on distortion or selective interpretation.”

BOYSCOUTS: As for their view on the new BSA ruling, the Church said, “Young men…who agree to abide by Church standards (are) welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate. This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and it is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.

“These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and includes abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and protecting and strengthening boys and young men.

“The Church appreciates BSA’s reaffirmation of its commitment to “duty to God,” which includes service to others and moral behavior….As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men. We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner.”

So, to sum up, I agree with the Church’s stand that, “Few topics are as emotionally charged or require more sensitivity than same-sex attraction. This complex matter touches on the things we care about most….The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all of God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

While I can, and do, deeply love those around me who struggle with same gender attraction I don’t approve of acting on those desires and committing homosexual acts. I also do not condone hatred, bigotry or discrimination against them or anyone else who looks, acts, believes or sounds differently than I do. All of us have thorns in the flesh and crosses to bear. The sin is in breaking the commandments of God, not in wrestling with the weaknesses of the flesh and bearing our personal burdens in life well, walking in harmony with the Lord’s teachings despite the many pulls on us. Those who do walk uprightly in the Lord’s path deserve my respect. Would that I could bear my crosses as well as so many others do.

The Church has a tremendous Web site, if you're interested.

Well, I’m off to make banana nut muffins now and—hopefully—have a barbecue. We’ll see what the clouds are threatening to do!

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