16 Feb

The Awakening: Homosexuality

Posted by Jenna, Under Religious

Note: This topic is deep, controversial, and extremely sensitive in our current social climate. It is not possible for me to cover every facet of every argument with one post. I am using this platform today to voice my current thinking and explore some of my past views. I wanted to remind everyone of the importance of being civil in the comment section. I will be watching the comments closely and deleting anything that resembles a personal character attack. 

With this post I wanted to acknowledge other Mormons who have voiced their thoughts even though it might be difficult. I am proud to stand with them and say that I think we can only move toward perfection as we explore our weaknesses.

Recently, I found a quote by a well-known church leader suggesting that solo masturbation would lead to mutual masturbation with someone of the same gender, which would eventually lead to homosexuality and continue to progress until the most deprave acts were committed. I had never considered before that this might be how some LDS Church leaders view homosexuality. Not as a state of being that is part of an individual’s personhood, but a sort of perversion of the normal state due to letting your guard down and exploring the immoral. My thoughts and views on homosexuality have certainly evolved over time, but when I think back to the homosexual people I have encountered throughout my life, I can’t ever remember thinking that they became that way because they watched too much pornography or masturbated too frequently.

Homosexuality is not a product of masturbation, of someone neglecting to bridle their passions. It is not about choice, nor is it something you “fall into” as you race down a slippery slope to damnation. Science really hasn’t come to a conclusion yet regarding the roots behind homosexuality. Is it nature? Nurture? A combination of both? While we don’t have firm answers, simply choosing to be attracted to the same sex is not one of the options.

Recently, I’ve started praying and pondering everything, and I realized that I’ve never prayed to find out if God really condemns homosexuality. I always felt sure that what I had been told by Church leaders was right because we know of the Plan of Salvation, where we would eventually pair up in male/female pairs for eternity, and from this perspective it made sense to condemn homosexuality as a perversion of God’s intended order for the universe. However, if you accept the possibility that homosexuality is an innate characteristic, that has to mean that God implanted an overwhelming desire to sin as part of a homosexual person’s daily life. For many who identify as homosexual, the idea of heterosexual romantic relationships is actually a repulsive thing. Why would a God who told us “Men are that they might have joy” deprive so many of his children from one of the greatest joys we can experience during mortality, that of a committed, and yes, sexual, relationship?

My praying and pondering has not led me to any firm answer for any of my questions yet, but I do know that I’m no longer able to sentence so many good and loving people to lives devoid of companionship, sexual fulfillment, immediate family bonds with progeny, and love. It is as impossible for me to imagine having a life-long marital relationship with a woman as it is impossible for a homosexual man to imagine forcing himself to be with a woman for the rest of his life.

The Church’s policy today is that those who identify as homosexual are loved and embraced, but they are not to act upon their sexual desires in any way, as doing so would mean church discipline. Up until very recently, I equated what homosexuals were being told about “choosing not to act” to what we all were being told about choosing not to act on our own sexual desires outside of marriage. If I could fight off the temptation, shouldn’t my gay friend be able to as well?

In 1998 President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are”

The thing is… homosexuality isn’t just about sex or inclinations. Being a homosexual doesn’t just mean that you want to have sex with people of the same gender, just like being a heterosexual doesn’t mean that my existence is defined by having sex with a man. The person I once was used to think “Oh yeah, sometimes I want to lie or be selfish or XYZ, and I have to control that inclination.” In other words, I am a mostly honest/unselfish/sexually-in-control person who falls prey to the temptations of the Great Deceiver and must work to stay close to the Spirit to overcome such tendencies. But by this logic, I would thus need to consider a homosexual person to be a mostly heterosexual being who at times has inclinations to experiment with the same gender.

I was told that I had to control my sexual desires for a season, because eventually I would marry and this would no longer be an issue for me. I also considered the message to homosexuals to be similar. Just hold off on your evil desires until kingdom come,  and then we can all be perfected and freed of these sinful urges together. Aside from no longer being sure that I even think homosexuality is a sin, I realize that I had never thought about the life I was condemning  homosexuals to when I took this position. If a homosexual lives by the current plan that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has laid out by avoiding any and all homosexual activity, they will never get to have the love, companionship, trust, and sexual bonds that I experience with my lifetime partner (this is assuming, of course, that they can’t choose to find fulfillment in a heterosexual relationship). They are condemned to a life of being the third wheel or a forced marriage with someone of the opposite gender who ignites no passions for them.

We can continue to fight this out within our own religious belief system, but we do no good by declaring war on civil unions. When the idea for this post formed, my intention was to simply state that I disagreed with the Church’s position on Prop 8 and in other states where they are fighting against the legalization of gay marriage and that I don’t see any non-theological merit in the arguments that allowing homosexuals to form a union would destroy the family or limit my personal activity (including how we use our temples). I’ve reasoned through every version of the various stories regarding lawsuits concerning gay rights and civil liberty and I tried a thought experiment where I replaced the homosexual individuals in those stories with a man or woman with dark skin. Does it feel right for a photographer to say she won’t photograph a wedding because of the color of someone’s skin? What about a cake baker or a pavilion owner?

What if a non-white couple were out driving through the countryside in the middle of the night and they pulled up to a small inn owned by a family who denied them a room because of their skin color? That doesn’t feel right to me. Now replace that non-white couple with a lesbian couple, and replace the inn owners with a conservative Christian family who denied the room based on religious beliefs. That doesn’t feel Christlike to me either.

Homosexuality isn’t just about inclinations. Homosexuality isn’t only about sex. I don’t know exactly where I stand on things yet and I’m going to keep thinking about homosexuality, eternity, and what the sin really is here.

What I do know this is: I feel more at peace. I want to believe in a Christ, in a God, with arms open wide and hearts full, welcoming everyone. This is the person I am working to become. I am much closer now than I was before.

 

346 Comments


  1. Wow. Good for you, Jenna. I can’t tell you how happy I am to read this. So simple, so straightforward, so radiating truth.

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  2. I really respect your reasoning here. I think it’s something that a lot of homophobic people fail to do: think of homosexuals as people, not just as someone solely focused on homosexual sex.

    I am very liberal and fully support gay marriage. Even though I don’t associate with any one religion in particular, I was raised Catholic. It still amazes me that people use religion to persecute others when nearly every story about Jesus’s life involved sacrifice for and acceptance of others – the poor, sick, prostitutes, everyone. I feel like some people (not all!) with strong Christian views forget this, they use religion as a way to look down on others.

    So, even if you don’t become fully supportive of gay marriage or gay lifestyles immediately, I applaud your efforts to question certain teachings of the church and analyze things for yourself. I think these Awakening posts are great and very brave.

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  3. Jenna, I really have enjoyed these posts. But I notice that when showing your new reasoning, you have no references to scripture. Just your own thoughts. And while I believe that our own reason is a tool to seek God, I think scripture is an extremely important touchstone. Have you sought out God’s word on these issues, looking for yourself what it says? If your beliefs and scriptures conflict, do you go with your own reasoning over scripture?

    Brooke Reply:

    Would you like to point out a few scriptures? I know a lot of people reference the Old Testament (specifically Leviticus) but is there anything from the new? I haven’t brushed up on my scripture in a while, but from what I understand, Jesus never said “Marriage is between one woman and one man.” Is that right?

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    Brooke, I felt compelled to respond to your comment because as a Christian, this is one argument that I hear over and over again (about many things, not just homosexuality). Jesus never talked about many things like child molestation, yet we know that this is a sin. As for New Testament references to homosexuality, this article talks about it: http://bible-truths.com/homosex.htm

    Brooke Reply:

    As a fellow Christian, I understand. However, child molestation is wrong, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual, because it is against that child’s will. Consenting adult relationships are very, very different. The fact remains that in Jesus’ day and before, marriage was an incredibly complicated thing. Bigamy was common. Think of Jacob, and Abraham and countless other biblical figures. Yet we now believe it’s only 1 man and 1 woman. But where does Jesus define that? Does that mean these past religious figures were “wrong”? Or were their marriages defined by the current social customs? I think this is wherein lies our problem. Sodom and Gomorrah were corrupt not because of homosexual practices, but because of rape and debauchery. They desired to take people against their will. And we can all agree that it’s a terrible thing, whether between same sexes or opposite.

    My problem with quoting scripture as absolute truths is that most scripture is filtered through men, during their current social climates. Many layman Christians do not study the social practices, customs and beliefs that encompass those scriptures and take them at face value. It’s used to alienate, not encourage. To condemn, not understand. I wish more Christians would use critical thinking to analyze scripture. And I don’t mean to say you, at all. I’m more thinking about my incredibly close-minded and traditional family.

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    My personal belief is that much of Old Testament accounts are for historical and moral lessons. Not everyone was perfect, and even Abraham and Jacob and Moses and Noah were all sinners. When God created humans, He created Adam and Eve and thus lay the very first marriage. What came after are all a result of original sin. So yes, I believe that bigamy and polygamy which many Old Testament figures practiced, are wrong. Yes they had their reasons to do so (i.e., social expectations and norms), but that doesn’t mean they were right.

    I am actually not against gay marriage because I believe everyone should have equal rights. But I do believe homosexuality is a sin, based on what I have studied and prayed about. I plan on writing about this topic in more detail this Sunday (and I wish I could write more now but the little one just woke up!)

    Brooke Reply:

    You are one of the first people I’ve met to share that belief on the Old Testament! Though my personal thoughts go even further, in that I don’t necessarily believe they are accurate historical accounts. Back in high school I was introduced to the book “A New Kind of Christian” and the idea that something doesn’t have to be true, to hold truth. Such as Jesus teaching in parables. I don’t necessarily believe Adam and Eve were the first two beings. I know it sounds crazy, but it took a lot of theological discussion and research to come to that belief. I had some wonderful youth ministers during that time that really challenged conventional beliefs.

    And just to keep the discussion going (even though I know you are busy with those adorable little ones!) I struggle with the “being born this way” aspect a lot. Because frankly, child molesters are born with those urges. In that sense, you could call them “natural” because it’s part of their nature. Does that make it right? Hell no. And I think that’s where a lot of people stand on homosexuality. My thoughts though, hinge on the aspect of consent. Children can not consent. Ever. They do not know what is happening, and it is an immense tragedy when they are violated in that way. But consenting adults? I don’t think they’re being violated. And it’s hard for me to say that a healthy sexual relationship in any capacity is a sin. But again, these are lifelong theological debates I’ll have with myself.

    I love that you can disagree with the principles personally, yet not feel threatened by gay marriage. I think this is the direction where all Christians need to start thinking. How is their decision a criticism of your own? Why should an entire nation be defined by a single set of religious morals that all do not even adopt?

    Alicia Reply:

    I also have similar views on the Old Testament. The best example I can think of is Solomon- he had many wives and concubines, something that was basically sexual promiscuity border lining on adultery, and yet we have so many beautiful scriptures (supposedly) penned by him. I think, because God generally works through people and not over them, so many ideas set forth by both ancient and modern spiritual leaders should be examined with their personal world views in mind. It’s like trying to see what God really means by reading a book wearing glasses that aren’t your prescription. Not to say that there isn’t any value there; I think there is a lot and it’s our responsibility to glean from it what we can. That’s why I think it’s incredibly important to study things out for ourselves to sort through what God intends for us to understand. However, I was raised to read scripture as the literal word of God so it is something I have had to learn and adjust to over time, and even now it occasionally feels like blasphemy. One of the best classes I ever took at BYU was the Bible as literature- we pulled out many different translations and I would encourage anyone to try reading the scriptures this way. So much has changed in language, even in the last century; we need to do our best to try and understand what was written thousands of years ago using as many resources as possible.

    Regarding homosexuality- I also think it is a sin. However, I support civil unions. As consenting adults, we are free to choose for ourselves how we will live out our lives and homosexuality shouldn’t be an exception to that.

    The line becomes blurry for me when it comes to how to explain this to children and how churches could be affected. It is important to me that children understand that there are many different viewpoints in the world, that there are others who will think differently than themselves. I want my children to know that their personal universe is not the only one. What comes to mind, though, is that I think it is morally wrong to be in a homosexual relationship, but others think it is not, that it is even morally right to act and embrace those feelings, so which viewpoint will be shared in schools? I would hope that both worldviews would be shared, but I don’t think that will be the case. I would also hope that churches would not be forced to change what has been an established moral stance and made to perform marriages against their moral conscience.

    I just don’t know how to reconcile whose rights prevail, and it’s something I am continuing to think about and try to understand. I hope what I have said doesn’t prove hurtful; that is not my intent. I just want to try and reconcile all these ideas in my head. :)

    Marissa C Reply:

    All three of your views on the Old Testament are pretty much in line with the Catholic Church, btw

    Alicia Reply:

    It’s funny you should say that. I’ve always felt a strong kinship with Catholics and respect their doctrine and attitude towards authority. I had an experience once while attending mass; feeling the Spirit confirm that this was good. However, I can never deny what the Spirit has confirmed to me about the Book of Mormon and other doctrine central to our beliefs. However, I do know Truth can be found everywhere.

    On a semi-related note, I am glad that, lately, Christians of all denominations seem to be supporting each other more and more. Coalitions are springing up. It’s like a huge global family of believers, and I’m so happy we can all move beyond petty differences. It’s a sense of camaraderie I really value.

    I’ve always felt that if I hadn’t been Mormon and known it was true for myself, I would most likely have turned to Catholicism.

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    If you think about it, even the consenting adults argument can be argued when it comes to adultery, polygamy, incest, and so forth. Not all are necessarily illegal (Fact of the day: did you know that adultery is technically illegal in South Korea? It’s just not very enforced.), but whether they are morally correct is all up for debate. Like others have said, it’s such a blurry line that I honestly don’t worry about it too much. I’ll let God do the judging when the time comes.

    I just think that the church is focusing too much attention to an issue that is not detrimental to society when there are far more pressing issues on hand and far more dangerous sins that the church members themselves — I myself included — practice.

    Christiana Reply:

    Jenny (you know I love you and I’m truly curious), I’m confused if you feel “My personal belief is that much of Old Testament accounts are for historical and moral lessons.” Then why wouldn’t this be true of the New Testament as well?

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    Sorry, I should have been more clear in that what I said should not be exclusive to the Old Testament.

    VERY generally speaking, the OT is filled with stories, laws, and lessons that were designed to protect and provide for the purity of the Jews until the Messiah came. And very generally speaking, the NT marks the beginning of a new covenant between God and man, and tells the story of the Messiah and clarifies the new covenant.

    And while most of the OT laws became no longer necessary with Christ’s sacrifice, moral laws, such as what we find in the Ten Commandments, will never pass away because they are rooted in the very character of God.

    Did that answer your question? I hope it did!

    Grace Reply:

    Jenny, I look forward to your post. You always have an interesting perspective!

    Rachel Reply:

    Loved this Brooke. I actually wonder how much we understand of the plan of salvation. What if the comforts given by church leaders to unmaried members could be for homosexuals that they might be sealed to their partners in the next season? What if spiritual procreation doesn’t follow thec same gender requirements as on Earth. I don’t know where I stand and now that I’ve been through the temple, I wonder even more.

    Jessica Reply:

    My point wasn’t really to make a scriptural argument for a certain point, but rather to point out that Jenna doesn’t seem to have looked into scripture AT ALL. I think her thoughts are totally valid and God does lead us through our rational faculties. But to change your point of view on what she previously seemed to feel was an important part of her faith — without looking into Biblical perspectives at all — seems wrong to me. It seems self-centered instead of God-centered. So if she feels that scripture can be disregarded, or that scripture supports her position, I think she should explain how she’s come to that position.

    Ru Reply:

    Just to chime in from my lurking — I personally dislike when someone disregards my thoughts or opinions because they assume I have not studied scripture enough or prayed enough. Often I have done both, but prefer to keep some things to myself. But more importantly, it implies that I have gone about reaching my conclusion in a “wrong” way and that if I had been more righteous, I would have come to the “right” conclusion.

    While I think asking Jenna if she had studied the scriptures in addition to praying about this topic is a valid question, it ought to be asked with a sincere intent to find out the answer. You are jumping to the conclusion that she has not studied the scriptures simply because she was silent on that issue, and that is not fair.

    Brooke Reply:

    But what scriptures? And I’m not calling you out, I’m genuinely curious. Since Jenna didn’t provide any, are there some that you would like to contribute? It seems that the church often takes stances on things that scripture doesn’t always cover. Like dancing. I don’t think theology always has to be based in scripture alone. Faith is about feelings and conviction as well. And since Jenna stated that she prayed and meditated with God over the subject, I wouldn’t say that’s “self-centered”. Protestant religions thrive on a personal relationship with God. I think her conversing in prayer is completely valid.

    Jackie Reply:

    But scriptures are not God. She said she prayed about it. God is bigger than the Bible. Jesus did not tell us just to read the Bible, but to live as he would. I think there is value in prayer, discussion, and personal exploration as well.

    Tiffany Reply:

    1 Corinthians 6:9- New Testament scripture that says homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven. I feel like we accept and treat everyone equally here on earth and we are to let God do the judging.

    Kelly @ The Startup Wife Reply:

    Interestingly, the original Greek doesn’t actually say ‘homosexuals.’ It says a word that rather recently (past 40ish years) has begun to be translated as ‘homosexuals.’ Worth reading up on the etymology of the word and the interpretation of it! I posted this elsewhere but this is a really good resource: http://www.soulforce.org/resources/what-the-bible-says-and-doesnt-say-about-homosexuality/

    Jessica Reply:

    Kelly – really interesting site. I am already really enjoying reading it. Thank you for passing it along!

    Jessica Reply:

    Sorry, I’m not here to start a theological argument, trading scripture. I just don’t think comment threads are a useful forum for such things. Any rudimentary searches can turn up relevant scripture for both arguments on the issue.

    My point is this: I remember once reading on Jenna’s formspring that if the Mormon Church approved of gay marriage, she would lose her faith in the church. So obviously this is really a huge issue for her. And it seems like she is really really wrestling with it, through thought and prayer. (And you’re right, prayer is a huge way of looking for God’s will and wisdom.) But to
    completely leave out or ignore scripture when mulling over something this important…. I think that’s folly. Scripture has to be at least one way (and I think one of the most important ways) to discern the truth for a believer.

    Jackie Reply:

    That needs to be read in its full context.

    The first part is practically an argument for separation of church and state. 1 Cor 6 says ” When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints.” Basically – why are you getting the law involved, shouldn’t you be settling these things yourself. So why does it matter if gay marriage is legal? Paul is saying that issues of morality should be taken up amidst believers, no need to involve others. Granted, he is talking about law suits among believers, not legislation, but I think the principle is that the law does not need to get involved.

    Homosexuals are also not the only thing in that list – “Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers.” Some of these things are illegal – thieving, prostitution, robbing. But fornication, adultery, greed, being drunk – those things are all legal in society. Why focus on homosexuality? Even if we choose to ignore what Paul said in the first part of the chapter and decide to legislate morality, why are we deciding some things are more important than others?

    Third, the most important verse in this is “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” We are sinners, yes, but we are washed, justified, sanctified. If homosexuality is a sin, isn’t it irrelevant if God sees us as washed clean?

    Fourth, in verse 12, Paul says “all things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial.” So again, even if we are operating under the premise that homosexuality is a sin, he is not implying that this is a law they will go to hell. He is telling people to act in a way that is beneficial to themselves and to honor God.

    Keep in mind that this is a time period when people do not really understand homosexuality as something biological. Let’s go back to Genesis 19 and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is not a tale of two lovers – it is a tale of attempted rape. Going against what God designed, sex in love, is immorral. But if God makes us all, and homosexuality is natural, is that immoral? Is that really the same as rape? Furthermore, I don’t think we can really look at that story as an example of what is good and what is bad. Lot offered his two virgin daughters to be raped instead. I mean, really? Fornication, rape? That’s more moral than homosexuality? There are a lot of stories in the old testament that make us go “wasn’t that a sin?” It’s not picture perfect examples of humanity, it’s a story.

    Jesus does talk about marriage a few times. In Matthew 19 he says that divorce is immoral (although, again, it is legal and we don’t seem to mind that). In Mark 12, he rebukes people for worrying about who is married to who in heaven. He doesn’t spend more than half a second dwelling on it, because it’s really not what is important. Jesus main message wasn’t marriage. Two verses later, he is saying the greatest commandment it is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. This was a trick question because Jews were bound to keep 613 commandments, all important. Jesus here is saying it’s not the law that it is important – it is God. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law.

    People frequently make this argument that Jesus abolished the old law, so even though the Bible also condemns eating pork, we’re really just bound to what is in the New Testament. And since homosexuality is mentioned in the New Testament – it’s still a sin. But we can’t have it both ways. We can’t look at the Old Testament as just a relic of its time, but expect the New Testament, written by real people in a real social context, to some how have transcended that and have created a timeless document. The Bible is real, it is real letters written by real people with real struggles, real sins, real imperfections, who nonetheless created a holy book. They didn’t write the New Testament to be a Part II of the Bible – they were writing letters to friends. Paul even says in some spots “I am saying this, not God.” And there are many parts of the New Testament we conveniently ignore too. That women are supposed to cover there heads when they pray? Anyone do that?

    Finally, Jenna’s entire post, whether she meant to reference it or not, is really summed up in one single scripture:

    “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Cor 7:9

    Virginia Reply:

    Your comments in this post (and others) are so interesting and articulate. Thank you.

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    I agree with you on the vast majority of your points. However, I’m a bit confused as to your interpretation of the Bible — are you saying that it is an imperfect book written by imperfect humans? While I agree that the Bible *was* written by man, I believe that it is the divine Word of God which, by its definition, is perfect. I personally believe that the Bible is true and complete, and that when reading and studying it, we should take into account various factors such as who it was written for and the history behind the setting. I recently wrote a blog post about it, if you’re interested (and coincidentally, it explains the head covering issue you talk about above): http://www.geekinheels.com/2012/01/22/reverent-sundays-cherry-picking-bible-verses.html

    P.S. — I’m not writing this in order to try to say that I’m right and you’re wrong. (And for all I know, I could have grossly misinterpreted what you wrote.) I just enjoy healthy biblical debates and was very intrigued by your comment. :-)

    Steph Reply:

    Just a question for Jenny… do you think that a translation of the Bible is Divinely inspired and perfect? Because I can see the idea that Bible would be perfect in the language it was originally written in, but cultural and language are quite intimately related – so I find it difficult to think that a modern scholar translating the New Testament from the original Greek, for instance, could perfectly capture the meaning of every single word.

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    I do not believe that there is any current translation that is perfect, because as you said, culture and language is intimately related. (And being bilingual myself, I know for a fact that there are some words that just can’t be completely translated to another language.) As a result, I own several translations of the Bible and always double-check whenever I am thoroughly studying a passage. One of my favorite former pastors still remains a friend, and he has studied Greek extensively, so I also like to go to him when I have questions. Personally, my favorite translations are the NIV for the intent and ESV for the literal translation — I believe that the concurrent use of the two is one of the best combinations when seriously studying the Bible in our modern American English language.

    Jackie Reply:

    I don’t think I got my point across very well, I was kinda in a hurry. Your post was much better. My point is that the Bible has discrepancies in it. It wasn’t put together until 400 years after the Church was. There were 7 books that were taken out during the Protestant reformation. I don’t take the Bible 100% literally, which people say all the time about the Old Testament, but I think it’s true of the New as well. Like you said, we need to see it in its historical context.

    Sara Reply:

    Shame, shame, shame on anyone who compares homosexuality to child molestation. Think about this very carefully, and think about the way that your words can hurt people.

    Jenna Reply:

    Just wanted to chime in in defense for Jenny, I don’t think she was trying to say that homosexuals are like child molesters any more than one would argue that a liar is like a thief. (other than that both are wrong (both lying and stealing))

    I don’t want to speak for Jenny, but I know that I once felt that homosexuality just fell on the “spectrum of sin” and I always had a hard time getting the point across.

    Sara Reply:

    Maybe not, but putting them in the same thought like that is just horrid. Comparing (even as weakly as that) what consenting adults do to crimes that are committed against children does a real disservice to the kind of reasoned conversation you’re trying to have here.

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    Thanks, Jenna for standing up for me. :-)

    And Sara, what Jenna said is correct in that by no means did I want to compare the horrors of child molestation to homosexuality — it was just the first sin that popped into my head that fit the point I was trying to make (i.e., one of the many sins that Jesus never talks about in the Bible but is still a sin). Perhaps I should have listed another sin that is not as offending, or not given an example at all. And I apologize that you took offense to that.

    That being said, if you want to get technical, by listing homosexuality as a sin I guess I *am* comparing it to child molestation which is another sin. But so is lying, adultery, pride, murder, and so forth. I personally believe that there is no degree of sin where one sin is worse than the other (because sin and sin and all sin can be forgiven except for the unforgivable sin which is permanently rejecting Christ), but I do believe that certain sins are more dangerous than others, like pride.

    Please note that I believe I am no moral or no less a sinner than homosexuals, and if anything I know plenty of gays who are far better people than me. I believe Christians should love and embrace homosexuals, and I believe that homosexuals should be granted every equal right as heterosexuals and that no one should force their religious beliefs down others’ throats. I guess this is hard for others to understand because of my stance on homosexuality being a sin, but I honestly believe that it is possible for Christians to love homosexuals. And can a Christian be gay? Yes, and that is up to him/her to take up with God.

    Married in Chicago Reply:

    I’m curious about what child molestation was the sin that “just popped” into your head. Much of the anti-gay media that was popular throughout history has suggested that older gay men regularly prey on young innocent children (physically as well as psychologically). More recently, this is seen in the general question about whether gays and lesbians (or even just learning about GLBT issues) might be dangerous or harmful to children. Furthermore, many people hold negative stereotypes about the sexual morality of GLBT folk. I don’t mean to attack you, but rather to suggest that your comparison was not just a completely random slip of the tongue. Rather, it is a product and a perpetuation of anti-gay messages that subtlety and not so subtly link child molestation with alternative sexual orientations.

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  4. I am so so so proud you. Too often people simple believe what they are told.
    Challenging your beliefs can’t be easy or comfortable but that’s why it’s good.
    Good for you!

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  5. Well said Jenna. I don’t think I would be able to so eloquently state this reasoning even though I share it.

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  6. Thank you. I am happy any time anyone comes to a conclusion about these matters that is heartfelt and well-thought.

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  7. Don’t usually comment, but just wanted to say that this post was really beautiful. I don’t agree with everything said–I’m all for gay marriage and my prayer as a believer is that God doesn’t damn someone for having an intimate love with someone of the same sex.

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  8. I am so glad you posted this. I am not LDS, but I am Protestant and going through the same thing… I was very adamant in high school that gay = wrong and didn’t consider all sides. I am softening my thoughts so much now and am in the same exact position as you currently. It is hard, but I am trying to figure out where my new thoughts/beliefs fit in with the Bible and God’s thoughts, but I hope to some day figure it out. Let me know if you do :)

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  9. I’m so proud of you. So So So So proud of you.

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  10. Thanks, Jenna for your willingness to be open-minded. I’ll admit that I’ve always been pretty judgmental about Mormons and it has nothing to do with their religious beliefs (because when it comes right down to it, all religions can sound kinda crazy). It’s because so many live in a bubble. They surround themselves with other people who believe EXACTLY what they believe, who have the EXACT same goals that they do, and quite frankly, they seem to just float through life…never having to question anything. It’s refreshing to see that not all Mormons are like that.

    I really like how you emphasize that homosexuality is NOT all about sex. It’s about all the things that heterosexuals want in life too. I can’t imagine if someone had told me four years ago that I couldn’t marry my husband. That we couldn’t share a life together or have children. Having someone tell me that “they still love me as a child of God,” yet they also believe I’m a pervert who should choose between a lifetime of deprivation of basic human needs or eternal damnation.

    There’s nothing wrong with questioning the beliefs of leaders and that in no way implies that they are malicious or have bad intentions. It just means that they’re human too and they can’t always know what the right answer is.

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  11. This is so perfectly, eloquently explained — my favorite post yet in the Awakening series, though I’ve loved them all!

    I am Catholic, and I go back and forth on the issue of civil unions/ gay marriage with my mom all the time (she’s opposed).

    Re: Jessica’s scripture question — which she obviously wasn’t directing toward me ;) — I don’t know if you’re referring to the Bible or the Book of Mormon, which I’m not familiar with, but I feel like there are so many conflicting scripture passages over controversial issues that when I’m confused, I always return to Mark 12:28 – 31…

    “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    ‘The most important one,” answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    So if I’m conflicted, I try to follow that golden-rule sort of guideline and treat others as I’d want to be treated were I in their shoes.

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  12. I was nervous when I saw that you were going to write about this, and I am really impressed with how well you reasoned through and explained your position. Thank you for your openmindedness, and thank you for speaking about it on such a wide platform! THIS is exactly right: “they will never get to have the love, companionship, trust, and sexual bonds that I experience with my lifetime partner (this is assuming, of course, that they can’t choose to find fulfillment in a heterosexual relationship). They are condemned to a life of being the third wheel or a forced marriage with someone of the opposite gender who ignites no passions for them.” I tried dating men for awhile, and there was absolutely no passion there *in my emotions* for them. Thank you.

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  13. Great post Jenna. My biggest issue with organized religion is that so many members and leaders use religion as an excuse to be racist, bigoted, and cruel to those that look different or act different. I love that you have been able to look past what the church tells you and form your own opinions. I have a serious issue with anyone close minded enough to think that gay marriage is a sin or somehow effects the sanctity of marriage. So many people blindly follow what their church leaders tell them without doing any critical thinking. Throughout your awakening series, my respect for you has grown.

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  14. ” I want to believe in a Christ, in a God, with arms open wide and hearts full, welcoming everyone. ”

    Exactly!

    I also really liked your point that this can still be discussed within a religion, but there’s not reason to fight it legally. Secular marriage can be different from religious/sacramental marriage!

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  15. I’ve commented before with how much I love this series, and I have to say so again.

    Jenna, just like you are letting the views of the world shape your opinions, you are helping to shape my opinions of religion.

    I’ve always considered myself to be far more culturally Jewish than spiritually Jewish; I suspect a lot of this comes from being a scientist and lacking the ability to blindly believe in anything without data. But more frequently, I’ve found myself completely turned off to all religion because it breeds hatred and bigotry, and if this Jesus person I hear so much about really did exist, that doesn’t sound like something he’d support.

    I’m so tired of hearing about how to perfectly wonderful, caring individuals who give back to the community and treat everyone with kindness are destined to a life in hell because they chose homosexuality and weren’t strong enough to overcome their sinful impulses. I’ve been told, my one of my very best friends, that it’s sad that I’ll be going to hell just because I was born to a Jewish family… but meanwhile, she truly believes that someone who murders or rapes can be saved if they beg for forgiveness and confess their sins. But me, a perfectly normal person who doesn’t do anything particularly great but, in return, has never done anything morally wrong, is destined to an eternity in hell simply because I’m a different religion?

    Frankly, it’s crap, and I’ve become very anti-conservative religion as a result. Reading this, however, makes me realize that not everyone agrees with teachings of their church, and just because a blanket policy exists to be anti-homosexuality doesn’t mean that every member has to agree. I think it’s very brave of you to state your opinions, especially that you realize it’s not a choice, and make sure you know how much I appreciate reading these posts because they’re changing me, too.

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  16. Beautiful post, Jenna! I really enjoyed this because equal rights for the LGBT community is very close to my heart. I hope that more religious people take the time to think over these issues just as you’re doing. The thing that has always frightened me about religion is when people accept what others say blindly, no matter what it means when it comes to treating fellow human beings with respect. I hope more people will look inside themselves to determine what’s right, what’s fair, and what the root of their beliefs should be about.

    I hope that all of this introspection brings you peace and joy!

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  17. Jenna,

    I don’t know how I found your blog back when you were planning your wedding, but I am happy that I did. You are truly someone who speaks for herself. You have taught me a lot about something I have often been closed minded about myself (Mormons). You are taking risks, and saying things that may be controversial in your community. Mostly though, you are showing people what it means to be a person who questions, who tries to find what is right for you without saying it is right for all.
    I live in Minnesota and am currently working on a political campaign called Minnesotans United for All Families (mnunited.org). We are fighting a constitutional amendment which will be on the ballot in November. This amendment attempts to alter our state constitution to say that marriage shall be solely between one man and one woman. This amendment would mean that discrimination is written into our constitution. Many members of the faith community have joined our coalition and are fighting along with us. I am a heterosexual and I am compelled to work tirelessly to defeat this and other amendments like it.
    Thank you, Jenna, for asking yourself these questions. Thank you for using your voice to show people that questioning is an important part of becoming the person you want to be.

    Erica Reply:

    I live in MN and I can’t wait to vote against this amendment! I was married by a judge because I actually believe that the state should only recognize civil unions. France operates this way. Then couples who want to have a religious ceremony do so after their civil ceremony.

    Virginia Reply:

    It’s the same in Argentina. You have a civil ceremony and then, if you wish, you can have a religious ceremony in the church of your preference.

    busylizzy111 Reply:

    And in Germany.

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  18. holliandivy says:

    If you have some free time, I recommend the following:
    http://www.amazon.com/Gay-Straight-Reason-Why-Orientation/dp/0199737673

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  19. Good for you. Seriously.

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  20. This is beautifully written and perfectly mimics my own feelings. I too don’t have all the answers yet, but I do know that anger and fear have no part of living the Gospel.

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  21. Thanks, Jenna, for your honesty and openness. I agree that the battle against civil unions is unreasonable. I also agree with that article you mentioned regarding gay rights versus religious liberty that we should be able to come together and really listen to each other and find a compromise that both sides are willing to accept. It is my own current understanding and testimony that God does love all His children and wants us to love each other, that He gives all men weaknesses to lend us humility to seek His help, that we can truly do all things through Christ no matter how difficult, and that the highest form of exaltation is patterned after the order God has shown with marriage and procreation between a man and a woman. As for expectations for LDS homosexuals: there are also plenty of heterosexual people who never marry in this life who are expected live the law of chastity, to deal with exactly the same problem as do unmarried homosexuals.

    Jenna Reply:

    I wish we had some data on how many heterosexuals are really living their entire life in a chaste manner, without ever giving in to temptation. Podcasts like this one http://mormonmatters.org/2011/10/25/57-lds-young-single-adult-experiences-revisited/ and conversations with my single friends are making me realize that many, many people aren’t actually “waiting for marriage”. They are certainly able to repent, but I think we aren’t being realistic regarding how difficult it is to live without a significant other when we cite them as reason that homosexuals should be able to wait.

    Plus a homosexual person isn’t being told to “wait until the right person comes along”. They are being told celibacy is the only option. For the rest of their life. That is a dramatically different statement than telling my single friend that she can’t have sex until she gets married.

    Jessica Reply:

    I actually tend to agree with civil unions and gay rights in general. But I think your reasoning leaves a lot to be desired in terms of a religious stance. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean we’re excused from doing it. Loving our enemies is hard. Turning the other cheek is hard. Abstaining from drugs is extremely hard if you’re an addict. Just because something is hard, and our culture has implicitly said “that’s ok” doesn’t change what God is asking of us.

    Jenna Reply:

    I wasn’t trying to imply that this was my reason behind where I stand now. Only my response to the idea that “heterosexuals live celibate lives”. Because I don’t think they generally are.

    frenchtoast Reply:

    Jenna, I disagree with your with your conclusion that you can’t equate telling gay people to remain celibate to the situation of singles in the church. Of course there are those that become frustrated and sin, but many don’t. And while we are told that “the right person” will come, that is not always the case. Many faithful women will live their entire lives and never have the opportunity to marry.

    I’ve always made this analogy – Think of alcohol. I honestly don’t think drinking is inherently bad. But laws and commandments were created for the weakest amoung us. We are told to avoid alcohol, and though many people drink in moderation and are fine, to others it can destroy lives. I have friends who drink, and I love them. I don’t expect them to follow my same standards. Likewise, I have many gay friends who I love. While I don’t think their choice is the best one, it doesn’t mean they are evil.

    We all have our own temptations… some people are more prone to drink, or be un-chaste (you’ve even mentioned that your choice in movies revolves around what types of things trigger you – and you avoid them).

    Just my two cents, Jenna. Just curious about your thoughts!

    Sophia Reply:

    To me they are still inherently different. Here’s why.

    You have a single straight person single for a long time. They may or may not ever find someone, but if they *do*, they can marry that person and find happiness. So, for them, it is not “I’m waiting until I die and get resurrected” it’s “I’m waiting until I find someone”.

    You have a single gay person, single for a long time. Even if they find someone they love, they can never be with that person. This person knows, *from the beginning* that they are DEFINITELY waiting until they die and get resurrected to have companionship.

    The former is filled with possibility and opportunity to engage in a relationship should the possibility present itself. Might they have to wait until the resurrection to be with someone? Yes, but they *don’t know that FOR SURE* going into it. A gay person does not dwell in possibility, at all. They know from the get go “I need to die before I”m ‘perfected’ and can have a mate”.

    To me, the two are vastly different in terms of how it affects one’s emotions, outlook on life, and general happiness/joy in day to day living.

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  22. This was an awesome post. So well written and very articulate. How amazing to put so much prayer and consideration into a very current, important issue. Your blog was thoughtful and showed wonderful spiritual growth. Thanks for being so open. I’ll continue to read because I love your honesty.

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  23. Excellent, thoughtful post, Jenna.

    I come from a politically liberal family and faith tradition so don’t have the same internal conflict as you. But here’s one thing that helped me as I was figuring this out growing up, and will help me when I talk to my kids about sexuality some day. Promiscuous sexual behavior/sex outside of a loving relationship can (often) be damaging to a person, whether you are straight or gay. Sex within a loving relationship is healthy and can strengthen the bonds of love, commitment, and responsibility between people, and ultimately strengthen society as a whole. We should encourage those healthy bonds of love and commitment between people–which is one of the reasons marriage exists, and one of the reasons I support gay marriage. Hold all people to the same moral standards, and offer all people the same social/legal means of forming committed, responsible relationships.

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes! This was key in helping me move closer to this mindset.

    Kate Reply:

    This is so incredibly well said, I want to bookmark it just so I can remember this specific and honest explanation for MY future children. Thanks!

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  24. Thabk you for this post, Jenna. I wish more people were as open-minded, thoughtful, and articulate as you.

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  25. Beautifully written. I love hearing how you are questioning everything! I appreciate your honesty and taking the risks of doing this so publically. You may not realize but you’re also helping all your readers also question their “beliefs”.

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  26. I like you more and more lately… but that doesn’t matter. I think you’ll find that your awakening is going to enable you to like YOURSELF more. Good for you!

    Kate Reply:

    Everything Sam said!

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  27. Coming from a non denominational church schooling I also struggled with the same things growing up. I have to say this is wonderfully written and echoes so many of things I have come through thinking and now believing on my own what I want to believe.

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  28. Doesn’t it feel so awesome to think for yourself? Great post Jenna :)

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  29. Really beautiful post Jenna, thank you for sharing your thoughts throughout this whole series.

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  30. This is an outstanding post. Very thoughtful and insightful. You’re right, so many forget that homosexuality isn’t purely about sexuality. The name itself is just foolish. I also grew up in an incredibly conservative denomination (Southern Baptist) and I’ve had to come to this very same awakening. I’m proud to say that through thoughtful conversation with my husband, he’s also come to this line of thinking. I wish the hatred would end. I know it won’t truly stop for everyone, but I fervently desire that what happened in Washington will start a landslide of marriage revolutions across the nation. I know Texas isn’t exactly in the forefront of this battle, but I do hope we’re not the last to hold out. I feel that it’s inevitable, but it could take a lot of time to finally achieve marriage equality.

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  31. Jenna, you already know my thoughts on this issue so I won’t repeat it. :-) I know that personally, I grew up in the church but went through a few years where I probably would be labeled as agnostic, and only when I studied and challenged all belief systems (including other religions and even atheism) that I decided that Christianity was the right way to go. I hope that you will continue to question, challenge, and think for yourself — you may decide that LDS is not the right path for you, or you may even come to a conclusion similar to myself where you become even more firmly rooted in the Mormon church and its beliefs. Whatever happens, I hope that it does because you continue on this path to better yourself. Just know that I’m happy that you’re happy and at peace.

    frenchtoast Reply:

    Geek in Heels – you grew up LDS?

    Geek in Heels Reply:

    No, I grew up a Protestant Christian and remain so. I guess I should have clarified that in my comment above, I meant the Christian Church as a whole when I say “the church.”

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  32. OnceandAgain says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for being brave enough to write this post and share it with us, Jenna. I am so proud of you. As a Christian, I went through a similar spiritual and mental journey many years ago in my understanding of homosexuality, and nowadays I can’t believe I ever felt anything but complete and whole love and support for them.

    I *strongly* encourage you to check out the writings of Justin Lee, a leader in the pro-gay Christian movement. I stumbled across him recently and have become a huge admirer. Here’s his moving story of his life journey with God and his own homosexuality:

    http://rachelheldevans.com/ask-a-gay-christian-response

    Justin’s website, the Gay Christian Network: http://www.gaychristian.net/

    And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/gcnjustin

    Jenna Reply:

    Thank you so much for introducing me to his story. I most appreciate his frank and thorough discussion about how he has come to interpret the Bible verses that condemn homosexuality. I hope a lot of people clicked over and read this link!

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  33. I love what you said about the fact that forcing a gay man to be with a woman, would be like imagining us as straight women being with another woman. I believe 100% that homosexuality is not a choice, and in that case it is so sad that they are shunned and stripped of rights for something they never chose to be.

    one of my favorite quotes recently from Facebook: “Fortunately, those who do not believe in gay marriage, do not have to participate in gay marriage.”

    For me, being supportive of gay rights was an automatic no-brainer, didn’t even have ton vacilate for a second….but I respect so much the process you are going through and the thought you are giving the subject. I wish everyone was as thoughtful and open-minded about it as you are!

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  34. Jenna – if more people took the time to think things through and challenge ‘norms’ the way that this post describes, the country would be on track to accomplish a lot more. i’m not a religious person at all but i read this post as an intelligent person thinking through what they have been taught vs. what they are finding out on living their own life – i wish everyone would think for themselves a bit more. awesome job on the courage it took to post that :)

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  35. ::big exhale!:: whoosh!

    your Awakening series has thus far been one of the most exciting personal blog journeys i’ve ever read.

    Sending you lots of love and respect! I’m so impressed with how you articulate these open and heartfelt sentiments. Following your blog has assisted in my awakening, in regards to how i’ve let go of judgments regarding individuals who follow a conservative faith.

    you are doing some really important work here!

    xoxoxo
    justine
    (a reader and a queer radical feminist lady)

    Jenna Reply:

    Thank you Justine, this comment meant so much to me.

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  36. So well written, Jenna. Thank you for sharing–it’s people like you who remind me to embrace the journey, live in shades of gray because not all things are black and white, and to just live. This is why I’m living the life I’m living–seeking fulfillment of self rather than making everyone else around me see me as though they want to see me.

    I’ve recently started opening up about my situation (you know I was married to a man and may now know that I’m seeing a woman), and am sharing some of my own thoughts about homosexuality. If you’re interested (and haven’t already read the post), you can find my specific thoughts here: http://alwaysthetwelves.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/my-opinion-on-the-whole-same-sex-marriage-debate/

    Again, thank you. I’m also excited to know that while you may not be comfortable with my chosen relationship, you’re still choosing to accept me. That’s all anyone can ever ask.

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  37. I love this, Jenna. It comes across as very sincere and non-judgmental. And I love how you are questioning some of the things that you believed for so long.

    You may have read this already, but I thought this post (mainly, the part that’s a letter to the blogger’s son) was very beautiful and speaks to that open-armed love God has for all people.

    http://momastery.com/blog/2010/10/14/a-mountain-im-willing-to-die-on/

    Danielle Reply:

    I loved that article. So beautiful, I cried.

    Kate Reply:

    Thank you so much for sharing this link. I loved it so much. It moved me to tears.

    Jenna Reply:

    This is stunningly beautiful. I’m in tears as I type this, it’s so moving (the kind of writing skills I wish I had!)

    This paragraph in particular stuck out to me:

    Our criteria is that if it doesn’t bring us closer to seeing humanity as one, as connected, if it turns our judgment outward instead of inward, if it doesn’t help us become better lovers of God and others, if it distracts us from remembering what we are really supposed to be doing down here, which is finding God in every human being, serving each other before ourselves, feeding hungry people, comforting the sick and sad, giving up everything we have for others, laying down our lives for our friends . . . then we just assume we don’t understand it yet, we put it on a shelf, and we move on.

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  38. “I want to believe in a Christ, in a God, with arms open wide and hearts full, welcoming everyone.”

    This makes me want to cry. In a good way.

    I might have something more eloquent to say later, but right now I’m just sitting here feeling there’s hope for this world.

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  39. I’m curious to know if you have discussed (or will discuss) this view point with your parents and sister? Has TH agreed with you on the variety of topics you have discussed in your Awakening posts?

    How wonderful if you two (and your parents/sister as well) are growing and becoming more open minded together on these topics. I hope they are respectful of your growth and that your new found beliefs don’t cause any strife in your relationships with loved ones or friends.

    Jenna Reply:

    I did not with my parents and sister. I plan to keep avoiding it as long as possible, I don’t think it’s going to be a productive conversation.

    TH would like his views to remain private. Happily it has not been a source of contention for us though.

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  40. This is a topic I struggle with as a Catholic. It’s hard, because once you say you believe homosexual acts (not homosexuality in itself) are a sin, people automatically accuse you of being close-minded, hateful, etc.

    There is a specific point at which you “lost” me:

    “Why would a God who told us “Men are that they might have joy” deprive so many of his children from one of the greatest joys we can experience during mortality, that of a committed, and yes, sexual, relationship?”

    That’s a dangerous question to ask and one I find perhaps a little presumptuous too. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? I would argue that he does not, but I would also say we cant really know and to try and figure it out is beyond our “pay grade.”

    In the same vein, why are there widows and orphans? Why are there wars? Why is there rape? Why are some people born with birth defects? Why did I lose my job? Why did that baby die? Why are some people infertile? I could go on and on.

    Life isn’t perfect and never will be. Every one of us will have something we struggle with and our lives will involve sacrifice. It’s not exactly my point, but hey, take a look at the Book of Job!

    Jackie Reply:

    I see what you are saying, that even if something is natural, that doesn’t make it good.

    But I think issues where something happens to you outside of your control – infertility, birth defects, losing a job, dying – those aren’t considered sins even if they are not “good.” Whereas homosexuality is somehow supposed to be something outside of your control and yet still be a sin.

    Marissa C Reply:

    I guess a better analogy would be someone predisposed to sexual addiction, or something along that line.

    Still, I was responding more to the “Why would a God deprive…?” part of Jenna’s question.

    Jackie Reply:

    I think the differences though is that those things are pathologies, where as homosexuality is not a sickness.

    But still, I don’t know if something like acting on a sexual addiction would be a mortal sin. Because there are three requirements – grave nature, full knowledge, and full consent of will. Would some who has a severe addiction or mental illness really be acting in full consent of their will? For example, I dated someone who had an addiction to porn and masturbation, and I think his sin was more in not dealing with it or seeking help than the actual acts.

    I had a friend who compared homosexuality to alcoholism, saying even if its something that’s not your fault, it is still a sin. And that made sense to for a while to me, but then when I really started working with alcoholics I realized that was wrong. Alcoholics sin like the rest of us, but they are bound through their addictions. It’s a sickness, a disease, every time they have a beer they aren’t thinking “I am choosing to do this to hurt others.” They are thinking “I need to do this.”

    Anyway, I think obviously it’s good and important to help people with those types of addictions to reform because their actions do hurt others. So yes, I think it’s good to “deprive” a child molester of access to children, because their actions have significant and grave consequences. They are from a disease and they should get help.

    But, I don’t think that homosexuality is a disease nor is it a choice. But I do question if it is really a moral sin because people are not choosing to act in full consent, they are doing as they were made to do. Yes, there are times that we have to deprive ourself of our natural desires because acting on them at that time/in that place/with that person would be wrong or maybe sinful, but I don’t think homosexuality is wrong to act upon because it doesn’t hurt anyone.

    Jenna Reply:

    The only conclusion I can come to here, is that God doesn’t make widows, orphans, wars, rape, birth defects, job loss, miscarriage or infertility happen. He isn’t constantly reaching his hands into our lives and swirling the elements around to “test us”. Everything that happens is a product of nature, or a product of the choices of those around us.

    Wars happen because men start them. Rape happens because someone violates you. Miscarriage happens because your body didn’t put things together properly. Cancer happens because of where you live or what you ate or because of the way your genes came together (these are just guesses, of course).

    When I think about how fortunate I am, it sickens me to think that God would allow me to live such a blessed life while making things hard for the single mom who is dying of cancer with a 6 young children to take care of (this is hypothetical of course). I don’t want to believe that God “made” that happen to either of us. Malcolm Gladwell had it right, I am largely a product of the place where I was born, the time I was born into, and the parents that I have, as well as a few of the choices I have made.

    For me, sin is something that hurts someone else (or ourselves). Period. And I can’t think of a single way that a man having consensual committed sex with another man hurts me, or anyone else outside of their relationship.

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  41. I have read your blog for a couple years and have been surprised at your recent posts. Exploring doctrine, studying it out in your mind and coming to your own conclusions is an important part of being a member of any organized religion.

    As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that prophets speak for God. We believe that they know more than we do and that if we follow them we will be lead to truth.

    Of course we do not understand why people are attracted to their same gender. But we have been told what the negative consequences are to individuals, families and societies when the basic family structure is changed.

    I’m sure many will read my comment and assume I am closed minded or uneducated. Quite the opposite is true.

    What I do know is that I have committed myself to a religion which requires sacrifice and demands faith and obedience. As a reward for those things, I am blessed with the Spirit to guide me and am blessed with forgiveness for my sins. I am 100% sure that this is more valuable than anything else available.

    It appears that your followers are relieved and proud of you for disagreeing with the prophets. I disagree with them.

    Virginia Reply:

    But we have been told what the negative consequences are to individuals, families and societies when the basic family structure is changed.

    What are those?

    Stephanie C Reply:

    I’m curious, too.

    Rachel Reply:

    http://www.lds.org/family/proclamation?lang=eng

    Virginia Reply:

    That doesn’t really answer the question. Can YOU, in your own words, articulate what you think those consequences are?

    Rachel Reply:

    Of course I can articulate what I think the consequences will be and are.

    But, my purpose in posting here is not to debate about what I think. Rather, my purpose is to address that we all have a choice. We can choose to follow the counsel of the Prophet or we can choose not to.

    We can choose to believe he is lead by God, or we can choose to believe that sometimes he is/sometimes he is wrong/we know better than he and therefore, we are free to disagree without negative consequences.

    My choice is to believe he is called of God, directed by God and that the eternal truths he proclaims are, infact, truths not to be doubted by my intellect, but believed through my faith.

    I believe The Family: A Proclamation to the World does, in fact, answer the question you asked:

    ‘Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.’

    Virginia Reply:

    But nowhere in this article is stated that gay marriage is what will bring about “the disintegration of the family”.

    Why would it?

    Gay people want their marriages recognized and their families protected by the state. This can only be GOOD for families.

    molly Reply:

    “But, my purpose in posting here is not to debate about what I think. Rather, my purpose is to address that we all have a choice.”

    I agree with you when you share your opinion about choices. I’m not sure if you feel that homosexuality is a “choice” that people make (I do not feel that way, especially when you look at the persecution of homosexual people, teenagers in particular – who would choose to be treated like an outcast if they were just as happy to participate in “normal” behaviors?)

    Regardless of how you feel about homosexuality as a sin, I think Jenna is saying that she doesn’t feel like stripping homosexual people of their civil rights is fair treatment. Heterosexual people have the choice to be married & enjoy those legal rights. What is so different about heterosexual people that they shouldn’t have that same choice?

    Ru Reply:

    Rachel,

    I am writing this because I sincerely want to know your answer, not because I am trying to “trap” you in any way.

    In 1978, the LDS Church lifted the ban on African-American men holding the priesthood.

    If an LDS person in 1977 were to have told you, “I’ve thought about this, and I’ve prayed about this, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the ban on black men having the priesthood is wrong,” would that person also be “disagreeing with the prophets”?

    You wrote that you’re blessed to have the Spirit guide your actions. Presumably you aren’t denying that Jenna has the same opportunity. At what point do you think our individual right to personal revelation stops? And if it *always* stops at the point of disagreement with a prophet, where does that leave my 1977 hypothetical LDS person?

    Rachel Reply:

    Thank you for the considerate way of asking your question.

    I define anyone who has an opposing opinion to the official position of the Church (on any topic), as disagreeing with the prophets.

    Everyone has the Spirit as their guide. The Spirit guides and directs us within the principles and commandments of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those principles and commandments are outlined for us and given to us through prophets.

    Your hypothetical situation assumes that the Spirit will reveal to me that the teachings of the Prophet are wrong.
    I do not believe the Spirit works in opposition to the Prophet.

    Ru Reply:

    So, to be clear, you are saying that a person in 1977 who declared the ban on black men having the priesthood would be wrong to do so. I find this stance very troubling.

    You may not believe that the Spirit “works in opposition” to the Prophet. Neither do I. I do believe that people interpret things differently, including incorrectly, and that much like prophets in the Old and New Testaments, modern prophets are also fallible. Why should a modern prophet be any more perfectly attuned to God’s will than Jonah who disobeyed or Peter who denied Christ? Why would God let Joseph Smith ordain a black man if he was then going to tell Brigham Young not to?

    I do not believe in a God that is fickle, that would say in 1977 that black men are not worthy to hold the priesthood, but in 1978 that they are. People are imperfect, God is not. I’m sorry, but the assertion that modern-day prophets are never wrong is factually inaccurate, and I sincerely hope you do not hang too much of your faith on that misconception.

    Rachel Reply:

    I appreciate your concern about my faith, though it doesn’t sound too sincere :)

    I agree that Prophets make mistakes individually and are not perfect men. My education on this topic has been vast and I am not naive in my position.

    But, as a member of the Church, I choose to believe what they teach. I choose to believe that they will not lead the Church astray and that they speak for God.

    Danielle Reply:

    “As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that prophets speak for God. We believe that they know more than we do and that if we follow them we will be lead to truth.”

    Um, I don’t think the gospel teaches that the prophets know more than we do. We are all entitled to receive revelation. A prophet has the keys to receive revelation for the church as a whole, but this doesn’t make them more knowledgeable than anyone else. They just have more responsibility. And they can be wrong. That much is clear about prophets in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and in the lives of every prophet that has led the LDS church since the restoration.

    It is of course fine to come to the same conclusion as church leaders on any given issue. But one is not necessarily countering God if, after exploring the issue, you feel led to believe differently.

    Rachel Reply:

    We do believe that Prophets know more than we do, as seers and revelators. We believe that they have the ability to see events that will happen in the future (Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, the destruction of Jerusalem, the building up of Zion and the second coming of Christ, for example).

    I disagree with you when you say that the Prophets have been wrong. As indicated above, they have accurately forseen the most important events in all of human history.

    We do not believe that the Spirit reveals to us individually that the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not true. Rather, we believe as we seek knowledge through the Spirit, the truths of the Gospel will be confirmed to us.

    We believe the following regarding prophets:

    First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

    Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works.

    Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

    Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

    Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or diplomas to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

    Sixth: The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.

    Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

    Eighth: The Prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.

    Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual.

    Tenth: The prophet may well advise on civic matters.

    Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

    Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

    Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—The highest quorum in the Church.

    Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

    http://www.lds.org/liahona/1981/06/fourteen-fundamentals-in-following-the-prophet?lang=eng&query=prophets

    Alicia Reply:

    I will agree that we believe those things about the prophet. One important thing you are forgetting, however, is that he is ultimately still a man. He is God’s mouthpiece, not deity itself. Sometimes it is difficult to know what is advice and what is a command, which is why it’s important to study things out in our minds and seek the guidance of the Spirit. To me, that is a part of what it means to sustain them.

    Ru Reply:

    I must concur with Alicia – we do not believe in the infallibility of prophets. They have, in fact, been wrong before. Does that mean that they are *always* or even *usually wrong*? Certainly not. But the fact is, only Christ is never wrong.

    Rachel Reply:

    I appreciate both of your comments. We do not believe the Prophet is perfect. But, I do not agree that a Prophet has been wrong in leading the Church. I believe that the Lord is guiding His prophet at all times. This does not mean that I understand all of his teachings, but it does mean that I choose to believe.

    frenchtoast Reply:

    RE Blacks & Priesthood.

    I think “God changed his mind in 1978″ is the wrong way to look at it. Of course God is perfect and doesn’t change. But he does have a PLAN.

    All throughout the Bible and BOM God offered different sets of commandments based on what the people were ready for (Law of Moses, Law of Consecration??).

    I personally think that it is WE as a church who weren’t ready yet for worthy black males to hold the priesthood. Just look what was going on in our country in the decades leading up to it? Maybe God was waiting for the Civil War and the Civil Rights movements to run their course, and for US to become more tolerant.

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  42. I love this post, Jenna! I’m a Christian, and I agree completely with everything you’ve said here. I believe it is so important for people of all religions to treat people the same regardless of their lifestyle. I also fully believe that my personal beliefs and convictions should play no part in the actual laws of my country or state because not everyone shares my beliefs. It goes against everything I believe in (loving others, not forcing others into my belief system) to say that gay marriage shouldn’t be legal.

    As far as whether or not it is a son, I too have gone back and forth over it. I finally came to the conclusion that quite frankly it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s not my place to be judging anyone for their sins, it’s God’s. So what I think is really irrelevant. All I need to know is that I believe that God wanted us to love everyone equally regardless of whether or not they share our personal beliefs

    Brooke Reply:

    I wish there was a “like” button for this!

    Amanda Reply:

    That was supposed to be “whether or not it’s a sin,” not “son”. I was typing on my phone! :)

    43
  43. I have been working through this for years. I don’t know where I stand on homosexuality being a sin either. It’s hard to reconcile with the plan of salvation. But I also know the terrible situation my friend went through in coming out to his family and friends. I’m proud to live in a state where gay marriage is legal and I helped fight for those rights. I’m also an active LDS member in good standing. I don’t know what it all means in an eternal scheme but I can’t reconcile the thought of God condemning our brothers and sisters to such a tragic life of denying themselves love.

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  44. I loved this post, Jenna. That’s all I want to say.

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  45. Ahh, I just wrote a long comment and it got deleted! Anyway, great job, great post, much respect for putting your journey out here. I appreciate how you have come to realize that you can maintain your own religious and moral beliefs without necessarily imposing them on everyone else. I wish everyone could be so reasonable and open-minded. This series has given me so much respect for you!

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  46. I’m also a active LDS member, and this is a topic that I have thought about a lot. I have served a mission and seen those I taught fall away from the church because of this mindset for homosexuals. I have also seen friends from BYU fight for Prop 8 and fight against Prop 8. Recently two of my closest LDS friends fell away from the church, which also happened at the same time I was dating and thinking about marrying my husband (who is a non-member). It was a time of serious reflection for me to ponder my beliefs. What I really want to say is that I agree with you. I feel basically the same way you do and I feel that we should stop judging others in this world for what they do, feel, believe, etc. We should be loving all of God’s children. With that said, I support homosexual rights and believe that is something I don’t have all the answers to, so I choose not to judge. Thanks for this well written post.

    47
  47. Jenna, I am so proud of you.

    When Prop 8 passed I was furious (FURIOUS!) and so terribly sad. I admit that my opinion on the LDS church sunk with my heart when I got word it was funded heavily by members.

    Expressing this viewpoint is bold, courageous, compassionate, and socially responsible. I am so thrilled that you were brave enough to post it.

    Kate Reply:

    And everything Helena said!

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  48. I loved this post Jenna and really look forward to your Awakening posts.

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  49. I completely agree with you. I used to think very differently about homosexuals, too. My thoughts started changing radically when I got to college and began forming friendships with some gay people. And then, one night while I was out of town, my brother texted me in what I can only imagine was a terrifying experience for him, and told me that he is gay. I immediately told him I love him exactly for who he is and that I will always support him. I think the issue really evolves when it hits much closer to home. I would have to say that getting married has also really changed my view. Why doesn’t everyone deserve to have the dignity of bonding a love and passion by a piece of paper and a ceremony?

    50

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