It’s no surprise that the Mormon Church is homophobic. There’s a reason they were so influential when it came to passing Prop 8 in California in 2008, eliminating the right for gay couples to marry in the state.
Where does that anti-gay bigotry come from? We’re getting a whiff of the answer today thanks to a new document published by MormonLeaks. Written in 1981, the document, simply called “Homosexuality,” was published by the “First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” In other words, this was coming from the top down.
And what it says is all kinds of disturbing. The 1980s were obviously not a good time to be LGBTQ, but this sort of bigotry rooted in religion shows you why you should never trust someone who claims to have the truth solely on the basis of believing a particular holy book.
For example, what are the causes of homosexuality? The document lists four reasons:
1) Disturbed Family Background: “A key factor in the development of both male and female homosexuality seems to be the lack of a warm, supportive, affectionate relationship between the individual and his father. Many times the father is either physically or emotionally uninvolved in his child’s life or is punishing and authoritarian.”
2) Poor Relationship with Peers: “His peers often see him as different, and they label and reject him… The individual often uses homosexual behavior as a way to gain acceptance. Because he needs warmth and love, he is attracted by the apparent acceptance of others who engage in homosexual activities.”
3) Unhealthy Sexual Attitudes: “The mother may place too much importance on a strong emotional attachment between herself and her son as a result of her efforts to fill the emotional void left by the father… Some young people may misinterpret Church emphasis on premarital chastity, completely avoiding heterosexual interests or relationships.”
4) Early Homosexual Experience: “Early masturbation experiences introduce the individual to sexual thoughts which may become habit-forming and reinforcing to homosexual interests… The individual is usually introduced to homosexual behavior by someone his own age or a few years older, almost always by someone he knows.”
You get the idea. Homosexuality is something that can be fixed or prevented. It’s certainly not innate. And the document says that explicitly:
Homosexual behavior is learned. Homosexual behavior is learned and can be overcome. To believe that immoral behavior is inborn or hereditary is to deny that men have agency to choose between sin and righteousness. The Lord has given man the freedom to make moral choices, and this agency is the cornerstone of his plan for exaltation. He has revealed that the ultimate goal for man is eternal life. It is inconceivable that — as some involved in homosexual behavior claim — he would permit some of his children to be born with desires and inclinations which would require behavior contrary to the eternal plan.
This sort of thinking wasn’t limited to the Mormon Church in 1981 — and we see similar thinking in many evangelical Christian churches today — but there’s something shocking about seeing it in print along with the LDS seal of approval.
Today, the Church makes clear that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality… as long as you never act on it. It’s okay to be gay, but it’s a sin to be gay and in a loving relationship. So while the church, like most of society, has evolved on this issue to become more accepting of gay people, it still has a long way to go.
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