We received this question from RJJ and I thought it would be worth answering it in a post. As always, posts at this site do not represent an official Church response, but we seek to share content that is consistent with the Church’s teachings.
Okay so, I have a bit of a spiel before I get to my question, here goes. I am a gay man, and I’d say I’m out and proud, and very happy with my lifestyle, I have friends who follow the Mormon teachings and they are genuinely accepting of my lifestyle and loving, dear friends on top of that acceptance. I don’t believe in any religion myself but I’m respectful of others beliefs, and I’d like to think I’m extremely at peace with my friends and their faith and beliefs (I come from the UK and have a very varied pool of friends with extremely varied belief systems). From what I can gather in research and from my friends is that the Church of LDS is against not homosexuality itself, but homosexual acts, as the sin is in the behaviour, not the predisposition to act sinfully, and that one of the reasons the Church is against homosexuality is that homosexual acts take place outside of marriage. This leads me into my question, if the law of the land were to change to allow same-sex marriage would that then, in your opinion. possibly lead the Church to a new stance on the issue of homosexuality? I ask this here because this seems like a level headed forum of ideas and you give more casual advice and guidance than the official Church of LDS, and also because I have a great respect for Mormons in general, I’ve never met an unkind or impolite Mormon (and manners are rated very highly by me) and as a whole the organised religion of the Church of LDS doesn’t seem to want to condemn anyone, I may be wrong but as far as I can see it’s more about praising goodness and faith then condemning sinners to hell, and I can get on board with that ideal. Thank you for any light you can shed on this issue, hope all is well.
RJJ, thanks for your question. First of all, thank you for your kind words; I’m glad to hear that your experiences with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been positive. We also appreciate the respectful tone of your question, and I hope that something I say might be helpful.
You are correct in the sense that the Church has taken a position that focuses on behavior and not on inclination (after all, we all have inclination to sin in one way or another). You have likely heard or read stories from members of the Church who have same-sex attraction and are able to be, as we say, “members in good standing” if they live the law of chastity (no sexual relationships outside of marriage).
And you ask a reasonable question.. If I’m understanding it correctly (and please let me know if I’m misunderstanding your question), you are wondering what will happen if and as the law of the land shifts around the definition of marriage. Will the Church would ever change its position to accommodate same-sex relationships within a legal marriage?
You have asked for my opinion, and I will give it here. I do not believe that the Church will change its position on the law of chastity to accommodate same-sex relationships, even as the law of the land is changing. Why do I think this? I am one who likes to watch patterns in what our prophets are teaching, and something that they are very consistent about is making our stand about marriage unmistakably clear. They also recognize that the laws may change, but they have repeatedly stated that God’s laws will not.
I could share many quotes that show this pattern. I think the following quote can suffice to illustrate what kind of teaching I’m referring to. This is from Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Before his call, he was a Supreme Court Justice in Utah. He understands both our doctrines as well as the legal elements of questions like the one you have posed.
Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine gives us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them. And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable…. [L]aws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it.
The doctrine of marriage between a man and woman is central to our belief system. The law of chastity — that commandment, the standard related to sexual relationships — is inextricably tied to that doctrine of marriage as we believe it has been defined by God.
No, we do not seek to condemn, but we do seek to share what we believe because we do believe that the commandments of God are for all of His children. We invite people to learn about the eternal nature of our existence as children of heavenly parents, the plan of salvation (which includes the doctrine of marriage and the purpose of life), about the Savior and His commandments and covenants (and why they exist), and about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
But then we seek to respect the right of people to choose what they will believe and do in their own lives. Thank you again for your respectful engagement here. I do hope this has been of some help, but please do feel free to follow up if you have more questions.