Laurie Campbell began living a lesbian lifestyle thirty years ago. She became aware of her attraction to women in high school and in college, began to live and accept the lifestyle. She understood that the behaviors were inappropriate—a violation of her religious beliefs. It took time, however, for her to want her spiritual life more than she wanted the relationship she was in. She ended the relationship and began rebuilding her spiritual life.
Laurie is a Mormon, the nickname sometimes used to describe members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons believe there is nothing sinful about having same-sex attractions, but that people do not have to act on every feeling they have. Homosexual behaviors are sinful. A Mormon who does not live or promote a homosexual lifestyle can be a member in full standing.
She set out to help others facing her struggles. She spoke frequently and wrote a book, but generally using a pen name. She prepared to spend the rest of her life celibate, a prospect which did not concern her and which seemed more appealing than marrying a man. She obtained a master’s degree in counseling, specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy.
Campbell noted that many in her situation are told they must act on their feelings and that there is no other option. This is similar to telling an alcoholic he has no choice but to drink. Obviously, people do have choices, but those who choose not to live a gay lifestyle find it difficult to obtain support. Despite the argument given by the gay community that people have a right to live as they choose, many do not extend that right to gays who do not wish to live a gay lifestyle.
She does not work to change people who are comfortable with their lifestyle. Her goal is to help those who want to live without homosexual behavior.
Laurie Campbell had the rare but not unheard of experience of discovering she could indeed fall in love with a man. She admits he is probably the only man she could ever love, and this sentiment is commonly expressed by those who do fall in love and have a heterosexual family. Mormons believe that homosexuality will not exist in the next life and that families will continue into our heavenly lives. The families we establish today can continue forever. Since homosexual attraction will not exist in the eternities, it would be cruel to establish a family relationship and even to raise children in a family that cannot exist in the next life and in one where the attraction will melt away.
Mormons believe that God can do anything. If he wants a homosexual to establish an appropriate family relationship here on earth, He can make her have the appropriate attraction to the specific spouse He has chosen for her. However, Mormons do not today counsel people to seek marriage as a cure. Marriage should occur only if there is a true attraction between the couple. Those who do not have the opportunity to marry in this life, including those who realize they cannot properly maintain a heterosexual relationship, will have the opportunity to do so in the next.
When the Mormons approached Laurie and asked her to share her story on a planned church website being built to support homosexual Mormons, she hesitated. Her husband knew of her past, of course, but her children did not. She was about to move to a new home and she wondered how it would work to have that story be her introduction to her new church congregation. All the same, she wanted to help, knowing how little support there really was for people like her.
She talked with her children and the oldest said she was proud of her mother for having the courage to share her story. The youngest considered it unimportant. She went ahead with the project and found the team that created the video to be very sensitive to her feelings.
Laurie says she does not consider her sexuality to be her central identity. She feels people don’t realize they can choose what they consider to be their main focus of identity. She chooses her role as a child of God to be her primary identity and far more important than her sexual orientation.
She is not certain a person can completely change orientation, but she does know a person can potentially allow an attraction to the opposite gender to develop. To her, the most important thing is not whether you marry and have children in this life, but that you are willing to be whatever God asks you to be, to do whatever He asks you to do. If He asks you to remain single your entire life, then you must be prepared to do that, to turn your will to Him. If He asks you to learn to love someone of the opposite gender, you must be prepared to do that as well.
In an interview with the Deseret News, she said, “”There’s nothing homophobic or hateful about wanting to change,” Campbell said “Just as we need to reach out with sincere Christ-like love and respect to those who are gay, we also need to reach out to those who don’t want to be gay and offer love, encouragement and support.”
Read the full interview:
Read more about the new Mormonsandgays website