A group of Mormons who call themselves Mormons Building Bridges are taking a non-political stance to assist gay teenagers in Utah who are homeless find Mormon families to take them in. They are partnering with another organization, Ogden Outreach. The group is in the process of hiring a social worker and setting up best practices to make certain the needs of the teenagers are met and that the program is safe. They also hope to work with parents of gay teenagers to help them learn how to handle the discovery their child is gay.
Mormons—a nickname sometimes given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—believe that homosexuality is not a sin, but that homosexual practices are. A homosexual who remains celibate can be a member in good standing—the same requirement made of heterosexuals who are not married.
Mormons do not take a stand on the cause of homosexuality, nor do they take a stand on whether or not treatment should be undertaken to change orientation. Their focus is on behavior only. The reason for this stance is that Mormons believe marriage and families are eternal and that in the afterlife, homosexuality will not exist. For that reason, it would be cruel to establish a relationship that will not be desirable to the couple in the eternities, nor is fair to the children to place them in a family which cannot possibly continue after death.
In an extensive interview with two Mormon leaders, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle, was asked what he would say to a son who told his parents he had same-sex attraction. Elder Oaks’ responded, “You’re my son. You will always be my son, and I’ll always be there to help you.” Mormons do not counsel parents to abandon children with same-sex attraction and in fact encourage them to support and guide their children in learning to understand and work with their special challenges. Elder Oaks noted that everyone faces challenges and temptations in life. In his continued example of what a parent might say to a child, he suggested:
“The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear. It’s no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. The sin is in yielding to temptation. Temptation is not unique. Even the Savior was tempted.
I think it’s important for you to understand that homosexuality, which you’ve spoken of, is not a noun that describes a condition. It’s an adjective that describes feelings or behavior. I encourage you, as you struggle with these challenges, not to think of yourself as a ‘something’ or ‘another,’ except that you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you’re my son, and that you’re struggling with challenges.
Everyone has some challenges they have to struggle with. You’ve described a particular kind of challenge that is very vexing. It is common in our society and it has also become politicized. But it’s only one of a host of challenges men and women have to struggle with, and I just encourage you to seek the help of the Savior to resist temptation and to refrain from behavior that would cause you to have to repent or to have your Church membership called into question.”
Read the complete interview: