What do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons, LDS) believe about those who are LGBT? We believe that “Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” (1)
We also believe that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” and that “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and…that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” (1)
If this is the case, why are some born with gender dysphoria and same-sex attraction? What about the common phrase that God doesn’t make mistakes?
God doesn’t make mistakes. God is perfect. And the truth is, we don’t know why people are born with these difficulties which are often excruciating and rarely the result of choice alone. We do know that while God is a perfect creator, human bodies are not perfect creators and as a result, people can be born with conditions like congenital adrenal hyperplasia (2) and androgen insensitivity syndrome (3) which affect one’s experience of gender and may influence some individual’s gender dysphoria and transgender experiences. We know that there is evidence that prenatal hormonal exposure may be one of multiple complex and interacting influences leading to the experience of same-sex attraction (4). I also know that some feel their sexual orientation was impacted by childhood and adolescent experiences of sexual abuse and rape.
We believe that God aches for His children who suffer these and other conditions and experiences that cause them to feel confusion and distress regarding their gender and sexuality.
Why does God allow these things to happen, couldn’t He have made a perfect world where conditions like these don’t happen? Yes, but He didn’t. We don’t know all the reasons why, but we know that “In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.” (1)
The experiences of life, especially the most painful and difficult, are meant to help us learn, grow, and progress to become our best selves.
Several of our leaders have taught about the purposes of adversity:
Elder Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Through the justice and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, the refinement and sanctification possible through such experiences can help us achieve what God desires us to become.”
A previous apostle, Elder Maxwell, taught: “How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then, let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!’ ”
Another previous apostle, Elder Whitney taught: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”
And Henry B. Eyring, current counselor to the prophet has taught: “The combination of trials and their duration are as varied as are the children of our Heavenly Father. No two are alike. But what is being tested is the same, at all times in our lives and for every person: will we do whatsoever the Lord our God will command us?”
We also know that Jesus Christ Atoned for us to help us heal us from all kinds of pains and trials and to give us strength to endure our challenges, as well as to help us to repent and to be forgiven of our sins.
Elder Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the healing it offers do much more than provide the opportunity for repentance from sins. The Atonement also gives us the strength to endure “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,” because our Savior also took upon Him “the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11)”
“At times we may despair that our burdens are too great. When it seems that a tempest is raging in our lives, we may feel abandoned and cry out like the disciples in the storm, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). At such times we should remember His reply: “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (v. 40).
The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them like the Apostle Paul (2 Cor 12:9)—is available for every affliction in mortality.” (6)
What do Mormons believe about people who enter same-sex relationships or marriages?
Recently, President Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said “When divine laws are broken, consequences follow. Even though our hearts ache for those who break God’s laws, penalties must be paid. Divine law must be obeyed.” He also explained how “Entrapments designed by Satan can only bring to you misery, spiritual captivity, and death. This is true every time….I promise that as you keep God’s commandments, as you live by His laws, you will become increasingly free. This freedom will unveil to you your divine nature and allow you to prosper personally. You will be free from the bondage of sin. You will be free to be you….” (7)
We believe that those who enter same-sex relationships are disobeying God’s laws, and “our hearts ache,” like President Nelson says, because we love our brothers and sisters and want them to have the eternal happiness of living God’s plan of happiness.
We believe that we can repent with full purpose of heart and be completely forgiven, healed, and saved (3 Ne 18:32)
In the end, we believe that God, who because of the Atonement knows and understands each person’s experiences, will be the Righteous Judge of everyone’s choices:
“all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” (10)
Our prophet teaches “Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes…It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.” (8)
His counselor, President Uchtdorf, has taught: “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.
What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us.” (9)
The Mormon church, like the world, is full of imperfect people who make mistakes. But we believe and are taught that our job is to become like God, so our job is to learn to love people no matter what they do, and that is what most members that I know are striving for.
If you, like me, are having an LGBT experience as a child of God, I hope you can remember that God loves you perfectly, that His commandments aren’t given arbitrarily but are given out of His infinite perfect knowledge of what will bring you eternal happiness, that He understands you, and that through the Atonement you can receive healing and grace for your suffering and pain and help to overcome all difficulties in life. I feel that the Mormon church is a safe place for me as an LGBT child of God because it teaches me about God love, about the Savior’s Atonement for me, about how to live safely in this world full of false messages about sin, and about how to make it home.
For more info: https://mormonandgay.lds.org/