The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the Mormon Church) teaches that homosexuality is a sin. However, as the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage has come to the forefront of society, the “Mormon” approach to homosexuality has changed somewhat, though the doctrine is the same.
Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) believe “the family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World“). Mormon doctrine teaches that the family unit is intended to be eternal, and God has decreed that families are to be headed by a man and a woman who are married.
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” goes on to say, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” Latter-day Saints believe that men and women have complementary characteristics which God has given to them to provide the best possible environments for His children to grow and learn of His gospel. No matter how wonderful a woman is, she cannot be a father; no matter how wonderful a man is, he cannot be a mother.
The opposition of Mormon doctrine to homosexuality is not based on bigotry or ignorance. There is a real, fundamental reason that Mormon doctrine teaches that homosexuality is a sin: it is in opposition to God’s plan. Mormon doctrine does not teach that those who choose to practice homosexuality are evil, bad people. On the contrary, Latter-day Saints are taught to be loving and accepting of the person, while not supportive of the action they believe to be a sin.
Sadly, this teaching gets warped. Those who firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin often find shame if they have these feelings or if they discover that a loved one has these feelings. Mormon doctrine actually teaches there is no shame in these feelings. While the LDS Church still stands in opposition to most of the world’s feelings about homosexuality (in that they do not believe people are born gay and they do not believe homosexual feelings will exist in the next life), they recognize that a person cannot help having these feelings. A person can, however, choose how to react to these feelings. If they do not act on any of their homosexual feelings, they have committed no sin.
For anyone who does not agree with Latter-day Saint beliefs, this can seem a harsh reaction. Why should a person who cannot control his or her feelings be condemned to celibacy and loneliness? Well, Mormon doctrine teaches that abstinence before marriage and fidelity inside of marriage is the standard for everyone. There are heterosexual Latter-day Saints who never have the opportunity to marry. The same standard is expected of them as of any homosexual Latter-day Saint. This is because it is God’s commandment, not man’s. It will not change.
Latter-day Saints who struggle with homosexual feelings often feel shame and isolation. They should not. Help and support are available. A wonderful pamphlet has been put out by the LDS Church on homosexuality. It is titled “God Loveth His Children” and reminds all Latter-day Saints that they are beloved children of God. The atonement of Jesus Christ can heal all wounds and all suffering, and many have found that when they accept themselves for who they are, they feel the love of God and of Jesus Christ. This does not make their struggles go away, but it does give them the strength to cope.
Mormon doctrine teaches that all who are faithful and endure to the end will be join-heirs with Christ in God’s kingdom (Romans 8:17). While many struggle with homosexual feelings or with being alone in this life, they are assured that if, despite their struggles, they remain faithful to God’s commandments, they will receive all blessings which other faithful followers of Christ will receive.