One thing we have found interesting, is that people don’t seem to know that the Church has come a long way in its thoughts and misconceptions on LGBT issues.They used to teach incorrect ideas on homosexuality.They taught according to the knowledge the world had at that time. As we have learned more, the leaders have also, and they have slowly been changing their position as more and more comes to light that we didn’t know before. Here is a little timeline of just a few things that show the change of position over the last few years. You will notice that after WWII, there was a dramatic increase in hostility towards homosexuality and that around the 1990’s, the stance began to soften.
22 January 1843– Joseph Smith teaches that God destroyed Sodom for “rejecting the prophets.”
In Ezekiel we read:…48“As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. 50“Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.…”
Interestingly, we have all probably been taught it was destroyed because of homosexuals. It wasn’t. Go read the story again in the Bible…Sodom was horribly wicked in many ways. But nope, it wasn’t because of “gay people” that it was destroyed.
2 October 1952 – Second Counselor J. Reuben Clark gives a talk at the Relief Society general conference warning against “self-pollution, prostitution, and homosexuality, which it is tragic to say, is found among both sexes.” He states that homosexuals “exercised great influence in shaping our art, literature music, and drama” implying the idea that homosexuals were outside the Mormon culture but that homosexuality could be imported and spread.
1954– Clark speaks to the priesthood session and tells those in the congregation to avoid “that filthy crime of homosexuality.” His use of the word “crime” shows the expanding definition of homosexuality within Mormonism in the 1950s. Not only did Church leaders perceive homosexuality as a sin, but they began to speak of it as a crime and increasingly as a mental illness that could be cured.
1956-1961– W. Cleon Skousen, former FBI agent and BYU professor took over as Chief of Police and launches his “Morality Crusade.” His administration foreshadowed the Church’s hardening stance against homosexuality in the coming decades. Skousen raids gay bars, repeals liquor licenses, and tries to change state laws involving lewdness or indecent exposure to “enable authorities to commit offenders to the Utah State Hospital for life if medical examination showed them to be mentally ill.”
12 September 1962– Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of BYU, met with BYU general counsel Clyde Sandgren, the new Dean of Students, J. Elliott Cameron, and Apostle Spencer Kimball and Mark E. Petersen “on the question of homosexuals who might possibly be part of the student body.” They developed a cooperative system where Mormon General Authorities and other Church administrators would give BYU any information they obtained about homosexuals on campus and BYU would give Church administrators information about homosexual church members. They decide, “as a general policy that no one will be admitted as a student at the BYU whom we have convincing evidence is a homosexual.”
10 July 1964– Apostle Spencer W. Kimball speaks to seminary and institute teachers at BYU. A large portion of his talk entitled “A Counseling Problem in the Church” address homosexuality. “A cure for this malady [homosexuality] lies in self-mastery.” He also encouraged marriage to get rid of homosexual feelings.
13 November 1965– Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of BYU says in a talk that BYU did not intend to admit any homosexuals to campus. He continued, “if any of you have this tendency and have not completely abandoned it, may I suggest that you leave the university immediately after this assembly…we do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your presence.”
1968– Homosexual acts added to the General Handbook of Instruction as an excommunicable offense.
1969– Church publishes Miracle of Forgiveness. Chapter 6 is titled, “The Crime Against Nature” where Pres. Kimball asserts that masturbation leads to homosexuality. This was the common thought at this time (along with it being a mental illness). Funny though, if that were true, I would suspect that the well majority of human beings would be homosexual. 🙂
1970– The Church publishes a 9-page pamphlet titled “Hope for Transgressors.” The pamphlet declares that “homosexuality CAN be cured, if the battle is well organized and pursued vigorously and continuously.”
October General Conference 1976– Apostle Boyd K. Packer gives his now infamous talk entitled “To Young Men Only.” He said some young men are “tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another in unusual ways.” He commented that “such practices are perversion….Physical mischief with another man is forbidden.” Packer also essentially advocated anti-gay violence in his speech when he recounted the story of a male missionary who had “hit” and “floored” his mission companion, apparently for simply revealing his sexual orientation. Because Elder Packer does not specify the reason for the violent response, the talk leaves interpretation open. Elder Packer told the missionary, “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.” Packer told his audience, “I am not recommending that course [of violence] to you but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.” The talk was published and is distributed today.
1977-1979– Elder Mark E. Petersen attacked the Gay Rights movement with six harsh editorials for theChurch News writing such things as: “Since homosexuals have become a nationwide entity, and have come out of hiding to demand their place in the sun, many of them claim that they are what they are because they were born that way and cannot help it. How ridiculous is such a claim? It was not God who made them that way, any more than He made bank robbers the way they are.”
The horrible trauma caused by this kind of rhetoric is difficult to measure. Make no mistake, his words along with talks and printed books from Church leaders has influenced and continues to influence generations of gay Mormons who grow up learning to hate themselves. It has also caused many of us to grow up looking down on gay people with disgust.
NOW WATCH HOW THINGS CHANGE…SLOWLY, BUT THERE IS CHANGE:
4 April 1987 – First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley tells priesthood session of general conference “marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices…” This reverses decades-long church policy formulated by Spencer W. Kimball.
In the 1990’s, there was another policy change: you were no longer excommunicated just for being homosexual. If you hadn’t acted on it, you could remain in full fellowship. From 1968 until this time, just for coming out as gay/lesbian was reason enough for excommunication. It didn’t matter that you had never broken the law of chastity.
In the 2000’s, even though not exactly known why people are homosexual, it is well accepted that most people are born this way and it is complex.The Church leaders start teaching this and impress on people to show love and acceptance to those who are “same-sex attracted.”
25 April 2012– LDS Church accepts new Boy Scout Gay Policy allowing gay scouts to participate in LDS scouting programs.
2012– The LDS Church releases the website Mormons and Gays entitled Love One Another: A Discussion of Same-Sex Attraction. The website states: “Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.”
This is a recent interactive interview with Elder Oaks. If you want to read all of it I have posted the link. http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/02/13/mormons_and_transgender_elder_dallin_h_oaks_says_the_lds_church_is_open.html
“One question dealt with transgender identity, and the response by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the highest-ranking church leaders, was the most significant—and underreported—statement from that session. A mother said, “I have a transgender son who came out to us about a year ago. … I hate having to fear what retaliation [from church leaders] I might have for supporting him … I think we as members need that assurance that we can indeed have our own opinions, support our children, and still follow our beliefs.”
This question concerns transgender, and I think we need to acknowledge that while we have been acquainted with lesbians and homosexuals for some time, being acquainted with the unique problems of a transgender situation is something we have not had so much experience with, and we have some unfinished business in teaching on that.
Oaks’ tone was conciliatory and optimistic. A leader of a church that is famously conservative on gender and sexuality issues expressed some reservations about current teachings on transgender issues, anticipating that more experience might lead to changes. Here and elsewhere, rather than retrenching, the church is showing subtle signs of evolving some of its paradigms on gender and sexual identity.”
What is interesting to me, is that as the Church learns more, they slowly do change. I have wondered why the Lord lets the leaders sometimes be off on things? There have been things taught in the Church that were really quite awful about black people. Why didn’t the Lord just come down and tell the Church leaders they were completely wrong? Why didn’t the Lord make it known years ago that you can’t “pray the gay away” or that it is not a choice? Why aren’t we ahead of what the world knows? I don’t have all of those answers, but as I have prayed about it, I have realized a couple of things.
One is that if the Church were perfect, when would we ever have to exercise any faith that this is His Gospel? How can the Church be perfect when it is run by men? Do we idolize our Church leaders and think they could never make mistakes? But as we can see from what happened with the leaders’ ideas from the later 1800’s to the 1970’s on African American people, they were definitely influenced by the thoughts and traditions of men at that time.They were WAY off. It was eventually straightened out, but it took time.
Number two is that the Lord is letting us (non leaders) work out some issues. We are sometimes referred to as “Blind Sheep” and even though we hate being called that, I believe sometimes we are exactly that. We let the leaders tell us exactly what to think and what to do. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that they are really good men that are trying to lead us in the right direction. But, does the Lord sometimes want us to work things out and not expect everything to be handed to us on a silver platter? As we look at the Church’s past, it seems that when it comes to Social Issues, the Lord let’s us stumble until we ask the right questions. There were many people who didn’t feel good about what was happening and being taught in the Church about African Americans. For those who had taken the time and made the effort and prayed and received answers, the Lord gave them an answer that was different from the then current teachings of the Church. He loves our African American brothers and sisters just as much as He loves anyone else and that they are not less than in His eyes …if they pressed the issue with leaders they were threatened with Church discipline.
I feel like the Lord is telling us to THINK, PRAY, LEARN! Come Unto Me. I believe He is also trying to tell us that He is our only Master. Yes, He has given us leaders to help us along the way, but they aren’t perfect. The only one whom we should be following with exactness is the Savior, because He is perfect and he is our Lord. I think He is trying to teach us that. I wonder if we are learning?