THE MORMON CHURCH
One of the staunchest opponents of gay marriage has been the Mormon Church, and their opposition to homosexuality goes far deeper than their stance on same-sex marriage. The Mormon Church teaches that nobody is born gay, and that no one is actually "gay" at all… that God gives people “challenges” they are to overcome, like homosexuality. Thus, you will often see terms like “so-called gays and lesbians" in Church language (quote from mormon.org). The Church presents a loving face regarding people “struggling” with same sex desires. However, the actions and message of their Church is one that is detrimental to gay individuals and divisive to their families.
Many gay members of the Mormon Church have undergone scientifically refuted reparative therapy, attempting to convert gay people into heterosexuals. Despite some fatally flawed "studies" that claim success, reparative therapy has been discredited and called dangerous by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association, along with the vast majority of other prominent medical and mental health associations in the nation.
One of the few studies claiming success, and also one of the most cited by proponents, was later debunked by its author Robert Spitzer who in 2012 admitted that the study was fatally flawed and made an official public apology saying "I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy." "Psychiatry Giant Sorry for Backing Gay ‘Cure’" New York Times, Benedict Carey, May 18, 2012
Gay conversion proponents showcase their "success stories" of individuals who claim to have been cured of their same-sex attractions. Even if these individuals feel they have changed their sexual orientation, that does not prove it is possible for the majority of gay people to actually accomplish that. It is only evidence of a stronger fluidity in those “changed” individuals’ sexual orientation compared to other gay men and women. While it is natural for people to have varying degrees of fluidity in what they may find sexually arousing, the majority of heterosexuals agree that their sexual orientation is fixed and not a choice, as do most gay people.
In another devastating blow to the pro-conversion movement, Exodus International, the largest reparative therapy organization in the U.S. closed its doors in 2013 with its former director publicly apologizing for the “irreparable damage done,” admitting that 99.9 percent of people who went through reparative therapy were unsuccessful in changing their sexual orientation.
The Mormon Church claims to no longer support the most aggressive form of reparative therapy: aversion therapy. One example of this extreme method was the infamous 1976 study at the Church's college, Brigham Young University, which involved delivering painful electric shocks to gay men when they became aroused by pornographic male images. The Church has, however, left the door open to other forms of reparative therapy by not condemning it as a practice, and they use qualified language like “The Church denounces any therapy that subjects an individual to abusive practices”... a quote from the Church in response to media attention around a Mormon teenager who in 2010 endured months of abuse by a Mormon family in an attempt to convert her to a heterosexual1.
In 2014 Evergreen International, an independent non-profit organization that adhered to Mormon teachings and helped people “diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior" was absorbed into another independent non-profit, North Star, which claims to “support” gay people in their desires to live “according to the teachings of the Mormon Church.”
North Star is careful not to take an official stance publicly promoting or denouncing reparative therapy, and uses qualified and carefully worded language on their website: "North Star does not endorse the idea that everyone should seek professional therapy to address issues related to homosexuality” and that they take no official position on the “origin or mutability of homosexual attraction.” Carefully worded statements like these are how the Mormon Church and its support organizations confuse the general public regarding the Church's views on human sexuality and their gay members.
North Star has launched an initiative called “Voices of Hope” which includes a website featuring video testimonials of gay men and women recounting how they have turned to God and the Mormon Church to deal with and abandon their same-sex attractions. Also featured in several videos is an even more bizarre method of reconciling homosexual feelings for Church members: gay men and women marrying someone of the opposite sex!
This practice entered the public spotlight in the TLC reality television show My Husband's Not Gay which featured Mormon couples in what are referred to as “Mixed Orientation Marriages.” The official Church website mormonsandgays.org states that, although the Church had promoted Mixed Orientation Marriages in the past, "...the Church does not necessarily advise those with same-sex attraction to marry those of the opposite sex.” Note the qualifying "necessarily" in the statement. And yet, despite this qualified claim, on the same page they feature a video of Ty, a Mormon man who struggled with "those kinds of feelings for men" for years. He turned to the Mormon Church and prayer for help, and is now married to a woman.
The irony of Mormons claiming to “defend and protect marriage" yet are encouraging gay people to marry someone of the opposite sex would be laughable if not for the fact these are real people’s lives – and in some cases these marriages produce children, which is also happily promoted in videos.
A 2015 study involving 1,612 same-sex attracted Mormons revealed that using prayer to resolve gay feelings causes more harm than good to the individual, and that gay Mormons in Mixed Orientation Marriages are three times more likely to get divorced. http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/news/lds/2050536-155/if-a-gay-mormonmarries-a
There are also disturbing statistics pointing out increased suicide rates in heavily Mormon populations. This includes a spike in LGBT suicides following the Church's 2015 highly controversial anti-gay policy. While data on the exact reasons behind suicides and the sexual orientation of members from a repressive Church are going to be nearly impossible to come by, it is difficult to look at these suicides and think there was no influence from the Mormon Church's anti-gay policies. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/benjamin-knoll/is-the-recent-rise-in-uta_b_10798286.html
Families are central to Mormons and the religion. Beyond a normal family bond, Mormon families that have undergone the proper rituals believe they are “sealed” for eternity together. Teachings even explain that Mormons can become gods themselves who will rule over their own world, which will be populated by their own offspring2. (D&C 132:19-20) (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.48)
The strong Mormon familial bond and power of their belief system can be seen in a video on the Church’s website for gay members, mormonsandgays.org, which features testimonials of Mormons dealing with same-sex attractions. Upon closer inspection, a darker side of this eternal-family belief system is revealed. In the video a gay man named Kelly explains why he returned to the Church (the assumption is that he will now remain celibate or marry a woman). As he breaks down in tears he says: “I couldn’t imagine living an eternity without my mom and dad. And so I knew I needed to change and do something different. Because even though I felt happy and felt content at the time there was a huge hole that I was afraid of losing my family.” It is disturbing that the Church prominently features this heartbreaking video of a gay man who was so terrified of losing his family that he left behind a life where he was “happy and content” just to be a member of the Church. It is only one of many examples of the Mormon belief system and the power it holds over its members.
In 2008 the Church entered the political area with an organized effort to get their members involved in helping to pass Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage in California. Through a coordinated campaign by the Church, members were encouraged to “…do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time” (excerpt from an official Church letter to be read in all California congregations). Mormons answered their Church's call, and contributed an estimated 50% of the total funding raised for ProtectMarriage, the official proponent of Proposition 8. Mormons also made up the majority of volunteers for the official "Prop 8" proponent's early door-to-door canvassing. Proposition 8 passed, banning gay marriage in California.
A 2015 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed that while 60% of Catholics, 77% of Jews, 62% of white main-line Protestants, and 42% of Muslims in America support gay marriage, only 28% of Mormons supported the right for gay couples to marry.
The Mormon Church Defending "Traditional Marriage"
UNDER THE BANNER OF Christianity
It is ironic that a non-traditional Christian Church that rejects the Bible as the sole scripture, rejects the Trinity, rejects the Nicene and Apostles Creeds, and holds other non-Christian beliefs fights against gay marriage to supposedly uphold a "traditional" definition of marriage... even though that, too, has changed throughout history,
especially in their Church.
Despite their claim of protecting traditional marriage in the name of Christianity, the truth is that the Mormon religion itself is not a traditional Christian faith. This statement is not meant to disrespect the Church, and certainly not its members. However, the Church has repeatedly produced anti-gay teachings and policies, promoted deceptive information about sexual orientation, and attacked gay marriage in the name of the Christianity in the secular world -- including political efforts to suppress gay marriage -- and thus have opened themselves up to critical analysis and fair scrutiny of the Mormon religion and claims of it being an authentic Christian faith.
There are several reasons the Mormon Church is not a Christian denomination: They do not accept several core foundational beliefs of Christianity including the Nicene or Apostles' Creeds, which are the foundational statements for Christianity. They reject the traditional Christian natures of God, Christ, and the Trinity. They hold non-Biblical beliefs including spirit children, the existence of many other gods, and they believe that men can become gods. The Mormon religion also places a strong emphasis on non-Biblical rituals like endowments, sealings, and baptizing the dead which they teach are essential practices of the religion, despite the fact they have never been a part of Christianity.
In addition, the Mormon Church rejects the Bible as the single authoritative scripture. It is only one of four books in their scriptural cannon. They believe that the Old and New Testament of the Bible are incomplete.
These additional scriptures of the Mormon Church have met with several controversies over the years including the fact that The Book of Mormon has several historical and factual inaccuracies, and has also undergone revisions over the years which disproves Joesph Smith's claims of divine inspiration and it being "the most correct of any book on earth." Another controversy involves The Pearl of Great Price, in which a key portion (The Book of Abraham) has been identified by several Egyptologists as an “impudent fraud” and an “absurd” mistranslation by Joseph Smith of common ancient Egyptian funerary texts.
Most important to disproving the Mormon Church’s claim to Christianity is the fact that they themselves professes that what we know as Christianity is not Christ’s “true” religion. They teach that true religion was hidden from the world over the centuries, and was revealed to and restored by Joseph Smith in 19th century America, and that all other Christian Churches are an apostasy, led by the "father of all apostasy... Satan." This teaching of the Great Apostasy of all other Churches is central to the Mormon religion.
The Mormon Church's website (lds.org) states:
"I will speak about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the only true and living Church. In doing so I know I speak against the powerful tide of what is called 'political correctness'. The fashionable opinion of this age is that all churches are true. In truth, the idea that all churches are the same is the doctrine of the anti-Christ"
-The Only True and Living Church, Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The Book of Mormon reads:
“…Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.” “Behold there are save two churches only…whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. -1 Nephi 14:9-10
Mainstream Churches within Christianity may claim that their way is the only correct way to practice the Christian faith, and may even believe the Roman Catholic Church lost its way, but their claims end with doctrinal differences. The Mormon Church claims the very foundations of the Christian faith are incorrect, and not the true religion of Christ.
While Churches within Christianity may debate theological issues like Biblical Inerrancy, the nature of sacraments, women as clergy, and gay marriage, all mainline Churches agree on the common core foundational beliefs of a universal Christian Church that are nearly 2000 years old. They certainly agree on the historical narrative and nature of Christ, and that the Bible is the sole unifying scripture. This is why many Christian churches (Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, among others) will acknowledge each other’s baptisms, but a Mormon baptism is not recognized as a Christian baptism by many Christian Churches.
Mormons can call themselves whatever they want, but one must questions why they extend such a liberal definition of Christianity to themselves while aggressively attacking gay marriage in the name of Christianity, and on the grounds that gay marriage is not traditional -- especially given the Mormon Church’s history with polygamy which was enshrined as part of their doctrine in 1876. (Section 132 of Doctrine and Covenants)
The influence of polygamy, or "plural marriages," and the desire to keep them secret is still seen today through elements of current rituals and practices of the Church including sealing ordinances and endowment secrecy oaths (these oaths have been drastically changed over the years from the original symbolic ritual suicide oaths). It was only in 2014 that the Mormon Church publicly admitted the polygamist past of its founder, Joseph Smith, who had 40 wives, one of whom was only 14.
For most of the Mormon Church’s history, African American men were denied full membership, and the Church taught that black skin was the "mark of Cain," a curse from God. The Church did eventually lift the membership ban in 1978, but has still not apologized for it despite numerous requests. The Church did not repudiate the teaching that dark skin was a curse until 2013. The Mormon Church has also had a difficult past with Native Americans which eventually resulted in more revisions to the "perfect" BOOK OF MORMON.
The Mormon religion has too many discrepancies and controversies to explore in this forum. From the early years of the Church to today, it has relied on carefully worded language and revisionist history to rewrite its problems, inaccuracies, and past. It is a Church that has certainly produced some wonderful individuals. However, the treatment of their gay members and efforts to repress gay men and women outside of the Church under the banner of Christianity requires a fair investigation of the religion. Just as the Mormon Church has a legal right to declare gay people an "apostasy" led by Satan who can change their sexual orientation... we have a right to scrutinize the Church, its teachings, and question the Church's claim of being a Christian Church.
2 In the official Mormon Church document "Becoming Like God" the Church attempts to address the belief of Mormons getting their own planet which received national attention through the musical "The Book of Mormon." In this document, the Church states: “…few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet, most would agree that the awe inspired by creation hints at our creative potential in the eternities.” In other words, they don’t believe in a “planet” per se, but they don’t rule out the idea or refute the belief. Teachings are quite clear that Mormons can become gods who will procreate, and there are references to other worlds (not "planets") including:
“We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring” (DOCTRINES OF SALVATION, Vol.2, p.48, Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., former Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and President of the Mormon Church)
"...live and act like him (God) in endless worlds..." (“Godhood” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2)
The above response from the Church is just one example of how the Mormon Church and its proponents use qualifying and carefully worded language to conceal or confuse truths.
Top image: Painting of Joesph Smith by an unknown painter, circa 1842, overlaid on a photograph of a statue of the Angel Moroni
Last major update: September 2016