Homosexuality: Some Issues for Conservative Christians to ConsiderViews and analysis by Jeff Lindsay
This page used to be aimed at those who wanted to know if there was any hope of overcoming same-sex attraction. Looking at some empirical evidence, I discussed the controversial issue of change, raising the possibility that in at least a few cases, change away from same-sex attraction might be possible. I've since seen that the path to change can be exceptionally difficult and concluded that my page was not necessarily helpful (though I did have at least one "recovered homosexual sex addict" state it was helpful and consistent with his experience). If you feel you are a candidate for change and want change, continue researching the issue and being open to possibilities (I would suggest you begin with PeopleCanChange.com). But now I'd like to use this page to address another controversial issue related to homosexuality: perspectives of conservative Christians (I'm in that camp) who have strong moral codes that oppose homosexual activity. How can we better understand those who struggle with same-sex attraction and be more helpful and less biased in dealing with them?
First, let me remind you that a moral opposition to homosexual behavior, like opposition to premarital sex or sex outside of marriage, is not a condemnation of those with that orientation. We all are attracted to various behaviors that may not coincide with our moral codes. The behavior, not the attraction per se, is the concern. This doesn't come close to addressing the pain caused by moral positions that close the door of marriage to those who wish to be married and to other serious issues we must consider, but distinguishing behavior from attractions is a first step.
This page is under construction. Coming soon, though, will be a discussion of what I have learned from those who had genuine physical need of gender transformation, surgically changing their body from male to female or visa versa, and what that can teach us about the complexities of gender in this very complicated world. There are important lessons for Christians in their stories, and important lessons about who we are as sons and daughters of God in an imperfect world with imperfect bodies.
First, here's an adaptation of a 2012 post on Mormanity:
Eternal Souls in Frail Mortal Shells: The Complexity of GenderOne of the great liberating and ennobling teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is the Father of our spirits (Heb. 12:9,10), and we are His children (Romans 8:14-17). We are beings with an eternal destiny, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. From the Latter-day Saint perspective, We are sons and daughters, not just generic sexless spirits, but beings of specific gender going back long before our birth into these frail, imperfect mortal shells. Our gender predates our birth. In the premortal existence where we dwelt as spirit sons and daughters of God, we waited and were willing to be born into mortality and take on all the challenges and pains this brief trial brings. [Note: the LDS theme of the "premortal existence" is controversial in Christianity, but we maintain that it is a restoration of original ancient Judeo-Christian theology, illustrated, for example, by the understanding the 12 Apostles had that a blind man theoretically could have sinned before he was born (see John 9:1-2).]
Latter-day Saint theology helps us understand that we are more than our physical bodies. Much more. Our immortal spirit bodies, male or female, is at the core of the "real us." It is now housed in a wonderful but deliberately limited and fallible device, the mortal body, which is designed to be temporary and to ultimately perish. Not only will it die, but it is subject to all manner of afflictions and trials. Pain, disease, deformity of all kinds, wounds and damage in endless ways are possible. Every gene, every organ, every part of the body is subject to risk and harm. These problems may arise from random mutations, from radiation, from chemicals, from physical injury, gaps in nutrition, threats in the environment, and a host of other factors from the moment of conception onward. What a miracle it is that so many of us can walk, see, taste, bear children, and enjoy the pleasures and wonders of life as we do. May we always be sensitive to those whose struggle is different.
Latter-day Saints of all people should be prepared to understand that our gender is determined by something other than the physical appearance of our body. When we consider how variable this mortal shell is and how many things can confuse and confound these mortal shells, we should be well prepared to understand that there may be instances where a male or female spirit is in a body that, due to the random challenges of mortality from mutations or other issues affecting physical development, does not fully or accurately match the gender of the spirit. That this problem can occur is perhaps most easily understood by considering the case of individuals who are obviously born with both male and female attributes. In some cases, doctors make an assignment through surgery to specify which gender such individuals will have. It's possible for us to grasp, then, that the assignment may be incorrect, resulting in a female or male spirit assigned to a body that doesn't match the true gender of the soul. This error in assignment may happen through other means. There are other stories and pathways for us to consider.
I used to be skeptical about such possibilities until I met a valiant Christian woman and learned about her life-long struggle. From birth to about age 50, she was in a body assigned to the male gender, possibly due to problems associated with harmful medications her mother was taking during pregnancy. She is now physically female. I have shared her story on this blog before. Today I'd like to share something kindly written by another voice, the faithful and valiant Christian and Latter-day Saint who is the Webmaster of
The more I study this issue the more it seems to me like it really is purely a medical one. There is a general medical term called "intersexed" which applies to anybody who has physical characteristics of both males and females. The exact arrangement amongst individuals so affected can vary greatly. Traditionally people limit the application of the term to characteristics that are readily apparent by viewing a person's outer physical characteristics, conditions such as undescended testes or any other number of variations on the genitalia that don't point obviously to the individual being male or female. But then there are other conditions that you can't perceive by simply viewing somebody's body with your eyes but that medical science allows us to see with relatively routine tests.
I'll have more to share on this topic shortly. There is a great deal of medical research that can give us insight into these complexities, and with that insight, perhaps compassion and understanding may grow. These instances may be rare and unusual, but where they occur, great sensitivity and kindness is needed in a world that can be quite cruel.
This is a sensitive topic and I still have much to learn since it is so outside my experience. Only recently did I chose to confront it and learn more from others. Just as we need to be loving toward those whose struggles are different, we need to be loving and tolerant of those in the Church whose viewpoints are different. There is a diversity of opinions that will be expressed from various leaders of the Church when they touch upon this topic, if at all. This is an area where slow, gradual development of understanding is likely to occur, and where patience and faith is needed for those struggling with this complex issue and for their friends and families. Bitterness and militancy is not the Lord's way of dealing with tough issues, but are crucial tools for the Adversary who delights in contention, anger, and mocking.
Hiding from Change?
The issue of changing behavior and homosexuality is controversial, but there are some perspectives that people on all sides of the debate might be wise to consider. Unfortunately, media coverage of issues related to homosexuality is skewed in ways that ignore the voices of those who have found some important changes in their life to be possible. Regarding one-sided media coverage, Accuracy in Media had this to say a few years ago:
The potential bias in media coverage of related topics doesn't make things any easier for people willing to understand who they really are and how they can best live their lives with the mix of blessings and challenges they face. In my opinion, a conviction to follow Christ regardless of all else can bring the follower new levels of joy and peace, even when there are unresolved pains and burdens for now.
Some useful resources to understand the issues related to the complexity of gender can be found at http://ldsgender.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/transsexuality-is-one-form-of-intersexuality/ (great discussion occurs there, too). Also check out the excellent resources listed at http://ldsgender.wordpress.com/resources-and-links/. One publication that I found especially interesting and thoughtful was "Developmental, Sexual and Reproductive Neuroendocrinology: Historical, Clinical and Ethical Considerations" by Dr. Milton Diamond, Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, Volume 32, Issue 2, April 2011, pages 255-263. Also see the AAAS news item, "New Research Casts Doubt on Surgery for Infants Born with Male and Female Traits."
"Shattered Glass: The Traditions of Mormon Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Encounter Boyd K. Packer" - excellent clarification on what President Boyd K. packer has been teaching on the issue of homosexuality. Much more compassionate and rational than his critics have indicated.
Gay Man Married to a Woman: How Does that Work? by Kathryn Skaggs, a discussion of the successful marriage of Josh and Lolly Weed, a mixed orientation marriage, where Josh's faith in Christ helped him with a terribly difficult decision.
Orson Scott Card on "The Hypocrites of Homosexuality" - an essay explaining why the Church should be able to take a stand on moral issues including sexuality outside of marriage.
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Last updated: Oct. 10, 2012
Created: Nov. 26, 2000