The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched a new website this week, www.mormonsandgays.org, dealing with same-sex attraction.
Included in the website is the Church’s official position “The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
On the site, LDS Apostle D. Todd Christofferson says the position change is not a ‘softening’ of Church doctrine, which will remain that acting on same-sex attractions is sinful. Rather, the website is designed “to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.”
The website includes videos of Church leaders discussing official Church policy and positions regarding same-sex attraction and interacting with those individuals that have those feelings.
In addition to official leaders, the website includes personal accounts of gay LDS members and their experiences in the Church. According to the site, these personal accounts “do not necessarily represent in every word or detail the policies or positions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but all of them speak with authenticity because they reflect what has happened in their own lives and the experiences of those they love.”
The goal of the website is to foster understanding through dialogue, as well as provide “a place where the people whose lives are impacted by attraction to the same sex can find inspiration to work through difficult challenges while remaining faithful to Church teachings.”
Randall Thacker, president of Affirmation, a group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Mormons, said the website represents a positive move by the Church.
“The website is a wonderful step toward greater dialogue and acceptance for those with same-sex attraction, their families and friends,” he said. “It’s also a step toward inclusion that is incredible.”
However, Thacker still leaves room for those who still feel the Church has yet to fully accept them.
“For those that still feel alone, or dissatisfied with the Church’s statement on doctrine not changing,” he said, “Affirmation is there for them, a place to affirm their spirituality and feel included and at peace with regards to their sexuality.”
Crystal Young-Otterstrom, the president of the LDS Democrats Caucus, further stressed the website’s main message — that of being Christlike.
“[LDS Democrats] do not have an official position on gay rights or homosexuality,” she said. “I am personally glad that the Church is talking more openly about this issue and hope that my fellow Christians will try to remember their own Christianity when discussing this sensitive topic and especially when interacting with their gay friends, ward, and family members regardless of one’s own stance on the political issues at stake.”