To help shed light on the topic of same-sex attraction and facilitate more open dialogue about the realities of discrimination within the LDS Church towards those with same- sex attraction, the church recently launched a new “Mormons and gays” website.
According to the website, the purpose of this media space is “with love and understanding… [to] reach out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.” The site also clarifies that it “does not offer a comprehensive explanation of everything related to same-sex attraction, but it does reflect the feelings of Church leaders as to how we should treat each other as part of the human family.”
Few topics are as heatedly discussed in our modern world today as that of same-sex attraction, says the title page of the website. For those of the LDS faith, it is understood that while it is natural to have these inner feelings, one must not act on them in order to live by the law of chastity.
However, the subject remains particularly tender for those looking to practice Christ’s admonition to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” distinguishing between hating the sin and not the sinner.
Devin Northrup, a BYU-Hawaii graduate who studied international cultural studies, helped contribute to the site’s construction for 18 months as a design strategist. “In the past, many have treated same-sex attraction as a taboo topic,” he said, “but I feel the site has given people greater confidence and reason to discuss, what can sometimes be, a difficult topic. I hope the website will clarify the church’s doctrine for both members and non-members alike.” Northrup also spoke of the church’s shift in speaking more about the pure love of Christ and less away from the law of chastity and hellfire, though there still exists parts of the latter. “I think the site demonstrates that we too can show love and respect to those who have beliefs and lifestyles we don’t agree with,” he said.
For ICS graduates concerned about where to go after school, Northrup reiterated the lessons he learned while studying at BYUH that have helped him in his career and on developing the Mormon and gays website in particular. “During the project, I reviewed notes from many of my ICS classes including communication classes, culture and conflict, anthropology, and narrative identity and culture. All of these contained extremely useful material that I pulled from as I worked with my team.” Overall Northrup said, “I feel confident in saying that the flow, tone, and language of the site was certainly impacted by my experience at BYU–Hawaii as an ICS student.”
Elizabeth Champney, a senior in ICS: Anthropology from Illinois, said she is thrilled about the launch of the new site. “I think mormonsandgays.org has been the most Christlike action the church has taken on this issue, replacing the outdated and overtly hateful messages of the past with what the Mormon LGBT community has ever wanted—to be seen and loved as our fellow brothers and sisters,” she said. “Too often the gay community has been an acceptable target of hate from members,” she said, distinguishing between past confusion and discrimination by church members and the church’s current effort of love and inclusion. “I believe this website is now requiring us to take our covenant of bearing the Lord’s name more seriously as we love as he loves.”
Jeska Belle Giles, a senior in TESOL from California, has very mixed feelings about the church’s progression about this certain issue. “For a long time now, I have been concerned about the hurt felt by gay Mormons who have felt ostracized by our community,” she said. “While part of me wonders if this is too little too late, more than anything I am happy that the Mormon community is beginning to discuss, acknowledge, and perhaps even welcome our brothers and sisters to their rightful place of participation in our church.”
To go to the Mormons and Gays website, click HERE.