The last few years have been witness to a remarkable LDS cultural shift in the conversation around homosexuality. While core doctrines of the Church with regard to the appropriate bounds of sexual expression have not changed (and will not change), there has been a clarifying and nuancing of Church teachings (i.e., sexual attraction or temptation is not a sin; only inappropriate indulgence in thought or behavior is) as well as a notable shift in our cultural attitudes. We’re becoming much more open and loving toward others wherever they may be in their journey of faith (or lack thereof), even as we continue to embrace our own faith in the Savior and the doctrines of the restored gospel.
One of the shifts that I’m most pleased to see (and to be a part of) is the increase of voices of those who understand the experience of homosexual attraction firsthand who are both speaking up in the cultural conversation around sexuality, as well as embracing and sharing their faith in the restored gospel of Christ.
The goal of North Star has always been to be a gathering place of those who desire to live within the framework of the gospel. In 2006, when the newly organized North Star launched the Northern Lights blog, our intention was to bring together the community of faithful Latter-day Saints already blogging on homosexuality. With the recent launch of our new website, we’re doing the same—we’re relaunching Northern Lights with a fresh chorus of both new and returning bloggers.
But that’s just the beginning. We need to be doing more. My belief is that homosexuality is one of the great Abrahamic tests of our day—not just for those whose personal attractions challenge their commitments to live the gospel (which, in reality, includes all of us in way or another), but also for our broader Church family whose compassion—if not rooted in firm conviction of the gospel—may lead them to question their own commitments. It will also affect how the world responds to us. As I wrote in the introduction to Voices of Hope,
“As cultural battles continue to wage ever more passionately, and as the restored gospel of Jesus Christ continues to go forth to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, the Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality will increasingly affect how people respond to our message. I suggest that in addition to the continued witness and teachings of the Lord’s prophets and apostles around this issue, there will be an increasing need for ‘a cloud of witnesses’ (Hebrews 12:1), Latter-day Saint men and women who have personally dealt with these issues” (p. 21).
So, what more can we be doing? Each of us who embraces the gospel needs individually to seriously consider God’s call and commission to stand as authentic witnesses of His love and redeeming gospel “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in” (Mosiah 18:9). The fulfillment of that commission may look somewhat varied for different people, but I would invite each of us to consider the ways in which even our sexuality is tied to our covenant to consecrate our entire self to building God’s kingdom and to spreading the restored gospel.
As a final note, my wife and I have been recently reading Third Nephi in our family scripture study. One of the themes that has been impressed upon me by the Spirit is the importance of fidelity to prophetic leadership and guidance. That, and that it doesn’t take long for even God’s faithful to put too much confidence in themselves and for their faith to atrophy into total loss. Much earlier in the Book of Mormon, when Nephi was warned by the Lord to separate himself from his rebellious brothers, he noted that “all those who would go with [him] were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they hearken[ed] unto [his] words” (2 Nephi 5:6).
There are too few places, whether in cyberspace or elsewhere, where believing Latter-day Saints who fully sustain the prophets can engage in meaningful discussion about the intersections of sexuality, faith and culture. While we invite all to listen in and participate in these discussions, I remind readers and dialoguers that this is first a forum for believing Latter-day Saints—or for others who are willing to respect members’ beliefs—and to read closely the comment policy, to which we’ll be strictly adhering.
As we begin again this journey as a Northern Lights community, with a growing euphony of voices, I invite and welcome you in our effort to become part of a movement that is a growing “cloud of witnesses” of the Savior, of His gospel and Church, and of those whom He has called as prophets, seers, and revelators.