Born that way – not a choice

A long time ago I met an individual who cast out unclean spirits for a living. This was not in some backwards third-world country but right here in California. Good people who struggled with deep emotional or spiritual problems paid him to diagnose and remove negative entities. That’s a fancy word for evil spirits. He was highly successful and helped a lot of people.

He is also LDS. I know what you’re thinking. That’s priestcraft, isn’t it? No, not really. The technique was such that it was the individual seeking help who did the casting out themselves. After guiding the person through a process to identify the source of the problem, he would help them express words in certain phrases that would cause the negative entities to leave them.

LDS doctrine of evil spirits

There are several things you probably want to know at this point. Did the man have any kind of professional training? Yes, he was a certified stress management consultant. Is that recognized in the State of California? No, there is no board or bureau that requires a practitioner of stress management to register their services, obtain a license, pass an exam or prove competency.

So anyone can claim that they are an expert in stress management and set up shop to help people deal with their troubles in life? Yep. Do Mormons really believe that they are afflicted with evil or unclean spirits that can possess them or even control them? Some Mormons do. So do a lot of good Christians. I have written previously about the doctrine of evil spirits in LDS theology.

Born that way, but not biological

Being intensely interested in what this man was doing for a living, I conducted several in-depth interviews that led to a discussion of the cause of homosexuality. I’m sure you can guess where this is going. He was convinced that same-sex attraction is the result of being tempted by an unclean spirit. And yes, he even felt that a little child could be afflicted from a very young age.

In other words, he did not feel that there was a biological explanation for same-sex attraction. So in effect, he was saying that what so many have been claiming about being born that way is true. That seems to go against LDS doctrine that little children are born pure and innocent. But he felt that they could be afflicted because of a parent or an ancestor that somehow passed it on to them.

Unclean spirits encourage homosexuality

A quote from the interview: “When a female spirit is controlling a man’s body, the man says, ‘I feel like a female trapped a man’s body.’ That’s the evil spirit talking. They really do feel like a female trapped in a man’s body. They’re trying to get that man to want other men, because that’s what they want. The same thing applies to a male spirit trapped in a female’s body.

“Often people get priesthood blessings, but because they didn’t have much faith in the blessing, they didn’t get rid of the cause. The evil spirit would be gone temporarily, but then they would come right back again. Why? Because they hadn’t taken care of the guilt, or anger, or fear or whatever they had that allowed the evil spirit to be there in the first place.” (Source available)

A cure for homosexuality

I won’t disclose the details of the technique this practitioner used to help individuals identify and resolve their own stress issues. I will tell you that he is not the only one who does this sort of thing professionally. This healing modality has been documented in clinical work by a licensed therapist who now markets his services in his local area and sells training through his website.

So there are professionals who are claiming that they can cure same-sex attraction. What they promote is not gender-affirmative therapy, but a technique for identifying and removing negative energy and negative entities that are the root cause of homosexuality. The majority of their work does not involve working with evil spirits but that is covered and explained in their materials.

Summary and conclusion

I throw this out there because I found it fascinating when I was first exposed to it many years ago. I have done enough serious investigation to feel that I understand the technique that is used and the theory behind it. Of course, the proponents claim it is a more than a theory, but is based on doctrine. I have withheld judgment for many years and offer it for discussion and feedback.

Comments are open. Discussion is welcome. Please don’t turn this into a circus. I was very pleased with the fifty comments I received on my last essay on this subject about same-sex marriage, proposition 8, dissent and excommunication. Thank you for the intelligent and frank discussion. I look forward to knowing what you think. I can also share a lot more information.

Update – new conclusion

After much dialog with good individuals who took the time to get me to think this through, I have concluded that my friend was wrong. Our LDS scriptures teach that little children cannot sin and that the adversary has no power to tempt little children. I am also more and more convinced that yes, some people are born with a biological disposition to same-sex attraction.

40 comments for “Born that way – not a choice

  1. A.J.
    October 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I am glad to know that the Mormon church also has flat earth society members in it. http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/ Who care what science says ….we know the truth.

  2. S.Faux
    October 6, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Tim:Individuals struggling with sexual issues should talk with their Bishop and appropriate priesthood leaders. I am all for such individuals receiving priesthood blessings. I am all for such individuals being treated with love and respect by ALL in the Church.I am NOT for “therapists” using techniques that counter recognized scientific and medical evidence. It is too easy to manufacture snake oil and placebos.I have spent years working with “psychotic” patients, and I have been impressed with their spirit and their determination. They deserve the best of what science has to offer. Fortunately, there are many effective medications for such disorders.I raise this issue because there is no evidence that same-sex sexual orientation (such as being discussed here) is a psychiatric disorder. Further, I would strongly resist any notions of “spirit possession.”The best place for struggling individuals is to be surrounded by a supporting and loving family, supplemented with the Bishop’s office and a loving Ward. All other approaches, it seems to me, have the strong potential to take the individual backward and NOT forward.I am sure you would NOT disagree with some of my views. I would be interested to know where you might disagree, however.

  3. SilverRain
    October 6, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    In my experience, true Priesthood and faith healings are accompanied by a sense of deep humility. Whether a person heals for money, for popularity, or for a sense of one’s own power and importance, it is priestcraft. The results do not matter, as Satan has the power to mimic God’s power.Additionally, the General Authorities have long suggested that people struggling with mental or emotional problems should go to licensed therapists to deal with those issues, possibly referred by the bishop. The sort of “healing” described here seems to me at first blush to be directly contradicting that advice.

  4. Tim Malone
    October 6, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Hi AJ,I assume that your reference to the Flat Earth society is to indicate that people who believe in evil spirits are fools. Don’t take the example of the few individuals I have mentioned in this essay and who have taken it to the extreme, to be indicative of all LDS members.

  5. Tim Malone
    October 6, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    S.Faux,I appreciate the rational views that you have presented. I especially appreciate your expressed concern that individuals can be mislead by something that is well outside any established science or recognized therapeutic medical practice.The individuals who practice this do not claim that there is any benefit to the individual other than making them feel better in an emotional or spiritual sense. Others who are accredited doctors have called what they do quackery. I only investigated it seriously because of the reports of many individuals who said they found relief of long-standing issues through this treatment.I would direct anyone interested in seeing on-line interviews with those who have been through sessions with one individual who practices this technique to go here. Like you, I have concerns about this, but was amazed by the amount of clinical work that this individual has documented in videos and books.

  6. Tim Malone
    October 6, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Silverrain,I echo your observations. I agree with your definition of priestcraft. The individual who practiced this technique was careful to point out that it was the client who performed the actual release of the negative energy. He simply guided them through the process. I know, it sound hokey – you don’t know the half of how hokey it really appears unless you have seen it in action.I also totally agree with your point that the General Authorities have long counseled individuals struggling with emotional issues to see licensed therapists. That’s why I was amazed to later find a licensed clinical therapist who practiced this technique. My introduction to this LDS member was filled with skepticism. When I found the clinical psychologist who took it seriously, I began to pay attention.

  7. Papa D
    October 6, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Tim, I believe there is a lot of good that can come of understanding one’s self more fully. It’s the heart of repentance, and much of what you describe here sounds like no more than helping people see and understand and address the core aspects of their inherited tendencies and finding coping and/or change mechanisms. I believe in that type of effort deeply, so I applaud any work to acquire this type of “internal understanding”. However, I cringe mightily when all of these things appear to be credited to evil spirits. I have no problem with the overall doctrine of evil spirits, but I also believe strongly that much of what our terminology in this arena is symbolic – and I am wary of people who present things in ways that can confuse the issue and frame everything in black-and-white, us-versus-them terms. Also, the framing of the idea that children can be subjected to evil spirits because of their ancestors sounds like just another way to say that they inherited certain characteristics and tendencies as a result of the Fall – which is the Church’s most current understanding of many homosexuals. I would rather phrase it the way the Church currently phrases it than do so the way it was phrased 2000 years ago – even if I accept that the way it was phrased 2000 years ago was the proper way to phrase it then.

  8. Jeremy
    October 6, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    This all sounds a bit fishy to me. We have heard several Conference talks on this subject, and countless Ensign articles depicting the lives of those who have either overcome this trial, or have learned to cope. Not once have I heard of this type of “technique” being used or sanctioned by the Church. Instead, the individual is typically asked to counsel with the Bishop, the individual’s authorized “Judge in Israel,” and the person who may receive revelation on behalf of the individual.I have learned through the years that if it is not taught over the pulpit by the GA’s, it is either not Church doctrine, or not important for us today. That said, I would be quite reticent to accept this man’s therapy as something sanctioned by our Heavenly Father.

  9. Tim Malone
    October 6, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Ray,Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I think I over-emphasized the part about evil spirits. That really is a small part of what the people who practice this kind of therapy do. But it just so happened that the most dramatic healing results they described came from those who reported who had been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.I think the individuals who introduced this technique to me were at a disadvantage in that they had no formal training in therapy or family counseling. That’s why I was so amazed to find a professional who taught and used the same technique and has documented it so well. The video on his website is just an introduction. I purchased and reviewed his book, videos and clinical workshop materials. Amazing stuff!

  10. Tim Malone
    October 6, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Jeremy,I’m with you in being very, very careful in this area. I also was very skeptical when my bishop first sent me to this individual for help with our own family problems many years ago. I put it on the shelf for many years until I found a professional therapist who had documented the technique and produced educational materials.I used to think that every form of counseling or therapy had to be sanctioned by the church before I would seriously consider it. I’ve had enough experience in working with Bishops over the years that I know that they struggle to know how to help people who come to them with emotional issues like this. Some bishops are better than others, but almost all will refer to outside therapists.I’m not sure if I agree with your point that if it is not taught over the pulpit by a General Authority that it is either not doctrine or not important. We obviously don’t teach everything we know over the pulpit. There are some things that are both true and doctrinal but that are not considered urgent for our day.

  11. Jay
    October 6, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Show me the peer reviews of Brad May, Ph.D, and his program. Show me the objective clinical studies that support any theory that “evil spirits” cause homosexuality or that it is not at least partly biological (a claim which a growing body of actually scientific evidence refutes). Then I may be willing to consider the possibility of this whole idea as anything more than the latest brand of snake oil. Tim, your posts are usually pretty rational and free of sensationalism. But you haven’t done yourself any favors with this one.

  12. Tim Malone
    October 6, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Jay,Thanks for the good advice. That’s why I threw this out there – to get opinions from good people like you. I appreciate reading your counsel. I’m just glad that so far the dialog hasn’t degraded into the comments that can be found on this essay by someone presenting the idea of a spirit of homosexuality. Mockery can be so cruel. Your comments are very kind and appreciated.

  13. Pallas Athena
    October 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    This is a topic that will probably never go away no matter what science says. It is interesting, however, that media outlets that have been traditionally pro-homosexual are now starting to show concern for the lack of scientific evidence for those who claim gays are “born that way”.Here is an example: http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/09/gay-by-choice.html

  14. A.J.
    October 6, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I know LDS people believe in evil spirits I have no problem with that belief. What I do have a problem with is the belief that evil spirits cause homosexuality.

  15. Tim Malone
    October 7, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Hi again a.j.,Thanks for the follow up. Are you or is anybody aware of anybody else who has ever brought this up in a serious way? Are we aware of any quotes from modern-day prophets or apostles who have suggested that unclean spirits that we read about in the Bible are still around today?Has this been intelligently addressed in any literature within the LDS online community that takes seriously the idea of understanding homosexuality? I’ve had lots of dialog and read lots of things about homosexuality being purely biological. Has nobody else ever seriously considered that it could be caused by the influence of unclean spirits? Just askin…

  16. Steve M.
    October 7, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Well I’m pretty sure this will be in the running for this week’s least politically correct Bloggernacle post.

  17. Tim Malone
    October 7, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Hi Steve M,I’m honored you stopped by. I’ve probably written worse stuff in the past. I knew it was “out there” when I composed it, but the idea has been bugging me for years and I wanted some intelligent feedback from people I respect.I appreciate the advice I have received so far from S. Faux, SilverRain, Papa D and Jay who have basically warned me that the ideas suggested by this individual were not scientific and would not be worth pursuing. I had not considered the importance of peer review for the work of Dr. Brad May, who I thought validated the claims of this other counselor.However, I’m now researching for myself if the idea of same-sex attraction being caused by unclean spirits was ever taught in the LDS Church or if it even espoused by any prominent members in good standing in their community. It’s just something that has bugged me for a long time and I haven’t found anything about it on places like Evergreen, Northern Lights, NorthStar, or any other site that has good material on the subject.If anybody can point me to some good articles that refute the idea of the existence of unclean spirits and the possibility that they might be a cause of homosexuality, I’m looking…

  18. Emerson
    October 7, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Even though I agree that homosexual relations do not correlate with the gospel, dispelling homosexuality as a “choice” just isn’t feasible anymore. Even the latest pamphlet put out by the Church, “God Loveth His Children,” implies that homosexual feelings can be natural to people. Take, for example, these quotes:”While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life.””Same-gender attractions include deep emotional, social, and physical feelings.””In order to qualify for the blessings of our Heavenly Father’s plan, each of us was sent to this earth for a period of probation, during which we face a variety of temptations and challenges. Some of these challenges are associated with our physical bodies. Because we did not possess physical bodies before this life, we must learn to live with their inadequacies and interpret their signals, urges, and needs. And we must often learn to say ‘no.’”Even Elder Oaks is recorded as saying on the LDS Newsroom interview that some people are born with homosexual feelings, even though we can also be born with the power to withstand those temptations even if they never go away.While it is true that there are probably many who “choose” to have same-gender attraction, to assert that it in general is a choice or a bad spirit is naive, hurtful, and goes against the current stance of the Church.

  19. Tim Malone
    October 7, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Hi Emerson,Thanks for the visit and the comment. I don’t think we disagree. I have read the material on the LDS Newsroom about homosexuality many times. I long ago came to accept that same-sex attraction or homosexual urges are a natural part of some people’s lives. It would be foolish for one who doesn’t experience such feelings to assert that one who does, has control over them in any way other than to resist.In other words, he or she does not seem to have any say over if and when such feelings come to them. I am not asserting that the feelings aren’t real. I am simply trying to discover what would cause this family counselor to assert through years of practice that he had discovered an explanation for such feelings.Why would he suggest that evil or unclean spirits were involved unless he had some basis for that opinion? Is it a commonly held belief in Christianity, or even among some in the LDS church? It was obviously implied in the Bible that unclean spirits were real. Have they gone away since the time that the Savior walked the earth and cast them out?I’m just looking for some current interpretations of those scriptures that are listed in the LDS Topical guide under Spirits, Evil and Unclean. I’m not trying to offend anybody or imply that those who are attracted to those of the same sex are any less worthy than any other member. We all have temptations and we all sin. Just because one feels attracted to others of he same sex does not make them a sinner.I hope I’ve made that clear. I’m looking for some intellectual understanding of what would cause a member of the LDS faith to assert that unclean spirits are still hanging around today and that they are active in bugging those who may have a biological disposition to homosexuality to act upon those feelings. If you want to be helpful, point me to some essays or articles that dispel this idea so I can share it with my friend who is the LDS family counselor. Thanks guys.

  20. Jared
    October 7, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Tim,Your a brave soul to write what you feel is important and are fearless of naysayers. Evil spirits are part of the world we leave in. This is a scriptural verity. The Lord doesn’t reveal much about evil spirits but what is revealed leaves room for all sorts of possibilities regarding their manifestations.The Lord has allowed me to witness various manifestations of evil spirits so I have no doubt of their existence so I don’t discount the possibility of what you have written.Thanks for sharing your insights and investigation of this subject.

  21. Steven B
    October 7, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Tim, Under your heading “Unclean spirits cause homosexuality,” you quote from an interview about a “female trapped in a man’s body.” Having studied homosexuality extensively, surely you recognize that scenario as having nothing to do with homosexual orientation, but rather, gender identity disorder (GID). That the two are being confused does not lend credibility to your post nor to the theory underlying your message.But let’s just suppose that evil spirits really do afflict and tempt little children. Now I’m just askin’ here, what would the evil spirits “tempt” these children to do or think? Would such demons tempt little boys to be sensitive? To like show tunes? To dress fabulously? Or little girls to play with toy trucks? Honestly Tim, I don’t think this has been thought out very well. Perhaps you can explain it better.Because the fact is, there are a lot of gay latter-day saints who even as children took their religion seriously, and refrained from entertaining impure thoughts, resisted the urge to act on their feelings, and served the Lord faithfully throughout their lives. Yet they developed no heterosexual attractions.But assuming that such spirits are affecting little boys to be artistic and little girls to become “tom-boys,” what is interesting is that they are randomly afflicting children from all racial, geographical, social, economical and religious demographics. They afflict children of bishops, stake presidents, athiests, Muslims, Christians, both the devout and the unbelieving. And the logical conclusion is that there is nothing parents can do to shield against the wiles of these multitude evil gay-demons. They seem to easily strike, and afflict the unsuspecting child no matter how spiritual or devout the family.And what to do if your boy takes and interest in art or your daughter to softball? Quickly hire an exorcist?I hope this doesn’t sound flippant or sarcastic. These are logical questions that flow from this particular hypothesis. And you asked for honest feedback.

  22. Tim Malone
    October 7, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Hi Steven B,Thanks for coming back to visit my blog again. I always appreciate your comments. Yeah, Nick Literski pointed out in comments on a previous post that I was not correctly identifying GID. This quote is where that originated.And I wouldn’t characterize my studies of homosexuality as being extensive. I have done the majority of my research in the last six months since I started getting so many comments from gay people on my blog. I’m just trying to understand better. Your comments help. Thanks.See, I’m with you. I don’t get it. I fully believe that little children can’t be tempted until they arrive at the age of accountability. So I’m struggling to understand how someone can claim that little children can be born with GID, even though I have read accounts of many who write that they have always felt the way they do – as if they have someone else in their body with them.I don’t know. Your comments illustrate that it’s a pretty ridiculous scenario. I suspect that only one who experiences same-sex attraction can really understand how it works. Perhaps the spirit hangs around until the child gets older but that sounds just as silly to me. So it’s not really GID that the counselor was describing, but perhaps some sort of multiple personality disorder.I’m going to go with the counsel from my friend S.Faux to leave this sort of thing to those who are trained and qualified to diagnose and deal with it. I’m not sure what I would say if I were a bishop and a young man came to me asking for help in dealing with his feelings of same-sex attraction. I’m only beginning to realize how difficult it must be for our gay members to deal with this difficult issue.I think I’ll just leave it with the basic teaching of the church that sin is prompted by enticement from an unseen source. I like what Ray (Papa D) said that he is more comfortable with a symbolic use of the term evil spirits. Being a computer technician I tend to make everything binary – on or off, black or white – good or evil. I wonder if it’s just not as simple as my family counselor friend seemed to think it was.I had to laugh at your comment about hiring an exorcist to take care of behavior that is perceived to be normally associated with one of the opposite gender. I was raised with four sisters and my wife was raised with four brothers. She likes sports and I have never had any interest in it. I just never developed any desire in that area. I suppose that’s how some men feel who never develop a desire or attraction for women. That’s perceived as very different from the norm, isn’t it?Thanks again for the feedback Steven. I appreciate you taking the time to read and share.

  23. Dan and Wendy
    October 7, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Tim,Interesting post. I have a friend who has never had an alcoholic drink in her life, because she is certain that she’s an alcoholic…Her premise is based on the fact that both of her parents were drunks, and mean drunks to boot. So she doesn’t drink. Is she genetically pre-disposed to drink? (change the scenario and use same gender attraction if you like)In the 12th chapter of Ether we read how the Lord gives men weakness so we can be humble. If we are humble then His grace is sufficient.I know that I have my strengths and weaknesses. Who’s to say that an inclination towards same gender attraction isn’t given at birth. The point is, that just like I have to learn to control my weaknesses, so too does the person that might have homosexual tendencies.Your thoughts?

  24. Tim Malone
    October 7, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Dan,Thanks for your comments. Yeah, I think I have pretty much rejected the argument of this friend who saw it as a black and white issue and claimed that same-sex attraction could be attributed to unclean spirits. I got some great feedback from from A.J., Steve M, Emersen and especially Steven B. They really caused me to see it in a different light than my friend had proposed.I especially struggled with his theory because of what I believe about children not being able to sin before the age of accountability. In fact, I seem to recall a scripture that says specifically that the adversary has no power to tempt little children. You point about natural tendencies supports the comments from Ray and S.Faux about the body inheriting biological tendencies.So to all who took the time to write and set me straight – I thank you. I have been educated. I knew there was a reason why I withheld judgment on the theory the first time I heard it.Steve M – I don’t want that award for the most politically incorrect essay on the Blogernacle this week. I hope future readers of this post don’t find it offensive.

  25. Doug Towers
    October 8, 2008 at 4:50 am

    When young I remember having strong feelings of love toward my best male friend. But romance went toward females because that was what I was taught was right.A person can completely remove any physical desires they have toward any gender, once they realise that the flesh profiteth nothing. You can make a relationship entirely spiritual (and still have sex for the purpose of producing children). Therefore homosexual interest can be removed: It can’t be something someone is born with and must suffer. Can you really believe that God would do such a thing to someone?

  26. Tim Malone
    October 8, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Hi Doug,Thanks for the visit and the comment. I have enjoyed visiting your blog and getting to know your views over the months since the last time you commented here. You have some very interesting and enjoyable essays on your site, some of them very deep doctrines. Thanks for sharing them.Six months ago I felt the same as you and stated it many times in many places. I grew up in the days of President Kimball and Boyd K. Packer, two very staunch and outspoken proponents of the view you just expressed. Not having ever experienced any feelings of SSA, I simply could not believe that God could have allowed anyone to have such feelings as part of their biological makeup.I even wrote an essay in the most forceful terms I could craft, in an effort to emphasize that point of view. I used materials from several general authorities and several therapists who taught specifically what you expressed – that God could not possibly have allowed someone to be born with feelings of attraction to a member of the same sex.I feel otherwise now. I have read too many accounts of individuals, good LDS men and women, who have shared their stories and made it clear that they always felt the way they did. They report that it was not something that they picked up later in life, although the realization and recognition of the feelings usually came at a later age, typically at puberty.They struggled with it and fought against it, prayed about it, talked to Bishops about it, studied everything they could find about it and suffered in silence because they felt different, ostracized, and rejected by a church that they loved and felt to be the kingdom of God on the earth. Some are single, some are married. Many come from good LDS families, children of Stake Presidents and Bishops, and yes, even some General Authorities.What I discovered in my studies is that this is not a new phenomenon, although it seems to have come to the forefront of the attention of the church in recent years and especially in recent months. I suspect that the Church’s stance on Proposition 8 has actually done more good for people trying to understand what makes a gay person tick. I have discovered many good resources, some endorsed by the church, that have helped me in my journey to understand the people who left comments on my blog.In particular, I recommend you visit Evergreen International and view the materials there. My good friend Larry Richman is the CEO and Chairman. Although we have never met, I can call Larry my good friend because he said he was. I also recommend the links found in the article I referenced in the third paragraph.After you read the material there, with prayer and much study, as I have over the last six months, then you write back and tell me what you have discovered. Unless we are getting answers from a different source, I think you will conclude, as I have, that there are absolutely people in this world who were born with some sort of same-sex attraction. I cannot explain it, but I know it is real.Put yourself in their shoes. What a dilemma. Many simply do not feel an attraction for members of the opposite sex. Some got married, as they were counseled to do many years ago, in an attempt to change or control their desires. Many went through gender affirmative therapy. For some it helped, for some it didn’t. Some turned against the efforts of the church to help them and turned to the homosexual lifestyle. But many remain true and faithful, contributing to a society that largely does not understand them.I’ll get off my soapbox now. I would be happy to read any material you can provide in an effort to persuade me to change my viewpoint back to what it was. I think the material on the church website in the newsroom has some of the best discussion that has helped me, since it came from an apostle, Elder Oaks. I think what Elder Holland has written in recent Ensign articles is also very helpful. I reference many of these articles in previous essays.So Doug, please don’t take this personal as it is not directed at you. Your question just helped me solidify the change in my position which I have been considering for a long, long time. Note that I have not changed my position on homosexual behavior – I still consider that a sin and will until a prophet tells me otherwise. Thanks for the asking the question.

  27. Doug Towers
    October 10, 2008 at 4:55 am

    TimThanks for your indepth response. I will look at the sources you mention, as I must confess some ignorance in regard the subject on the level you have obviously studied it to.Yet amidst this I must also maintain that physical attraction need not be an issue, if it is kept as a spiritual concept. Genesis states that the lusts of the flesh and the perceptions the spirit feels by view AREN’T a sentence, but a distortion.I probably feel some sexual attraction toward a female (sex-appeal) about every 18 months (which I then cut off – knowing this leads to lust if held onto). This I have done by re-creating myself to ignore the physical and seek the spiritual. I deliberately allow myself to have some vague feeling by facial attraction. My main area of feelings are looking into people and feeling their spirit.Knowing that God has directed males to marry females, I look for a female that has that special spirit that I’m looking for. I know that if I can do such by the help of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, anyone can.For this reason I know that homosexuality isn’t a sentence. These tendancies that they are experiencing can be overcome by the same faith I needed to exercise to acheive this.

  28. ldsphilosopher
    October 10, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Tim,If you haven’t already, I would carefully read this wonderful article by Jeffrey Robinson:http://www.theguardrail.com/transcript.htmHe explains why it is problematic, even silly, to claim that the direction of sexual attractions is biologically based. You may be interested.In essence, when I am thirsty, I feel a dryness in my mouth and throat. If I am in the habit of drinking orange juice, I will interpret this sensation as a craving for orange juice. If I am in the habit of drinking milk, I will interpret it as a craving for milk. However, the sensation itself carries no object; nothing about my biology is craving milk or orange juice, but rather the objects of my craving are superimposed as interpretations of the biological sensation. Robinson makes a similar claim about sexual arousal.This is not to say that it is a conscious choice; rather, those struggling with the problem may experience the problem as being beyond their control, just as it may seem beyond your control for me to say “Rudolph, the red-nosed…” and for you not to think the word reindeer. Try as hard as you can not to think it, and the word will still pop into your mind. That is because it is a habit of thought, and habits are hard to break (and impossible to forget… he says that it would be as impossible for him to help someone to never be able to think a homosexual thought again as it would be for him to help someone forget how to ride a bike). These things present the illusion of hopelessness or biological determinism.Robinson also presents a compelling case as to how young men, through no fault of their own, may develop the habits of thought that lead to this challenge. You may be interested in reading his rationale. Also, by claiming that the same-gender attraction is an interpretation superimposed on an otherwise direction-neutral sexual arousal in nowise puts the blame on the person involved; any more than I am responsible for my opposite gender attraction (even though it, too, is an interpretation of my otherwise neutral sexual arousals). But it does take the emphasis away from biology, and presents the possibility for genuine change.In other words, these people didn’t choose to have homosexual attractions, but that doesn’t mean it is biology.Let me know what you think of Robinson’s article!

  29. Kalvin
    October 26, 2008 at 10:14 am

    How stupid are you!?!? SERIOUSLY!? You’ve read too much McKonkie and think that all psychiatrists are the sons of devils. SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY? You know, people like you actually led to my father A PSYCHIATRIST having a lot of difficulty with the church. I love how you only think your friend is wrong when you realize “Oh, kids can’t sin.” Come on, what a load of crap.

  30. Tim Malone
    October 27, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Wow Kalvin,Where did that come from? I can’t imagine how you jumped to the conclusion that I implied that psychiatrists are sons of devils. I’m sure you know as well as I do that LDS Social Services employs a number of psychiatrists, family counselors and psychologists.And what does your father have to do with this dialog? I did not write anything about psychiatrists in my essay. Nor did I mention Elder Bruce R. McConkie. I’m sorry your father had difficulties with the church.Of course we know that little children can’t be tempted by the adversary. I’ve been trying through my essays to understand why some people claim that they have always felt that they are homosexuals,some even from early childhood.I suspect you might have some intelligent dialog to add to this discussion if you are interested in sharing. Thanks for reading.

  31. KingOfTexas
    October 31, 2008 at 2:55 am

    So Kalvin, is your father gay? Have you ever talked to him about why he went to the psychiatrists? Maybe you could help him.

  32. Laurel
    December 8, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I have some of my own theories about this topic, as I have friends and relatives who have chosen to live this lifestyle. And yes, I call it a choice. Explanation to follow (and please, read it through first and think about it scientifically before jumping to conclusions):There are many people in this world who are obese. There are many who are addicted to varieties of things, including drugs, sex, smoking, playing video games, etc. because of a chemical make up in their brains. There are many people who suffer from mental illnesses such as bi-polar, depression, schizophrenia, etc. There are many individuals throughout the world who have struggles that so many others of us do not understand.They are born this way, through some form or another. And they must deal with these things as best they can. They are born with these chemical and physical make ups that genetically were somehow chosen for them through a series of recessive genes or mutations through the ages or through drug alterations or what have you (‘Survival of the Fittest’ does NOT apply to the human race! Not after we’ve messed with it medically and scientifically for so long!)But that does not mean that all these individuals don’t still have a ‘choice’ …There are some who are outwardly obvious about their tendencies, for the whole world to see. There are also people who can live their entire lives with something that would be considered limiting or ‘abnormal’, and no one would have ever guessed.Why can’t homosexuality fall into this category? What if the tendency to be attracted to the same sex could be classified in a similar way as the tendency to be an alcoholic or chain smoker or someone with ADHD or the like? With an alcoholic, they are counseled to stay away from situations that contain alcohol, perhaps going to therapy, etc., in order to keep those urges under control, to not let them get ‘out of hand’. And we all understand and accept this is what is ‘necessary’ for these people to be a part of society, because alcohol kills and tortures those with whom it contacts, right?Same (in it’s way) with obese people, who may have to go as extreme as having gastric bypass surgery to help them control their urges to over indulge, or just if they are ‘naturally’ large. Those who suffer from bi-polar, depression, etc., usually take some kind of medication, hopefully paired with counseling and therapy in order to ‘fit’ into society and love themselves and feel loved and ‘normal’ again …And families and friends of people who suffer from any of these things usually also benefit from counseling and therapy, so that they can learn about and understand what their loved one is going through.What if God didn’t necessarily ‘make’ someone gay, but through humanity’s choices (whatever details might fall into that category), since we are given the gift of agency AND all the consequences that go with it–be it medical, social, political, etc.–there are people who are born with a tendency to be attracted to the same sex?Now remember I said this was a ‘choice’ … There are plenty of people in the world who have chosen never to touch alcohol, or to cut sugar out of their diet, or to stay away from things that would cause their lives ‘sorrow’ or ‘pain’, to keep themselves from developing lung cancer, or whatever area they choose due to personal difficulty. Many also have chosen a life of celibacy, be they homo- or even hetero- sexual beings. Maybe gay people never act at all on their urges, or they’ve chosen to marry someone of the opposite sex and have a family anyway (I know many of these). Life is always a choice.Just as it would be ‘wrong’ to allow someone who is an alcoholic to run a muck and drink and binge and destroy their own lives (let alone the others they affect), just as it would be with a drug addict or pedophile, or rapist or anyone with any tendency that would go far outside ‘the norm’ (not that we don’t all have a productive place in this world), we have been told throughout history that being an active homosexual is not conducive towards furthering a ‘successful’ society.There is nothing wrong, therefore, with ‘being’ a homosexual, even claiming you were ‘born’ that way. My claim is that acting on it in a blatantly outward manner does not move our society forward in a positive way (besides all the arguments that God has said gays are an abomination, ‘if everyone were gay our species would die out in a generation’, it’s too confusing for children to process, it’s a sin, it’s weird, it’s disgusting, and everything else we’ve all heard all our lives).Does this make sense? Could it be valid?

  33. Tim Malone
    December 8, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Laurel,Not only does it make sense but it’s one of the best comments I’ve read on this long-running dialog. It is a very valid viewpoint. Thanks for sharing it and explaining it so well.So what you’re saying is that even though we can agree that some are born with a predisposition to same-sex attraction, there is always a choice involved to act or not act upon those dispositions. Is that a correct summary of your comment?In other words, one can be born that way and yet still have a choice. That seems like what I’ve been reading in the materials produced by the church all along.And yet, there are so many who dialog about this on the LDS group blogs who contend that they are powerless to not act upon their predispositions and therefore it is not a sin to not abstain from practicing homosexual behavior.I struggle with knowing how to answer them. They continue to seek for acceptance of their behavior and lifestyle as normal and worthy of emulation. In fact, some are militant in their efforts to force us to proclaim their choice as equal to ours – and no judging otherwise is allowed.I think nobody wants to hear that their choices are wrong. They contend that their choices are right for them and we need to honor that. Not only that, but we need to allow them to recruit others to their point of view that such choices are commendable.There are some in our online LDS communities who spend every day defending and promoting their lifestyle choice. They are most vocal and everyone goes out their way to accommodate them and not offend them in the dialog.For me, it makes it difficult to participate in the online dialog of our LDS group blogs for fear of inadvertently offending one of these openly gay individuals who advocates greater acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.Any suggestions?

  34. Laurel
    December 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I want to remind anyone reading that my writings are my opinions of course, based on decades of religious research, scientific research, as well as communications with straight and gay friends and family since childhood. I strive to understand like so many do. This is just where my studies have led me thus far!Basically, yes, I’m saying whether a person is ‘born’ with this ‘disposition’ or any other, it is always their choice how to deal with it. They are not powerless. None of us are. I’ve had a lot of knee-jerk responses to my hypothesis, including, “We’re not murderers or addicts, not hurting anyone else by what we do,” or, “Why are you comparing me to an alcoholic or someone fat? This isn’t the same thing! You’re so closed minded!” or, “Why would I have to conform to ‘your’ idea of normal in order to be accepted by you?” They didn’t finish ‘reading to the end’ … Thank you for doing so.One of my favorites is, “We just want to have a ‘normal’ life like everyone else.” If that’s the case, obviously the definition of ‘normal’ is so subjective it includes rationalizing and interpreting what has been said over the ages, turning words inside out in order to get whatever they think they want, which (as you agree) is rationalization for what they are doing, and yes, striving for ‘acceptance’, even ‘honor’ and ‘emulation’ for something they KNOW is wrong.My father was an amazing man. He also knew the Gospel inside and out and was not afraid to share what he knew with anyone. AND he was not afraid to call someone on their excuses for not doing what they knew to be right.He taught me that when we felt the Spirit testifying to us about something, it was not that we were learning it for the first time. We were simply being reminded of what we already knew. I love that. Everything which is right and ‘of God’ and brings us joy, every aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we’ve already known from the beginning. ‘Gaining’ a testimony of it is really not the right word, since we’re just being reminded of the intelligence we’ve always had, since the beginning of time. Maybe ‘admitting to’ or ‘accepting’ our testimonies is more accurate?People who choose to ‘stray’, whether it be to smoke, swear, cheat, lie, act on urges that can hurt others in any way, etc., strive to justify what they do … For us to be ‘afraid’ to call them on that is not what we agreed to in coming to earth. However hard it might be, we’re told that we’re all on this earth together, for a specific reason: We’re all family. We are meant to help each other.We know that Satan works constantly to justify sin, to the point of ‘calling evil good and good evil, darkness light and lightness dark’ (“You’re SO close minded!") … With so many things barraging us on a DAILY basis to rationalize so many things around us, it's more important than ever to keep to what we've 'always' known, regardless of whom we might offend.(Course whom would we want to keep from offending the most?) D&C 59:21–22 "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments."I'm glad to hear that my hypothesis corresponds with the position of the Church. I liked the way you put that as people who, "seek for acceptance of their behavior and lifestyle … force us to proclaim their choice as equal to ours – and no judging otherwise is allowed."To me, that sounds an awful lot like Satan's plan where we're not allowed to choose, that we're to be told what to do, what to accept, and that we have no say in the matter.It's true we all have agency. And it's true that no one wants to be 'wrong'. They definitely don't like being told they’re wrong! I know I don’t. That’s just human nature.But if the concept of humility plays into it, if someone is ‘wrong’, and they’re willing to stop and think and re-evaluate, maybe causing different choices be made, wouldn’t that bring about a positive end? If we really are all ‘family’, and God is really our Heavenly Father, wouldn’t it be great if we could return to Him someday, knowing we each did our best?

  35. Tony
    February 22, 2009 at 6:36 am

    The way I see it is, this time on earth is a time of mortal probation, where we suffer temptations and are tested, and as a Book of Mormon prophet once said, we do not know the meaning of all things. Could it be that homosexuality was a result of the fall, or that those who claim to be same-sex attracted were born with such as a test to see if they would overcome it? Perhaps in the next life it will not afflict them. What about temple marriage? Should they do it, knowing that they have inclinations towards others of the same gender?We may never know in this life, but I do know one thing. God does love all His children, whether they be gay, straight, black, deaf, dumb, or what have you. How grateful I am for that knowledge!

  36. Tony
    February 22, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Also, I believe steven B brings up some great points. I must say, this has to be one of the most civil discussions on this topic I have ever come across. Kudos!

  37. Laurel
    February 23, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I think Tony brings up a very valid point when he says, “What about temple marriage? Should they do it, knowing that they have inclinations towards others of the same gender?” This is a VERY tough part of this issue. I have a friend who is currently (they meet with the judge this Tuesday) going through a very acrimonious divorce. They married 11 years ago, had 3 children, and 4 years ago, he came out and said he was tired of living a lie. He said he was gay, that he had been his whole life, and even after meeting with Church leaders and going through therapy and serving an LDS mission and marrying in the temple and trying very hard to do the right thing all his life, that the stresses of doing so were too much. Unfortunately he had never told anyone–let alone his wife–about his desires, and so she found out by being suggested to have AIDS testing done on both her and their new baby, due to the hundreds (I wish I were exaggerating) of partners he had been with over the previous couple years as he was ‘finding himself’ … He had been counseled by some past bishop never to tell his wife to be about his urges. He was told it would all work out, that once he got married and started having intercourse, those feelings would finally go away … Both have said if he could have been honest up front about this issue, she could have chosen whether to go through with the marriage or not, or at least known what she was getting into. He could also have been honest with himself. Now? They both consider their whole marriage a sham, neither trusting the other, etc. I won’t bore anyone with the horrible details. Messy. Just plain messy.I know another couple where she knows he is gay. They also have three children together. He’s a marriage counselor and commissioned an officer in the US Army. They recently moved to the North West for his post, but while we were in the same ward I will tell you he was the EQ President, and quite great at it. His first counselor got a little creeped out when he found out the president had a slight ‘crush’ on him, but this guy didn’t ever act on his urges, the couple went to the temple often, and they lived their lives. And plenty of people knew of his tendencies.I think, if you ‘suffer’ (sorry, can’t think of a more appropriate word) with this tendency, at least be honest with yourself–and the others in your life. But it’s tricky, because there will be a lot of ‘what ifs’ that may go along with this honesty due to stereotypes and other stigma. Be thoughtful about whom you’d choose to tell. Be prayerful about how to go about it.But definitely keep your integrity!! I think this makes more difference than almost anything else!

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