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Bruce Hafen's Talk at Evergreen Conference


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This weekend is the Evergreen Conference being held in Salt Lake City. For those that aren't familiar with Evergreen, here's how their website describes itself:

Yesterday, a member of the LDS church's First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Bruce Hafen, spoke. From www.newsroom.lds.org:

Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction

19 September 2009 The following address was given by Elder Bruce C. Hafen at the Evergreen International annual conference:

During a recent stake conference in Europe, I asked the stake president if Sister Hafen and I might visit one or two of his members who could use a little encouragement. As we visited one young man, a single returned missionary, we found that he cared deeply about the Church but was also very troubled. When we asked how he was doing, he began to cry and said, with a look of real anguish, ?I suffer from same-gender attraction.? My heart went out to him. The longer we talked, the more compassion I felt, as I learned that the operative word for him really was ?suffer.?

He said he?d heard of an organization called Evergreen and he wondered if I thought they could assist him. I encouraged him to find their website, contact them, and follow their counsel. He then asked for a blessing, which I gladly gave him.

I admire your courage and your righteous desires. You may not have consciously chosen to have same gender attraction, but you are faithfully choosing to deal with it. Sometimes that attraction may make you feel sinful, even though the attraction alone is not a sin if you do not act on it. Sometimes you may feel frustration or anger or simply a deep sadness about yourself. But as hard as same-gender attraction is, your feeling it does not mean that your nature is flawed. Whenever the Adversary tries to convince you that you are hopelessly ?that way,? so that acting out your feelings is inevitable, he is lying. He is the Father of Lies.

Remember President Hinckley?s confidence in you: ?Our hearts reach out to [you]. We remember you before the Lord, we sympathize with you, we regard you as our brothers and sisters.? And President Packer has echoed, ?We do not reject you? We cannot reject you? We will not reject you, because we love you.? [ii] With that kind of leadership, I pray that all Church members are learning to be more compassionate and understanding.

Some may wonder how the Church?s leaders can empathize with you when they haven?t been in your shoes themselves. Some may even wonder how the Savior himself can really understand you when he hasn?t been where you are. But remember: Christ not only descended TO our conditions, he has descended BELOW our conditions, whatever they are, because ?The Son of Man hath descended below [all things].? [iii] The Atonement was possible only because of that descent, which Elder Neal A. Maxwell called Christ?s ?earned empathy.? He knows that every day may feel like a major battle for you.

Many other people also live heroically with uninvited daily struggles. The victims of childhood sexual abuse also live with agonizing daily battles that may echo the experiences of some who cope with same-gender attraction. A young woman I know has spent years trying to put her spiritual and emotional life back together, trying to regain her trust in men--and in God. She was devastated when a Church leader to whom she went for counsel told her, ?Oh, get over it and get on with your life.? He simply didn?t grasp her condition. Another more seasoned priesthood leader said that many abuse victims are like emotional quadriplegics?yet they look so normal that other people may have no idea what they deal with. She went through an arduous recovery process, stretching her soul in faith almost to the breaking point; but she has developed a remarkable spiritual maturity.

Elder Maxwell once taught a group of people who lived with really hard daily challenges. He had been watching the Olympic diving competition, where he had learned that the judges grade a dive not just by how graceful it looks to the public, but by how difficult the dive is?which only the judges can understand enough to measure. Elder Maxwell told this group that the Lord will judge their lives by the difficulty of their dive, which He understands in every detail. And your own difficult dives are being made much harder by the increasing cultural confusion that now swirls around the topic of homosexuality.

Before discussing that confusion, I first want to draw on a few doctrines that apply to your concerns. The doctrinal foundation is in the nature of God and how he feels about you. He is the greatest being in the Universe, and He knows and loves you. He wants you to find joy. His power is greater than all the powers of darkness combined.

You are literally God?s spirit child. Having same-gender attraction is NOT in your DNA, but being a child of God clearly IS in your spiritual DNA?only one generation removed from Him whom we call Father in Heaven. As the Family Proclamation states, ?Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.? As part of an eternal plan, our Father placed us in this world subject to death, sin, sorrow, and misery ? ALL of which serve the eternal purpose of letting us taste the bitter that we may learn to prize the sweet.

If you are faithful, on resurrection morning?and maybe even before then--you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex. Some of you may wonder if that doctrine is too good to be true. But Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said it MUST be true, because ?there is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband and wife, and posterity.? And ?men (and women) are that they might have joy.? [v]

It?s true that the law of chastity forbids all sexual relations outside the bonds of a married heterosexual relationship. And while same-gender attraction is not a sin, you need to resist cultivating immoral, lustful thoughts toward those of either gender. It?s no sin if a bird lands in your tree, just don?t let him build a nest there. The Adversary will tempt you by constantly ?enticing? you to ?do that which is evil,? because ?there is an opposition in all things.? (2 Nephi 2:11) But God will also constantly ?entice? you ?to do good continually.? (Mor. 7:12-13) No temptation is so strong that you can?t resist it, unless you have already given away some portion of your agency to a total addiction. So will you choose to ?yield? to temptation, or will you ?yield to the enticing of the Holy Spirit?? (Mosiah 3:19) It?s up to you.

There?s an old Native American parable, a young brave is brought before the tribal elders, who are concerned about his aggressive tendencies. One of the tribal elders is assigned to teach this young man that his anger is understandable, but he needs help. So he tells the young brave all humans have within them two dogs. One dog is good and peaceable. The other dog is angry and evil. The two dogs are in a constant battle with one another, since neither is powerful enough to destroy the other. The young brave asks, ?If they are of equal power, which dog will win?? The elder replies, ?The dog you feed the most.?

You feed the angry dog when you cultivate lustful feelings, view pornography, label yourself as gay, or associate with activists who aggressively promote gay lifestyles. Those activists have an agenda, and it includes constantly feeding your angry dog.

You feed the peaceful dog when you seek the Lord?s Spirit. You feed the peaceful dog when you simply stop fighting the angry dog. Don?t let your challenge define your entire identity. As Dr. Jeff Robinson said, [vii] you can?t hate your way out of your attraction. Just walk away from fighting the angry dog and focus on all the good things you may have put on hold your education, career plans, social experience, and Church service. Stop focusing so much on yourself, including hating yourself, and spend more energy caring about other people. Build good associations with people of your gender. Find a therapist who can help you identify the unmet emotional needs that you are tempted to satisfy in false sexual ways. As you do such things, the peaceful dog will grow stronger than the miserable, angry dog.

Now how does our most central doctrine, the Atonement, apply to same-gender attraction? If you have engaged in immoral behavior, you need to repent fully by confessing your sins and forsaking them. These actions unlock the door to the Savior?s mercy, which allows your complete forgiveness. But if you feel an attraction you didn?t seek and haven?t acted on, you have nothing to repent of. You have nothing to repent of. So how can you qualify for the Atonement?s power?

The Atonement means just what the word says: at-one-ment. Its purpose is to make us ?at one? with God, or bring us into harmony with Him, after being separated from him by death, by sin, or any other force. In that sense, the atonement can heal us not only from sin, but also from carelessness, imperfection, and all mortal bitterness?intended and unintended. Even though same-gender attraction is by itself not a sin, its presence can make us feel estranged from God. That sense of separation arises from our knowing that this attraction runs counter to our eternal nature as a son or daughter of god. These feelings can terribly damage a conscientious person?s sense of both worth and worthiness in God?s sight.

The blessings of the Atonement include its healing and compensating power when one has been separated from God by sin, by unintentional mistakes, or simply by adversity. I classify same-gender attraction within the category of ?adversity,? because typically you haven?t brought it upon yourselves. It has consequences similar to being harmed by the sins of others, such as the separation from God felt so commonly by the victims of childhood sexual abuse.

The Savior described this part of His healing power to the Nephites: ?Will ye not return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted that I may heal you?? Consider also Alma?s description of Christ?s broad healing power, which includes ?afflictions,? ?infirmities,? and ?sicknesses,? in addition to death and sin: ?And he shall go forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy.? [viii]

The Atonement?s healing blessings are conditional, just as receiving the mercy that allows forgiveness is conditioned on our repentance. The conditions we must satisfy include repenting fully of any actual sins in our lives. Beyond that, Nephi teaches us this about the other conditions we must satisfy: ?t is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.? (2 Nephi 25:23) In other words, we must do ?all we can do? within our own power, then his grace overcomes our separation from God as it heals us.

How much is ?all we can do? for one who suffers same-gender attraction? I don?t know. But I do know that ?all we can do? is less than many of you think it is, because some of you are so conscientious that you think you have to do it all. Don?t beat yourselves up needlessly. You don?t have to do it all. Grace shall be ?as your day??whatever your particular dive requires.

To those challenged by same-gender attraction, the Atonement offers two healing blessings. First, Christ helps us draw on His strength to become more at-one with God even while still overcoming the attraction. He helps us bear the burden of our afflictions. In Alma?s words, when our testimony of the Atonement grows within us like the tree of life, ?then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son.? (Alma 33:23) For example, when the king cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into that fiery furnace, their faith in the Lord?s power saved them from being burned. Remember the story. As the astonished king looked into the furnace, he saw not just the three men but ?four men walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.? (Daniel 3:25) The Savior?s presence in that fire symbolizes the way he is truly ?with us? in our afflictions, not just passively observing us or waiting until our trial is completed. Think of that next time you partake of the sacrament. He will be with you.

As a second healing blessing, the Atonement enables the grace that assures us of this grand promise: No eternal blessing?including marriage and family life--will be withheld from those who suffer same-gender attraction, if they do ?all they can do? to remain faithful always. That story from the Book of Daniel applies to this blessing as well. You will remember that when the three men refused to worship the Babylonian idol, they weren?t afraid of being thrown into the fiery furnace. They said ?Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us. But if not, we [still] will not worship the golden image.? (Daniel 3:17-18)

Applied to you, what does ?but if not? mean? It means that your faith in God must run so deep that, first, you know he has the power to remove your unwanted same-gender attraction??he is able to deliver us from the furnace.? But, second, if he doesn?t deliver you right now (?but if not?), for whatever reason, you will not give up on Him or on yourself. There truly is light at the end of your tunnel, no matter how long it is. That light is the Light and the Life of the world.

Now let?s discuss how today?s cultural and legal climate is making your challenge much harder than it would otherwise be. First a little historical background. I began teaching family law in the early 1970s, during the U.S. civil rights movements that sought for much-needed racial and gender equality. During that peroid, almost no one considered people with homosexual attraction as a distinctive demographic group (like race or gender) who were the victims of discrimination. The main legal goal of gay activists then was to eliminate criminal penalties against homosexual acts, as a first step toward their goal of greater public acceptance.

Even though criminal laws against homosexual acts were seldom enforced, the Supreme Court considered those laws constitutional as recently as 2003. In the early 1970?s, the public and most lawyers, doctors, and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder. As recently as 1982, the mayor of San Francisco vetoed a proposal to grant spousal-type benefits to both straight and gay unmarried couples. An editorial in a major San Francisco newspaper agreed with the mayor, saying: ?The notion that an unmarried relationship is the equivalent of marriage is an attack upon social norms, the destruction of which concerns a great many people in the nation and?in San Francisco.? [xi] Sounds pretty long ago now, doesn?t it? No country anywhere in the world recognized gay marriage until 2001. Since then, however, a few countries and six U.S. states now recognize same-gender marriages.

So what's been going on during the last few years to cause the cultural earthquake we?re now feeling on this subject? We have witnessed primarily an aggressive political movement more than we?ve witnessed substantive change in the medical or legal evidence. In 1973, in response to increasing disruptions and protests by gay activists, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations removed homosexuality from their official lists of disorders. Significantly, they took this action by simply putting the issue to an open vote in their professional meetings--not because of any change in actual medical findings. As LDS psychologist Dean Byrd writes, ?This was the first time in the history of healthcare that a diagnosis was decided by popular vote rather than scientific evidence.? [xii]

The activists have used similar methods in the years since then, trying to prove that they are a legitimate demographic category with fixed and unchangeable characteristics. They must present themselves in this way in order to justify their demand for the same legal protections now given to race and gender. That is a crucial point in understanding both the agenda and the tactics of intimidation used by today?s activists. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, in recent years ?we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of [the homosexual] lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree with them as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like ?homophobic.?? This is more than a social issue?ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach.? [xiii]

Consider now four misconceptions the activists seek to establish as facts in the minds of policymakers and the public. I do this here because these misconceptions, if believed, will seriously undermine the efforts of Latter-day Saints or others who desire to overcome their own same-gender attraction. First is the misconception that same-gender attraction is an inborn and unalterable orientation. This untrue assumption tries to persuade you to label yourselves and build your entire identity around a fixed sexual orientation or condition. How would that affect you? As President James E. Faust wrote, ?The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair.? [xiv]

However, the activists have almost convinced the American public about this point. A reliable 2009 poll asked U.S. adults what causes people to be gay or lesbian. In the two most common responses, 42% of this public sample said gay or lesbian people are born that way, and 36% said they choose to be that way. [xv] Both of those responses are factually wrong.

So much individual variation exists with so many possible explanations that there is simply no scientific consensus about what causes homosexual tendencies. As the American Psychological Association has stated, ?[N]o findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any factor or set of factors? [N]ature and nurture both play complex roles.? [xvi] So, even though natural personality traits do influence one?s inclinations, the idea that there is a ?gay gene? has little scientific support. As two Columbia University researchers put it, ?the assertion that homosexuality is genetic . . . must be dismissed out of hand as a general principle of psychology.? [xvii]

Now we do know that inherited susceptibilities, childhood experiences, and agency all influence a given person?s development. And even though no universal explanation exists, some patterns do fit many same-gender attraction cases. For example, we know from the research that among women up to 80% who have same-gender attraction were abused in some way as children. [xviii] Among men, especially during the years just before and during puberty, as President Boyd K. Packer has said, ?What would have only been a more or less normal passing phase in establishing [your] gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.? [xix]

In other words, before puberty, boys are typically more interested in other boys than in girls. Then their interest gradually shifts to girls, but a few boys don?t make this transition. Often these boys are emotionally sensitive, introspective, and, especially among Church members, perfectionistic. When puberty hits this group, they can be sexually aroused by many factors. When those factors include other boys, they can become fixated on the fear that they are ?gay,? especially if they have male sexual experiences, including male pornography. Then their fixation can block their normal emotional-sexual development. Adult men who have had such childhood experiences can often resume their normal development by identifying and addressing the sources of their emotional blockage, which usually includes restoring healthy, appropriate male relationships. [xx]

A second misconception the activists promote is that therapy cannot treat, let alone change, same-gender attraction. This false assumption is linked to the first one: if you?re born gay, there is no need to change; and since you have a permanent condition, you can?t change anyway. Evidence that people have indeed changed threatens the political agenda of the activists, because actual change disproves their claim that homosexuality is a fixed condition that deserves the same legal protections as those fixed conditions like race and gender. So they don?t want you, or anyone else, to change, or even to believe that change is possible.

But as President Packer said, ?The angels of the devil convince some that they are born to a life from which they cannot change and are compelled to live in sin. The most wicked of lies is that they cannot change and repent and that they will not be forgiven.? [xxii] If you believe that no change is possible, you have only two options, neither of which is acceptable to a believing Latter-day Saint?you must either give in or give up. Thankfully, you have other options.

Nonetheless, the American Psychiatric Association has considered making it unethical for a therapist to treat someone with same-gender attraction who desires to change. But in the year 2000, when such a proposal was pending before that organization, they were met with a very different form of activism than what they had seen earlier. Busloads of formerly gay men appeared at their national meeting, claiming their right to choose therapy for their unwanted attraction. In an ironic twist of history, the APA representative who met with them, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, just happened to be the same man who had met with the gay activists nearly thirty years earlier, when the APA voted to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders.

Dr. Spitzer listened again, and he decided to study two hundred people who had changed to a heterosexual orientation that had lasted more than five years. Dr. Spitzer published his research findings, despite the objections of activists who thought his work threatened their political agenda. He concluded, ?Like most psychiatrists, I thought that . . . sexual orientation could not be changed. I now believe that is untrue?some people can and do change.? [xxiii]

Just last month the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that there is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed. But in what the Wall Street Journal called ?a striking departure? from that Association?s earlier hesitation about encouraging such therapy, the same resolution also stated that ?it is ethical?and can be beneficial?for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions,? especially clients with a strong religious identity. [xxiv]

Now, to be sure, not everybody who seeks treatment succeeds. We have got to be realistic and honest about that. Not every experience with therapy is completely positive. That is why responsible therapists can?t promise particular outcomes. And, the Church does not endorse specific methods of treatment. Success rates vary, and ?success? can be defined in various ways. The client?s level of commitment to the treatment process is probably the most significant variable in successful outcomes. [xxv] The skill and attitude of the therapist also matters a great deal. But in general, well over half of those seeking treatment can be significantly helped by it. That is roughly the same success rate as treatments for clinical depression. One non-LDS therapist who has treated both men and women for many years reports that 40% of his clients find full heterosexual resolution, another 40% achieve enough resolution to control their attraction and behavior, and 20% are unsuccessful. [xxvi]

The third misconception is that most Americans favor same-gender marriage, which means the Church is outside the mainstream in opposing it. For example, last June Time magazine carried a story that described the aftermath of California?s Proposition 8 campaign as a ?vicious backlash from gay-rights activists, some of whom accused Mormons of bigotry and blind religious obedience.? This statement ignores the fact that aggressive intimidation has long been a primary political tactic of these activists against any group that opposed them?including their intimidation of professional associations in the early 1970s.

The Time writer went on to say that ?Gay marriage?belongs to a class of behaviors increasingly tolerated in the broader society.? It is true that six American states now permit same-gender marriage. But forty states have already passed laws opposing such marriages. And the most recent national polls reinforce that large majority opinion, despite some modest recent gains by the activists.

For example, last June a CBS News/New York Times poll asked whether U.S. adults favored gay marriage, gay civil unions without marriage, or no legal recognition for same-gender couples. Only 33% preferred gay marriage; 30% favored civil unions; and 32% would give no legal recognition. When civil unions were not offered as an alternative, the percentage favoring same-gender marriage was higher. [xxvii] A recent USA Today/Gallup Poll also asked whether allowing people of the same gender to marry will improve society, have no effect, or will harm society. Only 13% thought gay marriage would make society better, while 48% thought it would make society worse, and 35% thought it would have no effect. [xxviii]

These poll numbers hardly put the Church on the public fringe with its view that same-gender marriage is not a good idea. But let us finally consider the more important question?what?s wrong with same-gender marriage?

The fourth misconception is that there are no rational, non-religious reasons for opposing same-gender marriage. The Time Magazine writer said the only ?rational side? to the Church?s efforts in California was its fear of losing its tax-exempt status. He acknowledged no serious sociological or other argument for limiting marriage to a man and a woman. This description of the marriage debate is so limited that it invites a response. I therefore briefly offer a non-religious case against same-gender marriage.

First, the American public has always distinguished between what the law tolerates and what the law should endorse--a clear line between ?passive toleration? and ?active support? of homosexual conduct. [xxix] To tolerate behavior is to move it, legally, from being prohibited to being permitted, which we did in deciding not to prosecute homosexual behavior as criminal. However, we can tolerate or permit that behavior without also endorsing it?that is, promoting and encouraging that behavior, which we have historically done only when the behavior serves a significant public purpose.

Our society and our laws have long endorsed man-woman marriage with an honored priority, not just to support happy lovers, but because marriage is our most significant social institution?not merely a private project. This ?public interest? or ?social interest? separates the marriage contract from every other contract in society. We don?t invite guests and have receptions when people sign a business deal; but we do celebrate marriage as a publicly significant event. Why? Because the children of that marriage are the future society and they clearly thrive best when reared in a formal family with their own father and mother.

The New York Times has reported a ?powerful consensus? in the social science research [xxx] that children do best when they live with their own mom and dad. The research clearly shows that, by every measure of child well-being?such as health, emotional stability, education; and avoiding crime, drugs, and abuse?children do far better in a two-parent, married heterosexual family. That ideal child-rearing environment is not always possible because of deaths, unavoidable divorces, and births outside wedlock. But giving policy priority to the natural family establishes the social goal that, whenever possible, each child has a right to grow up with his or her own mother and father in a legal marriage. That goal binds the father and mother to each other and to their children?and to society?s long-term interests. Civilization began when the culture required men to care about their women and their children. And society has the right to expect that kind of pattern from fathers and mothers?for the sake of the future society?s well being.

Recent experience in this country has threatened this pattern, not just because of same-gender marriage, the problem dates further back, because we have shifted, in America, from being a culture of marriage toward becoming a culture of divorce. Americans have more than doubled the divorce rate. We have the highest divorce rate in the world. We?ve also more than quintupled the rate of unwed births since the 1960?s. Nearly 40% of all children born in the U.S. today are now born out of wedlock. [xxxi] These trends have inflicted untold damage upon the country?s children and families. That?s why President Hinckley said a few years ago, ?The family is falling apart. Not only in America, but across the world.? [xxxii] He also said that family disintegration is ?a matter of serious concern. I think it is my most serious concern.? [xxxiii] Why the concern? Because single-parent families are, with rare and admirable exceptions, generally not as good for children. Damaged children create a damaged society; and when enough families are dysfunctional, society itself becomes dysfunctional.

The new culture of divorce began with no-fault divorce in California in the late 1960?s. That concept essentially gave any married individual the right to just walk away from a marriage as a matter of personal freedom, regardless of fault or consequences. Both no-fault divorce and same-gender marriage allow personal adult rights to trump the best interests of society and children. The radical personal freedom theory on which the Massachusetts same-gender marriage case is based is actually the logical extension of the same individualistic legal concept that created no-fault divorce. Think about it. When the law upholds an individual?s right to END a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happened with no-fault divorce), that same legal principle can be used to justify the individual?s right to START a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happens with same-gender marriage).

Gay rights do not claim to satisfy society?s enormous interest in its children. On the contrary, in a key early Supreme Court opinion in 1986, Justice Harry Blackmun argued that the Constitution should protect gay sexual rights ?not because they contribute to the general public welfare but because they form so central a part of an individual?s life,? including one?s ?right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.? [xxxiv] The Court?s 2003 majority opinion striking down state criminal laws against same-gender sexual conduct accepted Justice Blackmun?s view, basing its rationale on the personal ?autonomy? rights of consenting adults, not on any benefit of that conduct to society. [xxxv]

Now this contrast between adult rights and the rights of society and children introduces the most persuasive example I have seen of the secular case against same-gender marriage. France rejected gay marriage in 2006, because its parliament concluded that these marriages run counter to the best interests of children and the future society they create. France was not ready, as a matter of conscious public policy choice, to throw out its babies with the bathwater of gay activism. They concluded that marriage should serve a child?s right to optimal personal development, rather than primarily serving adult interests that trump children?s interests.

The French parliament?s study of same-gender marriage centered on marriage as a social institution. Its report said marriage is inevitably built around children, and every country that has adopted same-gender marriage have soon afterward authorized adoption and surrogate gestation by same-gender couples. But, they concluded, France could ?no longer systematically place [the] aspirations of adults ahead? of children?s needs and rights. [xxxvi] And if they allowed individual control of family forms to persist, France would ?exhaust all possibility of expression of society?s stake in marriage.? I repeat, this was a secular argument, not a religious one. Indeed, in France, as Jacques Chirac said, secularism IS their religion.

Specifically, the French report focused on children?s need for identity and stability. Insofar as possible, it said, each child has the right to know and be cared for by?and be bonded to--his or her biological parents. Biological bonding combined with legal bonding inherently creates the most lasting and stable adult-child relationship, which provide the emotional and legal security required for optimal child development. Occasional adoptions may be necessary in exceptional cases, but there are plenty of stable heterosexual married couples who wish to adopt all available adoptive children. The French report said that to accept a public policy that consciously places children with homosexual adults increases the risks to children who are already at risk because they feel identity confusion and abandonment by their biological parents. To ignore this need is to discriminate against these children. Adoption is about a child?s right to a regular family, not merely about an adult?s right to a child.

So France rejected same-gender marriage so that children ?do not suffer as a result of situations imposed on them by adults. The interest of the child must outweigh the exercise of freedom by adults, whatever life choices are made by the parents.? This view takes marriage away from the private, adults-only world of gay and lesbian lifestyles and returns it to its original place as society?s primary social institution.

I return now to where I started, to the admiration and empathy I feel for you. I feel especially tender toward you who honor your covenants and wholeheartedly desire the blessings of temple marriage and family life; and who have tried repeatedly?but not successfully yet ?to diminish your same-gender feelings. I know people who feel that way. My heart goes out to them. They are waiting upon the Lord.

I was once living through a pretty difficult dive myself, though of a much different variety. One day in the Wyoming mountains I saw a bald eagle in a nearby tree. Something about that majestic creature reminded me to read these words from the 40th chapter of Isaiah: ?The Lord giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.? [xxxvii]

I wondered what ?waiting upon the Lord? meant. Then I read in Joseph Smith?s Translation of Matthew 3:24 that when young Jesus grew up, he ?waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come.? I couldn?t imagine the boy Christ just standing around the carpenter shop ?waiting? for something to happen. I came to understand that ?waiting upon the Lord? is a special invitation to become an active, consecrated disciple of Christ. It isn?t to sit back passively and just wait on your hands. I was moved to make changes in my daily pattern so I could ?wait? with much more intense spiritual initiative. As a result, I discovered for myself that, as Isaiah said, men have not heard, ?neither hath any eye seen, O God, how great things thou hast prepared for him that waiteth for thee.? (D&C 133:45) As the angel sang to Elijah, ?O rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him, and he will give thee thy heart?s desire.?

An LDS medical doctor who has worked closely with many people who deal with same-gender attraction recently said to me, ?This is a truly difficult problem, but in its very difficulty is something that allows those who meet the challenge to become amazingly purified and sanctified and thus qualified for special comfort and revelation from the Savior, who knows how to succor ?all? men and women in their infirmities.? His words prompted a memory of Elder Maxwell?s insight: ?If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are [the] most difficult to do.? The apostle Paul wrote, ?All things work together for good to them that love God.? (Romans 8:28) Even same-gender attraction can work for your good IF you love God.

You are not simply a child of God. You are a son or a daughter of God, with all the masculine or feminine connotations of those words. That is your true, eternal identity. I urge you to seek a testimony, even a personal vision, of that identity. I ask you to take every possible step, every day, to align your physical and emotional life with the spiritual reality of who you really are. Even if you can open only a tiny space for God?s influence in your life now, open it up, all you can. Say ?yes? to Him, over and over, and He will help you make ever more room for Him in your heart. Then your confidence will grow?not only in Him, but in yourself. I am describing a process, not an event, and it can sometimes seem hopelessly long and difficult. But I promise you that as you learn to connect your righteous desires with His love, His power will pull you home?eventually, all the way home.

Brigham Young?s words describe the promise and the fulfillment of that homeward journey: ?Your spirits when they came to take [earthly] tabernacles were pure and holy. There is no spirit among the human family that was begotten in hell; none that were begotten by angels, or by any inferior being. They [are all the children of] our Father in heaven. He is the Father of our spirits; and if we could know, understand, and do His will, every soul would be prepared to return back into His presence. And when they get there, they would see that they had formerly lived there for ages, that they had previously been acquainted with every nook and corner, with the palaces, walks, and gardens; and they would embrace their Father, and He would embrace them and say, ?My son, my daughter, I have you again;? and the child would say, ?O my Father, my Father, I am here again.?? [xxxviii]

Here's what the Salk Lake Tribune had to say about it:

Homosexuality 'not in your DNA,' says LDS leader

Evergreen ? Conference held for Mormons with same-sex attraction

By Rosemary Winters

The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake Tribune

Updated:09/19/2009 06:06:35 PM MDT


People who are attracted to members of their own sex can change, an LDS general authority said Saturday, so they shouldn't let Satan persuade them they can't.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, spoke at the 19th annual conference of Evergreen International, a nonprofit group that helps Mormons "overcome homosexual behavior" and "diminish same-sex attraction." The event was held at the LDS Church's Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City.

Hafen promised attendees, "If you are faithful, on resurrection morning -- and maybe even before then -- you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex."

Whenever the devil -- whom Hafen referred to as "the adversary" -- tries to "convince you that you are hopelessly 'that way,' so that acting out your feelings is inevitable, he is lying," Hafen said. "He is the father of lies."

Last month, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution advising mental health professionals against telling their clients they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.

No solid evidence exists that such efforts work, the APA concluded, and some studies suggest the potential for harm, including depression and suicidal tendencies. A task force reviewed 83 studies on sexual-orientation change conducted since 1960.

The "long-standing consensus" of the behavioral and social sciences, the APA noted, is that homosexuality is a "normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation."

Will Carlson of Equality Utah, which advocates on behalf of gay and transgender Utahns, when contacted by The Tribune, said, "These young men and women at Evergreen are experiencing normal attractions right now ... It's irresponsible for [Hafen] to suggest that if someone just wants to bad enough, they can be straight."

Hafen spent a large portion of his talk, held during a Sunday-like service, criticizing the gay-rights movement and denying a biological link to sexual orientation. Same-sex attraction is "not in your DNA," he said.

He attacked the APA's decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, deeming it politically motivated.

"In the early 1970s, the public and most lawyers, doctors and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder," he said. "We have witnessed primarily an aggressive political movement more than we've witnessed substantive change in the medical or legal evidence."

Lisa Diamond, a psychology professor and researcher at the University of Utah, in an interview with The Tribune , called Hafen's assertion "hilarious" and "absolutely untrue."

Homosexuality had been listed as a disorder, Diamond said, without any real scientific data. The APA reversed course after a pioneering psychologist, Evelyn Hooker, produced research to show there was no difference between the mental health of straight and gay individuals, she said.

"That moment really did represent, in fact, the triumph of science over prejudice," Diamond said.

There is "strong evidence" that there are "biological contributions" to sexual orientation, Diamond noted, but it's a complex process. She called arguments about the lack of a so-called "gay gene," a "smoke screen" for those who promote sexual-orientation change.


It's intereting to me that LDS church leaders seem unable to arrive at a consensus about their view of whether or not homosexuality is biologicially determined, and comments in recent years seem to flip flop, depending on who's talking. In 1996, The Ensign pulished an article by Dallin Oaks called Same-Gender Attraction. Although Oaks was clear in his denouncement of homosexual behavior, and he likewise emphasized personal choice/agency in what one does, he also clearly stated that we all have inborn feelings, different physical characteristics, and different susceptibilities which are unchosen, implying that such biological predispositions could be the case with regard to sexual attraction:

We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.

Feelings are another matter. Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of ?nature and nurture.? All of us have some feelings we did not choose, but the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts or to engage in sinful behavior.

Different persons have different physical characteristics and different susceptibilities to the various physical and emotional pressures we may encounter in our childhood and adult environments. We did not choose these personal susceptibilities either, but we do choose and will be accountable for the attitudes, priorities, behavior, and ?lifestyle? we engraft upon them.

Essential to our doctrinal position on these matters is the difference between our freedom and our agency. Our freedom can be limited by various conditions of mortality, but God?s gift of agency cannot be limited by outside forces, because it is the basis for our accountability to him. The contrast between freedom and agency can be illustrated in the context of a hypothetical progression from feelings to thoughts to behavior to addiction. This progression can be seen on a variety of matters, such as gambling and the use of tobacco and alcohol.

Just as some people have different feelings than others, some people seem to be unusually susceptible to particular actions, reactions, or addictions. Perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice or fault, like the unnamed ailment the Apostle Paul called ?a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure? (2 Cor. 12:7). One person may have feelings that draw him toward gambling, but unlike those who only dabble, he becomes a compulsive gambler. Another person may have a taste for tobacco and a susceptibility to its addiction. Still another may have an unusual attraction to alcohol and the vulnerability to be readily propelled into alcoholism. Other examples may include a hot temper, a contentious manner, a covetous attitude, and so on.

In each case (and in other examples that could be given) the feelings or other characteristics that increase susceptibility to certain behavior may have some relationship to inheritance. But the relationship is probably very complex. The inherited element may be nothing more than an increased likelihood that an individual will acquire certain feelings if he or she encounters particular influences during the developmental years. But regardless of our different susceptibilities or vulnerabilities, which represent only variations on our mortal freedom (in mortality we are only ?free according to the flesh? [2 Ne. 2:27]), we remain responsible for the exercise of our agency in the thoughts we entertain and the behavior we choose. I discussed this contrast in a talk I gave at Brigham Young University several years ago:

?Most of us are born with [or develop] thorns in the flesh, some more visible, some more serious than others. We all seem to have susceptibilities to one disorder or another, but whatever our susceptibilities, we have the will and the power to control our thoughts and our actions. This must be so. God has said that he holds us accountable for what we do and what we think, so our thoughts and actions must be controllable by our agency. Once we have reached the age or condition of accountability, the claim ?I was born that way? does not excuse actions or thoughts that fail to conform to the commandments of God. We need to learn how to live so that a weakness that is mortal will not prevent us from achieving the goal that is eternal.

?God has promised that he will consecrate our afflictions for our gain (see 2 Ne. 2:2). The efforts we expend in overcoming any inherited [or developed] weakness build a spiritual strength that will serve us throughout eternity. Thus, when Paul prayed thrice that his ?thorn in the flesh? would depart from him, the Lord replied, ?My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.? Obedient, Paul concluded:

? ?Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

? ?Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ?s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong? (2 Cor. 12:9?10).

?Whatever our susceptibilities or tendencies [feelings], they cannot subject us to eternal consequences unless we exercise our free agency to do or think the things forbidden by the commandments of God. For example, a susceptibility to alcoholism impairs its victim?s freedom to partake without addiction, but his free agency allows him to abstain and thus escape the physical debilitation of alcohol and the spiritual deterioration of addiction.

?? Beware the argument that because a person has strong drives toward a particular act, he has no power of choice and therefore no responsibility for his actions. This contention runs counter to the most fundamental premises of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

?Satan would like us to believe that we are not responsible in this life. That is the result he tried to achieve by his contest in the pre-existence. A person who insists that he is not responsible for the exercise of his free agency because he was ?born that way? is trying to ignore the outcome of the War in Heaven. We are responsible, and if we argue otherwise, our efforts become part of the propaganda effort of the Adversary.

?Individual responsibility is a law of life. It applies in the law of man and the law of God. Society holds people responsible to control their impulses so we can live in a civilized society. God holds his children responsible to control their impulses in order that they can keep his commandments and realize their eternal destiny. The law does not excuse the short-tempered man who surrenders to his impulse to pull a trigger on his tormentor, or the greedy man who surrenders to his impulse to steal, or the pedophile who surrenders to his impulse to satisfy his sexual urges with children. ?

?There is much we do not know about the extent of freedom we have in view of the various thorns in the flesh that afflict us in mortality. But this much we do know; we all have our free agency and God holds us accountable for the way we use it in thought and deed. That is fundamental.? 7

Last year, LDS Public Affairs released an undated interview with Dallin Oaks (of the Quorum of the 12) and Lance Wickman (of one of the Quorums of the 70), in which the following exchange occured:

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: You?re saying the Church doesn?t necessarily have a position on ?nurture or nature?

ELDER OAKS: That?s where our doctrine comes into play. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions ? whether nature or nurture ? those are things the Church doesn?t have a position on.

The conflicting information given by church leaders can be confusing for those who are gay, or whom have gay family members who may look to church leaders for direction on how to respond to some questions. I believe it would certainly be helpful if church leadership could all get on the same page (even if that page is "we don't have an official position on the biological determination of sexual orientation, and we really don't know what causes hetero- or homo-sexuality"), instead of the ongoing stream of conflicting opinions from different church sources.

My view,


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What difference does it make what the cause is? The point is acting on it is wrong in the eyes of God and the Church. God is fully aware of the challenges that face each of us and will take into account the fleshly trials we had to overcome.

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What difference does it make what the cause is? The point is acting on it is wrong in the eyes of God and the Church. God is fully aware of the challenges that face each of us and will take into account the fleshly trials we had to overcome.

This is an open letter to President Packer that does a pretty good job explaining why the Church's past teaching on causation are damaging.


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This is an open letter to President Packer that does a pretty good job explaining why the Church's past teaching on causation are damaging.

Key word "past". Besides which the teaching for as long as I've been a member is whatever the cause you don't engage in the behavior. The cause has changed in the psychological/sociological world. The teaching in the church regarding the behavior has not.

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What difference does it make what the cause is? The point is acting on it is wrong in the eyes of God and the Church. God is fully aware of the challenges that face each of us and will take into account the fleshly trials we had to overcome.

"What the cause is" makes a difference because that directly affects the type of goal gay men and women should have. Bruce Hafen, and many other church leaders, often make comments that hold out hope of "a change in orientation" in THIS life. Given that powerful incentive to believe that change IS possible, many well-intentioned men and women seek to be the exceptions who CAN change, and end up marrying someone of the opposite gender, believing that they will be able to make a heterosexual marriage work through their faith, determination, will power, and God's help. Self-denial and self-delusion about the realities of one's biological programming can carry one through a season of success--but time and again have demonstrated that they aren't benchmarks of permanent change. If our romantic and sexual orientations ARE biologically fixed, the recommended course of therapy and/or treatment would obviously be affected. I believe it should be obvious why knowing the cause would have a profound impact on such.

Jeff Robinson, the LDS therapist that Elder Hafen quotes in his talk (and who I understand maintains a practice here in Utah), was MY weekly therapist for six months, when I was attending BYU back in 1995. When that season of therapy with him drew to close fourteen year ago, he shared with me the same philosophy that Hafen quotes in his talk, dated yesterday. Robinson suggested that I could and should "go forth" with the program of the church, and that marriage was a realistic and desirable goal, now that he and I had therapeutically excavated anything in my past that would have "caused" me to "have Same-Gender Attraction." His words echoed the (what I thought was) inspired counsel from two Bishops at the time, who promised me "in the name of the Lord" that once I married a woman in the temple, that these desires "would take care of themselves" and that I would be healed of my SGA. I married in 1997 in the Salt Lake Temple, but could only hold my marriage together for eight years. When I finally realized eight years later that I had not "changed" as I'd been promised I could, I called Jeff Robinson, explained I was a past client, and asked if I might be able to see the notes in my file from the months of therapy we spent together. He told me, "I don't keep files on past clients." Dumbfounded, I asked, "You what....? Wait... you don't keep files on past clients...? Then how do you know your therapy actually works?!" Jeff had no salient answer, and promptly excused himself from our conversation and hung up the phone.

As I look back over my naive decision to follow their well-intentioned but HORRIBLY-misguided advice, I and my ex-wife have experienced first-hand the devastation that follows from failing to understand "what the cause is," and whether or not true change is possible. Because of my own experiences, I feel the need to "warm my neighbor," now that I have been warned. The lives of too many men, women, and children are dramatically affected by those who offer cures without understanding the cause.

My view,


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It really saddens me to see so much misinformation in Elder Hafen's talk. It's absolutely obvious that he has never taken the time to sit down and research the science concerning homosexuality (from all angles) and is merely regurgitating what a hateful, insidious organization like Evergreen has to say about homosexuality.

It's also disheartening that the Church continues to associate with Evergreen, despite the pain it causes to families and individuals across the nation.

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Key word "past". Besides which the teaching for as long as I've been a member is whatever the cause you don't engage in the behavior.

But these teachings that "changing one's attractions from gay to straight is possible" AREN'T "past." Elder Hafen just repeated the same beliefs, yesterday, at the Evergreen Conference--and Evergreen strives to be, according to it's website,"the most complete resource for Latter-day Saints who experience same-sex attraction." While some church leaders have, in more recent years, begun to give lip service to the idea that "marriage should not be viewed as a 'cure' to same-gender attractions," the underlying doctrines haven't changed at all--as evidenced this very weekend at the Evergreen Conference. So long as the doctrine underscores the possiblity of change, it undermines any sideline comment to avoid marriage as a cure. Motivated by a genuine desire to "go where [the Dear Lord] wants them to go," and "be what [He] wants them to be," biologically gay men and women will faithfully continue to enter unstable and doomed marriages, and the collateral damage that such marriages wreak on the lives and families of those that result from them will also continue. And, when those marriages fail, Latter-day Saints will then continue to blame the gay men and women who enter the marriages for simply "not being committed enough," or "not trying hard enough," or "failing to maintain your covenants," etc--all because LDS leaders and adherents are avoiding the biological cause--which directly affects "the cure" (or lack, thereof).


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It really saddens me to see so much misinformation in Elder Hafen's talk. It's absolutely obvious that he has never taken the time to sit down and research the science concerning homosexuality (from all angles) and is merely regurgitating what a hateful, insidious organization like Evergreen has to say about homosexuality.

It's also disheartening that the Church continues to associate with Evergreen, despite the pain it causes to families and individuals across the nation.

Good to hear from you, Lucas. It is frustrating to see the misinformation being perpetuated.

I would make one point of clarification to your comments, above... As much as I profoundly disagree with Evergreen, it's beliefs, approach, and practices, I wouldn't characterize it as a "hateful, insidious organization." In my experience, it strives to lovingly serve those to whom it hopes to minister, even if I believe it's underlying foundation is flawed. The world is full of imperfect organizations composed of flawed but good-intentioned people. I believe many in Evergreen have a strong desire to love and accomplish good in the world.

My view,


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I'm not going to allow this board to be cluttered up with ssa or ssm topics again. I have a 1 thread limit imposed on the topic, and we will close threads at any whim that violates that rule. I will not read them to see which thread is better or which was posted first, it will just be shut down. I am not going to clarify or get into another discussion about practices we will follow on this matter. It will not be fair and I won't care who the mods upset by doing this. There are many other venues where this topic can be discussed freely and I suggest that those that do not want to adhere to the imposed rule go there.


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In the first place Evergreen is a support group. It offers options and referrals for counseling. It seems to me its goal is to help those struggling with this issue to find support for living a life that is in accordance with the gospel. There may be some cases where counseling to change orientation can be helpful, given that all the causes of homosexual behavior are not known. Yes genetics probably plays a part in most cases, but not always. I know young women who tried it temporarily as a sort of rebellion.

I found nothing in Elder Hafen's talk that indicated there was a lack of understanding of the difficulties, or even the causes. We are spiritual children of God with mortal afflictions. That is where the Atonement comes in. Too many throw this out as a solution when it is the only solution if one chooses to continue in full fellowship in the church.

E. Hafen says, "Christ helps us draw on His strength to become more at-one with God even while still overcoming the attraction. He helps us bear the burden of our afflictions." There is nothing wrong with that statement. Overcoming the attraction doesn't mean changing orientation. It's like overcoming anything that holds us back from moving forward. We simply find ways to deal with it that keep us strong and faithful.

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Darin, you're a one trick pony.

It's sad and unfortunate that you allowed your homosexual desires destroy your marriage. You have made your choice, and the Church will continue to advocate that all appetites and passions be kept within the bounds the Lord has set, your frequent posts notwithstanding.

Do not post in this thread again. Mod

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It's intereting to me that LDS church leaders seem unable to arrive at a consensus about their view of whether or not homosexuality is biologicially determined, and comments in recent years seem to flip flop, depending on who's talking.

According to Ether 12:21, it doesn't matter. If in the future homosexuality were determined to be inborn, it would not necessitate any changes in LDS doctrine or policy.

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Darin, you're a one trick pony.

It's sad and unfortunate that you allowed your homosexual desires destroy your marriage. You have made your choice, and the Church will continue to advocate that all appetites and passions be kept within the bounds the Lord has set, your frequent posts notwithstanding.

You embarrass a good portion of the lds posters here with communication like this. Even though many members believe SSA to be a sin, you have reworked the oft repeated catch phrase, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" into "Judge the sinner, hate the sin".

Mods, I am interested in following this thread. Can personal inflamatory posts be deleted?

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Darin, it strikes me that the GAs are just like you and me, faced with thousands of pages of information, some that suggests nature, some that suggests nurture, some that says, "no idea." It's refreshing to me that there is no consensus on the cause (how could there be?), but there is definitely a consensus on the love, concern, and empathy that they feel for those dealing with same-sex attraction. I can follow that consensus pretty easily!

Did you like Hafen's talk?

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Darin, it strikes me that the GAs are just like you and me, faced with thousands of pages of information, some that suggests nature, some that suggests nurture, some that says, "no idea." It's refreshing to me that there is no consensus on the cause (how could there be?), but there is definitely a consensus on the love, concern, and empathy that they feel for those dealing with same-sex attraction. I can follow that consensus pretty easily!

Did you like Hafen's talk?

I am completely sympathetic with a GA trying to figure this all out. It's a complicated issue - and church rules focus mainly on behavior, not cause. My cousin tried for years to deal with behavior, but is now gay-married and seemingly happy - albeit being in the odd position of having a testimony of a church in which he can't participate. If we are to believe the wills of the LDS God, the behavior is never acceptable, but maybe we can be more sympathetic on the cause. I don't know - never had to deal with the issue. I don't see an acceptance of gay marriage within the future of the LDS church anytime soon - and don't know that I would support it if it happened. That's not at all to say that I can't respect my cousin and others who choose differently, that's fine and maybe even great for them, but we need some brightlines in religion - and this is one. Homosexuality, in practice, is antithetic to the goal of the gospel ultimately.

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Darin, you're a one trick pony.

It's sad and unfortunate that you allowed your homosexual desires destroy your marriage. You have made your choice, and the Church will continue to advocate that all appetites and passions be kept within the bounds the Lord has set, your frequent posts notwithstanding.


You should apologize to Darin. Not for your views on homosexuality or your views on marriage, but for writing something so insensitive...something unbecoming a Christian.

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To discipline yourself against sexual desires is not impossible, despite the bad press, many Catholic Priests and Monks have practiced celibacy. Some fail, but many succeed. I don't know if Evergreen works, or if being homosexual is incurable. But I do know that scripture like Romans 1:26-7, 1 Cor 6:9-10, 1 Tim 1:9-10, Jude 1:7, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, and so on, speak of the act of homosexual intimacy as a sin (putting it lightly). Prophets and Apostles of old have labelled it that way. If Evergreen can help homosexuals avoid this sin, then I support it, because the scriptures are quite clear. If it is damaging them worse, forcing them into depression and suicide, then it is not a good program. Of course, I don't see unbiased statistics to show success or failure. And I don't know if such statistics will ever be unbiased do to the polarization of the issue.

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Since this seems to be the designated "homosexuality thread" of the moment, it occurs to me to use it to mention a new book that the president of the singles stake in which I'm currently serving (John Livingstone, one of its editors) gave to me, hot from the press, about ten days ago:

Dennis V. Dahle, A. Dean Byrd, Shirley E. Cox, Doris R. Dant, William C. Duncan, John P. Livingstone, and M. Gawain Wells, eds., Understanding Same-Sex Attraction (LDS Edition): Where to Turn and How to Help: Religious Doctrine--Science--Personal Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Foundation for Attraction Research, 2009).

I've only begun to read the book, but it's clear that it comes from the perspective that same-sex attraction is not an immutable characteristic.

Some might find it interesting.

I certainly do. In my present calling as a singles-ward bishop, I've encountered fewer cases of same-sex attraction, frankly, than I had expected to encounter, but the issue still raises important theological issues that I want to consider.

P.S. Bruce Hafen is one of the brightest, most thoughtful, and most decent people I know -- and I know him very well. (Though I can't really say that we became friends at the time, I actually first met him when he was a young member of the BYU administration and I was still an undergraduate. We served on an Honors Program committee together. I really got to know him when I returned to BYU as a faculty member and he was provost of the University.)


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Well said.

I think that's an unfortunate view. To use an analogy that is completely inadequate (I recognize) - contrast one who is vulgar and rude and shouts curses to any and everyone because he enjoys it and is exercising his freedom of speech with someone who has Turrets syndrome. While our desire may be to control the ultimate behavior, we can be more sympathetic of the one for whom the behavior is involuntary.

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I think that's an unfortunate view. To use an analogy that is completely inadequate (I recognize) - contrast one who is vulgar and rude and shouts curses to any and everyone because he enjoys it and is exercising his freedom of speech with someone who has Turrets syndrome. While our desire may be to control the ultimate behavior, we can be more sympathetic of the one for whom the behavior is involuntary.

Not to beat a dead horse more than it has to be, but why does it seem that someone who has same-sex attraction is given more latitude than someone with opposite-sex attraction?

What is disheartening to me from the OP is the HUGE difference between what was said in the talk and what the SL Trib decided to use. Disappointing, but really not unexpected.

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I think that's an unfortunate view. To use an analogy that is completely inadequate (I recognize).

As you said a completely inadequate analogy. Turret's behavior is not under the control of the individual. Sexual behavior is under the control of the person whether homosexual or heterosexual; unless of course you are admitting that homosexual behavior is a compulsion which is beyond the control of the individual and I really don't think you want to go there.

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