Mormonism and Homosexuality: Apostle Jeffrey Holland Speaks
This page contains verbatim reports of an interview with a prominent Latter-Day Saint leader authorized to share the official doctrines and beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints regarding homosexuality and homosexuals.
If you have reached this page because you are in crisis over your sexuality or same-gender attraction, or if you are conflicted over the Mormon Church’s teachings on homosexuality, you may benefit from reading some of these additional links for a wider, inclusive voice from fellow Mormons as you continue to explore your attitudes, opinions and beliefs about homosexuality within the Mormon community:
Mormons for Marriage — promoting marriage equality
Latter-Day Saint Doctrine — the case for civil same-sex marriage
LDS Resources for Latter-Day Saints Dealing with Homosexual Attraction — reliable info for Mormons by Mormons
Signing for Something — D&C 134:9 in action:
Gay Mormon Stories — First-person narratives of gay Mormon men and women
The Trevor Project — Suicide prevention and anonymous help in time of crisis
Gays and the Gospel — A resource for Latter-day Saints and other Christians regarding the rights, marriages and families of their Gay and Lesbian neighbors
Seeking Forgiveness — Apologies from Latter-day Saints (Mormons) who wish to find peace and reconciliation following the LDS Church’s involvement in passing Proposition 8
Reconciliation — a call for dignity towards, respect for and mutual understanding between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
If you are suicidal and actively thinking about killing yourself over your same-sex desires, please know that you are a person of great worth, deeply loved by God, even right now as you find yourself in crisis. To talk to someone, anonymously and confidentially, please call 1-800-488-7386 or go to the Trevor Project home page now.
Cold Comfort: “Hang on, and hope on, and pray on, and [your homosexuality] will be resolved in eternity.”
Background information on the writer
Jeffrey R. Holland was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 23 June 1994. At the time of this call, Holland was serving as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to which he had been called on 1 April 1989.
From 1980 until his call as a General Authority in 1989, Holland served as the ninth president of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He is a former Church commissioner of education and dean of the College of Religious Education at BYU.
This post reproduces Holland’s recent comments on Homosexuality; the original post can be found here.
Another anguishing issue that faces you and every church: homosexuality. On a personal level, how do you counsel people dealing with that?
“… The emotion and the pain and the challenge of [dealing with homosexuality] has to rank among the most taxing, most visceral of any of the issues that any religious group wrestles with. As others of my colleagues and brethren have, I have counseled hundreds — I don’t know how many hundreds — of these young people. I say young people because often that’s the group that come to us most, but there are people of every age struggling. … The counsel I have given is that God loves them every bit as much as he loves me; the church loves them. We do have doctrine; we do have borders; we do have foundational pieces on which we stand. And moral chastity — heterosexual … and homosexual — are areas where God has spoken and where the church has a position. …
I spoke earlier about the price everyone has to pay for the blessing of the covenant, to be counted within the institutional circle of the blessings of the church. … I have spent a significant portion of the last few years of my ministry pleading to give help to those who don’t practice [homosexuality] but who are struggling with the impressions and the feelings and the attractions and the gender confusion. Or if they do practice or are trying to deal with it, that group I have spent scores of hours with, if nothing else, just saying: “Hang on, hope on, try on. … Get through the night; get to the light.” …
I believe in that light, and I believe in that hope, and I believe in that peace. So I offer it without apology, but I know sometimes that’s thin to people who would want more. Any more than I can see it compromising on its heterosexual position of chastity before marriage and fidelity afterward, I don’t anticipate it that [the church] would change on homosexual behavior. But none of that has anything to do with my belief in the value of that soul and the love that God has for that person.
But it’s just that … there is a quid pro quo in terms of wanting the church’s blessing on our lives. If someone chooses behavior that goes in a different direction, people choose that every day. And while that may make me weep, … people are free to do that. …
I believe with all my heart that it’s divine language; it’s a divine commandment. There really are “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” in life. And in this world, in some contemporary life, thou shalts and thou shalt nots are not popular on the face of it; it wouldn’t matter what subject. But we’ll always have some, and we’ll try to help each other master that and embrace it and see it through and be exalted on the other end.
It’s tough being gay anyplace in society, in any church, but especially here in yours.
Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about that. And it’s true of so many other things about the church. We’re so defined by marriage and family. … So it’s got that added component of pain in a church where we do advocate and expect and encourage marriage — traditional marriage, man to a woman, woman to a man — and family and children. And for anyone in whatever gay or lesbian inclination may exist, … the marriage I have and the marriage I’ve seen my children have and I pray for my grandchildren to have, they say, “For me it’s an experience I’ll never have.” And true to the Holland tradition, I burst into tears, and I say, “Hope on, and wait and let me walk with you, and we’ll be faithful, be clean, and we’ll get to the end of this.”
I do know that this will not be a post-mortal condition. It will not be a post-mortal difficulty. I have a niece who cannot bear children. That is the sorrow and the tragedy of her life. She who was born to give birth will never give birth, and I cry with her. … I just say to her what I say to people struggling with gender identity: “Hang on, and hope on, and pray on, and this will be resolved in eternity.” These conditions will not exist post-mortality. I want that to be of some hope to some. …”
[End of interview.]
Questions for personal reflection
* What importance do you place on the fact that what you have just read was written by a man with the title “Apostle”? How does this affect the way you “hear” his words or weigh your personal disagreement?
* Do you believe, as Elder Holland writes, that homosexual people are actually loved by God? What about being loved by the Mormon Church?
* Do you agree with Elder Holland that gay people, “. . . [struggle] with . . . impressions and feelings and . . . attractions” because of sexual confusion? How did you reach your personal conclusion?
* Elder Holland writes “I don’t anticipate it that [the Mormon church] would change [its doctrines and beliefs] on homosexual behavior.” Can you think of any issues or doctrines on which the Mormon Church has changed its official policy?
* Elder Holland believes that there will be no gay people in the next life, and that no person in the next life will struggle with “gender identity.” On what basis, or authority, does he make this claim? What does his statement imply about homosexual people in this life?
* Elder Holland says “I have a niece who cannot bear children. That is the sorrow and the tragedy of her life. She who was born to give birth will never give birth. . .” Does his comparison with his barren niece and homosexual people work for you? Do you believe that homosexual people lead sorrowful or tragic lives?
Complete these sentences:
“My church teaches me that homosexuality is . . . ”
“I personally believe that homosexuality is . . .”
Do you notice any difference between your statements?