Mormonism and Same-Gender Attraction: Marlin Jensen Speaks
“In the case of the gay person, they really have no hope.” Marlin Jensen: March 2006
This post explores recent statements on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormon Church, by Marlin Jensen an LDS church historian and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
If you have reached this page because you are in crisis over your sexual orientation, you may consider following some of these additional links for a wider, inclusive voice from fellow Mormons as you continue to explore your attitudes and opinions 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
Family Fellowship — Strengthening families with homosexual members
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.
Here is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on March 7, 2006 for the PBS Frontline documentary, The Mormons, an exploration into the “. . . richness, the complexities and the controversies of the Mormons’ story as told through interviews with members of the church, leading writers and historians, and supporters and critics of the Mormon faith.” Find the original Frontline post here. Find the ofiicial Mormon response here.
… What is the official position of the church on homosexuality?
… Our position on that is that there is a single standard actually of morality for all members of the church, and that essentially is that we abstain from all sexual relationships and sexual relations prior to marriage. Once we do marry, we are loyal, completely loyal, to our marital partner, and that the only marriage sanctioned by God is of a man to a woman. As Paul said, “Neither is a man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord.”
[“Wonderful People” and their Same-Sex Feelings, Thoughts and Desires]
So there is really no allowance within our doctrine for a homosexual relationship of woman to woman or man to man. Obviously that creates a lot of pain. It has created a lot of pain for me just because I’ve known some of these wonderful people who have these feelings, who have these thoughts, who have these desires, and I’ve worked with them in my official capacity as a church leader. … I’ve sat with those that have tried for years to transition to a more traditional way of life and who haven’t been able to produce those feelings in themselves that would permit them honestly to marry. …
[Nature, Nurture and Choice]
The thing that we have to ultimately say … is, yes, there’s nature; yes, there’s nurture; but there’s also agency. We all have the capacity and power to choose. If you’re going to live your life within the framework of the Gospel, within the framework of our doctrine, then you’ve got to choose to marry someone of the opposite sex, and if you can’t do that honestly, then your choice has to be to live a celibate life. That is a very difficult choice for the parents, for the young man, the young woman, for whoever’s [sic] making that choice, and my heart goes out to them. I think we’re asking a tremendous amount of them.
[Celibacy for the Unmarried and the Homosexual]
And yes, some people argue sometimes, well, for the gay person or the lesbian person, we’re not asking more of them than we’re asking of the single woman who never marries. But I long ago found in talking to them that we do ask for something different: In the case of the gay person, they really have no hope. A single woman, a single man who is heterosexual in their thinking always has the hope, always has the expectation that tomorrow they’re going to meet someone and fall in love and that it can be sanctioned by the church. But a gay person who truly is committed to that way of life [homosexual] in his heart and mind doesn’t have that hope. And to live life without hope on such a core issue, I think, is a very difficult thing.
[Being Charitable towards Gays]
We, again, as a church need to be, I think, even more charitable than we’ve been, more outreaching in a sense. A religion produces a culture, and culture has its stereotypes, has its mores. It’s very difficult, for instance, in our culture not to be a returning missionary. What about the young man who chooses not to go, or the parents who marry and for whatever reasons don’t have children, or the young woman who grows old without marrying, or the divorced person? I think we can be quite hard — in a sense unwittingly, but nevertheless hard — on those people in our culture, because we have cultural expectations, cultural ideals, and if you measure up to them, it’s a wonderful life. If you don’t, it could be very difficult. …
[Science and Revelation]
Science is moving toward the idea of a scientific origin for homosexuality. What if this isn’t a choice, but the way people are born? Would that change the church’s thinking about it?
I think that the origins of homosexuality are still very much up for grabs. … I don’t think the church could ever change its position, because gender, gender identification and the idea that a man and a woman coming together in marriage and to procreate and to have a family is such a core element in God’s plan for our life. There’s no room in doctrine, and there’s no room within the plan of salvation, as we call it, or God’s plan for our life, for homosexuality to be accepted. …
At several points in your history there were changes in your doctrine. Is there any way, through revelation, this ban could be changed?
Again, through revelation, I suppose anything could be changed. But certainly, in the consistency with which God has dealt with us from the beginning, the elements of his plan for our life, the essential elements have remained unchanged. That’s why in this context, in the context we were talking about here, the tension between the plan of salvation and the gay person, I just don’t think there’s room for the plan to accommodate the idea that someone can marry, live with, be romantically involved with someone of the same gender and can then be living in accord with God’s plan or our life. It’s too antithetical. Just cannot work within the confines of his plan. …
I feel there’s been a sea [sic] change in the Mormon community I’ve talked to. I still hear “abomination,” but don’t you feel there’s been a change?
“Yeah, I do. We’re more enlightened. We’re more accepting in the sense that we understand this is a condition that some people are dealing with and that even if it needs changing or even if it needs controlling, that can’t be done without our support, our love, our empathy, our interest in them as people. That’s much different, I’m sure, than it was in my youth. I hear very little terms of derision used anymore, for instance, yeah.”