Last week I read something so prejudiced, so full of self-righteous bias that it made me sad for hours. I had to stop reading it and walk away. For hours the thought haunted me that someone could be so blinded by their uneducated, prejudiced beliefs, as to proudly put it in print, and think that others would agree and sympathize with them. They probably even think that God will bless them for being so much more righteous than the rest of us. It depressed me for hours that this person is out there representing my religion and all that I hold dear. I knew I had to say something, I had to put my thoughts into print, and make it public, that such discrimination does not represent me, or the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The words left on www.ldsmag.com, in response to the official Church statement on the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to not discriminate or exclude gay young men from the program, were simply, “I’m so glad my boys are out of Scouts now. I would not want my little boy in the same troop as a gay 10 year old boy.” (The comment was moderated and deleted.)
To this person, and anyone else who has criticized the Church’s position, I ask you this- Why would the Church not support the BSA decision to allow gay young men in the program? After all, the Church allows gay young men to be members of the Church! A young man can be gay and pass the sacrament, so why should his sexual orientation keep him from obtaining a merit badge?
How Does the Church View Homosexuality?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that same-sex attraction is a sensitive issue which requires kindness, compassion, and understanding… Not exclusion and discrimination.
The Church’s doctrinal position is clear: Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married. However, that should never be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down. (https://www.lds.org/topics/same-gender-attraction?lang=eng)
In short, the Church firmly believes that all people are equally beloved children of God and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Church apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook stated, “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
Let’s repeat that last line. “Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin, Know the Difference
Maybe it needs to be re-stated and explained in a more direct format for those who cannot separate down the difference between opposing gay marriage and a gay 10 year old boy.
The Church opposes gay marriage.
The Church does not oppose gays, regardless of age.
The Church does not oppose 10 year old boys, regardless of sexual persuasion.
The Church opposes pedophilia, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
Pedophilia, sexual molestation, and sexual harassment are crimes.
Homosexuality is not a crime.
Acts of discrimination are crimes.
Not all gays are men.
Not all pedophiles and sexual predators are gay. Many are straight.
Not all gays are pedophiles or sexual predators. In fact, most are not.
A ten year old boy is unlikely to act on feelings of attraction, whether straight or gay. Any ten year old boy who makes inappropriate sexual advances on another boy or a girl, needs emotional counseling and assistance. This is a child that needs help, not hate.
A young boy will not “turn gay” or suffer from any sort of malady by sitting next to a gay young man at a troop meeting. He is, however, likely to learn discrimination, bias, and prejudices from his parents.
Not all gay individuals are out to convert you. They will not all be attracted to you. They are not attracted to every member of the same sex in the same way that you are not automatically attracted to ever single member of the opposite sex. To assume that a gay young child will "hit on" or "try to convince" your child of the same sex is not only naive but delusional.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “You see, same-gender attraction is not a sin, but acting on those feelings is—just as it would be with heterosexual feelings.”
To those individuals who feel that the second a man looks at another man “in a gay way,” and thinks that just the natural feeling of attraction is a sin, might I remind you of Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Do you intend to hold yourself, and all other straight individuals, to that same standard? Are you without sin? Can you cast that first stone?
President Boyd K. Packer made the point equally clear when speaking to Church members with same-gender attraction. “‘We do not reject you…We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.’”
With the Church’s position so openly and obviously clear, why would anyone doubt the continuing alliance with the Boy Scouts?
Help! There’s a Gay Child in the Scout Troop!
If you are uncomfortable with your child being in the same troop (or classroom, car, or at a birthday party) with another child (for whatever reason- whether it be sexual orientation, behavior, language, etc.), you are always welcome and able to sit in and watch or supervise the proceedings. Watch and see if your concerns about the other child are warranted. I have never found or heard of a troop or classroom that had too much parental involvement.
Parents, what will you tell your son when you pull him out of Boy Scouts? “I’m sorry, but there may be a gay little boy in your troop someday, so we can no longer support this organization. Don’t listen to anything the prophet and apostles have said about not rejecting others with same gender attraction, or whether or not it is a sin. I know better.”
Or will you teach your son that we, like Christ, choose to love all of God’s children? And that you hope he will join his voice “with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society.”
Will you remind your son that in this Church we believe that regardless of sexual orientation, “any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel?”
I can only sympathize with and pray for parents of a gay little boy (or girl). It must be hard to know that your son or daughter will grow up in a world full of prejudices against them, even within the Church. How hard must it be for a loving parent to hear ward members or neighbors say that they would rather remove their children from the Scouting program, than let them socialize with a gay child. My heart breaks for the parent of the gay child.
In my personal experience, a ten year old boy, eight year old, or even twelve year old boy, is highly unlikely to express preferences of sexual attraction, even if he has already experienced them. Ten year old boys are highly unlikely to share deep feelings about anything at all! Ten year old boys are more likely to avoid contact with girls, let alone talk to them, or about them. Ten year old boys are just not known for sitting around and talking about what kind of girl they are hoping to spend some alone time with. A ten year old boy with an attraction to other boys is just as likely, if not more likely, to avoid discussing his feelings. He knows that others view such feelings with prejudice, and will not share them openly. How sad that such a young boy must already know prejudice and that adults don’t like him, just because he exists.
Considering the lack of emoting and sexual activity of most young boys, the BSA decision is irrelevant to the regular operations of the Scouts. But it must bring some comfort to parents to know that their son will not be kicked out or left out, if he has indeed expressed a sexual identity at such a young age.
Again, with the Church’s position so openly and obviously clear, why would anyone doubt their alliance with the Boy Scouts?
“We do not reject you…We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.”
“Ye Are the Temple of God,” Liahona, Jan. 2001, 87.