Check out this cache of a Bishop’s Guide to Same-Sex Attraction that the Church posted and then took down. (Note: Link is no longer functional.) Such documents are useful because they give a snapshot of everyday policy and counseling advice that affects millions of lives. One can also get a sense of how the Church currently frames the issue of “same-sex attraction.”
The site says, “seek to remove shame and combat stereotypes and myths” with the exception, of course, of the myth that “same-sex attraction is a mortal experience, not an eternal identity.” It’s odd how the Church says, “We don’t know what causes homosexuality,” and then they go around telling people that they know what the eternities are like.
Rather than advice of “don’t have friends who are public about their attractions” (which was the advice given as recently as 2006), they say, “Recognize the priorities of others who may be helping you and be willing to understand that they also have shortcomings.” In other words, be mindful of gay friends who might be trying to convince you to act your attractions solely by showing you how happy they are. View their happiness as a shortcoming. (Also see Comment 3 below about how this advice is perhaps more geared toward “Listen to your bishop even though he’s not perfect.”)
Try to “develop a plan of action with alternative responses to limit exposure to triggers.” Only hang out with ugly people.
Okay, now I’m being facetious. But I would suggest that as the Church has been recently rolling out subtle policy changes…creating a more “welcoming” atmosphere…it’s actually more of the same. Consider this letter to Dallin Oaks’ from a parent, which he quoted in his 1995 Ensign article “Same-Gender Attraction”:
[A] concern we have is the way in which our sons and daughters are classified as people who practice deviant and lascivious behavior. Perhaps some do, but most do not. These young men and women want only to survive, have a spiritual life, and stay close to their families and the Church. It is especially damaging when . . . negative references are spoken from the pulpit. . . . Many simply cannot tolerate the fact that Church members judge them as “evil people,” and they, therefore, find solace in gay-oriented lifestyles.
Notice how this letter assumes that gay people act on their attractions because straight people are mean to them. It would seem that the Church as a whole has adopted the same line of reasoning. “Be extremely nice to gay people, but firm about ‘sin’, and that’ll convince X number of gays to stay faithful. We can only hope that X increases as Niceness increases.”
Consider Oaks’ response to the parent:
The person that’s working [to resist] those tendencies ought not to feel himself to be a pariah. Now, quite a different thing is sexual relations outside of marriage. A person engaging in that kind of behavior should well feel guilt. . . . It’s not surprising to me that they would feel estranged from their church.
Ah, I see. So, if the gay person acts on their attractions, it’s either because (a) straight people were mean to them, or (b) they were selfish and wanted to sin.
That was the logic in 1995. The same logic is in place in 2013. (Actually, you could compare it to Boyd Packer’s writing in the 1970s about homosexuality as “selfishness in a subtle form”…the EXACT same logic is present today, even as Mormons say they’re turning away from Packer’s views of homosexuality.)
And Mormons wonder why people think their church is “anti-gay.”