Dear Madame L,
I have a gay friend who says the Mormon church hates gays and lesbians. Is that true?
Dear Truth Seeker,
Madame L thanks you for this question, which she is pretty sure will keep coming up more and more in coming months as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon church) is in the news because of Mitt Romney's running in the 2012 presidential election.
Madame L is no expert on any of the issues raised by your question, and emphasizes that her answer and comments here represent only herself and her own personal understandings and opinions, and not those of the LDS church or anyone else.
As you know, Madame L was raised in the LDS church and considers herself a good member of the church. She does not see any conflict between being gay or lesbian and being a member of the church. She acknowledges that it could be hard, since you can't be married in the temple to another person of the same sex. But she does know of some people who consider themselves homosexuals and good church members.
Madame L also thinks she understands the church's reasons for not wanting to perform marriages of same-sex couples, although she doesn't see any reason to prevent them from being married civilly and does see lots of reasons (including but not limited to issues of civil rights and Christ's example and teachings of loving all our brothers and sisters) to allow these marriages.
In fact, a recent posting on Slate.com, "Can you be both Mormon and gay?," explains that church leaders' understanding and explanations of issues surrounding homosexuality are changing, and Madame L welcomes this loving attitude toward LGBT's.
Other recent postings also discuss personal experiences of gay church members, and Madame L applauds and admires these people for how they're sharing their experiences and feelings with family and church and community members.
A related issue is of course whether people can be "born gay," and Madame L recommends a Scientific American Mind article that explores the research on this issue as well as a Salon.com article on how some "maverick" Mormon leaders are welcoming gay Mormons.
The church's current teaching on whether people are "born gay" is that we don't know all the causes of homosexuality, and anyway that doesn't matter as much as how we treat each other. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said recently, "Many questions in life, including some related to same-gender attractions, must await a future answer, even in the next life. Until then, the truth is, God loves all his children.”
Madame L also recommends Dear Prudence's advice on how to treat a young child who seems to be acting "gay."
Please feel free to write again about this issue or any other. Madame L will as always do her best to answer your questions and refer you to others who have more experience and understanding.