A Protected Class of Sin

Image result for rainbow flagEvery June, the LGBT community and its supporters engage in a month-long celebration of “Gay Pride Month”, filling social media with rainbow profile pictures, flying rainbow flags, and gay pride festivals and parades. Support for same-sex marriage and this form of serious sexual sin is visible even with some of those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court overturned the sovereignty of over two-thirds of the States on the issue of marriage. These majority states had made it clear—by voter initiated referendums—that natural marriage (the union of one man and one woman) is what defines marriage. In short, unelected justices overturned voice of the people, making same-sex marriage legal. Like those in the Book of Mormon, we observed “that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws … which the Lord commanded … and they saw that their laws had become corrupted” (Helaman 4:22) and “this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions” (Alma 2:3).

Some members of the Church have also been “drawn away after the persuasions” of the world and support same-sex marriage. However, they may not fully recognize that their support for it inadvertently supports serious sexual sin. These relationships are (and always will be) incompatible with the doctrine and standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To this point, we may be asking ourselves, “Then why is this particular sin supported by more members of the Church and their families than any sin? Is there any other sin that is supported as this one? What is it about this one that many seem to be so comfortable with supporting and affirming, but not others?” The answer to these questions is sobering: gay marriage has become a protected class of sin.

With the weight of our culture bearing down upon us, some in our wards and stakes have been convinced that same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships are somehow different, excusable and more acceptable than any other sin. By separating it from the list of more pedestrian and culturally-inappropriate sins (pornography use, drug and alcohol abuse, adultery, co-habitation, etc.) people feel justified in accepting and even condoning it. Perhaps this is how some in the Church feel okay—perhaps even noble—about supporting same-sex marriage. People are making special allowances for this sin that they would never make for any other sin.

Same-sex marriage as a protected class of sin.

Image result for gay marriage weddingPause for a moment and consider if there is any other sin (sexual or otherwise) that is so widely accepted or affirmed by some members of the Church as same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships. The next time you come across an article, meme, post or conversation in support of it, try substituting “same-sex marriage or relationships” with another sexual sin in its place (LDS.org lists adultery as an example.) Substitute “gay marriage” or “gay relationships” with “adultery” or “drug/alcohol use” or “pornography” into any LDS conversation when an individual is supporting same-sex marriage and see how quickly it changes things. In fact, try substituting “gay marriage” with any other sin in the conversation and see what happens. It’s an interesting exercise—you’ll find that it doesn’t work and shows how desensitized we have become to this particular sin. We are making special allowances and support for same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships that we would never make for any other ones. It’s difficult to find anything in comparison and nothing is granted so much leniency. Why is this so?

For this LDS audience, we are taught by prophets, apostles and the scriptures that sexual sin is among the most serious of all sin. All types of sin are not equal—sexual sin is treated with more weight. Yet even knowing this, perhaps condoning and accepting it is easier and less risky than speaking truth about it in our wards and stakes. We may not want to come across as unpopular so we avoid difficult conversations with fellow Church members when these issues are brought up. We’re often unsure (or perhaps afraid) of how to teach the doctrine and standards with kindness and are afraid of being called intolerant, hateful or bigoted. Surely we should be sensitive and not harsh when teaching truth about sin and the standards of the church. Yet if we do not teach this issue with clarity, we do so at the peril of allowing false doctrine to be accepted in our families, classes or callings.

Of this, Elder Christofferson taught:

There’s no kindness in misdirecting people and leading them into any misunderstanding about what is true, what is right, what is wrong, what leads to Christ and what leads away from Christ.

As members of the Church, we are responsible to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to illuminate the great blessings that flow from heeding God’s commandments as well as the inevitable consequences of ignoring them. We invite you to pray that people everywhere will have their hearts softened to the truths of the gospel. (link)

Same-sex marriage is institutionalized sexual sin.

Image result for love of christ lds.orgImportant side note before proceeding: Many members quote the Salt Lake Tribune article discussing an interview that Elder Christofferson had on KUTV (link), indicating that it is “okay for members to support same-sex marriage”. However, they use words of an apostle to dismiss the absolutely crucial connections to the doctrine and standards, missing what Elder Christofferson also teaches in that same interview. He never said that “gay marriage is okay” but that there are “differing opinions” on the subject. There is an eventual hope and expectation that, at some point, one will come into alignment with the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We cannot use this brief remark as a license to support serious sexual sin and abuse the words of an Apostle. Let us not use this to justify homosexual activism or support for gay marriage when our doctrine eternally and will forever oppose it. Rather, let us teach true doctrine and eternal principles. An accurate understanding of Church doctrine is crucial in order to remain fully grounded in the gospel while living in a society that is so deeply opposed to it.

With new laws and changes in public policy bringing it to the forefront, we are seeing an increase of support for same-sex marriage within our wards and stakes (particularly within the rising generation and their peers.) Herein lies the doctrinal deception and great misunderstanding by so many wonderful members of the Church: supporting and affirming same-sex marriage is supporting and affirming something, directly or indirectly, that involves serious sexual sin, excommunication and has been declared as an act of apostasy by prophets of God. This becomes clear especially when viewed through the lens of doctrine, standards and eternal truths.

In The Church Handbook of Instructions, The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles directs that a disciplinary council is mandatory for members in same-sex marriages and lists same-sex marriage as an act of apostasy. They also teach that “adults who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council.” (link) In conjunction with this, Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught “same-sex marriage as particularly grievous or significant, serious kind of sin that requires Church discipline” (link), while also noting what Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught about it: “Applying the First Presidency’s distinction to the question of same-sex relationships, we should distinguish between (1) homosexual (or lesbian) “thoughts and feelings” (which should be resisted and redirected), and (2) “homosexual behavior” (which is a serious sin)” (link).

This direction and counsel should give us reason to pause and carefully examine what we support. It’s something that may be difficult to understand, particularly for youth or young adults of the Church who are immersed in it as part of their culture. Yet we will need to help them to understand, ever patiently and lovingly, that warning and teaching about the sin of same-sex marriage is, indeed, “preaching what we practice“.

In summary, a good rule of thumb for dealing with difficult issues is this: If it’s where the Church doctrine and the prophets and apostles stand, then it’s where I need to stand. The Lord’s side of the line is always the right side of the line.

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Angela Fallentine

Angela Fallentine is the Co-Founder of Mormon Women Stand. She is a native of Alberta, Canada and has loved living in New Zealand and briefly in Europe. She is a researcher and analyst for a think tank in New York which focuses on social issues, religious freedom and international policy affecting the family at the United Nations.

30 thoughts on “A Protected Class of Sin

  1. Gabrielle Woolwine

    Just an editing note… “This direction and council” should read “This direction and COUNSEL”.
    Loved the article, thank you!

  2. Tori

    Thank you, Angela! While I believe in treating those with same-sex attraction with dignity and compassion (as our leaders encourage), my love for those who have SSA does *not* lead me to question our doctrine or create a space between myself and the prophets and apostles. I believe in them and trust their guidance and counsel.

  3. Katie Moore

    Thank you for your courage. I wrote a post about this issue from the perspective of the Prodigal Daughter: a refellowshipped member of the Church. I explain the lessons I learned, and how they apply to the gay marriage issue. Please, Mormon Women (and Men), be a REAL friend: one who stands for truth, in love. People like who I once was NEED you to be. https://oilstories.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/the-rainbow-connection/

  4. James Stone

    Well said. In this day and age is takes a lot of courage to write and post something like this.

    It’s sad that so many LDS members have been deceived when it comes to the issue of Same Sex Marriage. I fear that in the near future this will cause a huge division in the church.

    Best,

    James

  5. Colin

    Thanks for your article. I agree that it’s important to follow the brethren and be 100%, which is why I still oppose same-sex marriage. But I’d be interested to see if you could help me answer this question that I get a lot from non-member friends: “Why is same-sex marriage so bad beside the fact that God said so?” I have yet to find a good answer. How am I supposed to explain to my gay cousin that his love for his husband isn’t legitimate when their relationship appears to have all the characteristics of heterosexual relationship?

    (P.S. I don’t want a “Because Elder _______ said _____.” type of answer. I want a reason. “A why.”)

    1. Angela Fallentine Post author

      There is so much said on this, Colin. So very much. The easy answer is that you will probably may not be able to convince your non-member friends entirely about the problem with gay marriage unless they are also coming from a religious background and believe in morality and the right and wrong. So let’s assume they don’t believe in God and go from a secular reasoning:

      Simply put, traditional marriage in society has always considered marriage to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman and that this relationship (which is the only one that creates a child) is the absolute best possible place for the rearing, nurturing, stability and development of children (there are many, many statistics and research that delves into this.) So when we put it into the perspective of the family (the fundamental unit of society) we see how same-sex marriage creates inequality for children. Two men cannot mother, and two women cannot father.

      Scholar Dr. Ryan Anderson describes it this way:

      “Marriage is society’s best way of ensuring the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children, we saw yesterday, by encouraging men and women to commit permanently and exclusively to each other and take responsibility for their children. But redefining marriage further distances marriage from the needs of children and denies the importance of mothers and fathers. Redefining marriage rejects as a matter of policy the ideal that children need a mother and a father.”

      Even if you were to take children out of the equation, we still get into public policy. “Laws on marriage work by promoting a true vision of the institution, making sense of marital norms as a coherent whole. Law affects culture. Culture affects beliefs. Beliefs affect actions. The law teaches, and it shapes the public understanding of what marriage is and what it demands of spouses.”
      On top of this, we are seeing a rapid increase in religious persecution for those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and that it is the best place for children. There are thousands of cases and examples if you follow this issue. It is getting worse and our beliefs and right to speak freely are becoming limited. This is how gay marriage deeply directly affects you and I.

      I could go on and there are many social science researchers that discuss the very different characteristics of homosexual relationships. They aren’t at all the same as heterosexual ones. I encourage you to study these above mentioned points in greater detail. It can make perfect sense from both a religious and non-religious perspective.

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. Camille

        Just because someone enters into a heterosexual marriage and then brings children into the marriage does not guarantee that those children will be raised by both a mother and father. Of course that is the ideal, but it is all too often not the reality. Not even being sealed in the temple can make that guarantee.

    2. Nappaljarri

      Hi Colin. I hope this helps. I don’t have time to look up references… But I am sure you will, being such a pressing issue. 1. True love is defined by God and only fits within the pattern of eternal families (the New and everlasting covenant). 2. Homosexual sin is a serious sin which prevents the making and keeping of the New and Everlasting covenant…. Therefore it is a very serious sin which stops God’s children from receiving full everlasting joy. 3. So basically put… Homosexual sin doesn’t fit into the plan of salvation. I don’t think there would be any point in trying to explain to your cousin that his relationship with his husband isn’t legit in some way. That wouldn’t be your purpose. Just explaining to him the plan of salvation and God’s desire for all of His children to have eternal joy. 4. Now if you wanted to learn for yourself (not to preach this point to homosexuals)… You could do some research into homosexual sin being part of satanic ritual. That is a rabbits hole…. But the quick explanation is – God has a pattern of living which involves marriage between a man and a woman and their ability (and commandment from him to pro-create)…. Therefore Satan also has his counterfeit religion… Which always involves doing the opposite of what God commands…. In the case of marriage…. Satan wants to blur sexual boundaries and get Gods children doing anything that kills eternal family bonds (or the possibility of families as defined by God).

    3. Susan Cunningham

      God’s purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. In order to do that mortals have to bring to pass the mortal life of man. I believe Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed not because God hated the people or is an angry God but because He could no longer fulfill his purposes and therefore destruction was the only way to move the work forward.

  6. Sherrie

    If you don’t mind. I would like to take a moment to express my feelings in relation to your article.
    I’m speaking from the point of view as a mom.
    I have a 28 year old gay son. He came to us after being raised in the gospel. After serving a worthy mission, trying to date girls, attending BYU at the age of 21. So, It hasn’t been easy for our family or him.
    I do feel he tried to live the gospel accordingly.
    I’ve asked myself at times. Why? I don’t want to go deeply into this question. But I do know, I love my son. I would never turn him away, As I know some church members have turned their children away, when finding this out. This has led their child to suicide or to feel even more lost in this life.
    I have a strong testimony of our gospel. My son is not active in the gospel he grew up in. We have come to an understanding here on earth. I’ll never give up on my son. I pray for him each day. This life here on earth comes with trials. Some to which we, may never overcome here on earth. Even as a mom, it’s not my place to judge. But, it is my place to love unconditionally, to teach with an understanding, to be an example of my testimony and faith. I just wanted to take this time to express the difference of thoughts one may have on this vital church issue. Especially, when it’s your own son or daughter.

    1. Angela Fallentine Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful and heartfelt comments, Sherrie! I agree with everything you said and you expressed it beautifully. Much love to you and your family.

      1. Teri

        I pray that in our efforts to be “non judge mental” we don’t condone the behavior. As a recovering alcoholic (33 years) and a member of the church, I realized how I could browbeat my family into not judging me and it almost killed me. Stand your ground “love the sinner, but don’t enable them to continue down Satans path. The article was terrific, thank you!

  7. Sharon Cohen

    I loved this article.

    I recognize that the greatest difficulty we might have as members of the church is in the commandment to love one another. Exactly how do we love the sinner and not the sin?

    I have seen how difficult it is for some . . . or many . . . to know how to love the homosexual without condoning the sin. For some it is a serious challenge to love someone whose activities or behaviors are in direct opposition to the commandments. We may erroneously tolerate the sin in hopes that our love will somehow seem more genuine or be more apparent. I have been blessed to be married to an alcoholic who abandoned his drinking (and his drugs) due to a massive stroke. In rebuilding his self, he found the church, was baptized and lives as a temple recommend holder with all the joys of revelation and with most of the trials that all mortals endure.

    Because of him, I have learned that an alcoholic who chooses to remain sober is only slightly different than a homosexual who chooses to remain celibate. Both are refraining from sin and both are to be loved and commended. The only difference is in the heirarchy of sins . . . with homosexual behavior being more egregious than drinking alcohol.

    My love for him is eternal and unconditional . . . as is the hope in all marriages. Without sharing the details, I can assure you that I have learned line upon line, precept upon precept, to love him unconditionally. I have not yet achieved the love that the Savior holds for him . . . but I like to believe that every day I get a little closer.

    If he were to drink again . . . I would still love him. But I would have to change our conversation . . .

    . . . as defined in the KJV . . . . conversation usually means behavior, way of life, or conduct, rather than the modern sense of talking together.

    1. Angela Fallentine Post author

      What a great comment, Sharon. You have taught this principle so incredibly well and I hope everyone has the chance to see your comment.

  8. Leah

    There’s a difference between acknowledging the legal right to marry as codified under the law and actively advocating for said law. We cross a line when we do the latter. Actively supporting sin isn’t truly compassionate. We can…and should…love those who make life choices we disagree with but we aren’t required to agree with or support those choices. Our Father in Heaven and the Savior love us unconditionally but they also call us to repentance when we sin.

  9. Barb

    Thank you for your timely article.

    I would like to validate Sherrie’s post.

    I just received an invitation to my daughter and her partners wedding. She knows that I love her unconditionally and her father and I will be attending the wedding. We have come to a mutual respect and deep understanding that her beliefs will not change mine and mine will not change hers. We are truly powerless over each other’s belief systems.

    Hugging someone with a cigarette doesn’t mean I broke the Word of Wisdom. Loving my child and loving who my child loves does not jeopardize my own salvation. Having Christlike love for her and expressing that love has been an experience that has brought me closer to my Savior. I am heartbroken for the children who are ostracized because their parents simply don’t understand the true principles of the gospel. Hate the sin; love the sinner. I cannot justify someone else’s behavior. I can only be accountable for my own.

    1. Sherrie

      Thank you Barb for sharing. I appreciate your words. Especially on your daughter and partners wedding.
      I know this will happen with my son. He has talked with me about his search for a companion.
      As you, my son and I have come to a mutual respect and deep understanding. This experience has also brought me closer to my Savior, and a forever love, and, understanding of the Atonement.
      Barb, Your reply to this article really touched my heart. Thank you again for sharing your personal experience.
      My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    2. Marcia

      Barb:
      Hugging some one who is acting on same-sex attraction doesn’t mean I have committed a sin either; but attending, and thus supporting, a same-sex wedding is validating and normalizing same-sex behavior and sexual sin. No matter how much I may want to believe otherwise. The reality is that every same-sex “partner” is the manifestation of the sin of acting on same-sex inclinations.

      The manifestation of homosexual sin is not a bottle of booze, or a syringe of heroin; or a bottle of oxyocodone; it is a person – not an object. That’s what makes this all so tough! With this in mind: “Loving who my child loves doesn’t jeopardize my own salvation.” If it is in the context of your child’s same-sex partner (rather than a person that I am choosing to engage with – a part from my child), it is literally “loving the sin.” Example: “Loving WHAT my child loves doesn’t jeopardize my own salvation.” (Now insert “drugs, pills, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. for the WHAT). This may not “jeopardize one’s salvation,” but it certainly makes one an enabler and one who is condoning destructive behavior – even sin.

      It seems the manifestation of homosexual sin is “a person not an object/product” conundrum has helped Satan in his quest to get members of the church to accept and normalize same-sex behavior. This article, “A Protected class of sin,” is spot on.

  10. Rickigoodfellah

    Where there is struggle there is mercy where there is rebellion there is punishment. Any practice or doctrine which prevents a person from achieving their maximum potential and would disqualify them from the celestial Kingdom is not from God. Marriage is ordained by God between one man and one woman.Finally, wickedness never was happiness. God will not be mocked. With all of these thoughts, quotes and scriptures there are truths that exist that are not alterable to suit a particular lifestyle choice! God makes the laws we follow them or not this is our purpose here in mortality in the laws me we always get what we desire, as well as everything else that goes with it!

  11. hanksbsmokey

    While my family is now grown and have children of their own, I have already made the decision as to what I will choose – the love, health and well being of one of my children (or grandchildren) or “The Church”. I will turn my back on “The Church” in an instant; if it remains positioned to harm one of my own. These children of God were created in his image (just as we were) and do not deserve to be treated as “less than”.

  12. Jeff C.

    Daniel Peterson at BYU picked up this post and wrote a short and sweet rcommentary here:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2017/06/protected-class-sin.html?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

    Here it is in case the link doesn’t work:

    “A very few years ago, a statement such as this would have been utterly uncontroversial. It’s a measure of how far we’ve come — for better or for worse — that publishing sentiments like these today can plausibly be viewed as either (a) an act of remarkable moral courage or (b) amazingly foolhardy. (Not to mention that, in some quarters, it will be regarded as a hate crime, a display of hateful bigotry, and a throwback to days of evil that we’ve thankfully left far behind.)

    It’s an interesting exercise, though.

    I tend to think that, if we work hard enough at it, social/psychological/familial factors can almost always be identified as factors contributing to (or, sometimes, even mitigating or extenuating) many acts — e.g., pedophilia, shoplifting, infidelity, gang affiliations, spouse and child abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, embezzlement, fraud, and so forth — that we typically regard as deeply problematic if not altogether sinful and/or criminal. If you substitute one of those in discussions of same-sex marriage in the manner suggested by this article, though, you’ll probably notice that they just don’t work. Or, for the fun of it, try substituting the word polygamy.”

  13. Katherine Crapo

    There is nothing loving about encouraging others of being denied their opportunity for exaltation.

  14. Katherine Crapo

    There is nothing loving in encouraging others to forfeit their opportunity for eternal life and exaltation.

  15. Jane

    I think it’s important to separate supporting gay marriage and supporting gay pride. I have friends that participate in gay pride that are following all the standards. And there’s this lovely page. https://mormonandgay.lds.org/

    Supporting gay pride can mean different things for many different people. It can provide support for people that need it.

    1. Karen

      Jane that is true that it can mean different things for different people but gay pride is not known for being any sort of chaste or virtuous behavior. Quite the contrary actually and they’re filled with awful lewdness, nudity and countless other acts — not to mention that it supports sin. I think that’s what the author was getting at because what we support can be actually bad. We need to choose whether we support God’s side or the world’s and gay pride parades and everything else like it is the world.

  16. @gmail.com

    Standing ovation. Bravo.

    As was mentioned by a person on the FB page, the only real disagreement I have with this piece is the characterization of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision as “legalizing” same- sex “marriage”. No, what happened and how critics of same-sex “marriage” should frame this is as the US Supreme Court overturning the sovereignty of over 2/3 of the States that made clear by voter initiated referendums that natural marriage, i.e. the union of ONE man and ONE woman, is the only union that will be recognized as a marriage. This is how self government works. Nobody has to like it, but use judicial elites to overturn a majority’s sense of moral order and you will have many things, but one of them will not be any political harmony.”

    But ultimately, this article hits the nail on the head and parts the curtain on the real mentality in the Christian culture today. The only sin that gets so much protection for Christians is homosexuality and thus the premise of the article is correct. Homosexuality is indeed a protected class of sin. The outrage by those who are for gay marriage in the LDS church proves this. No other articles on another type of sin gets attacked, but this one does because it’s indeed protected.

    I appreciated the exercise of substituting different sexual sins in context of various other sins and then asking people to please tell me if they still would use that same mantra when it comes to other sins. Eventually, they sheepishly admit that there is a double standard and hypocrisy. I (and likely many) will now use this exercise in future discussions about this sin because it is so effective at showing this protected class of sin. Great way to teach youth about this too.

    It’s not kindness or loving to give a free pass for someone engaging in self-destructive behavior (which homosexuality and gay marriage are.) But try explaining the doctrine and standards of morality to those who refuse to call sin a sin.

    I saw this excellent quote today which sums up the utterly ridiculous reaction the LDS leftists have had on this article (an article that simply states truth):

    “Hell hath no fury like immorality masquerading as a virtuous principle.”

  17. Sherilee

    The Salt Lake Tribune interview with Elder Christofferson has become the go to place for members of the church trying to justify support for gay marriage. The interview has been taken seriously out of context, out of gospel context, out of context with those official church statements on the topic.

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