Hi! I was reading a bit about Boyd K Packer and found mention of a discontinued pamphlet To Young Men Only and about how it contained some homophobia, as well as how some of his talks implied that people can choose to be gay or not. Now, this is wikipedia, I know to take it with a grain (or two) of salt, but I can’t help but notice some seeming instances of homophobia in the Church. I know members aren’t perfect, but I dislike how recent some of these are. Do you have any advice?
I can see that you are having some doubts and questions. I’d like to begin my answer with a quote from Pres. Uchtdorf:
“Some might ask, “But what about my doubts?”
It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty.” Come, Join with Us
The first thing you need to do to find answers to your questions is to turn to the right sources i.e. prayer, the scriptures, modern day Leaders, etc. It is okay to go to the Lord with hard questions. It’s okay to ask Him what you just asked me. Sometimes answers come quickly; some answers can take a very long time. One thing I would caution you not to do though is to look for answers among people who are also confused (and those who have left the church. They can’t help build your faith.) I can tell from what you have said here — that is exactly what you’re doing. I don’t know all the answers about homosexuality, i.e. what causes it, etc. According to Elder Oaks, the church doesn’t have a position on that either:
“The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.” Same Gender Attraction
I read the talk by Elder Packer that you are referring to. Did you read it? It is good to always go to the source. Don’t let other people interpret our Leaders’ words for you, read them and pray about them yourself. While I understand why some might interpret Elder Packer’s words the way you mentioned here, I do not think that was his intention. I understood him to mean that you don’t have to act on same sex attraction. You may have those feelings, but you don’t have to act on them. The Church’s position on this is as follows:
“The intensity of same-sex attraction is not a measure of your faithfulness. Many people pray for years and do all they can to be obedient in an effort to reduce same-sex attraction, yet find they are still attracted to the same sex. Same-sex attraction is experienced along a spectrum of intensity and is not the same for everyone. Some are attracted to both genders, and others are attracted exclusively to the same gender. For some, feelings of same-sex attraction, or at least the intensity of those feelings, may diminish over time. In any case, a change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.” FAQ’s
You mentioned homophobia. Let’s talk about that for a moment. A lot of people use this word, but I don’t think they all mean the same thing when they use it. So we need to start with a definition. This definition is from vocabulary.com
“Homophobia is a hatred of or prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people.
Homophobia takes wildly different forms, from the state-sanctioned homophobia of countries that punish homosexuality with the death penalty, to playground teasing of a child who is labeled “gay” by his peers. The word homophobia literally means “fear of homosexual people,” from the Greek roots homos, “one and the same,” and phobia, “irrational fear of,” and its original use was closer to “fear by heterosexuals of being thought to be gay.” Homophobia Definition
Many people have accused not only Elder Packer, but the church in general (that means you too) of being homophobic. I read Elder Packer’s message and I didn’t see it as being hateful. I don’t think the Church’s position is hateful. So why are people calling us homophobic? Because to some people homophobic means “against gays” and they see anything or anyone that does not embrace the homosexual lifestyle as “homophobic.”
Keegan, I assume you know the church’s position which is simply this: it is not a sin to have homosexual feelings. But acting on those feelings is a sin.
The most important thing for you, Keegan, is to address this issue with the Lord. Ask Him if this position is His. I assure you it is, but you need to get your own testimony of that. Jesus never said anything about homophobia. He did say an awful lot about being kind and loving; and He has been quite explicit where the Law of Chastity is concerned. So to me the issue isn’t whether Packer’s talk was “homophobic”, however we choose to define that term. The issue is a) whether the Church teachings are “right” and b) whether Church members are exercising sufficient Christlike compassion within the constraints of the Law of Chastity that the Lord has established. You need to turn to the Lord and seek your answers from the True Source.
I hope that helps.