How you answer this question will determine whether I move forward with my conversion process or stop it. What is the OFFICIAL teaching of the church in regard to homosexuality? Does the church support, condone, accept the practices of homosexuality? Recent statements by church leaders seem to me to be accepting. Am I correct?
This is certainly one of the more controversial topics, and it’s incredibly complex. From time to time, the Church teachings on sexuality (which are very similar to virtually all other Christian denominations) are brought into the news and are a hot topic in conversation. While I understand how important the topic might be to you, I want to caution you slightly. Going further in your conversion should not be based on any one teaching-no matter how important-of the church. Nor should it be based strictly on the answer I provide here. That would be a little unfair.
The brilliant writer CS Lewis, in his book “Mere Christianity” said, “Chastity might be the hardest teaching that Christians have to follow, and there is no getting around it.” He was, of course, correct. Chastity means remaining celibate until you are married, and once you are married, it means being completely faithful to your spouse. Like Lewis said, there is not a lot of room here. It is often lost in the conversation about sexuality, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints believes that all unmarried people, homosexual or not, are to remain chaste until they are married.
There is a very big difference between homosexual inclination/tendencies and homosexual activity. Someone who has tendencies and inclinations is not committing a sin if they choose not to act on those tendencies. This is no different than an unmarried heterosexual having inclinations towards someone of the opposite gender but choosing not to act on them.
President Gordon B. Hinckley had this to say during the October 1998 session of General Conference:
People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
Modern day prophets and apostles have also stated that marriage is between a man and a woman. In the famous statement, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states,
“Marriage is between a man and a woman and is ordained by God.” It also counsels us that, “Sexual relations are sacred and properly take place between a married man and woman.”
While the proclamation is over twenty years old, numerous modern talks from our apostles and prophets state the same thing. Therefore, in the eyes of the Church homosexual marriage is not valid, and two individuals of the same gender are committing fornication if they engage in sexual relations, even if they are civilly married. So homosexual sexual activity, like unmarried heterosexual activity, is considered sinful in the eyes of the Church.
Even though the Church does not condone homosexual activity, the Church is still deeply concerned about the plight of homosexuals and their mental health and well being. The Church has made recent statements and contributions to various charities that deal directly with homosexuality. The Church is also vehemently against bigotry of any kind and has supported certain laws that make discrimination against homosexuals illegal. Yet at the same time would not allow a homosexual couple to reside in a place such as BYU married housing. So while the church teachings on sexuality might be difficult for some of us to accept, the Church has great love towards people of the LGBT community and does consider them children of God.
Here are some additional links that might be beneficial to you:
Timothy, I hope this answers your question and you are in my prayers.