Will The Mormon Church Ever Accept Gays?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 15 2012 @ 11:00am

Max Perry Mueller sees Josh Weed's story as a certain sort of progress. How the Mormon Church may eventually see gays and lesbians:

Last year, Taylor Petrey, a straight Mormon and Harvard-trained theologian, published an essay in the Mormon journal Dialogue entitled “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology.” Without advocating for a change in official church doctrine, Petrey argued that Mormons should “think less about the types of sex that people are having, and more about the types of relationships that people are building.” That shift in focus would allow the LDS Church to understand consensual, homosexual sex taking place in monogamous relationships the same way it understands the sex being had by straight married couples. According to Petrey, such a reorientation would allow church leaders “to adopt the same standard that they hold for heterosexual couples, that the relationship as a whole is the primary point of religious attention, not the details of sexual practices performed in such a relationship.”

Neither Petrey nor [Ken] Wilcox [a gay Mormon working on a documentary about LGBT Mormons] expects such a change in thinking to happen anytime soon. Unlike the 1978 revelation that allowed black Latter-day Saints full participation in the Mormon Church, the kinds of reforms required to make gay Mormons full and equal members of the Latter-day Saint community radically change the way Mormons think of their (explicitly male, implicitly heterosexual) “Heavenly Father.”

Neil Young ponders outreach efforts by gay-friendly Mormons: 

[T]he Salt Lake City gay pride parade the first weekend of June included a surprise: some 300 heterosexual members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Calling themselves "Mormons Building Bridges," the group explained on its Facebook page that marching in the parade would be its first effort in a larger project to reach out to gay Mormons with "understanding and respect after many years of strife and heartbreak."

I have some personal experience with this. An old boyfriend of mine was basically traumatized by his own church because of his sexual orientation. He told me church officials followed him around to gay bars, confronted him and his family, and forced him to flee everything he knew growing up. He was a force of nature who lived with AIDS far longer than he should have. And at his funeral, much of his family was absent. Mormonism is so all-encompassing a culture, so tight a network of families, that ostracism is particularly hard on those who cannot get an eternal spouse as ordained by the LDS church. It is such a heterosexual religion – based on eternal family couplings – that the plight of the gay Mormon is an acutely painful one for many.

But I have to say that in my visits to Salt Lake City to talk to huge PFLAG groups, I saw an emerging generation of parents and siblings of gay Mormons who are insistent that Mormon family values extend to gay family members as well. I'm hopeful – probably more hopeful for gay Mormons than I am for gay Catholics, in so far as changing doctrine is concerned. Throughout history, Mormonism has adjusted – sometimes radically, as with race – to meet the temper of the times. They aim to please – and to grow.

(Video of a young Mormon who marched in the Salt Lake City gay pride parade from the earlier this month.)