Often people will challenge the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ heteronormative position on human sexuality using soundbites borrowed from racial or other equality struggles earlier in the century, and Latter-day Saints find it difficult to know how to respond without appearing unkind or bigoted. [1] To that end, this brief article presents talking points defending the Church’s position on sexuality (more extensive discussions are in the links provided).

Regardless of the approach used, for many, any attempt to defend the Church’s position is by definition bigoted. Even if members emphasize God’s love for all his children, to many this will seem disingenuous if it is not accompanied by a disavowal of the Church’s heteronormativity, and therefore to some extent, orthodox Church members will simply have to absorb the inevitable opposition discussed by President Oaks in the October 2018 General Conference.

Shouldn’t the law of chastity apply equally to everyone?

It does apply equally to everyone. The Church has clearly stated that sexual relations are to be restricted to a man and woman who are legally and lawfully married. The fact that the relationship has to be mixed-sex component is a big part of what the law of chastity is about.

If two people love each other, want to be monogamous, and want to be active in the Church, shouldn’t that be enough? [The implication, rarely vocalized, is that the Church should solemnize same-sex sealings].

No, it is made clear in D&C 132 as well as through the words of modern prophets and in The Family: A Proclamation to the World that while love and concern is a big part of marital relations, it is not the sole reason for it. Sex is eternal, and both complementary halves of humanity are required for deification and eternal increase. [2] While many same-sex sealing advocates also argue for more public emphasis on Heavenly Mother, they seem oblivious to the fact that erasing gender distinctions would eliminate the need for a Heavenly Mother.

Don’t you know that the Church’s position is killing gay kids?

There isn’t any solid evidence for this claim. [3],[4] Furthermore, insisting that it does this in an attempt to force the Church into a corner risks causing suicide contagion (the spread of suicide that can happen when people think others are committing suicide) for the very group the advocates of this faith-demoting rumor are trying to protect.

The Church is going to change on this issue just like it changed doctrine pertaining to black people and the priesthood.

Blacks were given the priesthood in the earliest days of the Church, and throughout the history of the Church, various Church leaders promised a time when they would receive the priesthood. This has never happened in the case of same-sex sealings. Some members of the Church believe that same-sex sealings are a natural logical extension of racial rights, but this is very arguable and can be insulting to members of color who support the Church’s position. [5]

Why would God make LGBTQ+ individuals this way if he didn’t provide a way for them to express themselves sexually?

The gospel sometimes asks people to sacrifice a variety of things, so why would sexuality be exempt? People are born with all sorts of dispositions, sexual or otherwise, that run contrary to the Gospel. For example, there are people born with high levels of sociosexuality for whom monogamy is extremely difficult.They are expected to be monogamous anyway. [6]

But members of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t just expected to sacrifice sexuality—they are expected to sacrifice love.

As noted above, though the intimate love relation is an important part of gospel-ordained marital relation, it is still only a part of the relationship, and under Latter-day Saint theology, a same-sex couple can never become deified. [7],[8]

The Church is going against the direction of history.

Versions of the “direction of history” argument have been used by all sorts of people from guillotining French Revolutionaries to Nazis because at certain points it looked like the direction of history was tipping in their direction. It’s not clear that anyone knows what the “direction of history” is and why, for that matter, it should act as some sort of moral guide. Rates of drug deaths are soaring right now—is that the direction of history? [9]

Are my nice gay neighbors sinners?

Yes, but we all are. Different laws have different blessings attached to them (D&C 130:21), and to obtain the highest glory we must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of mixed-sex marriage in this life or the next (D&C 131:2, D&C 132). We have to be nice and fulfill other requirements. Their niceness will cause them to inherit an eternal heavenly glory in the same way that one’s nice coffee drinking neighbor who never joined the Church or the sweet cohabiting mixed-sex couple next door will. [10]

Jesus never talked about homosexuality.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clearly does not base its doctrine solely on the extant sayings of Jesus Christ or on a particular interpretation of the Bible. We believe in a living prophet.

The Church still implies that being gay is a choice.

This is demonstrably false. In virtually every recent treatment of this issue it is either explicitly noted or implied that people have a variety of non-chosen sexual and physical dispositions.

You are homophobic.

A phobia is a clinical term describing somebody who is pathologically and irrationally afraid of something, so no, I am not homophobic. I hold no animus and feel no fear of LGBTQ+ individuals. The use of that term literally connotes that somebody has to be mentally ill in order to disagree with a position, and there is a dark historical precedent in pathologizing social, political, or theological disagreement.

Are you an ally?

I consider myself an ally and friend to every racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual identity. Whether particular individuals in those groups consider me an ally in return is their decision.

As a straight person, you can’t possibly know what gay members of the Church are going through.

Of course. Christ is the only person who has ever lived on this earth who can rightfully claim to know what everybody has been through, but that doesn’t mean that we are only allowed to have opinions about things that we have personally experienced. Christ experienced every type of pain and suffering, and yet there are still commandments we have to follow if we expect to be exalted.

Do you have any gay friends or family members?

[If yes]. Yes, but I’m not going to use my relationship with them as a prop in an argument. Arguments should be able to stand on their own feet regardless of the identity of the person making them. Also, often when people with heteronormative beliefs claim affiliation with LGBTQ+ individuals, it is mocked as a “some of my best friends are . . . ,” so there is no winning this one even if we do have LGBTQ+ friends or family.

The Church’s position on this issue will make it less appealing to people.

First and foremost, whether something makes the Church popular is logically unrelated to whether it is the will of God. If God cared a lot about making his restored Church popular, our history would have been very different! Second, this attitude betrays an incredibly Western-centric, narrow-minded perspective on the part of the person making it, since it is only true for a relatively small slice of the world’s population that tend to live in highly developed Western countries where religion in general (and not just the conservative variety) is declining in importance anyway. [11] For example, as this paper was under review, the generally liberal-leaning United Methodist Church voted against solemnizing same-sex unions largely due to the influence of their African congregations.

We should love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

Of course! I agree, and so do all General Authorities and virtually all Church members; this is not a controversial point in the Latter-day Saint community. There is no contradiction and no insincerity in having a testimony of the Church’s position on human sexuality while loving people unconditionally, regardless of their life choices. This theme is abundant in the Church’s messaging on the subject.


[1] There is also a decided lack of people in the Latter-day Saint intelligentsia (including those connected the Church’s educational institutions) who are willing to explicitly defend the Church’s position, either because they are scared of appearing hateful or because they do not agree with the Church’s position to begin with. [Back to manuscript].

[2] http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPlatosSon.html --- [Back to manuscript].

[3] https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900021663/op-ed-responding-to-ellen-on-mormons-and-teen-suicide.html, https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900069533/guest-opinion-the-church-and-lgbt-youth-suicide-inaccurate-claims-may-do-more-harm-than-good.html
--- [Back to manuscript].

[4] Even if there was some correlational evidence (which there is not), it is just as likely that the counter-narrative of miserable celibate gay Latter-day Saints would be responsible. Instead of trying to convince orthodox gay Latter-day Saints that they can be happy, which would be the responsible thing to do mental health-wise, people who use this argument try to convince gays trying to live the gospel that they have to be miserable. This explains the sometimes vicious reactions against publicly orthodox gay Latter-day Saints. The people using this argument are the ones telling LGBT youth that the Latter-day Saint God doesn’t love them and is dooming them to a life of misery. This is certainly found nowhere in any Church messaging, which is all about how unconditionally and thoroughly God loves them. A true pluralism and mutual tolerance would involve giving space to those who want to remain celibate to live out their beliefs, and help them find happiness regardless. [Back to manuscript].

[5] https://discussingmarriage.org/objection-from-blacks-and-the-priesthood/?fbclid=IwAR2oNad3GvzEoyeMp9O1X_pMzW2nJ4rsnTn43W49P1UWtLx-mRLXxT_lqus#.XCEHbExFztR --- [Back to manuscript].

[6] http://www.ldsphilosopher.com/hedonism-vs-atonement/ --- [Back to manuscript].

[7] www.ldsphilosopher.com/expressive-individualism/?fbclid=IwAR3-meYBUiO0pgx4iGgUHlcjcPXAUsow77XOTdQU6DRLk4F2QfS9DN5_Lrc --- [Back to manuscript].

[8] www.ldsphilosopher.com/therapeutic-deism/ --- [Back to manuscript].

[9] https://discussingmarriage.org/the-objection-from-bandwagon/#.XCEIrUxFztR --- [Back to manuscript].

[10] www.ldsphilosopher.com/is-it-enough-to-be-a-good-person/ --- [Back to manuscript].

[11] See, for example, the writings of the African Catholic Cardinal Robert Sarah. https://catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2019/04/05/as-a-bishop-it-is-my-duty-to-warn-the-west-an-interview-with-cardinal-sarah/ --- [Back to manuscript].

Full Citation for this Article: Anonymous (2019) "How to Defend the Church’s Position on Sexuality: Talking Points," SquareTwo, Vol. 12 No. 1 (Spring 2019), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleAnonymousDefendingChurch.html, accessed <give access date>.

Would you like to comment on this article? Thoughtful, faithful comments of at least 100 words are welcome. Please submit to SquareTwo.

COMMENTS: 0 Comments