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Mormons with same-sex attraction can find peace by focusing on Jesus Christ and his atonement, an LDS Church general authority told a conference on Saturday that focused on members with such attractions.

"Through the infinite and eternal atonement, we can be reconciled and sit comfortably in peace by [the] side of Christ and Heavenly Father," said Elder Jay E. Jensen, of the church's Presidency of the Seventy.

He spoke at the 21st annual conference of Evergreen International, which describes itself as "the same-sex voice of faithful" LDS members. The one-day conference, in the church's Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, focused on resources to help members who struggle with same-sex attraction.

"There is hope and there is healing" for everyone — not just those with same-sex attraction — through the atonement, Jensen told the opening session. He said an example is shown through experiences shared with the group by a man introduced only as "Spencer."

Spencer said he was close to suicide in the past year as he struggled with same-sex attraction in a church that says homosexual acts, but not the attraction itself, are a sin.

Spencer said as he sought God, he found that "same-sex attraction is just a trial that God allows us to experience for whatever reason. We can sit and question our whole lives why … but this is a great opportunity for us to learn to grow to become the man that God sent us here to become. Trials don't define us. It's what we do with our trials in life that truly defines what we are.

"I know that he [God] loves you, loves me and loves all of us, and that he will be there for you," he said.

Jensen urged those who struggle to focus on Christ and the promise that comes through his payment for sins of the repentant through the atonement, and his willingness to help carry burdens for those who seek help. Jensen said the atonement helps "reconciliation" with God, which he defined as allowing mankind to return to sit with God again.

"I want to sit with God the Father again, where I sat with him for ages" before birth, Jensen said. "And through the atonement of Christ, he makes that possible."

He said those who try to follow Christ will find that he "encircles in the arms of safety" and will help them find peace and joy, and escape despair. —

More online

O has a listing of Evergreen's beliefs and resources. The group calls itself the "same-sex voice of faithful Latter-day Saints."