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The LDS Church has posted the contents of a new pamphlet about same-sex attraction on its Web site.
The piece, titled "God Loveth His Children," reiterates the church's long-held distinction between same-sex attractions and actions, suggesting that only the latter are immoral. According to LDS doctrine, sexuality is only appropriate within heterosexual marriage. Everyone else is expected to be chaste.
It acknowledges that some singles, homosexual and heterosexual, may never marry in this life, but "will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God's children may find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children."
"God Loveth His Children" recommends that homosexuals continue to be active in the church, contributing money and time. It urges them to find therapists who share their Mormon values and suggests that they not "flaunt" their homosexuality or endlessly discuss it.
"It is better to choose as friends those who do not publicly display their homosexual feelings," the pamphlet says.
It is not clear how the new pamphlet will be distributed and used. LDS spokesman Scott Trotter declined to comment on reports that it is being sent to all Mormon bishops and stake presidents.
In recent years, leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have faced criticism within and outside the church for earlier statements on the sinfulness of homosexual feelings and for their political opposition to same-sex marriage. At the same time, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley and others have acknowledged they don't know what causes homosexuality and have urged members to be more accepting of those who experience same-sex attraction.
A year ago, the church posted on its Web site a wide-ranging interview on the topic with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and Elder Lance Wickman, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy. The two leaders - both lawyers - made no claims to divine or institutional authority but shared their views on what causes homosexuality (they don't know), whether gays choose their attractions (not likely), change therapies (they don't endorse any of them), whether Mormon gays should marry women ("doesn't usually solve the problem"), the distinction between civil unions and marriage for gays, the arguments connecting early Mormon polygamy and same-sex marriage and why the church endorsed a constitutional marriage amendment.
Last week, the LDS Church News published the stories of anonymous Mormon men who had life-long homosexual feelings. Though several of them were married to women, the church no longer officially encourages homosexual men to marry women as a way to "solve their problem."
The most recent pamphlet does not suggest that those with same-sex attraction marry, either. But it does say that heaven is "organized by families, which require a man and a woman who together exercise their creative powers within the bounds the Lord has set. . . Without both a husband and a wife there would be no eternal family and no opportunity to become like Heavenly Father."