The recent 2014 FairMormon Conference, held Aug. 7-8, 2014 in Provo, offers a great selection
of faith-strengthening perspectives from a broad mix of speakers. Topics range from same-sex
attraction to the Book of Mormon.
So much of the controversy happens around unexamined premises and conclusions drawn, often
simply accepted without any real critical thought at all. Once we can understand how these have
harmed our understanding, we can then move to a better place to articulate a reasonable response
to those who question or criticize the Church's teachings….
The popular cultural myths that either people are "born gay" or that they chose to be homosexual
or that their homosexuality is caused by parental nurturing (or lack thereof) are all reductionistic
and cannot explain much, if anything, about the development of sexuality and sexual desire.
It's interesting to me that our popular and media culture seems to be so sure about something that
science and the academy are not. The American Psychological Association's official pamphlet
addressing sexual orientation concedes this point, noting that ultimately, "There is no consensus
among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay
or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal,
developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged
that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or
factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles."Some researchers have
postured that there is no such thing as "homosexuality," but rather "homosexualities"--that there
are multiple sub-populations with different etiologies making for qualitatively different
experiences of sexuality that all lay within a broad and diverse umbrella we call "homosexuality"
or "same-sex attraction."
He also addresses issues of identity and the shackles (my term) that we can impose on ourselves
or others with terminology that pigeonholes people into an "identity" based on the attractions
In an LDS context, people often express concern about words that are used--whether they be
"same-sex attraction," which some feel denies the realities of the gay experience, or "gay,"
"lesbian," or "LGBT," which some feel speaks more to specific lifestyle choices. What's
important to understand, however, is that identity isn't just about the words we use but the
paradigms and worldviews and perceptions of or beliefs about the "self" and "self-hood" through
which we interpret and integrate our various experiences into a sense of personal identity, sexual
or otherwise. And identity is highly fluid and subject to modification with change in personal
values or socio-cultural context. The terms "gay," "lesbian," and "bisexual" aren't uniformly
understood or experienced in the same way by everyone who may use or adopt those terms, so
it's the way those terms or labels are incorporated into self-hood that accounts for identity. One
person might identify as "gay" simply as shorthand for the mouthful "son or daughter of God
who happens to experience romantic, sexual or other desire for persons of the same sex for
causes unknown and for the short duration of mortality," while another person experiences
themselves as "gay" as a sort of eternal identity and state of being….
As a final note here, however one chooses to self-identify here in a fallen, temporal world limited
by human culture and human language, I firmly believe that, like Daniel's interpretation of
Nebuchadnezzar's dream in which all social and political constructs were swallowed up in the
gospel stone that rolled forth to consume the nations, so will the spiritual ideals and identities of
the kingdom of God and the Celestial nature swallow up all of our social identity constructs that
blur eternal identity (see Daniel 2:31-45).
While I identified as gay for a time, at one point I had a very strong spiritual prompting that if I
continued to identify as gay, it would limit my progression. I believe that the more deeply we
understand and feel spiritually connected to eternal realities and our eternal identity, the less
meaningful any proximate, mortal identities feel to us. If others refer to me as gay, I typically
tolerate it for practical purposes, but it's not how I see myself, and occasionally it can feel
particularly oppressive when others seem to insist on projecting and LGBT identity construct on
me even after I've specified that that is not how I see myself. It's not a construct that adequately
captures who I am, what I believe, or how I feel.
He then explores the issues of chastity and consecration, and the speculation of others that the
Church will change regarding its stance on same-sex issues.
A rare standing ovation was given for Sharon Eubank, Director of LDS Charities, who gave a
bold talk on women in the Church. The title itself is bold, but appropriate to her message and
personal experience: "This Is a Woman's Church." The transcript of the talk is available, and you
might be able to watch the video also.
She brings several important thoughts together and reminds us of some of the basic elements of
the LDS experience. This is a valuable presentation for both women and men.
There's a lot of meat in her presentation, so please don't stop with one of many quotable passages
I'll share. But one of the many points she made that I especially liked was the value of LDS
doctrine regarding morality in liberating rather than oppressing women. She makes this point
after addressing some of the harms of promiscuity and pornography in our society.
I find it a little bit ironic that the world is trying to instruct the "poor LDS women", who are so
oppressed, and in the backwater, and if they could only come out into "enlightenment"…
Because I just don't see where that enlightenment is.
I recently spoke at the United Nations and it was interesting because we are faith-based, I
represented a faith-based organization. Because we are conservative morally, a lot of people
thought that our doctrine about women and men was conservative. Far from being restrictive and
conservative, and we sometimes get labeled that way, my contention is that the Church's doctrine
about the roles of women in the family, and the church, and the community, and the nation, and
the temple and how men and women relate to each other and interplay and support each other
and work together is the most moderate, and powerful, and enlightening and energizing doctrines
that I know about. And if people truly understood it, it would blow their mind. And even being in
this church all my life, I'm just scratching the surface of what this doctrine means for me.
There is one thing I'm going to personally reject, and that is the mistake of labeling promiscuity
as somehow "freedom." That that is a freedom. Fourth Nephi has a little scripture and it is right
after what happens to the people there after Jesus Christ has visited the Americas and then
ascended back into heaven. So this is Fourth Nephi 1:16. And it says:
And there were no envyings, no strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor
any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the
people who had been created by the hand of God.
And as I studied that scripture, I started asking myself, what would it be like if there were no
whoredoms? What would that society be like? So here's my list:
Teenage couples don't get pregnant and have to get married to the wrong person.
Lives don't get warped and stalled by sexual abuse.
There is no fear of rape or violence.
There is great security on the streets, there's no serial killers, there's no kidnappings.
There is no market for prostitutes.
There is no sex trade or there is no sexual slavery.
Spouses don't have affairs or commit adultery.
Marriages stay intact and children aren't raised in the insecurity and divided loyalty of
Cities don't have seedy, creepy neighborhoods that are filled with adult theatres and deviant
There is no appetite for pornography - it doesn't degrade the people who make it or who
watch it. It doesn't warp the sexual development of young people and rot the relationship
between a husband and a wife.
There are no children being raised by a generation of women and painfully wondering
where there fathers are.
All of the energy and the money that goes into all of those activities above, is available for
How is that not more free and not more desirable for women, for men, for children, how is that
The Book of Mormon gives this very powerful example that we hardly ever talk about, about
people who actually, in that time period, fought to eradicate a culture of vice that hurt women.
And it makes their position in society precarious and vulnerable. And they succeeded! They got
rid of it. They lived in a time where there were no whoredoms. . .
Now we live in a world that says "It is not possible. You cannot expect those kinds of things
from people. People will not react in those ways. This is just natural, who we are. We can't make
those expectations." And yet our God has said, "I expect these things."
Sister Eubank offers a solid perspective that we would do well to ponder and explore.
Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his
LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on
the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton,
Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra.
He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.
He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent
Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.
Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering
Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US
patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications.
Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.