Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sexual orientation is not a disqualifying factor

Two days ago, the Boy Scouts of America approved a policy change that will allow gay young men to participate in Scouting. In its official response to this vote, the Church said:

"As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world.... As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men."

Who are these gay young men the Boy Scouts are now welcoming? They are young men who maintain high moral standards while experiencing feelings of same sex attraction.


BSA Resolution: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

LDS Church repy: "Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops."


BSA Resolution: "Any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting."

LDS Church repy: "Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest. These standards ... include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards."


The Church recognizes that there are young men in the Church who frankly acknowledge having feelings of same sex attraction but who nevertheless maintain priesthood standards of behavior. Church leaders are saying these gay young men should be made to feel welcome at all youth activities, including Scouting:

LDS Church statement: "The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: ‘young men … who agree to abide by Church standards' are 'welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate.'"


The Church's web site at MormonsAndGays.org is titled, “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction.” The second paragraph of that web page contains this thought:

"The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them."

It is time for all members of the Church to recognize that same sex attraction exists and that the attraction itself is not a sin. In addition, all members of the Church must choose how to respond to fellow members who experience these attractions.

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