These attractions are not a choice
In the past, the origins of homosexuality have been confused by myths and folklore. Extensive research has revealed that sexual orientation is not a choice. The church agrees with this scientific assessment and has clearly stated that homosexual orientation is a complex reality that is not chosen.
One of the myths often invoked in the recent past asserts that homosexuality is due to childhood sexual abuse. Although sexual abuse can be seriously traumatic, there is no evidence that it has any impact on sexual orientation. There are gay people and straight people who have been abused sexually, and they may suffer lifetime effects from this trauma, but there is no relationship between this and sexual orientation (although trauma from abuse can have other effects on a person’s sexuality).
Another theory absolutely discredited by research and experience is that homosexuality in men is caused by a distant father and an overbearing mother. These ideas were proposed by Sigmund Freud based on his belief in the Oedipus complex. There are homosexuals who have loving fathers and distant mothers. There are homosexuals who have loving mothers and distant fathers. There are homosexuals who have loving parents. There is no connection between their parental relationships and their sexual orientation.
It is important to realize that homosexuality is not simply chosen because it helps us understand our child’s experience. They are confused when these sexual feelings emerge, usually during early adolescence. They get messages from their community that they shouldn’t have these feelings, and they try to suppress them. They internalize the guilt and shame, even before they have ever acted on these feelings. This leads to depression and despair, because they are often ashamed to talk about it and don’t even know how to tell their parents what they are going through.
When parents realize that their teen didn’t choose these feelings, they find it easier to listen to their child with compassion and empathy and are thus able to guide their child with love.
Quotes from Church Leaders
The Church website, main page, says, “Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.”
God Loveth His Children, p. 10, says the following-
“Trust the Lord. Do not blame anyone—not yourself, not your parents, not God—for problems not fully understood in this life.”
“Some people have been abused during the early years of life or have engaged in sexual experimentation at a young age. If this has happened to you, please understand that abuse by others or youthful experiences should not create a present sense of guilt, unworthiness, or rejection by God or His Church. Innocent mischief early in life does not predispose a youth toward same-gender attraction as an adult.”
The Oaks-Wickman interview (which first appeared in 2006 and is cited on www.MormonsAndGays.org.) states that the Church has no official position on whether people are born gay. Elder Oaks said, “…The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions—those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.”
Elder Wickman said, “Why somebody has a same-gender attraction… who can say?”
Elder Holland, in an Ensign article, says to a young man with same-gender attraction (SGA): “…the cause of your feelings, we may never know in this life.”
Move on to Question 2: Is Having These Attractions a Sin?
Go back to: What does the Church say? for a list of all questions
The church position has been evolving for several years. Parents should be aware that current Church teachings as found on the new website are more understanding and compassionate than some from the past. Below you can find links to the church’s website, which is the most complete and up-to-date source of church policy, and a few other sources prior to 2012 that we use for documentation in the Church section of this site for this page and the pages for the remaining questions.
- The official church website www.MormonsAndGays.org
- God Loveth His Children, was published by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, 2007.
- Relevant sections from the Official 2010 Church Handbook II: “Policies on Moral Issues: Chastity & Fidelity” ( 21.4.5), “Homosexual Behavior & Same Gender Attraction” (21.4.6), and “Same-Gender Marriages” (21.4.10).
- “Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction,” Elder Jeffrey Holland, Ensign (October, 2007).”
- “Church Responds to HRC Petition: Statement on Same-Sex Attraction,” LDS Newsroom, 12 October 2010. Official statement read by Michael Otterson on behalf of the “leadership” of the Church.