Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homosexuality in the 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions

The new 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions has some small but important changes from the 2006 version in its section on homosexuality. Deletions are in strikeout. Additions are in [italics].

Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

If members have homosexual thoughts or feelings or engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth. Leaders also should help them accept responsibility for their thoughts and actions and apply gospel principles in their lives.

While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out to understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. [This was moved from being the 2nd to 3rd paragraph]
In addition to the inspired assistance of Church leaders, members may need professional counseling. When appropriate, bishops should contact LDS Social Services to identify resources to provide such counseling in harmony with gospel principles.
[If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances.]

Your thoughts?


The changes above were made based on Book 2 of the CHI. Book 1 contains the same first 4 paragraphs from Book 2, but has the following variations and leftovers from the 2006 CHI.
[When counseling members who have same-gender attraction, stake presidents and bishops may refer to the booklet God Loveth His Children.]
In addition to the inspired assistance of Church leaders, members may need professional counseling. When appropriate [In the United States and Canada, stake presidents and] bishops should  [may] contact LDS Social [Family] Services to identify resources to provide such counseling in harmony with gospel principles. [. . . Outside the United States and Canda, stake presidents may contact the Area presidency for guidance.]


  1. Wow, it actually seems nicer. Still a load of crap mind you, but a kinder, more gentle load of crap, I suppose.

  2. Any advance is a good advance, though it will be deemed insufficient by many. No one practices incrementalism better than the Church, but at least it practices incrementalism rather than nothing at all or retrogression.

  3. Thanks for you post and taking time to annotate these changes. It's a good, small start... but not much else positive in the changes.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this! Fascinating.

  5. I largely agree with Jacob - much better than regression or non-movement, but imho still too little. Not that I expect much more from the CoJCoLDS, it is a bureaucracy and won't fully change until public policy and tax laws force it to.

  6. I wonder why the paragraph about needing counseling was deleted? That doesn't seem outrageous to me.

  7. Define homosexual behavior... or we have to wait another 4 years... if theyre just worried about the sex then is dating and kissing ok like with straight people...? Didn't byu's honor code explain things more?

  8. Don't know for sure, Jackie, but that change could be in response to data suggesting that certain forms of "counseling"—ie, reorientation therapy, etc.— is usually ineffective at best and traumatic at worst. Perhaps the church is finally backing off of at least its more explicit support of such practices/therapies.

  9. Did you see that for prospective missionaries, if you're straight and have sex but repent, then you wait at least a year. But if it was gay sex, you also have to have an HIV test and professional evaluation (through LDS Family Services)? Handbook 1 4.5.2

  10. The new handbook also continues to prohibit any single man over the age of 30 from serving as a Temple Ordinance worker while no such prohibition exists for single women over 30. I am disappointed that this rule does not make an exception for gay men living the law of celibacy. I am still confused why the prohibition exists in the first place unless it was originally meant to ferret out gay men in a less enlightened period. Do any of you have any insight into this strange rule?

  11. Michael, If what I have heard is correct that rule was to prevent single men from avoiding marriage by spending too much time in the temple. The same reasoning is used for missionary service as well. Because women are culturally passive actors in the courting process, they aren't given this restriction.

  12. I suspect there could be increasing liability concerns related to counseling, no? That seemed to be what Oaks was mostly concerned about when he said this back in 2006:

    "The aversive therapies that have been used in connection with same-sex attraction have contained some serious abuses that have been recognized over time within the professions ... we are conscious that there are abuses and we don’t accept responsibility for those abuses."

  13. Nice work, loyd. Very informative. Church leaders are clearly trying to create space for celibate homosexuals in the church. Let's hope for more progress in the future.

  14. Geoff, that requirement was also in the 2006 CHI. I haven't done a line by line comparison, but it seems mostly unchanged. It is probably due to the fact that HIV rates among young gay men is very high. According to a recent study by the CDC, one of five young gay men is infected with HIV and half of those infected are unaware of it.

  15. I am pissed...
    Thank you "narrator" for the link but untill the church acknowledges what they mean in the behavior they're attempts to be moving in the right direction are futile...
    Just like it was said local authority can abuse the interpitation and unjustly judge me... this being said I think its obvious if you know me I am a confused little boy... there is that famous article by the theripist that explains gays very well (though I haven't re read it for a long time, since coming out) but in it he says most gay are very litteral... so what the F am I to do... don't tell me sh*t untill you're willing to explain every detail... I guess this is a discussion I should have with my bishop but what if he is the dumb air head we are reffering to...? I'm saying all this cause it is a discussion I would have with my family but they are given the right by their church to judge me and in their eyes I am the utmost whore ...

    ( did I protry my feelings correctly, did I get my point across? I'm on my smart phone so I hope every thing makes some sense

  16. You are all going to hell. Gay people are the scum of the earth and you should't support them. It's like supporting all those africans in africa. I bet you anything this will be deleted because it does not 'fit'with the authors views. I am entitled to my view. I do not need anyones approval. My views are mine. Accept the fact that most people don't support gay's at all. ACCEPT IT

  17. I'm guessing you're for real mrcorrect but seriously I'm human and I exist. If there is a god even if he is the type to be feared and is full of fiery and wrath I can deal with him fine but its people like you that make me sick to my stomach... fine I hope I goto hell because it will be a pleasent vacation because I won't have to deal with people like you...
    Now back to my prior comment before I was rudely interrupted

    How do I justify in my mind that I desere to be happy because I am so literal?

  18. "Accept the fact that most people don't support gay's at all."

    Don't support gay's what? Why is it that the most outrageous comments also have the funniest mistakes?

  19. Richard Dandelion- I guess I was thinking that the counseling was supposed to be for support. They gay friends I have had, have suggested that the coming out process can be quite scary, even traumatic. So, it seems for support purposes, it would be a great idea. I guess I didn't know that it could be for reorientation.

  20. Personally, I'm tickled pink that the Correlation Committee deigned to delete "distorts loving relationships" and "have homosexual thoughts or feelings" from their silly handbook. I fully defend the LDS church's right to believe that homosexuality is contrary to God's will. I know with all my soul that they err in this, but we'll just have to agree to disagree. However, when they use disrespectful language that prejudges me and my tribe, or when they hold us to impossibly different standards than they hold hetero-folk, that's when I scream "Foul!"

    Now if we can just get the Correlation Committee to define "homosexual behavior". Does that include attending a Lady Gaga concert? An Affirmation meeting? Shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch? Watching the Wizard of Oz? Being a male ballet dancer? Writing a poem? Owning a kd lang album? Being fabulously fashionable? Using the word fabulous? (LOL)

    Santa Cruz CA

  21. Connell, that's why I haven't joined the Glee frenzy. Gotta be care, just in case.

  22. Caddence
    I want to stay as far away from Hell as possible! My guess is that it will be full of those judging harsh souls! Without pointing any fingers Mr Correct! I'd rather be in heaven with most all of my Gay brothers and Sisters! I have a feeling that most of us, especially the Mr Corrects of the world, have a total and complete misunderstanding of the concept of Heaven and Hell!

  23. The Party was a bunch of pikers compared to LD$ inc.

  24. This is a good move and there will be one of many small efforts the Church can do to help the public specifically the gay population see that they care. But it will not effect or change their views and standards.

  25. If their views and standards do not change, it's difficult for me to see that the Church intends more than a mere softening of public perception.


  26. My parents stopped speaking to me when I came out. Their beliefs on homosexuality come from the 1960's and '70's teachings of the church. Those teachings were very hostile. There was never any mention of being kind, loving, or accepting.

    This little change doesn't undo any of that. The church makes no apology for the horrendous things that were said about gays in the past, and it doesn't encourage members to reevaluate their positions now.

    I recently came across the Facebook page "I hate gays, and I'm a Mormon." I just cringed as I read through statements and sermons given by past Mormon leaders. It explains why my parents can't even look at me now.

    The change in the handbook doesn't do anything to bring families back together. It CAN'T bring back the lives that have been lost. The most it will do is to lessen the damage in the future.

    What an inspiring religion: "We don't hurt people nearly as much as we used to."

  27. As an active member of the LDS church who disagrees with most of the church's recent actions with regards to the LGBT community, I can see some good in these changes. To say that the changes aren't significant would be a fallacy.

    They removed 35% of the words from the old one. That means that over 1/3 of what the church had said to this point has been removed. That is a significant amount!!!

    After removing 35% of the text, 59 words (33%) were added to the end of the instructions. That new addition is very specifically geared towards preventing local church leaders from incorrectly disciplining church members who have elected to live life in accordance to the church's standards.

    My take on these new changes: they will help the local church leaders engage in proactive conversations with members who raise these topics. This is a good move. When someone is faced with the choice of either 1) hidding and living life as an active LDS member, 2) coming out and being open with all, or 3) killing themselves, I just don't want them chosing option #3. I like recent moves made by both sides to help funnel these people into groups 1 and 2. I feel that these changes will help funnel people into group 1. Other recent campaigns will help people into group 2. Both of these efforts should be commended and I hope that both prosper. Every person that is saved from group 3 is a victory. I wish both the LDS church and the LGBT community (and each of their allies) luck in their effort to reduce group 3.

  28. Thanks for pointing out the changes! I may highlight the alterations in the book I hope to publish, "Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student's Perspective" (

    It was also good to see Rocky's (Connell O'Donovan) comment.

    "What an inspiring religion: "We don't hurt people nearly as much as we used to.""
    - That criticism seems to find purchase in the facts. 'Tis a sorry commentary. Sorry about your family's rejection.

    @Richard Dandelion- I'm also glad about any departure from the largely ineffective and often harmful effects of promoting reorientation therapy.

    Oh btw, your feedback is welcome on my book.

  29. The comments here illustrate exactly the slippery slope the Church wants to avoid, but really can't forever. If homosexual thoughts are natural, why couldn't unmarried LDS gays smooch and make out? Ouch! That's exactly the road the pro-Prop 8 crowd in the Church doesn't want to go down.

    But let's give the Church some credit in the context of other Christian religions. The Church has noticeably evolved in its doctrinal and policy approach to this issue in the last 20 years. You can't say the same about the Catholic Church, or about most other Christian churches, with the Episcopalians as a major exception. Even they have endured controversy and ultimately may suffer a schism over this issue. Face it: religious organizations are by their nature conservative, and they are not going to lead on these issues. Give the LDS church a little credit here for leading a little, even if some of it is backfilling the huge mess the Church made because of its intemperate efforts to support Prop 8 in California.

  30. i am openly gay and have only studied at home until now for no way to get to a church - i will not hide who i am just to be liked by any church and if 2 gay people happen to find each other in church and as long as we follow the 10 commandments that say nothing about who we love and closest thing is adultery then leave us alone - you either accept me for my gay self or not i do not care and will not be forced to never have a relationship because some people hate me


Please provide a name or consistent pseudonym with your comments and avoid insults or personal attacks against anyone or any group. All anonymous comments will be immediately deleted. Other comments are subject to deletion at my discretion.