What is SSA?
This is a topic I have been being prompted to open up and talk about. I'm surprised that it's the first topic I'm really going to dig into, but for some reason I really feel like I need to. So what is SSA? SSA stands for Same-Sex Atttraction, also known as homosexuality, same-gender attraction, and gay/lesbian. For now though, I will refer to it as SSA.
"Wait, Mitchell.... you're talking about what?!"
I am well aware that this is a very sensitve and controversial topic, and I will try to approach it as such. First off, I have heard many many times from members and non-members that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints hates, shuns, fears, or condemns people with SSA. This is simply false. The church does not shun, hate, or condemn those people.
As stated in a booklet titled "God Loveth His Children" (wrote for Latter-day Saints who are troubled with same-gender attraction and sometimes feel discouraged but sincerely desire to live a life pleasing to our Father in Heaven.) 'You are a son or daughter of God, and our hearts reach out to you in warmth and affection. Notwithstanding your present same-gender attractions, you can be happy during this life, lead a morally clean life, perform meaningful service in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with your fellow Saints, and ultimately receive all the blessings of eternal life.' (http://www.lds.org/manual/god-loveth-his-children/god-loveth-his-children?lang=eng)
In other words, the church does not condemn or exclude gays/lesbians from our beliefs or potentials. God loves all of his children, and all really does mean all!
The word "Notwithstanding" stuck out to me when I first read it, and even still does as I reread it. What does 'notwithstanding' mean? Notwithstanding means; in spite of the fact that: which, in that context, translates roughly to mean that 'regardless' of same-gender attraction, you can have all the blessings other church members enjoy.
I also found this to be very helpful:
Individual rightsThe Church’s affirmation of marriage as being between a man and a woman “neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.”6 On the contrary, many Church leaders have spoken clearly about the love and respect with which all people are to be treated. Former Church president Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) told members who are attracted to the same sex: “Our hearts reach out to [you]. We remember you before the Lord, we sympathize with you, we regard you as our brothers and sisters.” President Boyd K. Packer affirmed, “We do not reject you. … We cannot reject you. … We will not reject you, because we love you.”Source: (http://www.lds.org/topics/same-gender-attraction?lang=eng)
Why am I talking about this?
Before I get into this next part, I feel I should explain a little bit about who I am and why I am talking about this. As expressed before, I am a Latter Day Saint, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have same-sex attraction, and have had times in my life when I have doubted my own importance. I've had times in my life when I believed that the attractions that I had were a sin in and of themselves and that I was a bad person for having those attractions.
I have been persecuted for my attractions by members of the church and by nonmembers. There have been times in my life when I wished I could be 'normal' and I didn't understand why God had made me different if it was wrong.
I wanted to write about this because I want every person to have an understanding about what it means and how people with it should be treated. I want those people who struggle with wanting to live an LDS lifestyle and dealing with SSA to know that there is hope, and that they do not have to sacrafice their religion because of their attractions.
What is the Church's stance on Same-sex Relationships?
While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not shame, turn away, or condemn people with SSA, the church does not believe that Same-sex marriage or sexual relationships are part of God's plan. "Members of the Church who have same-sex attractions, but don’t act on them, can continue to enjoy full fellowship in the church, which includes holding the priesthood, carrying out callings, and attending the temple... Same-sex attraction itself is not a sin, but yielding to it is. However, through repentance Jesus Christ will offer forgiveness." http://www.mormonsandgays.org/
I understand how sensitive this topic is, I've dealt with it myself! Having feelings of attraction and yearning to be with the same-sex can be such a strong, overpowering, and driving influence, but, like anything, it can be endured by leaning on Christ and His infinite atonement and love. Through my own personal experiences and faith I have come to a realization that living a gay life is not for me. My faith, religion, and God have become more important to me than living with someone who I am completely attracted to.
In short, the Church does not exclude or condemn people with SSA, however acting on those attractions is not seen as part of God's plan.
Some great resources for more info!
God Loveth His Children (http://www.lds.org/manual/god-loveth-his-children/god-loveth-his-children?lang=eng)
Same-Sex Attraction (http://www.lds.org/topics/same-gender-attraction?lang=eng)
LDS Teachings Regarding Homosexuality (http://northstarlds.org/about-us/lds-beliefs/)
I hope to expand this page more soon! But for now, I recomend you check out some of the resources I've listed above! I know God loves everyone!