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Elder Holland: How We Can Love & Help Members Struggling with Same-Gender Attraction

The Church and its leaders has always been clear and firm on their stance: they love LGBT Church members and want to do all they can to support them as they strive to live the gospel. They also want them to find the fulness of joy and light the gospel can bring into their lives, and they encourage all Latter-day Saints to reach out, to uplift, and to love so that those struggling can find a place of comfort and acceptance within the Church.

Here is some counsel given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in October 2007 entitled "Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction." Many of the ideas within his talk come from a Church booklet available to all members: "God Loveth His Children."

A pleasant young man in his early 20s sat across from me. He had an engaging smile, although he didn’t smile often during our talk. What drew me in was the pain in his eyes.

“I don’t know if I should remain a member of the Church,” he said. “I don’t think I’m worthy.”

“Why wouldn’t you be worthy?” I asked.

“I’m gay.”

I suppose he thought I would be startled. I wasn’t. “And … ?” I inquired.

A flicker of relief crossed his face as he sensed my continued interest. “I’m not attracted to women. I’m attracted to men. I’ve tried to ignore these feelings or change them, but …”

He sighed. “Why am I this way? The feelings are very real.”

I paused, then said, “I need a little more information before advising you. You see, same-gender attraction is not a sin, but acting on those feelings is—just as it would be with heterosexual feelings. Do you violate the law of chastity?”

He shook his head. “No, I don’t.”

This time I was relieved. “Thank you for wanting to deal with this,” I said. “It takes courage to talk about it, and I honor you for keeping yourself clean.

“As for why you feel as you do, I can’t answer that question. A number of factors may be involved, and they can be as different as people are different. Some things, including the cause of your feelings, we may never know in this life. But knowing why you feel as you do isn’t as important as knowing you have not transgressed. If your life is in harmony with the commandments, then you are worthy to serve in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with the members, attend the temple, and receive all the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement.”

He sat up a little straighter. I continued, “You serve yourself poorly when you identify yourself primarily by your sexual feelings. That isn’t your only characteristic, so don’t give it disproportionate attention. You are first and foremost a son of God, and He loves you.

“What’s more, I love you. My Brethren among the General Authorities love you. I’m reminded of a comment President Boyd K. Packer made in speaking to those with same-gender attraction. ‘We do not reject you,’ he said. ‘… We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.’” 1

We talked for another 30 minutes or so. Knowing I could not be a personal counselor to him, I directed him to his local priesthood leaders. Then we parted. I thought I detected a look of hope in his eyes that had not been there before. Although he yet faced challenges to work through—or simply endure—I had a feeling he would handle them well.

Lead image from LDS.org.

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For more timeless counsel from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, check out To My Friends, where Elder Holland begins: "If you need a burden lifted, I want you to imagine I am in a personal, private, closed-door chat with you. I want to help you if I can." For additional help, read his inspiring insights in Broken Things to Mend and For Times of Trouble.

Read the rest of this story at lds.org