A new instruction pamphlet issued by the Mormon church advises parents not to reject gay children, in what is being seen as a softening of attitudes towards homosexuality.
God Loveth His Children, is aimed at church members who are “troubled with same-gender attraction” and was released at the end of July.
It states that gay people do not “choose” their orientation and counsels that homosexuals should remain celibate.
Previously the Mormons, more correctly known as The Church of Jesus and the Latter Day Saints, had encouraged gay men and women to enter into heterosexual marriages.
“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,” the sixteen-page pamplet reads.
“God does indeed love all His children. Many questions, however, including some related to same-gender attractions, must await a future answer, even in the next life.”
The work appears on the LDS website, but its authors remain anonymous.
It reiterates that Heaven is a place for families only, but predicts that gay and lesbian people will become heterosexual in the afterlife if they remain celibate.
All sex outside of marriage is forbidden for Mormons.
“Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction,” the pamphlet states.
“Same-gender attractions include deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. All of Heavenly Father’s children desire to love and be loved, including many adults who, for a variety of reasons, remain single.
“God assures His children, including those currently attracted to persons of the same gender, that their righteous desires will eventually be fully satisfied in God’s own way and according to His timing,” it reads.
“This represents a continuation of a direction they began going in several years ago,” Terry Givens, the author of four books on Mormonism and a religion professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told Inside Bay Area.com
“Some people with same-gender attraction have felt rejected
because members of the Church did not always show love. No
member of the Church should ever be intolerant,” the pamphlet reads.
“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,” it states.
Affirmation, a group for gay Mormons, welcomed the pamphlet.
“I’ve never before seen forgiveness for youthful indiscretions experienced at a young age,” executive director Olin Thomas told Inside Bay Area.com
The Church of Jesus and the Latter Day Saints is a Christian denomination, founded in the USA in the 1830′s by Joseph Smith.
He claimed to have found the works of a prophet, Mormon, which he translated from golden plates that were buried near his home and revealed to him by an angel.
The church, based in Utah, has 13 million members worldwide.
Read God Loveth His Children here.