A while ago I wrote a piece called Gender It’s not that confusing. Essentially it was a piece about how ridiculous it was to suggest that a child barely out of diapers could have a gender identity crisis. Children don’t understand or know what gender identity is as it is something and an issue that is very complex and is rooted extremely deep within our psyche. I understand what ones gender identity is, however a 5 year child has no concept as this is a concept that is taught by parents who have the task of explaining what gender is and what the differences between boys and girls are.
In that post however I failed to adequately address the difference between ones gender and ones sexual identity. Nor did I address how we ought to respond to those who are transgendered within the church.
This subject has been on my mind lately because a friend of mine, whom I had baptized is transgendered, while it was not known at the time, it is now. This is not something that has come as any surprise to me but has required me to think about how I should respond to this news. I have explained to him that I understand that he does not have control of how he feels personally, however he still has the choice to pursue living as a woman or to cope with his feelings while keeping his God-given mans body the way it is now. I told him that I support his feelings on the matter but not necessarily his choices in response to his feelings, However I will always care for him and be his friend. I will support him in his efforts to deal with the conflicting sexuality he is going through. I told him that God loves him and I do not judge him for his feelings, or his choices. I understand it is not simply a choice to feel that he is a woman despite his assigned gender.
First thing we need to address is that one’s sexual identity is not as simple as a choice. There are many out there who believe that it is a choice. They believe that gay, bi and transgender individuals just decided to be that way. I do not believe that such an ideology is true by any means. Often those who subscribe to such ideas fail to understand the difference between one’s choices relating to sexual matters and one’s sex drive. They believe that one can choose what person they have a sexual response to as if that could change in an instant. What they fail to recognize is that it is no easier for a Gay man to simply change his sexual preference as it is for a straight man. For example if a straight man sees a naked woman fully exposed in any way he cannot simply choose to not get an erection at the sight of said woman. This is true for the gay man as well. Because of his sexuality he will become aroused at the sight of naked men. If you told that straight man, while showing him pornographic material that he should not be getting aroused he should just choose to not be aroused by such things he would tell you that he cannot control whether he gets an erection or not. He cannot choose his sexuality. Clearly showing a straight man gay porn would not have the same result nor could he choose to get an erection simply by seeing naked men.
Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not promoting pornography in any way, I merely wish to demonstrate that ones sexuality is not as simple as a choice.
Here is the key however. In the example listed the man whom is shown pornographic material can choose to not look at said material. This is the key difference. A straight man cannot choose whether he gets an erection at the sight of naked women but he can choose to not look at naked women whom he is not married to. That is the choice. Not our sexuality but how we respond to our sexuality. This is no different for the LGBTQ community. Those people who identify in the LGBTQ community cannot choose those things they are sexually attracted to but they can choose how they behave in relation to their sexual urges and desires. The straight man can decide to pursue straight sex with those he is not married to just as the LGBTQ person can decide to pursue gay sex with someone of the same gender. Given this we must ask the question why is it never suggested that a straight person chose to be that way?
Once this understanding has been reached we are much better equipped to understand how it is we are to respond to those within the church regarding their sexuality and preferences. It is important that we show love, respect and understanding to those who have these types of trials within this life. It should be viewed no differently than a straight man who must deal with his pornography addiction.
To receive counsel and guidance for how this should be handled we need only look to the example of Christ. When the woman who was caught in the act of adultery was brought to Christ. The first thing to understand was her sin was not that she was attracted to the other man, but that she acted on that attraction and had sex with him. John 8:4-11
If you notice in this passage of scripture those that brought her to Christ did not say “This woman was attracted to someone who was not her husband or of the same-sex.” Rather she was brought to Christ because she was caught “in the very act”. It was the act not the desire, temptation, attraction or feeling that was the sin. While Christ did teach that even lusting after another is a sin we must understand for the unmarried person lusting after someone is not a sin as they have no prior commitment to anyone else. Christ stated in Matthew 5:28
One cannot commit adultery unless he is first already married. Thus to lust after someone while still unwed is not a sin, regardless of the gender doing the lusting or being lusted after. It is also interesting to note that no where in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price or any Apostle, Prophet nor have I heard or read of any other church leader ever saying said being gay, bi, transgendered, is a sin, however countless times we have been told to engage in such acts that would fall under such categories is sinful behavior. Just as changing ones body to appear as the opposite sex is the sin, or the act is the sin not the feeling of being opposite of ones assigned gender. No different from that is the lustful heterosexual behavior which is sinful unless with the one you are married to.
The problem with classifying being LGBTQ as a sin is that you immediately condemn someone for how they feel, irregardless of any acts committed by such a person. Thoughts and feelings can be good or bad, but they cannot by themselves be sins. If our feelings were sins then we would all be condemned for countless feelings we have experiences. We are counselled to have pure and holy thoughts but you do not get denied a temple recommend because of dirty thoughts. we are counselled to keep pure thoughts so that we can guard against committing acts of sin not because they are sinful in and of themselves.
If thoughts and feelings are not sins, then we should not be judging LGBTQ people because of how they feel or think. Ultimately that is up to Christ to be the final Judge. Not us. Like Christ showed the woman take in adultery we are not to judge but simply to say to the sinner “go and sin no more”. We are not to judge people or treat them any differently but we are to accept them and help them live the gospel and over come the challenges they face on a daily basis. Ones sexuality cannot simply be cured by a choice, it is something we live with for life. A LGBTQ man or woman can live a happy married life within the church, it just takes more work and dedication, and less judgement and condemnation from the those within the church.
And that is the gospel According to Andrew