Introduction

Between the 1970s and to about 2010, official LDS publications have declared in absolute terms that homosexuality “is curable”, is not “preset”, and that no one is born “that way”.

At least as early as 1995 this message began to change. Elder Dallin Oaks, in a 1995 Ensign article, stated:

Perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice or fault …

And the website Mormon and Gay now teaches:

… Many people pray for years and do all they can to be obedient in an effort to reduce same-sex attraction, yet find they are still attracted to the same sex. …

Official Publications

The following statements were all published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am not aware that any apology or redaction exists for any of these statements. Statements are listed in chronological order.

A major part of many of these statements is simply encouragement to not yield to homosexual urges or inclination which is consistent with the current day stance of the Church (i.e., homosexuality may be set at or near birth but that does not mean homosexuals should ever engage in homosexual relationships). However, these statements also seem to imply or state outright that homosexuals are not “born that way” and in various ways suggest that homosexual orientation may be overcome (i.e., that the orientation may be reversed or significantly diminished). The position was presented as “fact”.1

They can overcome and return to normal … living

homosexuals can be assured that in spite of all they may have heard from other sources, they can overcome and return to normal, happy living.

First Presidency Circular Letter, March 19, 1970, LDS Church Archives.

born “that way” … a base lie

IT IS CURABLE

Satan tells his victims that it is a natural way of life; that it is normal; that perverts are a different kind of people born ‘that way’ and that they cannot change. This is a base lie. All normal people have sex urges and if they control such urges, they grow strong and masterful. If they yield to their carnal desires and urges, they get weaker until their sins get beyond control. ‘The knowledge that homosexuality can be effectively treated must be made more generally known, to offset the effect of organized groups of homosexuals who would have society accept homosexuality and relieve them of the pressure to undergo the changes that can be effected through appropriate treatment… It can be overcome and the case of difficulty of overcoming depends largely upon the strength or weakness of the individual, the depth of his entrenchment, the quality and quantity of his desire and determination.’

Some continue until, when the changing gets difficult, they admit their inability to cope with it and yield. They rationalize that they are of another class of people; that the Lord made them that way; that they cannot change. The powerful Lucifer has had his day.

God made no man a pervert. To blame a weakness and transgression upon God is cowardly.

REMEMBER: Homosexuality CAN be cured, if the battle is well organized and pursued vigorously and continuously. …

God did not make men evil. He did not make people ‘that way.’

New Horizons for Homosexuals, published by the church in 1971

born with an attraction a malicious lie

There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just “that way” and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men—masculine, manly men—ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.

To Young Men Only which is based on Boyd K. Packer’s 1976 General Conference address Message to Young Men (begin 11:51).

homosexuality is curable

After consideration of the evil aspects, the ugliness and prevalence of the evil of homosexuality, the glorious thing to remember is that it [homosexuality] is curable and forgiveable. … Certainly it can be overcome, for there are numerous happy people who were once involved in its clutches and who have since completely transformed their lives. Therefore to those who say that this practice or any other evil is incurable, I respond: “How can you say the door cannot be opened until your knuckles are bloody, till your head is bruised, till your muscles are sore?”

Many have been misinformed that they are powerless in the matter, not responsible for the tendency, and that ‘God made them that way.’ This is as untrue as any other of the diabolical lies Satan has concocted. It is blasphemy. Man is made in the image of God. Does the pervert think God to be ‘that way’?”

LDS Institute Manual The Life And Teachings Of Jesus And His Apostles pg 317 (quoting Spencer W. Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness) (The manual was copyrighted in 1978 and 1979 and was superceded by a new manual in 2014, I believe)

homosexuality can be changed

The 1981 booklet Homosexuality, published by the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles states the following:

Modern day prophets have clearly promised that homosexuality can be changed. You should convey this positive attitude because it encourages change. (pg 4)

Homosexual behavior is learned and can be overcome. To believe that immoral behavior is inborn or hereditary is to deny that men have agency to choose between sin and righteousness. The Lord has given man the freedom to make moral choices, adn this agency is the cornerstone of his plan for exaltation. He has revealed that the ultimate goal for man is eternal life. It is inconceivable that—as some involved in homosexual behavior claim—he would permit some of his children to be born with desires and inclinations which would require behavior contrary to the enternal plan. (pg 2)

The amount of help that you as a Priesthood leader can give depends upon the person’s willingness and desire to change. The person must repent of his homosexual behavior and control it by learning other ways of life that are healthy and righteous. Change is seldom easy or rapid, and it usually fequires support from others. Many individuals, however, have successfully overcome this problem, and the following suggestions will help you counsel those who are working to overcome it. Should the individual resist change, Church court action should be used as circumstances warrant. (See General Handbook of instructions.) (pg 3)

The First Presidency has issued the following statement to priesthood leaders: … Some claim homosexuality is incurable, therefore they seek to be considered a legitimate minority group protected by law. We should not be deceived by these false rationalizations. We must never lose our perspective amidst the world’s clamor to justify and normalize immorality. According to the Lord’s revealed word, the only acceptable sexual relationsihp occurs within the family between a husband and a wife. (pg 1)

Members with homosexual problems often feel trapped and alone and believe that change is impossible. You should give them hope. The Lord loves them and will give them power to conquer the problem if they follow the steps leading to repentance and change. There are many who have overcome the problem through repentance, prayer, a diligent program of self-mastery, and the concern of others. (pg 4)

The person’s success in overcoming his homosexual behavior is directly related to how much he wants to change. (pg 4)

Those who feel inadequate, have few if any friends, have dated little or not at all, and are generally lacking in social skills (communication, manners, etc.) will find it difficult to overcome homosexual behavior until their social skills and behaviors are developed more fully. a) Has he had, or is he now having any regular appropriate social contact with members of the opposite sex? Does he enjoy this association? b) Does he feel comfortable when associating with the opposite sex? c) How well does he communicate with the opposite sex? Participate in appropriate activities with them? With the same sex? d) Does he prefer to be alone or with others? (pg 5)

President Spencer W. Kimball has stated that homosexuality can be cured “if the battle is well organized and pursued vigorously and continuously” (A Letter to a Friend [pamphlet] . 1978). The individual needs to set well-organized, specific goals and develop a plan to accomplish them. The overall importance of goal-setting cannot be overemphasized. (pg 5)

… Encourage the member to be in appropriate situations with members of the opposite sex, even if he has to force himself. … Encourage him (if single) to begin dating and gradually increase its frequency. He might discuss dating practices, expectations and fears with a member of the opposite sex or with those assisting him. (pg 6)

Repentant members and those who counsel with them succeed only to the extent that they have the Spirit of the Lord. Those who truly overcome homosexual activity do not seek mild adaption or limited change. They seek complete change, total repentance and acceptance before God. Even though these high objectives are not easy to attain, they will always be goals of those who follow the Lord’s way. (pg 9)

attempting to prove that these impulses are inborn

Several publications are now being circulated about the Church which defend and promote gay or lesbian conduct. They wrest the scriptures attempting to prove that these impulses are inborn, cannot be overcome, and should not be resisted; and therefore, such conduct has a morality of its own. They quote scriptures to justify perverted acts between consenting adults. That same logic would justify incest or the molesting of little children of either gender. Neither the letter nor the spirit of moral law condones any such conduct.

All of us are subject to feelings and impulses. Some are worthy and some of them are not; some of them are natural and some of them are not. We are to control them, meaning we are to direct them according to the moral law.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2010 General Conference Cleansing the Inner Vessel

some suppose that they were preset

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! [Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?] Remember, God is our Heavenly Father. (bracketed text in audio/video only)

Elder Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2010 General Conference Cleansing the Inner Vessel

See Also

  1. The Church published pamphlet New Horizons for Homosexuals, which states that homosexuality may be cured (see above for quotes), also emphasized that the LDS position was fact and supported by the words of the Creator. The section labeled “OPINION OR FACT” begins: “One young man sought to pit his reasoning against the things I told him, saying: “That is your opinion and this is mine.” This caused me to say, “My dear boy, if it were my opinion against yours, I would have nothing more to say. As an individual my mind might be dull compared to yours; my thoughts might be elementary compared with your erudite ones, but you have forgotten a basic truth. I am not expressing my thoughts only. When I say this is sin, I am quoting the Creator of the world. Truth is truth and needs no eloquent tongue nor brilliant brain to portray it. …”