On Sunday Morning of the October General Conference, President Packer gave a talk titled “Cleansing the Inner Vessel“.  It has led to a controversy among people determined to take offense when they disagree with the teachings.  Here are a couple things from the talk (emphasis added):

This general conference was convened at a time when there is such confusion and such danger that our young people hardly know which way they can walk. Having been warned through the revelations that it would be this way, the prophets and apostles have always been shown what to do. . . .

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.

Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”

Isaiah warned, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Part of the message was about changing from bad acts and repenting of sin, in particular about pornography and other immoral acts.

This was immediately interpreted by the very active (and sometimes antagonistic) gay community as a call for people who are gay to change and a statement about whether people are born that way or not.

So this week a letter from the Human Rights Campaign was delivered with 150,000 signatures to the LDS Church asking them to quit teaching that “same-sex attraction is unnatural and same-sex unions are immoral” and to accept “the scientific truth: sexual orientation cannot be changed, nor should it be”.  Ugh.  The science is not “settled” on the matter, else why do we have discussions about nature vs. nurture?  Why are there ongoing studies about the origins of sexual orientation in other species and the search for the “gay gene” in humans?  If biology was the only cause of orientation, you would certainly expect that identical twins would have the same orientation each and every time.  They don’t.

There are numerous examples of people who have changed their actions and felt changed in their attractions.  These examples seem to be the exception and not the rule.  For many people, seeking to change their orientation may well be a fools’ errand.

The point is that the causes of sexual orientation are not as clear cut as the Human Rights Campaign would have you believe.

The LDS Church responded to the letter in a public statement today.  Here is a part:

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men.  We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society. . . .

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel.  His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

The LDS Church continues to teach the standard people are expected to follow, and that the members of the LDS Church should still be kind and accepting of everyone.

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