Today the Mormon Church is handing out a brand new guidebook, telling LDS leaders they no longer have to tell gays they need to repent for feeling gay. Is this a new day for the Mormons?
LOLZ. Not really: The new language in the Church Handbook of Instructions, being distributed today and discussed in a nationwide televised training session, really just puts the church’s softer brand of anti-gay hostility into writing. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
Like most recent LDS Church statements, this new handbook makes a clear distinction between same-sex orientation and behavior. It eliminates the suggestion, mentioned in the previous 2006 edition, that same-sex relationships “distort loving relationships” and that gays should repent of their “homosexual thoughts or feelings.” It also says that celibate gay Mormons who are “worthy and qualified in every other way” should be allowed to have “callings,” or church assignments, and to participate fully in temple rituals.
So how is this different from what LDS was saying before?
The handbook simply repeats what top LDS leaders have been trying to say, but unless they spell it out in explicit terms, many members won’t understand, said David Pruden, president of Evergreen International, a support group that helps gay Mormons live by church standards. Sometimes in the past, when a gay Mormon told his bishop he was struggling with same-sex feelings, the local leader would immediately call a “disciplinary council,” Pruden said. “They didn’t understand something that was foreign to them.” These members were trying to be faithful to the church and looking for help, he said. Instead they were hurt and punished. These handbook tweaks, Pruden said, “will bless people by making it easier for them to come forward and will help ecclesiastical leaders understand what the Brethren want them to do.”
All right. Does this mean anything is going to change? Nope!
The changes are “baby steps in the right direction,” said Mitch Mayne, an openly gay and active Mormon in the Bay area. “At least the handbook takes the damning terminology out of it.” Mayne, who is writing a book about his experiences as a gay Mormon, worries, though, that all decisions still fall on the local bishop. “I am hard-pressed to think of a bishop who is equipped to deal with [gay members],” Mayne said. “The standby response is to ‘pray out the gay,’ and those things don’t work.”
Nothing will really change, he said, as long as the church continues to equate gayness with the act of sex. “Homosexuality is no more about sex with the same gender than heterosexuality is about sex with the opposite gender,” Mayne said. “It’s really about who we are drawn to emotionally and physically and who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.”
And when you’ve still got the church’s second-in-command Boyd K. Packer wondering aloud why god would punish any human with homosexuality, you can be sure a new pamphlet that calls you a “worthy” homosexual so long as you manage to overcome human nature to have a sex life is not, in fact, a new day.