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Church leadership post for an openly gay Mormon
Mitch Mayne, who is openly gay, hopes his newly assumed Mormon leadership position will increase understanding.
September 24th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Church leadership post for an openly gay Mormon

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Early on in life, Mitch Mayne knew exactly who he was.

He would race home from school to watch reruns of “Star Trek” and swoon over his crush, Captain Kirk. At 8, after his parents converted, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a faith he embraced. Even after he drifted away from the LDS Church following his parents’ divorce, he came back to Mormonism on his own in his mid-20s.

It is where he feels spiritually at home, irrespective of the fact that, for the past 10 years, he’s been openly gay.

“I’m a man that lives in two worlds that a lot of people don’t think intersect,” Mayne said. “Both sides of myself exist in me. It’s part of my DNA, part of my makeup.”

Actively Mormon and openly gay: It's the sort of combo that might leave people wondering. After all, the LDS Church teaches that homosexuality, specifically if same-sex attractions are acted upon, is a sin. And the church has actively backed measures to ban same-sex marriages.

Now, Mayne finds himself in the spotlight as he embarks on a journey he says “belongs to all of us.” In mid-August he was selected, or called (as Mormons say) by local church officials to serve in an LDS Church leadership position in San Francisco.

Mayne’s appointment may have generated attention, but he’s not the first gay Mormon to assume a leadership role in the church.

In Seattle, Washington, and Oakland, California, gay men have reportedly served in LDS Church leadership roles, Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote in her piece about Mayne in The Salt Lake Tribune. What makes Mayne unique, Stack said, is that he "may be the first local LDS leader to announce his orientation over the pulpit.”

Late last month, from the pulpit, Mayne revealed - to anyone who didn't already know - who he is:

"I am a gay Latter-day Saint.

"I don't want pity. To pity me is to make me a victim. I want understanding. To understand me is to love me as an equal.

"I don't want tolerance. If I am tolerated, I am disliked in some way. I want respect as a fellow striving child of God - an equal in his eyes.

"I don't want acceptance. To accept me is to graciously grant me the favor of your company. To accept me is to marginalize me with the assumption that I am less than you. I am your peer. I am neither above you nor below you."

Mayne shared these words during a farewell address to the Oakland ward he long attended, amid an announcement that he would be leaving because he had been named the executive secretary to the bishop of the Bay Ward. It is a role in which he'll offer administrative help but also take part in shaping congregational work.

“While that’s not a big accomplishment in and of itself,” Mayne said, “it is a remarkable accomplishment for the simple fact that maybe for the first time, a man was called to a priesthood leadership position not in spite of the fact that he is gay, but partly because he is gay.”

For those unfamiliar with LDS Church vernacular, a ward is essentially a congregation or, to use Catholic terminology, a parish. Various wards fall under the auspices of a stake, the rough equivalent of a diocese. In this case, the Bay Ward is one of three wards that make up the San Francisco Stake.

The LDS Church, which entrusts local leaders to determine local callings, does not pay clergy, nor does it send would-be bishops to seminary. So Mayne, like the bishop who called him to serve, is a volunteer who works for the church on top of his full-time corporate communications job.

Don Fletcher, an ophthalmologist, said that when he was called last month to serve as the bishop and leader of the Bay Ward he wanted to make sure every Latter-day Saint in his ward knew they were welcome, including the vast majority who weren't showing up. Of the 950 members on the books, only 150 were appearing in the pews.

Because the Bay Ward serves a geographic area in San Francisco that includes the famously gay, rainbow-flag-waving Castro neighborhood, it stands to reason that a segment of those not attending church are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Among those who have been absent are members who grew up steeped in Mormonism, faithfully served as missionaries and have families still active in the church. For Fletcher, making members of the LGBT community feel comfortable enough to walk through his congregation's doors is personal.

Fletcher has a gay family member with AIDS and says he has seen firsthand how isolating that can be in the Mormon world.

“I love my church and have a lot of faith, but culturally we haven’t done a good job in dealing with people who are gay when they face life challenges,” whether that be coming out, depression or struggles with suicide or illness, Fletcher said. “I wanted to address it in the ward I live in.”

The response in his ward, and from other Mormons he has heard from, has been nothing but positive, "uniformly, no exception," the bishop said. And, he added with a laugh, in the past month he’s broadened his own knowledge – or, rather, his lingo base - learning about “the ‘Moho community,' Mormons who are homosexual. That was a new one to me.”

The LDS Church's top leadership, and by extension many Mormons sitting in pews, heavily supported the campaign behind Proposition 8, the 2008 California initiative to ban same-sex marriage, which is currently tied up in the state’s high court.

Church doctrine says members should avoid sexual relations until marriage, which only can exist between a man and a woman. But the church’s involvement in the Prop 8 battle, and the Mormons who financially fueled the effort, created rifts in wards, spawned protests outside LDS temples and pushed some members, likely already on the churchgoing fence, out the door.

The Oakland First Ward, which Mayne attended for more than a decade, held a series of meetings to help heal those post-Prop 8 wounds. He said he sees his new church position in San Francisco’s Bay Ward as an extension of such bridge-building and a positive evolution from where he once was. The appointment will allow him to do extensive outreach in the LGBT and Mormon communities.

“It’s been hard to be a gay Mormon,” Mayne said. In the course of his life, he said he came out "no less than three times to bishops and stake presidents, and each time I was pushed back into the closet. … This is an opportunity to take my own pain and challenges and make it an opportunity to help. How can I not do that?”

He and Fletcher have already seen dividends from Mayne's calling. On a recent Sunday, Fletcher said he looked out to see seven formerly absent members take their seats in the pews because Mayne is there.

“I talked to a couple that hadn’t been to church in 20 years,” Fletcher said. “I’m not reinventing doctrine. I’m just trying to put in place what Jesus Christ would have us doing. … Even if you’re in a gay relationship and have no interest in living all the commandments, you’re still welcome in church, by all means.”

The development has stirred up discussion far beyond California. In one week, Mayne said, his personal website, which links to a blog in which he writes openly about who he is, received 30,000 views from 67 countries.

“I’m not a lone wolf on this,” he said. “I just happen to be a face of it. … There is a place for everyone at our savior’s table.”

But not everyone is as confident that Mayne’s calling will make a difference.

“I’m conflicted about this,” said Eric Ethington of Salt Lake City, the founder of the LGBT blog PRIDEinUtah.

“On the one hand, I view this as a positive step forward for the church, a church that has a history of extreme persecutions against the LGBT community,” he said. “But on the other hand,  I worry about LGBT people … because the church teaches you that you cannot reach your full potential and have full acceptance in the church unless you marry someone of the opposite sex.”

Ethington was raised in the LDS Church and says he was kicked out of the house when he came out at 17. He later closeted himself and married a woman in an LDS temple, only to divorce a couple of years later after realizing he was kidding himself.

“I can’t share (Mitch’s) optimism, but I share his hope,” he said. “Whether the church is ever going to change its policies, that’s a question for (LDS Church President) Thomas Monson. But one thing I hope the church will do, and maybe Mitch can help with this, is educate local leadership. Some kids are gay. … And that’s OK.”

Ethington pointed out, though, that Mayne, who was in a longtime monogamous relationship until a year ago, was only able to get his church calling because he’s not currently with someone.

“If he falls in love again and wants to be with that man, he won’t be allowed to serve,” he said.

Matt Mosman, a high councilor with the San Francisco Stake, said that if Mayne were to find himself in another romantic relationship, there would be an expectation that he would step down.

But the expectation that Mayne will abstain from premarital sex while in a leadership role, Mosman added, is no different from what would be expected of a single man who is not gay.

“The idea that a gay man who is not currently active in a gay relationship could serve actively in a high-ranking calling – that is a policy in the Mormon church that you could argue has been around since the church’s inception,” said Mosman, who works in corporate development.

For now, Mayne looks forward to his service and to promoting conversations and understanding. He will not, however, commit to a life of celibacy and hopes, “for all my gay brothers and sisters,” that same-sex marriage will someday be an option.

“I’m not saying I have an intent to go out and sin,” he said. “Here’s where I am; I am able and willing to serve. But I don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know what the future holds.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Homosexuality • Mormonism • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,700 Responses)
  1. krisman47

    Why doesnt this work I dont see any of my posts.

    September 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • *frank*

      You're doing it wrong.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hmm.

      Separate the T-I-T's....

      September 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Mr Everyman

      I wrote a nice long post. I can't find !!!!

      September 28, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Muneef

      Mr.
      Check your words and use separations....as shown above post.

      September 29, 2011 at 6:49 am |
  2. Alex Gessong

    Kudos to the church for taking an enlightened view on this. Maybe they figured out what Jesus meant when he said "treat others and you would like to be treated," and "judge not, lest you be judged," and "love one another."

    September 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  3. sam

    Let me see. . . According to Mormonism, God made people gay. According to the Mormon's, God wants us to discriminate against them. God wants us to discriminate against a lifestyle that he/she created. Oh well God's prophet may soon change all of that (actually God will change it and tell the Mormon leadership) like he did with the Black race. God is still undecided about women for now. All of this comes from a founder who was a pedophile and a religion that until 9/11/2001 was responsible for the biggest act of terrorism in the USA. Got it.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  4. annewandering

    It puzzles me why people out of the church even care. He is happy with his calling. His job is one that means most people in the ward will have contact with him at one time or other. He, as executive Secretary, is not called on to speak any more than any other member would be. Then again Bishops dont generally give talks all the time either. So whats the big deal?

    September 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  5. CrazyWorld

    Sorry boys and girls, no one is born gay. It is a lifestyle choice. And like any vice, morally wrong. The church is supposed to love the person, but hate the sin. But not place an openly practicing offender in leadership positions.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Seriously

      Hey look another prejudice christian.

      "But not place an openly practicing offender in leadership positions."

      LOL! What is so funny is that you would be surprised at how many gay and lesbians that are in leadership roles in fortune 500 companies. One might even be your boss! LOL! What an idiot.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you could become gay if you chose to do so, then? Good to know.

      You're so full of sh&te.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      "Lifestyle choice"? What does that even mean.

      How does who I am attracted to equate to a lifestyle? How is who I am attracted to a choice? Do you choose who you are attracted to?

      Now, if I get to choose my lifestyle, can I choose to have a wealthy, carefree one? One where I can spend my days by the pool rather than working for a living?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Crazy, there is more proof that being gay is innate than there is proof of any god, ever.

      September 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  6. James

    MORMONISM And Scientology are both fake religions ,so ofcourse they would take new members. But on another note it is a job that might provide income http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_9w8JougLQ&feature=relmfu

    September 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Tris

      Read the article more carefully. Mormons don't get paid for serving in leadership roles. You're obviously not very familiar with the Mormon church; maybe you should learn more about things before deciding they're "fake"

      September 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Religion is religion, there is no such thing as a "fake" religion. There is what people believe.

      Are the tenants man made? Yes, of course. That does not make them fake.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  7. zombie

    Only in San Fransico

    September 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  8. sinner forgiven

    Everyone who wants to know about Mormonism and other cults/religions need to read this site: http://www.4truth.net/ The truth is Most mormons don't even know what their doctrine states and how it contradicts the bible. (Even though they swear they study it) There's also a section in there for you Atheists as well.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Observer

      "Most don't even know what their doctrine states and how it contradicts the bible"

      That applies to a huge number of Christians, too.

      September 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • fred

      Observer
      You have a good understanding of the Bible. Tell me what is the bottom line on a ho mo $exual that continues physical union until he or she dies. Assume that they attend a church that condones their acts marries them etc.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Rick

      The "we know better than you do what you actually believe" makes me laugh.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Pete

      "Tell me what is the bottom line on a ho mo $exual that continues physical union until he or she dies."

      Most people have not carefully and prayerfully researched the Biblical texts used by some people to condemn God's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children.

      Historically, people's misinterpretation of the Bible has left a trail of suffering, bloodshed, and death.

      We should be open to new truth from Scripture. Even heroes of the Christian faith have changed their minds about the meaning of various Biblical texts.

      The Bible is a book about God. The Bible is not a book about human sexuality.

      We miss what these passages say about God when we spend so much time debating what they say about sex.

      The Biblical authors are silent about homosexual orientation as we know it today. They neither approve it nor condemn it.

      The prophets, Jesus, and the Biblical authors say nothing about homosexual orientation as we understand it today. But, they are clear about this one thing. As we search for truth, we are to "Love one another."

      Science cannot decide the moral question of whether our society should treat same-sex relationships as a normal form of human expression. What we do with scientific discoveries is always mediated through culture. Even if science were to one day prove an incontrovertible genetic basis for homosexuality, those who disagree might then simply label homosexuality a genetic disease or disorder.

      Yes, science poses to people of faith the dilemma of generating data that can challenge current religious understandings and teachings. However, as Galileo shows us, suppressing or distorting such data for that reason is neither truthful, nor does it ultimately strengthen one's faith. The acceptance of the scientific discovery that the earth revolved around the sun did not destroy the church. Today, committed believers read parts of the Bible which, in a literal sense, directly contradict that discovery. We now see those parts of Scripture as products of their time.

      Science helped people of faith understand that the earth revolves around the sun. Just as people of faith have come to reconcile the clash of science and Scripture over this issue, I believe the same is possible when it comes to the mystery and diversity of human sexuality.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • John

      “You have a good understanding of the Bible. Tell me what is the bottom line on a ho mo $exual that continues physical union until he or she dies.”

      Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

      Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

      There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

      Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

      In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

      Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behaviour. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

      Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

      That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • fred

      John
      John
      you said” ho mo$exuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human $exuality for some people. Findings indicate that ho mo$exuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable”

      Sorry but, this is what the Greeks thought and you best see the end result of what happens to young men when a society cherishes pederasty.

      You said” Findings indicate that ho mo$exuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable”

      Sorry again but it is a small minority of the population in the US say 5-8% at best. Is it “natural” for straights to have gay $ex. That answer is no, absolutely not. In which case you cannot have gay $ex and straight $ex termed natural. One of the forms is unnatural. Given 90%+ of the population falls into the straight category straight $ex is natural / normative.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • fred

      John
      What you say of Christ is true in that you are valued and loved regardless of what a prejudiced world thinks of you.
      Wrong on Sodom as the wording could not be more clear. This society completely lost all sense of what was normal and natural rejecting all that was of God. Perversion was being painted here not a hospitality lesson (although wicked and perverse people are not known for their manners).
      Leviticus is temple law and menstruating women are a separate issue from the specific abomination described.
      Paul was not speaking of punishment but God does allow you to chase after your sin regardless of what it is to the point where you no longer can return to God. This does not matter if it is ho-mo$exuality or drunkenness.
      You are correct in that it appears Paul is down on ho mo$xuality.
      Veiled women theology still applies as not only women but all should present themselves as humble in attire. In particular when women dress themselves inappropriately men still let their animal instinct roar and it is not proper before God (i.e. the church setting / worship setting Paul was speaking of)

      Now there are many in our church that abstain $exually for various reasons. You suggest we should let all hang out and do whatever whenever simply because we are born straight or gay. This makes no sense. Why do you wish all those who successfully abstain (straight and gay) to return to destructive life styles. You are being a bully and pushing people into your world of $exual dominance in thought and life style. Life is about so much more than $ex $ex $ex.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Seriously

      "Sorry but, this is what the Greeks thought and you best see the end result of what happens to young men when a society cherishes pederasty."

      Wow no wonder you take the bible so literally, you don't even know true history. What happened is they became such huge world powers and started to take over so many territories and so much land that they spread their forces too thin, it had nothing to do with being gay. If anything is falling because of pederasty it's the church you moron.

      "US say 5-8% at best. Is it “natural” for straights to have gay $ex. That answer is no, absolutely not. In which case you cannot have gay $ex and straight $ex termed natural. One of the forms is unnatural. Given 90%+ of the population falls into the straight category straight $ex is natural / normative."

      LOL! Again your logic is so clouded by prejudice it's actually funny. So based on your pathetic attempt at normal, then if something is in the low percent it's not natural, like having red hair, being left handed, skin color, etc. Your excuses for validating your prejudice are appalling and not moral at all.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Seriously

      "Wrong on Sodom as the wording could not be more clear."

      Fred read the bible moron, it even states it later the fall of Sodom was because of hospitality. Ezekiel: Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jeannine

      Fred, when read at face value, the Scriptures have nothing positive to say about homogenital behaviour. However, most Christians do not interpret the Bible literally; they try to understand the Scriptures in their historical and cultural context and see what meaning the Scriptures have for us today.

      The Scriptures were written approximately 2000 or more years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional homosexuality. The Scripture writers believed that all people were naturally heterosexual so that they viewed homosexuality activity as unnatural. Women today are pointing out that the inferiority of women expressed in the scriptures was a product of culture and the times in which the Bible was written; it should not be followed today, now that we are beginning to appreciate the natural and God-given equality of men and women.

      Similarly, as we know that homosexuality is just as natural and God-given as heterosexuality, we realize that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality were conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form of sexual expression which were held by people without benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge and understanding.

      It is unfair of us to expect or impose a twentieth century mentality and understanding about equality of genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical writers. We must be able to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural forms and attitudes expressed there.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • fred

      Jeannine
      I agree that the Bible must be kept in context of the times and intended hearer/reader of the word. $exual behavior was a key topic in the Bible regardless of gender so it is of importance and we should get some understanding of what in intended. I look at both straight or gay issues with the same eyes and know God judges both equally as to what they do with what they were given. Ho mo $exual sin has the same consequenses as any other sin. Looks like the question is back to sin and what is a sin.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • fred

      Seriously
      What! The basis of your argument is that the Greeks were great thus they could do what ever they want to young boys. Pederasty was a sick perversion that was applauded by the society. Young boys were offered up to the older men who would teach them the pleasures of $ex. It was an honor to be chosen for abuse. You need to think about where your basic standards of morals come from.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • William

      "$exual behavior was a key topic in the Bible"

      There is nothing in the Bible regarding homosexual orientation. In fact, the Bible does not concern itself with sexual orientation. It does speak out against gang rape, male prostitution for religious purposes, and pederasty. I lead bible study programs on this subject and am convinced that the Bible does not address the issue of a person's sexual orientation. God is interested in our relationships with ourselves, others, the things in our lives, and with God (Matthew 23:36-40). There is nothing in the mind of God that could be against a loving, sexual relationship, freely entered into, without coercion, among sincere adults whether gay, bisexual or straight.

      Oh and my qualifications are Baptist - minister, certified sexologist, associate professor of psychiatric and human behavior, servant on faculty of aUniversity's graduate department of religious studies, holder of master of divinity and a Th.D. in psychology. What are yours Fred?

      September 28, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • George

      “Ho mo $exual sin has the same consequenses as any other sin. Looks like the question is back to sin and what is a sin.”

      God does not regard homosexuality as a sin any more than heterosexuality. Sin is lack of respect for God; it is a lack of love or respect for other persons. Whether gay or straight, therefore, one may sin against God or others. But God forgives us when we sin and strengthens us in resisting sin. We are led by God's forgiving love to become more respectful and loving toward God and towards others, even those we don't "like".

      The Scriptures are very important because they teach us God's love for all, gay or straight. But the Scriptures are old, thousands of years old, written even before the word "homosexual" existed. Same sex acts involving the genitals - we call these "homogenital" - seem in Scripture to be thought of as a result of idol worship. See, for example, Romans 1:18-27. Nor do the Scriptures seem to understand what we mean today by "sexual orientation". Sexual acts which are injurious, disrespectful, or unloving toward the other person are wrong. So I believe that the Scriptures approve of homosexuality and even homogenital acts that are kind, generous, loving, and respectful of the other person, just as in the case of heterosexuality or heterogenital acts.

      I holds masters in divinity and a PhD, taught new testament theology studies a1958-1985, and I am member of Society of Biblical Literature.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • fred

      William
      So tell me William it has been 2,000 years now suddenly a small group has decided to re write the Bible. I doubt you are not biased in your approach to the Bible as everyone is. My bias begins with assuming the Bible is true and correct in all regards. Your bias appears to be gay lifestyle glorifies God so you set out to twist every verse so it fits your desire. Consider you have somehow managed to turn 11 clear verses around while the vast majority of theologians disagree with you. I wonder just how you define $exual immorality given your bias?
      I agree with you that the overriding truth is God is about loving relationships between people and Himself. $exual desire in the Bible also shows the thread that where it does not glorify God it always leads to sin and separation from God. This is why the Bible went to great lengths to direct our path regardless of orientation.
      I do not see anywhere in the Bible where you can re write truth and call yourself a minister. Jesse Jackson also shows his wall of theology yet the Bible itself says he cannot call himself Reverend Jesse because of his life style. He is forgiven but can no longer be a Reverend.
      We see different divisions in the church and you propose to jump on the latest fad. Do not forget Jesus admonished the church of Pargamum because they advocating the ways of the Nicolaitans. You have decided to promote the Nicolaitans as well. We have in our church many gay who are abstinent. I suggest you consult the Holy Spirit and see what that quiet voice says your consequence will be when you turn these little ones out in the streets to unleash their repressed desires

      September 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • fred

      George
      When would you say this current wave of attack against the Bible position on ho mo $exuality began? I think it is very new and reflects a culture that wants to have its cake and eat it too. Are you a Christian or Jew?
      Would you agree that the vast majority of those with your back round conclude ho mo $exual conduct (not orientation) is sin?
      Jesus referred to some being born eunuchs and others made that way by man. Effeminate males are also brought up. How does this fit your thought that the writers of the Bible did not know about "orientation"?

      September 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Robert

      “I think it is very new and reflects a culture that wants to have its cake and eat it too.”

      Just like women wanted their rights, don't stay home in the kitchen, talk in church and African Americans no longer being slaves. If you truly believe that everything is the truth to be taken literally then there are many things Christians are doing that don’t fit that ancient truth, you being one of them. LOL! Especially if you think that people need to follow all of Leviticus. Did you have your children stoned to death if they talked back to you. Wow you are a disgrace to Christianity for taking the bible so literally.

      “2,000 years now suddenly a small group has decided to re write the Bible.”

      DUH – no one is re-writing the bible moron, they are recognizing that it was written long ago by people who held bias opinions based on ignorance of the truths of this century. Even Jesus said that people are to grow and learn, that means recognizing the new truths as they are revealed. We were never meant to stay stagnate as human beings stuck in the bronze age.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • James

      I am convinced that our sexuality and our sexual orientations, whatever they may be, are a gift from God. Sexual sin does not reside in our orientations, but rather in expressing our sexuality in ways that harm, oppress, or use others for our own selfish gratification. When we express ourselves sexually in ways that are loving and just, faithful and responsible, then I am convinced that God celebrates our sexuality, whatever our orientation may be.

      The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      I hold a masters and PhD in divinity, consulting editor of "Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality", honorary doctor of Sacred Theology and award-winning educator Christ.

      Fred what is your education you still haven’t answered the question.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Seriously

      Ummm... Fred doesn't have an education which is why he takes it so literally. Plus he can't afford to be wrong because then he will have to face the ugly truth of his deep hatred and prejudice towards others, which his god clearly stated is wrong. 😉

      Come on Fred we all know your gay.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • fred

      Robert
      Why take it back to the stone age? I never said that. One of the ways God reveals himself to His people is through the Bible. Although there was a progression as civilization matured the entire Bible still ties together. Ten thousand years ago God was revealed as people had the capacity to understand. Lots of rules and regulation embedded in tradition. 2,000 years ago Jesus changed the field and brought it all together as He was the long awaited Christ. He made it clear there was a new order that tied into the old law. So as you said we are not stuck in the bronze age.
      For example, there remains a structure that governs the relationship between men and women in marriage. That has not changed since the writing of the Apostles and Paul. It is a structure that works the best. Actually, all the principles laid out by Jesus continue to work the best for us as individuals, families and the world as a whole.
      Is there a particular principle of the New Testament you have an issue with?

      September 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Melvin

      “For example, there remains a structure that governs the relationship between men and women in marriage. That has not changed since the writing of the Apostles and Paul. It is a structure that works the best. Actually, all the principles laid out by Jesus continue to work the best for us as individuals, families and the world as a whole.”

      Dealing with those relational realities is one of the tasks we are about in our time. The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being. The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality" deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual orientation. Those acts are labeled as wrong out of the context of the times in which the writers wrote and perceived those acts to be either non-masculine, idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan. The kind of relationships between two consenting adults of the same sex demonstrably abounding among us - relationships that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling - are not dealt with in the Scriptures..

      September 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • fred

      James
      I generally agree that $exuality is a gift from God regardless of orientation. As to $exual sin I would expand it include expression or thought since Jesus raised the bar when he said if you hate you brother it is murder.
      You suggested God celebrates our $exuality. I am not so certain of that if we are speaking of a Holy God. God would not be involved in cheerleading our self pleasures yet made it joy to multiply the species and bond the relationship. Here on this earth we cannot be like Christ with regard to devoting all of ourselves and thoughts to God so we have this joy. Jesus further said there is no marriage in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is simply because only that which is in Christ’s likeness can exist with God. There is much about us that cannot be looked upon by a Holy God.
      Jesus did not need to bring up same $ex relationships. As far as the church goes those churches that promote ho mo $exual relationships fall under the warning to the Church of Pergamum. What is your understanding about the $exual immorality condoned by the Nicolaitans?
      How about mastur-ba-tion, Jesus never brought that up. Is that immoral and thus a sin?

      September 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • fred

      Seriously
      Nay can't think of anyone I hate, some just need more prayer than others. Do you still want to hold the Greeks high as your role model? I see them very different. I see a society that without God eventually turned on their own children. Mothers and fathers turning their young boys over to middle aged men with honor. Pederasty was bad enough but parents taking part for their own glorification and societal status was a crime of its own.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Seriously

      "I see a society that without God eventually turned on their own children. Mothers and fathers turning their young boys over to middle aged men with honor. Pederasty was bad enough but parents taking part for their own glorification and societal status was a crime of its own."

      LMAO! Pederasty has nothing to do with homosexuality you moron. Keep showing the world how uneducated you are and groping for anything that will justify your pathetic prejudices.

      Pederasty is an intimate (sometimes erotic) relationship between an adult and an adolescent boy outside his immediate family. The word pederasty derives from Greek (paiderastia) "love of boys", a compound derived from παῖς (pais) "child, boy" and ἐραστής (erastēs) "lover". – DUH – that is what we now call a pedophile NOT a homosexual!

      Poor Fred thought he learned a new word today but only continues to show what an idiot he has become.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Seriously

      "What is your understanding about the $exual immorality condoned by the Nicolaitans?"

      Raise your hand if you think Fred misses the word idol in front of the sexual immorally discussed in revaluations. LOL! The same thing he continues to miss in other scriptures. LMAO! Come on Fred hit your head harder on the brick wall then maybe your mind might actually open and learn. LOL!

      September 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  9. myklds

    Being gay is NOT a choice but DEFINITELY, doing the act IS.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:24 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So?

      September 27, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Tom Piper'Sr

      Simple, avoid the act and live the life of a normal being.

      September 27, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What would you know about "normal"?

      September 27, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • myweightinwords

      So is the choice to get married or not, to have kids or not...choices we all make, regardless of our orientation.

      Your point is?

      September 27, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • gerald

      The choice to get married, have kids is in alignment with natural law. H s x l acts by their nature are not. Men and women are complimentary, men and men, women and women are not. The wonder of procreation as well as the way men and women's bodies work together in so many ways, not just procreation is amazing. For instance there are over 30 chemicals in s-e- m e n that are beneficial to the woman, including anti-depressants among other things. No, I thing the poster who opened this thread has it quiet right.

      September 27, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Seriously

      "The choice to get married, have kids is in alignment with natural law."

      LOL that's why there is homosexual relationships through out all of the animal kingdom.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • CrazyWorld

      Being gay is "DEFINITELY" a choice. No one is "born" gay. Lifestyle choices and unfortunately abuse leads to the gay life style, but it is not natural.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Seriously

      "Lifestyle choices and unfortunately abuse leads to the gay life style, but it is not natural."

      Wow your ignorance and prejudice truly shows with that uneducated opinion.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I love it when some pompous twit like gerald starts pontificating and then reveals himself to be an ignoramus. Men and women are COMPLEMENTARY, moron. Not "complimentary". Unless you think they're the only ones who tell each other how nice they look.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • gerald

      You really get to the heart of an issue don't you tom. Wow that solves everything.

      God bless you tom.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • gerald

      Seriously,

      you sound prejudiced toward those who disagree with you. HmSx in nature is no proof of anything. Defects occur in nature as well. That you ignorantly ignore the wonderous nature of relations between a man and woman and cannot think that the sterile relationships between men and men and women and women could be a sign of anything says little about me sadly.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, actually, you moron, it does. When some half-azzed nitwit pretends he knows what the Bible means and what God thinks but is unable to write a simple sentence without screwing it up, I tend to discount his opinion.

      I have more education than you do and more brains, by far. I don't need your idiotic take on God. Blow me.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Crazy, your personal opinion is duly noted and dismissed.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  10. REALLY

    Morons or Mormons as they call themselves in UTAH are bigots, why would a any person want to be part of that? His position is hardly a "leadership position" by the way...this is where they put people they want to change and enlighten. He is an Elder which is automatic at 18 not a High Priest which is what they make you if you have a shot earning and smooching your way up the pyramid scheme...but boy how the media has played into LDS Inc., on this one and helped.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • myklds

      "Morons or Mormons as they call themselves in UTAH are bigots, why would a any person want to be part of that?"

      The only way to determine wether people would want to be part of a certain group or denomination is through the number of its members in a certain place. You should have not drop that question while mentioning Utah.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • gerald

      Or perhaps you are a bigot against mormons?

      September 27, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • krisman47

      Hey Dumb @** what you know about The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints would barely fill a thimble as would your brain. The only moron I see here is you; DUMB @$$...............

      September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Koliver34

      What an ignorant statement, It's people like you that make me proud to be a member of the LDS church because if I was not I would have to be lumped in with whatever group you belong to.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:06 am |
  11. Reality

    From p. 17:

    "Abrahamics" (that includes Muslims) believe that their god/allah created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.

    To wit:

    o The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

    “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

    "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • .........

      Spam alert repeat posting hit report abuse on all reality posts

      September 27, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  12. Mary Hillsbrough

    This is a disgusting outrage. This is not a man of god. Does the mormon church not abide by the Bible? Have they not read Leviticus? Look at that man's lips. You know where they've been.

    These people are not going to heaven. I can promise you that.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Observer

      Leviticus (20:9) also says “If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death”

      So what was your point?

      September 27, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • REALLY

      Mormons are bigots, why would a gay person want to be part of that? His position is hardly a "leadership position" by the way, total silliness without the sacred undies I'm sure.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      I do sincerely hope that you have not worn any mixed textiles lately – which is pretty much impossible not to do in this day and age.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Josephs Myth

      Sometimes the only people who can outdo Mormons in kookiness and bigotry are the "evangelical Christians" who take Biblical literalism to absurd extremes and yet show not a shred of Christian love toward their Mormon neighbors. Let alone toward gays.

      September 27, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • aUtheIsTIC

      Non-believers comprise the 16% of the earth populace, 2% of which are atheists. And 98% of atheists are gays.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:16 am |
    • gerald

      "total silliness without the sacred undies I'm sure."

      A rather bigoted remark for someone who claims to be above bigotry in pointing the finger of guilt at others.

      September 27, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Observer

      aUtheIsTIC,

      "And 98% of atheists are gays"

      Mindless and factless statement. Get an education and do some research.

      September 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Ozymandias71

      Mary, here's a challenge for you – quote another verse from Leviticus OTHER than 18:22 and 20:13. I'd be willing to bet good money that you can't – without looking it up or madly flipping pages in your Bible because other than those two verses, Leviticus isn't a book that means a damn to you.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Koliver34

      Leviticus must of been the only part of the Bible you have read, Judge not lest ye be Judged. Jesus taught love and compassion and acceptance of all people. Not the hate and ignorance you speak of, people like you are far from Christian. Jesus would never condemn someone like the Christians in this country do to certain groups of people. There is hardly anything Christian about any of the Christians in this country, these posers disgust me.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:12 am |
  13. Richard S Kaiser

    Observer wrote on Monday, September 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm. stating, "Richard, You really didn't answer steelerguin's question about the "Sea of Nothingness". It didn't come from the Bible. Did it come from the Internet or a dream?"

    I do not know if there is such a thing within the net. I never googled but now am,,,,,and guess what? There are pages of sites regarding the "Sea of Nothingness" Well, I'll be! I don't know if any of these sites attributed outer space as being the Sea of Nothingness though. Most likely some do. Never can tell though,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    September 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  14. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I can't imagine spending eternity with the likes of Dickie...I'd rather roast.

    September 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Roasted butt hole doesn't taste good.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • gerald

      You shall be granted your wish, though there is time to change your mind yet.

      September 27, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, look! gerald the moron threatening those who don't kowtow to his brand of belief.

      "yawn"

      September 27, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • gerald

      I only wish it was my belief. Enjoy eternity.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, you don't. Like all other self-righteous halo-polishers, you relish the thought that people you don't like will go to hell.

      You're an ignorant twit, and your belief is, in fact, just that. You don't "know' anything, including the difference between "complimentary" and "complementary".

      September 28, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  15. Muneef

    Any way guess Mormons are very active and gathering more power and weight to be politically effective, and this young man is used as an icon to attract his kind to church rather than them running away in shame of their handicap...!

    September 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Observer

      If all Christians ran away in shame of their sins, there wouldn't be any left to pick on gays.

      September 27, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • myweightinwords

      What handicap?

      September 27, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  16. D.E.

    The Mormon church should assign a calling in each ward to reach out and support it's gay member's. I know many gay and lesbian Mormons and much more can be done to help those in the ward who are gay and older and not married and to help gay youth and their families. This is overdue. As a gay Mormon, I would have benefitted from this as a youth as I knew I was gay since I was rather young.

    September 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Maybe you could form a support group that would teach its members how to use apostrophes and create plural nouns.

      September 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Tom Piper'Sr

      I should have teach you some manners son.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, shove it, Adelina.

      September 27, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  17. same

    I LOVE the quotes he wrote about acceptance, tolerance, and pity~

    September 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  18. *frank*

    Was "house negro" considered a "leadership position" back on the plantation?
    Unlike the slave, who had no choice in the matter, this guy can walk away from this situation. Preferring to remain in it is basically kissing the asses of bigots who (despite their cheesy, disingenuous words of "love") consider him to be some kind of 'unclean leper'.
    Heartwarming stuff!
    Hail Jesus!

    September 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Walt Richey

      Amen and amen!

      September 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  19. god

    That Mitch, he sure be lovin my "leadership post" a lot. Up an down an up an down.

    September 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  20. Jason

    I'm confused at why someone thought this story was unique. Openly gay men and women have been serving in positions of the church for decades. The caveat is that they must remain celibate and not act on their feelings. There is no difference in this story. No hearts are changing here. It's the same old same old. It's okay if your gay as long as you remain alone and sad for the rest of your life. I'm sorry, but it's disgusting to me. I have been there and done that and I feel sorry for this man who thinks somehow he will be happy in all of this.

    September 26, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Walt Richey

      This is his journey, mistaken or not. He has to experience what is inevitably coming in order to find progress. He is young, attractive, and apparently intelligent. Someone is going to fall in love with him and he will have to decide: Do I stay in celibate isolation from the love of another, or do I opt to have the fulfillment of a loving relationship. I do not see this ending well.

      September 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Jim H.

      I don't expect Mitch to remain celibate and lonely for the rest of his life, but I am grateful that he is taking this time in his life to do what he is doing. The best thing that can happen is for other Mormons to sit next to him to worship. They begin to see him and love him as a brother. Mitch's calling in the church isn't going to change the world's opinion of the LDS church. He is changing the hearts of people within the church.

      September 27, 2011 at 3:02 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.