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But even that, in the fullness of life as we understand it through the doctrines of the restored gospel, eventually can become possible. In this life, such things as service in the Church, including missionary service, all of this is available to anyone who is true to covenants and commandments. Perhaps there is an inclination or susceptibility to such feelings that is a reality for some and not a reality for others.
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But out of such susceptibilities come feelings, and feelings are controllable. If we cater to the feelings, they increase the power of the temptation.
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If we yield to the temptation, we have committed sinful behavior. If they let that susceptibility remain uncontrolled, it becomes a feeling of anger, and a feeling of anger can yield to behavior that is sinful and illegal.
But what we do know is that feelings can be controlled and behavior can be controlled. The line of sin is between the feelings and the behavior. The line of prudence is between the susceptibility and the feelings. We need to lay hold on the feelings and try to control them to keep us from getting into a circumstance that leads to sinful behavior.
We do have the power to control our behavior. That is contrary to the Plan of Salvation, and it is contrary to the justice and mercy of God. That includes resisting temptation. None of these stand in the way of our attaining our eternal destiny. The same may be said of a susceptibility or inclination to one behavior or another which if yielded to would prevent us from achieving our eternal destiny. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction.
Why somebody has a same-gender attraction… who can say? But what matters is the fact that we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important. I have my own agency.
I have the power within myself to control what I do. This is an issue that those in psychiatry, in the psychology professions have debated. Case studies I believe have shown that in some cases there has been progress made in helping someone to change that orientation; in other cases not. Let me just add one more thought. The Church rarely takes a position on which treatment techniques are appropriate, for medical doctors or for psychiatrists or psychologists and so on.
The second point is that there are abusive practices that have been used in connection with various mental attitudes or feelings. Over-medication in respect to depression is an example that comes to mind. The aversive therapies that have been used in connection with same-sex attraction have contained some serious abuses that have been recognized over time within the professions. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.
What bearing does this have on eternal life? If I can somehow make it through this life, when I appear on the other side, what will I be like? Gratefully, the answer is that same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life.
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It is a circumstance that for whatever reason or reasons seems to apply right now in mortality, in this nano-second of our eternal existence. Every blessing — including eternal marriage — is and will be mine in due course. There is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband, a wife, and posterity.
Further, men are that they might have joy. In the eternal perspective, same-gender activity will only bring sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities. There are people with physical disabilities that prevent them from having any hope — in some cases any actual hope and in other cases any practical hope — of marriage. The circumstance of being currently unable to marry, while tragic, is not unique.
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It is sometimes said that God could not discriminate against individuals in this circumstance. But life is full of physical infirmities that some might see as discriminations — total paralysis or serious mental impairment being two that are relevant to marriage. We are in no condition to judge what discrimination is. We rest on our faith in God and our utmost assurance of His mercy and His love for all of His children. We feel for someone that has that anguish.
I feel for somebody that has that anguish. We live in a very self-absorbed age.
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I think when any one of us begins to think that way, it might be well to look beyond ourselves. Who am I to say that I am more handicapped, or suffering more, than someone else? I happen to have a handicapped daughter. Her name is Courtney. Courtney will never marry in this life, yet she looks wistfully upon those who do.
So there are lots of kinds of anguish people can have, even associated with just this matter of marriage. We just need to remain faithful. President Hinckley has said that if people are faithful, they can essentially go forward as anyone else in the Church and have full fellowship. What does that really mean? Does it mean missionary service? They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control.
If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. Every teaching position, every missionary position can be held by single people. We welcome to that kind of service people who are struggling with any kind of temptation when the struggle is a good struggle and they are living so as to be appropriate teachers, or missionaries, or whatever the calling may be.
The willingness to turn to the Savior, the opportunity of going to sacrament service on a Sunday, and really participating in the ordinance of the sacrament… listening to the prayers, partaking of those sacred emblems. Viewed that way, then any opportunity to serve in the Church is a blessing. As has been mentioned, there is a relatively tiny handful of callings within the Church that require marriage. We realize there may be great loneliness in their lives, but there must also be recognition of what is right before the Lord.
What would you say to them? There are also people who consider the defining fact of their existence that they are from Texas or that they were in the United States Marines. Or they are red-headed, or they are the best basketball player that ever played for such-and-such a high school. People can adopt a characteristic as the defining example of their existence and often those characteristics are physical. We have the agency to choose which characteristics will define us; those choices are not thrust upon us.
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