To Love and Embrace Them
This month we pay special attention to the fact that the union of man and woman does not come naturally to everyone. Same-sex attraction, opposite-sex aversion, and gender dysphoria are unchosen and ongoing realities for many people. Some choose to identify as LGBTQ by way of accepting these aspects of their lives and allowing others to better understand them, and that is a choice we should honor. I hope for a world in which nobody who experiences these things would feel ashamed, and that each of them could find friendly outstretched hands and loving embraces if and when they choose to make it known.
For those who experience them, these realities certainly complicate — and for some may preclude, at least for now — a marriage between a man and a woman, the setting that allows for the responsible generation and stable nurturing of new life. Such a marriage and family is not easy to establish and maintain even for those for whom attraction to the opposite sex is instinctive, let alone when these added complications are present. For all of us, in one way or another, to one degree or another, permanent commitment to the ideals of chastity and of healthy marriage and family requires deliberate choice and ongoing self-discipline, aided by the grace of God. If it were not so, it would not need to be guarded by solemn vows and sacred covenants that help us fortify our resolve and maintain our focus in seasons of distress and distraction.
Given the degree of difficulty, people come to different conclusions about the path they walk in life — the beliefs they embrace, the conduct they undertake, the relationships they pursue — by way of contextualizing, directing, and implementing their responses to their romantic longings and sexual instincts.
When appropriate, we should be willing to articulate our own views with respect and sensitivity; but whether or not others’ perspectives and decisions agree with ours, we need to recognize and honor their right and responsibility to learn and choose for themselves. (Disclosure: my own convictions and hopes align with, and in my personal strivings I aim to conform to, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which encapsulates the relevant teachings and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
We can be genuinely respectful, kind, and loving in all our relationships and interactions without betraying our own core convictions. I appreciate this counsel from a servant of the Lord: “The best we can do [when others choose a different path] is just to love and embrace them, pray for their well-being, and seek for the Lord’s help to know what to do and say. Sincerely rejoice with them in their successes; be their friends and look for the good in them. We should never give up on them but preserve our relationships. Never reject or misjudge them. Just love them!”