Homosexuality and therapeutic culture in Mormonism

Authored by: Eric G. Swedin

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:


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Attitudes towards homosexuality in the Latter-day Saint community have gone through an historical arc from condemnation, through investigation and learning, to sympathy, though not acceptance. The LDS community began to selectively accept the assumptions of the new modern psychologies and use secular psychotherapy in the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1970s and 1980s, both secular and church psychotherapists within the LDS community sought to develop cures for homosexuals. Aversion therapy was tried and gay men were encouraged to marry women as a cure. These efforts mostly failed in that cures were not found, but greater understanding and sympathy gradually emerged. The present official stance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that same-sex attraction is not in itself sinful, but that physically acting on such feelings violates the law of chastity and is sinful. Heterosexual marriage as a cure is now discouraged. Same-sex marriage is not supported and is officially treated as an unacceptable alternate form of marriage like polygamy. As sexual minorities become more accepted in secular society, the number of people who embrace such alternatives will continue to increase, leading to more pressure on the LDS community to further defend or modify its beliefs.

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