Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Attraction does not Equal Sin

         Today I want to clear up a huge misconception that is common among church goers. (I use the term church goes because I have seen this in all faiths and denominations, not only in the LDS church) Many people think that men and women who struggle with Same Gender Attraction (SGA) are sinning by the simple fact of having the attraction. I want to make something absolutely clear: Attraction and Sin are not synonymous. According the the website Mormons and Gays:

"The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters."

        I want to take this one step further and look at the words themselves. Attraction means an "attractive quality, magnetic charm, fascination, allurement or enticement". Sin is "a transgression of divine law". This is a very drastic difference which clarifies the quote above. The reason merely having the attraction is not a sin is that the individual has yet to break a divine law, or in other words a commandment. 
       A book I have found very helpful in understanding the difference is Weakness is not Sin by Wendy Ulrich. In it Ulrich explains "Weakness and sin are very different." (Weakness is not Sin, pg 1). She then gives some definitions, specifically of weakness, sin and strength. She describes weakness as "variations in mental or physical well-being, vulnerabilities to desires and appetites, predispositions to various physical and emotional states, or differing levels of talents or abilities"(Weakness is not Sin, pg 5, italics added). Notice the similarity in her description of weakness and the definition of attraction. Both are attractive or enticing to different individuals. SGA is merely a weakness to a particular type of sin, exactly like some people are more disposed to become alcoholics than others. The fact that alcohol is enticing to them does not make them an alcoholic; whether they begin drinking or not does. It is the same with SGA. Not everyone who is attracted to the same gender become gay or lesbian. That option is just more tempting to us. 
      It is also true that certain sins are common among those who struggle with SGA, such as pornography, masturbation, and adultery.  But what is so often forgotten is that there are many, many more people with heterosexual tendencies that also struggle with theses sins. A gay man who commits adultery is no worse than a heterosexual man who does. They are also no better. They have both sinned and need to repent. Herein lies the most important truth of the Gospel: we are all sinners and we all have the opportunity to accept Christ as our Savior.
     I found this picture and think is sums up my thoughts quite well.

     God loves us all. He loves the sinner and the saint, the homosexual and the heterosexual. He loves us all because we are his children. He sent his son to suffer the pains of sin so we won't have to. I invite all who read this to turn their sins and heartaches over to the Savior. Let him carry you when you don't have the strength to carry on alone. He has carried me through the hardest of days and walked at my side every day, not despite my sins but because of them. He has held me as I cried and listened as I confessed. He has comforted me in my desperation and calmed the storms in my life. I know He can do the same for you. 
      While serving my mission in Argentina I came across a farewell I now use quite often. Vaya con Dios. It means "Go with God". This is my hope for all of you, that no matter your trial or storms you go with God because he will guide and support you. 


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