God Loves All His Children
Nothing more fully demonstrates the depth and reach of God’s love than His willingness to sacrifice His Son that we, His children, might overcome death and be offered eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)
Nothing better expresses the love of Jesus Christ than His willingness to give His life to atone for the sins of mankind, compensate for all suffering and injustice, and break the bands of death for all (see Alma 7:11–13).
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.(John 15:13)
In an October 2009 general conference address, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf described God’s love:
“God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
“He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us” (“The Love of God,” Oct. 2009 general conference).
God loves all of us. He loves those of different faiths and those without any faith. He loves those who suffer. He loves the rich and poor alike. He loves people of every race and culture, the married or single, and those who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. And God expects us to follow His example.
We Are Commanded to Love God and One Another
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.(Matthew 22:37–39)
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.(John 15:12)
We show our love for God by keeping His commandments (see John 14:15) and by loving one another (see John 13:34). If you have a family member or friend who experiences same-sex attraction or identifies as gay, love them. President Henry B. Eyring observed:
“If you want to stay close to someone who has been dear to you, but from whom you are separated, you know how to do it. You would find a way to speak to them, you would listen to them, and you would discover ways to do things for each other. The more often that happened, the longer it went on, the deeper would be the bond of affection. If much time passed without the speaking, the listening, and the doing, the bond would weaken.
“God is perfect and omnipotent, and you and I are mortal. But he is our Father, he loves us, and he offers the same opportunity to draw closer to him as would a loving friend. And you will do it in much the same way: speaking, listening, and doing” (“To Draw Closer to God,” Apr. 1991 general conference).
You show your love for God by loving and serving others.
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.(Mosiah 2:17)
What does it mean to love one another? Love cares. Love listens. Love includes. Love inspires. Love is at the heart of what makes us human, for we are children of God, and “God is love” (1 John 4:8). At the Last Supper, the Savior reiterated, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
The commandment to love one another includes those who don’t see the world the same way we do. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:
“In so many relationships and circumstances in life, we must live with differences. Where vital, our side of these differences should not be denied or abandoned, but as followers of Christ we should live peacefully with others who do not share our values or accept the teachings upon which they are based. The Father’s plan of salvation, which we know by prophetic revelation, places us in a mortal circumstance where we are to keep His commandments. That includes loving our neighbors of different cultures and beliefs as He has loved us. As a Book of Mormon prophet taught, we must press forward, having ‘a love of God and of all men’ (2 Nephi 31:20)” (“Loving Others and Living with Differences,” Oct. 2014 general conference).
Divine love does not excuse sin—“I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance”—but is anxious to forgive—“nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (D&C 1:31–32). In like manner, we should yield no ground in living and defending the commandments of God, but to mirror fully the love of God, we must also love one another so openly and completely that no one can feel abandoned or alone or hopeless.
The Savior Has a Perfect Understanding of All Our Difficulties
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.(1 CORINTHIANS 13:12)
As mortals, our understanding is limited. We can declare with Nephi that we “know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, [we] do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17).
As we seek answers and direction for our personal journey, we can trust God and the power inherent in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world, He also experienced every pain and affliction any human being might experience.
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.(Alma 7:11)
Feelings of Same-Sex Attraction Are Not a Sin and We Can Choose How to Respond
The Church does not take a position on the cause of same-sex attraction. In 2006, Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated:
“The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction” (Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: “Same-Gender Attraction”, 2006).
Feelings of same-sex attraction are not a sin. Elder M. Russell Ballard stated:
“Let us be clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that ‘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 [those with same-sex attraction]’” (“The Lord Needs You Now!” Ensign, Sept. 2015, 29).
While same-sex attraction is not a sin, it can be a challenge. While one may not have chosen to have these feelings, he or she can commit to keep God’s commandments. The parent of a child who experiences same-sex attraction or identifies as gay should choose to love and embrace that child. As a community of Church members, we should choose to create a welcoming community.
And he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him; … all are alike unto God.(2 Nephi 26:33)
People Who Live God’s Laws Can Fully Participate in the Church
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.(Acts 10:34)
God promises that if we obey His laws we will have eternal joy, and He always keeps His promises. Clearly people who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay can make and keep promises to God. They can walk in His light. They can fully participate in the Church.
“If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.4.6).
President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
“We love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are” (“What Are People Asking about Us?” Oct. 1998 general conference).
Whatever a person’s circumstances, he or she can contribute to the Lord’s cause in the present and can anticipate that his or her faithfulness will yield the same blessings, here and hereafter, that are promised by God to anyone who is similarly faithful. Elder D. Todd Christofferson has observed:
“Everyone has gifts; everyone has talents; everyone can contribute to the unfolding of the divine plan in each generation. Much that is good, much that is essential—even sometimes all that is necessary for now—can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. So many of you are doing your very best. And when you who bear the heaviest burdens of mortality stand up in defense of God’s plan to exalt His children, we are all ready to march. With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children” (“Why Marriage, Why Family,” Apr. 2015 general conference).
The Law of Chastity Applies to All of God’s Children
Sexual purity is an essential part of God’s plan for our happiness. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared:
“The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).
Sexual relations between a man and woman who are not married or between people of the same sex are sinful and violate one of our Father in Heaven’s most important laws and get in the way of our eternal progress.
“The Lord’s law of chastity is abstinence from sexual relations outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Adultery, fornication, homosexual or lesbian relations, and every other unholy, unnatural, or impure practice are sinful” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.4.5).
People of any sexual orientation who violate the law of chastity can be reconciled with God through repentance.
Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive.(Doctrine and Covenants 42:24–25)