A Mormon paradox: fellowship in the shadow of intolerance.Joe Downing was a model Mormon. As a teenager he conducted the choir for his local church ward every Sunday. Years later he served a church mission in Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (pwār`tō rē`kō), island (2005 est. pop. 3,917,000), 3,508 sq mi (9,086 sq km), West Indies, c.1,000 mi (1,610 km) SE of Miami, Fla. , and the day before graduating from the church-affiliated Brigham Young University Brigham Young University, at Provo, Utah; Latter-Day Saints; coeducational; opened as an academy in 1875 and became a university in 1903. It is noted for its law and business schools. in Provo, Utah, he married a Mormon bride. Nevertheless, as a young man Downing faced a question that troubles thousands of other Mormons: "Can I be gay and still be faithful to the church?"
Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, a 20-year-old international support group for gay Mormons and their families and friends, has helped many church members decide that the answer is yes. And the group hopes to show others how to merge their faith with their sexuality when it kicks off its leadership conference, "Love Makes a Family," April 30 in Salt Lake City. The group provides a fellowship that gay men, lesbians, and their families may have trouble finding at church.
While the Mormon church The Mormon Church is a religious body founded in 1830 in Fayette, New York, by Joseph Smith. It is also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS Church. There are 7.7 million Mormons worldwide. -- formally, the Church of Jesus Christ Church of Jesus Christ may refer to:
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces. . In 1995 church president Gordon B. Hinckley Gordon Bitner Hinckley (born June 23 1910) has been the fifteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since March 12, 1995. He is the oldest person to preside over the LDS Church in its history. told members, "Our hearts reach out to those who struggle with feelings of affinity for the same gender. However, we cannot condone immoral practices on your part any more than we can condone immoral practices on the parts of others."
Hinckley's statement forms the basis of Mormon policy toward gays. Because Mormons insist on celibacy outside of heterosexual marriage, that means "chastity is forever" for gays. Therefore, being openly gay in the church is impossible if you want to have sex.
Church officials won't estimate how many of the church's 10 million members are gay, and Don Lefevre, church spokesman, insists that homosexuality "isn't really an issue" and is rarely mentioned at church headquarters in Salt Lake. But gay men and women permeate the church, especially in the mission field, where more than 50,000 missionaries -- 75% of them young men -- labor in 160 countries. Before serving, missionaries undergo language training at a church center and are told to remain celibate. Homosexuality is addressed head-on.
"Church leaders made it clear that any sexual activity between missionaries would result in public humiliation," recalled Steve Ganzell, a 40-year-old neuropsychologist Neuropsychologist
A clinical psychologist who specializes in assessing psychological status caused by a brain disorder.
Mentioned in: Post-Concussion Syndrome who served a church mission in Argentina as a young man. While he slept in the same bed as his mission companion, the stern warnings were "enough to keep me in line, although I did usually have to sleep in two pairs of gym shorts."
While many doubt that the church's policy toward gays will change in the near future, a few are hopeful. Downing, now a gray-haired associate professor of music composition at Syracuse University upstate New York Upstate New York is the region of New York State north of the core of the New York metropolitan area. It has a population of 7,121,911 out of New York State's total 18,976,457. Were it an independent state, it would be ranked 13th by population. , is one of them.
"The church does itself a great disservice in denying the gay part of the body of Christ
The Body of Christ is a term used by Christians to describe believers in Christ. Jesus Christ is seen as the "head" of the body, which is the church. ," Downing said. "I have had several church leaders in their 40s say that the policies will change in 40 years when the men their age are the presiding church authorities.... I hope that things will change sooner.