Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kremlinology, con't

Project Mayhem reports that the 2010 edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions has a significantly revised section on homosexuality.

Comparing the 2006 edition with 2010, here are the changes reported on Project Mayhem's blog. Deletions are in strikeout, insertions are in italics:

Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

If members have homosexual thoughts or feelings or engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth. Leaders also should help them accept responsibility for their thoughts and actions and apply gospel principles in their lives.

While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out to understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. [This was moved from being the 2nd to 3rd paragraph]

In addition to the inspired assistance of Church leaders, members may need professional counseling. When appropriate, bishops should contact LDS Social Services to identify resources to provide such counseling in harmony with gospel principles.

[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.]

Okay, folks, this is a pretty big change. The biggest part is the Church's discontinuation of support for scientifically discredited therapeutic techniques that attempt to change sexual orientation. Homosexual orientation is now recognized to exist and is morally neutral. The Church now asks only for celibacy; you don't have to repent anymore for being gay.

I am especially gratified to see distorts loving relationships removed from the text. Break out the champagne, boyfriend! Our love isn't a perverted caricature of human affection after all!

There's a lot that's missing from this section. For example, the CHI is still silent on the advisability of mixed-orientation marriages, even though official statements of the Church have discouraged them. This lack of clarity does a lot of damage.

Winners: good sense and reason. Losers: LDS Social Services and the reparative therapy industry.

UPDATE After posting this, I was able to review for myself the relevant section in the 2010 CHI. The section on LDS Social services is *still* in the handbook, contrary to the report I relied on for this post. Therefore, the conclusions reached in this post are not valid, and I retract them.

The rewording in this section of the CHI does reinforce the notion that homosexual orientation is morally neutral, but it does not retract the Church's support for LDS Social Services.


Gay LDS Actor said...

Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

In sacrament meeting this last Sunday, the Bishop asked all those who may have old copies of the CHI to bring them to church and turn them in. A new edition has been printed and the old ones are to be destroyed by the church.

Neal said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I've heard about the changes and wondered what they were. These are very significant and positive changes indeed.

Joned Rahadian said...

This is a small advance step. Small, but quite significant.

I have the old copy of CHI and the bishop didnt even remember that I borrowed it. He is just too old. I'll keep it myself. Hahahaha....


Max Power said...


If you want a pdf copy of the new handbook of instructions, it's posted online:

MoHoHawaii said...

Thanks all for your comments.

Max Power points out that the handbook is available for download right now. I understand that this will only be available for seven days, so if you want to read the new guidelines from the source, now's the time to download your copy!

(Oh, BTW, Joned, your 2006 edition might become a collector's item someday. If anyone's curious about comparing the old and the new, the 2006 edition is freely available from Wikileaks. Maybe the new one will get there eventually, too.)

I browsed through the 2010 edition and did notice some other changes that I might blog about in a future post.