Mormon Church Doctrine
From 1849 to 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a policy against the ordination of black men to the priesthood, and forbidding black men and women from taking part in ceremonies in LDS temples. In 1978, the church’s First Presidency declared in a statement known as “Official Declaration 2” that the ban had been lifted as a result of a revelation from God.
1 April 2006: A Fellow Mormon Questions Stephen Kerr’s Integrity – Does he believe in the Mormon church’s teaching prior to 1978 that skin colour is a curse.
1 April 2006: Elder Stephen Kerr, a native of Dundee was sustained as an Area Seventy (top of the Mormon tree) in the Europe West Area of the Mormon Church.
A fourth generation Mormon on his mother’s side, after completing his first mission he progressed through the various ranks of the Church culminating in his appointment as leader of the Church in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A post comparable with an arch Bishop or Moderator in the established church
In September 2006 Ensign Elder Kerr addressed the youth of the Mormon Church. He confessed to a passion for books and spoke to a list of things young Mormons might want to do while they are still young. Three things are especially important;
(1) Being worthy to go to the temple.
(2) Regular attendance at seminary and institute classes to learn more about the faith.
(3) The companionship of the Holy Ghost and receiving revelation.
Is this the same Stephen Kerr to whom I wrote in 1998 following his appearance in one of a series of TV programmes that looked at various faiths?
A panel quizzed him and another Mormon about their faith.
Of particular interest was the question of Negroes and the priesthood.
We have addressed this issue before and I need only say that, until 1978, Negroes were disbarred from full involvement in the Mormon Church because the colour of their skin marked them out as “unworthy”.
In 1978 this changed under enormous pressure from the wider society.
This is common knowledge and I don’t imagine that I am telling you anything you don’t already know.
Imagine my astonishment when I heard Stephen Kerr, a fourth generation Mormon, a lover of books, a priesthood leader of long standing and someone who encourages youth to learn more about their faith – imagine my astonishment when I heard him deny any understanding of this teaching.
He would have been 18 years old at the time of those momentous changes in 1978, when the official declaration announced from Mormon pulpits across the world that, “all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or colour (sic)”.
He would have been preparing for his mission, if not already serving, and this would have had a profound effect on the way missionaries responded to coloured people on the door.
He was challenged repeatedly and, repeatedly, he said, “I don’t know why this was so, nobody knows why.”
It might be argued that I am in no position to know what he knew or didn’t know.
That is right.
It might be argued that I couldn’t prove that he was being disingenuous in his answers.
That is correct.
It might be said that I must take the man at face value and accept that he spoke in good faith.
That is something I struggle with simply because it is not true that “nobody knows”.
It is common knowledge.
This is doctrine of recent memory, practised by Mormons of my generation.
Especially poignant was the fact that his Mormon companion was a young Negro woman who, I feel, was quite innocent in her endorsement of Elder Kerr’s claim to ignorance.
My generation and his would have been taught as a matter of course the story of skin colour being a curse.
Hers would have been denied such understanding as new opportunities opened up, post 1978, for Mormonism in Africa and among African communities across the world.
Now a new generation of young church members is deliberately kept ignorant of their own heritage.
Same Sex Attraction and the Doctrine of the Mormon Church
Same-sex attraction refers to emotional, physical, or sexual attraction to a person of the same gender.
The experience of same-sex attraction is not the same for everyone. Some people may feel exclusively attracted to the same gender, while others may feel attracted to both genders.
The Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and homosexual behaviour.
People who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual can make and keep covenants with God and fully and worthily participate in the Church.
Identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or experiencing same-sex attraction is not a sin and does not prohibit one from participating in the Church, holding callings, or attending the temple.
Sexual purity is an essential part of God’s plan for our happiness.
Sexual relations between a man and woman who are not married, or between people of the same sex, violate one of our Father in Heaven’s most important laws and get in the way of our eternal progress.
People of any sexual orientation who violate the law of chastity can be reconciled with God through repentance.
As followers of Christ, we resist immoral behaviour and strive to become like Him.
We seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the help of the Saviour, who knows how to succour us when we are tempted.
If we give in to sexual temptations and violate the law of chastity, we can repent, be forgiven, and participate in full fellowship in the Church.
We may not know precisely why some people feel attracted to others of the same sex, but for some it is a complex reality and part of the human experience.
The Saviour Jesus Christ has a perfect understanding of every challenge we experience here on earth, and we can turn to Him for comfort, joy, hope, and direction.
No matter what challenges we may face in life, we are all children of God, deserving of each other’s kindness and compassion.
When we create a supportive environment, we build charity and empathy for each other and benefit from our combined perspectives and faith.
Church leaders have emphasized that simply being attracted to someone of the same sex is not a sin, and that God loves all of his children.
But those wishing to maintain full membership in the Church are required to commit to a life of celibacy.
The Mormon Church states unequivocally that marriage and sexual relations can only be between a man and a woman who promise complete loyalty to each other and that homosexuality is contrary to God’s plan for his children.
Members in same-sex marriages are considered to be apostates which is an ex communicable offence.
Children living in same-sex households are excluded from religious rites, such as baby blessings and baptism, until they turn 18.
Once they reach that age, they have the option to disavow same-sex relationships, move out of their parents’ house, and ask to join the Church.