As one can tell from my previous blogs I have followed the issue with regards to the BSA and the LDS Church with great detail and interest, and at times some frustration. However, as I read the latest press release by the church, and juxtaposed it to the General Handbook of Instructions it became clear to me, that there are parrallells with the Church's position and the old Don't ask Don't tell policy in the army.
My years of military service as a JAG Officer and Chaplain led me to a detailed study of the Military’s (Pre-Obama) policy on homosexuality, which was termed Don't Ask Don't Tell. The basic premise of that policy, and one which the Church still advocates today, was that homosexual conduct is immoral and wrongful. In the military that lead to the fact that homosexual conduct was grounds for dismissal. In the LDS Church today, homosexual conduct is still grounds for Church discipline.
The other premise of the old military policy was that homosexual sexual orientation (belief) by itself, was not immoral and so was not relevant to military service. Thus the army would not ever ask Soldier their orientation, because that alone didn't matter. Similarly the current policy of the BSA and the support given it by the Church seems to be that sexual orientation or what the Church calls same-gender attraction is not sin, and is not relevant to membership nor participation in activities. Clearly sexual orientation itself is not grounds for Church discipline. It is only a temptation, that must be rejected and never acted upon.
So the issue which became relevant to the military and which is now relevant for the Church is: “what constitutes more than mere sexual orientation.” When, if ever, does same-gender attraction move into the realm of homosexual conduct and thus become sin, and actionable?
For the Army the issue was resolved by a rebuttable presumption of law. The legal presumption was, that if a person with same gender sexual orientation, openly admitted that, or made an open declaration of such, stating for example; “I am Gay!”,then by law they were presumed to be acting and guilty of homosexual conduct, and so based on that act of “SAYING” alone, unless rebutted by other evidence, the declarant could be separated from the military.
As far as the Church is concerned the question still remains for Church leaders, guided by the Holy Spirit, to determine at what point sexual orientation, moves from mere temptation to conduct that is actionable by the church or that might disqualify a person from activity in certain church programs. The handbooks are clear that homosexual conduct is sin, even serious sin. Within the Church not only does persistent homosexual conduct make the person subject to church discipline, but also the “influencing of others to do so” In that sense it is possible that the unrepentant and openly gay or radical declarant, may become subject to discipline if their actions tend to “influencing” others toward homosexual conduct. In the Church Pamphlet “God Loveth His Children” It states; “President Gordon B. Hinckley has promised that those with same-gender attraction who do not express these inclinations may go forward as do all other members of the Church...” (Emphasis Added). Additionally those suffering from same-gender attraction are counseled: “It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation and discussion. It s better to choose as friends those who do not publicly display their homosexual feelings. (Emphasis Added)
Clearly, no one in Christ's Kingdom would ever say to the person suffering from temptation or even working through sin, “Sorry you cannot belong to the church or come to Sacrament meeting.” Rather we urge them to come and be healed and strengthened. Similarly, humble, struggling, youth dealing with moral temptations whether heterosexual lust, pornography, same-gender attractions, etc, should be encouraged to come and participate, so that they might learn truth and then be healed, even saved. The scriptural doctrine on this point is found in 3 Nephi 18:21-23. However, if the youth or adult advocates a radicalized view, arrogantly proclaiming evil to be good, and unrighteously attempting to influence others to that end, then restriction on participation might not only be permissible, but required. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
(PLEASE REMEMBER THAT.....THE FOREGOING IS STRICLY my opinion and does not reflect the opinon of the Chruch of Jeus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the U.S. Army or any other organization)