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Ask Dr. Dan
In this column, we feature questions and answers dealing with homosexuality. Dr. Dan is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a medical/social scientist and a licensed mental health professional.You may submit questions by sending an email to Dr.Dan@standardofliberty.org. SoL may edit questions and will respect anonymity.
What we know is that homosexuality is not simply a biological phenomenon. That is, no one is born gay. This statement can be made with a high degree of confidence because identical twins are not concordant for homosexuality. If homosexuality was simply a matter of biology, both siblings who were born identical twins would be homosexual. Such is not the case. Research has consistently demonstrated that identical twins are not concordant for homosexuality (Dr. Neil Whitehead, a world renown biological scientist has repeatedly validated this fact.)
Rather, like many mortal challenges, homosexuality may have biological predisposing factors associated with temperament. Researchers have observed that gender non-conformity, which may have biological underpinnings, seems over-represented in the backgrounds of self-identified male and female homosexuals. Basically, gender non-conformity is characteristic of boys who are more feminine in their preference and behavior and girls who are more masculine in their preferences and behavior. It is often the case when young men in particular report that they have always had homosexual attraction, that they really mean that they felt differently at an earlier age because of family/peer reactions to their gender non-conformity. It is, however, important to remember that gender non-conformity is a one-way street. That is, though most self-identified homosexual men and women report gender non-conformity in their histories, most gender non-conforming children do not develop homosexual attraction. Other factors that might contribute to the development of homosexual attraction include premature introduction to sexuality via sexual abuse or exposure to pornography, peer abuse and strained parental relationships (particularly those with the same-sex parent). Finally, current media, with its sexually explicit themes, may prevent the development of healthy sexuality.
Dear Dr. Dan,
All LDS parents, whether or not they are parents of a “gay” son, would do well to understand and embrace this Gospel truth. (Unfortunately, many well-meaning members of the Church seem to have strayed from this Gospel truth.)
The following suggestions may be helpful to you.
1. Love your son. Keep in mind that loving your son does not mean that you agree with all of his choices. Though he may have not consciously chosen his homosexual attraction (I am not sure how many of us choose our various mortal challenges), he does choose how he responds to that attraction. Remind him of this choice.
2. Maintain ongoing contact: letters, phone calls, emails. Don’t argue about homosexuality. Rather help him to recall good times when he was a child, good family experiences, and times when things were not so stressful. Such memories help to create a foundation on which to build a good relationship or perhaps to rediscover a good relationship. Elder Maxwell talked about the importance of such recollections in contributing to a storehouse of memories that will serve to sustain us in difficult times.
3. Don’t stray from the Lord’s position on homosexual behavior and don’t lose sight of this truth regardless of pressure from your son or from others. Try to balance your love for your son with your concern for his chosen lifestyle.
4. Pray for your son that his heart might be softened. Encourage him to seek the counsel of his bishop. Contact your son’s bishop and seek his assistance in helping your son. Also, have a list of professional resources when your son asks for help. If you will send a self- addressed envelope to Dr. Dan at Standard of Liberty, P.O. Box 973, Pleasant Grove UT 84062, I will provide several professional resources for you.
Finally, never give up. The Lord has made wonderful promises to parents whose children have strayed. He has promised parents that because of their righteousness that their children would return. Find hope in that promise. The best gift that you can give your son is Christ-centered parents who listen and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Such promptings often provide opportunities for parents to reclaim their children. I wish you well in this difficult journey and know that the Lord will help you as you travel.
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