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An invaluable resource on the topic of same-gender attraction, this unique volume includes six plenary chapters features notable authors and gospel scholars: Brad Wilcox, M. Catherine Thomas, Camille Fronk Olson, Wendy Ulrich, Robert L. Millet, and Michael Goodman.
In addition, each chapter includes personal essays or first-person stories of faith and commitment from Latter-day Saints who have dealt with same-gender attraction.
Ty Mansfield says, "If you personally experience same-gender attraction, I hope the Spirit will impress upon you the depth of God's love for you, that you will know you belong in His church and kingdom, and that you will know there are many who walk this journey of faith with you."
Introduction: "A Seal of Living Reality" Ty Mansfield
"Arise, and Walk" Robbie Pierce
Becoming Sarrah Reynolds
The Gift of Hope Kirk Reidman
A Mighty Change of Heart Rich Wyler
"Trust in the Lord" Tony Clarke
"As I Have Loved You" Antoinette Cocco
Love Is Always the Answer Kathleen Marsden
Learning the True Gospel: The Transforming Power of the Atonement T.S. Richards
Being My True Self Tyler Moore
"This Will Be for Your Growth": A Wife's Journey to Self-Discovery and Healing Rhonda Moses
A Sacred Gift Blake Smith
Finding My Home in the Faith of My Fathers Steven Frei
A Christ-Centered Gender Identity John Alden
"They Will Be Done": Living with HIV/AIDS in Faith and Brotherhood Kenneth Hoover
My Shepherd Will Supply My Need Shawn McKinnon
My Journey as a Priesthood Leader Jerry Harris
The Atonement Can Fix That Too! Kevin Lindley
An Unlikely Gift Jason G. Lockhart
For Time and All Eternity Katharine Matis Adams
Resolution: The Unexpected Miracle Jeff Bennion
Creating a Whole Marriage Tanya Bennion
Resources Specific to Same-Gender Attraction
- Size: 6x9
- Pages: 384
- Published: 08/2011
About the Author
Ty Mansfield is a marriage and family therapist in Lubbock, Texas, and is currently completing in PhD in that field. He coauthored In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction with Fred and Marilyn Matis, published by Deseret Book in 2004. Ty is a cofounder of the nonprofit organization North Star, a support organization for LDS individuals and families affected by homosexuality. He and his wife, Danielle, are the parents of one son.
Seeing the Big Picture
As I have had the opportunity to serve in various Church leadership positions, it has been my responsibility and privilege to interview many people. In those private, confidential moments, sensitive issues are often discussed and personal questions often asked. Of all the questions, one of the most difficult to answer is “Am I gay?” It comes from those who are worried or struggling. It sometimes is not even verbalized. Instead, the question is seen behind insecure and frightened eyes. The question has come from young and old, married and unmarried, male and female, active and inactive Latter-day Saints.
I once heard the question from a young woman who was concerned that she was getting older and was still unmarried. She felt rejected and overlooked by men. The few dates she had were not positive experiences. When she began realizing that she felt closer to her female roommates than she did to any of the men in her ward, she began to wonder about sexual orientation.
Another time the question came from a young man who had been involved with some sexual experimentation with other boys in his neighborhood at sleepovers when they were deacons. Years later the experiences haunted him and made him question his sexuality.
Another young man asked me the question after his mission. Despite all the warnings of priesthood leaders, he had become involved with pornography and found himself curious about viewing men as well as women. As he compared his body to those in the pictures, he began to wonder if such comparisons were normal.
Similarly, one boy felt much guilt as he sized up other boys in the locker room. Even something as simple as a “shirts” vs. “skins” basketball game at church left him feeling great shame because he felt that he shouldn’t be noticing the physiques of the other boys, and yet he was.
The question came from a young man who had been sexually molested by an older male. His parents told him the abuse was not his fault, and he accepted that. Still, deep in his heart he carried unspoken fears about his sexuality because when he had been touched, his body had responded. Since he didn’t stop the man quickly, this young man still felt that he was partly to blame.
I was asked the question from a young man who had always felt rejected by other males. He had a sensitive nature, a tender heart, and many artistic talents that sometimes made him a target for teasing. A popular boy his own age finally offered the acceptance and friendship for which he had longed but also introduced him to homosexual practices. Soon the young man felt trapped into trading sexual favors for continued association with the popular boy.
The question came from a man who had absolutely no history of molestation, abuse, pornography, or sexual experimentation. He came from a strong and happy family. He said, “Whatever factors have led to the development of these feelings and attractions have been so subtle that it is difficult to put my finger on any one thing. Perhaps it had to do with attachment issues or my own self-concept, but my earliest attractions were always toward other boys, and I worry how they might affect my ability to develop a healthy and meaningful relationship with a woman.”
Others may have similar stories but hesitate to ever voice their private concerns for fear of how they might be viewed or labeled. They simply bottle up the past and refuse to address it. Shared or not, the question “Am I gay?” is difficult to answer because gay has come to mean so many different things to people in our society.
Some of us still remember when the word gay meant happy. We sang songs in elementary school that used the word. Now the same songs can’t be sung without snickers from even the youngest children. Parents used to name their children Gaye or Gaylan, never dreaming that such names would be problematic.
Today gay refers to homosexuals, but even that definition is unclear and misunderstood. Are we talking about homo-emotional needs common to everyone, or are we talking about homosexual tendencies felt by some and not others? Are those tendencies due to natural curiosity and early sexual experimentation, or do homosexual temptations increase as a consequence of prolonged interactions with those who have chosen that lifestyle? When we speak of homosexuals, are we talking about a unique gender or a sexual preference that develops over time due to a variety of factors? Does the word gay refer to a person, an act, an instinct, or a feeling? For every question there are many answers representing multiple viewpoints. Such confusion often leads to bitter arguments in which people on all sides of the issue can easily feel misunderstood, hurt, or offended.
I don’t pretend to have answers to such complex issues. However, when people have asked me, “Am I gay?” some have felt relieved to learn that homo-emotional needs are real and acceptable. The word intimacy is often associated with sexual acts, but it doesn’t need to be. Nonsexual intimacy is essential to our growth and development at all ages of our lives. We all need to love and be loved by both women and men. Meeting that need in healthy ways is one of the foundations of happiness as well as mental and emotional wellness. Often the feelings and attractions we have toward others are evidence of a deep need within us. Once recognized, it is up to us to fill that need in ways that are in harmony with God’s plan for our lives and relationships. Similarly, hunger lets your body know of a need for food, but we must choose to meet that need with a healthy and nutritious diet rather than with potato chips or french fries.
Often I have explained that sexual experimentation at young ages, though not condoned or encouraged, is a phase through which many children and teenagers pass. “Playing doctor” with those of the same or opposite gender is considered quite normal and does not need to be a source of guilt and self-doubt.
Many young people have felt relieved when they learn that natural curiosity about the human body is not limited to the opposite sex. The human body can be considered beautiful and appealing to the senses no matter the gender. Taking notice of someone else’s body during a sporting event or in the locker room does not indicate a fixed sexual orientation. Even when such notice involves an emotional charge, a physiological response, or even sexual arousal, such responses are quite normal—especially in the young and inexperienced. Perhaps more hurtful in the long run than the curiosity is the shame that young people feel because no one has ever explained that their feelings can often be chalked up to normal adolescent development. It is the shame associated with such feelings that gives rise to fears and anxiety that can affect future choices.
Some who have been molested and who understand that they were without fault still experience needless guilt about “feeling good” during the experience. Within marriage, sexual experiences are supposed to feel good. Imitating those experiences outside of marriage is wrong, but our bodies will respond whether they are touched by a spouse, a friend, or a stranger. Those who have been molested should not feel guilty or responsible for having normal, healthy bodies that respond naturally. In the same situation, anyone’s body would have responded the exact same way.
Others feel guilty because of sexual explorations well beyond childhood. Again, while such behavior is not condoned, it is understandable. When curiosity is mixed with normal hormones, it can lead to explorations. Our bodies are ready for sexual experiences long before our minds, hearts, and spirits are mature enough to handle them correctly. When such explorations occur with those of the same gender, do such behaviors qualify as gay or indicate a permanent lifestyle? Couldn’t we just as easily attribute such behavior to youth and immaturity and feeling more comfortable with those of the same gender? Such moments do not need to define, limit, or bind us. Such transgressions can be repented of and do not need to affect future choices.
One woman felt confused when she read an article in which the author described homosexuality as a genetic variation. I responded that even if some people may be born with genetic or temperamental factors that predispose them toward homosexual feelings, those factors don’t remove their agency or responsibility to make appropriate choices. Similar articles report genetic variations that are believed to make certain people more likely to overeat or have lower metabolisms. Such a situation may explain certain tendencies or behaviors, but it doesn’t excuse them. In any facet of life, certain healthy choices may be harder to make for some than others, but they are important for all of us. Those who make them never regret it. Those who don’t almost always wish they had.
“Am I gay?” When I am asked that question I no longer attempt to determine what that word may or may not mean to that particular person. Instead, I usually respond by saying, “You are a child of God.” The questioners sometimes feel that I am avoiding the issue, but that is not the case. I am simply trying to lift their vision beyond society-shaped words and conflicting definitions to see a broader picture. Seeking an eternal perspective will allow us to understand God’s ultimate desire for us, the Savior’s redeeming role, and the perfect and infinite love of the Father and the Son.
God’s Desire for Us
In Genesis we read, “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). An entirely new perspective awaits those who see God’s own image as the eventual end as well as the beginning. Christ prayed that we might be one with Him as He is with the Father (see John 17:11; 21–22). That heartfelt desire went way beyond a plea for unity. He was speaking about sameness.
Christian writer John Stott wrote, “We are not interested in skin-deep holiness, in a merely external resemblance to Jesus Christ. We are not satisfied by a superficial modification of behavior patterns in conformity to some . . . sub-culture which expects this, commands that and prohibits the other. No, what we long for is a deep inward change of character, resulting from a change of nature and leading to a radical change of conduct. In a word we want to be like Christ and that thoroughly, profoundly, entirely. Nothing less than this will do.”1
Sincere Latter-day Saints not only share this desire but also know how it can become a reality. We know what Jesus has asked of us in order to make such a transformation possible. From childhood we learn of faith, which includes repentance and making and keeping covenants. We demonstrate faith by receiving from those having authority essential ordinances and the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide and sanctify as we endure to the end.
God gives these requirements—not in an effort to control us but rather to transform us. His expectations are not about punishment or payment but rather about practicing living as He lives. Some say God’s goal is to bring us safely home, but that sentiment does not express His complete desire. Not only does He want us home, but He also wants us to be able to feel at home. If simply being in God’s presence is the ultimate goal, why did we ever leave in the first place? In the premortal existence we were already with God, but we were also painfully aware that we were not like Him physically or spiritually. We wanted to be like our heavenly parents and knew it was going to take a lot more than just dressing up in their clothes the way little children do. We needed to fill their shoes and not just clomp around in them. The ultimate goal is not just being with God but being like God.
This perspective changes how we view difficulties. It allows us to see them as opportunities for refining and soul-expanding growth rather than simply as challenges to be dealt with or crosses to be carried. This perspective allows us to see the Fall and all its consequences as a blessing instead of a curse and mortality itself—as difficult as it can be—as an ideal learning environment rather than a tragic mistake. We can see God’s commandments as positives instead of negatives, freedom instead of bondage.
Members of many religions have rules. The knowledge that sets Latter-day Saints apart is the reason for the rules. The Restoration was not a restoration of rules. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount had survived the long night of apostasy. What the world had lost sight of was why God gave rules in the first place. In Alma 12:32 we read, “Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption” (emphasis added).
Commandments without the perspective of the plan of salvation can easily be seen as hollow and meaningless ends in and of themselves. When we know God’s ultimate desires for us, living the commandments becomes the means to an end more glorious than we can hardly imagine. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Both Christ and Satan desire us to become as they are, and each choice we make takes us in one direction or the other. When someone asks, “Am I gay?” perhaps the response should be, “How do you want to live your life?” We can make choices that will help us feel the guiding and sanctifying power of the Spirit in our lives, or we can distance ourselves from it. We can keep striving to be like Christ and Heavenly Father, who don’t want us to trade eternity for an instant, or like Satan, who wants us to focus only on the here and now. Satan thinks nothing of asking us to exchange all we have and might become for what is, in the eternal perspective, a few fleeting moments of mortality. Christ, on the other hand, gave all that He had so that those fleeting moments could educate and enrich us rather than condemn us. He opened the door for all of us to reach our potential.
The Savior’s Redeeming Role
Still, some days that potential seems like an impossible dream. We see where we are now and how far we have to go, and we feel that there is just no way it could ever really happen. At these low moments some people give up and turn away from the Savior. It seems easier to try to justify and rationalize poor choices instead of humbly trusting Christ’s enabling power—not just to save but also to redeem (see Romans 8:12–13). If saving were all we needed, Satan’s plan could have worked. He offered to get us back safely. It is the redeeming we would have missed—the possibility of having Christ’s image in our countenance.
Most of my life I have thought saving and redeeming were synonymous because that is how they are most often used. However, the second question in the temple recommend interview is, “Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and His role as Savior and Redeemer?” The words describe two separate roles, and having a testimony of both is essential. By definition, a redeemer is one who buys or wins back, one who frees us from captivity or debt by the payment of ransom, one who returns or restores us to our original position. However, there is an additional dictionary definition we must not overlook: A redeemer is one who changes us for the better.
Once, after a lesson about how Jesus had suffered for all of us, a young man said, “I never asked Jesus to do that for me. If anyone has to suffer for my sins, I will do it for myself.” This young man was ignorant of the amount and degree of suffering we are talking about. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said that His “suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18).
But along with not understanding the extent of the suffering, this boy was also ignorant of just what suffering can and cannot do. Doctrine and Covenants 19:17 makes it clear that those who do not repent and accept Jesus’ Atonement “must suffer even as” He did. So will that teenager be able to suffer for his own sins and then waltz into the celestial kingdom and live with God and his family eternally? Will he be beaten “with a few stripes, and at last . . . be saved in the kingdom of God”? (2 Nephi 28:8). No. The Book of Mormon makes it clear that such an idea is false, vain, and foolish (see 2 Nephi 28:9). While he can meet the demands of justice by suffering for his own sins, such suffering will not transform him in the same way Christ’s redemptive power can. Just as a criminal can pay his debt to justice by doing time in prison and walk out no different, suffering alone does not guarantee change. Real change can only come through Jesus. We must accept Christ, not because it will save us some pain down the road but because it is the only way we can become new creatures (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Mosiah 3:19).
The name Emmanuel means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Is there a better definition of grace than that? God is not waiting at the finish line. He is not waiting for us to do “all we can do” by ourselves before He helps us (see 2 Nephi 25:23). Rather, He is “with us”—ready, willing, and able to help us every step of the way.2 In redeeming us, Christ does not just make up the difference. He makes all the difference.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ does not just provide a way to clean up messes; it provides the purpose and power to avoid making more messes. The Atonement allows us not just to ignore our appetites and pretend they don’t exist but also to educate and elevate them. The Atonement can transform—not in a narrow way from gay to straight but in an all-encompassing way from human to divine. Such a transformation is a process that began long ago. Here on earth we continue the process, which includes many trials, but we don’t face them alone. Christ suffered alone so that we would never have to. With God’s help, our burdens can be made light (see Matthew 11:30; Mosiah 24:21).
One young man who had struggled with same-sex attraction in the past wrote, “In my self-loathing, I thought, When I am over this and have conquered it, then I will accept the Atonement and put it all behind me. How could I possibly deserve the Atonement in the current state I’m in?” This type of thinking is devastating. He wanted to overcome his struggles on his own so that he could then be “worthy” to turn to Jesus, but it just never worked. He wanted to be strong and independent and take care of himself. He wrote, “The problem was that I thought I knew more about myself than the Lord does, and that is painfully far from the truth.”
Their Perfect Love
God’s great desires for us would be impossible dreams without the Savior’s Atonement. In the same way, the transforming power of the Atonement would be incomplete if it were not available continually. So what keeps us going day after day when we know that transformation and sanctification will take a lifetime and beyond? The only answer is the love we feel for God and Jesus and the perfect love they feel for us.
“But that’s the problem,” one friend said. “How could they love me when I have done so many things wrong? How could they love me when I have said, ‘I will never do it again’ and then I still do it? How could they love me when I have made covenants and broken them?”
My friend forgets that the love of God and Christ is not like a good grade to be given to those who earn it. They love us—not because we are always good but because they are. It is part of their character. They love those they serve and succor, and they serve and succor each of us without ceasing. Their love is not limited to here and now. There is no veil over their memories. They remember our sweet associations in the premortal existence. They know who we were then as well as who we are now.
A mother of a convicted criminal was asked how she could love her son when he was guilty of such serious crimes. She responded, “I don’t love what he has done in recent years any more than you do, but I have known him longer than you have. You see only a criminal. I see a little boy who used to bring me flowers and offer to help me wash the dishes.”
In the classic tale Beauty and the Beast, the townspeople desire to kill the beast because they don’t know him the way Beauty does. They feel threatened, and in their fear they make a quick judgment based only on appearances. Beauty knows differently. She has spent time with the Beast and knows his heart. She can see goodness that the townspeople can’t because she has known him longer.
It is the same with God. While we only see our current beastly selves, God sees our eternal beauty. While those around us may make quick judgments and harsh condemnations, God and Jesus know us better. We are loved perfectly because we are known perfectly.
The Big Picture
No one can overestimate the power of eternal perspective. True faith, according to Joseph Smith, is not just believing in the Supreme Being. It is knowing His attributes and our relationship to Him. It is knowing His plan for us and that we are living our lives in accordance with that plan. That kind of vision changes us forever.3
On the day of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirit, combined with an encounter with the resurrected Lord (see Acts 2), transformed a group of insecure disciples into fearless and confident witnesses of truth, who in turn changed the world.
This is precisely the vision God wanted to share with the early Saints in this dispensation when He commanded them to complete the Nauvoo temple even as they were being forced to abandon it. In the temple, God could lift their gaze away from current struggles and persecutions and give them a broader perspective. In the temple, God could remind them that, as sore as their trials were and would yet be, His plan for them was far greater than anything they had imagined and that they were greater than they realized.
Suddenly, mobs and persecutions, injustice and pain, wagons and oxen were all put into proper perspective—an eternal perspective. This vision didn’t just provide a temporary shot in the arm but rather a long-term motivation that allowed those early Saints to endure with hope, patience, and strength.
The same vision calls to us today. If we can step away from the confusing voices and contradicting viewpoints of the world long enough to seek God, who sees the entire view, we will be able to endure as well. Seeing the big picture will give us the perspective we need to deal positively with all temptations, sins, mistakes, and challenges (see Alma 37:33).
A national journalist once reported that despite the success and good works of the Mormon Church, it was a terrible environment for women, blacks, and gays. The statement troubled me deeply. I know many women, blacks, and people who have experienced same-sex attraction who would strongly disagree with the journalist’s words. They know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers them blessings they could never find elsewhere and a perspective large enough to allow them to disregard the world’s labels, stereotypes, and unsupported generalizations. Only in the Church do we learn true doctrine about what God desires for us and about the redeeming role of Christ. It is the only place where the perfect love of God and Jesus can be felt—not momentarily but continually through the covenant relationships we have with them.
The Church is not about drawing a line to exclude certain people but instead about drawing a circle to include all people. It is not about fitting a mold but instead about being molded. For those who have eyes to see, the Church of Jesus Christ is not just a good place for women, blacks, and gays; it is the only place for everyone who truly accepts Christ’s invitation: “And he inviteth . . . all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).
One Man’s Story
One man who had struggled with homosexual temptations in the past shared how keeping a long-term perspective helped him make better choices. He wrote:
“In high school, I listened closely to the world around me and heard the word gay being thrown around. Like every teenager, I was trying to figure out who I was. When I looked at the people who were being labeled as gay, I identified with many of their qualities. I decided that if the shoe fit I might as well wear it. I adopted the label and distanced myself from the Church and my family. In my mind it seemed easier to accept a culture that approved of what I was doing than a Church that didn’t.
“But as time went on I realized that what is easy is not always best. I look back on that time in my life and realize I was shortsighted. It was like I was taking a shortcut to finding out who I was. I found a shoe that came pretty close to fitting, so I tugged and pulled and did whatever I had to in order to make it fit. In retrospect, it didn’t fit. I see now that I jumped to the gay conclusion quickly and erroneously. It felt good to know there were others out there who were similar to me, so I gravitated toward these men because I didn’t want to be alone. They were accepting, but their acceptance involved lustful moments of immediate gratification that left me feeling more alone than ever.
“If what I was doing was really ‘me’ and as ‘natural’ as everyone kept telling me, why was I so unhappy? If the shoe really fit, why was I left with such painful blisters? I started rebuilding my relationship with my parents and returned to church.
“My friends told me it would be impossible to reconcile my ‘gayness’ with the teachings of the Mormon Church. I told them there was indeed a way to reconcile the two, and it was called repentance. With the help of my bishop and others, I began the healing process available only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It has taken a long time, but I have found that the only shoe that fits perfectly is truth. When I accept the truth, then my choice is confirmed by the Holy Ghost and I feel peace, comfort, and joy—not just when I live that truth perfectly but as I plod along toward that goal.”
One Leader’s Journey
One bishop experienced great changes in his attempts to help others as he began to see a bigger picture. He admitted that he didn’t even know what to say the first time a man spoke with him about same-sex attraction and homosexual experiences. The first words that came to his mind were, “Well, just stop feeling that way. Stop doing those things”—as if those solutions had never occurred to the struggling member. The bishop said, “I was glad I held my tongue. If it were that easy to change feelings and behavior, this member would not have been sitting in my office pleading for help.” Instead of reprimanding or criticizing, the bishop told the member, “I don’t know a lot about these issues, but I want to learn. You will have to help me just as I will try to help you. One thing I know for sure is that Jesus Christ is the solution to every problem. I’m glad you are in the Church, glad you are in my office, and glad that you are trying to draw closer to Him.”
In the weeks that followed, the bishop did quite a bit of reading on the topic. He spoke with friends who were professional counselors and with others who had experienced same-sex attraction but had found peace and resolution in their efforts to live the gospel. These experiences helped the bishop see that homosexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior can often serve as a window through which to address other deep, important issues.
Comparing same-sex attraction to a tree, one friend encouraged the bishop to deal with the roots and not just the leaves. The bishop said, “I learned to stop focusing so much on changing the member’s behavior and to focus more on the member himself. In our times together, we didn’t speak about his past mistakes as much as we spoke about his feelings of not belonging, his shame, his loneliness, the perceived judgments of others, and his goals for the future.”
Slowly, the bishop’s perspective expanded. At first he wanted only behavioral compliance; he wanted the struggling member to live up to Church standards. Now he wanted this member to feel wanted and valued in the Church. He wanted him to feel truly needed, not just welcome. The bishop explained, “I made a conscious effort to recognize and cultivate the good and the positive qualities in this man rather than just focusing on what I perceived to be negative and broken. As I did, I saw how much he had to offer others in our LDS community. Of course, the man’s behavior mattered. The very fact that he was willing to speak to me in the first place was evidence that he wanted desperately to find peace in living the gospel. But I wouldn’t have been helping him by making him feel devalued, shamed, and even disposable.”
Over time, both the bishop and the member began to feel a powerful sense of mission. They saw not only the big picture but also that they both had vital parts to play in it.
My Expanded Answer
Perhaps the next time I am asked, “Am I gay?” I will not stop with saying, “You are a child of God.” Instead, I will say, “No matter your past, your current difficulties, or your fears about the future, you are a child of God with the potential to become as He is. You have a Redeemer who makes that statement believable and possible. You have an important role to play in His kingdom, and you have all the love you will ever need to keep going.”
Needed more than ever....
by Natalie - reviewed on October 10, 2011
This book is so needed right now. It seems that all of our lives have been touched by this issue or will be at some point or another...either personally or someone close to us. There are so many loud voices out there, that even as someone who supports our leaders and strongly believes in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it easy to become confused! What an amazing book of testimony of people living by the Spirit, taking one day at a time and trusting in the Lord. I am so grateful for those who opened up and shared some of their most personal, sacred, and intimate experiences for us all to learn from. Just like Ty's first book, I think I learned just as much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ as I did about anything else. Just a great book to show that it is possible to be attracted to the same sex and not only have a place in the LDS church, but to find peace in this life.
wonderful helpful book
by sarrah - reviewed on October 05, 2011
Voice(s) of Hope is an insightful book; I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with unwanted SSA (same sex attraction), anyone dealing with trials of any kind, and all the members of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Undoubtedly, this book will help those in leadership positions understand this particular issue better. It is a helpful tool, which will educate members of the church, on the challenges of being a member that is attracted to their own sex; as well as the attitudes of some LDS people with unwanted SSA. The book equips us to understand other and ourselves better. The contributors in the book bring hope to LDS wanting to live a life in harmony with the restored gospel while dealing with SSA. It show it is possible to live the gospel and fulfill our purpose on the earth no matter the innate or learned sexual nature. The experiences of those in the book touched my heart and brought me a better understanding of the trials and issues members of the church are facing. Whether, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender this book helps and shows us there is a way to hang on to the gospel in the midst of turmoil. The authors 'voice' reminds us of the power of the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. It shows the successes of some who are striving to live a life in harmony with and according to the gospel of Jesus Christ- while dealing with unwanted SSA; it shows us the hope of remaining faithful to that gospel no matter the level of difficulty. Within its pages, the reader is brought to remember that it is possible for ALL the children of God, to enjoy ALL the promised blessings reserved for those that overcome the tests, temptations, and trials of earth-life. No matter which trials we have we can come out victors through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, by taking hold of the atonement and living the gospel. There are a great many members who deal with unwanted SSA and none is alone in their trial. I hope by reading the book many will recognize themselves, find truth, and gain the courage to be among those who overcome the world and themselves and are counted among those who are full of truth, light, and charity. I also highly recommend the book by the same author, "In Quiet Desperation" also a 5 Star read!
This book is an inspiration voice of hope.
by Linda - reviewed on October 20, 2011
I love this book and am so grateful for everyone that contributed. It is a must read for every latter-day saint that wants a better understanding of how to help those who are affected by same gender attraction. Not only is it an inspirational voice of hope to all those who are affected by SGA, but it is a message of the atoning power of Jesus Christ for all people, no matter what they are dealing with. It is a great resource for family, friends and church leaders that want to help as well as those who deal with it firsthand.
A beacon of hope to one who is sometimes lost
by Theodore - reviewed on November 01, 2011
We are each called by the Savior to testify and bring the Gospel to all peoples. Too often, those who experience Same-Sex Attraction, like myself, can feel that we are not worthy of the redeeming love of Christ and the blessings contained through membership in the Lord's Church. "Voices of Hope" has the power to change that. Each author bears their testimony of how Christ works in each of our lives, and that those who experience SSA are no different in the need and fulfillment the Gospel brings. The structure of the book moves from doctrinally sound articles, to personal narratives of how Christ, who bore all things for our salvation, extends his love and redeeming power to those in need, and calls for those who are a part of His kingdom to do likewise. This book isn't a mellowed out description of the Gospel, but a clarion call to all of the Lord's children that there is a place for them in his kingdom. I will be the first to admit that I haven't always lived in accord with my covenants as a Latter-day Saint who experiences SSA, but "Voices of Hope" extends just that--Hope--that I too, if I willingly submit myself to the Savior, will one day too be worthy of His inheritance. And that is one of the great blessings of my life. "Voices of Hope" is highly recommended for all those experiencing SSA, who are in a leadership position and called to council individuals experiencing SSA, to family and friends, or anyone who has a desire to familiarize themselves with a sound, Gospel centered understanding of the challenges of SSA.
ALL things beareth record of Him.
by James - reviewed on September 28, 2011
As I was sitting in a Seminary Room this Scripture was on the wall Moses 6:63. I had just given this book to a good friend whose brother deals with SSA. My friends brother called me three weeks prior saying he was planning on taking his life. He felt that SSA was a curse God had sentenced him to live with the rest of his life alone and without hope. I told him that my SSA is a gift and blessing from God and that I cherish it with all my heart. Through reading of this book, I have learned how others have been blessed as well. While reading this book I have come to meet many if not all of these authors both in word and in person. I have felt their spirit and know that they do have a testimony of Christ and the wounds which he bore so that all our wounds can be healed. May Christ's voice of hope come to you while reading these words as they have to me. I hope many, like my friend and his brother, can come to find the peace and gratitude I have felt by reading these words. May all who read this book learn how have the courage and compassion to share His Love with those who feel all alone in this world. ForeverSTRONG!
As bishop, I recommend "Voices Of Hope" to those who come to me with SSA
by Customer - reviewed on September 26, 2011
As a bishop in California, I dutifully lead our ward in the Prop 8 fight. A month later my wife and I were stunned to have our wonderful son confide to us that he suffers from Same-Sex Attraction. Deeply stunned, the SSA topic became real and very personal. Although we felt isolated and alone, we were determined to stand by our son and together find LDS based answers. "Voices Of Hope" is the book that we have been waiting for. It has been a real blessing for us as we have been inspired by many successful LDS SSA stories. I am especially appreciative to the author and compiler, Ty Mansfield, for being courageous enough to use his real name and story and to show a successful gospel based path for those looking for hope in living a Christ centered life while dealing with SSA. As bishop, "Voices Of Hope" is already my "go to" book for those who approach me about SSA. It is simply a MUST READ book!
Judge a little less, love a little more.
by David - reviewed on September 18, 2011
One does not need to experience same gender attraction to read and relate to this book. Whether it's a spouse, child, or friend, one can read this book, understand the trial that is same sex attraction. One can feel the spirit testify of the simple Gospel truths that are born testimony of again and again in this book. True stories are told by real men and women who experience this attraction. I encourage all to read this book, if only to soften your heart or achieve a greater understanding of this issue. Come unto Christ and reflect on your own life as you read Voices of Hope. You will find an increased vigor to better yourself and judge a little less, and love a little more. God Bless.
I'm in Love :)
by Kevin - reviewed on October 05, 2011
I love this book! I love the frank, compassionate voice that comes through in all of the writing. I love the courage with which the authors teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I wish everyone I know would read this book. Individuals who experience SSA, my family, friends, priesthood leaders, everyone can benefit from the principles discussed and the love shared in this book. I can say that for myself, a single reading is not going to be sufficient. There is so much truth and valuable insight packaged in there, that I will study and re-read. Thanks to all those involved in this moving work.
This book truly changed my life.
by Danielle - reviewed on September 16, 2011
I happen to know the compiler of Voices of Hope...in fact, I married him. This book has been a long time in the making, so I had the opportunity to read most of the manuscript before it went to press. I read all of the essays when Ty and I were engaged. I thought I understood a lot about same-gender attraction, especially as experienced by those of the LDS faith, but this book totally changed the way I understand this issue and so many of our friends. Reading the personal essays humanized and personalized the issue of same-gender attraction for me, so that any lingering questions I had about SGA dissipated. My testimony of the Savior and the Atonement were strengthened as I read about the peace and healing experienced by so many whose lives have been touched by this issue. This book changed my life. I am so grateful that it exists for the way it helped me understand this issue on a much deeper and more compassionate level.
by Laura - reviewed on March 15, 2012
I found this book first and foremost an inspirational book for anyone trying to make peace with their individual, unique challenges in an imperfect, uncertain, stress-filled world. I’m one of these people. I took my time reading the book and had several experiences where what was said gave me an idea that helped me with a particular challenge, or I related with a personal story on such a level that I found some peace in not being” the only who’s felt like that”. At one point I was inspired to read in it every day in place of scripture study for a time and had a sweet spiritual experience because of it. You don’t have to experience same sex attraction or even know someone who does in order to be spiritually fed by this book. The principles talked about by loving, learned gospel speakers as well as the life lessons taught by the amazing men and women who live them, apply to anyone trying to make sense of their life and yearning for the spiritual guidance that will help them stay on the path they’ve come to believe they should follow, find a path to follow, or maybe even to just find peace with where they are at right now in their lives. Secondly, this book is unique, overdue, and I hope, a trendsetter! Voices of Hope couldn’t be a better title and I’m looking forward to hearing more of these “voices” in the future! I’ve often felt that people who are attracted to the same sex, for the most part, are the nameless and faceless in our society, especially religious society. And yet, how can we understand, how can we be of help, if those who are attracted to the same sex feel that they can’t approach us? And, with good reason! We need to be more open, and help them to feel comfortable enough to tell their stories to us. Then, we need to be able to act with love, sincerity, and compassion. This was the best “church book” I’ve ever read! All my thanks, love, and admiration go out to Ty for putting this anthology together!
What I always needed
by Customer - reviewed on September 19, 2011
As an LDS man who struggles with Same-Sex Attraction, I have felt isolated most of my life. The struggles were difficult to talk about with anyone, but I knew there had to be others who were going through the exact same internal battle as I was. I just couldn't find it. I had the opportunity to read the manuscript not long before publication. Every single story was completely unique from mine, but every single one resonated within me and I heard the trials and joys that other people experiencing SSA went through. This is the book I needed while growing up and feeling alone and never had. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone experiencing SSA or to anyone who knows somebody who does. It's very literally exactly what I had been praying for my entire life.
Voice(s) of Hope - In Quiet Desperation No More!
by Keri - reviewed on September 21, 2011
My wife and I first read "In Quiet Desperation" a number of years ago and commented to each other at the time, that it was the finest treatise on the Atonement that we had ever read and have recommended it to family and friends regardless of the nature of their struggles and challenges in life. It was, therefore, with great anticipation, that I began reading Ty's latest work, "Voice(s) of Hope." It flows so well...each chapter setting forth doctrines and principles followed by the real-life experiences of those whose lives lend such authenticity and personal application to the doctrines being taught. I was so moved, often to tears, at the depths of despair that some had reached, and at the same time, felt to rejoice with them at the hope and assurances they had found in being true to their divine nature and to covenants made. As I finished the book, I felt lifted...a better person for what I had experienced...willing to walk arm in arm with my brothers and sisters the world over, no matter our individual trials or thorns in the flesh. I felt inspired by the hope discovered by these men and women of faith, not unlike those described by Paul, who "not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off...were persuaded of them, and embraced them...wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city"...which city the Savior described in modern times as "a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety." My hope for this book is that all who struggle with same-gender attraction might find in it the voice(s) of hope they need, but that it might also be read by millions of others the world over who face demons of other kinds. In all of life's challenges we have a very real and living hope, even the Hope of Israel, our Savior and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Of Him this book bears a sure and certain witness. My sincere gratitude to the compiler, the contributors, and its publisher.
'Voices of Hope' is a must read for Latter Day Saint members facing same gender attraction either in their own lives or the lives of those they love.
by Rachel - reviewed on September 28, 2011
'Voices of Hope' is a must read for Latter Day Saint members facing same gender attraction either in their own lives or the lives of those they love. These "voices" brought so much clarity, understanding and love toward not only those who struggle with same gender attraction but toward all people. As these contributors shared thier insights and testimonies I was lifted and strengthened in my own testimony of the Savior and his infinite love for all of us. I am so grateful to have read this book and recieved the blessings that have come to my life through understanding this sensitive topic more fully. Those who have shared their own personal stories are true heroes and will bless the lives of those who read this book. It is my prayer that those who are searching to understand same gender attraction will read this book and find the "hope" they are looking for.
A welcome plea for charity but neither objective nor comprehensive
by Rob - reviewed on October 11, 2011
Since this is published by Deseret Book and features essays written not only by gay Mormons but also a number of (apparently) church-approved professionals and BYU professors, one should not expect to find any perspective here other than strict adherence to LDS doctrine and orthodoxy, at least in its current version. LDS teachings about homosexuality have fluctuated drastically over the last century, and are currently driven mostly by theological theorizing in response to a growing body of professional conclusions that previous generations’ beliefs about it (including LDS beliefs) were incorrect. It is unfortunate that the book perpetuates use of patronizing and often offensive terminology like “suffers” from “same-gender attraction.” Gay people who reach a state of healthy self-acceptance often resent the implication that they are “suffering,” and most Mormons don’t realize that the term “same-gender attraction” is a virtually unique “theologically correct” LDS euphemism routinely scorned outside the church. It is also unfortunate that the book legitimizes the efforts of Evergreen International, the “unofficial” “support” organization that, with tacit LDS sponsorship, promotes to gay Mormons theories and ideas about changing sexual orientation which have been thoroughly discredited by every reputable professional organization in the country not driven to elevate a religious agenda above scientific fact. Any effort by this book or any other source to reduce ignorance, promote understanding, and increase Christian charity is of course welcome. Readers of this book, however, should not expect to find a comprehensive or objective treatment of the subject of homosexuality. There is one clear agenda here, and one only: insistence that gay Mormons must accept the currently incomplete LDS theology of homosexuality and resist, for the duration of their lives, any indulgence of homosexual attractions. No other alternative or information source is even mentioned. Those interested in a truly comprehensive understanding of the subject should not confine their reading or their trust to this book.
by Brock - reviewed on October 02, 2011
As a 24 year old who struggles with SSA personally, I know first hand the pain, loneliness, self-hatred, and feelings of inadequacy that come with this struggle. After reading Voice(s) of Hope, I now know that Im not alone in all of this. Ty has truly been guided and directed in compiling this masterpiece that allows new venues of hope, peace, self-love, and competency. For the first time in my life deep, deep wounds are starting to heal. Although I know its just the beginning, and many, if not most, of my feelings of anger and inadequacy reside, it was this novel that has sprung me on the road to recovery. A sense of worth and purpose, although still a seed, has finally been instilled in my soul, and for the first time, I have heard a Voice of Hope. Whether or not you are someone that struggles with SSA, this work is an absolute MUST READ.
by Olivia - reviewed on October 11, 2011
This is a must-read book for any Latter-day Saint. At the very least, we all know someone who struggles with same-sex attraction or a gender issue. This book gives guidance and hope for those who want to live the gospel and be valiant in their testimony of Jesus Christ but are struggling with these challenges or with those of someone they love, which can be almost as overwhelming. Because I don't struggle with this challenge myself, this book gave me very helpful insight into understanding others who do and what I can do to "bear one another's burdens." It also gave me inspiration in dealing with my own challenges -- any challenge where you feel isolated in the Church -- infertility, being single or if you struggle with any kind of mental health issue or addiction, including with food, this has a wealth of fantastic information for you. I can't wait to buy this for friends with struggling family members and friends who serve in Bishoprics who deal with these issues. Thank you for this amazing resource!
An answer to my prayers
by ashley - reviewed on December 06, 2011
I personally do not struggle with SSA. I have had little reason to give that specific trail much thought until recently. My very best friend confided in me his feelings of SSA shortly after returning from his mission. I, in my quest for understanding ended up at Deseret Book and purchased Voices Of Hope. Not for my friend but for me. It's amazing how the personal stories and essays have altered my perception of SSA and helped me understand the blessing it has the potential to be. I prayed so hard for understanding and I felt as if I was guided by the spirit to find it, in this book. It has turned my fear for my friend into hope, and I will be forever grateful for the men and women who were brave enough to share there stories.
Part of a changing conversation
by Adam - reviewed on January 29, 2012
I first came across Ty's writings in 2007 when I picked up 'In Quiet Desperation.' Ty's book came to me at a time when I was looking for increased reconciliation between my faith and sexuality. His book gave me a voice and a language to be able to open up about my predominantly undisclosed homosexual orientation within the context of my Mormon community, something I never dared do before. In Ty's new book, 'Voices of Hope,' more stories of those whose lives have been touched by this important topic are shared. This book is unique because it gives a voice to gay/SSA members themselves. I believe this reflects an important change we are witnessing in the church in which the conversation is shifting from one dominated by clinicians to one in which real people with real experiences are talking and their friends and families and fellow church members are listening and learning and loving. Some things I liked about the book: Ty mentions the value of listening to stories that are "not fully solved." I appreciated that since I have often felt a lot of pressure to not contribute to the conversation until I had everything figured out, a notion that can lead to isolation for those who experience dissonance surrounding their experiences with faith and sexuality. I also appreciate that Ty mentions that there is not a 'one-size-fits-all' solution to approaching this issue. In my experience, the circumstances in which gay/SSA members find themselves are quite varied, and so to assert that there is a single solution for all involved is to undervalue the diversity of experiences of gay/SSA members of the church. 'Voices of Hope' is also one of the first LDS-oriented resources of which I am aware that addresses transgender topics, including members of the church sharing their personal stories in this regard. I thought Ty provided a good primer for discussing some of those topics and pointed out some important distinctions between gender identity and sexual orientation. There is a part of the book where Ty writes "Suppose a gay couple walks into a LDS chapel..." which I think is something that we, as members of the church, need to think about more--how to help gay/SSA folks feel welcome at church and church activities regardless of their level of compliance with church teachings. It has been helpful for me, in approaching my own journey of reconciliation, to read many different perspectives on this issue. I would definitely recommend Voices of Hope as required reading for anyone who is interested in understanding the dynamics of what it's like to be both Mormon and gay/SSA. Getting a first-hand perspective on this is critical to knowing how best to reach out to others with experiences that are different from our own. Honestly, I am still not at a point where I can claim complete resolution with respect to my faith and sexuality. I don't know what the end will look like for me. But I do know that I don't want to do it alone. And having people like Ty and others share their stories in an open and honest way, and in a way that is respectful of those who have differing opinions on the matter, has been a tremendous blessing and encouragement for me.
This book made has made a life-changing impact on not only my life but everyone else to whom I've given a copy.
by kerry - reviewed on September 08, 2012
I have given away more than twenty copies of this book -- usually to a friend in crisis who needed answers to help themselves, a friend, a family member or someone over whom they had ecclesiastical authority. Each time, the responses have followed a similar pattern: why did I not know about this book before now and this book was a lifesaver. I had a couple of incidents in which the book literally WAS a lifesaver. The recipients told me they felt they were out of options and that they felt suicide was the only one left. In one case, this book arrived just three hours after a young man had bought a gun. Instead of taking his life that night as planned, he read this book cover to cover and, instead, opted to reach out and tell his family about his same-sex attraction. In another situation, faced with the option of leaving his marriage of 15 years and three children, a man who had been privately struggling with same sex attraction for most of his life, read this book and decided to stay and work on rebuilding his marriage and his life. His wife, who had decided that the marriage was not salvageable, decided that if one of the wives in the book's stories could forgive her husband for his infidelity and rebuild their marriage to a place of wholeness again, she could at least try to rebuild her own. How often can you say that one book saved an entire family? This book did that--in just 24 hours. There is no way that a book this powerful and effective could have been conceived and produced without divine inspiration -- it's just that amazing. I have read it five times, each time to gain additional wisdom and insight to help a particular person at the time. If I could only own ten books, I would want Voices of Hope to be one of them.
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