The Mormon church has long been known for its staunch opposition to homosexual marriage, from the high level of support the church provided for proposition 8, an amendment of state constitutional law in California which dictated that “only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” (http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/text-proposed-laws/text-of-proposed-laws.pdf#prop8), to Mormon cultural figures such as Orson Scott Card, author of the influential Science Fiction novel Ender’s Game, who is extremely vocal in his disapproval of homosexuality itself. Considering the influence of Christian beliefs on the Mormon religion, this opposition is probably not surprising. What is surprising, however, is the acceptance of openly homosexual members in certain Mormon churches, including some important figures within the structure of the church.
One of the most outspoken examples in 2013 is Mitch Mayne, the executive secretary of the Bay ward of the Church, which is based in San Francisco, California. Mayne self-identifies as a homosexual Mormon man and describes himself as “an ambassador between the church and the LGBT community” (http://www.kalw.org/post/where-homosexuality-and-mormonism-collide), bridging the gap between what appear to be two opposing groups of people. In the article I tweeted, there is an interesting interview with Mayne that provides some insight into the attitudes held by Mayne and his peers regarding homosexuality inside and outside of the Mormon church. The most prevalent aspect of the interview discussed by Mayne was his spirituality regarding his religious faith and his sexual orientation.
As discussed in Understanding Cults and New Age Religions, the Mormon church is one of the first examples of spiritually-based evolutionary mythology, and the church believes that human beings are inherently “spiritual beings whose existence predates their physical birth” (40). Because of this heavily spiritual belief system, the language used by Mayne regarding his sexual orientation and his faith as aspects of his physical and spiritual make-up, genetically ingrained aspects of his body and soul, can show some reasoning behind the acceptance of gay members of the Latter Day Saints church. Mayne is, as the article I posted suggests, “not what we think of as a typical Mormon”, but his standing within the church may represent several intriguing movements within the LDS church: an ability of the church to change over time can be attributed to spiritual evolution and greater understanding of the soul. An acceptance of modern sensibilities is possible within the movement, and there is a potential schism between those who show disdain for LGBT rights and those who choose to accept homosexuality as inevitable.
Does this contentious point show signs of change within the Mormon church? Does the history of New England as a space of “rapid social change” (Understanding Cults and New Age Religions 39) around when the religious movement was founded allow the church to be more open to internal debate and modern sensibilities that change over time?