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In Defense of BYU

A year later, he still works here.

[Editor's note: See our earlier--and somewhat controversial--stories about this here and here.]

What is Moral?

A lot of you believe that a homosexual lifestyle is wrong, and that homosexual marriage is wrong. The reasoning you have given has varied, but essentially it stems from a belief that everyone can chose to live a life in a traditional heterosexual marriage if they chose to do so.

What about marriage of people who are naturally born with physical intersex attributes? If you are born with the sexual organs of both a male and a female*, who are you legitimately allowed to marry? Is it sinful for you to marry a man? Or is it sinful for you to marry a woman? Can you only marry another intersex person?

No argument can be made that they have “chosen” to be born hermaphrodites. That is how they were created. Are they not children of God like the rest of us? Do they not bleed when wounded? Do they not cry when hurt? Do they not deserve happiness and marriage and companionship?

What is moral?

*I base the existence of people born as hermaphrodites on the essay “Intersexes in Humans” found in “Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought. Volume 12, Number 3, Fall 1979, pg.107-113.” It sates: “There are also cases of ‘true’ intersexuality (or true hermaphroditism) in which a single individual possesses gonadal tissue of both sexes. … The external genitalia and associated internal ductwork and gonads can come in almost every imaginable combination.” I really encourage everyone look up the essay and read it for themselves.

Well, I think the man is half

Well, I think the man is half-right. Yes, there is probably a biological aspect to homosexuality (as well as behavioral and cultural aspects). But, as Orson Scott Card says, young men have a biological propensity to mate with as many partners as possible. But that doesn't make it okay.

Just because there is something in someones genetic makeup that makes it easier to do something doesn't keep it from being a sin. Some people have a biological tendancy towards alcoholism; this doesn't absolve the sin, but instead may help to understand it. No one's free agency is overriden, even in genetics.

Change through Atonement

I think you err when you attribute to Dr. Bradshaw the belief that biological causes for homosexuality can't be changed by the atonement. I suspect he'd say that they can, but that for most people that part of the atonement is in the resurrection when our fallen mortal bodies are changed.

new book

deseret book has a new book about gay mormons. it can be found here.

personally, i don't buy bradshaw's logic about homosexuality. i'm more along with freud and even more with simone de beauvoir where sexual preference homosexuality is not biological but "chosen", by "chosen", i believe this "choice" may include subconscious factors beyond their control. though i do belief some biological factors can lean in one way or another.

can they be turned? that probably largely depends on how deep their homosexuality goes. though many therapies claim to "cure" homosexuality, in reality only a very small percent 'turn' and of those most do not remain heterosexual.

it's a very touchy subject. the life of a gay mormon can be a very lonely life. they can't date. they can't fall in love. they can't live a healthy sexual life.


i don't see why this is such a big debate. regardless of where homosexual feelings come from, the bottom line is homosexual behavior is still a serious sin...and no matter what you find attractive, if you maintain a virtuous lifestyle you're ok. that's not an unrealistic expectation.

by the way, go read my blog for some awesome news!

Worse than you think

I worked at the Daily Universe at the time the article came out. I was surprised by the claims Dr. Bradshaw made so I gave him a call to see if he was interested in a follow-up article in which he could explain himself. He said yes and in fact visited NewsNet and spoke with me and the opinion editor. I had read a bunch before the interview - Ensign articles, Church statements, conference talks - and came with some pointed questions.
What Dr. Bradshaw said in that (unpublicized) interview was a much greater departure from LDS standards and doctrine than anything printed in the Universe.

He said, among other things:
*A loving same-sex couple could raise children as effectively as a traditional couple.
*A positive, even spiritual relationship can exist between two homosexuals.
*In the temple we receive "greater light and knowledge" about spiritual matters. [He then said in essence that he had received such knowledge regarding the future of the Church's attitude toward homosexuality, thus explaining his non-traditional view.]
*Over the years, dozens of students have approached him and confessed feelings of homosexual attraction.

Given the first points, the final point is especially disturbing. One can only guess what kind of advice/counsel he gave to those confused students.

I wrote all of this in a letter to Pres. Samuelson almost one year ago. I never heard back, and as you wrote, Dr. Bradshaw still works at BYU.

re: Worse than you think

That surprises me. What was your gut feeling as he told you this stuff? I for one have always trusted my instinct. I won't trust yours (no offense), but it would be interesting to hear what you have to say about whether or not it seemed like he was delusional or if it made sense, even if you don't agree.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that the church (doctrinally speaking) will be more accepting of homosexuals. In fact, I think that the church made it pretty clear in the family proclamation that, "gender is essential" in the pre-existence as well as in mortality.

It is a lot to think about.

On herms

There are exceptions to everything. Life is not fair. The ratio of hermaphrodites to non-hermaphrodites is so miniscule that these few cases cannot be proof of anything.

A baby born to a crack-addicted mother is born addicted to crack. Therefore, people don't really have the physical ability to become non-addicts.

Apples and oranges, I know, and I'm not arguing anything about homosexuality, just saying that the logic of bringing up hermaphrodites does little to persuade. It can't fairly be used as an example of human sexuality.

Same-sex attraction is not chosen. Homo/hetero sexual action is.

Same-sex attraction is not chosen in the vast majority of cases. Erin Eldrigdge wrote a book taking the pro-LDS perspective on the issue of overcoming homosexuality. In the book she states:

"Many mistakenly believe that those who struggle with homosexual desires asked or wanted or even consciously chose to have such feelings. Although we are not certain of the causes, we do know that, in most cases, same-sex attraction is not chosen" (Born That Way? A True Story of Overcoming Same-Sex Attraction with Insights for Friends, Families, and Leaders, Chapter 1).

Homosexual people can abstain from homosexual activity just as much as a heterosexual person can abstain from heterosexual activity. Homosexuals have choice of action, but virtually none of them have chosen to have same-sex attraction.

People may not choose sexuali

People may not choose sexuality, but they do at times choose sexual activity, which activity can be addictive. Never underestimate the power of an "open mind". Furthermore, testosterone tends to generalize the sexual urge. By that I mean, higher testosterone leads people to look in a wider range of places for sexual satisfaction.
The clean slate idea seems not to jibe with the idea of male and female spirits, or the very progressive parenting styles that leave kids alone to develop without gender training, but while they can cut down on extreme behavior, gender differences remain distinct.

Random Thought

In the eternal realm of thought there is this:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)

If you accept that homosexuality is a sin, then same-sex attraction is a "weak thing". Why is it so hard to believe that God's grace is conditional on which weak thing we are plagued with?

Going back to your earlier comment Tyler, if a man was married because of the commandment relating to Celestial glory, but wasn't sexually attracted to his wife, why wouldn't he take advantage of this. Sin, and the thoughts and conditions leading up to it, are weak things. Why would God's grace be sufficient for the liar, the cheater, the kleptomaniac, to a person with abusive tendancies, but not to a person who is struggliing with same-sex attraction? Is God powerless against society's acceptance of homosexuality?

I understand what you are say

I understand what you are saying. On one hand, I believe that sexual-attraction is a non-essential characteristic of our being and thus possible to change. Also, I believe in the scriptures that God can help us over-come trials that we have. However, on the other hand, there are over-welming numbers of homosexual latter-day saints who really want to change, but just cannot seem to. Less than 1/3 of glbt LDS are ever able to change their orientation. Of those, less than 1/3 stay that way. Too many of them committ suicide in hopes of recovering by ressurection.

I don't have the answer.

how much is chosen by the per

how much is chosen by the person, how much is chosen by others,
how much is chosen by nature?

how much does a killer choose to kill? how responsible is a pathological killer,
who has no consciense? what made him that way?
how much does an adulterer choose to do it?

do you remember that at the judgment day, there will be many surprises? is it illogical
to think some of these surprises might come from these very topics of choosing and having something chosen for us? and responsibility?

"nature" doesn't necessarily show or make us, or anything, right. neither does "logic".

suicide might recover you--to the telestial kingdom, but would you really like that?
i think it happens for other reasons, not the hope of the resurrection. does the fact that suicide happen bother some people? is it a sign that everything's wrong with "them", or that maybe something might be wrong with us?

i know lots of byu guys (and girls--esp. a jolted ex-fiancee of a gay guy) who don't find a problem with lots of sins (especially hetero stuff), but boy, when it gets to this...Christ? Christ who? hard to find a more limited perspective on anything anywhere.

homosexuality is something that can really teach you to accept and love others, but not their sins. or even yes their sins, but not condone them. or even accept that they are, but work so that they're not. or even less, esp. over time.

is it right or ok to be gay? no, just like it's not for a lot of other things that we sometimes do. if a person can control a desire, is it a sin not to control it? if a person can't control a desire, is it a sin to act on it? how much?

how much of our present earthly conditions/ problems are a result of our past premortal conditions/ problems? is there a just match? is the match the exact same in both area and amount? what difference would it make to know this? if it were all so, would it make it even harder for many "saints" to deal with others in a Christ-like (or at least semi-) way?

take another look at Ether 12:27. it's always used out of context. "weakness", not "weaknesses". what's the weakness? we aren't perfect, and we don't have a perfect nature, though we would like to have one (well, some). nephi (2 nephi 4) and jacob (4:6-7) shed more light on this. hopefully, those with this type of problem can use these scriptures to gain more strength and understanding that the Lord--and others--understand. do you remember pres. packer's talk this conference? sometimes it's not that we do succeed or change, but that we stick with trying to--even with things that surely the Lord would have us accomplish, right? he knows there are things given us that we'll fail with--but he has given us a duty to fight to conquer, if possible. didn't mormon and moroni keep preaching, though they knew it wouldn't do any good? perhaps being faithful in giving our best in all ways is the key to our salvation more than "success" is.

(sorry for any typos, etc.--quick shot)

On homosexuals.

This argument boils down to one's definition of free agency.

The proponents of homosexual marriage assume that man's choices are pre-determined by nature. That is, every conclusive decision a person makes is derived exclusively from that person's nature. One cannot act but in accordance with one's natural desires.

However, one can argue that there is a non-deterministic definition of free agency. One could argue that a person is free only if in moral decision making situations, more than one choice is genuinely open to the agent.

Obviously, if our definition of agency is defined in deterministic terms, then the question of accountability is pushed to the side without second thought. But, maybe that's not so bad, uh?

Are you crazy?

Why would you need to report this to President Samuelson?

Are you implying that if a professor has a dissenting opinion than that held of the church, he should be fired? I sincerely hope not.

Don't you realize that this is the professor's life and profession?


Your post is a red herring.

You are now switching the argument from the immorality of homosexuality to the ambiguity of intersexuality. That is, what exactly does homosexuality have to do with intersexuality? Nothing. You are just confusing the issue.

unrealistic expectations

"if you maintain a virtuous lifestyle you're ok. that's not an unrealistic expectation."

i seriously doubt it is as simple as you try to describe it. as i mentioned above, the life of a gay mormon can be a very lonely life. they can't date. they can't fall in love. they can't live a healthy sexual life. they live day by day being told in church that there is something wrong with them. that they are unnatural. they can't have a loving family that the church places at the top of life's goals. they are made fun of. it's a sad an unfortunate life. sad enough that way too many of them choose to end their lives... in hope of being 'cured' by ressurection.


Can you imagine the controversy if a story about your interview would have run in the Daily Universe? I assume Bradshaw knew that you planned on reporting about what he was telling you ... What was he thinking? Did you actually get him on tape saying those things or would it just be your word against his?

I wonder what came of your letter to President Samuelson ... Maybe they called and questioned him about it and he denied saying that.

Gut feeling

Honestly, it was surreal. In getting to know him before the interview, I learned that he was an active member of the Church and, if I remember right, a former mission president. Also, he is a wonderfully kind man - genuinely kind. For these reasons I was floored when he started saying the things I listed above. I walked away from that meeting dazed. During the day, my feelings evolved from surprise to confusion to disgust to pity. I think the context of our meeting was an opportunity for him to explain himself because he wanted to write a viewpoint article for the next day's paper. The meeting was not recorded but I did take notes. The viewpoint did run the next day.

smith and spaceships

He said, among other things:
*A loving same-sex couple could raise children as effectively as a traditional couple.
*A positive, even spiritual relationship can exist between two homosexuals.

do you deny these?

a lot of this conversation seems to boil down to (though not explicitly): "elder so-and-so said this-and-that, therefore br. bradshaw must is obviously mistaked"

joseph fielding smith, in an official church publication said man would never go to the moon. should any current and budding nasa scientists at the time just sat on their hands and say to themselves, "by golly, he must be right, lets pack up and go home."

Bradshaw bashing

I suppose I'm an anonymous coward at the moment...I'll sign in some time...

Having spoken with Professor Bradshaw on the issue, I feel semi-qualified to comment.

It saddens me a bit to hear Professor Bradshaw undefended, and criticized for his compassion by people that, from what I can gather, should (as similarly compassionate people) be his greatest defenders. Nels, I won't try to fight your personal feelings of disgust and pity for the man, because maybe I simply missed some disgusting and pathetic vibes that I should have picked up on. The only unseemly thing I noticed was that he seemed rather weary, I assume due to the criticism and threats of firing that have surely come his way recently, all for doing something his conscience demanded.

While I admit that I agree with Bradshaw on each of his points (in my opinion, all of which are intimately tied to both free agency, and particularly, charity), I will make no attempt to convince you of them. It would be a fruitless attempt, I think, not because you are unreasonable, but because in my experience it takes close, compassionate contact with homosexual people in order for Mormons to develop tolerance towards them.

I do, however, want to point out a few things about Bradshaw's points, which in the opinion of Nels, justifies his dismissal.

His first two points (that same-sex couples can have loving families and that they can have positive, even spiritual relationships) are based on these ideas of free will and compassion (If these ideas are not important to you, read no further...). Love is a universal human emotion, something I feel for my mother, my brother, and girlfriend all. Love is not something heterosexual mormons have a monopoly on- people who live other ways do experience happiness, and do treat each other with appropriate levels of love. If homosexuals also feel a physical attraction for their partner, I don't see why we would say that it all of a sudden renders meaningless the loving relationship they might have regardless of sexuality, even if you believe that the homosexual act is wrong.

On the matter of dozens of homosexual students coming to him, it seems clear that the only reason they would have come to him, felt comfortable approaching him about it, was thay he presented himself as a compassionate confidante. If he had preached to them that they are unnatural and evil, I very much doubt they would have come to him. So, Nels, if you believe that the advice or support he may offer to homosexual students is pitiable, at least recognize that the reason they go to him is because he is compassionate towards them instead of immediately condemning them.

To clarify, by the way, on his opinion on the atonement and sexuality: I can't speak for his actual opinion, only the opinion he conveyed to me, but this is what I gathered. As a scientist, Bradshaw believes that actual understanding and verifiable knowledge are quite a bit more important than religious speculation. (an attitude that could protect us pretty well from "folk doctrine") His opinion is that those who say the atonement cures homosexuality are speculating based on the assumption that they "know something about the atonement". In contrast, his research and the data collected from hundreds of psychologists, therapists, and other researchers points to the conclusion that gender orientation almost never truly changes (on the order of less than a percent, and those results are questionable).

I've gone on too long.

-Tristan Call


Are you implying that we should accept a theory that cannot explain all evident particulars?

Not Proof of Anything?

The ratio of hermaphrodites to non-hermaphrodites is so miniscule that these few cases cannot be proof of anything.

-Question: If the ratio of angels you have spoken with to the ratio of people you have spoken with was small, but existent, would these few cases of speaking with angels mean nothing to you?

-The point: The fact that hermaphrodites are rare does not mean that they are not proof of anything. They are living, breathing, feeling, and tangible examples that innate human sexuality is not as black and white as people assume it to be.

It can't fairly be used as an example of human sexuality.

I think we both agree that hermaphrodites are examples of human sexuality, but you feel that because they are rare, they have little/no significance. Clearly, complete two-gender hermaphrodites do not characterize the majority of the human population, but they are an undeniable example that human sexuality is not as clear-cut as many assume it is.

'Choosing' sexuality

People tend to make a false dichotomy that gender is either biological or that it is actively chosen. I disagree with both. There is at least a third option and that is that gender and sexuality are social constructs that we are thrown into. At birth we are an open slate, however society indoctrinates and trains persons into certain roles and traits. Because of this, a person may take on and assume a gender and/or sexuality without it being any essential part of their biological being and not choose those aspects as well.

WWJD? A little more charity is in order at BYU.

Given that same-sex attraction usually not chosen, it surprises me is how many LDS people will say “fag” or “that is so gay” in such a carefree manner. To me, saying phrases is completely counter to the teachings of Christ. Yet, I here them daily at BYU, and instead of cringing in disgust, people usually just laugh and do not think about the implications that their words have. WWJD?


"The clean slate idea seems not to jibe with the idea of male and female spirits, or the very progressive parenting styles that leave kids alone to develop without gender training"

The problem with this is beacause that society is so deeply entrenched with gender distinction, it would be impossible to raise a child without any influence as such. The only way to really perform this experiment would be to inhumanely raise that child outside of human society (as what happened with the german wolf-boy in the early 20th century... or whenever that was).

Answer a Question with a Question.

You have asked some interesting questions, but I think the basis you are working off of is a little off. First of all, same-sex attraction itself is not a sin any more than opposite-sex attraction is. You can be attracted to people without dwelling on dirty thoughts. The attraction itself is not immoral. Dwelling on the thoughts is immoral. Acting on the thoughts is more immoral. The same rule applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Although God has the power to do anything he wants, He really has not shown a pattern for taking away same-sex attraction. Although a very few select have claimed to have had success at altogether diminishing same-sex attraction, the vast majority of attempts end up failing. Faithful homosexuals in the church end up living lonely lives of abstinence or committing suicide because of pressure to change where change does not occur. I’ve read countless accounts of bisexual LDS men who have been able to get married and live happily, but who have never been able to get rid of same-sex attraction. However, they are able to live in accordance with the Gospel because they do not dwell on the same-sex attraction thoughts or act on them.

Question:Is there a reason that God has not shown a pattern for taking away same-sex attraction?


do you think the church should condone homosexual behavior?

i cannot argue with the points you made, but when i spell it out like that, it doesn't really leave us with much of a choice.

"a lot of this conversation s

"a lot of this conversation seems to boil down to (though not explicitly): "elder so-and-so said this-and-that, therefore br. bradshaw must is obviously mistaked"

What a naive notion! Imagine God having an authoritative voice on earth in modern times! The claptrap!

Thank goodness he sent us Tyler to discern for us when his chosen servants are spewing crap again. Oh ya, and that it's totally cool to say things like "sucks balls".

What cracks me up is that you habitually deride "happy valley" and you yourself are from Sandy!
What the hell is the difference?

It's funny, I read a book once that said if you get home from your mission and someone at church compliments you for your spiritual maturity and asks you to join their study group, run for the hills. Not being from Utah I had no idea what the author was talking about and thought the fact he would feel a need to say such a thing was bizarre beyond belief. Now, thanks to you Tyler, I see a bit better what he meant. You Utah people are truly a breed apart. Imagine the poor third world saints, so far from the celestial nectar that is your every utterance. Gosh, it's hard to imagine how they will ever reach exaltation without understanding the complexities of the silly notions they now take on --dare I say it-- FAITH. Poor suckers.

Not too far off the mark

I think that it is a common misconception inside of the church that because if somebody is homosexual they can't possibly be normal in all other factors of life.

The Holy Ghost will confirm truth to whoever seeks it. And shock... a homosexual man CAN have a strong testimony of Christ. Obviously their lifestyle is contrary to the dictates of the gospel, but that doesn't mean that God will cast them off.

I would be very interested in finding out what Dr. Bradshaw considers the future of the Church's attitude towards homosexuality. I can make an educated guess of where he is taking that train of thought, and in that case I would suspect that he would be VERY wrong. The sin of homosexuality is very well defined in current church teachings, and such behavior has been strongly discouraged.

On a side note tyler... I see what you were getting at earlier about prophets.