While this study may seem hilariously obvious at first, it was actually necessary. When Mormon religion meets homosexuality, the results are often so mind blowing and saddening that you just need studies like this to explain how things really are. In a society which believes that homosexuality is something treatable just like alcoholism, you need a study to tell people that if a gay man marries a woman, divorce is very likely.
Even though same sex marriages are legal in most US states and in many countries throughout the world, that’s not the case for Ohio. Most of the 6.1 million mormons living in the US (most of which are in Ohio) couldn’t even imagine same sex marriages. In fact, many preachers claim that if you’re a homosexual and you marry a woman, god will take away your “temptation”. Even though there are LGBT members in the mormon community, they are allowed to remain there only if they abstain from homosexual relations and obey the law of chastity.
While there are no official numbers, Gary Watts, former president of Family Fellowship, estimates that only 10 percent of homosexuals stay in the church. The thing is, most mormons still want to be a part of the church – even if they’re gay. So they’re willing to even try marrying someone from the different sex, even if that’s not their orientation. Now, a new study on 1,612 self-selected LGBT/same-sex attracted Mormons and former Mormons found that this clearly doesn’t work – if you are a homosexual man and you marry a woman, your homosexuality isn’t going to disappear like a charm.
John Dehlin, a doctoral student at Utah State University, and Bill Bradshaw, a retired Brigham Young University professor, with help from Renee Galliher, also of USU, solicited responses via various websites, thus creating the largest study ever conducted on homosexual mormons. Here are the study’s main findings:
- Between 51 and 69 percent of mixed-orientation Mormon marriages end in divorce, well above the roughly 25 percent.
- 80 percent of respondents have actively tried to change their sexual orientation
- 53 percent rejected their religious identity
- 42 percent were currently single, while 35 percent were in committed same-sex relationships, and 16 percent were married in a heterosexual relationship.
The study was conducted on people from 48 states (45 percent in Utah) and 22 countries; 75 percent were male, 22 percent female; 91 percent were white; 7 percent were excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 25 percent had resigned, 36 percent were inactive, 29 percent were active, and 3 percent had been disfellowshipped. Quite some striking numbers, and all of them really show one thing: homosexuality and being a mormon don’t really go well together. Most people try to reject either the former or the latter.
Not only did most marriages end in divorce, but many experienced what they call a triple blame: “first for being gay, then for having ruined the lives of their spouses and children by … marry[ing] in the service of trying to ‘overcome’ their homosexuality, and then finally for having failed in the marriage and ‘given up”, says Kendall Wilcox, who has collected more than 300 narratives from LGBT Mormons and their families.
The study also concluded that mormon gays were much more likely to become involved in “personal righteousness” efforts — prayer, fasting, church activity, temple worship etc, in an effort to “rid themselves of the gayness”. Sadly, some even tried the discredited “reparative theory”, which attempts to turn a gay man straight. The American Psychiatric Association has condemned such practices and has stated that “Ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation.”
Still, the situation doesn’t seem like it will likely change in the near future. I truly hope that mormon religion will find a way to encompass homosexuality and not directly or indirectly destroy the lives of innocent men and women who can’t choose their sexual orientation. Depression and even suicide often accompany this situation.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!