Are same-sex attraction and homosexuality the same thing?
Before one can talk about the issues surrounding the debates on same-sex relationships and so forth, one must understand the distinction that Mormonism makes between same-sex attraction and homosexuality. According to Mormonism, same-sex attraction is a real feeling that many people have, but which is also a temptation to act immorally. Mormons believe that each individual is beset by a host of temptations. This is what makes the “mortal” experience challenging. But, Mormons also believe that God does not allow us to be temped “above that [we] are able”: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” . Temptations, according to Mormonism, are an inevitable result of the Fall of Adam and Eve. Each man and woman will be tempted in ways that are unique to him or her. To some sexual sins are temptations, while for others it might be anger, or dishonesty, etc. In summary, same-sex attraction is not a sin, but it is a temptation to sin. If one feels attracted to someone of the same sex, he or she should not feel guilty. Unless one acts upon that temptation, he or she has not sinned.
This leads to the question of homosexuality. Mormons believe that homosexuality is the conscious decision to give in to the urges and desires of same-sex attraction. Mormons believe that sexual intimacy is only appropriate between a man and a woman who have been legally and lawfully wedded. Any form of physical intimacy outside of those bounds is deemed inappropriate. In other words, those forms of physical intimacy that lay outside of marriage between a man and woman are considered sins, regardless of sex, gender, or orientation. Thus homosexuality is a sin.
What is Mormonism’s view of same-sex marriage?
Based on the basic understanding of homosexuality as developed above, one can see that Mormonism rejects the legitimacy of same-sex marriages. Gordon B. Hinckley, former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said this: “We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” . Mormons believe that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman only. Mormons believe that this union was given by God, and that to redefine it is a rejection of God’s commandments. This helps one to see why Mormons are so vehemently opposed to legal action attempting to redefine marriage. Gay or lesbian marriage is seen as redefinition of God’s terms for marriage.
What do Mormons believe about our sexual identity?
Mormons believe that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” . In other words, your gender is a part of who you are. This is also interpreted to mean that your sex is part of your eternal identity. For example, if you were born a female, then you are, simply stated, a female. You have a female spirit. You were female before this life, and you will be a female after this life. Regardless of whether you undergo extensive surgeries, hormonal treatments, and so forth, you will continue to be a female.
Many people believe that homosexuality is something you are born into, that you are genetically predisposed towards homosexuality. Mormons believe that you may be genetically predisposed towards having an attraction to others of the same sex, but not that you are inherently homosexual. The Mormon’s conception of identity is consistent with their views on same-sex attraction and homosexuality. Their conception of identity also provides strong theological grounds for rejecting same-sex marriage.
In conclusion, Mormons believe that those who experience same-sex attraction should not feel unusual or shunned. They also welcome all who seek comfort through Christ’s atonement, regardless of sexual orientation. They believe it is possible to bear the temptation of same-sex attraction. They also believe that it is possible to repent for homosexual choices of the past.
 1 Corinthians 10:13
 Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71
 The Family: A Proclamation to the World