LGBT History Month

LDS apostle advocated violence against gays in 1976

On October 2, 1976, LDS Apostle Body K. Packer gave a sermon at the priesthood session of the semi-annual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed to boys 12 to 18 years of age. In it, he discussed issues of puberty, masturbation, human sexuality, and morality, including situations in which young men are “tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another in unusual ways.”

“I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord. There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts.

“If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist. While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done. After patient encouragement, he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.”

“’Oh, is that all,’ I said in great relief.”

“’But I floored him,’ he said.”

“After learning a little more, my response was, ‘Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.’ I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.”

This statement is viewed as approval to assault Gay people. Packer, at LDS General Conference, encouraged young men of the Mormon Church to physically assault men, including missionary companions, who showed a sexual interest in them.

The First Presidency deleted the sermon from the publication of conference talks in the church’s official magazine, The Ensign.

However, the talk was officially printed by the LDS Church in 1976 in the pamphlet “To Young Men Only.”

In it, Packer writes, “Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this.”

“Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well,” the pamphlet continues.

“It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord.”

Packer goes on to write that homosexuality is not innate.

“There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just “that way” and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men—masculine, manly men—ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.”

Packer’s talk may have been a response to publicity at the University of Utah, Utah State University, and in a Mormon independent journal, “Gays and Lesbians in Mormon Society and at Brigham Young University.”

The church “retired” the pamphlet in 2016, a year after Packer’s death.

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