The official stance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on homosexuality is:

The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

The LDS church is in support of basic civil rights being extended to those who self identify as homosexuals. These rights include equal access to housing, medical care, employment and the like. They are not however in favour of homosexuals joining in marriage or gay cohabitation. This reflects their stance of, "People may not choose who they're attracted to, but they do choose how to act on those attractions."

Recently, because of the supreme court ruling which made gay marriage legal in the USA, in addition to the other countries in which gay marriage was previously legal, the LDS church found it necessary to update their definition of Apostasy to include same-sex cohabitation. Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriages, it was not necessary to be so specific, but in order to address the secular position that homosexual unions should be held in the same regard as traditional unions, the necessity has arisen.

Amongst other questions, in order to receive a temple recommend, an individual must honestly be able to answer in the negative to the following question:

Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Supporters of those gay rights which directly affect the definition of the institution of the family, specifically, those who support the institution of marriage between homosexuals, the cohabitation of homosexuals, or the adoption or raising of children by homosexual couples, are literally in support of practices that are contrary to the teachings of the church. They are literally in support of apostate teachings and practices.

Does this updated policy mean that all supporters within the church who believe that gay individuals have the right to live in gay relationships are guilty of apostasy?

2 Answers 2


I think the clearest thing I've seen said on this was a statement by Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (statement starts close to minute 9) in a press conference in January, 2015:

We have members, individual members in the Church with a variety of different opinions and beliefs and positions on these issues and other issues, reflect back on the Equal Rights Amendment years ago, this isn’t the first issue, in our view it doesn’t become a problem unless someone is out attacking the church and its leaders, if that’s a deliberate and persistent effort, trying to get others to follow them, to draw others away, trying to pull people out of the church, or away from its teachings and doctrines. That’s very different for us, than someone who feels one way or another on a political stance or a particular action to support a group, Affirmation or any others that you named, these are things that there are fine lines here and there.

This is consistent with one of the other actions specified as apostasy in the handbook, even before the recent changes (see the unhighlighted portions of the handbook at the bottom of this article):

As used here, apostasy refers to members who:

  1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.

So the takeaway from this would be that, unless you are persistently and publicly voicing your opposition to a teaching of the church, you are not necessarily considered to be in apostasy.

One final note, in relation to your quotation of the temple interview questions: Another contributor stated, in response to a different question about supporting polygamy and standing within the church, that "temple worthiness is on the far opposite end of the spectrum from excommunication: one who may not enter the temple may not be near disciplinary action." Although about excommunication, and not apostasy, I think the same idea applies here.


In the LDS church, the general definition of the word apostasy is: "When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy." lds.org - Apostasy. The same link also says, "we must each guard against personal apostasy by keeping covenants, obeying the commandments, following Church leaders, partaking of the sacrament, and constantly strengthening our testimonies through daily scripture study, prayer, and service." This suggests that it is easier than most people think to start apostatizing, and that members must be careful.

The late President George Q. Cannon (Apostle) said, regarding apostasy,

A friend … wished to know whether we … considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the authorities of the Church was apostasy. … We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the authorities constituted apostasy; … but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion, and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce upon the people to produce division and strife, and to place the acts and counsels of the authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light, and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term. We further said that while a man might honestly differ in opinion from the authorities through a want of understanding, he had to be exceedingly careful how he acted in relation to such differences, or the adversary would take advantage of him, and he would soon become imbued with the spirit of apostasy, and be found fighting against God and the authority which He had placed here to govern His Church. (Deseret News, 3 Nov. 1869, p. 457).

This suggests that if a member differs in opinion through a want of understanding, he/she isn't necessarily apostatizing. What matters is if they begin to resist and fight against God and his authority on the earth.

Thus, generally speaking, if an individual doesn't follow church leaders and turns away from the principles of the gospel, which, of course, includes the plan of salvation and the sanctity of the family, that could be heading towards apostasy. However, it doesn't necessarily equate to dis-fellowship or excommunication until other criteria have been met, but that would be a different question entirely. This is a good talk given by Elder M. Russel Ballard of The Quorum of the 12 Apostles about church disciplinary action.

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