Many of you have heard by now that the LDS Church has released a new edition of scriptures. Much attention has been given to the changes to the headings of the Official Declarations, but going through the extensive list of changes (you can read them here), I noticed one that would be of interest to the readers of this blog.
In the Topical Guide, there used to be a heading called “Homosexuality.” This has now been changed to “Homosexual Behavior”, which not only reflects how it is referred to in other Church publications, but also more correctly corresponds to how we see things today.
We understand that there is no shame or unrighteousness involved in experiencing homosexual feelings, but only in the behavior. But I believe that historically (even as recently as 30 years ago) this is how the term homosexuality has been understood by many. The idea that homosexuality was not just something that one did, but is also something you are, is a fairly recent concept.
In fact, many of the more controversial statements, that some have found offensive or derogatory about homosexuals, when viewed in the context that the Church leaders were referring to those engaging in homosexual behavior, not merely experiencing the feelings, no longer appear so controversial or offensive.
In this way, this change actually has a lot in common with the vast majority of other changes made to the LDS edition of the Bible, which are primarily modernizing and correcting changes in spelling.
Language is a dynamic and living thing (at least since the Tower of Babel). So long as it remains so, we will need to revise some things to maintain that understanding. This is something we can all keep in mind as we are considering the words of Leaders and Scripture.