First Presidency Statement on AIDS

(From Deseret News 1988)


After careful consideration, including review of available scientific and medical information, the First Presidency this week has released a statement on the subject of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).  The statement is for members of the Church and reinforces time-honored revelations from God, including the principle of chastity before marriage, total fidelity in marriage, and abstinence from all homosexual behavior.  The statement follows:


“The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) damages the body’s natural ability to defend itself against disease.  Unlike some major epidemics of the past that were transmitted by polluted water, insect bites, and casual skin or respiratory contact, AIDS is transmitted through sexual intimacy with infected persons, through illegal intravenous drug use, from infected mothers to babies before or during birth, and to persons receiving infected blood or blood products.


“Current medical information indicates that the AIDS virus (HIV) is not transmitted through casual contact in homes, schools, churches, or at places of work.  People who are obedient to divine commandments need not unduly fear the affliction, although AIDS has infected innocent victims, including unsuspecting marriage partners, babies, and those who have received infected blood.


“We call your attention to President Gordon B. Hinckley’s remarks about AIDS given in the April 1987 general priesthood meeting:


“We, with others, hope that discoveries will make possible both prevention and healing from this dread affliction.  But regardless of such discoveries, the observance of one clearly understandable and divinely given rule would do more than all else to check this epidemic.  That is chastity before marriage and total fidelity in marriage.


“Prophets of God have repeatedly taught through the ages that practices of homosexual relations, fornication, and adultery are grievous sins.  Sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage are forbidden by the Lord.  We reaffirm those teachings….


“‘Each of us has a choice between right and wrong.  But with that choice there inevitably will follow consequences.  Those who choose to violate the commandments of God put themselves at great spiritual and physical jeopardy…


“’We plead with people everywhere to live in accordance with the teachings of our Creator and rise above carnal attractions that often result in the tragedies that follow moral transgressions.


“’The Lord has proclaimed that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and is intended to be an eternal relationship bonded by trust and fidelity.  Latter-day Saints, of all people, should marry with this sacred objective in mind.  Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices, which first should clearly be overcome with a firm and fixed determination never to slip to such practices again.


“’Having said this, I desire now to say with emphasis that our concern for the bitter fruit of sin is coupled with Christ-like sympathy for its victims, innocent of culpable.  We advocate the example of the Lord, who condemned the sin, yet loved the sinner.  We should reach out with kindness and comfort to the afflicted, ministering to their needs and assisting them with their problems.  We repeat, however, that the way of safety and the road to happiness lie in abstinence before marriage and fidelity following marriage.’


“Members of the Church should extend compassion to those who are ill with AIDS.  We express great love and sympathy for all victims, but particularly those who have received the virus through blood transfusions, babies afflicted from infected mothers, and innocent marriage partners who have been infected by a spouse.  In the Lord’s eternal plan, those who endure such suffering, pain, and injustice, not of their own doing, will receive compensatory blessings through the Lord’s infinite mercy.


“It is well to become informed about AIDS and to avoid actions that place oneself or others at risk.  Laws and policies dealing with attempts to control the spread of AIDS are being adopted in many countries throughout the world.  Members should become familiar with the laws and policies in their own land and join in wise and constructive efforts to stem the spread of this debilitating and deadly affliction.


“The Lord has not left mankind without clear guidance on matters that affect our happiness.  That guidance is chastity before marriage, total fidelity in marriage, abstinence from all homosexual relations, avoidance of illegal drugs, and reverence wand care for the body, ‘which is the temple of God’ (1 Cor. 3:16).”





November 14. 1991


To:  All Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Dear Brethren and Sisters:


We call upon members to renew their commitment to live the Lord’s standard of moral conduct.  Parents should teach their children the sacred nature of procreative powers and instill in them a desire to be chaste in thought and deed.  A correct understanding of the divinely appointed roles of men and women will fortify all against sinful practices.  Our only real safety, physically and spiritually, lies in keeping the Lord’s commandments.


The Lord’s law of moral conduct is abstinence outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage.  Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage.  Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior, is sinful.  Those who persist in such practices or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.


We remind you of scriptures that make clear the relationship between one’s thoughts and actions (see Matthew 15:19; Mosiah 4:29-30; Alma 12:14; 3 Nephi 12:28; D&C 121:45).  There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings, regardless of their causes, can and should be overcome and sinful behavior should be eliminated.  This can be achieved though faith in God, sincere repentance, and persistent effort.  The help of others may be needed.  We commend and encourage those who are overcoming inappropriate thoughts and feelings.  We plead with those involved in such behavior to forsake it.  We love them and pray for them.  We are confident that through repentance and obtaining needed help, they can experience the peace that comes from conforming their lives to God’s teachings.


Individuals and their families desiring help with these matters should seek counsel from their bishop, branch president, stake or district president.  We encourage Church leaders and members to reach out with love and understanding to those struggling with these issues.  Many will respond to Christ-like love and inspired counsel as they receive an invitation to come back and apply the atoning and healing power of the Savior (see Isaiah 53: 4-5; Mosiah 4: 2-3)


                                                                        Sincerely your Brethren,


                                                                        Ezra Taft Benson (Signature on Original)

                                                                        Gordon B Hinckley (Signature on Original)

                                                                        Thomas S Monson (Signature on Original)


                                                                        The First Presidency