These arguments frustrate me, not because people are arguing for gay rights--that's not the issue at all. The issue is a fundamental ignorance of the Bible's organization. If people believe the entirety of the Bible is false, that is one thing. They have every right to make that argument. But the cherry-picking accusation comes from misunderstanding.
The Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is dominated by the Law of Moses. Many parts of the Old Testament are about the people and culture of that time. But there are also many parts of the Old Testament that transcend the boundaries of historical time and place. Christians believe that when Christ came, he fulfilled the law, meaning the Law of Moses. This means that the practices of the Law of Moses, such as animal sacrifice, were no longer required or commanded as part of a faithful life. However, that does not mean that every single teaching from the prophets of the Old Testament was thrown out the window. During his ministry, Christ gave clarity and commandments about what was expected for a righteous life. Sometimes, Christ's commandments align perfectly with teachings of Old Testament prophets. But the standards laid down by Jesus Christ were often higher than the law of Moses. You shouldn't just avoid killing--you should avoid anger and contention. Adultery's not the only sin--lust is bad, too. Not an eye for an eye, but turn the other cheek. The Four Gospels, which contain the actual accounts of Christ's life as recorded by his apostles, include many of Christ's teachings. But Christ's teachings are also found throughout the rest of the New Testament. Other than writing down accounts of Christ's life, the apostles spent a great deal of time and energy recording and spreading Christ's gospel.
So, while Christ taught that animal sacrifice was no longer required, according to the records of his apostles in the New Testament, he did indeed teach that homosexual behavior was not in accordance with the gospel. There is continuity between the Old and New Testaments on that point. Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Isaiah, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, Romans, and Jude all address this. Yes, there are practices in the Bible that are not required of us now. Expectations and commandments were clarified by Christ and his apostles.
Up to this point, I believe everything I've said would be agreed with by pretty much all Christians (correct me if I'm wrong). However, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe there is more.
I don't believe that the Bible contains everything that God has ever said to mankind. I don't believe all of Christ's teachings and expectations were only given during his ministry in the Holy Land. As I've talked about before on this blog, Mormons believe that God has called prophets all over the world throughout history. We believe after his resurrection, Christ ministered in more places than just Jerusalem--possibly all over the world. And we do not believe that God stopped speaking or calling prophets and apostles to witness of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We believe there are still prophets and apostles on the earth today.
In some ways, the belief in current prophets and continuing revelation from God to humanity is the most important part. Because while the Bible is wonderful and Mormons obviously consider it scripture, God has more guidance for our day. And, frankly, Mormons do believe that through time, parts of the Bible were passed on or translated incorrectly. Joseph Smith was given revelation about numerous specific verses in the Old and New Testament. So, Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible as it is, but there are footnotes sprinkled throughout referring to small corrections revealed to Joseph Smith. Modern-day prophets offer clarity about the scriptures, and when they speak, they provide new scripture.
While both Testaments in the Bible denote that homosexual behavior is a sin, that's not all there is to know. Homosexual identity and emotions are a reality for many people on this earth. There are questions like, in what ways can homosexuals participate in the Lord's church? What covenants can homosexuals make? Can homosexuals go to the temple? How can disciples of Christ reach out to gay people in their families and communities? Does God love gay people? Does the Atonement apply to gay people? Even if someone identifies as homosexual their entire life, can they still be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Without modern prophets, the answers to all of these questions are just human opinions.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do believe there are modern prophets. I say with all of the love I can that in accordance with both ancient and modern prophets, homosexual behavior is a sin, but homosexual identity is not. That may seem a contradiction, and to many it may seem a bit rich to say gay people should not act on their feelings. All I can say is that if you don't believe in God and you don't believe in modern prophets, then anything I say about religion will be invalid to you anyway. There are many gay Mormons in the world. They have testimonies of Jesus Christ, and they believe Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ. They believe in modern prophets. When they act and live in faith, there is no blessing or covenant that is withheld from individuals of homosexual identity. They pray and receive personal revelation. They have a relationship with God, and feel the comfort of the Atonement. In so many ways, they are braver, stronger, and more stalwart than me. And they can speak for themselves.