Nova Religio
Converging on the Heterosexual Dyad: Changing Mormon and Adventist Sexual Norms and Implications for Gay and Lesbian Adherents
Laura L. Vance


Nineteenth-century sexual ideals in Mormonism and Seventh-day Adventism differed: Adventism proscribed sexual expression, even in marriage, and Latter-day Saints encouraged marriage and sexual expression in addition to that sanctioned by the wider society, especially in polygamy. Nonetheless, each movement justified sexual norms by asserting that sexual expression lessened vital force, or physical well-being. In the face of changing societal sexual and gender norms——especially resulting from the sexual revolution, the modern feminist movement, and the gay rights movement——Adventism's and Mormonism's definitions of appropriate sexual expression converged to promote sex in heterosexual marriage. Concomitantly, homosexuality was explicitly and publicly defined as sinful and antithetical to, even threatening, heterosexual marriage and family. This paper explores the convergence of sexual ideals in Mormonism and Adventism, with attention to explicit proscription of homosexuality, responses to homosexuality and homosexuals in each movement, and implications of these for gay and lesbian adherents.

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