Youth Religious Practice and Health Benefits

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Youths who regularly attend religious services, pray or meditate may get a well-being boost that sticks around into young adulthood, according to a new Harvard study that joins a body of research showing benefits from religiosity.

Senior author and epidemiologist Tyler J. VanderWeele knows most people don’t make decisions about religion based on health, but rather on beliefs, values, experiences and relationships. “However, for parents and children who already hold religious beliefs, such religious and spiritual practices could be encouraged both for their own sake as well as to promote health and well-being,” said Vanderweele, a professor in Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study, by VanderWeele and Harvard research scientist Ying Chen, is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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Among the findings, youths who attended religious services at least weekly as children and adolescents were:

  • About 18 percent more apt to report higher happiness between ages 23-30 than those who didn’t
  • 29 percent more likely to be volunteers
  • 33 percent less likely to use illegal drugs

Those who prayed or meditated at least daily as kids were, as young adults:

  • 16 percent more likely to report higher happiness
  • 30 percent less likely to have sex at a young age
  • 40 percent less likely to have a sexually transmitted disease

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The researchers said while adult literature indicates worship service attendance has greater impact on health, compared to meditation and prayer, for youths the benefits are equal or perhaps even slightly less.

“One possible explanation is religious attendance patterns may be shaped by parents, but prayer and meditation may reflect their own beliefs, Chen said.

You may read the rest of the article here.

Latter-day Saints do well, according to the 2013 Pew Research data:

Same-Sex Attraction (SSA), Sexual Fluidity, and the LDS Church

To start, perhaps the best resource is this:

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Elder Christofferson’s brother, Tom, is gay.   Watch this Apostle discuss the authentic feelings LGBT people experience in this segment: “Feelings are Real and Authentic“.

Elder Christofferson is further welcoming in this video: “Is There a Place for Me?

Please watch many, many videos about this topic.  You’ll be glad you did.  You’ll learn a lot.  Many videos can be found here.


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Ty Mansfield is the co-founder  of Northern Lights. Ty has written many articles, book chapters, and has published at least 2 books on the subject.

Ty was interviewed by Laura Hales on the LDS Perspectives Podcast:  Homosexuality and the Gospel

I watched this presentation (given in 2014) of Ty, and appreciated his perspectives. In addition to sharing his experiences and providing many helpful definitions, Ty shared published and widely known (among those in the field) data  regarding LGBTQ issues.

Lisa Diamond’s (who is also lesbian) studies are specifically discussed around the 20:25 mark.

For several minutes Ty cited Lisa Diamond, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah.  Ty uses the exact same data and slides that Dr. Diamond uses in her own presentations.  Dr. Diamond is a recognized expert in sexual fluidity, especially among women.  Dr. Diamond gave this lecture — Sexual Fluidity in Men and Women — in 2013 at Cornell.

Dr. Diamond’s data below:

According to a 2002 study, 14% of all women and 7% of all men reported some level of Same-Sex Attraction (SSA).

Among that group reporting some level of SSA, most men (79%) and nearly all women (95%) reported attraction “mostly other sex.”  You see, this isn’t exclusive SSA.

In fact, only 21% of men and 5% of women with SSA were exclusively attracted to the same sex.  In other words, almost no women reported being exclusive lesbians.

Change in exclusive same-sex attraction in the U.S. population over the years (2002-2010).  Never 3% for men and never 1.5% for women.

More people report being bisexual (especially women on the right side), but the number of exclusive SSA (in black) is fairly constant.

Much of this data surprised me.  I think the reason I was surprised is because this topic is so political and only an extreme view of this issue is all that is acceptable to the media and “polite” society. The data show a much more complete picture.

The vast majority of those with SSA prefer sexual relationships with the opposite sex (despite SSA).  That is, those with SSA don’t prefer same-sex relationships. That is what current research overwhelmingly and consistently shows.

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Dr. Diamond, points out fluidity or change even among those who at one point report they only desire the same sex.  Even folks who claim to be “strict” heterosexuals — when given the private opportunity — report attractions to the same sex.

Dr. Diamond in early 2018 discusses gender fluidity.  Many people seem to have an openness to what isn’t their “standard thing”, says Dr. Diamond.

“A consistent pattern of attraction (heterosexuality or homosexuality) doesn’t necessarily rule out the capacity to have an experience that runs counter to that pattern.”

So, human sexuality is complex.  It’s not as simple as some would say:  “I was born that way. An entire group of people were born this way and we don’t change.”  Those two statements are simply not true. We shouldn’t ignore the data above.

We shouldn’t ignore the data, but neither should we be mean.  Fortunately, we no longer persecute LGBT folks. We should love and support all people, no matter the differences between us.

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An article, highlighting the sexual fluidity among gays and even certain “heterosexuals”.  Rigid labels need to be relaxed. “Born that way” hardly communicates the real complexity of SSA and human sexuality.

David Matheson is an author and psychotherapist who runs the Center for Gender Wholeness in Holladay, Utah.  David has worked with gay male clients for 20 years on the East and West Coasts, and more recently Utah.

His clients are those — mostly from a wide range of religious backgrounds (but some non-religious) — who no longer wish to be attracted to the same sex and no longer want the gay lifestyle.

David provides therapy to SSA men whose goal is to shift in attraction toward females.  His approach is ethical.  He knows he can’t help those who don’t want to change.   Many change.  Some don’t.  He always leaves on good terms with his clients, no matter the outcome.  No shaming.

FAIR Examination 7: Therapy and same-sex attraction–David Matheson

I believe our LDS leaders have long followed the correct pattern: encourage families and love all people, no matter their differences.  Our leaders don’t hate gays.  And they and LDS members are getting better at communicating on this topic.

The Gospel is true.  We all struggle with different aspects, but will be happier if we do our (flawed) best to live the restored Gospel.

Insightful presentation by William Duncan following the Prop 8 contest in California: