Sexual minority Mormon well-being, religiousness, sex positivity, and beliefs about same-sex sexuality. – 4 Options Survey
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Sexual minority Mormon well-being, religiousness, sex positivity, and beliefs about same-sex sexuality.

 Citation: Sexual minority Mormon well-being, religiousness, sex positivity, and beliefs about same-sex sexuality. The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.  Lefevor, G. T., Blaber, I. P., Huffman, C. E., Schow, R. L., Beckstead, A. L., Raynes, M., & Rosik, C. H. (in press).

See four other citations at the bottom of this summary—

Study Design


  • Orientation
    • 37% SSA
    • 13% Bi
    • 40% Gay/Lesbian
    • 10% Other
  • Measures of well being
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Life Satisfaction
    • Flourishing
  • Compared 
    • LDS (n-804) or Former LDS (n=324)
    • Religious viewpoint (Conservative to Liberal or not religious)
    • Religious activity (1x wk+ to None)

Major findings:

1. The best outcomes (well being) were in those with frequent (n=350) or no church attendance (n=320) and with moderate religious viewpoints (n=170) and in Ex LDS (n=324)  (see Table 2)

2. Positively related to well being were—

  •     Feeling resolved about conflicts between religion and sexuality
  • Authentic expression of sexuality
  • Openness about experiences of same sex attraction
  • Feeling positive about being LGBTQ/SSA

       (see Table 3)

3.  Beliefs about the etiology of same-sex attraction were largely unrelated to well-being.

4.  In contrast, beliefs about same-sex sexuality were universally and consistently related to well-being with all twelve relationships tested being significant

    a. Internalized homonegativity was positively associated with anxiety and depression and negatively associated with life satisfaction and flourishing.

    b. Positivity about being LGBQ/SSA  and being more open about experiences was negatively related to anxiety and depression, and positively related to life satisfaction and flourishing

5. Beliefs about sexual activity were also consistently related to well-being, with 17 of the 20 relationships tested being significant.

  a. The more likely participants were to experience guilt around viewing pornography and see masturbation as unacceptable, the less likely they were to experience well-being. 

  b. The more participants viewed their interest in sexuality as healthy, the greater well-being they evidenced.

  c. The more shame participants felt around looking at pornography, the more anxiety and depression they experienced. Similarly (though much less clearly from our data), the more participants felt that masturbation was acceptable, the more well-being they experienced.

Therapy implications

1. Therapists may help clients understand the impact that their views about sexuality (regardless of their engagement in same- or other-sex sexual behaviors or relationships) have on their well-being and encourage them to develop sex-positive attitudes.

2. Developing sex-positive attitudes may entail helping clients experience a healthy interest in sexuality, feel less disgust about their sexuality, and express themselves sexually in ways that feel best to the client.

2. Within the context of the LDS church and community, the discourse around sexuality focuses on restricting sexual activity rather than encouraging pleasure. This focus may foster sexual shame and inhibit sexual identity development, making it more difficult to accept an LGBQ/SSA identity and leading to increased distress.

3. Therapists may help clients understand the impact negative internalized beliefs about being a sexual minority has on clients’ well-being and explore ways to appreciate the positives of being a sexual minority, regardless of how clients label their sexual identity.  

4. Those who begin to decrease their sexual shame and improve how they feel about being a sexual minority may be engaging in a process of reducing cognitive dissonance, which may enhance their well-being and ability to be open with others about their experiences. 

4. Helping clients understand how they react to their experience of same-sex attraction may be more impactful than trying to change why they believe they experience such attractions. 

5. The ways in which sexual minorities from a traditional religious background resolve their cognitive dissonance (e.g., prioritizing a sexual or religious identity) may matter less than feeling confident in their resolution of the dissonance.

4 other citations

3. +Bridges, J. G., Lefevor, G. T., & Schow, R. L. (In press). Identify affirmation and mental health among sexual minorities: A raised-Mormon sample. Journal of GLBT Family Studies.

4. Lefevor, G. T., *Blaber, I. P., *Huffman, C. E., Schow, R. L., Beckstead, A. L., Raynes, M., & Rosik, C. H. (2019). The role of religiousness and beliefs about sexuality in well-being among sexual minority Mormons. The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.

5. Lefevor, G. T., *Sorrell, S. A., *Kappers, G., *Plunk, A., *Schow, R. L., Rosik, C. H., & Beckstead, A. L. (in press). Same-sex attracted, not LGBQ: The implications of sexual identity labelling on religiosity, sexuality, and health among Mormons. The Journal of Homosexuality.

6. +Bridges, J. G., Lefevor, G. T., & Schow, R. L. (In press). Sexual satisfaction and mental health in mixed-orientation relationships: A Mormon sample of sexual minority partners. Journal of Bisexuality.