There’s more to say about the mysterious 1982 letter on oral sex from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
There is no way to view the original document. It cannot be retrieved from LDS Church Headquarters without proper authorization. A copy of the letter can be found online, but be aware that this letter was not intended to be released to the public and any copies found may have been doctored. Most importantly, it was never canonized as any kind of scripture.
After analyzing a more complete copy of the letter that is being circulated, it is my personal conclusion that the letter itself may have been tampered with.
Grammatically the whole sentence starting with “The First Presidency has interpreted…” seems to come out of nowhere. It reads too much like it was added after the fact. The very next sentence “If a person is engaged in…” picks up like the previous one never existed. The whole document is structurally congruent except for that one sentence.
Another inconsistency that I observed was that the sentence right before “The First Presidency has interpreted…” emphasizes to the leaders to give “counseling without going into clinical detail”, and then the very next sentence jumps right into a very intimate, clinical detail. It was a very jarring contradiction. As I was reading it, I was hearing that Sesame Street song going through my head – “One of these things is not like the other, c’mon now, can you tell which one?”
When dealing with apocryphal documents of this sort being circulated, one thing that we have to keep in mind is the example of the missing 116 pages from the Book of Lehi. The 116 pages of translation were stolen while in the possession of Martin Harris. This account can be found in the book “Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” on page 8.
Joseph Smith was commanded by God not to re-translate those pages. Now that they were potentially in the hands of those that wanted to destroy the church, they could be manipulated in a way that would be used to discredit the work that Joseph Smith had done. (Doctrine and Covenants 10:10-12) Since this letter has been circulated on the Internet by questionable sources, I have to conclude that a similar situation could exist in this case. Manipulating the letter with today’s technology would be easy to do.
Even if I’m wrong, there are other factors to consider here. After reading this letter, my memory was jogged to another inconsistency. If oral sex in marriage was even a minor sin, President Kimball (who’s shown as having signed the letter) would have mentioned it in “The Miracle of Forgiveness.”
Spencer W. Kimball was the champion of the law of chastity in the 70’s and 80’s. If President Kimball felt that oral sex in marriage was immoral, unnatural, unholy or impure in any degree, why wouldn't he spell it out in his book.
It was not in his book, nor is the denouncement of oral sex in marriage found in any Church Conference talk anywhere, at any time.
Reason causes me to conclude that the part of the letter that says, “The First Presidency has interpreted oral sex as constituting an unnatural, impure and unholy practice.” is suspect, to say the least, and thus cannot be taken as official Church doctrine on the subject.
For those who may want more historical background on the “oral sex”
letter and what happened afterward, as well as the Church’s current
stand on sexual practices in marriage, this link gives good
is an article written by Romel Mackelprang, a former professor at BYU. His article talks about a follow up letter that was sent by the first presidency that essentially rescinds the first. It also concurs with my belief and understanding of the Church’s
current position on sexual practices in marriage - including oral sex. I
would especially recommend reading pages 60-61 of the article, entitled “And They
Shall Be One Flesh: Sexuality and Contemporary Mormonism.”