There is a lot of strong feelings going around both between non-members and members of the LDS church this week because of a recent change in the church’s handbook on how to handle baptism children of same-sex marriage (homosexual couples). I, myself, was initially troubled about this and wrestled my emotions with it. But, now that I’ve had a bit to think, ponder, pray, research, and ask friends of multiple walks of life, I feel more comfortable about it.
First and foremost, the LDS Church believes that the family unit is the most important building block of humanity. There is a very famous quote we have: “Whatever wounds and breaks the family, wounds and breaks the world; whatever lifts and saves the family, lifts and saves the world.”
The first glimpse anyone got of this new policy change was through newspapers, blogs, and newstations commenting on a leaked information. So, I had to do my research into actual church documents and sites to make sure it wasn’t a hoax. And, as we all know, the media loves to blow things out of proportion and out of context. Here is the actual change:
1) Children living with parents in a same-sex marriage may not receive a name and a blessing.
This is not a required ordinance, but rather, typically the first father’s blessing a child receives, and it begins a church record for the child, as well as the expectation for the child to attend all church services and meetings. It does not exclude these children from receiving blessings of comfort or healing!! Anyone, even non-Mormons, are allowed these if they so chose!
2) Children living with parents in a same-sex marriage may be baptized, confirmed, ordained to the priesthood, and go on a mission under these guidelines:
~ They have approval from the First Presidency
~ They accept all the teachings of the church, including disavowing same-sex marriage (NOT their parents…but members of the Church do believe that acting on homosexual tendencies is a sin)
~ They are of legal age (18) and not living with their same-sex married parents
3) Those participating in same-sex marriages are considered apostates.
Again, this should be no surprise–the church regards acting on homosexuality as a sin…we don’t believe that you are a sinner if you are homosexual, we just believe acting on it is.
After further reading and further thought, I realized this policy is pro-family and pro-gay! Think about it. If *Sally* was adopted by two former Mormons, *Bridget* and *Jane* who had to leave the church because they decided to get married, but wanted *Sally* who is only 8 years old to go to church and be baptized in the LDS church, what tension might that cause at home. At church, *Sally* will be taught that the only appropriate, celestial, God-approved marriage is between one man and one woman, and the only way families can be together forever is by that one man and one woman being sealed for eternity in the LDS temple. *Sally* comes home and realizes that her moms and her won’t be able to be an eternal family and that her moms are sinning. Imagine the inner turmoil *Sally* must have because she absolutely loves her moms and her moms are amazing and kind parents! Can you really expect an 8 year old, or even a minor at any age to take that weight upon them by entering into covenants with the Lord to live and obey all His commandments? This policy is helping to avoid that.
We believe that families are the most important thing. We want to avoid contention, resentment, and hatred within families that may be in these situations. We don’t want children of same-sex couples to be taught one thing at church and one thing at home that don’t agree with each other. The entire family, children and homosexual parents, are invited to come and worship with us on Sundays and participate in all activities. We want to fellowship them. We want to preserve their families. So, we believe that it would be better for the child to be more mature and understand the Gospel and all it requires of the child before being baptized. It’s not restricting these ordinances and blessings from the child, but it is only delaying it so that they can mature and fully understand the covenants they are to make and keep.
The Church has long been respectful to parental authority and cultural influences. Any child between the ages of 8-18 who wishes to be baptized must have parental approval. Even me, who was born into the church and whose family has been in the church for generations, needed my parents to approve my 8-year-old baptism. There are many polygamous families in the west. They aren’t Mormon and we don’t consider them part of the LDS Church. And yet, these exact same requirements that are now in place for children of same-sex parents have been in place for children of polygamous relationships for decades! This is because if they are baptized into the LDS Church, they must realize that their parents are disobeying God by disobeying the law of the land and participating in polygamy. Imagine the fuel between both parents and children who both believe they are doing the Lord’s will? Also, Muslims have special circumstances too. If a Muslim wants to be baptized into the LDS Church, the Church has to be positive that no jihad or honor killings will occur to that individual or their family. The Church would rather protect their life and the lives of their family rather than increase it’s size.
Going along with that stem of thought, many people see the Church as a “corporation” focusing only on numbers and getting more tithing money. This is a totally false thought. If it was, why this policy that is sure to cause heartache and some people to fight against it?
I am still saddened by the effect of this new policy. Not because I think it was wrong for our leaders to do it, not because I doubt it was God-directed, not because I disagree with it, but because I know it will cause heartache to others who are in this situation. But, that is part of my baptismal covenants: to mourn with those who mourn.
However, I do believe with all my heart, this policy, however worded and however received, comes from a place of love and hope.
My husband has a good friend who is openly gay, but has decided not to act upon it because of his belief in the LDS church. I wanted his opinion on the matter and this is what he told me via Facebook:
I am at peace with the issue. I have no issue with the policy. What I have issue with (and it’s not unique to this) is the anger that surrounds the discussions on it. I hate all the anger on both sides. I have heard it said about same-sex attraction and related issues that this will be one of those sifting issues of our time. People will have to choose a side, the Lord and His servants or the world and its philosophies. It’s sad to say that we may lose members of the church for these kinds of things… But that’s part of the sifting process.
A month ago during General Conference we sustained the brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators. Now we’ve heard something from them that is hard to hear. Whether we feel for the kids, the LGBT community, or whoever, this need not be a destroyer of testimony.
If you are struggling with the new policies, I invite you to read it the words of the prophets and apostles, read the Book of Mormon, read your patriarchal blessing, and then once you’ve immersed yourself in the word of God, pray to Him, as Moroni directs “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
It is my testimony and my witness that the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, will bless you with a witness of the authority and the validity of His servants if you are true of heart and intent. And as you refresh your witness of the Lord’s servants, you will know that their actions and their decisions in directing the Lord’s kingdom (including instituting the new policies last week) are according to he perfect will of the Lord.
Even if we don’t understand the Lord’s decisions, we can trust that He loves His children and He will never do anything that will be a detriment to their eternal progression and salvation.
I have also asked my good LDS blogger friend, Britt Hanson, for her input. Britt’s father (who no longer attends the LDS Church) just celebrated his same-sex marriage to his partner. So, I thought it’d be interesting to get her opinion as well.
When Tayler asked me to write a couple of paragraphs for her blog post I thought, hmmm, I can do that. And then I started writing and then it started becoming a novel and then I decided to really just pare what I think down into two parts. Perhaps I will write my own blog post later and include more of what I wrote, or maybe I will just keep my thoughts as a journal entry and never share them. I haven’t decided yet. No matter what I do with the rest of my thoughts, here are the two that I want to share with you today:
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the TRUE church on the Earth today. I’ve had it manifested to me through the Spirit multiple times, and it has always just felt like “home” to me. I love our leaders, and I believe that they are in direct communication with God. I believe that Christ is at the head of this church. And with this testimony I can weather whatever policies or doctrine or anything else that may come up, “new” or “old”. Because I know this is the true church, and because I also know that “[His] thoughts are not our thoughts”. Even if I do not understand, maybe I’m not meant to.
I understand where people are coming from, I do. At least partly. My own father is gay, and is married to his partner, and I have no ill feelings towards them or anyone else who identifies as gay or lesbian. I’ve had my own experiences with that that I won’t go into. But, from those experiences and from my own knowledge and from my own learning, I know that these new changes are coming from a place of love, not hate. I feel for those that feel otherwise, but I do not feel that way. This was done to keep families together, not tear them apart.
In closing, I want to say one more thing. And that is this: while others may feel like the church will “change their mind” and will be allowing same-sex marriages in the future, etc., I do not believe that at all. One of the core doctrines of the church is that marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. In this current time, same-sex marriage is such a big part of what is happening in our country. You can hardly read anything that doesn’t somehow tie back into LGBT and rights and laws, etc. I’m not saying that spitefully, just as a fact. And so, with this policy change, the church is making 100% clear their stance on gay marriage. Not to be hateful, not to discriminate, but simply to make it clear where we stand. And for that I am grateful. This world is becoming ever increasingly grey, and I’m grateful for the black and white of the Gospel.
Here are some good links with more about this change:
The First Presidency of the LDS Church explains their reasons
Mormonsandgays.org (The church’s official site for homosexual members)
Elder Christofferson’s explanation of the policy (he is one of our leaders)
LDS.net’s 9 Myths about the policy
Deseret News’s coverage on the policy
A Mormon Daughter of Lesbians’s point of view on the policy
A Gay Mormon’s View on the policy
FAIR Mormon’s view on the policy
I love this view of love and trusting in Christ by Danica
It’s True, Isn’t It?
Robert D. Hales
That is why we must study and pray. Having the eternal plan as a goal in our lives, we will make eternal choices. However, we will not make the right eternal choices based solely on our pure intellectual deduction and factual analysis from our own understanding: Prayer and study must be used together to build knowledge and wisdom.
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
The Savior has asked us to do the things which He has done, to bear one another’s burdens, to comfort those who need comfort, to mourn with those who mourn, to feed the hungry, visit the sick, to succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.”
And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
Dallin H. Oaks
Our Savior experienced and suffered the fulness of all mortal challenges “according to the flesh” so He could know “according to the flesh” how to “succor [which means to give relief or aid to] his people according to their infirmities.” He therefore knows our struggles, our heartaches, our temptations, and our suffering, for He willingly experienced them all as an essential part of His Atonement. And because of this, His Atonement empowers Him to succor us—to give us the strength to bear it all.
** Please keep comments civil. Your opinion is valued, but if there is any hate or discrimination on any side, your comment WILL be deleted.**