Consequences, Intended or Otherwise, in Light of the Update

Bagley A few days ago, after the new policies were leaked but before the First Presidency clarified them, I posted a list of possible consequences of the policies here. This post reproduces my list, crossing out those scenarios no longer possible in light of the First Presidency letter. I also made some updates (in bold print). Then I add some general thoughts at the end.

(A note in response to some questions in the comments regarding the “past tense” situations I describe below:

The language of the policy refers to “a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship” and “a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.” There are no qualifications on the “has lived,” even if that be before the child is born or before the parent is a member of the church.

The idea that this policy covers not just the parent’s current living arrangement but also their past living arrangements is in there not once but twice and, in the second iteration, its applicability to past relationships is emphasized by way of contrast with the phrase “currently lives.” The plain meaning of the language is that it applies to any gay cohab/marriage in the parent’s past. If the policy was not actually intended to apply to past relationships, then the language used is inaccurate. This post addresses the policy as written, not our assumptions about what was really intended.)

  1. Say that a woman has a cohabitating relationship with another woman while in college. Years later, she considers returning to full activity in the church, but is aware that any children she might have–even after a temple marriage–would not be allowed to be baptized. I presume this would be a strong disincentive for her to return to church. If she does, the entire ward will know about her past as they watch her children not be members. (Do you think this will lead to speculation and gossip?)
  2. How do transgender people fit into all of this? What determines whether they are in a same-gender relationship: physical body, chromosomes, how they present themselves socially, legal gender, or what?
  3. I’ve seen comments to the effect of “children in this situation can still have the light of Christ.” It seems to me that every time this is said, our belief in the importance of the gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is diminished.
  4. I’ve also seen comments to the effect of “God will work it all out.” While I believe that it is ultimately true that God will work everything out with a perfect blend of mercy and justice, I’m concerned that saying that in this situation leads to a culture where we don’t bother so much about the effects of our actions on other people since God will fix it all eventually.
  5. Elder Christofferson said that, for children who cannot be baptized, “Nothing is lost to them in the end if that’s the direction they want to go.” I am pretty sure that his meaning was that, in an eternal sense, there will be no difference a thousand years from now whether you were baptized at 8 or at 18. However, I have to admit that it makes it a little harder for me to get out of my bed at 5:45am every day to take my child to seminary if nothing will be lost to him in the end if he is not active in the church as a teenager. (Of course, I don’t actually believe that.) But I do wonder where we end up as a church culture if the idea that teenage involvement in the church is not thought to be of crucial importance.
  6. Gay marriage has been legal in various areas where the church is organized for more than a decade. Gay cohabitation has been going on since time immemorial and more publicly for at least a generation. The fact that this policy was only implemented now suggests to many people that the church leaders only really care about or are aware about what is happening in the US. (I don’t believe that this is true, but I think the timing creates that impression.) This belief makes it more difficult for members to remain faithful.
  7. To many people, this looks like a “hateful” and “bigoted” policy. While I do not believe that the Brethren have a single hateful or bigoted bone in their bodies (there are 3,090 bones in the Q12 and FP, if you were wondering), the policy and its roll out can create that impression. How might things have played out differently had the policy been accompanied by admonitions to donate to organizations which help homeless gay teens or a reminder of the need to convey God’s love to gay people?
  8. There is a certain number of LDS temple marriages out there–probably a small number, but still–where one spouse is unaware that the other had a gay cohab before marriage. I suspect those marriages may be ruined if that partner now has to tell the other partner that their children cannot be baptized. (Or will they keep it a secret?)
  9. To the extent that one accepts Elder Christofferson’s argument that the policy is designed to limit harms to these children but one also recognizes the harms caused to other people (including the always-faithful LGBT people who feel alienated in the church or the parents who now suffer from the choices of their ex spouses), one has accepted a utilitarian calculus in weighing policies. There are obviously some advantages to that calculus, but . . . there we go again, treating some people as if their suffering is an acceptable cost to advance other ends.
  10. I don’t buy the argument that the Brethren are clueless and out of touch. Which means that I presume they knew that this policy would lead to many disaffections from the church and make conversion much more difficult. They apparently thought the policy’s benefits were worth this cost. But the only official rationale for it is to avoid cognitive dissonance in children. Another cost of the policy is that presumably some of those who cannot be baptized at eight will never be baptized and go down a different path. In sum, this policy shows that avoiding cognitive dissonance is really, really important to be worth incurring those costs. To what other situations might LDS decide to apply this principle? Will a woman with a nonmember husband decide it is better not to take her kids to church?
  11. I have a Primary-aged child. I can imagine him sharing the gospel with a friend. I can imagine him asking me if his friend can meet with the missionaries. What I have a harder time imagining is me asking (who: my son? his friend? his friend’s parents?) if the parents are now or have ever lived in a gay relationship. So I suspect this new policy will put a damper on member missionary work.
  12. I, like you and everyone else, live in a bubble. But there are really faithful, orthodox, totally committed to the church people in my bubble, people who oppose same sex marriage. And many, many of them are having a crisis of faith over this policy the likes of which I have never seen in my life. These people will by and large stay in the church, but something has happened to them as a result of this policy. I suspect a lower level of commitment to the institution, a lower level of trust in its leaders, and, perhaps, a lower likelihood of staying faithful when the next challenge (whether that is a personal issue or whatever) comes.
  13. I’m already hearing stories of parents filing to change their custody arrangement; they are concerned that their current joint custody might result in their child being denied church membership. It is also not hard for me to imagine situations where, in a divorce, the faithful LDS parent demands/requests/maneuvers the gay parent out of the child’s life and/or the gay parent (who in many cases still has a great love for the church) removes him or herself from the child’s life in order not to jeopardize the child’s membership in the church. (In other words: if I have no idea what my mom is doing, her gay marriage can’t affect my future in the church.) Update: the First Presidency letter refers to “primary residence.” So the concern now is not any contact, but primary residency.
  14. Imagine two young men being interviewed for missionary service. In answer to the bishop’s question about same-sex marriage, they both say, “Well, honestly, bishop, I don’t have strong feelings about the legality of it, but of course I am committed to the law of chastity in all respects and have a strong testimony of it.” Most bishops will recommend for service a kid who gives this answer . . . unless his parents are gay married, in which case the bishop cannot. This is a very odd double standard.
  15. There are so many odd situations that might spring up: what if a child lives in a gay-married foster home before being adopted by LDS folks? (In fact, would that background make them less likely to be adopted by LDS people?) What if a child’s legal guardian is a gay married grandmother or other non-parent relative–does the policy impact her?
  16. Because of the emphasis on living arrangements, there is an economic aspect to this policy that troubles me. If I’m a 23-year-old who can afford my own place, I can be baptized, but if my budget only permits living with my moms, I can’t. If I’m a gay dad who can afford two addresses, I can present my still-active-ex-wife with a plausible story for the bishop, but if I can’t, my kids can’t be baptized.
  17. One part of this policy is that disavowing one’s family member’s gay marriage/cohab is a requirement for baptism. To what extent will Mormon culture develop in terms of disavowing the gay relationships of people other than one’s own children? And what will disavowal look like?
  18. Most of this policy relies for enforcement on what a bishop (or mission president) knows about a child’s situation. I wonder if bishops will be tempted to develop blinders; I wonder if members will become adept at hiding things. I can imagine a situation where a temple marriage ends in divorce and the still-faithful parent begs the other parent to please create some plausible deniability regarding their gay living arrangement, such as maintaining two addresses. Update: this only now applies where the gay parent has primary custody. And will bishops be asking 7-year-olds about their parents’ sexual history update: custody arrangement in baptism interviews? Will people move to a new area and lie about their ex’s past update: custody arrangement (and coach their kids to lie)? Or might we start annotating membership records? What happens when we find out about a baptism done in violation of the rules–will it be “annulled”?
  19. One premise of the new policy is that, as Elder Christofferson put it, same sex marriage is “a particularly grievous or significant, serious kind of sin.” I do not doubt that it is. But my concern is that in a church where same-sex marriage bars your children from saving ordinances but many other significant and grievous sins do not, we might be therefore tempted to think that sins such as rape, murder, child abuse, etc., are actually not all that serious after all.
  20. Elder Christofferson did not say “this is a revelation. We are asking the members of the church to accept it as God’s will, as a matter of faith and as a matter of obedience to priesthood authority.” Instead, he explained it as being done to protect children from cognitive dissonance. In other words, he provided a rational reason–not a spiritual justification–for the policy. He thus invited us to reason about the policy–not to accept it on faith. What are the consequences of this?
  21. I’ve seen people defend the policy, but I have seen no one defend its roll out. Apparently church leaders thought a policy could be put online and in print and that no one other than its intended recipients would know about it despite the fact that it was effective immediately, which means that people outside of the recipients of Handbook 1 (including, presumably, all Primary Presidents and Young Men leaders and missionaries and anyone directly affected by the policy) would have to know about it.The Newsroom announced a response would come Friday at 3 or 3:30pm  . . . which became 7:30pm . . .  which was actually about 9:30pm. The roll out does not inspire confidence in the leaders’ understanding of the members, which diminishes the members’ confidence in the leaders.
  22. Imagine a woman gay cohabs in her 20s. She meets the missionaries and joins the church. She is endowed and holds a recommend. Per this policy, her children cannot be blessed or baptized. Who is going to be willing to marry her when their children cannot be baptized? What kinds of cultural trends might develop in the wake of this situation? Will people feel obligated to get confirmation of domestic histories before marriage?
  23. How will the apologetics over this policy develop? Will folks say that the children of gay married parents must have been less righteous in the pre-mortal life?
  24. Tom Christofferson has shared his story of living most of his adult life in a gay relationship and then feeling a desire to attend church, despite still being partnered to a man. After a few years of attending his ward as an excommunicated man, he decided to end his relationship with his partner and be re-baptized. Will this new policy make situations like his less likely?
  25. The book King Leopold’s Ghost presented me with a shocking realization: the nearly unfathomably cruel way that Europeans treated Africans in the early 20th century was, in large part, based on their belief that since God had denied baptism to the Africans (since they lacked the opportunity for it) and thus condemned them to hell, there was no particular objection to treating such people poorly; rather, it would only affirm God’s judgment of them. I worry that a much milder version of this will happen in the LDS community. Even without intent, it is easy to imagine the Primary teacher or YM leader or whomever devoting their (limited) attention to the child who will be able to get baptized or will be able to be ordained or will be able to go on the temple trip next week–especially since the child of gay parents will not be on the rolls.
  26. In situations where a child is not being baptized or ordained or attending the temple, there will be questions. The option is for the parent to reveal their sexual history update: arrangements to the ward or for the assumption to be that the child lacks the desire to participate. I wonder how families will negotiate that.
  27. Either this policy will result in virtually no children of gay parents being involved in the church or it will result in their presence as a class unto themselves. I’m wondering what it will do to a ward’s culture to have people who are not on the same track as everyone else. (I suppose we’ve been down this road before with members of African descent.) I’m not sure what it looks like on the ground when eight kids in the Primary and three in YM/YW aren’t baptized/ordained and can’t be. We do a lot of cheer leading at church about things like baptisms and temple trips and the like–and rightly so. I suspect that cheer leading will all but disappear in wards where a child of gay parents is present and it will likely be muted everywhere else, since a teacher or leader does not normally know the circumstances of the children in her midst. I’ve read too many notices in lesson manuals about being sensitive to the home circumstances of children to think I could, if teaching Primary, ever again go whole-hog on how very, very, very, important and wonderful baptism is.
  28. How will missionaries handle these rules? Will the questions about the investigators’ parents’ past behavior update: living arrangements await the baptismal interview, or will the missionaries bring this issue up earlier in the process in order to avoid complication? (Either way, this means that the investigator will need to be aware of and comfortable with this policy in order to be baptized; will this be a stumbling block?)
  29. Many kids these days are pretty fluid in their sexual expression. It is not hard to imagine a situation 30 years down the road where a huge portion of the pool of investigators needs to be told that any of their future children will not be able to be blessed and baptized. I can’t imagine what effect that ends up having; I presume it means that many won’t be baptized. But I can fathom a situation in 50 years where 20 or 30% of the Primary kids cannot be members of the church. So see #26.
  30. Elder Christofferson offered a fundamentally different understanding of baby blessings than the one I had. I was under the impression that it was a sort of “welcome to the world, baby girl–God loves you and we do, too!” kind of a thing. But he made it sound more like an event which triggered church membership; I had always thought of baptism in this way. I’m curious about the implications of his position in terms of how we think about baby blessings, baptisms, and church membership in general. I wonder if there will be a reluctance to to bless babies from home situations where their future relationship with the church is less likely.
  31. Elder Christofferson also implied that an expectation that a child of gay parents would be in Primary “is likely not going to be an appropriate thing in the home setting.” I’m wondering if we are to develop a culture where we don’t expect children of gay parents (or other serious sinners?) to be in Primary. What does that imply for Primary?
  32. There is (at least) one significant difference between the policy of children of polygamy and children of gay marriage: children of polygamy can be baptized as minors (if they live in a non-polygamous house); children of gay marriage/cohabs cannot be baptized as minors regardless of their living arrangement. This suggests something; I’m not sure what.
  33. Here’s how Elder Christofferson explains the ban on blessings and baptism for children: “We don’t want there to be the conflicts that that would engender. We don’t want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the Church are very different.” This sounds to me as if it would be wrong to bring a child to church if they had a gay parent. Is that how members and leaders will interpret it? But later, he says in reference to blessings of healing: “We would expect that to be done throughout their lifetime, from infancy on as long as that’s the desire of the parents and of the child. That’s something we are anxious to provide.” So one presumes a conflict there; I’m not sure how people will resolve that: should or should not the child of gay parents have experiences which expose them to the gospel and priesthood?
  34. I take Elder Christofferson at his word that the purpose of the policy is to reduce cognitive dissonance. However, if the child is involved with the church in any way, that cognitive dissonance will still be there. Actually, it will now be increased because not only will there be the “my parents are gay married but the church says that that is wrong” cognitive dissonance, but there will also be the “the church says baptism and ordination and the gift of the Holy Spirit are really important, but I can’t have them” cognitive dissonance. What am I missing that justifies increasing the cognitive dissonance?
  35. It’s not a secret that this policy has generated anger. This has largely been in the abstract (as a matter of the policy) or vicariously (as one or two stories hit the Internet of baptism or ordination denied). But I suspect that at some point, virtually every ward will deal with this policy within their own boundaries. Update: less likely that “every ward” will, but many will. I just don’t know how the Saints will react to that. Obviously, there are situations that arise (say, a parent refusing permission to baptize) that might frustrate the heck out of the ward family, but in that case the target is the recalcitrant parent, not the institutional church.
  36. How does this play out in blended families? In this example, some of the children in the household are eligible for baptism and ordination while others are not. How will families negotiate that? (Would they really have a FHE lesson about baptism in the presence of a child who could not be baptized?) Will they just shrink from activity? Update: this scenario will affect fewer, but still is possible, depending on the primary residence of the children.
  37. We are now in the odd situation where the missionaries (or bishop, in the case of ordination or missionary recommendation) are more concerned about your parents’ sexual history than your own–theirs has longer-lasting repercussions than yours does. Update: there is still some weirdness here in that my parents would have to be willing to repent before *I* can be baptized. I can’t help but think that this will impact how we think about sexual sin and sin in general. Some sins will impact your children for decades, but may impact you much less. (If I gay cohabbed for a few months, I could then repent and go to the temple–no permanent impact on my status in the church. But my children–not so much.) To put it mildly, this is theologically weird. Mormons are good at generating theology to explain policy; I wonder what members will make up to justify this.
  38. There will be situations where a child who is born in the covenant cannot be blessed or baptized. What will that do to our thinking about families and sealings? Can a child be sealed to parents in a situation where the child cannot be blessed or baptized?
  39. There will be new thinking about the age of accountability. Are these non-baptized kids still accountable? Will it encourage them to sin with the thought that they haven’t taken on covenants and/or are not regarded as accountable by the church? Will every talk and lesson about the importance of covenant keeping remind them that they are under no such obligation?
  40. There will be a cadre of missionaries (and marriages) where, because the missionary was baptized at age 18, he or she has no experience with the temple, with the gift of the Spirit, with exercising the priesthood, etc. It strikes me that this will be a loss to that person’s ability to be a missionary. And in wards with nonmember kids present, teachers may be tempted to downplay the role that these things can play in preparing one to serve a mission.
  41. A 20-year-old cannot live in the home of her temple-married parents if she wants to be approved for missionary service if either parent ever gay cohabed. What are the doctrinal and cultural implications of this?
  42. Let’s say you are a bishop and you have in your office a 20-year-old child of gay parents who wants to serve a mission. This will, per the policy, require her to move out of her home. It is easy to imagine the bishop arranging for her to live with her friend for a few weeks and conducting her interview during that window. Problem solved? Well, maybe. But it also means that local leaders and members have accepted the principle that sometimes the Handbook has to be “gamed” or one has to look for loopholes. This does not bode well for how we read and apply the handbook in other instances. Other bishops will not, I suspect, look kindly on young adults who move back in with gay parents at some future point (which means that financial or health reversals get really complicated).
  43. There are no church-mandated repercussions for the children of a gay man who has a different partner every night of the week, which means that this policy encourages gay promiscuity. Given that the church considers gay sex in any context to be sinful, it may not seem like this would matter much. However, I think we have an obligation to be a light unto the world and to help improve things even if only to a small extent. And, especially because our primary concern in terms of this policy is not the righteousness of the gay man but the effect on his children, I would think that we would want their father in as stable of a relationship as possible.
  44. One of my favorite parts of Mormonism is this: every time I have been in a ward where a child was in a poor living situation, the ward went overboard in doing everything possible to help that child with whatever s/he needed and drew her/him as close to the church as possible so that s/he could see what functional families looked like and learn a better way to live. This policy suggests that that is not always the right thing to do; I wonder in what other cases wards will decide to stand down, either to avoid cognitive dissonance in the child or because the ethic of doing everything possible to rescue a child has been de-emphasized.
  45. How will the principles behind this policy be applied to other situations? Given that there are so many permutations of experience that the policy does not directly address, it should not be surprising when local leaders decide to apply the policy to other situations. For example, can a BYU student be denied an ecclesiastical endorsement if she goes home to her two moms for the summer? Should older missionaries disavow their children’s gay relationships? Should any and all members reflect their commitment to this policy by disavowing gay relationships of those they know, and what should this disavowal look like? Will people be asked to renounce other people’s sins in other circumstances?
  46. If this list sounds like a deluge of negative outcomes, here’s a positive one: the many, many members who are troubled by this policy seem to be working double time to ensure that any gay folks and their families in their circle are shown that God’s love extends to them.

Some general thoughts:

  1. In the non-Mormon world, apostasy means “renouncing your faith.” (Heresy means “believing and/or teaching as true things that your faith community rejects.”) I’m not necessarily opposed to mandating church discipline for people who gay marry, but we need to realize that we are causing enormous confusion to the outer world when we call gay marriage “apostasy.” If a lesbian woman were to go on CNN or the BBC and say, “I believe in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Jesus Christ” and then the announcer says “The LDS Church recently excommunicated her for apostasy when she married her female partner,” the conclusion most people are going to draw is that Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Jesus Christ aren’t central to Mormonism. (I am not objecting to the church discipline; I’m objecting to labeling it apostasy.)
  2. As I said, I don’t necessarily have a problem with mandating discipline for gay marriage (for three reasons: [1] it would happen in 90% of stakes anyway, and I like consistency and dislike the potential for schism and [2] Mormons are nicer to nonmembers; we don’t so much feel that we need to give them the side eye so they know they are sinning and [3] the incompatibility of gay marriage with Mormon doctrine as presently understood). However, if we don’t mandate discipline for rapists or murderers, and if we don’t discipline Julie Rowe (footnote: it’s possible it happened but wasn’t made public) or Cliven Bundy (who claimed in an interview that there was no discipline), then there is an inconsistency that bothers me greatly.
  3. I should add one good consequence to my list above: I think the wind has been knocked out of the sails of the sentiment (a sentiment that I have frequently seen expressed in the last week) that there is no substantial difference between the handbook and the express will of God. That is a good thing.
  4. This policy, even after the First Presidency letter, still makes no sense to me. I don’t know how we can claim that the risk of cognitive dissonance is enough to justify denying saving ordinances when we already require parental consent and when we do not care about preventing cognitive dissonance in any other situation. Further, although I do not believe this was an intention of the policy (please, please let this not have been an intention of the policy), it is widely perceived as a “do not welcome” sign to LGBTQ people. Are there really that many primary-custody gay parents consenting to their children’s baptism to justify putting out that sign?
  5. These policies will only affect a very small number of children. But that doesn’t mean the policies are insignificant. If the church announced next week that “being honest in your dealings” did not apply to your dealings with companies headquartered in Topeka, Kansas and incorporated between 1950-1952 and having a gross profit of 1.4-1.8% in the last quarter, the fact that this policy affects no one does not change the fact that it is still significant as a doctrinal matter in terms of our thinking about the limits of and importance of honesty.
  6. Another positive impact of–if not the policy itself, but the reaction to it–has been some exceptionally good blogging. Consider reading this, this, and this–not just as reactions to this hubbub but as, more generally, amazingly thoughtful approaches to dealing with conflicts between church policy and one’s own thinking.

99 comments for “Consequences, Intended or Otherwise, in Light of the Update

  1. I think the message the church wishes to send is roughly as follows:

    SINGLES: You are children of God. We welcome you. We love you just as you are. But please get married and have children..

    GAYS: You are children of God. We welcome you. We love you just as you are. But please don’t get married and have children.

    If you DO get married and have children anyway we will just… um… have your local leaders convene a council for sure and subsequently… um…. not baptize the children except that local leaders can confer with us for guidance if for some reason… er… you don’t want to put your bishop in this situation do you?

  2. This question is because I’m a tax guy and we think about these things: with regards to divorced parents, how do you define primary residence? Is it number of days you spend with that parent? Is it amount of money that parent spends on you? Is it number of weeks that you spend the greater part of the week with them? Whoever takes you to church on Sunday? Is it whoever claims you first on their tax return? I can think of a lot of ways to define it, and I could probably weasel it into being whichever parent you want. Guidance please.

  3. Tim, revised: GAYS: You are children of God. We welcome you. We love you just as you are. But please don’t get married and have children. UNLESS it’s to a straight person. In which case, wow, you had better be good at pretending for the rest of your life because otherwise . . .

  4. Well, I was wrong in my prediction. Kids with a parent who came out after the closet after marrying someone of the opposite sex and having kids, and then divorcing them to cohabit with/marry someone of the same gender will still be denied baptism, priesthood ordination, and eligibility for missionary service, inasmuch as the gay parents’ houses are deemed to be primary places of residence. Also, children of openly gay parents in a relationship still have to specifically disavow gay marriage, whereas other children of non-gay parents do not. In fact they can still openly come out in support of gay marriage on social media and be fine. If the leadership is really concerned about maintaining harmony in the home environment, why don’t they include a clause that allows for children to be granted permission for baptism by the gay parent? This is double standard on the part of the leadership.

  5. Brad L:
    Baptism, priesthood ordination, and eligibility for missionary service will be delayed until age 18, not denied in perpetuity. I’ve seen children from polygamous families wait patiently until 18, renounce plural marriage, get baptized and serve missions. I have no problem with that.

    You are right on one thing. All Latter-day Saints should be required to disavow gay marriage. What is required of any convert should be required of all of us. Perhaps a temple recommend question will be fashioned. I predict we will see that happen.

  6. I’m doing my best to be in line with the spirit of the updated church letter and statement released by Brother Otterson and realize that the intent and mistakes involved are honest ones. I’m not sure how I’ll ever be ok with the judgmental attitudes of so many fellow Saints (think BOOM), or why I would want to spend eternities with such people.

  7. Angela C,

    Fair enough, but perhaps you mean “opposite gender” instead of “straight” if we’re going to be picky.

    Rereading my comment, I’m afraid it sounds much too glib. I’m not trying to make light of things. But I do think that this is roughly what the message seems to be. The leaders seem particularly concerned about gay couples marrying and raising children in the church. Maybe because of general caution and fear of the unknown (since nobody really knows how well kids would do in this situation). I’m not sure.

  8. The “clarification” that the disqualifying factors only kick in for kids in primary custody of gay parents introduces an incentive for custodial battles that was absent in the first draft of the policy.

  9. The church’s statement released today did not include the “has ever lived with” clause, as the policy states in CH1. However, they did not explicitly remove it or denounce that aspect. Until the handbook changes, you have to keep “has ever lived” with someone of the same gender on the table.

    Also, the fact that Mr. Otterson blames news stories and our interpretation of such, as the ones with the the problem is classic gas-lighting. THEIR OWN VIDEO was a large part of all of the news stories, and it failed to provide any other context than exactly how it was taken. If indeed the video explaining the policy was taken wrong, the problem is not with our interpretation, but their explanation- which has clearly deviated from the “policy from the lord” originally stated.

  10. Absolutely, gst.

    The update also complicates the “we are trying to avoid cognitive dissonance” rationale in this way: if a child is born into a faithful LDS house and baptized, but his parents divorce the next year and one of them gay cohabits, he can still be ordained when the time comes. Apparently the concerns about cog dis are outweighed by other factors in that case?

  11. Megan, I’m not sure about that. The FP letter shifts the trigger of the policy to “where the child primarily lives” and away from “what the child’s parents did/do,” so I think we’ve solved the past-tense situations.

  12. re: #30. Elder Christofferson’s comments on baby blessings seems close to what I had understood: they create provisional membership in the church, and include a commitment by the parents to prepare the child for baptism at age 8.

  13. If this disaffected murmuring hyperbole and speculation is what passes as “civility”, I’m not sure I understand how it differs in any substantive way from acrimony. Perhaps someone will give me a little hint. Is it just a matter of degree?

  14. Julie, I agree with your comment 5 (in the second set). With the clarification provided, I assume this policy will directly impact less than are impacted due to lack of parental consent. I also agree that even though it only directly impacts a few, the overall impact is much greater, but I don’t view that as a negative thing.

    As I’ve read posts and comments on LDS blogs over the past week, it’s readily apparent that there are two very distinct worldviews about sexuality, with some focusing on identity and some focusing on behavior. The disconnect makes it impossible for everyone to see the same situation in the same way.

    Consider this thought experiment: Think of all the Sunbeams in the worldwide church today. Do you believe that the exact same set of Sunbeams will eventually decide they “are gay” regardless of the world around them? If you answer yes, then you likely are upset by the church’s new policy. If you answer no, then the policy will likely seem justified.

  15. Thank you, Jim Cobabe for your thoughts!
    I just want to add that this is all classic fault-finding and is the road to apostasy as Joseph Smith warned. Most commenting on this site are looking for every conceivable reason to be offended, as the list above demonstrates. Almost everything on this list would never be an issue if we assume the church really does have the best interest of children in mind and that Bishops have a shred of common sense in applying the policy. But some don’t like the policy so they are looking for every reason to attack it.
    I want to add that the moment I read this new policy straight from Handbook 1 I knew it was the right decision. I felt the inspiration of it. It perfectly balances justice and mercy. It is of God. And as an added bonus, it exposes the wolves among the sheep.

  16. CSC is right. If you think gayness is a deadly contagion, you’d fit in very comfortably with the top LDS policymakers.

  17. Mark accuses some of “looking for every conceivable reason to be offended.”

    Like this, I guess:

    LDS mother: Bishop, why can’t my child be baptized?

    Bishop: Because his father is gay, and you share custody with him.

    LDS mother: That’s painful and confusing.

    Bishop: You’re just looking for every conceivable reason to be offended.

  18. Old Man, you miss the point, which I’ll take the occasion to spell out in more detail. The church leaders have a double standard when it comes to the question of eligibility for baptism. Church leaders will accept permission from parents and guardians who are cohabiting with the opposite gender, who are atheists, smokers, drunks, adulterers, anti-Mormons, ex-Mormons excommunicated for apostasy, etc. for their child as young as eight to be baptized. Yet a gay parent cohabiting with or married to a person of the same gender cannot even grant permission for their child to be baptized. This suggests that the motive behind the policy is not actually to maintain harmony in the family, but to take every last measure that the LDS leaders possibly can to punish openly gay people in romantic relationships with someone of the same gender, even to the extent of punishing their children (which is direct violation of the spirit of Article of Faith number 2, that people should be punished for their own transgressions, and not for those of their parents). To many believing LDS people whom I know, having the gift of the holy spirit through confirmation as early as you can is of utmost importance. Even many openly gay LDS people who are married to someone of the same gender believe this. By putting off a child’s baptism and confirmation until will after the age of accountability (especially when he/she has the parents’ permission to be baptized), you are depriving them of this most important gift, aren’t you?

    Also, I should clarify that I never said that the LDS church should ask members to disavow gay marriage. I pointed out how it is a double standard to say it is OK for the general membership to support gay marriage but then require a child of a gay-married/cohabing parent to disavow gay marriage before getting baptized, ordained, serving a mission. Bear in mind that in a March 2015 interview, Elder Christofferson did say “yes” in response to the question: “so members can hold those beliefs [in reference to beliefs that support gay marriage] even though they’re different from what you teach at the pulpit?” You’re distorting my point (and I suspect rather deliberately). If you want to engage me in discussion, at least show me the courtesy of addressing my central points.

  19. Mark and Jim Cobabe, Julie took the time to come up with a very comprehensive list of possible unfair situations. How about before dismissing this as hyperbole and offendedness that you actually read what she wrote and address the question of whether she is right or not, and then point out exactly how she is in error. Saying people just got offended is cheap and weak. It would seem that you get offended at people who don’t think that when the prophet speaks the thinking is done.

  20. Chadwick:

    I’m not sure how I’ll ever be ok with the judgmental attitudes of so many fellow Saints (think BOOM), or why I would want to spend eternities with such people.

    Chadwick, I’m doing my best to be in line with the spirit of the updated church letter but I’m not sure how I’ll ever be ok with your judgmental attitude or why I would want to spend eternities with someone like you.

  21. Mark (16) says: I want to add that the moment I read this new policy straight from Handbook 1 I knew it was the right decision. I felt the inspiration of it. It perfectly balances justice and mercy. It is of God. And as an added bonus, it exposes the wolves among the sheep.

    As for me, as I read the new (and now barely intact after clarification) policy straight from Handbook 1 I knew that a large portion of the policy was not the right decision, was not inspired, did not balance justice and mercy, and was not of God; and further I knew that it would be altered/changed/clarified. It was also reaffirmed to me that the Church is still true but that this won’t be the last mistake the Church makes.

    We’ve had a lot of talk about cognitive dissonance of late. For me, the most interesting cog diss is with those who were sure that the original policy was announced was straight from God himself, warts and all, and are now going to half to struggle to reconcile that belief with the fact that the FP has signed their names to a letter that says that much of the policy was wrong.

  22. GST,

    “CSC is right. If you think gayness is a deadly contagion, you’d fit in very comfortably with the top LDS policymakers.”

    Step 1: Take a sin (any sin)
    Step 2: Wrap it inside a layer of identity
    Step 3: Have some focus on the sin: “No one should do that.” Have others focus on the identity: “That’s who they are.”
    Result: Inability to communicate

    Like I said. Completely different worldviews.

  23. David Day,
    “barely intact” policy? “policy was wrong”? I fail to see how the clarification from the First Presidency changed the policy at all. All it did was clarify the issue so that people like those who frequent this site could not jump to wild conclusions and speculative hysteria, as the list above demonstrates so well. For any faithful member of the Church, the First Presidency just affirmed what we already knew because we trust them and have common sense when applying and interpreting Church policy.

  24. David,

    “We’ve had a lot of talk about cognitive dissonance of late. For me, the most interesting cog diss is with those who were sure that the original policy was announced was straight from God himself, warts and all, and are now going to half to struggle to reconcile that belief with the fact that the FP has signed their names to a letter that says that much of the policy was wrong.”

    I think you misunderstand how many of us look at this. It’s not that the policy was perfect. It’s that the policy came from those we believe are authorized to create church policy. Sometimes the things we are asked to do are hard. That comes with the territory. But if church leaders later provide clarification that makes those hard things easier, then I imagine the reaction most of us will have is a sigh of relief.

  25. Honestly, I think the update just makes things worse. First, as others have mentioned, divorced Latter-day Saint parents now have a very real incentive to deny joint custody to the other parent, if the other parent is gay, even if they have successfully made joint custody work for years, or if it made more sense for the gay parent to have primary custody. I think the recent decision by a Utah judge to remove a foster baby from her gay parents (which was thankfully reversed today), shows that this policy has already potentially had a very real legal impact on families. If you’re trying to keep families together, this isn’t the way to do it. Also, it leads to the practical assumption that a single unmarried person of one gender is vastly superior at parenting than two married people of the same gender, which seems silly to me. Even if you believe two parents of different genders are ideal, how does it make any sense that one parent is better than two?

    Second, the fact that Latter-day Saints who have already been baptized can continue on as usual creates this arbitrary division, where some children of an age are being treated one way, and others another. Consider: two eight-year-old children who are being raised by gay parents will have completely different experiences in the church, based on whether they turned eight in October 2015 or November 2015. One month, and they will have experiences largely foreign to one another. One, if male, can pass the sacrament in a couple years and be a home teacher; the other cannot. One in a few years will be able to go on ward temple trips; the other will not. If my understanding of church policy is right (someone please correct me if it is not), one will be able to give talks in a couple years in sacrament meeting; the other will not. We now have a completely artificial division raised between these two children.

    This shows even more strongly that the stated rationale of love for families is a false one. If love really necessitated not letting any children being raised by gay parents be baptized, then by necessity it would have to apply to children already-baptized.

    But this does clarify that the whole First Presidency affirm the policy, which makes me sad.

    No matter how I look or think about this, I just cannot see it as revelation from God. And I have sincerely sought to know if it was.

  26. gst:

    If you think gayness is a deadly contagion, you’d fit in very comfortably with the top LDS policymakers.

    The church identifies homosexual behavior as sin and apostasy. Of course you don’t have to believe that, but in the context of an organization that asserts that idea, it shouldn’t be shocking (or surprising or horrific or…) that the leadership wants to ameliorate the impact of that sinful apostate behavior on believers.

    I’m not saying the policy works in that manner (although your “contagion” meme implies it does), but you have to concede that if the behavior is as they describe, normalizing it isn’t desirable.

    In my experience over the past week (and before), many people are concerned and upset about the policy, but the angry and outraged fall mostly into two groups:

    (1) Those who don’t believe homosexual behavior is a sin and expected it to be accepted into the church eventually and (2) those who have been (at least) disaffected for some time before this.

    If you don’t believe homosexual behavior is sinful, acknowledging that worldview is critical to the conversation. Because then it kind of looks like this:

    “I don’t believe homosexual behavior is a sin and so I believe that any religious sanctions harm innocent people.”

    “I believe homosexual behavior is a sin that can impact eternal progression and so I believe embracing and normalizing it will harm innocent people.”

  27. Megan (10) Many of us were saying that there would be a clarification because it was poorly written. There were many indication that the current clarification was what was intended. Instead we got apocalyptic fervor from blogs saying that the only clear reading was the worst reading possible. Then drawing the worst most apocalyptic readings from it. While the Church bears responsibility for releasing such a poorly worded amendment to the handbook, I think Otterson is dead on with regards to the overreaction.

    Mark (24) I agree the clarification didn’t change the policy. It did reign in interpretations of the handbook.

    Brad L (19) I think that’s a good point. I think the issue is made more complex and confusing due to the difference between publicly recognized marriages versus religiously recognized marriages. If I have the Church’s position correct (no guarantee I do) then they are saying we accept the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the public sphere but don’t recognize the marriages religiously. The further step of making gay marriage a larger issue of apostasy akin to polygamy certainly takes things further. I’m personally not quite sure how to take that.

    I don’t think the aim is to punish more but it clearly is to say that they see the structure as a serious problem. I think the issue with children isn’t designed to be a wedge issue but is more due to the problems of discussing these more political aspects of apostasy with children. That is I take them at their word that the concern is with the children and that this is just them dealing with the implications of gay marriage being treated the same a polygamist apostate groups.

  28. Once a gay couple’s relationship is “disavowed” or their lifestyle is “disavowed” or whatever it is that needs “disavowing,” how does that affect social events held in LDS meetinghouses? If a gay couple still wants to go, together, can they go after they’ve been “disavowed”?

    (I hate that we’re having this conversation. I really hate this.)

  29. To the OP.

    I agree apostasy isn’t the ideal word. I’m not sure there is a good word in English that describes the sense apostasy has for Mormons. I’m not sure of the history of the word’s use an connotation in non-Mormon contexts so I can’t speak to that. Do you have a better word you think they should use? The next best word is heretic but I’m not sure that is really better. Plus it has negative connotations of the Spanish Inquisition and so forth.

    As to the sense of the policy, whether we agree with it or not, it’s basically the same as the one for polygamist apostate groups. The reasoning behind it is that most children at 8 just don’t have the capacity to understand apostasy on more abstract reasoning. As I mentioned at BCC it doesn’t imply the sins in question are worse than other sins like murder, domestic abuse or so forth because I think most 8 year olds can understand why those are wrong. Explaining to an 8 year old why they have accept that their three mommies are wrong for all being married to their daddy is a bit much. The requirement for baptism for children in apostate movements is to renounce the movement, which makes sense. But it’s just problematic for children. Whether right or wrong, I’m not sure it’s difficult to understand when looked at that way.

    I think the policy is significant even if it affects very few people too. Clearly by treating SSM as apostasy the Church is making a very strong statement about marriage. Whether one agrees with it or not it is extremely significant. I think it also indicates that were a future Supreme Court to legalize polygamy (which I think is inevitable) that the Church won’t recognize that religiously. (While it’s just a hypothesis I wouldn’t be at all shocked to learn this is as much about polygamy and SSM)

  30. Clark, I think the “clarification” drastically changed the policy. It is no longer “all children with parents in gay relationship” language was drastically altered to “all children who live primarily with a parent who lives in a gay relationship.” The number of children who will actually feel the impact of this has just been greatly reduced.

    Imagine the government creating a policy of an estate tax of 50%, and then, following a period of backlash, “clarifying” their policy by stating that it will only apply to those who leave over $10 million dollars. Would you agree that that policy was then changed?

    Or the government saying that everyone who’s ever been charged with a crime would be thrown in jail for a minimum of ten years, and then “clarifying” that, several days later, to explain that by “crime” they meant “felony”?

    I have no idea what the church’s initial intent was here. I think it likely that they just didn’t consider the possibilities like they should have. But words have meaning. The initial policy on children with a parent currently in a gay relationship was clear. As of today, that policy has indeed changed.

  31. CSC (25), for those who acknowledged that the first policy was clearly in error and was obviously not a word for word revelation from the Lord, my comment does not apply. I do think that at least some of the people who told me to my face last week that the policy was the “mind and will of the Lord”, errors and all, (and that unless I believed every word of the now largely repudiated policy it was because I lacked faith and did not sustain the brethren) will this week be saying things like “the policy came from those we believe are authorized to create church policy” but will still be unwilling to acknowledge that the original policy was clearly a mistake and was clearly not sufficiently reviewed (let alone actually written) by those we sustain as revelators. I’m sure there are still some people who think that the style of uniform worn by the BYU football players each week is selected only after the prophet has looked into the seer stone, but hopefully there are fewer of those people this week.

  32. Clark,
    I just posted something to you over at BCC and now I’m here. Not stalking you I promise. But I do think that the polygamy analogy proves too much. What is the purpose for the polygamy policy? Presumably to banish from our community a group of people who are sympathetic to polygamy so that it never takes root again. Strong medicine to be sure, but probably necessary in light of our history with polygamy and our legal obligation to eliminate it for good. But if we’re going to analogize the new SSM policy to the polygamy policy, then aren’t we also saying that what we’re trying to do here is rout out people who are sympathetic to gay marriage, starting with the most obvious culprits — married gay people and their children? I personally find that to be extraordinarily objectionable in light of the purposes of Christian faith community. Regardless, that’s a very different reason for the policy than the one offered by Elder Christofferson, emphasizing protecting the child from cognitive dissonance.

  33. I see a sweeping grandfather clause: “when a child…has already been baptized and is actively participating…16.13 does not require that his or her membership activities or priesthood privileges be curtailed or that further ordinances be withheld.” I imagine that missionary service falls within “priesthood privileges.”

    In other words, if you’re already baptized, you get to matriculate as normal. Anyone disagree?

  34. Mark (24), you fail to see how the clarification changed the policy at all? You are the only one.

    Basically all of us here, certainly me, are faithful members of the Church. The OP is as well. Her list is not “wild conclusions”, it’s the result of reading what the original policy actually said.

    You think all if takes is “common sense when applying and interpreting Church policy” to know that the phrases “child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship” and “child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship” actually means “children whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship”. I’ll tell you that neither my bishop nor SP had the “common sense” to read it that way; no surprise since it quite obviously did not say that. And I’d be completely horrified to find out how you would misread other sections of the handbook if that’s “common sense”.

    CSC (25), now do you understand what I’m saying about cog diss and the extreme rationalizations some people are engaging in to avoid admitting that some of the specific language so many of us objected to (especially the “has lived” language) in the original policy was simply a mistake and never should have been in there in the first place? Of course, if you believe that God is One Eternal Round and you believe both the original policy and the clarification came about as a result of an infallible process and from an infallible person, then the only way to reconcile those beliefs is to insist that the two are somehow the same. And that is exactly the cog diss I’m talking about. If you believe these types of policies come about via an imperfect process in which the quality control sometimes break down, then its possible for one to read the original words and realize that they had to be wrong. The new language is not perfect but we are light years better off than we were before the “clarification”.

    To quote the OP: I should add one good consequence to my list above: I think the wind has been knocked out of the sails of the sentiment (a sentiment that I have frequently seen expressed in the last week) that there is no substantial difference between the handbook and the express will of God. That is a good thing.

  35. Clark,

    You’re wicked smart. You intuited the intent of Headquarters. Kudos.

    But your gloating oversteps with the “apocalyptic readings” crap. I’m not aware of any cannon of construction that supports your interpretation of this policy. Broad, introductory statements do not nullify the specifics. Each word is assumed to have meaning and not be superfluous. One doesn’t ignore clauses because they don’t harmonize with an imagined purpose. It says what it says.

    If this clarification is what they meant all along, WOW, the drafting was ridiculously flawed. I admit, I was reluctant to assume that much incompetence.

  36. How many more people are going to find the 3-hour block unbearable due to having to sit and listen and get blindsided by feelings about the policy when certain topics come up? (defending the family, following the prophet, baptism, Holy Ghost, loving as Jesus loved…this is not a comprehensive list….)

  37. Joel,

    I don’t know whether the drafting was mere incompetence or bullying, but it feels like the latter to me. We should pray for some prophecy, seership, and revelation amongst the governing councils of the Church. They seem to be lacking.

  38. I think it’s great that there is a venue for people to freely express their opinions and I’ve learned a lot from opinions expressed here. Here’s my candid opinion: I started to read the comments on this (revised) post (I read the original and all comments), and decided I’m tired of reading comments from members criticizing the prophet and apostles. You’re certainly free to do it–I would never say you should have no place to publicly complain–I just have no more interest in reading these types of comments. Maybe in another week or two.

  39. I think the issue with children isn’t designed to be a wedge issue but is more due to the problems of discussing these more political aspects of apostasy with children. That is I take them at their word that the concern is with the children and that this is just them dealing with the implications of gay marriage being treated the same a polygamist apostate groups.

    If that’s the case, Clark, then why does the church not have a policy in place that denies baptism and ordination to parents excommunicated because of apostasy (at least on grounds not related to polygamy and being cohabed/married to a person of the same gender)? As far as I can tell, church leaders have no grounds on which to deny John Dehlin’s kids baptism or ordination to the priesthood under the age of 18 (well, maybe if his son is deemed unworthy of ordination) as long as they have Dehlin’s or his wife’s permission. There doesn’t appear to be any requirement for the child to specifically disavow Dehlin’s beliefs for him or her to be baptized, ordained, or be recommended for missionary service.

  40. Brad (41) I mentioned in one of the threads here or on BCC (there’s been so many I’ve lost track) it seems that the brethren see this type of apostasy and the apostasy of the polygamist groups (FLDS, Allreds, etc.) as fundamentally worse politically than the apostasy of people like Denver Snuffer. We may or may not agree with them in that categorization. But given the categorization it is consistent.

    Joel (37) All just hypotheses. The apocalyptic bit isn’t gloating. I think it’s a common tendency among Christians of a certain bent especially Mormons. Heck, I’ve done it at times myself when younger. Whether that just means I’m jaded now or not I can’t say. Usually I notice it on the right with that lady in Idaho over the summer being the most notable recent example.

    As to the original handbook issue, the question of construction was whether the two subordinate sections fixed the meaning or the first paragraph did. This seemed very ambiguous. I objected to those saying it was clear when people were reading it in such different ways. Those reading it in the strongest terms seemed most confident of their reading. Unjustifiably in my opinion. Especially when there was evidence (borne out) that such a reading wasn’t the intent.

    Tim (31) See the above. While some people read it as you did others did not. To my eyes it was poorly written and unclear. Whether you think it a major change or not depends upon whether you think they are just explaining their original intents or disseminating due to opposition. I think there’s fair evidence this is what they originally intended.

    zig (33) I think knowing a bit of the history of post-manifesto polygamy helps understand the polygamy situation as well as more recent actions like the events in Manti in the 90’s. Even if some of the events appear to have been misinterpreted and weren’t as bad as originally thought, it clearly affected the brethren’s perceptions of apostasy. Without that context (which also was the issue of marriage) I’m sure events will seem odd.

    The main issue with polygamy was that there were people who considered themselves Mormon yet thought the brethren were leading people astray on polygamy. Often (or so the perception goes – the history is a bit more complex in reality) this was done both within and without. Especially in the early 20th century this meant people being in the church as a kind of “enemy within” on the issue. This isn’t that idle fear. Richard Lyman was the last Apostle excommunicated and it was over this very issue. That was in 194 and Lyman was rebaptized in 1954 and his priesthood not restored until well after his death in 1970.

    To see why this matters to the current leadership rather than being dead history Monson was born in 1927 and was made an Apostle in 1963 and would have been part of the decision restoring Lyman’s blessings. He also would have been involved most likely in the concerns over Manti.

    Today we by and large see the polygamist groups as an embarrassment rather than a threat. We don’t want to be mistaken for the FLDS. However in prior generations — the key years for many of the older Apostles — it was much more than that.

    Whether we think it right or wrong, it seems pretty clear that Pres. Monson sees views of Same Sex Marriage as a repeat of these earlier issues.

  41. Paul,

    My sense, too, is the policy was intended to be as expansive as the language required.

    I think they would take it back entirely if the could. They can’t. So, the clarification today massively reduces the breadth of the net and, therefore, the number of people who will be ensnared–especially with the grandfather clause. Literally, 1,000’s of active children and their parents are sighing in relief tonight. I know a dozen myself.

    Thank God.

    It made sense to me why the policy was so expansive (which is why I didn’t strain to find ambiguities). I don’t think it was bullying because I can’t believe they didn’t desire to cause pain. Although they were willing to abide casualties–as happens in war–to achieve what they saw as a noble objective.

    I surmise that the policy language was designed to effectuate a basic notion: If your life experience includes a parent in a committed relationship then you’re likely to be an ally.. And if you’re an ally, you’re a wolf–whether you know it or not–who threatens the long-term zeitgeist of the fold.

    I think that was their “good” intention. Again, they didn’t desire to cause pain. Rather, they thought “better that one man perish than a nation dwindle in disbelief…”

    They didn’t think it through. Talk about a devil in the details!

  42. Clark,

    Yes, Julie Smith and Julie Rowe, two peas in a pod. Good thing you’re keeping us all grounded.

  43. Joel, you know that’s not what I meant. And my comments about apocalyptism were actually referring to others. (I actually agree with many of the points Julie raised and thought it an excellent post even if I disagreed with parts)

    The apocalyptic tendency is the tendency to see all events in the worst possible way with the most disruption possible. It’s so common among Mormons that I’m sure you’ve seen it a lot and heard many apocalyptic comments in Sunday School and Priesthood. I usually break out my “this is the least violent, safest, most ethical time in the world’s history” line – even if there are a few reasons to quibble with Plinker’s thesis.

  44. Clark, if the brethren see the same-sex cohab/marriage apostasy as worse than other forms of apostasy, then that seems to confirm my original point that the intent of the policy is the punish open practicing gays as much as they possibly can (after all, they are considered to be among the worst types of apostates according to your belief about what the leaders believe). The leaders seek to put up every roadblock they possibly can to discourage open practicing gays from affiliation, or really any sort of involvement even indirectly through their child, with the LDS church. The main intent of the policy isn’t just about maintaining harmony in families with gay-cohabed/married parents. The leaders of the church won’t go as far as telling practicing gays that they can’t attend church, but they’ll do everything they can to keep them away. The leaders just don’t like the gays, they just don’t.

  45. Clark, we’re in agreement on the history. (I’m quite familiar with post-manifesto polygamy. I wasn’t suggesting that the purpose of the polygamy policy was to minimize embarrassment. It was clearly to stave off a threat of the reemergence of polygamy as a result of the influence of sympathizers on the inside.) My point is that if we’re going to compare the new SSM policy to polygamy, then we also have to acknowledge that the purpose is the same: we’re trying to eliminate married gay people from our congregations so as to avoid the saints changing their views on the subject. I imagine that this same purpose animates the policy regarding children. I don’t think we can accurately analyze the pros and cons of the new policy without acknowledging this.

  46. Brad L on November 13, 2015 at 10:42 pm
    OK Mike, nothing says that you have to come here, read the comments, and post comments.

    Thanks for clearly comprehending my comment, Brad L. I thought perhaps I was being a bit vague.

  47. Zjg, to the extent that they see married gays in the congregation as a kind of formal rebellion against the Mormon order of marriage and the church’s authority in that regard then yes I think that’s a correct interpretation of their aims.

    Brad L, there’s two different policies. The first is treating Mormon same sex marriage as apostasy and then the second policy regarding children. I think you’re reasonably correct regarding the former but not the latter.

  48. In reference to concern number 3, my kids were pressured to get baptized immediately when I wanted them to wait. I was told that kids need the protection of the Holy Ghost to help them in their childhood. Why are they not as concerned about those children brought up by apostates? If one believes in this gift of the Holy Ghost, don’t the children of so-called sinners need it even more? This policy contradicts doctrine. I think it’s time that members oppose this policy instead of sustaining a harmful move by the administration.

  49. To add I’m making no claims about whether I think this will be successful. It seemed clear to me early on that the Church’s Prop-8 battle was futile in terms of consequences. That doesn’t mean the Lord might not have had a purpose in it. I think events showed it was futile politically. I have never felt any inspiration one way or an other on those policies and simply try to sustain the brethren as best I can in my ignorance due to their position.

    Likewise I think the social situation for SSM is quite different from even polygamy in the very early 20th century. Again I claim zero inspiration on this beyond thinking the brethren get the benefit of doubt. My guess is that this probably won’t affect pressure on the church from within the church much at all. While I don’t know the LDS statistics among 19-29 year old Evangelicals it’s coming close to half that accept SSM. I perceive Evangelicals to typically be harsher on these issues than Mormons. So that’s a very large number with numerous implications. Admittedly there are theological challenges Mormons have on gender that Evangelicals don’t. So it may be harder to reconcile things for a Mormon than Evangelicals. That said a quick perusal of the threads on the main blogs, forums and Facebook shows at least a fair number of LDS in a similar camp. The external social pressures, especially from peers aren’t going away and will only get stronger. This is directly the opposite that happened with polygamy where most of the pressure was to renounce polygamy.

    I’ve no idea what will happen over the next 10 years of change, but I think the brethren will have a difficult time unless they find some revelation that makes everyone happy. (Which may just be impossible)

  50. Clark, if we take the LDS leaders’ explanations on the policy regarding children at face value, they are guilty of a double standard. If the less than 18-yo child of a gay cohabed/married parent has permission from his/her parents to get baptized and confirmed, then we have no one to blame for standing in the way of that child receiving the gift of the holy spirit than the LDS leaders themselves. Is receiving the gift of the holy spirit in order to be able to make right choices ages 8-18 not as important for the children of practicing gay parents? For what God revealed to Joseph Smith in D&C 68:25-27 appears very clear on the matter:

    25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

    26 For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.

    27 And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.

  51. Brad L:

    D&C 68:25 applies to members of the Church. Parents who fail to instruct their children make it impossible for their children to truly enter into a covenant relationship with Christ. Therefore the parents are held accountable for their children’s choices. The children of vs. 27 are children of members of the Church.

    If I understand you correctly, you want this passage to apply to all parents and all children. But that would lead to great difficulties. It would make all parents accountable for teaching the Gospel, which is unreasonable as non-members or excommunicated members do not understand or they have refused to accept it. And it would open the door for all children to enter into a covenant when they do not have the support at home to live that covenant and advance spiritually with the “gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    The way I view it, covenants can a blessing or a cursing. While the baptismal covenant is offered to those in a variety of circumstances, it is offered with an expectation that there will be continual growth and change in the recipient’s life. Some converts have had to walk away from family practices and cultural traditions not in harmony with the Gospel. We cannot expect such a disavowal from a young child or even a teenager. Refusing the baptismal covenant to those unprepared or unable to live it is not an act of hatred, it is a judicious act of love.

  52. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a wonderful organization and institution. With the attacks in Paris, I am thinking of how much evil there is in the world — and the Church is certainly is part of the good, not the evil, in the world. Joseph Smith wrote in 1837:

    It seemed as though all the powers of earth and hell were combining their influence in an especial manner to overthrow the Church at once. … The enemy abroad, and apostates in our midst, united in their schemes, … and many became disaffected toward me as though I were the sole cause of those very evils I was most strenuously striving against.

    I hope France and the western world will continue to protect us from temporal dangers. I hope the Church will continue to protect us from spiritual dangers.

  53. Brad (53) I agree with Old Man’s exegesis. I don’t think it has the implications you think it does. Typically baptism requires conditions. Often some acts require special permission. (Back when I was on my mission abortion still did and murderers then had to get 1st Presidency permission although I suspect in practice it didn’t go that high)

    I’d add that tradeoffs are common. After all do people living in Israel or Islamic countries not also need the Holy Ghost? Yet we do not proselytize there. I had a friend who served in Russia in the late 90’s and then they were forbidden to baptize Muslims because most were part of conservative communities where it was not at all uncommon to experience violence or murder if they left Islam.

    We might disagree with the cost/benefit calculus the brethren are making but I’m not sure we can call it a double standard.

  54. “It seemed clear to me early on that the Church’s Prop-8 battle was futile in terms of consequences. That doesn’t mean the Lord might not have had a purpose in it.”

    Clark, you make the same mistake that is quite prevalent among the conservative wing of church when you assume that the Lord had some purpose in allowing the church to embarrass itself by the manner in which it opposed Proposition 8 in California. Why isn’t your imagination expansive enough to make allowance for the possibility that the Lord was disappointed by the behavior of his servants but, nevertheless, allowed them to exercise their agency?

    To assume that the Lord has a purpose beyond simply allowing us to screw up is tantamount to laying the blame at his doorstep or, at the very least, holding out false hope that what looks like a huge blunder today will somehow prove to be an inspired decision further down the road.

  55. “Why isn’t your imagination expansive enough to make allowance for the possibility that the Lord was disappointed by the behavior of his servants but, nevertheless, allowed them to exercise their agency?”

    Maybe Clark’s imagination is SO expansive that he can imagine BOTH possibilities. Can you even imagine an imagination that expansive? ;)

  56. You can always make up some reason why church actions are still inspired even though the actions look man-made. It’s called cognitive dissonance.

  57. FarSide:

    Have you ever heard of Zion’s Camp?

    While using one’s imagination is great, using actual data is better… do you have any evidence that the Lord was displeased with His servants, other than your political views? Your assumptions are immensely greater than Clark’s. You are assuming that God did not direct His servants in the manner that they acted. Evidence?

  58. FarSide (57) If you look at what I said the word “might” is important. I’ve no idea if the Prop-8 battle was inspired or not. The Lord hasn’t seen fit to tell me. t simply acknowledge it as a live possibility rather than discount it because I don’t like it. As I said I tend to give the brethren the benefit of the doubt in practice. But I fully acknowledge I’m ignorant of much.

  59. Is “has lived” still applicable, it is not removed and directly contradicts the clarification letter.

    Requirement 2 states – “The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”

    The clarification letter states – ‘The provisions of Handbook 1, Section 16.13, that restrict priesthood ordinances for minors, apply only to those children whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship.’

    Are they planning to remove “has lived” from the policy? If not, did they really mean the children applicable would be those that reside with “a couple living in or a parent who has lived in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship”.

  60. Matt, my sense is that “has lived” is no longer applicable (hence all of my strike-outs in the post) because the FP letter refers to the child’s “primary residence” as involving a (currently) gay married/cohab couple.

  61. Here’s the unfortunate truth. As a result of this policy, those who support ssm are at least on the same level than those who support modern day (unauthorized of God) polygamy.

    We have had some in our church in the past (and occasionally a disaffected current member) who becomes confused about God’s will with regard to plural marriage and lends their support to it.

    Likewise, we have some who are confused about God’s will with regard to same sex marriage and lend their support to it.

    I hope you can see where the ultimate trend of your support of SSM is heading. To those progressives up in arms about this, you are the very equivalent of those occasional handful of hardline conservatives that become so confused and obsessed over their issues with the church with regards to plural marriage.

  62. “I hope you can see where the ultimate trend of your support of SSM is heading.”

    It will at some point in time be just as encouraged and celebrated as plural marriage was in the early church?

  63. I see two problems with the policy, new or revised. First, a policy is designed to make something happen without the benefit of thinking. In some situations, this is good: for example, situations that arise only very rarely and where most bishops, etc., would have little knowledge of the best response – or perhaps even of what responses are possible. Policies in such cases are useful and appropriate. On the other hand, not only do policies not require the application of thought, they also do not allow for the influence of the Spirit – just apply the policy, no thought, prayer, or adaption to individual circumstances is required. Second, equating homosexuality to polygamy tacitly assumes that homosexuality is a doctrinal choice, not a biological condition. Given the recent proclamation in General Conference that the cause(s) of homosexuality is/are unknown, this policy is pretty regressive, as it presumes something that has already been denied!

    This has been a PR disaster of monumental proportions for the Church, and has provoked critical thinking among many true-blue Mormons who would never even have considered the fate of their LGBT brothers and sisters. It’s not going to just go away, no matter how much damage control we see in the next few weeks.

  64. Alan Eastman: ” . . . equating homosexuality to polygamy tacitly assumes that homosexuality is a doctrinal choice . . .”

    You may be able to argue that the church equates homosexual ACTIVITY to polygamy, but not homosexuality.

    Whether or not it’s going away (whatever “it” is), it doesn’t help that people continue to twist what the church is doing to fit their arguments.

  65. “This has been a PR disaster of monumental proportions for the Church, and has provoked critical thinking among many true-blue Mormons who would never even have considered the fate of their LGBT brothers and sisters. It’s not going to just go away, no matter how much damage control we see in the next few weeks.”

    I guess I’m not seeing this massive impact in my area. Perhaps it depends on location? I’m in the US, but not in a major metropolitan area (which are usually more liberal in general), nor in the west (where doctrinal freakouts seem to be much more prevalent and every single word seems to be nitpicked to death.)

    It just all seems fairly logical, based on the church’s doctrine on families, which has been very explicitly spelled out for years. Where is the huge surprise? What is all the outrage about? Why do we think the church or the Lord should make a declaration that “everyone is happy about”? When has that EVER happened? I just don’t understand all the ruckus.

  66. And prop 8 was a monumental disaster that the church “retreated” from. I suppose the destruction of Zarahemla was a disaster too, but it wasn’t the making of the church… If there is a disaster, it’s the one that progressives are reshaping our society into.

  67. Old Man (54),

    If I understand you correctly, you want this passage to apply to all parents and all children.

    No, you don’t understand me correctly. I am talking about members. In the case of the child under eight whose birth parents are members but divorced, share custody, and one of whom is in a same-gender relationship, the new policy could very well force the straight member parent into God’s condemnation for not baptizing their child when he/she reaches the age of eight. That’s unfair to the child and the straight parent. It is most certainly a double standard on the part of the LDS leadership.

    Refusing the baptismal covenant to those unprepared or unable to live it is not an act of hatred, it is a judicious act of love.

    Are you implying that eight-year-old children who have a parent who is a same-gender relationship is unprepared and unable to live the covenant? How? You’re not making any sense.

  68. Clark, to clarify my comment (53), I am talking about the children of members, and specifically those who have one member parent who is not in apostasy and another parent who is in a same-gender relationship and shares custody of the children, but fully approving of their children’s baptisms, ordinations, and missionary service.

    It is unfair that children who have a primary residence with a parent in a same-gender relationship who want to get baptized and confirmed in the LDS church and receive the gift of the holy spirit and who have that parent’s permission have no option whatsoever to do so. It is unfair that that child’s other member parent who is not gay can’t even arranged to have his/her child baptized and confirmed has to be under God’s condemnation . It is unfair that those children are required to specifically disavow (after he/she is 18) that parent’s lifestyle to get baptized, confirmed, and be recommended for missionary service when other children don’t have to specifically disavow people in same-gender relationships to do so. This is a clear double standard on part of the leadership. I suspect that you and Old Man know that I’m right in this instance and you’re conveniently dodging this issue.

    And Old Man’s suggestion that these eight-year-olds are unprepared and unable to live up to the covenant any more than other eight-year-old children of members is of utmost ridiculousness. If you reply, please address my main point: that this is a double standard. Please spare me all tangents and non-sequiturs in your reply.

  69. Brad L, at this point if you want a serious answer with meaning, you should direct your questions to the church through the appropriate channels. They have put their justifications for the policy out there. You can ask for further clarification and await and see. You can also continue to criticize publicly and hope that one day if the policy is ever changed you can pat yourself on the back for being right all along with public posts as proof.

    If it’s about what’s right and wrong, clearly you would seem to believe the church is wrong.
    If it’s about love vs bigotry, you would seem to believe the church is bigoted.

    If it’s neither of those things, feel free to make your point on record so we can move on.

    It’s rather tedious, to be talking in circles (or watch others do it) with a presumed faithful member of the church.

    If you’re not a member of the church and just want to argue for the sake of debate, you’ve earned a gold star. If you’re trying to get the policy changed, surely whatever you’re doing is not helping.

  70. Brad I fully agree there’s an element of unfairness for both the SSM and polygamy issues. The question is whether that slight unfairness is worth the other costs. So there’s a balancing going on.

  71. Just to be clear, the balancing is over repudiation of parent’s behavior. So if there was no unfairness then all 8 year olds in polygamist or SSM families would have to repudiate that behavior as part of the baptismal interview. The brethren just think that whatever unfairness there is in the policy that making 8 year olds do that is more unjust.

  72. Clark, How would what happen? The policy clearly states: “A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing.” The new clarification specified that the child could be baptized, confirmed, and recommended for missionary service as long as their primary residence was not with a parent in a same-gender relationship.

    Imagine the following hypothetical situation:

    Meet Mike and Jenny. They are two LDS people who marry in the temple right after Mike gets home from his mission. They have a boy together. However, when that child is six, Jenny announces to Mike that she is a lesbian and wants a divorce. Mike is very understanding, signs the papers, and they decide to share joint custody. Not long after the divorce, Jenny finds a lover of the same gender marries her. They move next door to Mike. Since Mike works a lot, he has the child with Jenny and her partner so much, that Jenny’s residence would technically be considered the primary residence. Both Mike and Jenny continue to love the LDS church and want to raise their child there. Nearing the age of eight, the child gets excited to get baptized and receive the gift of the holy ghost through confirmation. Mike is excited to do the baptism and Jenny and her partner are excited to attend. However, right before Mike and Jenny’s child turns eight, the new policy comes out and the bishop tells Mike that his child cannot be baptized. What are the following possible scenarios:

    a) Mike, Jenny, and their child decide to maintain the status quo. In so doing, the child has to wait to be baptized and confirmed. He cannot receive the gift of the holy spirit to help guide him in difficult decisions in his life, which according to LDS doctrine, he very much needs since he is past the age of accountability. When he turns 12, he cannot be ordained. Consequently between the ages of 12 and 18 he is barred from participating in the priesthood activities such as passing the sacrament, doing home teaching, collecting fast offerings, preparing for missionary service (for which he could not be recommended), blessing the sacrament, serving in callings in his deacons, teachers, priests quorum.

    b) Mike tells the child that he can no longer be with his mother as much because of the new policy and tries to push the child away from Jenny and her partner. The child is then allowed to be baptized. However, in order for such to occur, the stake president has to go to the trouble of seeking approval from the Office of the First Presidency. In the child’s baptismal interview, he, at the young age of eight, has to be asked to specifically disavow his mother’s marriage to her new female spouse. The new policy, as you can see, would have the effect of tearing Mike and Jenny further apart, and also tearing the child and his mother further apart. It would have the effect of creating further disharmony in this family, and thus going against what Elder Christofferson stated was the aim of the new policy.

    I reiterate: the new policy (even with the new clarification) is unfair and a double standard.

  73. hula,

    Brad L, at this point if you want a serious answer with meaning

    I’m not asking a question, I’m making an observation.

    If it’s about what’s right and wrong, clearly you would seem to believe the church is wrong.

    One doesn’t have to accept everything that the church leaders say as true or right (which would be treating them as if they were infallible) in order to believe that the church is right. Members can disagree with the new policy and still regard to the church to be generally right. After all, the new policy was presented as policy, not as God’s doctrine. Besides, whether I believe the LDS church to be right or wrong is beyond the point. This post is about the potentially effects of the new policy. Unless you directly address the points that I brought up, this will be the extent of my interaction with you.

  74. I understand what you’re saying Brad. It just seems to me that the church is requiring, as it long has with polygamy, that those living in that environment renounce it. I think the real issue you have is with the conception of apostate groups rather than this. If anything the unfairness is that those who move back into the environment don’t have to renounce it and those not living in the environment don’t have to renounce it. (Which I think may be different from polygamy although I’m not sure)

    But I fully agree there is an element of unfairness to it (in the sense of the same standard isn’t applied for everyone). The issue is more the balancing rather than the fairness.

  75. There are a few things that trouble me here. First, I’d like to see some credit given to families who have brought up a child to want to be baptized into the Lord’s restored church to begin with, whatever their personal proclivities and choices are.

    Second, I’d like to see some evidence that children in a homosexual, or, for that matter, heterosexual marriage, wherever their primary residence is, have much real, first-hand knowledge about their parents’ personal and private behavior in order to repudiate it and thus cleanse themselves of its putative stain.

    Third, how imaginative and prurient we can be in defining other people’s relationships and private behavior as staining anybody! I don’t imagine what my bishop and his wife do in private – why should I imagine what anybody else does in private, let alone cast moral judgment on it?

    But I can understand why same sex marriage can be construed as apostasy, if the roots of the word indicate standing outside, even taking a stand outside, the church’s avowed doctrine and policy.

    However, I stick with John 5: That bishop [or any of the rest of us] who is without sin, let him refuse the first innocent child baptism or other blessings. Myself, I look for, and sometimes pray to know, what it is that the Lord might love about any individual; that’s good enough for me.

  76. BevP, I think the private/public issue is significant and I largely agree. I think though that’s why the Church is viewing SSM differently since that is explicitly a public relationship.

    Regarding the knowledge of the children, my sense is that their ignorance is largely the point of the policy. At least that’s how I read the clarification and the original interview by Christofferson.

    Regarding John 5, I don’t see how that works. For what you say to be true there should be no interview or worthiness requirement for any ordinance. Is that what you are advocating?

    Brad L, one quick though. As I read the clarification, once the child in your example is no longer residing in the SSM family they don’t need First Presidency permission. Maybe I’m misreading that, but that seems the clear implication of the clarification.

  77. Brad L,

    You’re asking the LDS faith to be reasonable. I don’t mean this in any derogatory sense, but it is a belief system. One of its primary tenants is that those leading the faith are “prophets, seers, and revelators.” The way I see it, one must at least believe that in order for Mormonism to be a good fit. I don’t believe that so I’ve moved on.

    This is just the recommendation from a random guy on the Internet, so take it for what it’s worth:

    Let it go. Give hugs to all believing Mormons you know, affirm your love for them, and part with the faith. Mormonism isn’t something that gets better with time. You could spend all eternity on Mormon blogs attempting to persuade others within a belief system. It is a vain pursuit. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to them. It is a tremendous relief to say, “I disbelieve; you believe. We have nothing to prove to one another.”

    Just my .02, Brad L.

    (There are Facebook groups for doubting Mormons, ATF, and Facebook groups with gentle “transitioning” Mormons, ATT. And then there’s angry post-Mormons. Personally, I prefer gentle travelers who have come to terms that Mormonism doesn’t work for everyone.)

  78. Brad L has proven for himself that the policy is a double standard. I can live with this. You regret the church had to act in a certain way, and I regret the mistakes of the parents that precipitated the church’s actions.

    I see a double standard in the lack of concern for children to be born and raised without a mother and a father. Our religion teaches this is an entitlement. It’s a God given right, which is being denied by children as a result of different policies which have become fashionable.

  79. The thing that rips me up as a Mormon psychotherapist with LGBT+ Mormon clients is how the Overton window has shifted to be more condemning and vilifying with this new church policy. Mainstream LDS who were accepting or at least silent on the subject of homosexuality now feel justified in vicious attacks against them. We more-or-less progressives worry for the children of LGBT+s, but accept that their parents are lost to sin. It breaks my heart to think of the LGBT+ children who will be born to mainstream straight parents in this new atmosphere.

    from Wikipedia: The Overton window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the [LDS] public will accept. In just one week, I’ve seen it shift hard right in rejecting LGBT+s.

  80. Clark, I was under the impression that FP permission would be needed, but I could be wrong.

    Outside Observer, I respect your position to have moved on (although you clearly still are participating in Mormon blogs, bear in mind). But I think that this matter of the new policy is a fascinating one to discuss, and this blog has a diverse array of Mormon thinkers and we get some riveting discussion, which I enjoy. This isn’t a matter of me not letting go of something or not moving on.

  81. The way I read it so long as they aren’t living with the gay family nothing’s needed. If they are living with them but there’s some unique situation then the Bishop can make a request via the First Presidency. That was the big change over the ambiguity of the “in the past” in the subordinate clauses but not primary.

  82. Karla, I do think that with a policy like this the church should simultaneously push how we must love even those we disagree with. In the past they’ve been doing that with pushing that recent civil rights bill. While it’s just a guess I suspect we’ll be seeing some similar moves over the coming months to ensure this “attack the other” doesn’t happen. Clearly that kind of attitude is completely at odds with how Mormons should behave. That some members might take a policy like this one and use it to justify horribly unChristian behavior is inexcusable.

  83. Karla, I think people have probably become more vocal in their beliefs, but I doubt very many people have actually changed their beliefs in the last week, and I think there are a lot of active Latter-day Saints who are still very supportive of gay rights, and who do not discriminate against openly gay people. I gave a talk in my sacrament meeting yesterday in which I mentioned I was having a really hard time with the church’s recent policy change and didn’t understand it, but that I believed in Jesus Christ and the Restoration, and no one condemned me afterward, and the bishopric members all complimented me on my talk, just as they do with every other speaker.

    Some people, both here and elsewhere, want to make this issue black-and-white: if you’re not 100% behind it, you need to leave the church. But the truth is much more nuanced, and cultural trends eventually tend to dictate church policy. And while it can be relatively slow, we are actually very quick compared to many other religions, such as Catholicism (which I actually respect the Catholics tremendously for—they have a consistency that we utterly lack). For us it is usually decades, not centuries, before we can reject our old biases. It happened with blacks and the priesthood. It happened with mixed-gender marriages. It happened with birth control. It’ll happen with gay marriage. This isn’t the church spearheading a revelation unpopular with everyone else in the world. This is the church jumping, relatively late, on a conservative bandwagon that existed long before we got involved, among a very large portion of “the world” of the United States, as well as other countries. The church sided with one of two popular traditions, which at the time was the more popular one, and which seemed like it would make us more accepted by Evangelical Christians. It is now a less popular tradition, but one still supported by most of those same Evangelicals. Eventually it will become even less popular, and we will abandon it. Revelation is not involved anywhere in the process, unless, as with the ban on blacks holding the priesthood, revelation helps hurry along the change sooner.

    For those who disagree, that’s fine. It’s not a black-and-white issue. I just hope you don’t abandon the church in a decade or so when it does change. Some people were so invested in the priesthood ban that they did, and I’m afraid it is likely the same will eventually happen here. I hope, though, it does not.

    No organization is perfect, and if we try to wait to form communities until all its members and prevailing views are the ones we see as perfect, we will be alone all our lives. People are too stubborn. People are too lax. People are just people: they hurt each other, but they also heal one another, too. Some weeks it is more of the one; other weeks it is more of the other. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or any church, is no different.

  84. It just dawned on me that multigenerational households are another troubling situation: if a lesbian couple lives with their kids and the kids’ faithful LDS grandparents, the kids can’t receive ordinances despite living with an active LDS couple.

  85. Multigenerational households are a huge part of the problem of ssm. You know the whole turn the hearts to the fathers, lest the earth be smitten with a curse and lay wasted at his coming bit.

  86. Julie, perhaps this situation (simultaneously living with an active lds couple and parents who were in a same we relationship) would be one that required the first presidency to sign off on.

  87. Just adding to what Karla (83) wrote. A poster on the New Order Mormon forum has posted some 60+ quotes from active Mormons in response to the new policy and the reaction to the new policy found on (, facebook, twitter, and comments from news articles in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN, KUTV, and the Salt Lake Tribune. Reading these comments, it is hard to deny that there is a new stronger backlash against LGBT+s in the active LDS community. My take is that the rank-and-file are becoming increasingly aware that many fellow members in the pews are becoming increasingly sympathetic to LGBT+ rights causes and that the announcement of this new policy, with all of the outrage it has elicited from other active believing Mormons, has made them even more painfully aware of a division emerging in US/Canada Mormondom, which they have long denied. Just ten years ago, active LDS people readily dismissed the idea that an increasing number of actives actually supported gay marriage. During Prop 8 in 2008, my brother in California (now bishop) scoffed at the notion, which I suggested back then, that there were many LDS members against Prop 8. What he saw in his ward was widespread participation in favor of it, and regarded the instances of active member opposition to Prop 8 as a few outlier instances trumped up by the media. The trends of support for LGBT+ causes among the LDS community are hard to deny now. Since many active members are now clearly seeing their fellow ward members criticize this new policy, they have become all the more defensive. The critical reaction of many members to the new policy has really brought out the when-the-prophet-speaks-the-thinking-is-done attitude among many more orthodox believing members, and along with it a good degree of homophobia (intentional or not). I highly recommend reading the comments. I have reason to believe that there is a trend of retrenchment towards infalliblism underway in Mormondom.

  88. Sorry, I meant *mixed-race marriages in my last post. Obviously the church has never opposed mixed-gender marriages.

    Brad L, I think you’re right that there is a new awareness among congregations of the widespread divide, and so because of that, strong rhetoric is being used. But I still don’t think it is stronger than any other time. I remember back in 2008, when the news reported that Steve Young had a “No to Prop 8” sign in his yard, how summarily he was condemned by many of my fellow ward members. After a quick internet search, I was able to find a thread on an LDS forum about the article:

    One of the more creative commenters said, “I just wish I could be there to see Brother Brigham put his foot in Steve’s bottom when the two meet in the next world.”

    I think that’s as strong as anything I’ve heard in the past week and a half.

    In 2013, in the comments on the Deseret News’s website for an article about Steve and his wife speaking about building bridges with the gay community, there were similarly-themed comments, including “An infallible method of conciliating a tiger is to allow oneself to be devoured.”

    That article is here:

    Yes, the anti-gay rhetoric is very strong, sometimes hateful, and often hurtful. But that’s not new. Growing up in Utah, with mostly Latter-day Saint classmates, calling someone “gay” was for many kids either the meanest insult they could think of, or maybe worse, the common word for anything they disliked. And the parents were no better. I won’t say how old I am, but that was well before November 2015.

    Back then, I didn’t know anyone brave enough to stand up and say that was wrong, myself included. The change is, now most congregations and schools have at least a few people willing to plead for love, tolerance, and acceptance. Often there are many. And there are probably a lot of people noticing the strong anti-gay rhetoric, while before it was accepted unnoticed.

    As for infallibilism, I don’t think that’s a particularly new trend, either.

  89. I think it is entirely reasonable to support the brethren in the policy without being either (a) hateful and unkind; or (b) the-prophet-has-spoken-so-the-thinking-is-done. It is unkind and dishonest of the pro-gay community to paint their church member opponents this way, but unfortunately, it is effective.

  90. Almost nobody thinks of themselves as evil. When you paint your enemy as evil, especially when you do it as they are trying to reach out and find common ground, you only entrench them in their thinking. Obviously.

    I, for one, believe that is the point. Historically, a group must be demonized in order to prepare the people on your side to be willing to annihilate them. That’s true no matter what politics are in play.

  91. “Growing up in Utah, with mostly Latter-day Saint classmates, calling someone “gay” was for many kids either the meanest insult they could think of, or maybe worse, the common word for anything they disliked.”

    mirrorim, I didn’t grow up in UT, not around mostly LDS classmates, and calling someone or something “gay” was absolutely the most common word for anything disliked. You’re not on solid ground if you think this is somehow a unique symptom of LDS homophobia.

  92. On the topic of multigenerational households: suppose I am a 45-year-old, straight, married woman living with her husband and children and investigating the church. My elderly mother and her lesbian partner recently moved into our house because their health is failing and they needed me to take care of them. Does this policy apply to me? Do I have to kick my mom out of my house before I can get baptized? Before my kids can?

  93. KLC, sorry for the confusion: I agree completely with your point. As I said in an earlier post, the entire Latter-day Saint opposition to gays is something that was inherited from the society around them. It is in no way unique. For those who think it is inspired, then mainstream Protestant America was inspired long before the church was.

    What I was trying to say is that the most recent anti-gay rhetoric in the church is not any worse than it has been at other times. As you point out, it is also no worse than the anti-gay sentiments of mainstream America in the past several decades. The only difference is, now there are more people sympathetic and accepting of gays, both in the church, and outside it, so the hateful words are being noticed and commented upon. Outside the church, such remarks are now usually considered entirely unacceptable by the majority of society. In the church, progress on that front has been slower, but still steady.

  94. Anna, that’s a great question. My reading of the original policy was that it would apply to you (because it applied to people over 18); my reading of the new policy is less certain, because I am not sure whether they are defining child as “not an adult” (in which case it would not apply) or as “an offspring” (in which case it would apply).

    Well, it’s about time to close comments. Thank you for the discussion.

Comments are closed.