2015-NOV-07: Part 1 of 4 parts:
The LDS Church makes a major
same-sex couples and their children:
"LDS" and "Mormon" refer to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "LGBT" refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & transsexual community.
Webmaster's personal note: (bias alert)
I was alerted to a story on 2015-NOV-06. Billy Hallowell, writing for The Blaze, had posted an article about the the LDS Church, a Christian denomination.*1 It seemed to me to be almost too strange to be true.
The first part of the article discussed changes to procedures towards the adult LGBT community.
The LDS response has been similar to that seen in other conservative Christian denominations. Both groups base their rejection of all same-gender sexual behavior and their rejection of equality for the LGBT community on their interpretation of a small group of what have been called "clobber passages" in the Bible. Most religious conservatives regard homosexual orientation as abnormal, unnatural, chosen, and changeable.
Many secularists, and more liberal denominations & theologians, interpret these same passages very differently as condemning same-sex rape, sex with prostitutes in a Pagan temple, two men having sex on a woman's bed, men sexually abusing children, heterosexuals going against their basic nature by having sex with people of the same gender in a Pagan orgy, or men engaging in bestiality (sex with a non-human species). They see an absence of passages in the Bible that condemn gay marriage. Most secularists and religious liberals accept the findings of therapists and human sexuality researchers; they regard homosexual orientation as normal and natural for a minority of humans. They believe that it is discovered, and fixed in adulthood.
Unfortunately, there is very little dialogue between the two groups. Thus, resolution of their differences is impossible. End equal rights for the LGBT community can only be attained through the political and judicial systems.
However, the new policies of the Church now are designed to go much further. They have decided to also restrict or eliminate options of the children of same-sex parents. Many people, including this author, regard these policies to be outside the bounds of acceptable behavior for any large Christian denomination.
My first thought was that this article was a hoax. My second thought was that the article may have been the result of some Internet hacker attempting to discredit The Blaze, 1NBC News,3 and the Washington Post 4 where news articles have appeared, as well as the LDS Church. Days later, all three media articles were still online. So, I am assuming that the articles are an accurate portrayal of policy changes by the LDS Church. If I am wrong, then I will have egg all over my face, as will many others, including the 388 visitors to The Blaze who had posted comments to that article, as of NOV-09. 1
*Note: Many Christians do not consider the LDS Church to be Christian. But this web site defines as Christian and individual or group in a way that includes Mormons:
"... who devoutly, thoughtfully, seriously,
and prayerfully regards themselves to be Christian. That is, they honestly
believe themselves to be attempting to follow the teachings of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) as they interpret those teachings to be."
Like many other Christian denominations, the LDS Church teaches that they, alone, have the fullness of truth, and that all of the other 20,000 or so Christian denominations, sects, faith groups, etc. are in error.
The evolution of Church treatment of LGBT members:
The LDS Church is the fourth largest Christian denomination in the U.S. It has over 13 million members across the world, with the highest concentration in the western mainland U.S. states and Hawaii. They have gone through many changes in their teachings about homosexuals and homosexuality:
Years ago, they recommended that individuals with same-sex attraction marry a person of the opposite sex and try to live as a heterosexual.
This worked for some persons with a bisexual orientation. However, when faced with a near 100% divorce rate among people with a homosexual orientation, they started to recommended that people enter therapy and be converted to heterosexuality.
Faced with a failure rate at or near 100% with therapy geared to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality, they are now recommending that lesbians and gays not date, avoid same-sex relationships, and remain alone and celibate without an intimate partner for the rest of their life.
2015-NOV-05: The LDS Church amends their handbook:
The handbook is called: "Church Handbook of Instructions: Book 1: Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics:"
It was modified to refer specifically to "sexual cohabitation" by adult members of the same-sex. This includes gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex marriage), which became available throughout the U.S. on 2015-JUN-25 as a result of a decisio by the U.S. Supreme Court.
When a LDS member commits a very serious infraction of church rules, a Disciplinary Council may be called. This is a type of church court which has extensive powers including that of excommunicating the member if she or he has engaged in serious criminal acts or other totally unacceptable behavior. According to Church teachings, excommunication would be likely to have very serious negative implications in terms of a person's eternal destiny after death. Mormon theology teaches that there are four destinations for humans after death: a three-tier Heaven and a Hell.
Section 6.7.2 of the LDS' Church Handbook of Instructions continues to list a number of horrendous criminal acts that the LDS church considers might justify the calling of a Disciplinary Council: attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, spousal abuse, intentional injury to others, adultery, abandonment of one's family and engaging in same-gender sexual activity. This latter behavior was amended on 2015-NOV-05 to read: "homosexual relations (especially sexual cohabitation.)" The new addition to the handbook is highlighted in yellow in the image below which was taken from the handbook.
"Sexual cohabitation "is an unusual term that, in this context, apparently means two persons of the same gender living together in the same home who have made some sort of arrangement to support each other and who engage in sexual activity together. It appears that the term could refer to a casual, informal, short term arrangement up to and including a gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex marriage) which implies a lifetime commitment of support until death parts the couple.
Section 6.7.3 of the same Handbook lists the types of very serious apostasy that would absolutely require an investigation by a Disciplinary Council. This section is now amended to include same-sex couples who have been married:
These changes have been approved by the highest level of church leaders: the church's Council of the First Presidency and its Quorum of the Twelve.