The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a.
LDS Church & the Mormon Church) and homosexuality
2015-NOV-06 to 13: Part 8 of 8 parts:
Still more reactions to the LDS' policy changes,
affecting same-sex couples, and their children.
Mass resignations of LDS Church members.
Changes to church handbook clarified.
2015-NOV-06: More negative comments on the new LDS policy from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Nick Literski from Seattle was interviewed for an article in the Salt Lake Tribune. He came out of the "closet" during 2006, His 17-year-old daughter lives with her mother in Illinois and is preparing for a missionary service to start in two years. He said that this may not be possible now. He said that he was physically shaken by the news of the new policy. He said:
"She now can't serve a mission unless she 'disavows' her own father's life — basically convinces a stake president that she's sufficiently disgusted by me. ... I'm heartsick. ... It's so incredibly unfair to put her in this position."
Randall Thacker is the president of Affirmation, a support group for the LGBT community in the LDS Church. He said that his group was flooded with members' messages expressing:
"... tremendous hurt, heartache, emotional distress and spiritual confusion. ... I cannot imagine Jesus Christ denying any child a baptism because of the status of their parents. It goes against everything I ever thought the savior and baptism was about."
"Mama Dragons" is an advocacy group composed of Mormon mothers who are seeking methods of supporting their gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender children and grandchildren. 1 They issued a statement saying:
"These statements do not feel like love to us. It feels positively medieval, unequivocally wrong, and in our estimation stands to push more people out of the church and tear apart families. ... We are collectively heartbroken today as our children get the message loud and clear that they are not wanted here", ... that they are merely collateral damage in some holy moral-values war. 2
Webmaster's comment about scapegoating: (bias alert)
The concept of punishing one person for the sins of another -- or for the sins of another group -- is commonly called "scapegoating." A few Christian denominations still hold the belief that present-day Jews all share responsibility for Jesus' execution by the Roman Army almost two millennia ago. Many, perhaps most, denominations still teach the concept of Original Sin in which every human alive today shares in the responsibility of the sinful behavior of Eve and Adam about 6 millennia or 240 generations ago. Many people today are quite serious about blaming all Muslim believers for the sins of the small minority of Muslims who engage in terrorist acts. Yet few people would expect the Police to arrest them if their child or father robbed a bank. In my opinion, scapegoating is profoundly unjust and irrational.
The Bible says in:
- Ezekiel 18:20: "The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." [King James Version]
- Galatians 6:5: "... For every person will have to bear [with patience] his own burden [of faults and shortcomings for which he alone is responsible]. [Amplified Bible]
- 2 Corinthians 5:10: "... so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." [KJV]
- Revelation 22:12: "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done." [KJV]
Many people see the LDS Church as engaging in scapegoating in violation of the above biblical passages when they decide to punish children for what the Church considers the sins of the children's' parents.
Thousands of members of the LDS Church are resigning, one by one:
A video and article by KIVI-TV discuss evidence of an exodus of members from the LDS Church. Thousands are known to be planning to leave. One lawyer has had 1,400 members contact him to arrange their membership termination. A resignation rally which over 1,000 Mormons had committed to attend was held on NOV-14. The true magnitude of the membership resignation over time is unknown. The number of members who will simply drift away from the Church is also impossible to predict. 3
Kathy J. Worthington started a web site called "Mormon No More." It helps Mormons leave the Church. After her death in 2009, a group of former Mormons resurrected and now maintain her site. Their home page begins:
"Each year thousands of people decide to formally resign from the ... 'LDS' church. The church releases detailed annual statistics about membership numbers, but they never include the numbers about resignations."
4 2015-NOV-13: The LDS First Presidency issues a clarifying document:
The Council of the First Presidency (a.k.a. the Quorum of the Presidency of the Church) is composed of three leaders. All are male of course, because women in the LDS Church are not eligible to be ordained. The Council currently includes President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor Henry B. Eyring, and Second Counselor Dieter F. Uchtdorf. They issued a letter to the LDS leadership concerning the changes to the Church Handbook. 5
They first discussed the modifications to the Handbook that deal with adults who have married a person of the same gender or have entered into a sexually active cohabitation relationship. They state:
"Revealed doctrine is clear that families are eternal in nature and purpose. We are obligated to act with that perspective for the welfare of both adults and children."
By "families" they apparently refer to a married opposite-sex couple with or without children. Families led by same-sex couples are not considered eternal; the parents are considered by the Church to be living in a state of serious sin.
The letter repeats that any Mormon couple:
"... who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council."
It would appear that decisions by a disciplinary council would almost automatically involve the excommunication of any spouses who are Church members.
Having dispensed with the same-sex spouses in one paragraph, the rest of the letter relates to children being raised by a same-sex couple who is married or living together in a similar arrangement.
Children of opposite-sex parents normally pass through a series of church ordinances. They are named and blessed shortly after birth, baptized at about the age of eight, confirmed shortly after the baptism. If male, they are considered for ordination to the priesthood at or after age 12. Male and female members may also be considered for missionary service in their late teens.
The new section added to Church Handbook 1 states clearly that baptism, confirmation, ordination, and being recommending for missionary service is automatically denied to children of cohabiting same-sex parents at the normal ages for these ordinances. They may be allowed only if special permission is first obtained, and then only after they have reached adulthood, and have first repudiated their parent's marriage or cohabitating arrangement. This section of the handbook is shown again below for convenience.
However, the letter from the First Presidency appears to puts forth a very different message. The fourth paragraph states clearly that the denial of ordinances:
- Applies "... only to those children whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship." Thus it would appear that if, for example, a man shares partial custody of his children born in a previous marriage to a woman, had divorced, and subsequently married another man, and if the child has been baptized, and if the child is male, that they could be ordained.
- If the child has already been baptized, then they might be permitted go through the remaining church ordinances in the same way as children of opposite-sex parents can. The final decision is to be made by local church leadership.
Thus, it would appear that the draconian rules of the new section of the handbook only apply to children who have not been baptized -- that is those generally under the age of 8. So, the full weight of punishment by the Church will only descend on the youngest children.
As written, the new section of the Handbook forbids children raised by same-sex parents to be accepted for missionary iervice. Unfortunately, the letter from the First Presidency does not clarify whether this rule still holds.
More information is currently being prepared.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Thomas Alberts, "Mama Dragons: The Women Who Guard And Support Their LGBT Mormon Kids And Families," The New Civil Rights Movement, 2015-MAY-25, at: http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/
- Jennifer Dobner, "New Mormon policy makes apostates of married same-sex couples, bars children from rites," Salt Lake Tribune, 2015-NOV-06, at: http://www.sltrib.com/
- "LDS members leaving the religion over leaked policy,"KIVI-TV, 2015-NOV-09, at: http://www.kivitv.com/
- Photograph of the Salt Lake City UT LDS temple on Temple Square, downloaded from DreamsTime.com.
- "First Presidency Clarifies Church Handbook Changes," LDS Church, 2015-NOV-13, at: https://www.lds.org/
- Billy Hallowell, "Mormon Church Just Codified Two Major Policies Involving People ‘In Same-Gender Marriage’ and Their Children," The Blaze, 2015-NOV-06, at: http://www.theblaze.com/
No copyright is claimed by Ontario Consultants on
Religious Tolerance, because copyright is owned either by Religion News Service or by individual readers who posted comments.
Original posting: 2015-NOV-15
Latest update: 2015-NOV-15
Compiled by: B.A. Robinson.