I am happy this morning as I begin to put my thoughts together on this subject. I am not happy because of the subject at all. I am happy because I was awoken at 7:00 am by our youngest who wanted to give me a kiss, tell me it was snowing, and remind me that it is her 15th birthday today :). And therein I was reminded again what a wonderful life I have and how blessed we have been.
Now on to more sobering thoughts.
When I first saw the article on the new Church policy about children of same sex couples, I was stunned and saddened. Immediately I felt that it was so very wrong and so much against scripture.
Here is the first article I read about it:
I first heard about it from a link on Facebook. I have friends on Facebook on all parts of the spectrum on every issue, and this was no different. I rarely jump into any Facebook frays. I sometimes put something out there that states my opinion or a link to something I like, and very occasionally that leads to a small kerfuffle, but that is rare. Normally I stay out of controversy there.
This time I had a few things to say on there, and wanted that to be all I said, but I can’t get it off my mind. It has kept me awake for large parts of more than one night thinking about it.
So, I have decided to discuss some of what I think about this whole thing here on my blog. It is too long for Facebook. I believe in what it says in D&C 121, so I don’t say any of this to cause contention. I only say it to express my thoughts and in a spirit of persuasion and love, with respect for those who think differently.
D&C 121:41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
Confusion about what the policy actually is
One of the first things I noticed people saying in support of, or defense of, the policy was that it did not say that children couldn’t be baptized, that it just had some qualifications to be met. So, I read the policy carefully.
Here is the text of the policy from Handbook 1:
Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship
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. A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows: A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met: 1.The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage. 2.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.
So, that says babies can’t be given a name and a blessing if their parents are in a same gender relationship. Children of parents who have lived, or are living, in a same gender relationship can be baptized, confirmed, ordained, or go on a mission ONLY after they are 18 and then ONLY if they do not live with their parents, AND they disavow the practice, AND get First Presidency approval. So, they cannot be baptized, cannot have the gift of the Holy Ghost given, and cannot be ordained during their childhood years.
This policy is very absolute. There is no wiggle room for any different circumstance to be taken into consideration at all, if the child is under 18.
I am mostly going to talk in this post about children not being allowed to be baptized, but the policy of not being able to give babies a name and a blessing is also horrible to me. And most of the same arguments apply. But, as an aside, here is a quote from Teachings of Our Times from 1899 on this topic:
In some minds there seems to be an idea that there should be a different form of blessing for children born of non-members and for those who are identified with the Church; and it is from such sources that in the case of children belonging to members of the Church ‘the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ and all the attendant favors are frequently conferred upon the child. This is all wrong. If we take the example of our Lord and Redeemer, who is our pattern and whose example we cannot too closely follow, we find that He blessed all who were brought to Him. We have no hint that He asked whose children they were, or the standing or faith of their parents. His remark was, ‘Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven;’ and He laid His hands upon them and blessed them. All little children, no matter what their parentage may be, are innocent in the sight of heaven, and they should be received as such and blessed as such.
The Editor [George Q. Cannon], “Topics of the Times,” Juvenile Instructor 34 (March 1, 1899): 137-138. Reprinted in Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 61 (March 30, 1899), 198-199; Latter-day Saints’ Southern Star 1 (April 29, 1899): 170.
I will try to address now some of the other questions and thoughts I have seen from people about this policy. These are just going to be some few of my thoughts about each of these things, because I cannot possibly write, or even remember, all of the things I have thought about this over the past few days:
“But the policy is the same as the one already in place for children of polygamists”
Well, first of all, I don’t agree with that policy either, and don’t remember knowing about it, or at least thinking about it, until very recently. (There were a lot of things I didn’t know about or think about.) And my Mom always said “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Also, that policy has not been quite as restrictive or set in stone as this new one. There was more wiggle room in that one. But I still think it was wrong for the same reasons as I think this one is wrong. Here is what that policy was in the Handbook in 2006:
Children Whose Parents Have Practiced or Are Practicing Plural Marriage
Children of parents who have practiced or are practicing plural marriage must receive approval from the First Presidency to be baptized. The mission president or bishop may request this approval when he is satisfied that the children (1) accept the teachings and doctrines of the Church and (2) repudiate the teachings upon which their parents based their practice of plural marriage. The mission president submits the request through a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency. The bishop submits the request through the stake president.
And here is what it was in 2010:
Children Whose Parents Have Practiced or Are Practicing Plural Marriage
Children of parents who have practiced or are practicing plural marriage contrary to the law must receive approval from the First Presidency before they may be baptized and confirmed. The mission president or bishop may request this approval when he is satisfied that the children (1) accept the teachings and doctrines of the Church and (2) repudiate the teachings upon which their parents based their practice of plural marriage. The mission president may request this approval from the Office of the First Presidency when he is satisfied that all three of the following requirements are met:
- The children accept the teachings and doctrines of the Church.
- The children repudiate the teachings upon which their parents base their practice of plural marriage.
- Minor children are not living in a home where polygamy is being taught or practiced. The bishop submits the request through the stake president.
So the children of polygamists could possibly have been baptized as children, under the age of 18. There was provision for that. There was wiggle room. In this new policy there is no provision for children under 18 to be baptized, no matter the circumstance, no matter the desire of their parents, no matter if their parents desperately want them to be baptized, no matter what their parents believe, no matter what their parents teach them, no matter what the Spirit says, no matter what.
It is also interesting that the changes in the 2010 policy for children of polygamists seem to allow an out for those who live in countries where polygamy is legal.
“But the policy is actually to make sure the family’s wishes are respected”
I have read and heard this argument, that the policy actually supports the idea that the family is paramount. The family should be paramount. The parents should be the ones in charge of their children. HOWEVER, that is already the case with the policy that was and is already in place where parents have to give permission for any minors ever to be baptized anyway. I had to get my non-member parent’s permission to be baptized when I was 15.
This new policy clearly takes away the agency of the family/parents to decide what is best for their children.
“With this policy children are protected from the confusion and distress being in conflict with their parents’ beliefs or lifestyle might cause”
First of all, whenever any child whose parents are not members, or who have any different beliefs from what the Church teaches, gets baptized there is going to be some amount of discomfort. There are going to be things they believe that put them in some level of conflict with their parents. I know. I was baptized at age 15. My Mom gave permission, but that did not mean my family liked all the things I did because of being a member. It caused great stress and sorrow for me, and for them, sometimes.
But do I ever wish I had been made to wait until I was 18 to be baptized? No, never. I am so thankful that I had the Church, and my beliefs, and the support of Church friends, and the Holy Ghost to help me through those very difficult years.
Again, the parents are the ones who should be allowed to decide for their child what is best. Will they get it wrong? Sometimes they will. But should we take away agency to force people to do things right?
“Nothing is lost with this policy. Children can wait until they are 18 and nothing will be lost because the Lord will not penalize them”
The Lord will not penalize them. The Lord loves them. The Lord loves everyone who is oppressed and constrained and trammeled and hurt and abused, etc., etc. The Lord also loved the women and children who were burned up by the wicked people in the Book of Mormon. He loves everyone who is born during any 3-4 generation of cursing that follows a wicked generation. He takes every circumstance into account when He judges those children. But He does allow the wicked to have their agency, and to harm and punish and oppress, and even torture and kill the innocent.
I do believe that the Lord will not penalize any child who is not allowed to be blessed, baptized, confirmed, ordained, or to go on a mission because of this policy. But does that mean they won’t hurt because of it? Does that mean they won’t suffer from not having the guidance of the gift of the Holy Ghost (if you believe they can only get that through confirmation)? Does that mean they won’t feel less than their peers in the Church when they can’t go on temple trips, or get ordained when their friends do, or hold callings?
The Lord does not penalize the abused child, but did they not still suffer?
It is not true to say nothing will be lost. It is true to say that all experience can be for our good. The Lord can make up to them in the eternities what they have lost and any offenses they have suffered.
But wo, wo, to them by whom the offense comes.
“Why do you care if you are not a member of the Church. I don’t understand why people are so upset about this”
I am upset by it because it is wrong. It goes against scripture that I believe in. It removes agency. It takes the decision away from families and puts it into the hands of the Church. And it hurts people I love, care about, and people I don’t know, but feel so sad for their pain.
Here is what the Savior Himself says His doctrine is:
3 Nephi 11:32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.
37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
Now this new policy is just that, a policy and not a doctrine. However it is infringing on a doctrine, on THE doctrine according to Christ. It is requiring more and different requirements for baptism than the Savior says is His doctrine. I believe that this policy is doing exactly what it says not to do in verse 40. I believe it is declaring much, much “more . . . than this,” and the Savior Himself says that comes of evil.
Here are other scriptures that I believe show that the new policy is not what the Lord would want:
…The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
…Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
2 Nephi 26:33
[The Lord] inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
…as many as did believe were baptized…
…they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.
3 Nephi 7:25
…all such as should come unto them should be baptized…
3 Nephi 11:22-23
…On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name…baptize them…
4 Nephi 1:1
…as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized…
This policy has already terribly hurt many people.
I have dear friends whom this affects. One of my friends who is in a same sex relationship has a teenage daughter who is very active in the Church. My friend is very supportive of her daughter in her membership in the Church. Now that daughter cannot go on a mission, if she chooses to, unless she moves out of her mother’s home, disavows her mother’s lifestyle, convinces her local leaders of these things, and gets First Presidency approval. Even if her mother were no longer in a same sex relationship at that point, the daughter would still have to go through the same process. According to the policy, repentance by the mother of living in the same sex lifestyle would not change the requirements.
Just a few of the things I have heard happening already:
I have heard of at least a few children’s baptisms that were to have happened even this past weekend that were cancelled because they have a gay parent.
Within the first day after the policy was leaked I heard of several people who were suicidal over it.
A gay father is suicidal because he had been trying to contact his kids since the decision and they wouldn’t answer him, and then one of them told him that they want to be a good Mormon so they won’t talk to him again.
An acquaintance who is active in the Church and who has a gay teenage son sat with him sobbing with his head in her lap after he heard of the policy.
I have heard that at least one BYU student who has a gay parent has been called in by their Bishop and told they must repudiate their parents’ relationship or lose their ecclesiastical endorsement and be kicked out of BYU.
Many of my LDS friends are in agony over this. It has caused such cognitive dissonance in them that they are in great pain over it. They have no idea how to resolve the idea that the leaders can’t lead you astray, with a policy that the spirit tells them in their hearts is wrong.
Here are a few links to other stories of those who have been hurt by this, or who would have been had it been in place when they joined the Church:
People are already hurt terribly; more people will be hurt terribly. That is why it matters to me. And I believe the Lord is not pleased.
I have heard people saying, “Why don’t you just leave the Church, if you don’t believe this is right?” If you believe that the saving ordinances are in the Church, why would you not do everything you could to kindly persuade and love and help everyone to stay? Why so quick to get rid of anyone who disagrees? Where is the charity in that sentiment?
“But the ‘Brethren’ have put this policy in place and endorse it, so it is right, and we just need a testimony of our leaders”
Here is a great blog post by a member that speaks a bit to parts of this idea:
This is one of the scariest, dangerous, and most insidious things that has happened in the Church, I believe – the idea that the leaders can’t lead us astray and that every policy, decision, and even statement made by the Church or a General Authority must be right and must be believed. Some believe that current leaders always trump earlier leaders and even can trump the scriptures. And that the only reason to ponder and pray about it is to bring ourselves in line with what they have said.
The rebuttal to those ideas is a whole other blog post, or multiple posts.
So, here I will just say that there has been no claim by any leader that this is a revelation. The Church does extensive polling, and sends out many surveys, and checks with their legal entities, etc. They do these things all the time, and use the results to make decisions. I know that many people are not aware that this happens, but it does. It is very rare that any decision they make is even claimed to be revelation from the Lord.
And this new policy is also not claimed to be that. Elder Christofferson did not claim revelation when he talked about it. He mentioned reasons that are the philosophies of men. Many philosophies of men are great and worthy of consideration, but I do not believe they trump the word of God.
As I have pointed out already, I think this policy goes against scripture, and therefore any other argument for it, no matter how reasoned, is really moot.
I realize that there have been some children who have gotten baptized whose parents are gay, and that they have had problems because of it. Most LDS people I know believe that the government is too intrusive in our lives, that they try to legislate every little thing and bind us down with the multitude of laws, all ostensibly designed originally to help us in some way, to make us be good, or force us to do the wise thing, or keep us safe. We recognize that is Satan’s plan. We may recognize it in the government, but may be blind to it when it happens in our own religious institution.
Here is a blog post by a friend of mine that deals with some of these and other issues, too:
“The children are not being banned from the Church; they can still attend all the meetings and activities”
It is true that they can still come to meetings and participate in most activities (as long as it is not a temple trip). But many have pointed out that they will still feel a stigma, they will still feel “lesser” than others. There will be social and emotional consequences.
There is a lot that could be said about those consequences caused for children and youth by being stigmatized in this way, but the infinitely more important point is that, while they are not banned from participating in Church, the Church is banning them from participating in the gospel of Christ. They can’t be baptized, they can’t be confirmed and given the charge to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, they can’t partake of the Sacrament. When they are told these things, they are actually being told they cannot participate in the gospel of Christ.
Some other thoughts
I feel a bit frustrated writing this because I wish I had a lot more time and a better memory, so I could remember more of the many thoughts I have had over the past few days about this and could organize them and write them. I could say more in a later blog post, but it truly wears me out.
But I want to say this:
I prayed for something like this. That probably sounds awful to many, I think, but I did. I didn’t want people to be hurt, but I prayed that something would happen that would wake people up to our awful situation, before it is too late, or at least before the terrible judgments of death and destruction come upon us. I think Mormon 8 is talking about us, and it is pretty harsh. Moroni saw us:
Mormon 8:35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
He saw us, and he asked us, “why have ye polluted the holy church of God?”
I think this egregious policy could be at least a part of the mercies of the Lord allowing things like this to try to wake up His people, people who love Him, but who are blinded by philosophies of men mingled with scripture.
Believing any arm of flesh cannot lead us astray is so dangerous.
One of my friends said to me once that he thinks the Lord will be merciful to those in the Church who are blinded. That He will give them another path to wake up. The problem is, the other path is often painful, and we don’t have to wait for that other path. We can choose to look carefully and fearlessly at things that are going on, to recognize that the Book of Mormon is talking to us, not to a people who will never read it. We can realize from things like this policy that there is a problem, and we can go to the Lord, and trust our own revelation from Him, and not the arm of flesh, for answers.
It is important for all of us, when we look at things like this and think, “Well, here we go, the wheat is being separated from the tares,” to really go to the Lord and plead and pray, and ask and seek and knock, to know whether we are actually wheat or tares. Being in the Church is not a guarantee of being wheat.
One thing to remember in all this is that baptism is not about joining a Church. In the Church we think of being baptized and joining the Church as synonymous, but they are not. Several years ago, for a short while the policy was to make investigators wait for a week after baptism before being confirmed. This was because some people were being baptized and confirmed the same day, and then never showing up at Church again. So, they would baptize them, and then if they never showed up again, they were never actually a member of the Church, because they hadn’t been confirmed, and the Church didn’t have to have another inactive member on the rolls.
And in the early days of the Church people were rebaptized all the time, any time they wanted to recommit themselves to the Lord and for other reasons.
Here is a quote from my friend on her blog post at this link (the whole blog post is great):
“God does not deny baptism to those who qualify for it. . . God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so these qualifications have not changed.
For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. 2 Nephi 26:33
You don’t have to believe what I say on the matter, but you should look into your scriptures. You should ask God for the truth of the matter, for yourself, who giveth to all men liberally.”
I echo those words. Ask God for the truth of the matter, with an open mind, laying aside your preconceived ideas, and willing to accept whatever answer you get, no matter how surprising it might be.
And I am talking about asking about the greater issues, not just this particular policy.
If you want to be baptized, or rebaptized, by someone with authority, please go to this web site: