My Experience With an Update in Church Policy…

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 9.14.40 AMI’ll try to keep it brief.

I felt some surprise last night when I opened up my browser to find an update in Church policy regarding married gay couples and their children. My gift of being prone to anxiety (with her soul sister, “over-reaction”) caused some immediate feelings of either dread, panic, anxiety, or worry (I never can tell which I’m feeling at the outset) at the headline “LDS Church to exclude children of same-sex couples from membership” (thanks to KUTV for adding click-bait drama to an already controversial subject). Of course I had an immediate response. I was confused. I don’t like “exclusion” and I love people and don’t like people feeling hurt.

But, following is what happened to me last night. I wouldn’t use me as an example, for sure, but I think there is a divine pattern in what I experienced.

  1. Right off the bat, I decided not to go to Facebook and see what everyone thought. And, I decided not to go share a response immediately, since I knew I only had part of the story. Social media is not where I find answers to deep things.
  2. I reached out to people with understanding. I made some phone calls, and received a perfectly timed call from one of my favorite former students. She and I talked through our thoughts and feelings as she reached out to say, “Help me find some understanding here”. We acknowledged our feelings and limited understanding and talked about the possible and probable reasons for the policy. We decided we needed more info, but that this was still a hard one. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be some (or a lot) pain and hurt involved here, and that breaks my heart. I decided not to ignore those feelings either.
  3. I looked for an official Church response. There wasn’t one. I expect there may be one shortly.
  4. I started asking myself some questions, prayerfully: 1. Why would the leaders of the Church make this policy change? What reasoning could be behind it? Obviously this wasn’t meant as a way to attack gay families, since the hasn’t been the overall pattern of Church leadership. They’ve tried to teach true principles and practice kindness in a world that won’t allow those two options to exist in the same room at the same time.
  5. I had a moment where the thought came into my mind: Who does this policy protect? And as I pondered that thought for some hours, I had an awakening regarding the matter: This policy protects families with gay parents and children/youth who want to join the Church while living in a family with gay parents (see below for explanation).
  6. I felt some relief and peace, and that peace felt very familiar. It is the same feeling I feel when I have a good scripture study evening, or serve someone, or worship in the temple, or teach the gospel. Peace is a good answer.
  7. I then happened upon a clarifying quote from a comment the Church made about the policy:

The LDS Church says the concern is that the expectations of church attendance, baptism, priesthood ordination and other ordinances would put the child in a very difficult position, considering the parents could not be church members. (Fox13now.com)

In the night, in my personal scripture study, I happened upon D&C 6:14, which reminded me that inquiring of the Lord on these matters will be more helpful than inquiring at the knee of Facebook, Twitter, or the mainstream news media outlets. Joseph Smith “lacked wisdom”, he “stud[ied] it out in his mind”, he “ask[ed] of God” and received a “pillar of light” as part of the answer. I can testify of that pattern. I went to the Lord for help and received some good instruction. I was happy to see the quote from the news that complimented and confirmed what I felt, but I’m not sure I needed it. I am grateful for personal revelation. I hope more information will be forthcoming. But I am at peace.

Be Encouraging…BJM

(Now, here is my explanation regarding how this new policy is a protective policy, rather than a restrictive policy. If you don’t care about my explanation, and I’d agree with that choice, then you’ve already hit the end of this post for all intents and purposes)

I had a young man come to me some time ago, wanting to sign up for seminary. He isn’t a member of our faith, but he has a lot of Mormon friends. His parents are practicing members of another faith, and they’re a great family.

He asked me about signing up for seminary even though his parents probably wouldn’t like the idea. He was hoping I would support him in his decision to attend anyway. There was a minor feeling of shock when I told him not to attend, at least not without a very long and patient visit with his parents. I don’t know if he was hurt or not by my non-support, but I just couldn’t let him make a decision that would make his family life harder. I really do want him to take seminary, but right now, that wouldn’t bless his life. It might complicate it. So I invited him not to take seminary unless he had the full support of his family.

The policy disallowing children of same-sex couples to be baptized protects that child. It protects that same-sex couple and family. To require a young person to sustain the prophet, attend church regularly, and work toward the temple while living with two same-sex parents (who are most likely wonderful, understanding, and loving parents and providers) is requiring that child to draw a line in the sand in their home that isn’t fair to the child or parents, especially at a young age. By allowing baptism, the Church would be putting the child in an almost-impossible situation where keeping covenants might be out of reach or may cause increased tension and contention in the home. The child would eventually have to hurt and offend his/her parents, or back away from important covenants made in the waters of baptism. It would be more wise to wait until the child was more mature and out of the home before making that momentous, covenant-related decision to join the Church through baptism.

Rather than banning or barring children of same-gender couples, I believe the Church is protecting them from a covenant that, in this case, would negatively affect their spiritual progress. I am thankful for thoughtful Church leaders and a loving Heavenly Father who is making it more likely that His children will return to Him.

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36 thoughts on “My Experience With an Update in Church Policy…

  1. Dianne Carter

    I absolutely agree with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such a beautiful, loving way.

    I agree FB is not the place to turn for info. That being said, so many people who do turn to social media could greatly benefit from your post.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Hopefully others will thoughtfully ponder and pray and have the personal witness they need to recognize this change in policy as a blessing.

    Dianne

    >

    Reply
  2. Mark Davidson

    Beautiful. You got it right, I believe. I came to the same conclusion, through my own process, and had a similar initial reaction, as I am an anxiety proned person myself. The media, as you pointed out, will vilify the church. The masses, through social media, and the likes, will respond accordingly.

    Their is a “rod” and a “building.” It is become more and more clear that the two are getting further and further apart, but the crowd in it is so great, and the building getting so much larger, that it can be seen and heard, even from the great gap between the two.

    Reply
  3. Amy

    I happened upon your blog by a friend on Facebook. I read this post because I remember you as my seminary teacher and I had respect for you for the way you taught. This post just reminded me of that respect and why you earned it. Thank you! This is a perfect example of why this protects families. My only hope is that members of the LDS church will not feel like they need to ostracize these families because the parents are now labeled “Apostates”.

    Reply
    1. BJM Post author

      I agree whole-heartedly. There is NO room for us to be anything but loving to those who have different experiences than we do in life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

      Reply
  4. Natalie

    I have to disagree. It protects no one. A person no matter what age can live according to the principles of the church while having family members in their home who don’t. People do it all the time. I knew a woman who’s husband wasn’t a member. He smoked, drank, and did many other things which are against the teachings of the church. But she was able to be mature, still love and accept her husband and be a faithful member while raising all 5 of her kids in the church as well. To say a person who’s parents are same-sex can’t be baptized is not protecting anyone. If a person has faith, has felt the Holy Ghost and knows within them that the LDS chrixh is true then it shouldn’t matter what heir home life is like. All that matters is how that individual lives their life. If if they have that support even if a small amount from their parents then let them have the blessings that come with baptism and membership.

    Reply
    1. BJM Post author

      I agree that it isn’t impossible, and many would be able to do it. That’s why I’m thankful there will be exceptions to the policy.

      Reply
      1. Jason

        I haven’t heard about this statement that “there will be exceptions to the policy” before, I am curious where you got that from so I can check it out? Thanks!

      2. Miquelle

        How do you know there will be exceptions? It is heartbreaking to me that the LDS church felt a need to make this policy. There will be some that will use this as a reason to continue their bigoted and hateful ways in the name of religion. I wonder where the line will stop, will a daughter that lives with her mother and partner be able to get a temple recommend to marry if she doesn’t denounce her? This can go so many ways. I just wish that people could go back to the basics and live one another and not judge. If you believe in Christ, be a Christian and follow him it is NOT our place to judge, we need more love and unity in the world not divisive policies. Thank you for sharing your point of view, even though I disagree with it I value your perspective.

      3. rjrodriguez72

        When any person is called of God to be a follower of Jesus, it sets them at odds with the world. Christians are pilgrims in a world they live in. They are held and compelled by the mercy and grace of God. The Christian is set apart from the world by God in order to glorify God not men.

        When a Christian follows the spirit of God they are at enmity with family and friends and unGodly public policy.

    2. Schnaftipufti

      Natalie, have you grown up in a part member family? It might be somewhat ok for the wife but let me tell you it is frustrating to the children. I have been there and lived through it.

      Reply
    3. bdover

      Your example is using a full grown adult as a comparison. The church will allow an 18 year old to be baptized, so your point is not valid.

      Reply
  5. Donna

    Well-stated. Also, we cannot see what lies ahead in the future had this directive NOT been made. As with everything else, policies often come out well ahead of time to protect everyone from “laws of the land” or social pressure in the future.

    Reply
  6. Alex

    Still remember the time when black men couldn’t bear the priesthood. … it felt really discriminating. … things changed since President Kimball….but I still remember those faithful brothers that embraced the faith with hope and humble hearts….and served in whatever position they could,some of them didn’t get to have the priesthood in their lives.

    Reply
  7. quiregirl

    I had a similar initial reaction. Thank you for your well thought out, clearly expressed thoughts on how it may be a policy that is protective to the families involved.

    Reply
  8. kceylin92014

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I was fortunate enough to read about the policy change and understand it since my husband has worked with children from polygamy on his mission and it is very similar (I wrote a blog post comparing the two if you have questions). Through Facebook I have seen so many of my friends become offended and hurt because of this. Reading your post has helped me realize what they are going through and what advice I can give them. Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Edward Hegemann

    I appreciate the approach you took to seek spiritual answers to something that initially seems discriminatory. Paul understood the need to involve the Spirit if we are to understand the things of God:
    “For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
    We need to receive revelation if we are to understand the revelations that come from prophets.

    Reply
  10. Shane

    One of the best, well reasoned, responses I have read yet. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your faith. – Laos Deo

    Reply
  11. Kristin

    This policy will hurt far more children and families that it will “protect.” So many LDS people I know thought this was a hoax because it is so fundamentally flawed and unbelievable. I’m glad you were able to spend some time coming up with some way to make it make sense for you but I think if your initial reaction is one of fear and dread and you have to spend hours finding a way to talk yourself into it, there is a problem.

    Reply
    1. BJM Post author

      That is an interesting point of view. I have spent hours worrying about a lot of things, in and outside of the church. It has rarely been an indication of something’s truthfulness.

      Reply
    2. BJM Post author

      I suppose we will need to wait and see how many families are affected, and in what sense. I personally believe this will be more protective to more families and individuals. But I suppose time will tell.

      Reply
  12. Tim S

    I, too, turned to the scriptures and turned to the Lord in prayer. The new policy brought me conflict and darkness. Matthew 19:14 and Ezekiel 18:20 bought me peace.

    If it’s about protecting people, then why define gay marriage as apostasy? Furthermore the requirement of children of same-sex marriages to “disavow” gay marriage feels more to me like the Spanish Inquisition (of the Great Apostasy) than the true, loving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Reply
  13. Marnie

    Thank you for your simple insight, and explanation. With all sorts of stuff circulating right now, this has helped me understand it better. Thank you!

    Reply
  14. DJG

    Nowhere in this directive does it say you are not welcome to come participate in our LDS meeting and activities ! It is only clarifying that as a non-member,these ordinances are not available until you are of legal age without the concent of your parent.. The Primary classes teach of being a Child of God (as we all are) being honest, true, being kind to others, loving one another,All the songs they teach ,and classes are valuable …Having parents concent has always been required for baptism for those under 18…All the teaching of the youth groups are valuable to becoming good people..All good people in and out of the church follow the basic teaching of God….To me this is not a new thing, the society has become so complicated, it is just clarifying .. a point.

    Reply
  15. Terri Troutman

    This explanation is confirmed to me by the Spirit. Once, as a stake missionary teaching a sweet investigator with the sister missionaries, I had to tell her (after conferring with the mission president) that because her husband refused to allow missionaries or a Book of Mormon in their home and didn’t want her to continue seeing us, that she needed to comply and not continue on the sly as she wanted to do. It broke all our hearts, but if there was ever a hope for her marriage to continue, she had to pray for him and gently, over time, persuade him to allow it. Or else to leave him on her own. The church is not in the business of coming between a husband and wife or breaking up marriages. This updated church directive is the same principle.

    Reply
  16. DT

    It seems that the church has never cared about you conclusion before. Missionaries always come home with faith promoting stories of people who want to join the church, but their parents don’t want them to. The church welcomes them, even though their family doesn’t want them to.

    If your conclusion was right, why make it only Gay families? Why not just say that any child of parents who are not living in harmony with church teachings can’t be baptized? This was aimed squarely at Gay people, and nobody else in the same situation. Trying to find love in an unloving policy that goes against the articles of faith will provide false justifications.

    Reply
    1. BJM Post author

      The same has applied to polygamists, in some cases Muslims, and I can’t recall one minor in my mission who was baptized if their parents didn’t give consent, with an extensive explanation regarding the covenant the child was making. I appreciate your view and at the same time, it seems as though the church has cared about this for as long as I can remember.

      Reply
      1. Emily Grae

        That’s the thing though. This policy doesn’t specifically list any other situations. Only children with gay parents. It also makes NO reference that it’s being disallowed because the parents aren’t allowing it. I really can’t say this better than DT said it, and you’re completely missing the obvious if you think this isn’t an attack on family’s with gay parents. They don’t list Muslims or say parents that are against the church, they specifically single out gay parents.

      2. BJM Post author

        This policy is for families with gay parents. There are other policies in the handbook, as well as long-standing practices that deal with families with polygamous parents that line up.

    2. BJM Post author

      i agree with you that it is sad to see people not have every opportunity. And there has been more explanation, with Elder Christofferson’s recent video on mormonnewsroom.org.

      As for the 2nd A of F, it teaches people won’t be punished for another person’s sins. But, of course, they will be affected. We see that all around. Preparing a young child for baptism is an exciting challenge, and an effort of love. But if the child is in a situation where keeping the covenant of baptism will be almost impossible without ruining a parent-child relationship, allowing them to wait until age 18 to make such a momentous choice seems not only reasonable, but merciful.

      I do appreciate the sadness this will bring to some families. But I truly believe that in the long run, this serves as a protective policy.

      Reply
  17. Pingback: Controversy With Religion: How Listening Changed My Perspective | brockgardner

  18. Tab

    The 2nd Article of Faith says ” We believe man will be punished for his own sins and not Adams transgressions. ” So as LDS who believe this how can we rally behind this new policy change. How can we tell a child that because of choices of their parents they will be denied the great blessings that come with baptism. They will not be allowed to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost because of the way their parents live. So the argument that we are trying to protect these kids is wrong. By taking away these blessings how is that protection? As a very active LDS I am saddened and a bit ashamed. As a member who has worked extensively with the Primary children helping them get ready for baptism and getting them excited for that special day and all the blessings that come with it to now know that some of those same innocent souls will not be allowed is heartbreaking. I truly hope the Church gives more clarification because right now I am not on board.

    Reply
  19. rjrodriguez72

    This policy punishes the children for the sins of the father. It forbids that a child come to Jesus on the basis that it could cause trouble in a household.

    What did Jesus say. He came not to bring peace but the sword. And your enemies will be those that that are of your own house.

    This policy is discrimination

    Reply
    1. merethemum

      How does it stop a child coming unto Jesus?
      I can’t see how it does this. The child is still more than welcome to love and follow Him.

      Reply
  20. Nancy Carruth

    Beautifully stated. When I heard this news, I knew immediately that there was a logical as well as compassionate reason for this decision. Come unto Christ. Pray about it. Your response made me think of the scripture in D&C 6: 22-23. I felt peace.

    Reply

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