So this week has seen an announcement from the church in relation to a policy change to same-sex couples and their children. This announcement has rocked the Mormon world and it's reverberations are still being felt and will continue to be felt for a long time. News was leaked about this change before the church was able to present it in the most diplomatic fashion, which hasn't helped in the reception, and left almost every gay mormon man, wherever they fall on the spectrum, struggling to get their heads around this one. I'm still struggling to get my head around it myself at the moment, despite many conversations with many friends over the last couple of days. Intellectually it's easy to see that this is just an extension of the church's policy regarding polygamous families, but there are differences, some minor & some not so, that doesn't make this such a clear cut case as polygamy.
First I think the church adapting the handbook to officially declare anyone who enters into a gay marriage to be in 'apostasy' expected if not welcome, it had to make lay leaders clear where the lines are so that there could be no misunderstanding; i.e. some local leaders excommunicating gay married couples and some not. There needed to be consistency. It's the new policy that the children of gay couples will have to wait until they're 18, left home & dis-a-vow gay marriages that is causing a whole shit storm in the LDS community. At first on the surface this seems to be clear cut, it's the same policy as for the children of polygamous families and is set up to protect those children from contention between church beliefs and their home life, but there're differences that aren't being considered. It's pretty much a standard that poly families don't attend LDS congregations, and will usually attend their own churches and raise those children within that church, whereas there are many gay couples who love the church, attend church weekly & have a testimony of the restored gospel that will want to have their children go through all the landmark stages that we go through growing up in the church that will have to sit there & watch their children denied those moments and blessings. Who will have to explain to their child the reason as to why all their friends in primary are getting baptised but they can't, having to explain to their son why he can't be ordained to the priesthood and pass the sacrament. Knowing all the difficulties that will be awaiting them as they grow up but not having received the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide them through it
But even then that's not the end of the differences. What about the man who followed the church's council of the 70's & 80's to marry the gay away and now have a divorce behind them and joint custody of the kids? They're now in a relationship with a man and are happy for their wife to raise their child within the church, but now because they have joint custody that child's baptism has to be cancelled due to new church policy? [true story by the way] How are these children being protected? They still go to church every Sunday and hear the same lessons & talks regarding the Plan of Salvation & the centrality of marriage between man & a woman, will go to their gay parents home's knowing the church teaches against it, but will be denied all the blessings of church membership, including the gift of the Holy Ghost, to help them through it. They won't understand that the church is trying to protect them from conflict, they will just see the church denying them & keeping them on the outside.
I have no doubt that this policy has come about with the best of intentions but I find it difficult to accept that every possible scenario has been contemplated. By labelling gay parents as apostates we are automatically assuming that they are anti the church when that just isn't always the case.
I have shared with many of you my struggles of my teenage years, how I was suicidal through most of my teens and often cried myself to sleep praying that Heavenly Father would take me. My story is not a unique story & is pretty much basic for a gay mormon teen, well the news this week has pushed some of those teens off their cliff. So while some are sitting there patting themselves on the back for following the prophet can we at least be mindful of the gay youth sobbing into their parents chests as they see this as their church not loving them, for those who have attempted suicide these past few days, for those parents getting texts from their children saying they never want to see their parent again because the prophet has spoken. While some are crowing how this is sorting the wheat from the tares, can we remember that good people who love their Saviour have had their world rocked by the announcements this weekend. As my newsfeed rolls through all these stories, and countless like them, of the pain and suffering of this weekend I really am having a hard time rejoicing in the good of this change.
And to the arsehole who leaked this information before the church had a chance to present these changes in a more diplomatic fashion, I hope you appreciate that in your eagerness to attack the church your methods have added to the pain and suffering that this announcement has caused.