I’ve mentioned before that I was once a member of the Mormon church. Although I’m not even on their list of members anymore, I still have friends and family members in the church. So it’s something that I still hear about from time to time, especially when the church does something incredibly unexpected with far-reaching effects.
A few days ago, information was leaked concerning a new change to the church’s handbook meant only for the eyes of the leadership. These changes states that the children of gay couples are, to put it plainly, no longer welcome in the church. The way the church puts it is a bit different, but the effect is the same. Children of gay parents may not participate in any of the essential church milestones, including baptism at age eight and serving a mission, until they take certain steps:
1. Reach the age of 18
2. Disavow your gay parent or parents
3. Move out of the home of your gay parent or parents
This dramatic shift has inspired me to wonder the following:
1. What exactly does disavowing your parents require? From what I’ve read, it sounds like it means you must disavow their relationships with members of the same sex. But, to me, that means disavowing the parents as people since being gay is not a choice.
2. The church is allegedly concerned with the eternal salvation of all souls, which is something that can only be accomplished through baptism (and a few other steps). Why is the church willing to risk the souls of children and make them wait until 18 to get baptized? How many people would still want to join after being denied for years simply because of their parents?
3. The policy change also states that gay individuals who marry (an act that is, by the way, fully legal in the United States) are now considered apostates. Does the church think ANY gay person (or their relatives who can look past the church and still care about their family) will still feel welcome in the church by all of these changes?
4. What about the second Article of Faith, which states: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” Has the church leadership forgotten this simple doctrine?
5. Defense for this policy usually includes a claim that this change is to “protect” the children of gay individuals. The theory goes that this stops the kids from having to listen to how “sinful” their parents are in church, avoiding potential parental conflicts at home. So, why is the church not worried about the children who live in homes with parents who commit other “sins”, such as watching R-Rated movies or drinking coffee? Why are they specifically targeting the children of gay individuals?
It makes me sad to watch people I know support this policy change. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do when someone believes that a policy comes directly from God, even though the Mormon church has a history of changing its mind on its policies when the tide of popular opinion begins to shift. Yet again, the church finds itself on the wrong side of history.