the walking writer

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.

Heart on a Beach

Simple love. Credit to Pixabay.

Once upon a time, I was a Mormon. I left the church many years ago, but some family members and in-laws remain as members. I have watched with hope as I’ve witnessed the changing attitudes within the church on LGBT issues. Although I am pleased to see that the younger generation is adopting attitudes similar to their non-Mormon peers, I am saddened to see that the church leadership still anchors themselves to outdated and unkind attitudes to people who are different than them. Recently, the church held its semi-annual General Conference in which these views were once again displayed publicly. Indeed, one of the church elders referred to non-heterosexual relationships as “counterfeit lifestyles.”

I wish I had the eloquent words to show those who adhere to this kind of thinking how much pain they are causing the people around them. I wish people could stop for a moment and ask themselves a simple question: “Why am I fighting against someone else’s right to love another human being?”

Although the lack of acceptance on the part of church leaders disappoints me, I am so happy to see the views of so many others changing. I have seen it in my own family, even those who are still faithful Mormons. It makes me so glad to see that more people are getting to experience the same happiness my husband and I enjoy each day, complete with full legal rights. Perhaps someday the church will change its views. If it does not, the world will simply leave it behind, found only in the history books. In the end, I believe that love will win.

My former church excommunicated one of its members today. Excommunicated, in this case, means this individual can no longer call herself a member of the church. What was the great crime that caused this result? Simply put, Kate Kelly was excommunicated because she wanted women to have the same rights within the church as the men enjoy.

On the surface, it seems a little odd to me that I care at all about this as I no longer believe in any religion. However, I can understand the pain all too well that many of Kelly’s supporters are feeling tonight. I felt a similar pain one day, many years ago, when I realized that the church wasn’t what I thought. It’s easy for me to take myself back some years ago when I was still a member and think about how I would have reacted upon reading this news. I think I would have been shocked to realize that this supposedly loving and open church was shutting its doors so cruelly to such a faithful member.

As of today, I no longer have any belief that the church will someday become a more open and tolerant place. This fact saddens me as both my husband and I still have many family members left in the church. I hope, however, that more people will see the church in a new and honest light after this event. Perhaps some members who struggle to fit in the church will begin their own journey to happiness that comes from believing in yourself and your fellow humans instead of religion.