For the first time in my life I find myself at odds with a church position or policy. This has never happened to me before. While I have had disagreements or thought there were better ways to do things, nothing I have come across has caused me to question whether a policy put forth is really for the best overall. My position on this topic may get me pulled into the bishop’s office at some point, however I am fully and 100% confident in my position and so do not fear the potential consequences of writing this blog piece. There have been those that have been excommunicate for being proponents of gay marriage and the like for speaking out against church doctrine. Personally I do believe that if you are actively speaking out against a teaching or position of an organization you belong to they have the right to dis-associate themselves from you. So here I write, let come what may.
I am not out to tell the church that they are wrong. I am not out to call church leaders to repentance. I am out to express my concerns with a church policy that I find to be disturbing and wrong. When I see something that just does not feel right or feels wrong to me I cannot sit idly by and do nothing. I must speak out and make sure my position is known.
I have never been a bishop or member of any clergy within the LDS church. Considering my views on many subjects, I really can’t see me ever being called to service in such a position. It has recently been reveled that children who live with or are the natural-born children of gay married couples will not be permitted to be baptized, hold the priesthood or serve missions, or get their baby blessings and name.
From a Deseret news article you can read here
” It states that “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.”
“The handbook edition also states that “a natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting,” can only be baptized, confirmed, ordained to the priesthood or serve a full-time mission with approval from the Office of the First Presidency. A mission or stake president may request approval and determine that: “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”; and “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 essentially even if the child is an adult, if he or she is living with a gay parent who is single, but previously lived in a gay relationship, they still cannot get baptized. This is regardless of whether they are living church standards or not. Me and my wife used to live together, unmarried and previously lived in sin, and yet my children are still permitted to get baptized, however if one of us were gay, and used to live with another gay partner, my children would be denied that right. This just does not feel right.
This position is drastically different from the standard position which is that when a child is born he or she can received a name and a blessing by one holding the priesthood. When he or she turns 8 he or she can get baptized after being interviewed by the bishop and deemed worthy. When a boy turns 12 he can received the priesthood after being interviewed and deemed worthy of the priesthood. Both boys and Girls can be called to serve a mission whether or not their parents are living the standards of the church.
With this recently revealed policy however, I still do not know if it is new or not, a child of gay parents living together is denied all these blessing and privileges, not because of choices they made, but rather because of the choices of their parents. The children did not choose this life for themselves. These are circumstances thrust upon them and they are now being denied the blessings that are afforded all other members of the church because of circumstances beyond their control.
I am not gay, nor have I ever, nor currently or ever will engage in any kind of Gay relationships with anyone. Despite this I am still quite upset over this policy. It angers me because I do not believe, cannot believe that God would deny children access to his church over the sins of their parents. Every individual should be judged on the merits of their own choices and decisions, not those of others. Access to the church is much more than being allowed to attend meetings. It is about being able to enjoy the blessings of full membership.
It is understandable that children living in such homes will be and are heavily influenced by the choice of their parents, however as the scriptures say in D And C 68:25
“25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”
I would also add to this that if you are concerned about the influence parents are having on their children while living a life contrary to gospel teachings, how does denying them baptism and by extension the gift of the Holy Ghost help them? Without the influence of the spirit as a constant companion how do you expect these children to grow in the church and their testimonies?
This says to me clearly that children cannot be held accountable for not learning or knowing the gospel if their parents fail to teach them, but rather this sin would be upon the heads of the parents, not the children. This policy feels to me however to be punishing the children for the sins of their parents. While I understand that they can still get these blessing, the fact that in order to get them it must go through the first presidency of the church means that they are granted these blessings only in exceptional circumstances where as others would never be denied so long as they are living the standards and doctrine of the church. I really don’t understand why such a policy exists. This policy is wholly and completely based upon the sexuality and life choices of their parents, not the children themselves.
I understand the church not granting membership to gay married couples, or even ex-communicating those who choose to have a gay marriage done. I understand ex-communicating individuals who are co-habitating in gay relationships. This happens already and even with straight couples as well. When me and my wife were living together before we were married, I was subject to one of these church courts. It was expected and I faced it without hesitation because I knew that I was not living the standards that are expected of me given my membership in the Church. I was dis-fellowshiped for a period of one year. This is not as severe as ex-communications as I still retained my priesthood, and membership, however I was not able to exercise my priesthood, advance in the priesthood, take the sacrament, get a temple recommend etc… During that year we were working on plans to get married and eventually were. My full status and blessing within the church were eventually restored. If I had been living with my then girlfriend, and was not a member of the church, and wished to become a member of the church, I would not have been permitted to join till I was either married, or stopped living together. There are numerous examples of children being baptized while living with un-wed parents with parental consent. This should be treated no differently.
Gay couples face the same standards and must adhere to the same church practices and policies as straight couples to get the full blessings of the gospel. If you are living together in a gay relationship you will be denied the priesthood, temple recommend, sacrament, ability to serve a mission and possible ex-communication. Same as if you were in a straight relationship, living together, sexually active and not married to your partner. If you are not a member you will not be permitted to join the church till these issues are addressed.
If me and my wife had children and were not married, our children would not have been denied these privileges because of our life choices. My daughter would still be able to go to the temple this weekend. My children’s would still be able to get a name and blessing. They would still be able to serve missions for the church if they so choose. They would not be denied the ability and blessing of baptism because of our choices as their parents. They would not be required to move away from home and renounce all support for our choices as their parents.
In a way I feel that because LGBTQ people won’t or can’t change who they are and how they are living that their children are being punished in an effort to change their sinful ways. While it feels that way from my perspective I must caution those reading this to not assume such a motive. I do not speak for the church nor do I myself believe that is the motive behind this policy. Regardless of motives however that is the result. The children are being punished because of their parents transgressions. This does not sit right with me. It feels wrong. LGBTQ members have their children’s spiritual blessing threatened because of their choices. This is wrong.
I love this church. I love our dear Prophet President Monson. Regardless of my feelings on the matter I trust that this church is run by God with Christ at the head. I cannot blame or criticize bishops or stake presidents regarding this policy. They do not get to decide the rules, they are responsible for making sure the rules are followed. A bishop or stake president that has been put in the position of denying children church blessing because of the sins of their parents does not get to decide the matter. He will be required to follow the rules no matter his personal stance on the matter.
The kids affected by this policy position are children of God, and to deny them the rights, blessings and status in the church because of the life choices of their parents is wrong. I cannot emphasize enough that this is not about their parents being gay, but rather their choices in relation to their sexuality.
There are many in the church that will support this policy position. They will never question it. They will follow everything that is put forth blindly and call it faith. This is not faith, this is blind obedience. Faith requires us to seek, learn and question. Faith requires us to pray to our God seeking understanding.
My faith in God and the church is strong and It will take a lot more than one policy for me to reject the church, its leadership or its teachings. This however does not change how I feel about this however. These children will suffer because of the sins of their parents. This is wrong. Plain and simple. I cannot accept this to be right.
These kids should be given the same opportunity as every other child in the church and not be denied because of the choices of others. There is a law of natural consequences. An example of this is a father drunk driving with his kid in the car, getting in an accident and the child being killed or injured. This policy however is not a natural consequence because it is imposed by an outside authority on another. This is a not a direct consequence, uncontrolled by others as a result of choice of the parents.
I am upset to hear about this. It bothers me quite a bit. If children can be held accountable for the sins of their parents, Then where does that put my children? Will they be disciplined because of my sins?
For those of you reading this who may not be members of the LDS church, it is important to know that God knows I love the church. I know that the Gospel is true. This is not about questioning the doctrines of the church or the leadership of the church. I hope and pray you do not come away from reading this with a sour or negative view of the church. The LDS church is an amazing organization that has done incalculable good for the world and humanity as a whole. I will always rise to the defense of this church and would never wish to speak ill of it, regardless of my stance on any one policy or issue. This is about questioning a policy, that admittedly from my limited view, can only cause more harm than good. LGBTQ members are not being harmed any more than they already are. Their children are innocent. Must they suffer because of the choices of their parents?
And that is the Gospel according to Andrew