Yesterday I wrote about a change in church policy regarding how the church deals with children of LGBTQ parents in the church. you can read that here.
Due to the swift backlash from members and non-members both on social media and news media the church had no choice but to respond to this. The above video is from Elder Christopherson of the quorum of the 12 apostles. In this video he explains the church policy regarding this decision.
Elder Christopherson talks about and re-affirms that gay relationships are sin and the church has never wavered from that position. He is right. The church always has and I expect will do so for eternity, consider homosexual relations as sin. I would expect nothing less from a church that is led by God. This kind of relationship has been declared sin all through biblical history.
There are concerns that he has mentioned regarding how membership in the church can affect family relationships. These concerns about children being taught one thing at church and another at home and how that may affect family relationshps is valid. The ideals about family relationships in the home they would be taught are that gay relationships are acceptable and at church they would be taught that their parents are sinful and their relationship is wrong.
Elder Christophersons explains these concerns as they relate to children being blessed or baptized due to this conflict. The concerns that church leadership has are in my opinion completely valid. These concerns are very real and even justifiable.
Before we go further I want to make it clear, I have a full testimony and faith in the competency in the leadership of the church. I do believe and have testimony that they are called of God. They have a duty to ensure the integrity of the church. Family is a central part of the church organizaiton and thus family integrity is central to church inegrity. I do not believe that this change in policy affects the integrity of the church in any way.
Some of the things he spoke on regarding this decision by the church were with regard to ensuring those being baptized clearly understand and support the doctrine of the church. This position and requirement is 100% and completely understandable.
The church has within its policies that they will not baptize or perform any ordinances for children against their parents wishes. This policy applies regardless of membership or worthiness status of their parents. Up until yesterday a child’s gay parents could be living as destructively sinful life as one could possibly imagine, if they gave their consent and blessing for their child to be baptized and the child wanted to become a member of the church they would be granted that opportunity.
Within the church we believe that children have reached an age of accountability at 8 years. What this means is we believe that a child of 8 has the ability and capacity to understand right from wrong. Because they have this ability they are old enough to choose for themselves whether they will be baptized or not. This ability to choose however will always be with the blessing of their parents.
Where does this leave my stance on the recent church policy change. To put it simply my stance is unchanged. The concerns Elder Christopherson mentions about how baptizing these children will affect their family dynamics and relations are very valid indeed. I can see these things being a huge problem if children were baptized without understanding what the churches positions is and without their parents being in full understanding of what the church teaches in relations to these matters.
For this reason it is vitally important that when a child is going to be baptized that the childs parents are fully and 100% supportive and involved in the processes leading up to the baptism and beyond. Without this kind of support then baptism is clearly not the right choice at this time till that child is living independently and no longer needs parental support in his or her church activity. It is difficult for me to see why the church would still deny access to these ordinances with this kind of positive support from gay parents. When parents leave the church and no longer support the church their children can still be baptized with parental permission. The same family problems can arise in such a circumstance so why does this policy only apply to gay couples?
One part of this policy in this video that was not addressed was the provision in the policy that states an adult child, living with a gay parent who has or is currently living with or in a gay relationship cannot be baptized. This part of the policy is problematic in that a adult child in any other circumstance where parents are not gay, or polygamous as mentioned in the video, even if they are living in sin can still be baptized and join the church as they are legally an adult and no longer require permission.
This policy still leaves many questions that need to be answered. with 10% of the world falling into the LGBTQ category that would leave, statistically speaking, 1.5 million members of the church and their children are potentially affected by this change in policy. I personally know at least 3 people who fit this category that have been baptized into the church. None of them have children, but that does not mean they won’t at some future date.
The desire to protect children from the trials relating to membership in a church that teaches that their parents way of life is wrong is sinful is commendable, but I also find it to be a bit presumptuous that the church is assuming that a child, and their family cannot handle it properly. Ultimately is it not the childs, and their parents who are the best judges of whether they can handle it or not?
These situations should be handled with care and prayerful considerations before a baptism or any other ordinance is performed, just as it should before any child wishes to be baptized with non-member or other family situations where church teachings preach against the way in which members of that family are living. I also agree that no child should be baptized into the church without parental consent.
Allowing children of gay parents to become members of the church and opening all blessings that come with that membership does not, will not and cannot change the doctrine of God regarding same-sex marriage. It will not, does not and cannot invalidate the churches position on same-sex marriage. As I have understood, the church has had openly gay members who have been afforded all the blessings of membership so long as they live the gospel and live in accordance with church teachings. Shouldn’t everyone who is living so be afforded the same opportunity? Denying children membership because of their parents choices relating to their sexuality will not stop these kids from living, believing, preachings and practicing church teachings or attending church if they so choose.
There are processes in place that ensure that those joining the church and in the case of children and their families understand and fully support and accept their child’s decsion, this should be treated no differently. If we look at this rationally, does it make sense in any way, that gay parents would allow or support their child joining an organization that preaches strongly against what they wish to teach their own children? What possible rational would they have for supporting such a choice? Why would they voluntarily commit to joining a organizaiton that preaches against them?
What I have heard from Elder Christopheson is that policy was changed because of questions from church members and local leadership have been brought to their attention. There has been no mention of actual situations where this has been problematic. What I wish to know is have there been situations where this has been a problem and so policy was needed? How many times has this been a problem for church clergy? How often are they dealing with this? Is it really so often that new policy is needed to deal with such circumstances? We don’t need to know names and who was dealing with it but answers to these questions would bring about clarity to many members such as myself to know just how widespread, if this problem really is an issue within the church.
The Lord gives guidance to those he has called to lead his church on matters of policy and doctrine. Of this I have no doubt. This testimony of mine however, does not mean that I will agree with every policy decision brought forth by the church. I fully and 100% support the doctrine of the church regarding same-sex marriage and that the laws of man do not apply within the church regarding its teachings and doctrinal practices. Just as the laws of the church do not apply to our secular governments. What I do believe however is that children of gay parents should be allowed and afforded all the ordinances such as baptism that any other child member of the church would be permitted, so long as their parents support and approve of the child’s decsion. This to me is only fair, right and just. Denying a child opportunity because of the choices of their parents just does not sit well with me.
Many times throughout church history the Lord has permitted his church leaders to make wrong choices in an effort to teach his wisdom. The lost manuscript of the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon is a good example of this. I do not know if this was a right or wrong choice in the end. What I do know is that I do not agree with it. I also know, that like other missteps in church history, this policy change will not cause the church to stray from its mission, or stop the work that it is doing throughout the world. The church will continue to grow. ultimately I do not have the authority, knowledge, or experience to judge if this policy change is a misstep, bad choice, wrong etc… That is not my prerogative and in the end it does not affect me or my family, at least not directly.
My support for church leadership does not wane, despite my position on this church policy. I love the gospel. I love the church. I may not always agree with every policy position taken but my support of the gospel will always be there.
And that is the gospel according to Andrew.