More Thoughts on the Most Recent Policy Update from the Mormon Church

Last night, Mormon Newsroom released a video interview with D. Todd Christofferson to help clarify the what and why of the policy update. You can find the video here.

I think the "what" of the policy update was already pretty clear; I can read, and they didn't mince their words. With the what taken care of, the "why" was left. The official why came in two parts, and neither were surprises. The first why was for clarification:
With the Supreme Court's decision in the United States there was a need for a distinction to be made between what may be legal and what may be the law of the church and the law of the lord and how we respond to that. So it's a matter of being clear, a matter of understanding right and wrong, a matter of firm policy that doesn't allow for question or doubt.
Boom. No question or doubt. [They actually said it.] In the LDS Church, acting on the urges of same-gender attraction is a serious transgression that is grouped among sins like attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, spouse abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, adultery, and fornication. Got it. [See, they didn't mince their words.] The second why, as it relates to why children of same-sex couples were included in the policy update:
This policy originates out of [...] compassion. It originates from a desire to protect children in their innocence, in their minority years. 
Here are some examples he gives to help clarify how the policy protects these children.
When, for example, there is a formal blessing and naming of a child in the church, which happens when the child has parents who are members of the church, it triggers a lot of things. First, a membership record for them, it triggers the assignment of visiting and home teachers, it triggers an expectation they will be in primary and the other church organizations, and that is likely not going to be an appropriate thing in the home setting, in the family setting, where they're living as children where their parents are a same-sex couple. We don't want there to be the conflicts that that would engender. We don't want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the church are very different. And so with the other ordinances on through baptism and so on. There's time for that if, when a child reaches majority, he or she feels like that's what they want, and they can make an informed, conscious decision about that, nothing is lost to them in the end if that's the direction they want to go. In the meantime, they're not placed in a position where there will be difficulties, challenges, conflicts that can injure their development in very tender years. 
I doubt a church would ever do something they really felt was punishing children, and I agree with part of what he said. It is difficult for a child to hear something at church and see their family doing something that conflicts with it. It's confusing, and it does put the child in a hard spot. BUT! If they're going to start painting swaths intended to protect children, it's unfair to focus on such a small, specific group.

If the intent is to make it easier for a child in his/her home and family life, then the minority group of same-gender parent families should not be the main target. Children who have been abused, heterosexual couples who violently argue, a parent who's committed adultery, those who have political persuasions that sometimes conflict with the teachings of the church, children born out of wedlock, etc.. My list could be a mile long of all the things that would make a home and family life one that is in conflict with the teachings of the church. Why aren't we protecting those children in this manner, too? Does the child of a murderer need to disavow her parent's act before she can be baptized or serve a mission? Does a child born to an unwed mother need to say, "What my parents did is wrong," before he can be baptized or serve a mission? How many times have children who are being abused been baptized and grown up in the church while living in difficult homes. The answer: it happens all the time. Where is the same protection and mercy for these children?

The way in which compassion is used here makes it seem like only children who come from traditional families with idyllic home environments that create zones for optimal growth in the church should be considered for baptism. If children have to face any conflict between their home life and the church, they should be excluded from baptism until they are adults to make sure no unnecessary injury is done to them in their very tender years. Wouldn't it be great if that could be the case?

Who cares if the same-sex parents are loving and completely supportive and caring, and everything about them, except for the way they have sex with one another, could be conducive to coming close to Christ? We've singled them out. We're saying those loving parents aren't doing it right - that their children will carry a burden far greater than those who are living with abusive parents.

Newsflash: There aren't perfect conditions. Part of navigating conflict is what can lead to immense growth. If the biggest sin of any particular set of same-sex parents is that they have sex with the person they love, then they are WAY ahead of me.

A few random thoughts:
An expectation is not a guarantee. Christofferson said that when a baby is blessed, it triggers a whole host of things, including the expectation that children will be in primary and other church organizations, and that likely isn't appropriate in a home with same-sex parents. There is no guarantee that any baby who is blessed will make it through to primary and other church organizations. Should we hold off on giving all children blessings until they've proven that they (and their parents) can meet that expectation? And...if the church says that children of gay parents, and the gay parents themselves, are still welcome to come to services and activities, yet Christofferson implies that coming to primary and church activities would be the catalyst for the conflict the child feels when they see that what the church says doesn't match their family life, what are we really saying?

I know many members of the LDS Church who support same-sex marriage, myself included. Fairness would be asking all of us to "disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage" for us to be able to continue on with our callings and work in the church, not just the children of same-sex parents.


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