Thoughts on the Most Recent Policy Update from the Mormon Church

To those of you who have separated themselves from the church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here. Come and add your talents, gifts, and energies to ours. We will all become better as a result [...] Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this church. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2013
Yesterday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released updated policies to help clarify points for local church leaders. The updates having to do with homosexuality are as follows:

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. 

A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows: A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met: 

1. 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. 

2. 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.

Serious Transgression (addendum in italics)

. . . It includes (but is not limited to) attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, spouse abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations (especially sexual cohabitation), deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities, . . .

When a Disciplinary Council is Mandatory (addendum in italics)


As used here, apostasy refers to members who: 

1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders. 

2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority. 

3. Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority. 

4. Are in a same-gender marriage. 

5. Formally join another church and advocate its teachings.

From what I've seen on multiple news outlets, blog posts, and comment forums, people have been most concerned with the fact that children are seemingly being punished for the sins of their parents by not being allowed to be baptized in the church until they are at least 18. Many people have said that the church taking this stance is actually merciful for the children - it will save them hurt and anguish and the confusion that comes from belonging to a church that has different teachings from what they are learning in their homes. This stance, I feel, assumes the perspective that homosexual parents who are "cohabiting" are living in sin. The latter part is not my perspective. 

There are two parts of the policy update that especially startle me - that have left me feeling sick since I heard the news. 

1. The first is in regard to children of gay parents who might attend LDS services. While the church maintains that all are welcome, even gay people, and the children of gay people can attend services and activities, I feel that would do far more damage than good. It feels like speaking out of both sides of one's mouth. Essentially, the church is saying that those children and their families are less than. "Here, come do everything with us, but because of your family, your parents in particular, you cannot join with us. You are different from us. Your family is not the kind of family we welcome here." I personally know what it feels like to feel less than in the church. I was raised by a single mother who didn't attend church for most of my childhood. [This isn't a knock to her - she has made her peace with and is now a faithful member of the church.] I can't tell you how many times I was asked where my father was, and told that kids should have moms and dads. It did something to me. My mom married when I was twelve, and somehow it magically made me feel like we were a real family in the eyes of the church. But I wish I would have had the perspective to feel like we were a real, whole, complete family just the way we were. Every kid deserves that. And every parent deserves that kind of support. Every family, regardless of what they look like, deserves that kind of support. Always. No matter what. 

Dear Parents and Children and Families who don't fit the mold of a traditional family: You are important and valuable and loved. I love you. Knowing you weren't fully welcome in the LDS church is part of why I'm taking a break. You and your good efforts deserve more than that. You and your love and care for one another deserve more than that. 

2. In order for children of gay parents to be baptized, serve missions,  and/or be ordained, they must disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage, and not be living with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage. 

This is where my heart hurts for children and parents who are already LDS. There are gay parents who are supportive of their LDS children's involvement in the church. Just today I read about an LDS father who came out 5 years ago. His daughter is preparing to be married in the temple in a couple of months, and his son is almost 18 and hoping to serve a mission soon. Both of his children either live or have lived with him since he came out. He loves and supports his children. I can't imagine the heartbreak it would cause this family, both for the father to be disavowed, and for the children to face the choice of disavowing the parent they love or living faithfully in the church they've been committed to. There are children of parents who have divorced but share equal custody of their children - one parent living in a heterosexual marriage, the other in a homosexual marriage. What about those kids? I know that disavow doesn't mean stop loving, but it does put a condition on loving completely. Children shouldn't have to say that their parents' love for one another is less than because both are of the same gender.

I could go on and on, like how ridiculous it feels that a child of gay parents cannot receive a name and a blessing in the church - a tradition in the LDS faith that essentially puts the child on the records of the church, even though they are not officially members until they are baptized. Why? 

This policy update put me on anxiety overload. I went to bed with a racing heart, and I woke up with one. I cried all the way through my meditation this morning, and lifted myself into a yoga pose I'd never done before with all of the extra energy running through my body. This policy update, and the anxiety associated with it, reminded me why I'm taking a break. I get so bogged down and spend so much energy trying to combat the heaviness of some of the stances the church takes that I don't have enough energy to pour into love. Loving others, loving myself, loving the church. 

One of my co-workers is also Mormon. We recognized this in one another within the first few days. As we were talking about it, another co-worker said, "You two are both Mormon?!" She said, "Yes," and I, still trying to find a way to comfortably describe my current relationship with the church, said, "Yes, but I'm taking a break." A few more conversation points went back and forth in our little group, and my Mormon co-worker said, "I love the church." Those words dealt me some weird little blow that was coupled with an instant revelation. You see, I, too, love the church. Deeply. But I know love and hate run on close, parallel tracks. And I could feel my love being overshadowed by anger, hurt, frustration, exhaustion, and despair. I didn't want my love to turn into hate and bitterness. The church, this faith tradition of my family, means too much to me. But there is great sorrow at the way its policies repeatedly forget to love everyone - forget to reflect the words of love we share. I wish Dieter's words were true in every sense. I wish that there was yet a place for all in the church. 

(This photo was taken last year on my pilgrimage to Salt Lake City, UT. I felt the weight of my temple recommend's expiration date, and, knowing that I would likely not renew it, I felt a sense of urgency to go to the SLC temple, one I hadn't been through before, while I still had a slip of paper that said I was worthy. I went to an endowment session with my cousin Kiersty. I will never forget that trip for the company, the surroundings, and the mounting courage I felt that would eventually help me do a really hard thing.)


  1. I'm a partner of gay former mormon with kids. His ex wife takes them to the mormon church. I am an not a mormon, but I have gone out of my way to enable her desire to involve them in the church. I find this policy change to be no different than anything else this church has done in the past. They refuse to see what they are doing is harmful - because they think they are infalable. This is really no different than not allowing people of dark skin tone to hold the priesthood. The church was flat wrong about that and was obstinately defending themselves until society pressured them to have a 'revelation' on the matter. I'm sure someday they'll have a revelation on this issue too...

    They LDS community is not a church - it's a club. It has rules and you have to follow them or you are kicked out. Churches welcome all people and everyone is able to be a member no matter how imperfect they are. Churches don't have secret buildings that only their members can get into, clubs do. In the very limited documented words of Jesus Christ himself, he spoke of loving all people and accepting everyone as they are. Mormons, it seems, missed the entire message of Jesus.

    I'm not upset by this rule change for myself - I'd love to see the church kick everyone out and be done :) But I'm very sad for what this will do to our beloved almost-8 year old daughter who will be told over the next few months that she cannot be baptized like the rest of her friends. The emotional trauma that will cause is truly heartbreaking. It's a shame that the people who make these policies think they are 'protecting the child'... from what? Their judgement?

    I'm expecting that when this all comes to a head as we approach her potential baptism, the controversy will end this family's entire relationship with the LDS organization. My partner's parents are leaving the church over it - and I'm hoping the mother of our children will do the same thing.

    I appreciate your kind thoughts on this matter and I wish you only the best as you take time away from the church.

    1. John - Thank you for openly sharing your story. I'm sorry for the pain this will cause your family, and additionally for the confusion it will cause your children.

      When policies like this happen, the main body of the church tends to think in broad terms like "same-sex couples" like it's some sort of anonymous, impersonal group. They should be thinking about "John and his partner and their children and the mother of their children." When I first heard the policy, I thought of the faces of my LGBTQ+ family and friends. This isn't just about a group, it's about individual hearts and minds and feelings and experiences. To assume that all same-sex parents wouldn't be supportive of their children being part of the LDS church is so short-sighted on the parts of church leaders and members. So many are defending what I find indefensible. I wish they could hear your story and then try to defend this policy while looking into the eyes of your family. I don't think it would be possible.



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