The leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) have received what is being called a “mass resignation” of Mormons prompted by changes to the church’s handbook that prohibited the children of same-sex couples from traditional rights of the faith.
On Friday, a letter was sent to the greater LDS community by the governing body of the Church, known as the First Presidency, which “clarified” their controversial decision to prohibit the children of same-sex couples from, among other things, being baptized.
“Our concern with respect to children is their current and future well-being and the harmony of their home environment,” Friday’s letter states. “The provisions of Handbook 1, Section 16.13, that restrict priesthood ordinances for minors, apply only to those children whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship.”
Section 16.13 states that the child, whether they be “natural or adopted” may not “receive a name and a blessing” if their parents are “living in a same-gender relationship.”
Further, they may only be “baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service” only with approval after “personal interviews” which prove 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 that their living situation is away from their parent “who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”
So, they pretty much want children to repudiate their relation with, and relations of, their parents.
“Revealed doctrine is clear that families are eternal in nature and purpose,” the letter states. In addition, “Homosexual relations (especially sexual cohabitation)” has also been added to the handbook’s list of “Serious Transgressions.”
“The newly added Handbook provisions affirm that adults who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council,” the letter said.
The Church’s stance on homosexuality has traditionally been to respect the choice of the individual, yet use their power to keep it out of the church.
Former President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley had, in the 1990s, been quoted as saying that “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.”
The Church of Latter Day Saints has, since then, continued to state that they believe marriage, as God intended, is between one man and one woman. In 2008, they supported a proposal in Salt Lake which would enact non-discrimination law regarding housing and employment, according to Deseret News, so long as the government not interfere with the powers of discipline within the Church.
MormonsAndGays.org, an official website set-up by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gives an official statement on their stance:
“The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
They state that while accepting homosexuality in the church would be a great public relations move, “God’s law is not ours to change.”
“All children may receive priesthood blessings of healing and spiritual guidance,” the letter states, only after they disavow their same-sex parents.
“All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love. They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities,” so, if a child wanted to sit through the service, they’re at least permitted to do that.