Recently The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out with a new policy that does not allow children of same-sex couples to join the church until they turn 18, denounce their parent’s lifestyle, and are no longer living in their parents’ household.
To start off, it’s important to recognize that regardless of what others have said, this wasn’t a hateful decision. I’m confident that if you were to listen in on the Councils of The Church, you’d be in agreement with the new policies.
Since the media frequently highlights the views of defectors of The Church, I figured I’d offer an alternative, LDS perspective.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Studying the Church … through the eyes of its defectors.. [is] like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus. Defectors always tell us more about themselves than about that from which they have departed.”
A lot of the hype surrounding the church’s policy was generated by excommunicated members of the LDS Church. If you really want to learn about LDS beliefs and practices, I believe you should first go to those who are faithful Latter-day Saints, not defectors of the faith.
The LDS church is often painted by media as being not inclusive, judgmental and old fashioned. I believe the LDS Church’s new policies regarding homosexual couples and their children were made out of love, not hatred.
Here are 5 ways The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have shown love and respect to the LGBT community in recent decisions:
1) Church leaders express love for and seek to understand those with SSA
Elder Holland’s story is just one example from General Conference where one of the Twelve Apostles has expressed love, kindness and understanding for those with same gender attraction. Though some may accuse church leaders of hate speech or unkindness, that’s not the feeling I get from our church leaders. A man who “[has] wept over the courage, integrity, and determination of [a homosexual man] and his family” seems to be the kind of a man who truly loves people of all sexual orientations.
2) Not allowing children to be baptized until 18 shows respect
In my opinion it’s considerate and wise to not allow children of same gender couples to be baptized until they are 18.
It shows same-sex couples that The Church acknowledges that those same-sex parents have drastically different perspectives on marriage and family than what The Church teaches. It also shows a mature acknowledgment that if a child were to be baptized into The Church, it would likely create major conflicts and uncomfortable feelings between the child and their parents. Furthermore, children often need a strong support group in order to stay faithful after baptism. Hence, the age requirement for those coming from families who likely would not be able to provide such support.
“These boundaries [provide] protections for the church, the prospective member, and the family. For the church, it allows them to clearly teach God’s plan of Salvation (centered on Jesus Christ and marriage between a man and a woman) without worrying that those they teach will face conflict at home. For the family members of those involved, it allows family autonomy and reduces conflict and secrecy. For the prospective member, it helps them not have to lose vital family relationships (and, if they are under 18, food and shelter). . . [It] has the effect of not putting children at the center of a conflict between their household and the teachings of their church. . .It protects not just the child, but the church and the household who is raising the child. Conflicts are inevitable if a child is taught that those the child’s legal guardians are sinners– and the only way for them to stop being sinners is by ending their relationship.” (Michael Terrence Worley)
3) The Church defends LGBT rights
Church leaders have supported legislation that protects the rights of the LGBT community, to ensure fairness in “housing, employment and some other areas where LGBT people do not have protections”. (see the Mormon Newsroom’s press release)
4) The Church offers alternative missions
For prospective missionaries who experience strong feelings of same gender attraction The Church has provided alternative missions. This has allowed pre-missionaries with same gender attraction to serve honorable, full-time missions without having to be in situations that might be difficult or tempting for them (living with missionary companions of their same gender).
5) Sexual orientation does not disqualify a person from church membership
While The Church affirms the Biblical view that homosexual behavior is a serious sin, The Church does not teach against those who experience feelings of same gender attraction. People who experience homosexual feelings can be faithful members of The Church, just as those who experience heterosexual feelings can be faithful members of The Church. In both cases, self-control and restraint is required in order to live in harmony with the Law of Chastity and be worthy of a temple recommend.
To finish up, I truly believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and most of its leaders are truly trying to live what they preach- to love all people while not compromising the commandments of God. Although some church leaders around the world have probably said offensive things (generally without meaning to), I don’t believe The Church intends to offend. The Church as a whole seeks to love and serve people in all situations, from all backgrounds and with all different perspectives. The commandment to love God and love children is the pinnacle commandment of their discipleship.
It’s possible that I’ve said some offensive things in this article, though my intent has not been to cause offense. I love people. I don’t harbor any grudges towards the LGBT community or any community/person for that matter.
Because I believe with all of my heart that God lives and that He directs the LDS Church, I hold close to my heart some views that are unpopular in modern society. That said, I love all those who have different perspectives than mine. I fully support those who lead The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are men and women of incredible experience, insight and maturity. If any of you are deeply concerned about this issue, you can pray to God, and He will answer your prayer, according to your faith.
I’m grateful to know we’re not alone when we’re confronted with controversy. We can have the most powerful, knowledgeable, perfect being in the whole universe help us to discern the truth.
Thanks for taking the time to hear me out. Feel free to include any of your respectful comments below.