Friday, November 6, 2015

This just in: LDS Church Makes Changes and Everyone Freaks Out

So by now I guess you've all read about how the LDS Church will not allow children raised by same sex parents to be blessed or baptized before the age of 18. Also to even BE baptized said child must get permission from the 1st Presidency, renounce same sex marriage (or homosexuality at all) and no longer live with their sinner parents. I would like to clarify that at no point does the wording state the child must disavow their actual parents, just the sin in which they live.

I found this out last night and instantly reached out to members of the Mormon community that I know, including my husband. Most were appalled and believed the article I showed them wasn't the whole truth, that a press release from the Church would eventually come out and clear it all up. However by this afternoon it did not happen and it seems that this is the way things are to be now.

Read the Article

My husband went over the Handbook seen in the article and explained some things to me, I am not Mormon so in writing this blog it helped. The Church seems to be treating the children of same sex marriage as they do children from polygamy cult families. My husband explained the differences however.

1) Polygamy is illegal, where being gay is not.

2) Children in polygamy families are often in more danger from their community and relatives than those raised by gay parents. Polygamy cult children are often VERY restricted, controlled and manipulated where children of same sex marriage usually grow up in a steady and loving environment.

So basically: They shouldn't be treated the same, but that seems to be what the Church is doing. He then went on to tell me that he finds this to be unnecessary, like the Church is trying to fix a problem that hasn't even happened and in the process now looks like a monster. He also says the wording used is  unclear, confusing and up to interpretation, that the church really needs to do some clarifying. He was most upset about the babies not being able to be blessed, like that was more than a step too far; it was also stupid and cruel.

Of course we are both mortified, my husband is a liberal Mormon, and I am as far from Mormon as you can get. He has dealt with a lot over the years, his political beliefs crashing into his religious ones. Like most liberal Mormons he just ignores those things in doctrine and policy against items like gay people and abortion and instead is just a good person. Which I support...I enjoy a lot of the principals my husband grew up with. Family dinner, offering help when you can, staying close to family, caring about those in your community. I could do without the hate however, which is EXACTLY what this new policy is full of.

When I moved here I was panicked, Mormons in my home town (well in high school) tended to be snobby, secluded, and snub outsiders. I feared I was moving into an area where no one would like me. I was wrong, I have met so many kind people, LDS and not, who have gone out of their way to help me. Even though I am not a member of the Church, even before I married my husband, members of the Church included me in yard clean ups, helped roof my house, invited us to trunk-or-treat etc...

Now that I am married to a Mormon in good standing, I attend church when he talks, make small talk when I see members out and about in the neighborhood and they treat me with kindness, I return the favor.

So I do want to defend those people, a little.

My husband's family are all very Mormon and welcomed me and my girls with open arms, I have made no secret about how who I am and they still treat us well. I go to church on Sunday's when we visit out of respect for my mother-in-law. Now however I am re thinking that, I don't want my girls in any building that is alright with this kind of negativity.

As my friends freak out, as I watch my FB forums blowing up nd people planning to leave the church,  I see so many questions. I have a lot of the same.

How is this policy even right? The Church asks questions about the child who wants to be Baptized, but do they do invasive home search?

"Oh your parents drink? That's a sin. Because they are drunks you must not live with them while they drink, renounce drinking and be 21, the legal age to drink before joining our Church."

This policy is the Church singling out the children of a specific group in a way they do not do to anyone else. Not children of parents who are not married, children of drunks, children of gamblers, children of single mothers, children of heretics. If you are going to do this to one you must do it to the children of ALL sinners. That seems about as logical as anything else.

I know this new policy is not how every member of the Church views things. In fact in you look at all the outrage you will find many people saying things like, "I love my church, but this is awful" or "I think homosexuality is a sin, but why are we punishing their children?"

Am I surprised that being gay can get you excommunicated? No. However after the Church's negative remarks about Kim Davis and support of the non-discrimination laws passed in Salt Lake, I find their policy about not allowing children of  same sex marriage the ability to be blessed or baptized before they turn 18 to be confusing and hurtful.

I do want to share something with your, however. A friend of mine who is a Liberal Mormon wrote this and I felt it should be posted somewhere ALL can see it.

"Our minds are constantly being invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and false facts. One of the great needs of mankind is to be lifted above the morass of false propaganda." - Martin Luther King Jr.

I beg of my friends of opposite faiths, shared faith, and no faith to not be so easily fooled by headlines and circulating stories today and take a moment to pause, question, research, and ponder before making a public outcry based primarily on distortion.

It's very clear how and why the media construed the issues the way it did. The words "policy" "disavow" "apostate" "same-sex sin" are buzz words that the media used today mostly so you would share their article and generate revenue. It was done to distill hate and misunderstanding. To further divide society and our understanding of each other's beliefs. To cause hurt, confusion, and judgement.
When I read a headline this morning my heart actually sank. But upon reading the text I quickly realized the falsehoods. I want to write about what the headlines framed poorly. I want to help clarify. I don't want to argue. I don't want to preach. I don't think I have all the answers. I just hope to share some extremely vulnerable and honest perspective and understanding.

A few general principles:

1) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) does not condone homosexual behavior---much like most general Christian, Judaic, and Islamic religions. It also does not condone drinking alcohol, smoking, fornication, pornography, or polygamy. At times in my life, I've struggled with some of these sins. I have many friends and family members who participate in those activities (not polygamy). I love them, I spend time with them, I celebrate civil liberties with them. I do not tell them they're wrong, I do not tell them to change, I do not think they are horrible people living horrible lives. That would be against the teachings of Jesus Christ, sinful, and depressing.

2) The Church--the Gospel--welcomes all individuals who participate in such behavior to join our worship, receive blessings, and participate in activities. Sometimes some people don't welcome those who are struggling with the above listed sins, its clearly because they have their own sins they are overcoming (judgement, pious). So, we should be patient with them and love them too.

3) There are some ordinances that require complete dedication to LDS teachings for participation. Those are types of ordinances you probably don't want to participate in if you don't believe in all LDS teachings. (Does this sound strange to you?: "I want access to that sacred temple where you make promises to God even though I don't believe or respect any of it. Why won't you let me in?") If you truly do want to participate, the atonement provides a path and process for ANYONE to gain access.

Some principles related to the handling of baptisms specifically:

1) LGTBQ individuals are welcome as baptized, full-covenant holding members of the LDS church if they believe and follow the teachings. Even if they mess up, like us heterosexuals do all the time, they are given the same path to repentance if that is what they choose.

2) Previously the church clarified "acting on homosexuality" as fornication--sex outside of marriage. Now that same sex marriage is legal, the aforementioned clarification isn't very clear. The Church wanted to clarify further for members that same-sex marriage is against its teachings and uses the word "apostate" to describe same-sex married couples---which is used to define any practices that go against teachings of the church.

3) Remember that above list of sins LDS members are taught to avoid? Well, if you are raised in a home that practices any of those you are raised in an apostate home. Those words make a good, oppressing headline, but please remember we have moral teachings we define and follow to align our lives to God's commandments. That's not a new oppressive thing we came up with, it's something all religions do--help define right and wrong.

4) If you are growing up in a home that practices any of those aforementioned sins and you wish to be baptized, the church wants to take into account a few things, which I've highlighted in a hypothetical conversation:

A. If you are baptized, will your parents kick you out? Stop providing for you? Hate you? Use you? Win custody battles over you? If yes, let's talk about how your life will look for the next ten years and make sure we don't put you at risk. If no, that's wonderful, let's talk about some other things.

B. Your parents fully support you, which is such a blessing. Do you realize that this Church you want to be a part of does not support your parent's choices (drinking, smoking, polygamy, fornicating, homosexuality)? Are you okay with that and will you live your life in such a way that reflects those teachings? Does that put you in an awkward position? Does that make living the gospel difficult for you? This is a serious commitment and we want to be sure you're ready. If yes, let's go through the process outlined in our global church that standardizes practices so that members all over the world have access to it. (What happens next is on a case by case basis with Church leaders, you and your family members, and--we believe--God). If no, let's take some time to continue learning about these principles and develop your understanding to ensure you are comfortable with your decision.

5) If you choose not to get baptized after being asked those questions, or are told it will be best for your well-being/safety to wait until you are out of your parents care, you are extended every blessing church members receive. You go to activities, worship, and receive priesthood blessings. If you pass away before having the opportunity to be baptized, the LDS church will conduct a proxy baptism for you--ensuring you have all the promised eternal blessings (now that's something to write headlines about).
6) Lastly, we believe that the Lord, our Savior and Redeemer, knows your heart. He knows your desires. He knows your faith. He knows you, more than any human who is doing their very best to help you--He knows you. So if that human perhaps lapses judgement, he (that struggling human) will be held accountable and He will reward you. "Be still and know that I am God."

My final thoughts: A very close, young family member of mine is awaiting baptism until he/she is positioned better. The decision and situation is not ideal but it is a true example of this affecting our lives outside of homosexuality and prior to formally addressing homosexual parents.

If you are of another faith, struggling with faith, or of no faith--I understand your qualms beginning with the very first point I mentioned. I hope the following points helped clarify why this particular issue isn't another reason to hate and judge us. Many other things may be, but this policy particularly is very much out of love and respect.

If you are of the LDS faith, a similar faith, or struggling with faith, I hope this post helped you read beyond the headlines and understand the reasoning. I hope you can find peace and comfort amidst media heat today. I hope cunning words didn't succeed in weakening your testimony. If you still feel uncomfortable, I hope you feel comfortable enough to continually seek out answers and understanding.

In the words of Malcolm X, "If we're not careful the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed (the public) and loving the people who are doing the oppressing (the media)." We're all better than that, I know we all want to be better than that.

While I don't totally agree, mainly because I am not Mormon and the new policy screams: WRONG to me, I thought reading the words of someone who has gay friends, who is liberal and a devout Mormon may help.  This is such an emotionally charged issue.

Hopefully the Church will rectify this mistake and that no impressionable gay youths will be harmed by this outrageous change, may they know how blessed and loved they are by whatever deity they choose to worship, no church can change that. May those children in same sex relationship homes that want to be a part of the Church  know and understand that their God loves them and doesn't care where they pray, they are always heard and loved. I hope the children this effects understand that this policy is written be MEN, not God.

No matter what religion you are the one thing that is NEVER OK is to attack our children, to make them feel unloved, hated, or so different a Church must make such a harsh policy change. It's not right, it's not fair.

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin." Deuteronomy 24:16 

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."Matthew 19:14

Yeah, the Pagan went to a Christian school, she KNOWS her Bible Versus. (Mic Drop)

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