The LDS Church released changes to its Hand­book on Novem­ber 5, 2015 in rela­tion to same-sex cou­ples and chil­dren raised by same-sex cou­ples. Specif­i­cal­ly, the Church now pro­hibits chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples from being bap­tized until they are 18 – and only if they move out of their par­ents’ homes, dis­avow all same-sex rela­tion­ships, and receive approval from the First Pres­i­den­cy. Like­wise, the new poli­cies apply to priest­hood ordi­na­tion and full-time mis­sion­ary ser­vice, and even pro­hib­it chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples from receiv­ing a Church-sanc­tioned “name and a blessing.

More­over, the Church specif­i­cal­ly des­ig­nates Mor­mons in same-sex mar­riages as apos­tates who must under­go dis­ci­pli­nary hear­ings that will like­ly result in excommunication.

In adopt­ing these poli­cies, the Church not only dou­bled down on its stance against homo­sex­u­al­i­ty but also hard­ened its doc­tri­nal bound­aries at a time when an increas­ing num­ber of Mor­mons are express­ing sup­port for the LGBT community.

In adopt­ing these new poli­cies, the Church is like­ly try­ing to stave off future advo­ca­cy in that chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples will undoubt­ed­ly push for more inclu­sion and accep­tance of homo­sex­u­als as they grow into adult­hood. But instead this pol­i­cy appears to be tar­get­ing the most help­less, most sym­pa­thet­ic, and most inno­cent by exclud­ing chil­dren from “essen­tial ordi­nances” sole­ly on the basis of their par­ents’ actions. In short, these poli­cies appear to direct­ly con­flict with the sec­ond arti­cle of faith.

What is par­tic­u­lar­ly dumb­found­ing is the bogus jus­ti­fi­ca­tions prof­fered by both LDS lead­er­ship and many mem­bers in sup­port of the poli­cies. Con­sid­er the following:

Pro­tect­ing Families

Many mem­bers on social media claim that the new pol­i­cy pro­hibit­ing chil­dren of same-sex rela­tion­ships from being bap­tized has been insti­tut­ed to “pro­tect fam­i­lies.” This seem dubi­ous when the church does not rec­og­nize same-sex fam­i­lies as legit­i­mate fam­i­lies. Elder L. Tom Per­ry, dur­ing April 2015 Con­fer­ence, labeled same-sex mar­riages as “coun­ter­feit.” Regard­less, pre­vent­ing chil­dren from par­tic­i­pat­ing in Church ordi­nances when they are already attend­ing church with the approval of both par­ents serves to tell them they are sec­ond-class cit­i­zens. More­over, the fact that the pol­i­cy requires chil­dren to dis­avow their par­ents’ rela­tion­ship and move out of the house in order to get bap­tized indi­cates that the LDS church has no inter­est in pro­tect­ing non-tra­di­tion­al fam­i­lies.

Pre­vent­ing Fam­i­ly Tension

Apos­tle D. Todd Christof­fer­son recent­ly stat­ed that the new pol­i­cy is meant to pro­tect chil­dren and pre­vent ten­sion that may arise between chil­dren and their par­ents. This expla­na­tion would be more cred­i­ble if the Church applied this same log­ic in oth­er sit­u­a­tions. But it does not, and the Church does not con­vey sim­i­lar con­cern about the ten­sion that may arise from many of its oth­er poli­cies. Chil­dren of non-mem­ber fam­i­lies are rou­tine­ly taught doc­trines at Church with­out regard to how the infor­ma­tion might be received at home. Chil­dren with par­ents liv­ing out­side of wed­lock and chil­dren of smok­ers, drinkers, adul­ter­ers, liars, for­ni­ca­tors, etc. attend church and are bap­tized on a reg­u­lar basis with­out regard to the famil­ial ten­sion that may result. In fact, the Church reg­u­lar­ly bap­tizes chil­dren even when one of the par­ents vehe­ment­ly oppos­es the decision.

What the Church fails to real­ize is that its new pol­i­cy exac­er­bates fam­i­ly ten­sion. I have a friend who is cur­rent­ly in a same-sex rela­tion­ship. When he was an active mem­ber, my friend served an hon­or­able mis­sion, mag­ni­fied his many church call­ings, and left an indeli­ble impres­sion among those he served. Sev­er­al years ago, my friend came out as gay and he and his wife got divorced. They now share cus­tody of their four children.

My friend, who is still sup­port­ive of the church and often attends with his chil­dren, recent­ly emailed me and said he feels as if he has been “punched in the gut.” He said his son is sched­uled to be bap­tized in one month and now every­thing is in lim­bo. He is afraid that his ex-wife will now peti­tion for full cus­tody and try and elim­i­nate him from the fam­i­ly dynam­ic. He said his chil­dren, due in large part to what they are taught at church, already view him as a “sec­ond-class par­ents.” He stat­ed that this new pol­i­cy will only cause more divi­sion and more ten­sion with­in his family.

The Church’s new pol­i­cy has heart­break­ing con­se­quences and fur­ther alien­ates the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty from the love and accep­tance cen­tral to Christ’s ministry.

Sim­i­lar to Chil­dren of Polyg­a­mists Relationships

Elder Christof­fer­son recent­ly point­ed out that the Church’s pol­i­cy regard­ing chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples mir­rors its pol­i­cy toward chil­dren of polyg­a­mist fam­i­lies. Although chil­dren of polyg­a­mist fam­i­lies are not required to wait until they are 18 to be bap­tized, Elder Christof­fer­son­’s state­ment is most­ly accu­rate. And it’s iron­ic, as polyg­a­mist fam­i­lies are liv­ing in accor­dance with pre­vi­ous church teach­ings and as sanc­tioned in D&C 132. Regard­less, Lind­say Hansen Park point­ed out the flawed log­ic in com­par­ing the chil­dren of same-sex par­ents to chil­dren of polyg­a­mists. She stat­ed, in essence, that just because the Church is treat­ing one sub­set of peo­ple poor­ly does not jus­ti­fy treat­ing anoth­er sub­set of peo­ple poorly.

Fur­ther­more, the Church fails to explain why chil­dren of same-sex par­ents must be treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly than the chil­dren of oth­er par­ents engag­ing in con­duct con­trary to LDS teachings.The pol­i­cy exclud­ing chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples from get­ting bap­tized is par­tic­u­lar­ly bizarre when you con­sid­er that chil­dren of rapists, mur­der­ers, adul­ter­ers, etc. are still wel­comed into the church. It makes you won­der what the church real­ly thinks about the LGBT community.

Chil­dren Lack Suf­fi­cient Maturity

Elder Christof­fer­son sug­gest­ed that chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples that are under 18 are not suf­fi­cient­ly mature to make a “con­scious deci­sion” as it relates to bap­tism. If that is the case, how can the Church claim that eight-year-olds are suf­fi­cient­ly mature to under­stand the com­mit­ment they are mak­ing when get­ting bap­tized? How can the Church claim that 18-year-olds are suf­fi­cient­ly mature to receive their endow­ment and make life-long covenants in the tem­ple? More­over, why do chil­dren of tra­di­tion­al LDS fam­i­lies need essen­tial sav­ing ordi­nances such as bap­tism and the gift of the Holy Ghost at age eight, yet chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples can wait until they are 18?

Fur­ther­more, Joseph Smith, at age 37, mar­ried a 14-year-old girl, Helen Mar Kim­ball. In propos­ing to Helen, Joseph Smith stat­ed that he was com­mand­ed by God to mar­ry her and that her sal­va­tion and the sal­va­tion of her fam­i­ly depend­ed on it. Grant­ed, Helen was legal­ly old enough to mar­ry (even though it was ille­gal to enter into a polyg­a­mist mar­riage), and some debat­ably argue that mar­riage at such a young age was cul­tur­al­ly accept­able. Nonethe­less, how can the Church claim that a 14-year-old girl was mature enough to enter into an “eter­nal mar­riage” with Joseph Smith yet, on the oth­er hand, claim that a 17-year-old child of same-sex par­ents is not capa­ble to decid­ing whether to be baptized.

Bizarrely, Elder Christofferson’s log­ic is dis­crim­i­na­to­ri­ly applied to chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples but dis­re­gard­ed for every­one else.

Draw­ing a Line in the Sand

As pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed, the Church’s new hand­book specif­i­cal­ly des­ig­nates Mor­mons in same-sex mar­riages as apos­tates who must under­go dis­ci­pli­nary hear­ings that will like­ly result in excom­mu­ni­ca­tion. Elder Christof­fer­son sug­gest­ed that this pol­i­cy was nec­es­sary to, in essence, draw a line in the sand and demon­strate the seri­ous nature of homo­sex­u­al rela­tion­ships. This is a par­tic­u­lar­ly baf­fling stance when com­pared to Church poli­cies relat­ed to oth­er acts of mis­con­duct. The new hand­book states that lead­ers have dis­cre­tion to ini­ti­ate dis­ci­pline against those who have engaged in “attempt­ed mur­der, forcible rape, sex­u­al abuse, spouse abuse, inten­tion­al phys­i­cal injury of oth­ers, adul­tery, for­ni­ca­tion, homo­sex­u­al rela­tions (espe­cial­ly sex­u­al cohab­i­ta­tion), delib­er­ate aban­don­ment of fam­i­ly respon­si­bil­i­ties.…” but must con­vene a dis­ci­pli­nary coun­cil against those who are “in a same-gen­der mar­riage.” What doc­tri­nal, scrip­tur­al, moral, or legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion sug­gests that those in a same-gen­der mar­riage are not only on par but some­how worse than rapists and attempt­ed murderers?

Trust God’s Plan

Many mem­bers, while express­ing shock and sur­prise to the new poli­cies, shrug off the issue by stat­ing the new poli­cies reflect God’s plan and we should sim­ply fol­low the prophet. As a pre­lim­i­nary mat­ter, it is unclear whether Church lead­ers are claim­ing that the new poli­cies are the prod­uct of divine rev­e­la­tion. Regard­less, what many mem­bers fail to con­sid­er is that prophets have repeat­ed­ly taught doc­trines and imple­ment­ed prac­tices that were lat­er dis­avowed as false.

Brigham Young taught a doc­trine now known as the “Adam-God the­o­ry” over the pul­pit at the 1852 and 1854 Gen­er­al Con­fer­ences, and even intro­duced this doc­trine at the Lec­ture at the Veil in the Tem­ple endow­ment cer­e­mo­ny. (Jour­nal of L. John Nut­tall, per­son­al sec­re­tary of Brigham Young, Feb­ru­ary 7, 1877 in BYU Spe­cial Col­lec­tions). Brigham Young also taught a doc­trine known as “Blood Atone­ment,” indi­cat­ing that mur­der is so heinous that Christ’s atone­ment does not apply to mur­ders. Thus, to atone for mur­der, the per­pe­tra­tor must have his or her blood shed as a sac­ri­fi­cial offer­ing. (Brigham Young, Jour­nal of Dis­cours­es, Vol. 4, p. 53–54) Like­wise, for close to 130 years, those of African descent were banned from hold­ing the priest­hood, and black men and women were pro­hib­it­ed from par­tic­i­pat­ing in tem­ple endow­ment or seal­ing ordinances.

Sim­ply stat­ed, the Church does­n’t have a great track record on social issues. What com­pels so many mem­bers to fol­low, sup­port, and defend a pol­i­cy that has so lit­tle jus­ti­fi­ca­tion; fails to pro­duc­tive­ly advance the Church’s inter­ests; por­trays the Church as hate­ful and intol­er­ant; and sim­ply feels wrong?

Rec­om­men­da­tions, Ques­tions, and Conclusions

The Church can eas­i­ly pro­tect its own inter­ests with­out tak­ing such a heavy-hand­ed and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry approach towards the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty. Here are sev­er­al suggestions:

First, the church can main­tain its stance against gay mar­riage with­out des­ig­nat­ing its par­tic­i­pants as apos­tates. As a pre­lim­i­nary mat­ter, the church rarely dis­ci­plines inac­tive cou­ples who are liv­ing togeth­er out of wed­lock, espe­cial­ly when these indi­vid­u­als have chil­dren attend­ing church. Rather, for­mal dis­ci­pline is typ­i­cal­ly ini­ti­at­ed only when the mem­ber sub­ject to dis­ci­pline con­veys a desire to change and repent.

The church could eas­i­ly imple­ment the same stance for same-sex cou­ples. Rather than label­ing homo­sex­u­als apos­tates and ini­ti­at­ing dis­ci­pline, why not sim­ply allow and invite them to attend church and only move for­ward with dis­ci­pline if the mem­ber con­veys an intent to “change” and “repent.” After all, the church has been very clear that sex out­side of mar­riage and homo­sex­u­al con­duct is sin­ful. Why is it nec­es­sary to also label homo­sex­u­als who are legal­ly mar­ried “apos­tates” and move to excom­mu­ni­cate them?

Sec­ond, the church should allow ALL chil­dren to receive a baby bless­ing regard­less of whether they are chil­dren of mem­bers of non-mem­bers. Why should per­fect, inno­cent chil­dren be denied a bless­ing sim­ply because their par­ents are gay?

Third, the church should allow all will­ing chil­dren to be bap­tized so long as they have parental con­sent. After all, chil­dren of par­ents who are liv­ing out of wed­lock can be bap­tized. Why can’t the same pol­i­cy apply to chil­dren of homosexuals?

As a final note, Church mem­bers should take Shel Sil­ver­stein’s words to heart in con­sid­er­ing the new poli­cies. Rather than instinc­tive­ly defer­ring to Church lead­ers for expla­na­tion and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, per­haps more mem­bers should ask them­selves how they real­ly feel about the Church’s treat­ment of the LGBT community.

There is a voice inside of you

That whis­pers all day long,

I feel that this is right for me,

I know that this is wrong.”

No teacher, preach­er, par­ent, friend

Or wise man can decide

What’s right for you — just lis­ten to

The voice that speaks inside.



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8 years ago

Eric I will be hon­est in say­ing I see a lot of con­tra­dic­to­ry and con­fus­ing mes­sages being deliv­ered. If the church is a fraud and Joseph Smith is not only a fraud but an adul­ter­ous liar. Why are you advo­cat­ing that gay par­ents allow their chil­dren to be bap­tized into a church that calls their mar­riage “coun­ter­feit” and their par­ents “apos­tates”. The church has stayed con­sis­tent with its mes­sage about homo­sex­u­al behavior. “The unholy trans­gres­sion of homo­sex­u­al­i­ty is either rapid­ly grow­ing or tol­er­ance is giv­ing it wider pub­lic­i­ty. If one has such desires and ten­den­cies, he over­comes them the same as if he had the urge toward pet­ting or for­ni­ca­tion or adul­tery. The Lord con­demns and for­bids this prac­tice with a vig­or equal to his con­dem­na­tion of adul­tery and oth­er such sex acts. And the Church will excom­mu­ni­cate as read­i­ly any unre­pen­tant addict.Again, con­trary to the belief and state­ment of many peo­ple, this sin, like for­ni­ca­tion, is over­comable and for­giv­able, but again, only upon a deep and abid­ing repen­tance, which means total aban­don­ment and com­plete trans­for­ma­tion of thought and act. The fact that some gov­ern­ments and some church­es and numer­ous cor­rupt­ed indi­vid­u­als have tried to reduce such behav­ior from crim­i­nal offense to per­son­al priv­i­lege does not change the nature nor the seri­ous­ness of the prac­tice. “(Pres­i­dent Spencer W Kimball) You are not the first per­son to advo­cate that the church change its poli­cies to con­firm with soci­etal norms and morals and you will not the last be the last. The… Read more »

Reply to  Eric Nelson
8 years ago

Eric I have giv­en this some thought and I do not think you will agree with any­thing I have to say but nonethe­less I will give you my point of view. This is a com­plex issue and a sim­plis­tic answer to your ques­tions does not do jus­tice in my opinion. The church has stayed con­sis­tent with its mes­sage that homo­sex­u­al behav­ior is a griev­ous sin that in a lot of cas­es involves excom­mu­ni­ca­tion. This dis­tin­guish­es itself from some of the exam­ples you list­ed such lying, drink­ing and smok­ing. The church does not excom­mu­ni­cate peo­ple for break­ing the word of wis­dom or lying. I do not know of the church to excom­mu­ni­cate for­ni­ca­tors who are repen­tant or have not gone through the tem­ple for them­selves. The church does excom­mu­ni­cate mem­bers for seri­ous sex­u­al sin as stat­ed by the church as adul­tery and homo­sex­u­al behav­ior and pedophil­ia. That being said the church sep­a­rates same sex attrac­tion from homo­sex­u­al behav­ior. Those who have same sex attrac­tion and don’t act on those feel­ings are in full fel­low­ship in the church and can hold callings. Groups of peo­ple who are homo­sex­u­al or are sym­pa­thet­ic to the cause dis­tin­guish them­selves from adul­ter­ers of pedophil­i­acs. Those two groups are not apply­ing pres­sure to the church to lessen the grav­i­ty of their sin or allow them to be in full fel­low­ship of the church. I do not see large groups of adul­ter­ers advo­cat­ing that the church change its pol­i­cy on adul­tery or pedophil­ia you do see that for… Read more »

8 years ago

I fol­lowed a link to your arti­cle post­ed on social media, and I find it to be full of inac­cu­ra­cies. While I under­stand why the gay com­mu­ni­ty is riled up about the pol­i­cy changes, I want to cor­rect a cou­ple of your points. First of all, the church will not bap­tize a minor child if one par­ent ‘vehe­ment­ly” dis­agrees. I was a Pri­ma­ry pres­i­dent and this sit­u­a­tion arose in my ward and the child was not bap­tized because his father dis­agreed. The child con­tin­ues to attend with his moth­er, and is ful­ly includ­ed in all church relat­ed activ­i­ties. No, he won’t get the priest­hood at twelve, but his neigh­bor friends and church lead­ers all are sen­si­tive to his sit­u­a­tion and respect­ful of the father’s wishes. Sec­ond, you use tem­ple mar­riage to sup­port your claim that the church is divi­sive to fam­i­lies, but a tem­ple mar­riage is cho­sen by adult chil­dren who are ful­ly aware of the choice and mature enough to han­dle the fam­i­ly con­flict that may arise from it. So, your exam­ple actu­al­ly bol­sters the claim of LDS lead­ers that chil­dren should not have to han­dle the con­flict that may arise when they learn at church that the par­ents that they love are embrac­ing a seri­ous trans­gres­sion as nor­mal and natural. Third, our soci­ety in gen­er­al sanc­tions rapists, mur­der­ers, and adul­ter­ers. Chil­dren know those choic­es are wrong by mes­sages they recieve from soci­ety as a whole. With con­tin­u­ing cul­tur­al accep­tance of same sex mar­riage the spir­i­tu­al dan­ger of homo­sex­u­al… Read more »

Reply to  Eric Nelson
8 years ago

Stud­ies have shown that peo­ple who live a homo­sex­u­al lifestyle is unhealthy.

A far-rang­ing study of homo­sex­u­al men pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric Asso­ci­a­tion backed when it con­sid­ered the lifestyle unhealthy found 75 per­cent of self-iden­ti­fied, white, gay men admit­ted to hav­ing sex with more than 100 dif­fer­ent males in their life­time: 15 per­cent claimed 100–249 sex part­ners; 17 per­cent claimed 250- 499; 15 per­cent claimed 500–999; and 28 per­cent claimed more than 1,000 life­time male sex partners.5By 1984, after the AIDS epi­dem­ic had tak­en hold, homo­sex­u­al men were report­ed­ly cur­tail­ing promis­cu­ity, but not by much. Instead of more than 6 part­ners per month in 1982, the aver­age non-monog­a­mous respon­dent in San Fran­cis­co report­ed hav­ing about 4 part­ners per month in 1984.6

Accord­ing to data obtained in a 2000 sur­vey in Aus­tralia that tracked whether men who had sex with men were asso­ci­at­ed with the gay com­mu­ni­ty. Men who were asso­ci­at­ed with the gay com­mu­ni­ty were near­ly four times as like­ly to have had more than 50 sex part­ners in the six months pre­ced­ing the sur­vey as men who were not asso­ci­at­ed with the gay community.

Also accord­ing to recent sta­tis­tics gays are 6 times more like­ly to get a sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted disease.

Stud­ies have also shown nation­wide that gays have a short­er lifespan.

Stud­ies have shown nation­wide that gays are more like­ly to com­mit suicide.

8 years ago

[…] Mor­mon Band­wag­on: “Bogus Jus­ti­fi­ca­tions Behind Church’s New Poli­cies” (LINK) […]

8 years ago

Excep­tion­al arti­cle. Well writ­ten. I have in life learned that the LDS church was not what I thought it to be or taught on my mission.
This new pol­i­cy has shown me it is not an insti­tu­tion with any Chris­t­ian hon­or or integrity.
Vic­tim­is­ing beau­ti­ful chil­dren to Pun­ish a par­ent. What a despi­ca­ble organisation.
So glad my wife and I for­mal­ly detached our­selves from it once we dis­cov­ered the truth about its history
Thank you
And for those impact­ed by this, don’t let it hold you back in life. You are won­der­ful, and you are loved. They are pet­ty, mean spir­it­ed and irrelevant

Wes T
8 years ago

I agree. My first thought on this was it is a move to pro­tect them from future law­suits or sim­i­lar actions, how­ev­er I think the chil­dren’s exclu­sions show their hand. They want to cut out the “can­cer” of LGBT sup­port­ers to “save” the body… 

It is real­ly sad they felt they need­ed to go to this extreme.

Dave Mack
Reply to  Eric Nelson
8 years ago

I think there is big dif­fer­ence com­par­ing het­ero­sex­u­als who are unwed vs a homo­sex­u­al cou­ple who are mar­ried or in a partnership.

In in order for a unwed het­ero­sex­u­al cou­ple to be in good stand­ing they need to get married.

In order for a mar­ried homo­sex­u­al cou­ple to be in good stand­ing they have to get a divorce and com­plete­ly denounce their for­mer gay lifestyle. I can’t see that process hap­pen­ing overnight.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x