Straight Talk on Mormons and Gays, Part 3

How the Secular Press Misrepresented Recent Church Policy Changes

Post Mormons LGBT Same-Sex
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER14: Protesters walk past the historic Mormon temple after many submitted their resignations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in response to a recent change in church policy towards married LGBT same sex couples and their children on November 14, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. A little over a week ago the Mormon church made a change in their official handbook of instructions requiring a disciplinary council and possible excommunication for same sex couples and banning the blessing and baptism of their children into the church. George Frey / Stringer / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Note from LDS Expert Krista Cook: I try to represent the LDS (Mormon) faith accurately. Readers should appreciate that some issues are extremely controversial, both inside and outside of the LDS faith. I try to be as objective and accurate as I can be.

To understand what follows, read the prior articles:

Doctrine Does Not Change, But Policy and Procedure Can

Critics of LDS members (Mormons) and the Church often do not grasp the difference between doctrine and policy and procedure. However, it is crucial to understand. It is just as crucial as dividing doctrine from opinion.

Doctrines that are the foundation of our faith are easily distinguished and well-understood. Doctrine is found in scripture, modern revelation and the inspired counsel of Church leaders. Applying these truths in a changing world can be difficult sometimes. This is where the Church's Handbooks are useful.

Before same-sex marriage became legal, the Handbooks did not mention it. Addressing same-sex marriage was not necessary until it existed. It exists now. The Church addressed it.

If aliens invade earth and seek to intermarry with us, the Church will probably add policy to the Handbooks on earthling-alien marriage. Until that happens, we likely will not see changes to the Church Handbooks on this issue.

Homosexual Behavior Always Grounds for Church Discipline

Homosexual behavior is not being treated or viewed differently in the LDS faith now over what it has in the past. It has always been grounds for church disciplinary action. Living in a same-sex marriage was always considered apostasy. The Handbook addition now makes this explicit. Seasoned members knew this.

Every LDS member must embrace the same beliefs and the same restrictions. Secular media and outsiders would like to think that this is changing or will change. It will not.

Blessing Children Adds Them to Church Membership Rolls

Church members are told to bring their children to church and have them blessed and named. The purpose of this is to add such children to Church membership rolls as unbaptized members.

Why would someone who does not embrace church teachings want their child added to the Church's membership rolls?

Moreover, this ordinance is not a saving ordinance. What this means is that this is not necessary for salvation. No harm accrues to you if you have not been officially named or blessed.

The secular assumption is that children of same-sex marriages cannot be blessed at all. This is not true. Anyone may receive a priesthood blessing. It just will not be a formal name and blessing ceremony in church. And, it will not add these children to LDS membership roles.

Anyone who has faith and wishes to obtain a priesthood blessing for themselves or their children may do so. Mormons are not stingy with blessings.

Every New Member Must Embrace LDS Beliefs and Doctrine

Every new LDS member must embrace existing Church doctrine. This holds true for anyone, regardless of what sort of family household they come from.

Children do not have to renounce their parents and their home when they are 18 and seek Church membership. They have to embrace LDS doctrine and beliefs, the same doctrine and beliefs as anyone else. Every member is held to the same standard.

Children Living in Primarily Same-Sex Families May Not Be Baptized

The caveat is that they cannot be baptized until they are legal adults. Children of polygamous families and children of parents who oppose their joining the Church must also wait.

This helps protect family relationships, all family relationships. The Church does not want to pit one parent against another. In addition, it does not want to unnecessarily complicate relationships of a dependent child.

When the child may legally act for him or herself, the baptismal process can proceed.

Be Grateful We Are Not Targeting Your Children

Parents in same-sex marriages need not fear us. We are not targeting their children. We accept their legal and moral right to be parents and raise their children as they see fit.

For the Church, rejecting potential members is a questionable growth strategy at best. Obviously, it is not in the Church's best interests to foreclose membership to categories of people.

The Church's rationale of not harming families or interfering with parental wishes is the only reason that truly makes sense for this action.

Policy and procedure is general guidance. The Church leaves the door open for local leadership to seek additional guidance on these issues, especially for unique circumstances. Unique circumstances sometimes require unique solutions and exceptions.