I have an update to this article at It Pays to Have Faith in the Brethren.
I have to admit it. When I read that the Church had put couples living in same-sex marriages in the same category as polygamists and that excommunication is now required, I was relieved to have the questions over their status settled in my head. But when I read shortly after that the children of same-sex couples are to be treated like the children of polygamists, I panicked. The changes to Handbook 1 are printed at the bottom of the article so you can read them for yourself.
I have a some grandchildren, whom I love dearly, who are the product of a marriage that failed. He decided, after four children, that he would rather be gay, so he divorced my daughter and married his boyfriend. Now our grandchildren are forced by the courts to spend weekends with their biological father and his “spouse” and a whole month with them in the summer. Our whole family is in the in-between state of not knowing if the Church will allow these grandsons to use their priesthood or if they will not allow them to advance in the priesthood until they turn 18 and openly denounce their father’s lifestyle and promise never to live with him again.
It took years for us to get them baptized because of their father’s opposition to their baptisms. We finally got them baptized within the last 18 months. It was a wonderful and joyous blessing to all of us. Our daughter and her new husband are working toward greater activity in the Church and hope in the next few years to make it to the temple. Depending on how the local leaders rule on her case, this could set the whole family back years in their testimonies and be the greatest trial of their faith they have ever experienced. This is the topic I would like to address.
The living Church
I have written before about the Church and its need to change as the wickedness of the world increases and as the righteousness of the Saints increases. The Church as we know it must change in order to survive. It has been changing since the days of Joseph Smith. Programs like the Welfare system of the Church, Tithing, our stance on the various polygamous groups, and so much more are all changes that happened after Joseph’s death. This is the blessing of having living prophets. The things that will bless and protect us are revealed through the prophets, and those who follow the Brethren are protected from the wickedness of the current generation. Twenty-five years ago when the Brethren issued the Proclamation on the Family there were many of us who read it and thought, “Well Duh! Of course that is the way things are supposed to be.” It wasn’t until later that we saw how much foresight went into that proclamation and how valuable it has been in the struggles the Church has experienced over the whole gay issue.
I have looked forward to the changes I have known must come, but haven’t had any idea what they might be. The Lord promised that there would be a cleansing that would start within the Church. I have wondered what issue could be so divisive as to cause people to have to finally choose once and for all where their loyalty lay, with the world or with the Lord’s servants. I think rulings like this are just a taste of what is to come in the future.
Struggling with emotions
My purpose in writing this is that I hope to offer comfort to others who may have emotional struggles with this new policy. My first reaction was one of sheer panic. I immediately thought of the possibility that my grandsons and their family would be deprived of the use of the priesthood by these boys until they were old enough to vouch for themselves and declare their desire to renounce the sins of their father. It took a couple of hours of tears before a spirit of calm began to enter in and sooth my soul.
My faith in the Brethren tells me that even if my grandsons are not able to use their priesthood or receive any more of it until they turn 18, the Lord has promised that if we follow His servants and are faithful in all things that everything will work out for our good. I believe that. I trust that. I still don’t know what the decision will be on my grandsons, but at this point it doesn’t really matter.
Whether or not they are “punished” because of the sins of their father, their mother’s love for them will not change. Her faith in them will not change. Our faith in them as an extended family will not change. We will all continue to love them and urge them to be faithful in the church and to honor their commitments and say their prayers.
I have already read people’s reactions on social media stating that they are in opposition to the Brethren or angry with them for this change in policy. That is a visceral gut reaction that is not fair and is blindly made. We have promised the Lord we would support the Brethren. We pray for the Brethren, and especially our dear prophet. Where is our faith if we say we support him then lash out in anger and frustration when he acts as the Lord’s mouthpiece? This is sad. I encourage everyone to take time out and not make public statements that will only inflame feelings that pull others away from faithful behavior. Search out the Lord in prayer and get your own confirmation about what the prophet has declared so you are grounded by the Spirit of revelation. Once we know for ourselves that what was done is correct, then all the questions will get answered in their own due time. We just need to make sure we remain faithful to our leaders and supportive of the Lord’s servants.
There will be many parents and grandparents who will be nervous about the future of their families with this new policy. We need to throw ourselves on our knees and pray for the comfort that can only come from God. He will tell us that it will all work out. He will calm our souls and take away our sorrow. Please, support the prophet, and put your faith in Christ. You will not be disappointed in the end.
Here is an update from the LDS Newsroom
I copied this statement from KSL.com.
Church spokesman Erik Hawkins released the following statement:
“Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the Church in many varied circumstances throughout the world. The Church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages. While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”
Handbook 1, number 6.7.2 has been updated as follows (addition is highlighted):
When a Disciplinary Council May Be Necessary
. . . It includes (but is not limited to) attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, spouse abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations (especially sexual cohabitation), deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities, . . .
Handbook 1, number 6.7.3 has been updated as follows (addition is highlighted):
When a Disciplinary Council is Mandatory
As used here, apostasy refers to members who:
- Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.
- Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
- Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
- Are in a same-gender marriage.
- Formally join another church and advocate its teachings.
A new section in Handbook 1, 16.13 has been added as follows:
Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship
A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing.
A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows:
A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met:
- 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.
- The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.