I have never seen more people with letters in their hands in one place other than the post office during the holidays. :) Here are a few photos I took this afternoon.
|Hundreds of people line up to cross North Temple to submit letters of resignation to the LDS Church Office Building|
However, not all letters of concern were submitted to the Church wanting to resign their membership. Many have written their opinions on facebook and other social media sites. Personally I wasn't going to post anything about this since I didn't want to add to the commotion until I read the below email that my friend wrote. My friend was kind enough to grant permission for me to post this personal email. I think it is important to read amidst all of the other voices and opinions..
Just to put the below email into proper context, my friend is a faithful life long member of the Church. This was written in a response to a family email chain in which the siblings and parents were in favor of the new policy. My friend shared a "differing point of view" which was written a few days ago. (important to note since one of the examples in the body of the email may be "out dated" after the 1st Presidency released a clarifying letter that will be read tomorrow in Sacraments meetings.)
While the letter is long, many important observations are made in regards to this new Church policy.
I really don't have time to be writing this and have debated whether I should or not. It is a very RARE occasion that I would disagree with my parents or siblings on a matter. This topic has raised a lot of ire and confusion and has put stalwart members in a position of feeling the need to defend the policy. I understand this: It is almost unfathomable for an active LDS to even consider the idea that the brethren could actually make an error in policy or anything else. I comprehend the dilemma being experienced by so many on this issue, and wanted to share my thoughts. THIS WILL NOT BE A SHORT EMAIL; so I suppose only those really wanting to know what I think will bother to read its' entirety; but I hope that you will. My position is NOT from those that you may be typically hearing from in the media. As you all know, I am not a homosexual sympathizer, nor a progressive Mormon in any way, shape or form.
Also, I will admit that I have been frustrated with the Church's ever softening positions regarding the surrounding LGBT issues, only because I have cared about the issue so much and see it for the serious impact it is having. I have watched over the last decade how the church has waffled and caved in on very critical matters in an attempt not to rock the boat regarding this very "politically correct" issue. I have written a book, which I will be sending to everyone probably in the spring; which includes a 50 page section just documenting how the Church has changed their stance very gradually over the last decade regarding how they deal with the sin of homosexuality. I have been absolutely dumbfounded and baffled by the position the Church has repeatedly taken. They have danced around this particular sin in ways that they do not on other sins. They have literally CHANGED before my eyes. They have caved to pressure repeatedly. Just to mention a few, without the interesting and pertinent details:
* The unscriptural, unconstitutional and hypocritical Salt Lake City Ordinance of 2010 that they formally backed
* The unscriptural (meaning they set aside direct commands in the D&C in order to support it), unconstitutional, and hypocritcal (meaning they asked the typical citizen to live something they exempted themselves from complying with) Utah State LGBT anti-discrimination law that would never have passed without the Church's pressure and support (something unprecedented for them to support before 2010) that resulted in every liberal news outlet in the nation singing our praises and a personal thank you visit from Obama! (Again, this law singling out a “certain sin” for special treatment different from other sins)
* The lack of backbone in standing with principle on the Boy Scout issue (even though they polled and found 63% of active members felt it was time to break ties with the Scouts.) How can the Church observe that an organization which was founded on commitment to God and teaching boys to be morally straight clearly throw it's foundations under the bus; yet repeatedly to lack the spiritual leadership and fortitude to separate themselves from it; and then continue to ask members in a temple recommend question if they “affiliate” with any group or individual that teaches things contrary to what the Church teaches? They need to have the courage to abide their own worthiness questions by separating ties from a now corrupted organization that has strayed from its’ moral bearings.
* Teaching a softened attitude surrounding homosexuality by reducing the “sin” aspect to ONLY existing if you literally “act” on it. This neglects the need to strongly address the connection of our hearts to our thoughts and the cultivation of sin that takes place within these unseen and perhaps never even played private corridors of our soul. Immoral desires that our dwelt upon are lust; of which “sin” (even if never acted upon) the Lord says is the same as committing the sin in your heart. Yes, this may be a “higher law” and a much more challenging standard of life to live; but we should be teaching what the Lord teaches. We are not called to make the truth tolerable and soothe the soul, but to make the truth clear. We should not be classifying same-sex attraction as some "benign guilt-free birth originating state of being" that someone has to live with the rest of one’s life. There has been a subtle but profound change in direction when the Church started coddling those struggling with homosexual thoughts by emphasizing a distinction between “attraction” and “acting.” The “Sermon on the Mount” places high standards on His followers; those standards center in what is taking place in the mind and heart of His followers. This is where our emphasis should be placed. I could go on for a long time on this one!
* After at least one former prophet declared over the pulpit that it was blasphemy to claim that you are born that way (Kimball, 1980 General Conference); we have now bought in to this concept and helped further the homosexual agenda; which requires that society accept people as being born this way, with no ability to change and that it is horrendously offensive to even suggest that they can change. As of 2007, the Church began changing their language in addressing the topic to make it clear that they no longer officially take the position that people are “not” born that way. They don't want to offend the LGBT community by sounding insensitive. Elder Holland's talk in October confirmed this fact when he added the unnecessary, but obvious, caveat into his story about a repentant young adult man by saying, “this son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change—no one assumed it would.” (Is this not a denial of the atonement of Christ, that through Him we can become new creatures, too?) It’s a complete catering to the LGBT agenda! The Church even edited Elder Packer's talk a couple of years ago when the LGBT community made an uproar because he (one who maintained the traditional church stance) inferred that gays are not “born that way.”
* Elder Oaks and Ballard gave recent public addresses that also went counter to principles that have been valued traditionally in the Church and have advocated an attitude of compromise rather than principle in order to “get along” at all costs.
* The announcement last spring by Elder Christofferson that any member who opposes the Church's position of gay marriage and supports same-sex marriage is free to vocalize their support for such marriage in public ways, including using social media, without any fear of Church discipline. This was probably the first time I've seen the Church permit open rebellion and opposition to a gospel teaching. (Once again, allowing homosexuality to be treated as a special category of sin with it's own rules applying to it). It used to be that when you spoke out in opposition to the teaching of the church in a public manner, you would be brought in for correction by an ecclesiastical leader and if you persisted in advocating in opposition to a gospel truth then this was considered apostasy and excommunication was highly probable. But this category of sin is now being given a special "out." The Steve Young's of the world are being given a free pass to promote apostasy, while remaining secure in their standing and ability to have a temple recommend. (More on this later).
I could go on and on in great detail about the subtle, but observable changes the Church has undergone regarding homosexual issues. I fear they have betrayed the scriptures, and even created new doctrine telling gays that as long as they remain celibate they will not be denied any blessing and all things will be compensated in the hereafter, including the possible blessing of exaltation [read Christofferson’s April 2015 talk carefully to see this teaching clearly inferred], instead of teaching what the scriptures say, which is that a man MUST enter into marriage with a woman if he wants exaltation. They have catered to the whining and moaning of people who won't rise up and shake off the chains of the awful grasp of Satan and pay no heed to temptation that is common to all in mortality.
This is just my introduction to make sure everyone who reads this knows without any question that I am not to be lumped in with all these homosexual agenda sympathizers in what I am about to say.
NOW FOR THE MEAT OF MY POINT:
For the first time in a decade, the church actually came out with a policy that an first glance looks like a person such as I would be jumping up and down about. As soon as I heard it, I was like, "Yay, wait! What? I have to think about this for a minute."
My "yay" was about the excommunication of those that enter same-sex marriage or live in homosexual relationships.
To be clear, the scriptures teach that unrepentant sinners should be excommunicated. If someone lives in such a situation of immorality and blatant disregard for the laws of God and does not repent; they should be excommunicated. (Another reason why I think the soft tone the church has been taking over the last decade has hurt those tempted by this sin, rather than helped them. Sometimes in order to help a person get off the road they’re traveling, it takes realizing the gravity of the situation and the precarious state of one’s soul, rather than having others coddle you with empathy because it's a hard temptation to face).
I wanted to shout “hallelujah” that they were clear on this. But this shouldn't be news worthy of any attention. This should be obvious. It should have been standard that anyone living a homosexual lifestyle, or marriage, was subject to automatic excommunication if they did not repent and turn from the sin. I would have expected this to already be written in the handbook.
As mentioned, after this initial excitement, I felt a little twinge of question regarding some of the other points. I did NOT listen to or read the news to hear others' opinions. I merely pondered and studied it out on my own to reach the conclusions below.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS:
The beginning portion of the new policy that is directed toward children states:
“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...”
As written in the handbook, this policy is directed toward any children that have “a” parent that is a practicing homosexual. It requires that minor children that have “a” parent that practices homosexual marriage or cohabitation, not be allowed baptism until 18 years old, plus they may no longer reside with said parent at the time of baptism. Additionally, they are required to get First Presidency approval and must disavow homosexual marriage as a condition to receive the ordinance of baptism.
Here are the concerns that jumped out at me in no particular order of importance:
1.) All minors are already required to get parental permission to get baptized. This is as it should be. The difference I see is that polygamy and same-sex marriage parents are the only two categories of sin identified and treated differently as to standard policy.
As a missionary, it didn't matter if a person's parents were pedophiles in prison, a strung out druggie, a convicted murderer, a prostitute or whatever other heinous sin you can think of. AS LONG AS PARENTAL PERMISSION WAS GRANTED, THE BAPTISM COULD MOVE FORWARD. Why should this situation be any different? Truly? Don't respond because you don't like homosexuality (cause I don't either...nor any sin for that matter). Think about it. If no regard is given to the sins of parents in all other cases of baptism of minors, why should this be different?
Elder Christofferson came out and said it was to keep peace and refrain from conflict in a family. This seems to be a disingenuous argument because it doesn't hold water under scrutiny. The reason I say this is because it blatantly ignores the fact that there is already a “qualifier” set in place by the church regarding the baptisms of minors: THE PARENTS OF THE MINOR MUST GIVE PERMISSION IN ORDER FOR A MINOR TO BE BAPTIZED.
An ardent practicing homosexual will not normally give permission for their child to be baptized in the first place. BUT, in the cases where it does occur; how can the church say they are protecting the child from conflict IF the parent has already given, and is required to give, explicit permission for the baptism; full well knowing that the Church teaches against their particular lifestyle? Once the parent consents, the conflict that would arise in a home is no different than that which is experienced by any other minor who gets baptized and has parents that don't live the commandments taught by the Church.
Our own father was baptized at 8 and yet, prior to his baptism, he had a parent who had left the church and was not living the commandments. He was gambling, drinking, not supporting his family financially, living questionable morality, and so forth. In essence, dad's father had apostatized. Should dad have been denied baptism because his father made choices that disqualified him and resulted in his excommunication? Getting parental permission wasn't a relevant issue in his day, but dad did experience the challenges of living the gospel when you have a parent that is “unworthy” by gospel standards. Just like all other kids that have been baptized with "unworthy" parents, he had to move forward with his conviction of trying to live the gospel, knowing that his parent was failing to live up to the standards required of the Lord. He grew from the experience. He may have had difficult moments in those young years, but it was ultimately the strength and teachings found in the gospel that allowed him to give complete forgiveness to his father when forgiveness was sought. This struggle is not unique to someone with a homosexual parent, even though the Church is trying to present it as such and that it requires more stringent “protection” for the child’s emotions.
The "conflict" that the church is claiming they are trying to prevent in these families is not a valid argument. If that were their true position; then this policy would be and should be applied across the board, to ALL minor baptisms. They should just come out and say; “no minors can be baptized if their parents are blatant sinners, even if the parents consent; And when the child turns 18, they've got to move out of the home and confess that they know that their parents are sinners and they will disavow the specific sins of which those parents are guilty.” It's ludicrous when you think about it in context of real life.
2.) By requiring people to disavow a "particular sin" before being allowed to be baptized and by disallowing minor baptism even if permission of parents was granted, and then requiring the condition of not living with the offending parent and needing First Presidency approval, they have just added conditions to baptism, contrary to scripture. (It doesn't matter how logical or prudent they or you may think it is. Scripture is given to be followed! Particularly when the one speaking in the scripture is Christ Himself. Are we greater than He? Did He not foresee our day and anticipate EVERY possible dilemma we face? He did! And He already made His declaration! Do NOT add to or take from what He gave as conditions for baptism! He called those conditions “HIS DOCTRINE” and the “Doctrine of my Father.” He didn't say to obey His instructions, “unless someone holding the keys decides I don't know what I'm talking about.”
Please take a moment to read Christ’s words in the following verses:
- 3 Nephi 11:31-40
- 2 Nephi 31
- 2 Nephi 32
In addition to these scriptures clearly warning against adding to or taking from His doctrine of baptism, it is my understanding that in getting baptized, an individual is already stating by their action that they have repented of their sins and do not desire to live a life of sin; thus, if properly taught His doctrine of baptism, it would be inherent in the desire to receive the covenant that a person would be automatically stating that they reject sin of all kind. We do not have to specify particular types of sins to be baptized...it's ALL sin we are actually disavowing in reality.
3.) They have just created a logistical nightmare that could be avoided if they just followed the Doctrine of Christ in the scriptures.
Imagine the varied circumstances that this new policy effects.
Suppose, for example, as is the case with MANY people in this Church, that your daughter married a guy and they had 3-4 children together and the husband suddenly breaks it to her that he has been gay all his life and he can't resist anymore and he's running away with his lover. Your daughter is now in a situation she never imagined. In addition to the trauma of a broken marriage, most, if not all her children are unbaptized at this time because of their young age. You, as the grandparents, and your daughter, desire to lessen the impact of the father's sins upon the children as much as possible. You all want her to be able to raise your grandchildren in the gospel and allow them every opportunity to come to the Lord, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, receive the priesthood, etc. Remarkably, even though their father rejected the gospel and lives an immoral life, he actually has a kind heart and sees the good the Church does for people and HE CONSENTS TO ALLOW THE CHILDREN TO BE RAISED AS ACTIVE MEMBERS AND BE BAPTIZED! Your daughter shares joint custody with the dad, because he still loves his kids, hasn’t abandoned those responsibilities, wants to be a dad to them and has legal rights that can't be avoided even if you disapprove of his lifestyle. You struggle inside because you don't want your grandkids to accept his lifestyle as approved by the Lord, and you know that the gospel is their only hope in this world and out of it.
According to this new policy; YOUR DAUGHTER'S CHILDREN CANNOT BE BAPTIZED UNTIL THEY ARE 18. [Note: Two days after writing this email letter, the Church further altered the implementation of their policy to now only effect those where “primary” custody of the children is by the homosexual parent. Though joint custody was not directly addressed. But prior to amending their policy, it was clearly written in the handbook and implied that the policy would affect all children with “a” parent living in a homosexual relationship. Please read this section understanding the interpretation provided at the time it was written].
Now, the Church is saying that this scenario is just fine, because, after all, the kids can still attend church and participate in activities. And they can still EVENTUALLY be baptized.
Really! Is that how you would really feel if it happened to you?
Do you think a child feels comfortable when all the other kids in primary get baptized and they can't? Do you think a boy feels wonderful and wanted and cared about if all the other boys become deacons and pass the sacrament and he can't. He can't prepare it. He can't bless it. Do you think the girl feels comfortable when all the YW get to go do baptisms for the dead and she can't go? You have forgotten what it feels like to be an adolescent if you think this won’t negatively affect them.
And let's not forget the biggest issue for those that believe that the Gift of the Holy Ghost comes by the laying on of hands after baptism; DO YOU THINK IT RIGHT THAT THROUGH SOME OF THE MOST DIFFICULT YEARS OF A PERSON'S LIFE (teens), THEY CANNOT HAVE THE PROMISED GIFT?
And what is the reason for all this ostracism and unnecessary exclusion? Because one of their parents failed to live up to their covenants with the particular sin of homosexuality. And even though their sinning father is perfectly willing and happy to support their children in baptism, missions, etc., and THERE WOULD NOT BE CONFLICT because of their membership; the child is denied! (Don't you think some kids are already embarrassed enough over their parents' decisions. Do you really think it right to shame someone during these precarious years with such unscriptural spiritual isolation and denial?)
This is a serious matter. Please don't gloss over this concept. WE SHOULD ALL BE EXPERIENCED ENOUGH IN LIFE BY NOW TO SEE THAT THE CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING TO SOMEONE IN OUR EXTENDED FAMILY, IN OUR LIFETIME, IS A VERY STRONG POSSIBILITY!
I for one, would be very sick, if my grandchildren or children could not proceed forth in their faith due to a parent's choices. It's all good and well to say they will get baptized eventually! But the Lord says we are NOT to DENY ANY THAT DESIRE TO COME TO HIM!
(And if someone tells me there are legal ramifications and protections the church is trying to guard against; I say, balderdash! Trust in the Lord and stop relying upon the arm of flesh and protecting our tax-free status!)
4.) The Church also seems to have neglected the obvious contradictions that they have created in this string of inconsistencies. This policy means that they MUST change their temple recommend questions.
Recommend question #6 states:
Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
The question is so ridiculous in its' current format, no one, even the Church itself, lives this standard!
But in fairness, most leaders would say that this question is really just intended to see if you are affiliating with "apostate" individuals or groups.
Well, now that they have labeled homosexuals in marriage or cohabitation as apostates (instead of just excommunicating for the sin), that means the question directly applies to associating with homosexuals.
Now every LDS person who has family or friends who have succumbed to this sin, and the LDS member seeking a recommend is still associating with the one guilty of the sin (a very likely prospect if the sinner is a family member), the recommend-seeking member will now have to answer affirmatively to this question and will not qualify for a recommend if we want to be technical. They are going to have to change the question. This is a big conflict, which it seems they didn't think through when they applied the term of "apostasy" in connection to homosexuals.
This question is also particularly troubling in light of my next point.
5.) I am particularly troubled with the ramifications of their statement in the spring of 2015 that said that an active LDS member can speak openly against the gospel/scriptural standard of marriage, the church’s teachings and what the leadership has declared, and actually make public their support for same-sex marriage through their social media and other means, without any fear of church discipline or loss of temple recommend.
How is this not in direct conflict with the recommend question above? We are asked if we "sympathize" with the precepts of people whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those of the Church; which clearly now includes same-sex marriage, since it qualifies as apostasy; and yet they give exception to those who support “this form” of apostasy! (Oddly, if members speak openly against a church teaching or the brethren on ANY other issue, they would still be considered apostate; but as part of the softening up the Church started doing, they made an exception on this matter so as to be politically correct and pacify the progressive leaning members of the Church; again, they keep treating this sin differently than other sins).
So let's analyze this a little further:
They are saying that a person that is ALREADY a baptized member that has already made covenants to follow Christ and should be striving to obey His word and commandments can actively promote their support for same-sex marriage in a public manner without any threat to their membership or standing....
BUT, if you haven't been baptized yet and happen to be a child who was born to or adopted by homosexual parents (one or both parents) then you cannot be baptized without first "disavowing" the practice of same-sex marriage.
Do we see a double standard here? A current member, like Steve Young, can speak in favor of same-sex marriage all day long without consequence because he's already baptized and it apparently doesn't matter to the church that he's covenanted to obey the Lord and is acting contrary to recommend question #6. Members are apparently free to AVOW this “apostate” sin all day long! But someone not yet baptized, that happened to be denied baptism until they turn 18 because of a policy, can't get the desired baptism unless they renounce a practice that other baptized members are now allowed to advocate! (Don't misunderstand; I think the sin of homosexuality should be rejected by any member on the basis that it is sin; period).
HELLO! Do they not see the stunning contradiction here? The inconsistency is mind blowing to me! How can you require something of these children to get baptized at 18; that you do not require of all your members simultaneously? THE SCRIPTURES CALL THIS HYPOCRISY!
Where is the outrage on this from every active member of this Church? We are so conditioned to cow tow to everything our leaders say that we refuse to see the inconsistencies that need correcting because we have convinced ourselves they cannot err.
Now, I'm sure I have infuriated some of you with these points. Once again, I want my position to be clear of not sympathizing with homosexual sin in any way.
One of my biggest hesitations in stating my views is that most of the people that are upset about this are progressive LDS members that I would probably disagree with on 98% of things. It's the John Dehlin, Ordain Women, liberal leaning, homosexual agenda supporting members that are in an outrage (many who have been thrilled with how the church has been softening over the years).
Many of them are upset for reasons that I do not resonate with. It's the "let’s just all get along no matter what" crowd and "you're being homophobic" crowd that wants their sins to be accepted over time, and not be viewed by society in any degree of negative light, that are so offended and making themselves so vocal, that it lessens the willingness of voices like mine to be heard without bias by faithful members.
The progressive crowd thought the church was changing in the direction they’ve advocated, because they were witnessing it change over the last 10 years as I've stated; and they are mad that this policy seems to revert back to the Church’s old ways.
Now, if I vocalize why I am not in agreement with this policy; I am automatically lumped in with these progressives who are not viewing this with the same lens that I am. I automatically seem like I'm soft on homosexual sin, too. I get lumped in with a bunch of “faithless, Joseph Smith smearing, Book of Mormon doubting, seeking to be popular” people; and nothing could be further from the truth as to how I am.
For all these years I have made the argument that YOU DO NOT CLASSIFY AND TREAT HOMOSEXUAL SIN AS A SPECIAL CATEGORY OF SIN! You don't get politically correct and dance around it so as not to offend. You speak boldly of what it is and why it is damning and you don't treat it differently than other serious immoral sins because it is politically charged. (IMO, this is what the Church has been doing and it has contributed to the current frustration). You stand strong on it and speak the truth clearly and with boldness. You use the power of the word of God to influence people's behavior.
In the same tone; you don't need to treat this sin as a different category in it's DISCIPLINE either. It merits excommunication for certain. But it does not need to be treated as a separate category of sin where we treat the children differently than we do of an adulterer, or any other person that has committed serious sin of any nature.
Consistency is the key. Homosexual sin is not a unique and special category of sin that deserves our tolerance MORE than other sins, NOR our empathy MORE than other sins, nor is it a sin that deserves the children to be treated differently because the parents engage in the sin. Treat all sin as sin and deal with it and those involved according to scripture (including continuing to love them); and treat all children the same, denying no one, as explained in scripture.
I send these words for your consideration lovingly, but with passion for truth as I understand it.
(signed by my friend)