Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Answer the dang phone, people

I feel compelled to find a way to explain the recent adjustment to LDS church policy. I don't represent the church, but I am a believing member, and I have family and friends who are as well.  

I also have family and friends who do not in any way believe like I do. In fact, it always blows me away when I think about just how different our belief systems are - and we are still familiar and friendly. I hope to continue that.

One of them reminded me that "Friendship that insists upon agreement on all matters is not worthy of the name".
I once wrote a mother's story about when she had been a bit abrupt with her small child after she found him playing in the road in front of the home. The theme was that this mothers actions may have appeared to an outsider to be mean and un-provoked. How dare she swat that kid on the behind and scold him. It sure didn't seem like a Christian thing to do. However, the mother was trying to teach the child to stay out of the road for obvious reasons. She was looking at the big picture. 
It’s a lovely story, but it doesn’t quite work in this case. There is a better one.
"What would Jesus do?"
There is a biblical account of our Savior and how he treated different ethnic groups... well, differently. He personally spoke to, taught, and ministered to all groups. However, He very clearly included only the Israelite people as members of His church, the Church of Jesus Christ. 
The policy to baptize only Israelites was not a new policy, but one that had been around for years before Christ’s birth. He continued the policy. Several people have tried to make sense of the policy that excluded non-Israelite's from being members of Christ's church, but there is no information that clarifies or explains. Later, it was revealed to the prophet, Peter, that the then current policy of exclusion should be discontinued. If he knew the reason why, he did not explain it to anyone who wrote it down - not that I know of.
This current policy adjustment at first look (even a second look) appears to exclude children of same-sex couples just as the policy in Christ's time excluded non-Israelites. It looks like that because it does exclude them. This could be due to custody issues or harmony-in-the-family issues --as has been explained on-line by several Mormon apologists that are smarter than I am. 

If you look at the policy -- and you may need to wipe away a few tears to do so -- it allows these children to be baptized with intervention from the priesthood leaders, who will look at each case individually to insure safety for the child. It’s a big picture scenario. It is also a scenario that includes the distinct possibility that god knows more than we do. No decent man would have thought this up on their own. I believe the General Authorities of the LDS church are, at very least, decent men.
It boils down to this. This policy was adjusted under the direction of the prophet. Does the prophet speak for God, or not? Is the Savior leading this church or not? If he is, as I believe, there is faith and compassion involved -- faith that He leads his church and has everyone’s best interest at heart; and compassion to all everywhere regardless of their belief, political involvement, religion, age, sex, nationality, race, or --fortunately for me, IQ.
Are children being punished for the sins of the fathers? 
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and keep them safe from all danger.
First, it is not my place to identify same sex partners as sinners. There are judges in Zion and I am not one of them. 
Second, no. Children are not being punished. But it appeared like it when I first read the news. It seemed like someone was saying "Go ahead and get married to whoever you want.  Now take this...!"  I am sure that is not the case.  But there is a consequence for actions in and out of the church -- clearly -- for same-sex marriage as far as family is concerned. Creating personal conflict between a child who wishes to be baptized a member of the LDS church (which is crystal in its support of family and man/woman marriage) and parents in a same-sex marriage is not prudent for anyone – mostly the children.
Additionally, there may be custody issues as well. All that is needed is for one parent to agree to baptism, as has been the case for years. If there is a disagreement concerning the baptism and one parent agrees over the wishes of the other parent, that parent may sue over custodial interference and change the custodial status.
Bringing it home
I received a letter from someone who had been invited to a child's baptism this weekend. My friend does not want to support the LDS church because of this policy. Regardless of my own belief, I support my friend and his decision. I believe that he is taking a stance because he cares. I would encourage him to support the child regardless of his personal belief concerning the child's religious affiliation. Would he support a child being baptized into the Seventh Day Adventists or Catholic church -- whose policies he does not agree with either? Sure he would. 
One last thought:  
A saying on a church bill board said, "Don't care how tough you think you are.  When a two year old hands you a toy phone, you answer it." 
Regardless of policy perception, answer the dang phone, people.


  1. I understand you completely. I was negatively affected at first, but upon reflection, I realized that the Church is merely doing what it (and God, if we believe Thomas S. Monson is a prophet) knows (or believes) is best for the children. I support the Church in all its OFFICIAL stands, even though I may not understand them!

  2. This policy -ex-communication for those in same sex marriages - will result in more suicides. That is a fact that is. Imagine being a young gay person struggling along. More blood on the hands there, no matter how it is rationalized.

  3. President Thomas Monson is very sick and also pretty out of it much of the time. I think a lot of your support of this policy comes from dogmatic thinking. It's a very black and white view of the world which skews reality. This policy asks that kids completely raised by same gender parents or partial custody of a parent who is in a same sex marriage "disavow" that marriage. That's pretty disgusting, spiritually abusive as well as divisive. God is infinitely bigger than Mormonism.