Thursday, November 5, 2015

No married gays or their children. Why?

Before I freak out on the topic at hand, let me reaffirm my stance, in a brief rant, that the Deseret News is stuck in the mud. Once again there was a story to be published in a way that an unsavory moment or series of moments for the LDS church could have been avoided or at least tamed -- and they let other news agencies not do their job for them. Sad. Shame on the DNews.

Now the story. KUTV news reported about two hours ago that the LDS church has clarified to its leaders in the official Handbook (Number 1) for leaders to use in administering in the church, that being in a same-sex 

marriage is considered a form of apostasy.

Usually, this handbook is available only to bishops and stake presidents and other leaders of the church in higher positions, and I respect that. However, this is 2015 and info is readily available to all -- and we all know this. Where is the PR department of the church when it is needed, and why can't pro-activity be the new norm?  I digress.

Screen shots posted this afternoon were confirmed to be an accurate representation of the document by a spokesperson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

"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," wrote LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins on Thursday - about two hours ago -- and I quote from the KUTV news article listed below.
"While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, (the church) does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership."

In a related major policy announcement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that children who are living in a same-sex household may not be blessed as babies or be baptized as members. 

"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," the recent (an hour ago) policy reads.

"Natural or adopted children living in a same-sex household will only be allowed to be baptized once they are 18, disavow the practice of same-sex cohabitation or marriage, and stop living within the household, according to the policy. Such baptism would still require the approval of the church's governing First Presidency."

So what is the big deal? Nothing if you are not gay, I suppose. Or if you do not love anyone who is gay. Or you are not a father or a mother. But if you are or if you do, this looks and feels ... I can't even find the words. 

This latest version of the handbook declares that members who "are in a same-gender marriage" should be considered apostates. And church leaders are expected to pursue church discipline for anyone who is determined to be an apostate.

So much for my saying that gay people are welcome into the church.
As you know, dear reader, our countries legalization of same-sex marriage gave many the idea that the church would allow gays of all sorts to be part of the church in some way. After all, there are monogamous, legal, gay couples who attend church as believing members. I know several. Are they going to affiliate with the church with their new status as apostates? Yes, we know that they can't use church facilities for their weddings or receptions. How many more doors need to be shut to them?

I still welcome gay people into the church -- and their children. And I am still a TB Mormon. I am a gay welcoming, TB Mormon who is trying to figure this one out. There is a reason for this -- like there is a reason for every challenge placed before us, and I will find out what it is.  

My faith is not shaken. Not even stirred. And yet, I have some homework to do. I am thinking of stepping stones.  Things got better for and in the church after what I call the disaster of Prop. 8. Maybe this is a step toward better things.

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