Updates to the LDS Church‘s handbook for church leaders regarding couples within same-gender marriage and their children were distributed to church leaders Thursday.
One of the major changes in the handbook used as a policy guide for local leaders of Mormon congregations says church members who “are in a same-gender marriage” will be treated as apostatizing from the church.
“The church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages,” said church spokesman Eric Hawkins. “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.”
“Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the church in many varied circumstances,” Hawkins said.
One of the handbook updates also clarifies that gay relationships will still be considered under the list of “serious transgressions” with the added phrase “especially sexual cohabitation” placed after the phrase “homosexual relations.”
The handbook also has a new section addressing the children of parents in a same-sex relationship. The section says the natural or adopted children of same-sex couples, married or cohabiting, “may not receive a name and a blessing” in the church. Children of same-sex couples may still receive priesthood blessings of healing or comfort.
Unless requested by a mission president or stake president and approved by the Office of the First Presidency, children of same-sex couples may not be baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service if the child is living or has ever lived with a couple in a same-sex relationship.
Part of the approval processes for any of the above ordinances and the call to be a missionary include that the child has undergone personal interviews and meets the following two requirements: “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,” and “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 church released the following relevant sections of the handbook updates:
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:
1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.
2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
3. 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.
4. Are in a same-gender marriage.
5. 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.