The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added further clarification to its recent handbook update regarding children of homosexual couples on Friday.
Mormon Newsroom Commentary
Michael Otterson, Managing Director of the LDS Public Affairs, provided commentary on issues surrounding the policy update in a post featured on Mormon Newsroom.
Otterson states that misperceptions and a lack of context regarding the policy’s intent has led to some mischaracterizations of the church and its doctrine.
“The episode demonstrates clearly the dangers of drawing conclusions based on incomplete news reports, tweets and Facebook posts without necessary context and accurate information,” Otterson said.
According to Otterson, the church felt a need to reaffirm its stance on same-sex marriage and address a “narrow range of situations involving the children of same-sex couples.”
“In reality, very few same-sex couples would bring children for the formal church ordinance of naming and blessing, since this creates a formal membership record. But church leaders want to avoid putting little children in a potential tug-of-war between same-sex couples at home and teachings and activities at church.”
The church has similar baptismal policies in other cases where sensitive family issues may arise. Minors aren’t allowed to be baptized without parental consent, and married men and women must have the permission of their spouse before being baptized. Children from polygamous families also are not generally eligible for baptism before 18. Local leaders are encouraged to seek further guidance from church headquarters for specific circumstances that may necessitate an exception.
Otterson concluded by saying that the new policy is consistent with both the life and teachings of Jesus Christ—extending love to all while teaching clear doctrine and standing firm against sin.
“Church members who believe in modern prophets and apostles understand and appreciate the intent of their leaders to guide the Church through the complexities of diverse societies and rapidly changing social circumstances.”
First Presidency letter
Also on Friday, the LDS First Presidency issued a letter to church leaders containing “guidance in applying provisions on same-gender marriage recently added to Handbook 1.” The letter was posted on LDS.org.
“Revealed doctrine is clear that families are eternal in nature and purpose,” the letter states. “We are obligated to act with that perspective for the welfare of both adults and children. The newly added Handbook provisions affirm that adults who choose to enter into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship commit sin that warrants a Church disciplinary council.”
The letter also states that children of same-sex couples already baptized and actively engaged in church participation “do not require that his or her membership activities or priesthood privileges be curtailed or that further ordinances be withheld.”
The letter concluded by affirming that all children are welcome to attend and participate in church meetings and activities, and that all are eligible to receive priesthood blessings of spiritual guidance and healing.
Membership resignation march planned
Members of a public Facebook group called “LDS Church Mass Resignation” protesting the church’s policy change are planning to deliver their membership resignation letters during an organized march from City Creek Park to a mailbox near the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 14.
The group’s Facebook site has conducted a series of online polls to better understand the group’s demographics, including a question about their current level of church activity.
A poll posted to the site on Nov. 10 asks “How many of us are considered by LDS standards ‘active’ members?” As of the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 13, 784 people have responded to the poll. Results show that:
- 489 are “Considered ‘inactive'”
- 160 are “Resigned (Apostate)”
- 67 are “Non-member”
- 30 “Attend Weekly”
- 25 “don’t attend, but my children do”
- 13 “Attend Monthly”
The site currently has 1,304 individuals planning to attend the march, which takes place this Saturday at 1 p.m.