The recent policy changes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding children of same-sex couples led to intense discussion from members and non-members alike.
While some of the debate has now died down, it has left some members of the church wondering what’s next for them regarding the policy.
From a public relations perspective, the church’s near future will be involved in rebuilding relationships.
Kenneth Plowman, an associate professor in BYU’s communication department, is a specialist in public relations. Plowman said the confusion and misinformation that came out when the news broke was the result of a “procedural problem.”
Plowman said it would have been better for the church to alert the media first so the church could’ve controlled the message.
Plowman said as a result of this miscommunication, “two or three years of relationship building was probably lost.” Plowman said the church needs to “reestablish and reassess some of those ties and rebuild.”
Some members of the church see this as an opportunity to examine church policy. Maddie Duffy, a senior from Yakima, Washington majoring in interdisciplinary humanities, said this policy change brings up questions about the age of baptism for all members of the church.
“I know the policy change is trying to protect children from making covenants before they’re ready, but I don’t think I really understood that I was making a covenant when I was 8,” Duffy said. “Maybe everyone should have to wait until they’re 18 to be baptized.”
For other members of the church, the focus is on how to treat those who were hurt by these policy updates. Christopher Dean, a senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, majoring marketing and Italian, is an active member of the church with same-sex attraction.
Dean said when he first heard the news about the church’s policy change, he was “definitely confused.”
“At first, it just seemed completely out of line with what the church has been doing to reach out to LGBT members,” Dean said.
Dean said he understands the policy more now, even though he admits the policy still “has flaws.” While Dean accepts the policy, he also wants members to acknowledge the feelings of those who haven’t embraced it.
“As we can see on social media, a lot of hurt was caused, and I don’t think that the church ever intends that,” Dean said.
Dean said people who feel hurt by the new policy should pray about it.
“Ask God,” Dean said. “Seek humility. Look for reasons. Follow President Uchtdorf’s counsel, ‘Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.’ Meanwhile, do your best to love others.”
Mercina Tillemann-Dick, a recent graduate from Yale University and a popular Mormon blogger, said when she found out about the updated policy, she felt “betrayed.”
“It felt antithetical to Christ’s teachings,” Tillemann-Dick said. “In the scriptures, Christ was clear about children not being liable for the sins of their parents.”
Tillemann-Dick said she feels the policy is “really impersonal” and thinks these complicated situations need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. She said she hopes the policy is revised or repealed all together in the future, though she understands church leaders had good intentions when making it.
While Tillemann-Dick still has problems with the policy, she said time and hearing other people’s opinions on the matter has helped her.
Tillemann-Dick said while this new policy has “broken a lot of people’s hearts,” she said church members can choose to view this as “an invitation to extend more love in every direction.”
She recalled a Relief Society lesson the Sunday following the announcement and said the teacher of the lesson said, “(The policy change) may have tied the hand of our leaders, but it hasn’t tied ours.”
“Pray about it, and make sure your actions are consistent with what the Spirit is communicating,” Tillemann-Dick said.