The episode demonstrates clearly the dangers of drawing conclusions based on incomplete news reports, tweets and Facebook posts without necessary context and accurate information. The Church quickly responded to many of those concerns with a video interview with Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. By the end of the weekend, that interview had been viewed by millions.
This is a classic “blame the victim” move. There were no incorrect conclusions made about how the policies were originally written. They were quite clear. And if the policies had not been made public, we would not be seeing the clarifications we are seeing as of yesterday (not that these clarifications stop bigotry – they just clarify situations where the bigotry will be less direct). Just in one weekend we saw many local ecclesiastical leaders responding by quickly putting these policies into place within their jurisdictions (i.e. baptisms and priesthood ordinations canceled, announcements being made from the pulpit, family relationships threatened, etc.). And none of my concerns were addressed in Elder Christofferson’s interview. In fact I found it disturbing that the one apostle with a close family member who is gay was chosen to deliver the address.
There is new information in the Handbook that addresses a narrow range of situations involving the children of same-sex couples.
Do not minimize the impact of this move. Thousands of children and families will be affected by these policies.
The Church felt the need specifically to address such marriages in the Handbook to draw a firm line and encourage consistency among local leaders.
The Church has done plenty to draw firm lines making their position known. This was not a necessary move for this reason. In fact, most members of our church engaged in same-sex marriage or sexual behavior are already being disciplined and usually excommunicated. There was no need for further firmness.
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.
Not for one minute do I buy that concern for children or tug-of-war situations are what the leaders were concerned about. In fact, these policies exacerbate tug-of-war issues within family systems. If protection was truly the intent, where is the concern for ALL children, regardless of the ‘sin,’ who live in homes where they may face situations which conflict with what they are taught at church (i.e. domestic violence, sexual abuse, word of wisdom choices, etc.)? This has more to do with stances the church wants to make and legal concerns they may have than anything having to do with the protection of children. And we can see from the reaction of members and non-members alike that this did not resonate as a protective move.
Church doctrine is consistent with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. There is a strong tendency today for many to talk of Jesus Christ as if His teachings on love were somehow inconsistent with his teachings on divine commandments. Of course the Savior’s love was never withheld from anyone and His words on the cross exemplify that. But, He also expressed love by teaching clear doctrine and standing firmly against sin with sometimes-tough lessons for which people rejected Him.
Do not use certain interpretations to trump others so that it serves your purpose. Jesus Christ (as His words are recounted and translated in the Bible) never mentions homosexual behavior. He clearly prioritizes two commandments that should trump all others – and He mentions these often. He also regularly mentions issues regarding unrighteous judgment and condemnation, bringing children unto Him, and acting in a loving way to those who we do not agree with (including sinners). And though we may see Him be clear about following certain commands (mainly about charity, caring for the poor, being humble, and leaving a legacy of love) – there are no examples of Him taking disciplinary actions such as these policies support. Those who were most offended by Him and rejected Him – were the church leaders of His time. This is an example of unrighteous dominion meant to halt conversation and critical thought.
Stances against homosexual members were already non acceptable before these policies highlighted how awful we have been. Backpedaling to even those positions will no longer be acceptable.
Please stop defending undefendable positions.
Natasha Helfer Parker can be contacted at natashaparker.org.