As of yesterday, assuming the news stories are right, if you’re three days old, innocent, helpless, completely free of complicity with the ugliness of the world, the LDS church will not allow any ordained member of the church to give you a ceremonial name-blessing, if you also happen to be the natural or adopted child of same-sex parents.
That’s not all. The LDS church will not allow any ordained church member to baptize any eight-year-old, who is the child of same-sex parents.
I may not be in favor of baptizing eight-year-olds, willy-nilly, anyway, but this move to keep kids out of the faith seems so gratuitously mean-spirited, so grotesquely un-Jesus-like, I can hardly believe it, even as cynical as I have become.
I recall a character from Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities who obsessed over “hemorrhaging money”. Every day he found himself trying to put a bandage on some new wound opened up in his fiscal resources, so that he was bleeding, bleeding, bleeding money, and couldn’t manage to stop the flow as fast as circumstances were inflicting new gashes.
With their latest, gratuitous assault on children, those who are setting policy for the LDS church these days seem determined to inflict wounds faster than I can close them up. I may be hemorrhaging spirituality, and in real jeopardy of a sad, hollow spiritual death, in spite of the vibrant Mormon thought that still inspires me.
Given the sectarian homophobia that prevails in the church’s leadership, these days, I suppose we all saw coming an official policy that requires ordained leaders of LDS-Mormon congregations to excommunicate same-sex couples, simply for being same-sex couples.*
However—and to reiterate—the church didn’t stop there. It was not enough, apparently, to make pariahs of perfectly good, kind, helpful, loving people whose domestic arrangements are at odds with a particular, sectarian version of Mormonism, and perfectly legal, in any case. No, the LDS church will also, now, as a matter of officially mandated policy, make personae non gratae of the children of such couples.
In recent years, I’ve been trying very hard to work around the conclusion that I’m not spiritually healthy. I’ve been hopeful, for a long time, that I’m not going to bleed out, that I can close the wounds just fast enough to sustain my health just long enough to see less hostile circumstances emerge in the near future of the church I know as mine. That hope may be dead. And my fatal ailment, I don’t mind saying, is not my own faithlessness, but the church’s increasing determination to act in a way that strikes me, with increasing effect, as thoughtless, selfish, and mean.
I do have the advantage that this latest, bewildering adjustment to the LDS church’s policies as prescribed by its mysterious and ominous Handbook 1 also affords LDS church members an expanded possibility for multiple affiliation. Thanks to the folks who set the church’s policies these days, I guess, I can now join another church without the risk of LDS excommunication, as long as I don’t advocate the other church’s teachings.
Which works just fine. I certainly can’t advocate the teachings of this one.
*The same leaders haven’t seen fit to assert so strongly their prerogative to excommunicate heterosexual couples who are living in sin. That the completely, dangerously, dysfunctional, and even unwed heterosexual couple is perfectly welcome to bring its children to the LDS chapel to be ceremonially blessed, anytime, reveals a serious failure of LDS leaders to examine their prejudices.
**Photo of an unblessable monster comes from Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Infants#/media/File:Fotothek_df_roe-neg_0000226_002_Portrait_eines_S%C3%A4uglings.jpg