I’m deeply grieved that the church has hit a new low in dealing with its LGBT members.
I’m at a loss of words in knowing how to make sense of the new additions in the bishop’s handbook guiding ecclesiastical leaders to treat the decision to same-sex marry as a form of apostasy AND to exclude children being raised in same-sex marriages from the rituals and ordinances of being Mormon. Literally speechless. I am having a hard time finding the church of my youth and upbringing in this wave of homophobic policy making.
First of all, since when is sexual behavior or relationship choice akin to apostasy?* We do not treat heterosexual members this way when they behave in ways that are not aligned in the keeping of the law of chastity (i.e. adultery, pre-marital sex, co-habitation, even sexual abuse…). These behaviors are treated as sins, and they often lead to disciplinary councils – but not under the name of apostasy. Rather sexual transgression. I have worked with so many LGBT members who leave the church because they can’t live authentic lives – yet they still believe in the principles and doctrines of the gospel. How does that align with the charge of apostasy? If apostasy is defined by behavioral compliance to commandments – then shouldn’t we all be charged?
Secondly, how dare we go against our own doctrines and punish the children for the “sins of their fathers?” Not only must a child now wait until they are 18 years of age to be able to fully participate in the LDS Church – they must disavow their parents’ union and therein, their entire upbringing in order to so. How can we justify holding back the ordinances we claim are vital for the salvation of our souls to children who have no control over how they are being raised? And why do we baptize and ordain any minor children then that don’t have active, believing, commandment-complying parents?
I will continue to repeat time and again – the majority of stances the LDS church has taken on homosexuality deeply harm our members. They are emotionally and spiritually abusive. They cause emotional distress – often to the point of contributing to mental illness. They cause separation and tremendous loss in many LDS families. We lose LGBT members to suicide on a regular basis. The amount of LGBT members who have left or been ostracized from our congregations is tragic. This is not good fruit. The stench is rotten. The church will never have success in taking the stance that homosexuality is innate while still expecting emotional, romantic, and sexual celibacy from those that experience this orientation. It is an unsustainable position. It is an abusive position. It causes unnecessary and tragic consequences for those who try to keep these two parts of their identities integrated in their lives. And now, the effects of our bigoted positions will affect, even more than before, the children and families of those within same-sex marriages.
There will come a day when we will not be able to morally stand behind bigoted beliefs we blame on God as justification for causing this kind of harm. The Mormon God I was raised believing in would have nothing to do with this type of abuse and mean-spiritedness. A call to repentance is definitely needed, as we’ve had to face before in our fairly recent past. I hope the social justice pressure from other organizations, governments, educational facilities, mental health & medical associations, etc. will eventually force our hand in halting this type of damage. Because those of us within have been largely unsuccessful in clamoring for the mercy and grace necessary to even begin the healing process we will need to face when the tide will finally turn.
It’s hard not to weep tonight.
If you’re struggling after learning about the new LDS Church policy on children of LGBTQ couples, and you need to talk to someone, please reach out.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
You can find LGBT affirming therapists at the Mormon Mental Health Association as well.
*I do recognize our history of treating the practice of polygamy as a form of apostasy.
Trigger Warning: If you identify as LGBTQ – please be careful in reading the comments people post on this site. I allow all comments (that don’t personally berate another person) because I want there to be a witness to the many opinions on this topic – but some are triggering, harmful and often give inaccurate information.
Natasha Helfer Parker can be contacted at natashaparker.org.