Amazing. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church) has finally conceded the untenable position they took back in 2015. What an unnecessary, tragic chapter in our history that could have been avoided from the get go. Hopefully we can get to work on repairing the damage and start making other steps still needed towards full LGBTQ+ inclusion in our faith community.
Things to note:
1. Children of LGBTQ+ AND non-members can be officially blessed and baptized in the church (wonder if this means that they will now take away the policy for polygamous families as well).
2. The word “transgression” is interesting to me here when it comes to same-sex marriage since the church has a history of seeing “transgression” as less serious than “sin.”
3. People in a same-sex marriage will no longer be deemed “apostate” which has implications for less or at least less rigid disciplinary proceedings within the church.
4. No apology is forthcoming. This would be a much more effective and healing announcement if it included something along the lines: “We are deeply sorrowed in regards to the many unintended consequences of our last policy changes in regards to this topic. We continually do our best to speak on the Lord’s behalf and sometimes we make mistakes. After much prayer and introspection, we are spiritually open to changes that need to be made. We apologize for our role in the pain many have experienced. We love you. We encourage all of us to focus primarily on the love we can show one another. We promise to be an example of this going forward as we continue to seek understanding on topics that are complex and sensitive. If you were personally affected by the policy changes in the last few years please contact your local ecclesiastical leaders so that we can take the appropriate reparatory steps.”
5. Any idea that “revelation” happens in a vacuum is highly dismissive. However you want to define revelation – it’s a process that happens within the voice of the actual church. The people. And the voices have been crying out in devastation for far too long. Remember that the policy was talked about as revelation to begin with.
To any who lost their lives or a loved one’s life to suicide within this mess we created,
to any who left our fold because it isn’t mentally/emotionally healthy to be within,
to any who lost their marriage to these value conflicts the church imposed upon you,
to those who weren’t able to participate with their peers of no fault of their own…
to those who were kicked out from our fold via the emotional violence of excommunication…
to those who were further ostracized and minimized by their own families and friends…
my heart breaks. We have much to repent from.
I want to celebrate in what is definitely a step towards progress. This will make a huge difference in the directions and possibilities this opens us up to. Not to mention the many youth currently growing up in our church that are now protected from this particular harm. And at the same time, it’s hard to celebrate progress when in essence it comes down to “thank you for not abusing members of our church in this way anymore,” “thank you for calling policy what you tried to tell us just a few years ago was revelation,” and when we still openly discriminate against this entire segment of our membership in ways that clearly damage mental and relational health.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, is the current past-president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.