I have struggled to comprehend my thoughts on the recent announcement by the LDS church concerning new policy changes in Handbook 1. There is an ever growing list of reasons why this policy change is both confusing and heartbreaking.
As a young man I spent many Sundays contemplating my future, both temporal and beyond. I grew up seeing the joy on a child’s face as they’re baptized before their brothers and sisters. I grew up seeing the smiles of new parents as they bless their newborn before the congregation, announcing their beautiful child before God and Christ. I have always wanted children, and I yearned to be a faithful priesthood leader that would be worthy of performing these ordinances.
When I came out as gay I knew that my dreams would need to be altered. I accepted to myself that if I wanted to find genuine happiness in life, then I wouldn’t be able to continue within the church. Yet, I still held onto hope that changes would someday be made and in the meantime I would attempt to resolve and understand my myriad spiritual beliefs into something consistent. In the meantime, I still dreamt of my children receiving blessings every school year by my father. I still dreamt of my future spouse and children accompanying my parents and siblings to church and seeing the baptisms and blessings of my nieces and nephews. But that hardly seems like a possibility when it is now explicitly understood that not only am I not welcome, but neither are my children.
People always wonder why I care about any of this if I am not necessarily active anymore. Simply put, Mormonism was my life, my foundation, and my social structure for the majority of my formative years. How terrible is it that I had to leave all that behind in order to pursue any type of genuine happiness in life? I may have left Mormonism but Mormonism will never leave me. It will always be a part of my overall identity. As such, my future children will always be aware of my Mormon upbringing, and will receive some foundational beliefs about God, and Jesus Christ that is based within Mormon theology.
Yet, I ask myself now: what is the point? So that they can lean towards a Mormon understanding of the world but also know that they are never truly welcome, just as their dads are? This is no fault of their own; yet they are punished. Not only am I discriminated against within the church for being gay, for something that I had no control over, but my nonexistent children are even discriminated against for something that they have no control over.
I have read on countless blogs, Facebook posts, comments, the far reaching and absolute heartbreak this policy shift has had on both current members and ex-Mormons. I think of my mother and father who will one day have my children, their grandchildren, sitting next to them in a sacrament meeting to hear one of their cousins give a talk or sing a piece during the meeting, knowing that my children are not welcome. That my future children are apparently seen as unworthy of Christ’s love. I think of my friends who originally were in a mixed orientation marriage with children, but divorced and now live with their same sex partner, and the choices that their children now have to make in order to be baptized or go on a mission. This is not about protecting the family as church rhetoric seems to perpetuate, as seen in the church’s PR move in response to the backlash, it is a move that only further drives it home that the church is not the welcoming at loving place where ALL of God’s children are welcome to learn about Christ.