Mormons: gay marriage is now a ‘serious trangression’, not ‘apostasy’

Mormons: gay marriage is now a ‘serious trangression’, not ‘apostasy’ April 7, 2019

IN what is regarded by many as a startling U-turn, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reversed a 2015 ruling that classified people in same-sex marriages as ‘apostates’, subject to excommunication.  

Image via YouTube

Earlier this month, Mormon bigwig Dallin Oaks, above, announced  – hooray  and hallelujah! – that children of parents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may now be blessed and baptised.

And the church will no longer characterise same-gender marriage as “apostasy”, although it is still considered “a serious transgression”.

The church, Oaks said,  wants to:

Reduce the hate and contention so common today.

The church was rocked by a major backlash after it ruled that children of same-sex couples would not be able to join the Mormon Church until they turn 18 — and only if they move out of their parents’ homes, disavow all same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s top leadership.

In addition, Mormons in same-sex marriages would be considered apostates and ordered to undergo church disciplinary hearings that could lead to excommunication, a more rigid approach than the church has taken in the past.

The new policy was an effort by the church, which has long opposed same-sex marriage, to reinforce and even harden its doctrinal boundaries for its members at a time when small but increasing numbers of Mormons are coming out as gay or supportive of same-sex marriage.

Image via YouTube

Said Erika Munson, above, co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges, an organisation supporting LGBTQ people in the community:

I was close to tears. I couldn’t believe it. I felt so much gratitude for every Latter-day Saint who raised their concern about the policy. They made the pain incredibly visible at a time when the church is not growing as much as it used to, when there’s real concern about retention and about millennials leaving. I don’t see how church leaders could have ignored that.

She added:

It gives me hope. This is the fastest turnaround I can remember the church has ever done on anything. It doesn’t stop the damage that’s been done, but it does stop further damage.

But for some LGBTQ Mormons, there was a big omission in the church statement: no apology for the policy it introduced in 2015.

Said Kendall Wilcox, also a co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges and an openly gay Latter-day Saint:

Sadly, this change did not come with a recognition of fault by the institutional church or its leaders. No apology. That would have gone a long way in healing hearts and soothing souls. Just a simple statement that they were wrong.

Kathy Carlston, who has housed many homeless LGBTQ people in her apartment with her wife, Berta Marquez expressed fear in 2015 about the impact of the policy on the young people they served. They prayed that church leaders present and past would keep the youth in their community safe. Then last year, Marquez took her own life. Carlston said:

I don’t think the full reason [for her suicide] was that she didn’t feel welcome at church, but it was a factor.

She said Marquez was suffering from withdrawal from anti-anxiety medication.

At a time when she was in crisis, she was in pain, she was unable to go to her church family for refuge.

Carlston said her wife would have viewed this policy change as a major win.

I am filled with a lot of gratitude, just grateful that future generations will not have to suffer in the way that our generation suffered.

Image via YouTube

But she still wants an apology from the church’s highest authority, its President Russell Nelson, above, who is also a retired heart surgeon.

If I ever had the chance to sit down with President Nelson, I would remind him that as a physician, he made an oath to do no harm, and when harm is done there needs to be reparations. Repentance is a foundational principle of the church. It’s a gift from God. The church needs to utilize its own teachings to make it a safe place for all its members.

Meanwhile, the work continues at a resource center for LGBTQ+ young people and their families in Utah called Encircle. Founder Stephenie Sorensen Larsen started working on the plans for the center just a couple of months after November 2015.

It’s important to remember that these youth and the LGBTQ community often see themselves as sinners and second-class citizens in a religion and in communities that they love. Most of the youth that come to Encircle still believe deeply in the faith that they were raised in. When you believe that God doesn’t love you as you are, they’re left in this place where they have so much self-hatred. It’s sad to see these young people feel so much shame for who they are.

Larsen says the policy change is a good step, but she knows her work is not done.

For the church, it’s a flip of a switch and this is over. For the LGBTQ community, they’ll deal with this for a lifetime. I wish it fixed everything, but the same kids will be here next week.

Hat tip: Mark Palmer

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  • Broga

    “And the church will no longer characterise same-gender marriage as “apostasy”, ”

    Thank Gawd. What a relief. At last. I have had so many sleepless nights over this. Their compassion and concern is overwhelming.

  • Michael Neville

    Certain churches go out of their way to show how hateful and bigoted they can be. All that stuff Jesus said about “love thy neighbor” is disregarded.

  • islandbrewer

    Well, when your religion was made up just a mere century and a half ago, what exactly a sin is and how bad it is may not be entirely worked out. For example, they’re still haven’t figured out the whole coffee/tea/Coca-Cola thing.

  • Matt G

    Operating under the assumption that people like this do the right thing only when no other options remain, I wonder if revenue and/or membership is down.

  • barriejohn

    And they have had this change of heart purely as a result of studying their Bibles, have they, and not due to the application of any outside pressure? Liars and hypocrites every one!

  • barriejohn

    How can you be so cynical? 😂

  • If you think the current Democrat slate is bad, with at least 3 potential candidates in their late ’70s, just consider how the Mormon hierarchy works. Russell Nelson is the current leader because he was literally the oldest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when the previous President, Thomas Monson, dropped dead at the beginning of last year. If he were to die tomorrow his successor would be M, Russell Ballard, at 90 a mere child. There can be few better recipes to make change all but impossible in an organisation than having it run by the ancient.

  • larry parker

    Still bad, just a little bit less bad than before.

  • Matt G

    I knew a priest who referred to Mormonism as a “made-up religion”. The correct response, which sadly came to me days later, was that all religions – including his(!) – are made up. Q: What’s the difference between a cult and a religion? A: About a hundred years.

  • barriejohn

    I think there probably was a Jesus, but I don’t think he ever came out with any of those quotes that people consider “inspirational”. I bet “Death to the Romans” was about all that came out of his mouth!

  • barriejohn

    Maybe instead of counting the numbers of angels dancing upon pinheads, they could explain to we mere mortals how their god not only allows, but plans, in his infinite love and wisdom, things like this:

  • islandbrewer

    See, I always thought the operative definition of a “cult” as a religion that worshiped a single living entity, like Sun Myung Moon or David Koresh, but then I’ve discussed with with other people, got into the literature, and now comfortable defining a “cult” as a “religion you really don’t like.”

  • frostysnowman

    They obviously didn’t pray hard enough. /s

  • some bastard on the internet

    The church, Oaks said, wants to:

    Reduce the hate and contention so common today.

    While not mentioning that the church was the primary driver of that hate.

  • Har Davids

    Don’t blame Matt G. A certain site called the The Freethinker may have made him so.

  • Har Davids

    In this day and age it ain’t as easy as it used to be to be an ass-hole and get away with it.

  • Har Davids

    When your flock runs in the tens of millions, you are no longer a cult.

  • NoOne of Consequence

    Membership certainly was dropping, reported growth was drastically reduced from previous years. Plus the Mormons are notorious for not taking people off the rolls when they stop going or ask them to do so so I bet the numbers were even worse than they admitted.

  • islandbrewer

    I think that’s just a really successful cult. And also, as a “religion”, tax free CHA-CHING status!

    I’m totally in the wrong business.

  • barriejohn

    I will pray for him.

  • barriejohn

    They also “baptise the dead”. Do they also count all those people as members?

  • barriejohn

    In the same way that they continually trot out the argument that gay people are less happy and more suicidal than the rest of the population, whilst being, themselves, the primary source of the homophobia that causes their isolation and depression.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    So the infallible laws of an all knowing all powerful deity can be changed on a whim… Puny god.

  • Lilly Munster

    Is there any human being more deluded, racist, misogynistic, homophobic or just plain FUCKING CRAZY than a Mormon?
    The cannot keep their children in the Cult. They are losing HUNDREDS of thousand members, who can no longer support the myths, lies and insanity.
    The supported the hatred that caused the State of Utah to have the HIGHEST teen suicide rates. They cannot possible change enough to be accepted by Real People.

  • NoOne of Consequence

    I can’t say for sure, but I do know that they do many thousands of ‘baptisms for the dead’ every day and have for decades. I think if they counted them there would be more members than people on Earth and I expect that would be a bit to on the nose, even for them.

  • Broga

    You can’t be sure. The competition amongst the “people of faith” is so fierce. I’ll give you this. The Mormons must be up there with the leading contenders.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    I don’t know all the details, but don’t these folks believe that when you die, the MEN go to some other planet, and the SPOUSE(s) (presumably women) go to whatever planet their husband is on?

    That’s a fundamental problem for their god, right there. Is I a man, or is I a spouse?

  • TheBookOfDavid

    the church will no longer characterise same-gender marriage as “apostasy”, although it is still considered “a serious transgression

    Translation: “We still do not recognize LGBT couples as equal partners in faith, feel free to bring the kids to church for indoctrination.”

  • Freethinker

    As far as Christian spin offs go Mormons are outliers on the sheer crazy fairytale scale (English speaking Jesus in America and tablets made from gold etc), so it’s little wonder that they are such slow adopters of anything resembling common sense and common decency. We are talking about a religion that refused to ordain “colored’ ministers until the late 1970’s. The real surprise here is that people are still discussing this group in serious terms as if anything they say or do really matters. It’s like taking the flat-earthers seriously, it just encourages them.

  • Zetopan

    Another working definition is that a religion worships a dead founder while a cult worships a living founder. Hence all cults that don’t completely die out simply become religions. See Scientology for a recent example. Of course, they are all actually the same horse, just different colors.

  • Zetopan

    All gawds are puny, that is why their believers have to do all of the dirty work. Also, gawd always needs money!

  • Zetopan

    On average about 29K children die every single day of the week due to disease, starvation, neglect, accident and violence. Gawds are always way too busy determining who is using birth control to do anything else. The gawds are also remarkably mute so they always have to enlist the help of parasites on Earth to speak for them.

  • Zetopan

    Funny that Jesus never wrote anything, instead he had followers do ghost writing everything for him. As far as “Death to Romans”, according to the jesus freaks who wrote the new testament he killed a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season, also said to sell your raincoat and buy a sword, and then eventually declared that anyone not following him would suffer eternal torture. What a great guy! /s