(NOTE: This story has been officially verified by the church. If you would like to watch the interview with Elder Christofferson that was released in response, you can find it on the Mormon Newsroom.)
My heart is breaking. Being a Mormon has been a huge part of my identity for almost a decade. I love the spirit of the gospel, the kindness and love, the music, the primary program. But I just don’t understand how we can deny the gospel to people who want it.
According to Deseret News’ story, the LDS Church has updated its policies regarding same-sex marriage. There are multiple pieces to the update – but the one that concerns me the most is that
“a natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting,” can only be baptized, confirmed, ordained to the priesthood or serve a full-time mission with approval from the Office of the First Presidency. A mission or stake president may request approval and determine that: “the child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage”; and “the child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.” – Deseret News
With the new LDS policies, I would not have been allowed to be baptized back in April of 2007 because I was living with my dad and his partner every other week. I would only have been able to get baptized once I moved out, disavowed the practice of same-sex cohabitation and gay marriage, and got First Presidency approval.
Personally, I feel that requiring children to disavow their parents’ lifestyle is a hurtful step for people in a difficult situation. If that had been a requirement in 2007, I would not have been baptized (even if I hadn’t lived with my dad). Most converts to the church and lifelong members have issues they have to “put back on the shelf” because we don’t understand or agree with them. I think it is common for people to hold to the things they do understand and know during the course of a lifetime of questions. For me, the stance on homosexuality has always been one of those issues that just doesn’t set right in my heart – despite prayer, study, and fasting. Still, I have found respite in the church and have a strong testimony of many other facets of the gospel.
The church’s stance on homosexuality caused a huge rift between me and my father even without the requirement to disavow his lifestyle; I cannot imagine the toll that choosing between my family and the gospel would have had on my spiritual well-being and family relationships. It is true that there is a difference between disowning and disavowing, but even saying you don’t support and are not responsible for your family (meaning of disavow) would be incredibly hurtful. My father’s biggest fear when I joined the church was that I would disown him… and frankly, this would have been far too close for comfort.
My heart breaks for all the children AND PARENTS whose lives will be complicated by the new LDS policies. It breaks for my Dad and all the people in the world who will once again feel that there is no place for them in the gospel. And it breaks for the sons and daughters of homosexual men and women who will follow in my footsteps. I know how difficult and confusing it is to be a member of a church that does not accept your family, and it just got a lot harder. My prayers are with all of those who will be impacted by these new LDS policies. Please know that you are not alone.
Moreover, I am sickened at the bigotry that comes out of the woodwork when these issues come up in the church. The majority of people discussing this issue are doing it with an eye towards understanding and mutual respect. But as I have followed this story, I have once again seen the ugly side of church members. I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinions – but please, remember that there are families and testimonies that have been shaken and even broken by these issues. Just because you don’t understand doesn’t give you the right to disregard the second great commandment: love one another.
There are so many things we just can’t understand in this life. I don’t feel that it is fair to require this of new members in the church. Even after 8 years of active membership, I would be unwilling to put my father and my family through this. I’m not trying to be negative. I love the gospel, and I love being Mormon… but this feels more exclusionary than I believe the gospel should be, and it makes my spirit hurt.
Just for good measure, this is a picture of my wonderful dad outside of the temple on my wedding day. I am grateful that he has been patient with me and the church. Though we have had our ups and downs, he has done his best to support me even if he doesn’t understand my faith.
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