The Sins of the Parents?

Just a little over a week ago, the regional theocracy more widely known as the LDS Church announced changes to Handbook 1, the guide for its lay leaders, not that the LDS Church has any other kind, since a degree in theology is not required for any of its “bishops” or other church functionaries. The changes state that same-sex couples who are married are “apostates” and are unwelcome in the church. This is essentially an official affirmation of a long-standing unofficial policy.

But that wasn’t enough. In addition, the new policy states that the children of same-sex couples cannot be baptized in the church until they are eighteen – and then only if they repudiate their parents’ marriage.

This is little more than a power play on the part of church authorities, using the children as weapons against the parents. Unfortunately, most people who live outside of the unofficial but very real theocracy of Deseret [i.e., Utah and sizeable chunks of the adjoining states of Nevada, Idaho, and Arizona] will likely not understand the ramifications, since, if this policy is followed by local bishops and congregations, it will isolate children of such marriages. That’s because the vast majority of socializing, politics, and most after-school activities in LDS communities revolves around the church. This becomes especially important once children reach middle school age and continues through high school, as well as college in Utah and in LDS affiliated colleges and universities.

In effect, the LDS Church has now officially declared that openly LGBT people must leave the LDS church and take their children with them, whether or not the parents or the children wish this. Personally, it’s hard for me to imagine wanting to belong to such a faith, but I know and have known enough LGBT individuals who desperately want to remain part of the LDS faith to see what a difficult choice this is for them.

It’s also incredibly hypocritical, given that the LDS faith has always portrayed itself as a loving, family-centered, and kind religion, but apparently that love and kindness only extends to those who totally disavow the existence of those whose sexual/gender orientations are not hardline heterosexual.

What also makes all of this even more hypocritical is the recent discovery that sexual orientation is at least partly determined by two human genes, which follows earlier evidence clearly indicating that the physical brain structure of LGBT individuals differs from that of heterosexuals. This evidence invalidates the entire LDS/religious argument that human sexual/gender orientation is a choice. Thus, this policy would punish people and their children for the fact that they are different, and punishing people, especially when that difference in itself harms no one, except possibly those individuals, is the last thing that a purportedly kind, family-centered, and loving faith should be doing… especially by using children as a weapon in the process.

3 thoughts on “The Sins of the Parents?”

  1. CRM says:

    Okay, this is not a new policy, this a clarification of existing policy and doctrine. The LDS church teaches that any kind of sexual immorality requires repentance before the individual can participate fully in the church. This can range from being asked not partake of the Sacrament (basically like communion in other churches) at Sunday meetings, up through excommunication. Excommunication does not mean that the individual is locked out of meetings, but it means that their covenants and blessings (baptism, temple endowments, and so on) have been taken from them. An excommunicated person can still attend meetings and activities, but their participation in Gospel and Priesthood functions is not allowed. Excommunication in general is reserved for cases where the person is blatantly unrepentant and does not want to cooperate with their leaders in the process of repentance.

    So, any adultery, fornication, or whatever is treated the same way, depending on the individual’s desire to repent and cooperate with the process. We believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. We recognize that we all feel sexual attractions that we should not act upon. Homosexuality is no different than that. Homosexuality is a serious sin, just as serious as any other form of extra-marital sex. It’s just the political aspects of homosexuality are a hot-button issue.

    The specific language and policies LEM mentioned above are identical to current LDS policies regarding polygamous marriage. Regarding children, I think the idea is to avoid having children who are growing up in an environment contrary to gospel principles being placed under covenants of obedience and righteousness until they are adults and can make an informed decision for themselves. The children are not barred from participating any church activities, except for those involving covenants, such as Temple attendance.

    Above all, the Gospel of Christ is about individual moral agency. The Church presents doctrine and standards of behavior according to what we consider divine revelation. Every one of us then has to decide if we will follow those standards. It’s our choice. While homosexual attraction might not be choice, acting on it is.

    I’ll stop there. I’m not trying to start arguments, I just want to explain my understanding of Church doctrine.

    Mr. Modesitt, I do like your writing. I especially enjoyed reading Solar Express this last week. Thanks also for providing a forum for discussion.

  2. D Archerd says:

    Leaving aside the issue of genetic pre-disposition towards sexual orientation, intolerance of gay marriage flunks the “what would Jesus do?” test. At least, the Jesus I read about in the gospels would have been a whole lot more concerned THAT we love, not WHO we love. And as you point out, a gay couple fully committed to each other for life and raising children within that framework of love and commitment is completely aligned with “family values”. Unless, of course, your starting point is equating homosexuality with forms of sexual deviance such as pederasty and even infidelity and promiscuity in general, which actually do threaten the stability of families.

    And then there’s that one cryptic reference in the gospels to “the disciple who Jesus loved”. Not “one of the disciples who Jesus loved,” but phrased to imply there was a single one who was “special” which really makes one wonder what Jesus actually thought about the topic.

    Sexuality is a fundamental part of being human. It is one thing to ask that people refrain from desired sexual behavior when not to do so would result in a victim, such as child molestation and infidelity. But it is hard to see why homosexual orientation being expressed in a committed, long-term relationship is a sin. To quote Robert Heinlein, “Sin consists of hurting other people unnecessarily; everything else is invented nonsense.”

    Cross-cultural studies of societies where homosexual behavior suffers no approbation or ostracizing indicates that around 30% of the population engages in homosexual behavior to a greater or lesser degree, and that percentage is pretty consistent, indicating that there’s probably something hard-wired into humans, something that helps provide some sort of evolutionary advantage, at least to society as a whole if not to the individual.

  3. Curtis says:

    Relevant write-up on what I suspect is the true reasoning for the Church’s decision:

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