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.