We are all highly tainted in our perspective by our own personal experiences. I am a straight, white, male business owner comfortably isolated in middle class Utah County Mormon suburbia. I try to be empathetic to others. But I don’t have a lot of that first hand personal experience that tends to turn passive idlers into activists in these human rights areas. So my opinion on these issues may not be highly relevant.
Apparently the church is making two new important changes to policies related to same sex marriage.
1. Entering into same sex marriage is considered apostasy and grounds for immediate church discipline.
2. Children of same sex marriage parents will not be allowed to be blessed or baptized.
Issues like racism, sexism, LGBT issues, are important to me. It’s important to me that we don’t needlessly harm members of the Body of Christ. My opinion is that the church is an overall net positive in members’ lives. I went to my daughter’s friend’s mission homecoming recently, a black LDS that had a marvelous mission. It seemed to me that his experience within Mormonism is helping him grow into a successful young adult. I was happy to observe he was proud of his status as a black LDS and believed it helped him contribute to his community, not something to be ashamed of or that held him back. I feel my daughters are having a very positive experience in the church. They are college educated, competent young women that have the confidence and drive to do anything they want in life.
My testimony of the truth of Mormonism is not in the historical origin claims but in the truth and beauty of the church today, how it enables one to connect with God and serve and be served in the Body of Christ. How it uplifts and inspires one to be a better person and enriches relationships with others.
I don’t view the authority of the brethren as being God given or that they are managed by Jesus Christ in a direct way. I believe the authority of the brethren comes because we as a Body of Christ sustain them as prophets and promise to support them. That’s a two way relationship. I believe they promise to lead the church in the way that we as a cumulative Body of Christ best believe is the mind and will of God. That’s a heavy and difficult responsibility, and I pray for the brethren to have the courage and wisdom to do that effectively. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. They have a difficult job, and I believe they do it well.
That said, I think we as a church are sometimes slow to react to change. We were slow on the priesthood ban. It’s pretty easy to see that gender and LGBT issues are tracking down the same path. I hope the members can be prepared for change. I hope the brethren will be inspired to make the right decisions.
I also don’t believe in cafeteria Mormonism. I believe engaging in the full experience of Mormonism is how the most value is realized. I believe unity within the Body of Christ is highly important. Fragmentation weakens us and reduces the positive experience we all have.
I have hope that the church is moving in the right direction on these issues. if someone is being harmed by the church due to LGBT issues, racism, sexism, etc, then I hope they would a) do their best to express dissent in a respectful way b) if they lose hope in change and their experience in Mormonism is negative, then I think no one should blame them if they want to leave the church. Maybe seeing good-hearted people leave the church will be what gives the brethren the motivation to seek revelation that could lead the church in a different direction.
In conclusion, I’m disappointed but not outraged by this latest news about policies on same sex marriage. I’m sorry for those that are hurt by this policy. I hope they will find love and support from local leaders and members if they’re not feeling it from the leadership of the church. It’s hard not to see this policy as a mistake, but I support the brethren. I have faith that things are moving in the right direction and hope it will be fixed in the future.
note: this is an addition after reading more opinions and hearing Elder Christofferson’s interview.
A slight modification/clarification of this new policy would change the impact in a huge way. Make the policy effective only for those children adopted by same sex parents. This makes it more in line with comparison to polygamy and apostasy situations. Opening up the policy to apply to children of split parents where one is straight and active LDS and one is gay and in a same sex relationship increases the number of children impacted at least ten fold and will create a ton of unnecessary heartache and enmity. The most likely outcome will be ex-spouses fighting with the straight ex demanding the other to comply in a way that will allow the child to be baptized. I don’t think the church wants to get in the middle of ex-spouse relationships like that. The church is stating this like they want to stay out of things where a gay marriage exists, but in reality they turn up the heat. Gay marriage and polygamy are completely different in that in gay marriage situations, there is an ex-spouse who generally is not in apostasy and wants the kids to be LDS.