The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released an updated version of the Church Handbook of Instructions.
The new instructions add being in a “same-gender marriage” to the list of behaviors defined as “apostasy,” making a disciplinary council mandatory for anyone who is legally married to a member of the same sex.
Furthermore, it forbids the child (natural or adoptive) of a gay couple (legally married or cohabiting) from receiving a name and a blessing in the Church. A child of a gay couple cannot be baptized or confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service unless they are of legal age and do not live with their parents, and unless, in an interview with a Church leader they disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.
The leadership of Affirmation has received a flood of reactions from LGBT Mormons, and their family members and friends including grief, shock, disbelief and spiritual confusion.
Many LGBTQ members of the church have striven to keep the faith, some of them even raising their children in the Church, with a flame of testimony that reaches even for the crumbs that fall off the table.
This is a difficult event to witness, but Affirmation stands where we always have. We reaffirm the divinity and dignity of all God’s children and all families and the potential that each of them has to fully love and support one another through this world and the next. We stand in solidarity with all those children, individuals, and families being pushed away, and we mourn with those deeply harmed by this policy.
Still, we look to the future with hope. Mormons increasingly see us for who we are without condemning us for our sexual orientation. Despite the pain caused by this new policy, there’s a better way forward than lashing back. It rests on the fundamentals of the Gospel, including the First and Second Great Commandments and the Golden Rule. Forcing children to disavow the love of their parents as the price for acceptance by the Church runs contrary to everything the Church has taught us about the nature and the purpose of family.
We have endured many things in the past as a Mormon people and pray that we may endure this too, with the love of Christ, and the support of our friends and families within Affirmation, the Church, and our communities. We ever hope and pray for a day of greater acceptance, not too far distant, than that reflected by the current Church handbook.
Affirmation invites anyone who feels so moved to join LGBT Mormons, their families and friends throughout the world in a day of fasting, prayer and vigil on Sunday, November 8. Join the event on Facebook, in order to find out if a vigil is being organized in your area, and how you can participate or help:
Affirmation Board of Directors