A guest post by Michael Terence Worley in response to recent news reports that, according to new LDS Church policy children within a same-sex marriage (or household) may not be baptized (or blessed). I expect to hear more from the Church on the matter as clearly this is being blown out of proportion by those critical of the Church. Note: Church Spokesman, Eric Hawkins, has confirmed that this is the policy of the Church.

Update 11/6/15: The Mormon Newsroom has released a video interview with Elder D. Todd Christopherson clarifying the new policy in regard to the children of same-sex couples.

Update 11/13/15: The Church has made further clarifications by providing commentary on the Mormon Newsroom
, including a letter from the First Presidency.

Cue "Bill Nye" voice...

Did you know that, in the LDS Faith, a child cannot get baptized without their parents' approval? A spouse cannot be baptized without their husband's or wife's consent? And, in addition, if the parents practice polygamy, the child cannot get baptized? The church does a TON to protect children and spouses from being taught one thing at home and another thing at church.

Sorry, "Bill Nye" voice again...

Did you know that the LDS Faith is very careful in how it proselytizes Muslims? Even in countries that protect the religious freedom of both Christians and Muslims, there are cultural differences that make it dangerous for Muslims to convert to Christianity.

Each of these boundaries provides protections for the church, the prospective member, and the family.

For the church, it allows them to clearly teach God's plan of Salvation (centered on Jesus Christ and marriage between a man and a woman) without worrying that those they teach will face conflict at home. For the family members of those involved, it allows family autonomy and reduces conflict and secrecy. For the prospective member, it helps them not have to lose vital family relationships (and, if they are under 18, food and shelter).

While Christ does ask us to be prepared to give up family to follow him, (Matthew 10:37), he never teaches that one should attempt to be both a good family member and a good church member if those two are at odds.

Let me explain one more thing before I address the reason I wrote this post, if you'll bear with me. It is not a small matter to become a member of the LDS Church. As I explained above, if an adult Muslim wants to become a member of the church, the church may still decline to baptize the candidate simply because of cultural conflicts. Those who were raised in polygamous households also have extra requirements asked of them if they wish to be baptized. This policy is not a sign of a lack of love, but rather, in the context of the plan of salvation, a recognition that the doctrines and ordinances of Christ are for all in His time, not ours. See Isaiah 55:8-9, Proverbs 3:5-6; Alma 40:8; Moroni 8; Doctrine and Covenants 88:73.

In this context, two policies accurately leaked to the media today-- and, in at least one case, reported sensationally-- make more sense. I (and the media) say two policies, but I will split them into three policies.

The first policy is that choosing to be married to a same-gender partner is incompatible with church membership ("apostasy"). As I mentioned above, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is centered on the value of Christ's atonement to the bond between a husband and a wife and their children. While individuals may experience and act on same-sex attraction without being apostate, the church considers the step of being a party to a same-gender marriage as a sufficient repudiation of the doctrine of the plan of salvation to constitute apostasy.

The second policy, like the ones I began the post with, has the effect of not putting children at the center of a conflict between their household and the teachings of their church. The policy is that any child who is being raised by a same-sex couple may not receive baptism or be blessed as a baby. Like with the policies I mentioned above, it protects not just the child, but the church and the household who is raising the child. Conflicts are inevitable if a child is taught that those the child's legal guardians are sinners-- and the only way for them to stop being sinners is by ending their relationship.

The final policy is that those who are adults and were raised by same-sex couples must meet extra standards before becoming baptized. This, like the policies regarding adults who are/were Muslims and adult children of polygamous parents, serves to protect the candidate. In the context of the plan of salvation, this policy will aim to help people come closer to Christ by helping them be baptized in an environment where they can spiritually grow.

I sustain these policies. Some of my friends may well disagree with these policies. However, I plea with them to not lessen their commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nothing that happens in this church-- however hard it may seem to be-- changes the fact that God spoke to a 14-year-old boy in 1820. As that boy wrote later in his life:

Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.

Even if you disagree wholeheartedly with my church's stance on a few issues, please read the Book of Mormon and pray until the peace and mercy and grace that you need to "go on in so great a cause" comes.

Updates 5/6:

This post is intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine or policy.

Due to the amount of comments moderating will take some time. Please be patient -- I have a life. If you choose to leave a comment using words such as; hate, hurtful, uninspired, etc., or in anyway derogatory toward the Church and/or its leaders your comment will not be approved.

Update 4:15 pm PDT: Comments are now closed. My apologies to those of you who I have not had the opportunity to moderate your comments. There are simply too many but I do feel we have a fairly good representation of general thought in those that have been posted to the article. Thanks! 

Here's another good post I'd like to recommend: http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2015/11/05/the-children-of-marriedcohabiting-gay-parents/

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