My Attempt to Understand LDS Policy Regarding the Children of Same-Sex Couples

It has been a year since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a policy regarding the children of same-sex couples.  The bottom line of the policy is that married/committed same-sex LDS couples are in a state of apostasy, and that any children of such couples must wait until they are adults before deciding to officially join the church.  There are other details in this policy, but these are the main points as I see it.

After reading a couple of posts on blogs and facebook feeds, I would like to make an attempt to contribute to understanding this policy.  Understanding the policy does not necessarily mean that one celebrates the decision.  My hope is that this policy can be discussed in a reasonable and civil way.  So my attempt to provide an argument to understand the policy is this:

P1  The church has always taught, and continues to teach, that sexual relations outside of a marriage between a man and a woman are serious sinful behaviors.

P2  Married same-sex couples have made a solemn, public, permanent commitment to just such behavior.

P3  Such couples are not likely to acknowledge that this behavior is sinful, nor likely to repent of this behavior.

P4  Children of such couples, who desire to join the church, face an open conflict between church teachings and their parents’ behavior.

C1  Such couples are in a state of apostasy from the church due to this permanent, public commitment that violates church teachings on a serious issue.

C2:  Children of such couples should wait until they are adults before officially joining the church by baptism.

I hope there is value in laying out the argument this way.  I suspect that those who really hate this policy simply disagree with P1.  And while I am sure this policy may sadden some people, I do think there is potential wisdom in it.

26 Responses to “My Attempt to Understand LDS Policy Regarding the Children of Same-Sex Couples”

  1. 1 Niklas November 5, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I don’t think the biggest disagreement is with P1. I think the step from P4 to C2 is what many don’t understand. A lot of kids are baptized even if one or both of their parents don’t live according to church teachings (for example violating word of wisdom regularly).

  2. 2 Eric Nielson November 5, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    That is probably true for many. Thanks for adding that.

    I might add that word of wisdom violators and the like do not deny their sin, and have not made a solemn commitment to continue in it. I also feel that the church is sometimes to quick to baptize those who are not prepared, I am thinking Moroni 8 here. There are other cases where children probably should wait, and I suppose the church is willing to let local leaders handle those on a case-by-case basis.

  3. 3 Niklas November 5, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    With WoW violators (and WoW is just an example) I was referring mainly to non-member parents who may deny that they are sinning and might be really committed to their lifestyle. Yet they might give permission for their child to be baptized. These children we baptize even though P4 applies to them. This apparent contradiction is my biggest problem with the policy.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson November 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Yes, I can see that. Most of the examples would not fall under the serious sin category. WoW for non-members isn’t even a thing really. Similar things could be said of Sabbath breakers also. Hopefully with serious sins local leaders and missionaries can make appropriate choices. Unfortunately our rush to baptism makes this policy seem worse. There are many cases where young kids are not in an ideal gospel setting in the home, where they should probably wait to be baptized.

  5. 5 Matt W. November 6, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I’d say the premise for people againts the policy is:

    P1- the church has always taught that man (or woman) will be punished for his own sins and not the sins of his father (or mother)

    P2- the church has always taught that no blessings will be withheld from a person for things they could not help (see swk or lorenzo snow regarding marriage)

    P3- there is a belief that homosexual people can not help but be homosexual

    C1- children should not be barred from blessings on account of their parents

    C2- their should be an accommodation for homosexuals.

  6. 6 Eric Nielson November 6, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    I think you strike at one of the hearts of the issue Matt. The above argument assumes something of a lack of free will regarding behavior. To make such an argument is to question the very idea of sin at all. I might pass along a link to a significant research study from Johns Hopkins that shows no evidence of homosexuality being genetic/biological. Here is the address:

    You make a statement about children being barred, which is simply not accurate. They must wait until they are adults. Which is again not to out of keeping with Moroni 8. Waiting to make the commitment until being of legal age is not such a bad thing in my opinion. More should probably do that.

    • 7 Matt W. November 6, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      I phrased my p3 intentionally as “their is a belief that…”

      I am sure you are aware citing articles from the journal of a conservative thinktank is probably ineffective at changing people’s beliefs, especially when a quick google search gives them contradictory data points.

      As to whether this is troublesome to freewill, I agree, especially when you take the whole LGBTQ spectrum into account. It is complicated and theologically challenging.

      • 8 Eric Nielson November 6, 2016 at 6:07 pm

        I am aware that pretty much nothing will change the beliefs of many people. If there is disagreement they can cite whatever they wish. Bottom line is that the cause of homosexuality is simply not known.

    • 9 C202121 November 6, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      If children must wait until they are adults to be baptized they are, by your own definition, no longer children. and Your claim, “You make a statement about children being barred, which is simply not accurate” itself is “simply not accurate. Children by no fault or action of their own are condemned to a childhood denied of baptism and denied the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

      Mark 10:14 states, “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

      I know you are sincere in defending the policy. I am just as sincere in my concern that the policy contradicts the words of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

      Mental gymnastics do not trump the very clear unambiguous words of Jesus Christ our Lord.

      • 10 Eric Nielson November 6, 2016 at 6:17 pm

        Not being children anymore is simply a word game and you know it. The simple inaccuracy is implying that these individuals are barred period. People are stating it this way to make this policy seem worse than it actually is. These individuals can be baptized when they are adults. This is the mental gymnastics played by those who wish to further their politics. And I believe it is often an intentional deception.

        In terms of when a person is baptized, one might ask why does the church not go for infant baptism? Does your scripture demand infant baptism? If not, at what age should children be baptized? In the church it is at 8 years of age as a minimum age, only under near ideal circumstances. Under less than ideal circumstances it is sometimes wise to wait.

      • 11 C202121 November 6, 2016 at 7:05 pm

        This is not a game, gymnastics, or politics. Mark 10:14 states, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God.” I believe that the phrase “little children” means what it says.

      • 12 Eric Nielson November 6, 2016 at 9:20 pm

        The question is if this demands immediate baptism.

      • 13 C202121 November 6, 2016 at 11:05 pm

        D&C 68:27 states: “And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.” This commandment aligns with Mark 10:14 which says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

      • 14 Eric Nielson November 7, 2016 at 6:50 am

        Verse 25 of this same section states:

        25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

        In this context, the parents in this case (gay married) are not understanding the doctrine of repentance. The parents referred to in verse 27 are only highly committed parents ‘in Zion’ So the sin is not on the children, but on the parents. Baptism at 8 years is the minimum allowed, and in my opinion should only be applied in the best of circumstances.

  7. 15 Eric Nielson November 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    If you do not want to read the whole 150 page study, I might direct you to page 8 which is an executive summary. The first bullet point is:

    The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically
    fixed property of human beings—the idea that people are
    “born that way”—is not supported by scientific evidence.

  8. 16 Rob November 6, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    One of the big problems is that the actual sexual acts are driven by carnal desires in large part and that under particular circumstances almost all would choose some degree of immorality including acts or lustful thoughts that were not righteous. Homosexuality in todays world is in large part a trend that opens up lustful sexuality.

    “Born that way” is a weak excuse for lustful desire. We are all born with desires that are ungodly to overcome. Child molesters are not born that way, neither are wife beaters, or cheaters. Homosexuality for some is one of those ungodly desires to overcome.

  9. 17 I hope it's that simple November 7, 2016 at 3:13 am

    As I see it, if the parents are considered apostate and apostates are specifically forbidden from participating in church ordinances they can not give permission for the children to be baptised and anyone under 18 must have parental permission to be baptized – whether an 8 year child of record or a 9+ “convert”. QED Children of apostates can not be baptised until they are 18.

    • 18 C202121 November 7, 2016 at 6:32 am

      That is actually a really helpful insight as it provides a logical reason for denying children baptism. However, the policy contradicts Article of Faith 2: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”

      • 19 Eric Nielson November 7, 2016 at 6:52 am

        Why look at it as a punishment at all? Simply wise waiting.

      • 20 C202121 November 7, 2016 at 7:45 am

        I think you have just pointed out the crux of the issue. If I felt baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost meant little or nothing, it wouldn’t matter when it happens. Being baptized at 8 and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is the best thing that has happened in my life. It guided me, helped me, protected me, and inspired me in my youth to make good decisions, and made me the man I am today. If I had to wait until I was 18, I would not have been baptized, would not have kept the word of wisdom, would not have kept the law of chastity, and would not have served a mission. I am humbly grateful for the blessings of baptism and the Holy Ghost at 8. Withholding them for whatever the reason until 18, would have destroyed the goodness of my life and yes, would have been a punishment.

  10. 21 Eric Nielson November 7, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Yes, this may be the difference in perspective. I do not view the GotHG as some all or nothing source of goodness that forces someone to be good and obedient. I feel that it is a saving ordinance that can bless the lives of those who choose to be good and obedient. This is an interesting point, thanks for bringing it up.

    There are a lot of folks who received the GotHG who did not go on to obey commandments and such, so it is not an all or nothing. There are also very good folks out there who have not received the GotHG, yet remain good and faithful people without it.

    So it may appear that the source of our difference is just how much is the GotHG something that controls our destiny and choices. You might say it is nearly everything. I might say it is a saving blessing (mostly eternally rather than mortality) and can be something of a blessing to those who choose obedience (mostly through their own commitment and agency).

  11. 22 IDIAT November 7, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    C202121 – I was baptized at 18 and served a mission at 19. Somehow, the fact that I waited (albeit because I had to) hasn’t prevented me from serving a mission, getting sealed in the temple, etc.

  12. 23 IDIAT November 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    FWIW — I haven’t come across anyone on the bloggernacle who disagrees with the policy who doesn’t also disagree with the church’s position on homosexuality and SSM. They may exist, but I haven’t come across any.

  13. 24 Eric Nielson November 7, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for your comments IDIAT (and everyone). Your thoughts and observations match my own.

  14. 25 Jack November 7, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for this, Eric. It’s nice to be able to go somewhere in the bloggernacle and actually read a rational article on this issue.

    IDIAT, that’s right on. I doubt any of those who were screaming the loudest a year ago had ever once let slip the tiniest bit of moral outrage over children of polygamous parents.

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