During a leadership session, the Mormon church announced that they won’t consider LGBTQ couples “apostates” and will now begin to baptize children of same-sex parents without the approval of church officials, according to CNN.
Dallin Oaks, a member of the church’s First Presidency, was the one to make the decision at a conference in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church will also update its Handbook to reflect this new decision, as Oaks said “previously, our Handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy” and that while the church still considers same-sex marriage a “serious transgression,” it won’t be treated as apostasy, and instead the church will treat “immoral conduct” in both “heterosexual and homosexual relationships” the same way. Something about those statements doesn’t seem consistent, but maybe that’s just me…
Oaks also said that this decision “should help affected families” and that the purpose of it is to have members of the Mormon church “show more understanding, compassion, and love.” Reactions to this decision are positive according to Deseret News, with Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, calling the move “encouraging” and calling it “a realignment of the very best of Mormon people.”
Additionally, Sam Brinton, the Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention group for LGBTQ people, said “The Trevor Project welcomes any faith group’s public commitment to treat the LGBTQ community fairly and equally, and this statement by the LDS Church to change course is a move in the right direction that will make a real difference in the lives of LGBTQ Mormons. We hear from LGBTQ young people in crisis every day who struggle to reconcile being part of both the LGBTQ and faith communities, and decisions to end policies of exclusion can help LGBTQ youth feel seen, loved, and less alone.” I agree him that this decision is the step in the right direction and that it may help LGBTQ people who struggle with their faith find solace in the fact that they don’t have to choose between their sexuality and religious beliefs. To what extent I don’t know.
The church still believes that the only valid sexual relations are between one man and one woman who are legally married and anything outside of that is still considered a sin. So basically the Mormon church wants gay people to either remain celibate for their entire lives or marry someone of the opposite sex in order to have relations that fit within the church’s doctrine. The church, however, doesn’t consider having an attraction to someone of the same sex as sin, but acting on that attraction is.
I’m trying hard to look at the positive side of this decision but at the end of the day, the damage has already been done. Furthermore, I don’t see this as a change of church policy but rather a change in the semantics of the Handbook. The proof of that is in what Oaks said – that same-sex marriage is still a serious transgression within the church but they won’t call it an abandonment of church doctrine. It’s also rather suspicious that the announcement was made between a small number of people a few days before their large semi-annual conference. Do you agree or am I just being a cynic?
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.