There's an issue that's been all over Facebook lately, and I wasn't going to talk about it, because even though a lot of our Facebook friends said you couldn't set foot (metaphorically speaking, of course) on social media without being flooded with posts about this issue, I was pretty sure that only really counted for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and people with LDS friends. Then we started to see headlines about it popping up at Yahoo, which probably is choosing articles based on our cookies, but since they weren't specifically posted by our LDS and former LDS friends, I figured it's gotten big enough that it wouldn't be a bad idea to step in and give my thoughts on the matter.
So here goes. I don't know how many of my LJ friends know about this, but about a week ago, it came out that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has updated its policy to say that children of same-sex couples can't be baptized until they're eighteen, and then only if they acknowledge the law of chastity as it's preached in the Church, which is that sex is only appropriate between a married man and woman. I've talked about that doctrine in other posts and I don't want to go into it right now, but if you would like to read more, here
is a talk by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that addresses the subject.
Now as for this new policy. A lot of people are upset because they think it's punishing the children for choices their parents made. So the point I want to address about this is something someone pointed out on Facebook, which is this: withholding baptism is NOT a punishment.
I think it's easy for people to think of baptism as just a thing we do to say, "Hey, you're a member now! Great! Now we can all be saved together!", as if there's nothing more to it than that. The thing about baptism is it's not just a ritual--it's a symbol of a commitment to keep the commandments. Once you make that commitment, you're held accountable for whether or not you live up to it. I came up with an analogy last night that I think applies pretty well.
It's like a college class. To get the benefits of an A, you have to enroll in the class and
you have to do all the work that will get you that A. If you don't do the work, you get a failing grade and the consequences that come with it.
On the other hand, if you audit
the class, you can't get the credits from the class, but you also don't have to worry about what a failing grade will do to your transcript. Then, if you decide to enroll in the class later, when you have a better understanding of what kind of a commitment you're making, you're likely to do better. And we can pretty much guarantee that if you walk into any LDS chapel, they'd be more than happy to let you audit.
Now if a child has two parents of the same gender, the LDS church does teach that they're living in sin. So would it be more loving to accept those children as official members of this college course, where what they're taught about righteousness goes contrary to what their parents are living, which is almost guaranteed to cause conflict in either the home or the classroom? Or would it be more loving to say, "You know what, kid? Why don't you think about it for a while, and if you still want to take the class when you're old enough, we'll let you." But they and their parents are still allowed to come to all the meetings and activities, and if they're not treated well then the people in that ward need better instructions on how to treat our neighbors. (I've been thinking for a while about writing a post on loving the sinner while hating the sin, but I haven't had the presence of mind. But if you're interested, here
is a talk by another member of the Quorum of the Twelve about what we believe about Christ's opinion of sin.)
Maybe I should point out that we do believe that baptism is a requirement for exaltation--in other words this class is a very required prerequisite. But we also don't
believe that the eternities are going to consist of either exaltation or eternal torment. I think I've mentioned the three degrees of glory before, but to sum up, we believe that there are different levels of heaven--in other words, just because you don't make it to the highest heaven doesn't mean you're doomed to live in hell for all eternity.
So I think that covers it. If you want to talk to us about it, we're open to discussion, but know that we stand with our church leaders and you'll be extremely hard pressed to change our minds on that. But we will do our best to help you understand our point of view, if you're interested.
Today I'm thankful for scoring another pound cake at Bread Day, having Bread Day today (the day after we forgot to buy bread at the store (usually we never would, but when we got to the bread aisle in our shopping routine, there was a guy stocking the shelves, so we said, "Eh, we'll come back later," and...)), "Magical Moments" coming up on our playlist right now, the hope of getting to sing in the stake choir (for all our ward choir participation, neither of us ever gets to sing), and our shiny blue Jamberry manicures.